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First ancient syphilis genomes decoded

Thu, 21 Jun 2018 14:10:45 EDT ~ An international research team has recovered the first historic genomes from the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis. It was previously not thought possible to recover DNA of this bacterium from ancient samples. In the study, the researchers were able to distinguish genetically between the subspecies of the disease that cause syphilis and that cause yaws, which are not readily distinguishable in skeletal remains. Find out more...

T. Rex couldn't stick out its tongue

Wed, 20 Jun 2018 15:01:29 EDT ~ Dinosaurs are often depicted as fierce creatures, baring their teeth, with tongues wildly stretching from their mouths like giant, deranged lizards. But new research reveals a major problem with this classic image: Dinosaurs couldn't stick out their tongues like lizards. Instead, their tongues were probably rooted to the bottoms of their mouths in a manner akin to alligators. Find out more...

Fossils show ancient primates had grooming claws as well as nails

Wed, 20 Jun 2018 15:00:56 EDT ~ Humans and other primates are outliers among mammals for having nails instead of claws. But how, when and why we transitioned from claws to nails has been an evolutionary head-scratcher. Find out more...

Strange sponge-like fossil creature from half a billion years ago

Tue, 19 Jun 2018 23:08:53 EDT ~ A discovery of a new species of sponge-like fossil from the Cambrian Period sheds light on early animal evolution. Find out more...

22,000-year-old panda from cave in Southern China belongs to distinct, long-lost lineage

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 16:38:56 EDT ~ Researchers who've analyzed ancient mitochondrial (mt)DNA isolated from a 22,000-year-old panda found in Cizhutuo Cave in the Guangxi Province of China -- a place where no pandas live today -- have revealed a new lineage of giant panda. The report shows that the ancient panda separated from present-day pandas 144,000 to 227,000 years ago, suggesting that it belonged to a distinct group not found today. Find out more...

In the gaping mouth of ancient crocodiles

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:30:25 EDT ~ A new study has endeavoured to further explore the mouth of one of the earliest occurring and least understood groups of crocodilians, the shartegosuchids. Find out more...

Amber fossils provide oldest evidence of frogs in wet, tropical forests

Thu, 14 Jun 2018 09:52:37 EDT ~ 99-million-year-old amber fossils from Myanmar provide the earliest evidence of frogs in wet, tropical forests. Find out more...

Oldest bubonic plague genome decoded

Fri, 08 Jun 2018 08:56:25 EDT ~ An international team has analyzed two 3,800-year-old Y. pestis genomes that suggest a Bronze Age origin for bubonic plague. The study shows that this strain is the oldest sequenced to date that contains the virulence factors considered characteristic of the bubonic plague and is ancestral to the strain that caused the Black Death. Find out more...

'Monstrous' new Russian saber-tooth fossils clarify early evolution of mammal lineage

Fri, 08 Jun 2018 08:56:22 EDT ~ Fossils representing two new species of saber-toothed prehistoric predators have been described. These new species improve the scientists' understanding of an important interval in the early evolution of mammals -- a time, between mass extinctions, when the roles of certain carnivores changed drastically. Find out more...

First tetrapods of Africa lived within the Devonian Antarctic Circle

Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:08:20 EDT ~ The first African fossils of Devonian tetrapods (four-legged vertebrates) show these pioneers of land living within the Antarctic circle, 360 million years ago. Find out more...