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  • News

    Hobbits died out earlier than thought

    Hobbits disappeared from their island home nearly 40,000 years earlier than previously thought, new evidence suggests.

    This revised timeline doesn’t erase uncertainty about the evolutionary origins of these controversial Indonesian hominids. Nor will the new evidence resolve a dispute about whether hobbits represent a new species, Homo floresiensis, or were small-bodied Homo...

    03/30/2016 - 13:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News in Brief

    Zika may have flown to Brazil in 2013

    The Zika virus may have hopped a ride on a 747 from Southeast Asia in 2013 to invade the Americas.

    Oliver Pybus, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, and his colleagues have retraced the virus’ steps in Brazil and pinpointed its introduction there to between May and December 2013. That coincides with a time when Brazil saw a significant increase in...

    03/24/2016 - 14:00 Genetics, Health, Science & Society
  • News

    Antarctic history suggests ice sheet ‘danger’ threshold

    Assembling a detailed timeline surrounding the Antarctic ice sheet’s inception around 34 million years ago, scientists have identified a carbon dioxide “danger zone” for the ice sheet’s demise.

    Based on CO2 levels when the ice sheet formed, the researchers report that Antarctica’s ice will be “dramatically” more vulnerable to melting once...

    03/10/2016 - 14:00 Climate, Earth
  • The Science Life

    Prion disease gets personal

    Sonia Vallabh knows what will probably kill her.

    In 2011, the Boston-area law school graduate learned she carries the same genetic mutation that caused her mother’s death from a rare brain-wasting prion disease. Prions are twisted forms of normal brain proteins that clump together and destroy nerves. About 10 to 15 percent of prion diseases are caused by a mutation in the PRNP...

    02/22/2016 - 07:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Human DNA found in a Neandertal woman

    Humans and Neandertals may have hooked up much earlier than previously thought.

    Early ancestors of humans in Africa interbred with Neandertals about 110,000 years ago, an international group of researchers reports online February 17 in Nature. That genetic mixing left its mark on the DNA of a Siberian Neandertal,...

    02/17/2016 - 13:00 Ancestry, Human Evolution, Genetics
  • News

    Quantum histories get all tangled up

    Choose Your Own Adventure books are fun, but they let readers choose only one version of events at a time. Quantum mechanics, a new experiment suggests, requires that multiple adventures occur simultaneously to create a consistent account of history.

    Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek at MIT and colleague Jordan Cotler, now at Stanford University, provide evidence for what they call...

    01/25/2016 - 13:00 Quantum Physics
  • News in Brief

    Ocean heating doubles

    The ocean is taking heat. That’s the conclusion of a new study that finds that Earth’s oceans now absorb heat at twice the rate they did 18 years ago. Around half of ocean heat uptake since 1865 has taken place since 1997, researchers also report online January 18 in Nature Climate Change.

    Warming waters are known...

    01/18/2016 - 11:00 Oceans, Climate
  • News

    The Iceman tells a new tale: Infection with ulcer-causing bacteria

    Ötzi the Iceman had a stomach bug.

    The 5,300-year-old mummy holds DNA evidence of Helicobacter pylori, a common stomach-dwelling bacteria that can cause ulcers and other ailments, researchers report in the Jan. 8 Science.

    The new work could rewrite the timeline of H. pylori...

    01/07/2016 - 14:05 Genetics, Microbes, Anthropology
  • Feature

    12 amazing fossil finds of 2015

    From a spongelike speck to a bird built to terrify, 2015’s fossil finds added details, drama — and some real characters — to the story of life on Earth. These specimens flesh out life’s timeline too, spanning nearly 600 million years of history.


    12/29/2015 - 17:30 Paleontology, Animals
  • News

    New dating of dino ancestor challenges Triassic timeline

    Dinosaurs arrived hot on the tails of their more ancient relatives, reptiles called dinosauromorphs, a new study shows.   

    New dating of a dinosauromorph fossil layer in a geologic formation in Argentina reveal that it’s between 5 million and 10 million years younger than previously thought. That means dinosaurs and their dinosauromorph predecessors were separated by a gap of less than 5...

    12/07/2015 - 15:00 Paleontology, Earth