Category Archives: Latest on Evolution

Ancient lizardlike creature bridged gap between land and sea

This beautifully preserved, nearly complete fossil is shedding new light on the evolution of the aquatic members of a small, enigmatic group of ancient reptiles called pleurosaurs. The bones belong to a new species of pleurosaur whose anatomical features weren’t fully adapted to water, but were on the way to enabling an aquatic lifestyle. The creature (which…
Read more

When dinosaurs went extinct, many animals literally came out of the dark

The demise of dinosaurs was good news for mammals, whose numbers exploded in the aftermath. Now, a new study suggests that the behavior of mammals changed rapidly as well, as the first of our furry ancestors began venturing out in the daylight after living a primarily nocturnal existence. The switch may have even sparked the…
Read more

Africa’s deadliest rapids give birth to new fish species

The world’s largest and deadliest rapids are also crucibles of life. According to a new study, the final stretch of Africa’s Congo River—which packs five times the water flow of the Mississippi River into just 320 kilometers—has likely given birth to several new fish species since it formed some 5 million years ago. That’s impressive,…
Read more

New gene variants reveal the evolution of human skin color

Most people associate Africans with dark skin. But different groups of people in Africa have almost every skin color on the planet, from deepest black in the Dinka of South Sudan to beige in the San of South Africa. Now, researchers have discovered a handful of new gene variants responsible for this palette of tones.…
Read more

Reconstructing how Neanderthals grew, based on an El Sidrón child

How did Neanderthals grow? Does modern man develop in the same way as Homo neanderthalensis did? How does the size of the brain affect the development of the body? A study led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) researcher, Antonio Rosas, has studied the fossil remains of a Neanderthal child's skeleton in order to establish whether…
Read more

In saliva, clues to a ‘ghost’ species of ancient human

In saliva, scientists have found hints that a "ghost" species of archaic humans may have contributed genetic material to ancestors of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa today. The research adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that sexual rendezvous between different archaic human species may not have been unusual. Past studies have concluded that…
Read more

DNA solves ancient animal riddle that Darwin couldn’t

After the last of its kind died out about 12,000 years ago, a strange animal that stumped Charles Darwin is finally being added to the tree of life, according to a new study in the journal Nature Communications. Macrauchenia patachonica lived during the last ice age. It resembled a bulky camel without a hump, with…
Read more

Genetic analysis of New World birds confirms untested evolutionary assumption

Biologists have always been fascinated by the diversity and changeability of life on Earth and have attempted to answer a fundamental question: How do new species originate? An implicit assumption in the discipline of speciation biology is that genetic differences between populations of animals and plants in a given species are important drivers of new…
Read more

Oldest evidence of life on land found in 3.48 billion-year-old Australian rocks

Fossils discovered by UNSW scientists in 3.48 billion year old hot spring deposits in the Pilbara region of Western Australia have pushed back by 580 million years the earliest known existence of microbial life on land. Previously, the world's oldest evidence for microbial life on land came from 2.7- 2.9 billion-year-old deposits in South Africa…
Read more