A single human finger bone from at least 86,000 years ago points to Arabia as a key destination for Stone Age excursions out of Africa that allowed people to rapidly spread across Asia.
Excavations at Al Wusta, a site in Saudi Arabia’s Nefud desert, produced this diminutive discovery. It’s the oldest known Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa and the narrow strip of the Middle East that...
Reviews & Previews
Darwin’s FossilsAdrian ListerSmithsonian Books, $19.95
Charles Darwin famously derived his theory of evolution from observations he made of species and their geographic distributions during his five-year voyage around the world on the H.M.S. Beagle. But in the introduction of On the Origin of Species, the naturalist also cites another influence: the thousands of fossils that he...
Letters to the Editor
Diagnosis dinosaur04/05/2018 - 07:52 Paleontology, Evolution, Planetary Science
Some scientists are shaking up the dinosaur family tree and raising questions about which features define the ancient reptiles, Carolyn Gramling reported in “New fossils are redefining what makes a dinosaur” (SN: 3/3/18, p. 18).
“I am a bit put out by the continuing references to dinosaurs as being reptiles,” reader David Persuitte wrote. Dinosaurs’ legs were...
A famous 4.4-million-year-old member of the human evolutionary family was hip enough to evolve an upright gait without losing any tree-climbing prowess.
The pelvis from a partial Ardipithecus ramidus skeleton nicknamed Ardi (SN: 1/16/10, p. 22) bears evidence of an efficient, humanlike walk combined with plenty of hip power for apelike climbing, says a team led by biological...
Archaeopteryx was a flapper, not just a glider. The shape of the ancient bird’s wing bones suggests it was capable of short bursts of active, flapping flight, similar to how modern birds like pheasants and quails fly to escape predators, a new study finds.
One of the earliest birds, Archaeopteryx lived about 150 million years ago during the Jurassic Period, spanning the evolutionary gap...
The only fish known to hunt with wolf pack moves may not be true team players, just lemon-yellow me-firsts.
Yellow saddle goatfish (Parupeneus cyclostomus) do more than school together as they dart over Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Like wolves, the goatfish take different roles in a pursuit. One or two fish may rush straight toward prey as the others shoot to the sides, blocking escape....
Termites are the new cockroach.
Literally. The Entomological Society of America is updating its master list of insect names to reflect decades of genetic and other evidence that termites belong in the cockroach order, called Blattodea.
As of February 15, “it’s official ... that termites no longer have their own order,” says Mike Merchant of Texas A&M University in College...
News in Brief
Tap — gently — the plump rear of a young Nessus sphinx hawk moth, and you may hear the closest sound yet discovered to a caterpillar voice.
Caterpillars don’t breathe through their mouths. Yet a Nessus sphinx hawk moth, if disturbed, will emit from its open mouth a sustained hiss followed by a string of scratchy burplike sounds. “Hard to describe,” says animal behaviorist Jayne Yack of...
News in Brief
When it comes to wild claims, hold your horses.
Free-roaming Przewalski’s horses of Central Asia are often called the last of the wild horses, the only living equines never domesticated. But a new genetic analysis of ancient horse bones suggests that these horses have a tamed ancestor after all, making them feral rather than wild.
The findings also debunk the idea that these...
“There’s a very faint dimple here,” Sterling Nesbitt says, holding up a palm-sized fossil to the light. The fossil, a pelvic bone, belonged to a creature called Teleocrater rhadinus. The slender, 2-meter-long reptile ran on all fours and lived 245 million years ago, about 10 million to 15 million years before scientists think dinosaurs first appeared.02/21/2018 - 16:00 Paleontology, Evolution
Nesbitt, a paleontologist at...