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  • Science Ticker

    Early meat-eater may have led to larger plant-eaters

    The newly identified Eocasea martini didn’t inspire the adult beverage that shares its name, but the small barrel-bodied creature may have set the stage for later, much larger animals to become plant-eaters.A roughly 300 million-year-old fossil of E. martini found in Kansas suggests that the early proto-mammal munched on meat. But species similar in body structure that came...
    04/17/2014 - 15:06 Paleontology
  • Science Ticker

    Fish gill fossils gnaw at ideas of jaw evolution

    Bony fishes, not modern sharks, may provide a better understanding of the earliest jawed animals and the evolution of the jaw itself.Fossils of a 325-million-year-old sharklike creature show that the newly named Ozarcus mapesae had a gill structure more similar to bony fishes, such as sunfish, than to modern sharks, rays and other non-...
    04/16/2014 - 13:45 Paleontology, Animals
  • News in Brief

    La Brea Tar Pits yield exquisite Ice Age bees

    It’s not all mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. The first leafcutter bees from the Pleistocene epoch have turned up in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.Exquisitely preserved as pupae undergoing their transformation to adulthood, a male and a female are still wrapped in their leafy nest. Micro-CT scans and other clues let researchers identify the bees...
    04/09/2014 - 17:30 Paleontology
  • Firsts

    Ancient crustacean had elaborate heart

    The early ancestors of insects, centipedes and crustaceans had big hearts.A fossil from 520 million years ago shows that the now-extinct Fuxianhuia protensa had a broad spindly heart that extended into a complex system of arteries, which sent blood to the creature’s limbs and organs, including its brain, eyes and antennae. The new 7.6-centimeter-long fossil from Kunming, in southwest...
    04/07/2014 - 16:00 Paleontology
  • Science Ticker

    Footprints of dino chase digitally reconstructed

    Footprints of a T. rex-type dinosaur chasing an Apatosaurus-like animal have been turned into a 3-D fly-through, giving researchers a way to verify maps of the tracks drawn 70 years ago.The tracks, from the Paluxy River in Texas, are among the most famous dinosaur footprints in the world. But the pathway has been under threat since paleontologists excavated, divided and moved...
    04/02/2014 - 18:03 Paleontology
  • Science Ticker

    Sea stars sighted predators 79 million years ago

    Starfish and brittle stars may have evolved complex lenselike structures at least 79 million years ago to detect and evade shell-crushing and boring predators flourishing during the Mesozoic era.Fossils from Poland show that some echinoderms had arm plates with arrays of closely packed bulges made of the mineral form of calcium carbonate. The bulges are similar to the structures that form...
    04/01/2014 - 16:19 Paleontology
  • Science Ticker

    Microbes indicted in ancient mass extinction

    About 252 million years ago an estimated 96 percent of all species were wiped from Earth, and now scientists have a new suspect in the killing — methane-belching microbes.The archaea Methanosarcina got faster at making methane by acquiring a gene from another microbe and then reproducing quickly, fueled by nickel spewing from Siberian volcanoes. The extra methane would have made the...
    03/31/2014 - 17:58 Paleontology, Microbes, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Ancient oceans’ top predator was gentle filter feeder

    View the videoSome of the largest early animals may have used spiny limbs to filter their food rather than impale it.Fossils found in northern Greenland suggest that, like other predators 520 million years ago, Tamisiocaris borealis, a distant lobster relative, had two long, spiny limbs that jutted out from its face. But unlike other predators, T. borealis’...
    03/26/2014 - 14:02 Paleontology
  • News in Brief

    Fossil fern showcases ancient chromosomes

    After 180 million years buried in volcanic rock in the southern tip of Sweden, a recently discovered fern fossil looks almost as good as new.The matchbox-sized fossil is among the best ever preserved: Thin slices viewed under a microscope reveal rounded cells jam-packed in the stem, like water balloons stuffed in a barrel. And inside the cells, within tiny dots of nuclei, the shadowy squiggles of...
    03/20/2014 - 14:00 Plants, Evolution, Paleontology
  • Introducing

    The dinosaur ‘chicken from hell’

    A supersized chickenlike reptile with large, sharp claws and a toothless beak is the latest creature to earn the distinction of being called a dinosaur.The creature is named Anzu wyliei, its genus named after a birdlike demon in Mesopotamian mythology, and the researchers describing the dinosaur jokingly refer to it as a “chicken from hell.” It is the second-largest birdlike, feathered...
    03/19/2014 - 17:00 Paleontology