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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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First animals may have lived with almost no oxygen

Posted on 17 Feb 2014 in Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Life

The most primitive animals may have thrived in water that contained almost no oxygen. The finding suggests that the rise of animals could have created our modern, oxygen-rich oceans, rather than oxygen-rich oceans triggering the rise of animals. Image: Bill & Mark Bell

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Deep life: Strange creatures living far below our feet

Posted on 27 Apr 2013 in Evolution, Featured, Journalism, Life

In some ways, the depths of the Earth’s crust are the final frontier for biologists. In these isolated ecosystems lurk organisms that defy many established biological rules. There are microbes that metabolise so slowly they may be millions of years old; bacteria that survive without benefiting from the sun’s energy; and animals that do what no animal should – live their entire lives without oxygen. Image: matthewvenn

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Hyena has hidden ‘language’ of groans

Posted on 7 Jul 2008 in Animal Behaviour, Evolution, Journalism

Hyenas are famous for their loud laughs, but hyena groans may be an equally important facet of their vocal repertoire. The spotted hyena has a rich range of vocal calls, including loud whoops and giggles. But in intimate social situations, hyenas often groan softly to one another. Image: mape_s

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