Category Archives: Latest on Evolution

Fossil Pigments Reveal the Colors of Ancient Sea Monsters

During the Age of the dinosaurs, huge reptiles, such as mosasaurs and ichthyosaurs, ruled the seas. Previously, scientists could only guess what colours these spectacular animals had; however, pigment preserved in fossilised skin has now been analysed at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and MAX IV Laboratory, Lund University, Sweden. The unique soft tissue…
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Rapid Evolution of Novel Forms: Environmental Change Triggers Inborn Capacity for Adaptation

In the classical view of evolution, species experience spontaneous genetic mutations that produce various novel traits -- some helpful, some detrimental. Nature then selects for those most beneficial, passing them along to subsequent generations. It's an elegant model. It's also an extremely time-consuming process likely to fail organisms needing to cope with sudden, potentially life-threatening…
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At 400,000 Years, Oldest Human DNA Yet Found Raises New Mysteries

Scientists have found the oldest DNA evidence yet of humans’ biological history. But instead of neatly clarifying human evolution, the finding is adding new mysteries. In a paper in the journal Nature, scientists reported Wednesday that they had retrieved ancient human DNA from a fossil dating back about 400,000 years, shattering the previous record of 100,000 years.…
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Acid Rain, Ozone Depletion Contributed to Ancient Extinction

Around 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, there was a mass extinction so severe that it remains the most traumatic known species die-off in Earth's history. Some researchers have suggested that this extinction was triggered by contemporaneous volcanic eruptions in Siberia. New results from a team including Director of Carnegie's…
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Neanderthal Viruses Found in Modern Humans

Ancient viruses from Neanderthals have been found in modern human DNA by researchers at Oxford University and Plymouth University. The researchers compared genetic data from fossils of Neanderthals and another group of ancient human ancestors called Denisovans to data from modern-day cancer patients. They found evidence of Neanderthal and Denisovan viruses in the modern human…
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Ancient, Modern DNA Tell Story of First Humans in the Americas

University of Illinois anthropology professor Ripan Malhi looks to DNA to tell the story of how ancient humans first came to the Americas and what happened to them once they were here. He will share some of his findings at the meeting, "Ancient DNA: The First Three Decades," at The Royal Society in London on…
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Evidence of 3.5-Billion-Year-Old Bacterial Ecosystems Found in Australia

Reconstructing the rise of life during the period of Earth's history when it first evolved is challenging. Earth's oldest sedimentary rocks are not only rare, but also almost always altered by hydrothermal and tectonic activity. A new study from a team including Carnegie's Nora Noffke, a visiting investigator, and Robert Hazen revealed the well-preserved remnants…
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Scientists Solve Major Piece in the Origin of Biological Complexity

Scientists have puzzled for centuries over how and why multicellular organisms evolved the almost universal trait of using single cells, such as eggs and sperm, to reproduce. Now researchers led by University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences postdoctoral fellow William Ratcliff and associate professor Michael Travisano have set a big piece of that puzzle…
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