Trackway Analysis Shows How Dinosaurs Coped With Slippery Slopes

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Map of major geological features and tracks at the Moyeni tracksite.

A new investigation of a fossilized tracksite in southern Africa shows how early dinosaurs made on-the-fly adjustments to their movements to cope with slippery and sloping terrain. Differences in how early dinosaurs made these adjustments provide insight into the later evolution of the group.

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Rediscovering The Dragon’s Paradise Lost: Komodo Dragons Most Likely Evolved In Australia, Dispersed To Indonesia

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The Komodo Dragon is the world’s largest lizard, growing to an average length of 2 to 3 meters. It is found almost entirely on the Indonesian islands of Rinca, Flores and Komodo.

The world’s largest living lizard species, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), is vulnerable to extinction and yet little is known about its natural history. New research by a team of palaeontologists and archaeologists from Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, who studied fossil evidence from Australia, Timor, Flores, Java and India, shows that Komodo Dragons most likely evolved in Australia and dispersed westward to Indonesia.

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Light, Photosynthesis Help Bacteria Invade Fresh Produce

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Male common fruit fly (Drosophila Melanogaster). A common household nuisance, the fruit fly, is capable of intricate social learning much like that used by humans.

A common household nuisance, the fruit fly, is capable of intricate social learning much like that used by humans, according to new research from McMaster University.

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First Evolutionary Branching For Bilateral Animals Found

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Flatworm with a home: An international research team led by Brown University has determined that the flatworm Acoelomorpha belongs as a sister clade to other bilateral animals.

When it comes to understanding a critical junction in animal evolution, some short, simple flatworms have been a real thorn in scientists’ sides. Specialists have jousted over the proper taxonomic placement of a group of worms called Acoelomorpha. This collection of worms, which comprises roughly 350 species, is part of a much larger group called bilateral animals, organisms that have symmetrical body forms, including humans, insects and worms. The question about acoelomorpha, was: Where do they fit in?

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Getting A Leg Up On Whale And Dolphin Evolution: New Comprehensive Analysis Sheds Light On The Origin Of Cetaceans

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The Eocene “walking whale”(Ambulocetus natans) is a close relative to the Cetacean.

When the ancestors of living cetaceans—whales, dolphins and porpoises—first dipped their toes into water, a series of evolutionary changes were sparked that ultimately nestled these swimming mammals into the larger hoofed animal group. But what happened first, a change from a plant-based diet to a carnivorous diet, or the loss of their ability to walk?

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Mutations Make Evolution Irreversible: By Resurrecting Ancient Proteins, Researchers Find That Evolution Can Only Go Forward

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Fish fossil. Researchers resurrected and manipulate the gene for a key hormone receptor as it existed in our earliest vertebrate ancestors more than 400 million years ago.

A University of Oregon research team has found that evolution can never go backwards, because the paths to the genes once present in our ancestors are forever blocked. The findings — the result of the first rigorous study of reverse evolution at the molecular level — appear in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature.

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Tiny Tyrannosaur: T. Rex Body Plan Debuted In Raptorex, But 100th The Size

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Weighing as little as 1/100th that of its descendant T. rex, 125-million year old Raptorex shows off the distinctive body plan of this most dominant line of predatory dinosaurs.

A 9-foot dinosaur from northeastern China had evolved all the hallmark anatomical features of Tyrannosaurus rex at least 125 million years ago. Continue reading… “Tiny Tyrannosaur: T. Rex Body Plan Debuted In Raptorex, But 100th The Size”

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Scientists Use MicroRNAs To Track Evolutionary History For First Time

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A common European earthworm burrowing into soil.

The large group of segmented worms known as annelids, which includes earthworms, leeches and bristle worms, evolved millions of years ago and can be found in every corner of the world. Although annelids are one of the most abundant animal groups on the planet, scientists have struggled to understand how the different species of this biologically diverse group relate to each other in terms of their evolutionary history.

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Genome Of Irish Potato Famine Pathogen Decoded

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A potato plant infected with Phytophthora infestans.

A large international research team has decoded the genome of the notorious organism that triggered the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century and now threatens this season’s tomato and potato crops across much of the US. Continue reading… “Genome Of Irish Potato Famine Pathogen Decoded”

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New Fossil Tells How Piranhas Got Their Teeth

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How did piranhas — the legendary freshwater fish with the razor bite — get their telltale teeth? Researchers from Argentina, the United States and Venezuela have uncovered the jawbone of a striking transitional fossil that sheds light on this question. Named Megapiranha paranensis, this previously unknown fossil fish bridges the evolutionary gap between flesh-eating piranhas and their plant-eating cousins.

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54-million-year-old Skull Reveals Early Evolution Of Primate Brains

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Researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Winnipeg have developed the first detailed images of a primitive primate brain, unexpectedly revealing that cousins of our earliest ancestors relied on smell more than sight.

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