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  • 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
  • It's Alive

    In a pack hunt, it’s every goatfish for itself

    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....

    03/06/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    It’s official: Termites are just cockroaches with a fancy social life

    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...

    03/01/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News in Brief

    This scratchy hiss is the closest thing yet to caterpillar vocalization

    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...

    02/26/2018 - 18:33 Animals, Ecology, Evolution
  • News in Brief

    The last wild horses aren’t truly wild

    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...

    02/22/2018 - 14:00 Genetics, Animals, Evolution
  • Feature

    New fossils are redefining what makes a dinosaur

    “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.

    Nesbitt, a paleontologist at...

    02/21/2018 - 16:00 Paleontology, Evolution
  • News

    Ants practice combat triage and nurse their injured

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    No wounded left behind — not quite. Ants that have evolved battlefield medevac carry only the moderately wounded home to the nest. There, those lucky injured fighters get fast and effective wound care.

    Insect colonies seething with workers may seem unlikely to stage elaborate rescues of individual fighters. Yet for Matabele ants (Megaponera analis) in sub-Saharan...

    02/16/2018 - 14:14 Animals, Evolution, Ecology
  • News

    Fossil footprints may put lizards on two feet 110 million years ago

    Fossilized footprints from an iguana-like reptile provide what could be the earliest evidence of a lizard running on two legs.

    The 29 exceptionally well-preserved lizard tracks, found in a slab of rock from an abandoned quarry in Hadong County, South Korea, include back feet with curved digits and front feet with a slightly longer third digit. The back footprints outnumber the front ones...

    02/15/2018 - 13:19 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Trove of hummingbird flight data reveals secrets of nimble flying

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    Lab-grade flight tracking has gone wild, creating a broad new way of studying some of the flashiest of natural acrobats, wild hummingbirds.

    One of the findings: Bigger hummingbird species don’t seem handicapped by their size when it comes to agility. A battleship may not be as maneuverable as a kayak, but in a study of 25 species, larger hummingbirds outdid smaller...

    02/08/2018 - 18:37 Animals, Biophysics, Evolution
  • News

    The wiring for walking developed long before fish left the sea

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    These fins were made for walking, and that’s just what these fish do — thanks to wiring that evolved long before vertebrates set foot on land.

    Little skates use two footlike fins on their undersides to move along the ocean floor. With an alternating left-right stride powered by muscles flexing and extending, the movement of these fish looks a lot like that of many...

    02/08/2018 - 17:40 Neuroscience, Evolution