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  • News in Brief

    Pregnant bonobos get a little delivery help from their friends

    Like humans, African apes called bonobos may treat birth as a social event with a serious purpose.

    In three recorded instances in captivity, female bonobos stood close by and provided protection and support to a bonobo giving birth to a healthy infant. Female bystanders also gestured as if ready to hold an infant before it was born, or actually held one as it was born, scientists report...

    05/24/2018 - 13:26 Animals, Anthropology, Evolution
  • News

    Green blood in lizards probably evolved four times

    Green blood is weird enough. But now the first genealogical tree tracing green blood in New Guinea’s Prasinohaema lizards is suggesting something even odder.

    These skinks have been lumped into one genus just because of blood color, says biologist Christopher Austin of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Yet they don’t all turn out to be close relatives. Green blood looks as if it...

    05/16/2018 - 14:10 Animals, Evolution, Physiology
  • News

    This ancient fowl bit like a dinosaur and pecked like a bird

    A bird that lived alongside dinosaurs may have preened its feathers like modern birds — despite a full mouth of teeth that also let it chomp like a dino.

    A new 3-D reconstruction of the skull of Ichthyornis dispar, which lived during the Late Cretaceous epoch between 87 million and 82 million years ago, reveals that the ancient fowl had a small, primitive beak and a mobile upper jaw....

    05/02/2018 - 13:00 Animals, Evolution, Paleontology
  • News in Brief

    Defenseless moths do flying impressions of scary bees and wasps

    Clearwing moths may not look all that dangerous, despite having largely see-through wings like bees and wasps. But some fly like fierce insects best left well alone.

    Four clearwing species from Southeast Asian rainforests aren’t perfect mimics of local bees and wasps. Yet the resemblance looked much stronger when entomologist Marta Skowron Volponi of the University of Gdansk in Poland...

    05/01/2018 - 19:05 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Heat waves are roasting reefs, but some corals may be resilient

    It’s no secret that warming ocean waters have devastated many of the world’s coral reefs. For instance, a 2016 marine heat wave killed 30 percent of coral in the Great Barrier Reef, a study published online April 18 in Nature reports. But some coral species may be able to adapt and survive in warmer waters for another century, or even two, a second team reports April 19 in PLOS Genetics. And...

    04/20/2018 - 11:07 Climate, Evolution, Ecosystems
  • News

    Finger fossil puts people in Arabia at least 86,000 years ago

    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...

    04/09/2018 - 11:00 Anthropology, Archaeology, Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    Fossils sparked Charles Darwin’s imagination

    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...

    04/08/2018 - 08:00 Evolution, History of Science, Paleontology
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers debate dinosaur designation and more

    Diagnosis dinosaur

    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...

    04/05/2018 - 07:52 Paleontology, Evolution, Planetary Science
  • News

    Ardi walked the walk 4.4 million years ago

    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...

    04/02/2018 - 16:17 Anthropology, Evolution
  • News

    Dino-bird had wings made for flapping, not just gliding

    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...

    03/13/2018 - 12:00 Animals, Evolution