Category Archives: Latest on Evolution

Genome structure of dinosaurs discovered by bird-turtle comparisons

A discovery by scientists at the University of Kent has provided significant insight into the overall genome structure of dinosaurs. By comparing the genomes of different species, chiefly birds and turtles, the Kent team were able to determine how the overall genome structure (i.e. the chromosomes) of many people's favourite dinosaur species -- like Velociraptor…
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Ancient skull shows early ‘baleen whale’ had teeth

Today's baleen whales (Mysticetes) support their massive bodies by filtering huge volumes of small prey from seawater using comb-like baleen in their mouths much like a sieve. But new evidence reported in the journal Current Biology on May 10 based on careful analysis of a 34-million-year-old whale skull from Antarctica -- the second-oldest "baleen" whale ever found…
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Jurassic fossil tail tells of missing link in crocodile family tree

A 180-million-year-old fossil has shed light on how some ancient crocodiles evolved into dolphin-like animals. The specimen -- featuring a large portion of backbone -- represents a missing link in the family tree of crocodiles, and was one of the largest coastal predators of the Jurassic Period, researchers say. The newly discovered species was nearly…
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New new genus and species of extinct baleen whale identified

University of Otago palaeontologists are rewriting the history of New Zealand's ancient whales by describing a previously unknown genus of baleen whale, alive more than 27.5 million years ago and found in the Hakataramea Valley. The new genus and species of extinct baleen whale is based on a skull and associated bones unearthed from the…
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Mutating DNA caught on film

DNA mutations cause tumor cells to grow out of control, but they also generate variety that enables organisms to adapt to their environments and evolve. Until now, biologists have only had crude methods for estimating the average rates and effects of mutations. But in a new study, biophysicists have documented individual mutations as they happen in bacterial cells.…
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Orcas are first non-humans whose evolution is driven by culture

You could call it a culture shock. Many researchers accept that cultural experiences have helped shape human evolution – and evidence has now emerged that the same may be true of killer whales. Human genomes have evolved in response to our cultural behaviours: a classic example is the way that some human populations gained genes for…
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Origins of photosynthesis in plants dated to 1.25 billion years ago

The world's oldest algae fossils are a billion years old, according to a new analysis by earth scientists at McGill University. Based on this finding, the researchers also estimate that the basis for photosynthesis in today's plants was set in place 1.25 billion years ago. The study, published in the journal Geology, could resolve a long-standing…
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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…
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