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Our earliest primate cousin discovered in Asia

Posted on 5 Jun 2013 in Evolution, Featured, Journalism, Life, Palaeontology

Our distant ancestors evolved not in Africa but Asia, in a hothouse world newly free of dinosaurs. A fossil unveiled this week might give us an idea of what this crucial ancestor looked like. It is the earliest primate skeleton ever found. Image: Paul Tafforeau and Xijun Ni

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Dinosaur dads may not have looked after the kids

Posted on 17 May 2013 in Animal Behaviour, Dinosaurs, Earth Science, Featured, Journalism, Palaeontology

Male dinosaurs may not have had a caring side after all. Five years ago a study of theropod dinosaur nests and fossils concluded that it was the male of the species that incubated the eggs. Now a new analysis of the same data suggests there are problems with that conclusion. Image: Georg Schwalbach (GS1311)

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Baby dinos pumped their muscles inside the egg

Posted on 10 Apr 2013 in Dinosaurs, Evolution, Journalism, Palaeontology

Jurassic life was fast and furious even before dinosaurs made it out of the egg. A rare clutch of fossil dinosaur embryos suggests they grew at record rates and flexed their muscles in preparation for life on the outside. Image: Lebatihem

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Dinosaur-killing asteroid may have been a binary terror

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 in Dinosaurs, Earth Science, Featured, Journalism, Space

Asteroids 2, dinosaurs 0. The infamous space rock that slammed into the Gulf of Mexico and helped wipe it clean of large dinosaurs may have been a binary – two asteroids orbiting each other. The surprise conclusion comes from a re-evaluation of the proportion of asteroid craters on Earth that were formed from binary impacts. Image: Calsidyrose

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Leonardo fossil sketch may depict early nests

Posted on 16 Nov 2012 in Animal Behaviour, Earth Science, Featured, Journalism, Palaeontology

Around 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci briefly focused his attention on fossils – and triggered a mystery that remains unsolved. He sketched a honeycomb-like array of hexagons, the first recorded observation of the trace fossil Paleodictyon. New fossils could explain why we have never found the animal that makes Paleodictyon – and extend the fossil record of parental care. Image: mdwombat

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DNA’s half-life identified using fossil bones

Posted on 10 Oct 2012 in Archaeology, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism, Palaeontology

Radioisotopes have ’em, and apparently so does DNA. A study of bones from New Zealand’s extinct Moas suggests the double helix has a measurable half-life. Its length indicates that we have underestimated DNA’s ability to survive in the fossil record. Image: M. Allentoft

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