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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Ancient And Bizarre Fish Discovered: New Species Of Ghostshark From California And Baja California

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This is an Eastern Pacific black ghostshark (Hydrolagus melanophasma), a new species from California and Baja California.

New species are not just discovered in exotic locales—even places as urban as California still yield discoveries of new plants and animals. Academy scientists recently named a new species of chimaera, an ancient and bizarre group of fishes distantly related to sharks, from the coast of Southern California and Baja California, Mexico. Continue reading… “Ancient And Bizarre Fish Discovered: New Species Of Ghostshark From California And Baja California”

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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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African Origin Of Anthropoid Primates Called Into Question With New Fossil Discovery

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monkeys origin called into question with new fossil discovery.

Well-preserved craniodental fossil remains from two primate species have been discovered during excavations at an Algerian site. They reveal that the small primate Algeripithecus, which is 50 million years old and until now was considered as the most ancient African anthropoid, in fact belonged to another group, that of the crown strepsirhines.

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Flash Recovery Of Ammonoids After Most Massive Extinction Of All Time

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Asteroceras, a Jurassic ammonite from England.

After the End-Permian extinction 252.6 million years ago, ammonoids diversified and recovered 10 to 30 times faster than previous estimates. The surprising discovery raises questions about paleontologists’ understanding of the dynamics of evolution of species and the functioning of the biosphere after a mass extinction. Continue reading… “Flash Recovery Of Ammonoids After Most Massive Extinction Of All Time”

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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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New Species Of Giant Rat Discovered In Crater Of Volcano

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Bosavi giant woolly rat.

A Smithsonian Institution biologist, working with the Natural History Unit of the BBC, has discovered a new species of giant rat on a filmmaking expedition to a remote rainforest in New Guinea.

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First DNA Barcodes Of Commonly Traded Bushmeat: New Tool For Tracking Global Trade In Wildlife

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These are leather products on display in a craft market in Brazzaville, Congo.

Leather handbags and chunks of red meat: when wildlife specialists find these items in shipping containers, luggage, or local markets, they can now use newly published genetic sequences known as “DNA barcodes” to pinpoint the species of origin. Experts hope that this simple technique will track the harvesting of bushmeat (or wildlife hunted largely in Asia, South and Central America, and Africa) and will ultimately crack down on the widespread and growing international trade in bushmeat, a market estimated to be worth as much as $15 billion in 2008. Continue reading… “First DNA Barcodes Of Commonly Traded Bushmeat: New Tool For Tracking Global Trade In Wildlife”

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Chimpanzees Develop ‘Specialized Tool Kits’ To Catch Army Ants

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New research reveals that chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialised ‘tool kits’ to forage for army ants.

Chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialised ‘tool kits’ to forage for army ants, reveals new research published today in the American Journal of Primatology. This not only provides the first direct evidence of multiple tool use in this context, but suggests that chimpanzees have developed a ‘sustainable’ way of harvesting food.

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Mystery Of Bat With Extraordinary Nose Solved

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bats use their nose to create a highly focused sonar beam.

A research paper co-written by a Virginia Tech faculty member explains a 60-year mystery behind a rare bat’s nose that is unusually large for its species.

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