Scientists have identified a mineral signature for sites that are more likely to contain rare fossils that preserve evidence of soft tissue -- essential information to understanding ancient life.
Digital dissection shows that two horseshoe crab appendages -- the pushing leg and the male pedipalp -- each have one more muscle than had been thought, according to a study published Feb. 14, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Russell Bicknell from University of New England, Australia, and colleagues.
Sharks, as well as a number of other living primitive fishes, have the amazing ability to detect electric fields in their surroundings. This characteristic -- called electroreception -- is thought to be one of the earliest vertebrate sensory systems to appear, but its origins are mysterious. In the journal Palaeontology, investigators have now reviewed the evidence for all putative electroreceptors in early vertebrates.
A fossilized trackway on public lands in Lake County, Ore., may reveal clues about the ancient family dynamics of Columbian mammoths. Researchers who excavated a portion of the path found 117 footprints thought to represent a number of adults as well as juvenile and infant mammoths.
While the giant birds that once dominated New Zealand are all extinct, a study of their preserved dung (coprolites) has revealed many aspects of their ancient ecosystem, with important insights for ongoing conservation efforts.
From dogs to seals to cats, members of the mammalian order Carnivora can vary greatly from one species to another. But for the most part, their skulls all tend to take on some variant of just a few shapes-a pattern scientists have long attributed to shared diets. New research reveals that the evolution of skull shape in this group is actually much more complex and is influenced by nondietary factors.
Factors other than feeding habits -- including age at sexual maturity and average rainfall in their home habitat -- have greatly influenced skull shape in carnivores, according to a new study. This finding contrasts with the idea that dominant shapes among the skulls of carnivores are mostly attributed to shared diets.
UC Berkeley paleobotanists put dwarf, bonsai pine trees in growth chambers and subjected them to up to 13 times the UV-B radiation Earth experiences today, simulating conditions that likely existed 252 million years ago during the planet's worst mass extinction. The UV-B made the pines temporarily sterile and created malformed pollen, evidence that ozone depletion from volcanic eruptions could have led to high UV-B levels that contributed to the end-Permian crisis for plants and animals.
Prevailing theories about evolution state that belief in the concept is tied only to a person's politics or religion. But according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania, whether Americans accept or reject the subject also depends on how well they understand it.
The fossil, called Candelarhynchus padillai, is approximately 90 million years old, and has no modern relatives, explained Oksana Vernygora, PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences and lead author on the study.