Scientists have identified a new species of reptile from prehistoric Connecticut and, boy, does it have a mouth on it. Named Colobops noviportensis, the creature lived 200 million years ago and had exceptionally large jaw muscles -- setting it apart from other reptiles at the time. Even compared to the wide diversity of reptile species today, Colobops noviportensis had quite the bite.
Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have obtained new chronological data for the timing of the Elsterian and Saalian glacial cycles in central Germany. They found that the first Quaternary glaciation, which covered huge parts of Europe in ice, occurred as early as 450,000 years ago and not - as previously thought - around 350,000 years ago. The researcher further showed that once these glaciers had retreated, the first people appeared in central Germany around 400,000 years ago.
Salts left over from ancient seawater reveal new information about the oxygenation of the Earth's atmosphere more than 2 billion years ago.
The existence of the unusual yeti crabs (Kiwaidae) -- a family of crab-like animals whose hairy claws and bodies are reminiscent of the abominable snowman -- since 2005, but already their future survival could be at risk. New Oxford University research suggests that past environmental changes may have profoundly impacted the geographic range and species diversity of this family. The findings indicate that such animals may be more vulnerable to the effects of human resource exploitation and climate change than initially thought.
Animals that carry a physical impediment can work harder to rear their young as a result, an insect study has shown. They may behave this way in case they are not able to reproduce again, scientists suggest.
The orchid species Gastrodia pubilabiata mimics rotting mushrooms or fermented fruit, and is pollinated by fruit flies who mistakenly lay their eggs in its flowers. If there are rotting mushrooms near the orchid, its pollination rate increases. As well as using mushrooms to attract insect pollinators, G. pubilabiata survives by absorbing nutrients from the fungal hyphae of mushrooms. This is the first time a plant has been discovered to depend on mushrooms both above and below ground.
Hummingbirds' specialization and vulnerability are often predicted based on their physical traits. Scientists now found that this is not the case for hummingbirds on the Caribbean islands. Instead, the bird's environment is the determining factor. The new study was led by scientists from Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, and published today in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Species that live in symbiosis with others, which often occur in the most delicately balanced and threatened marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, are the slowest to recover their diversity if damaged, according to a team of UK scientists.
Marine scientists have uncovered evidence of one of the largest floods in Earth's history in the central Mediterranean seafloor. The flood, known as the Zanclean flood, is thought to have ended the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC), a period during which the Mediterranean Sea became partially dried up.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have sequenced the genomes of five Neandertals that lived between 39,000 and 47,000 years ago. These late Neandertals are all more closely related to the Neandertals that contributed DNA to modern human ancestors than an older Neandertal from the Altai Mountains that was previously sequenced. Their genomes also provide evidence for a turnover in the Neandertal population towards the end of Neandertal history.