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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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A potted history of the human evolutionary story

Posted on 21 Mar 2012 in Human Origins, Reviews

Ian Tattersall’s new book, Masters of the Planet, can be seen as a guide for the perplexed student of human origins. It walks the reader through 7 million years of human prehistory. Image: Barras

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Chinese human fossils unlike any known species

Posted on 14 Mar 2012 in Evolution, Human Origins, Journalism, Life

And so it begins. For years, evolutionary biologists have predicted that new human species would start popping up in Asia as we begin to look closely at fossilised bones found there. A new analysis of bones from south-west China suggests there’s truth to the forecast. Image: Darren Curnoe

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Giant fleas plagued feathered dinosaurs

Posted on 29 Feb 2012 in Dinosaurs, Evolution, Journalism, Life, Palaeontology

It’s amazing what you find when you scratch about in old rocks – the oldest and largest flea ever discovered, for instance, which has turned up in Jurassic rocks in China. Warm-blooded animals have been itching to get rid of the pests ever since. Image: Nature

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Most fish in the sea evolved in freshwater

Posted on 8 Feb 2012 in Evolution, Journalism, Life

Family histories don’t come much more bizarre. Three-quarters of the fish in the sea can trace their origins back to a freshwater ancestor. The finding highlights how important rivers and lakes are as a source of new species, just as that supply is under threat from disappearing freshwater habitats. Image: mattk1979

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