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Breath of life: Did animals evolve without oxygen?

Posted on 18 Jan 2017 in Earth Science, Evolution, Journalism

At the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Greece, there is a lake. Complete with a delicate shoreline and an inviting deep blue surface, the L’Atalante basin looks almost like a lake on land. But this is an inhospitable place. Image: crimsonwoods_flickr

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Complex life may have had a false start 2.3 billion years ago

Posted on 16 Jan 2017 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

It was a sign of things to come. About 2.3 billion years ago, our primitive planet was an oxygen-poor world profoundly different from now – but then it briefly and mysteriously gained an oxygen-rich atmosphere. This so-called Lomagundi Event could have provided a fleeting opportunity for complex, animal-like creatures to evolve billions of years before the ancestors of all animals we know today appeared. Image: maxelman

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Despite what you might think, chickens are not stupid

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Journalism

It is also common for people to view chickens as unintelligent animals that lack the complex psychological characteristics of “higher” animals like monkeys and apes. This is a view reinforced by some depictions of chickens in popular culture. But chickens are anything but dumb. Image: Hopkinsii

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Baboons recorded making key sounds found in human speech

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Baboon grunts and barks have more in common with human speech than we thought. The monkeys routinely produce five of the distinct vowel sounds found in our languages. Image: Derek Keats

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The real reason why childbirth is so painful and so dangerous

Posted on 22 Dec 2016 in Evolution, Health, Human Origins, Journalism

Giving birth can be a long and painful process. It can also be deadly. The World Health Organization estimates that about 830 women die every day because of complications during pregnancy and childbirth – and that statistic is actually a 44% reduction on the 1990 level. Image: Chriggy

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Oldest early human footprints suggest males had several ‘wives’

Posted on 14 Dec 2016 in Archaeology, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Three has become five. Laetoli in northern Tanzania is the site of iconic ancient footprints, capturing the moment – 3.66 million years ago – when three members of Lucy’s species (Australopithecus afarensis) strode out across the landscape. Now something quite unexpected has come to light: the footprints of two other individuals. Image: Raffaello Pellizzon

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