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News articles on Evolution
Mongabay.com news articles on Evolution in blog format. Updated regularly.
(02/05/2009) Tree frogs may help scientists inexpensively predict biodiversity hotspots for conservation, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Rediscovery of the solenodon, a rare venomous mammal, in Haiti
(01/09/2009) In the journal Oryx researchers from EDGE, a program of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), have announced the rediscovery of a small population of Hispaniolan solenodons in Haiti. At the same time scientists in the Dominican Republic have taken the first ever footage of this endangered mammal.
Newly discovered pink iguana sheds light on Galapagos evolution
(01/06/2009) A newly identified, but already endangered species of pink land iguana may provide evidence of the lizard's evolution on the Galápagos Islands, report researchers writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Did cheetah come from China?
(12/30/2008) The discovery of a fossilized big cat skull in northwestern China provides new evidence that cheetah originated in the Old World, rather than the Americas, report scientists writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
New species of flying lemurs discovered
(11/10/2008) A new study has found that colugos or flying lemurs are twice as diverse as previously believed.
Missing link between fish and land animals discovered
(11/07/2008) A study published in the October 16 issue of Nature details research into and implications of a fossil fish, Tiktaalik roseae, discovered last year at Ellesmere Island in Canada. The Devonian fossil shows an array of features found in both terrestrial and aquatic animals, providing the best glimpse so far into the transitory period during which vertebrates were able to adapt to life out of water. The find provides some of the first osteological evidence of neck development, a crucial adaptation to terrestrial life because it allows an animal's body to remain stationary while it surveys its environment.
Scientists discover 120 million year-old ant in the Amazon rainforest
(09/17/2008) Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of ant in the Amazon that may shed light on the evolution of ants. The species is believed to be the oldest-known ant at around 120 million years old. The discovery is presented this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For Australian beetles bigger is better; while American beetles don't care about size
(09/03/2008) Researchers have discovered a dung beetle that may be evolving into separate species in a few decades rather than thousands or millions of years. Separated geographically, sub-populations of the species show large differences in the size of their genitalia and horns. Such distinctions could create new species in a short time, because beetles with largely different genitalia cannot successfully mate.
Aye-aye diverged from other lemurs 66M years ago
(02/25/2008) The aye-aye -- a bizarre, nocturnal lemur that taps on trees with its fingers to find its insect prey -- was the first of its family to branch off from the rest of the lemur line some 66 million years ago, report Duke researchers writing in the March 1 issue of Genome Research.
Evolution of whales challenged
(12/19/2007) Modern whales appear to have evolved from a raccoon-sized creature with the body of a small deer, according to scientists writing in the journal Nature. The results challenge the theory that cetaceans are descended from even-toed ungulates (artiodactyls) like hippos, as previous molecular analysis has suggested.
New theory on the evolution of pygmies
(12/10/2007) The small body size of forest-dwelling "pygmies" evolved as a life history consequence of early death, not as an adaptation to their environment or endurance against starvation, argues a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Global warming may provoke evolution
(11/26/2007) Some 80 million years ago, during a period of global warming, a group of relatively immobile salamanders trekked from western North America to the continent that became Asia, report researchers writing in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Missing link between humans and apes possibly discovered
(11/12/2007) A 10 million-year-old jawbone discovered in Kenya may represent a new species very close to the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans, report researchers writing in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
New software tracks individual global warming emissions
(11/01/2007) A new Windows software program called TerraCuro enables users to track their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. TerraCuro's developers believe that "what gets measured gets results" and that the software will help users achieve "verifiably cleaner, lower cost, carbon-neutral living."
Flying lemurs are primates' closest cousins
(11/01/2007) New molecular and genomic analysis shows that flying lemurs are the closest relatives of primates, according to research published in the journal Science.
Climate change did not cause extinction of Neanderthals
(09/12/2007) Researchers in Europe have found evidence that rules out a "single climatic event" as factor in the extinction of Neanderthals.
Toddlers have higher social cognition skills than apes
(09/06/2007) Toddlers have more sophisticated social learning skills than their closest primate relatives, researchers report in the 7 September issue of the journal Science.
Squid chasing drove evolution of whale sonar
(09/06/2007) A University of California at Berkeley study argues that dolphins and other toothed whales developed sonar to chase schools of squid swimming near the ocean surface at night.
Climate change drove human evolution
(09/03/2007) Climate change appears to have been a significant driver of human evolution, report researchers writing in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).
Asians played larger role in colonization of Europe than Africans
(08/06/2007) Humans with Asian origins played a larger role than those from Africa in colonizing Europe millions of years ago, reports a paper published in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Sea anemone genome provides insight on evolution
(07/05/2007) The sea anemone genome is far more complex and vertebrate-like than the fruit fly or nematode genomes, reports a study published in the July 6th issue of the journal Science. The analysis provides insights into the common ancestor of nearly all multi-celled animals, including humans.
Rainforest trees colonized Africa from the Amazon
(06/24/2007) A giant rainforest tree is helping scientists understand similarities between African and South American rainforests, reports research published in the journal Molecular Ecology.
Mother lizards select color patterns of offspring
(06/13/2007) Mother lizards can induce different color patterns in their offspring in response to social cues, reports research published June 10 in the online early edition of the journal Ecology Letters. Female side-blotched lizards determine the patterns "most likely to ensure success under the conditions they will encounter as adults," according to scientists from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Frogs rafted from South America to the Caribbean 29M years ago
(06/04/2007) Large populations of frogs in Central America and the Caribbean rafted, over the ocean from South America more than 29 million years ago, reports a new study published in the June 4 early online edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Human ancestors first walked in trees
(05/31/2007) Walking on two legs is likely to have first arisen among apes living in trees, rather than ground-dwelling prehistoric ancestors of humans, reports research published in the June 1st issue of the journal Science.
Sex differences fuel evolution
(05/10/2007) Some Caribbean lizards' strong sexual dimorphism allows them to colonize much larger niches and habitats than they might otherwise occupy, allowing males and females to avoid competing with each other for resources and setting the stage for the population as a whole to thrive. The finding, reported this week in the journal Nature, suggests sex differences may have fueled the evolutionary flourishing of the Earth's wildly diverse fauna in a way not previously appreciated by scientists.
Climate change leaving amphibians behind in extinction race
(04/30/2007) Despite surviving the age of dinosaurs and numerous bouts of severe climate change, amphibians are not keeping pace with the current rate of global change, reports a new study published in the journal Bioscience.
Global warming killed Neanderthals in Spain
(04/30/2007) New research fingers climate change, not humans, as the culprit for the extinction of Neanderthals on the Iberian Peninsula. The research condradicts prevailing theory which holds modern humans responsible for their demise.
Animals on islands more abundant than mainland
(04/30/2007) A comprehensive survey of lizards on islands around the world has confirmed what island biologists and seafaring explorers have long observed: Animals on islands are much more abundant than their counterparts on the mainland.
First amphibians were biters not suckers
(04/16/2007) Prehistoric aquatic amphibians developed the ability to feed on land well before they became terrestrial reports a new study in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Dinosaur extinction didn't produce current mammal evolution
(03/28/2007) A new Nature study argues that the demise of dinosaurs did not fuel the rise of mammals. Devising a new tree of life for 4,500 species of mammals using molecular evolutionary trees, an international team of researchers challenges the prevailing hypothesis that a mass extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago played a major role in the diversification of mammals.
Monkeys have culture too
(03/24/2007) A study carried out in the Caatinga forest of Serra da Capivara National Park in the Piaui state of northeast Brazil provides new evidence for the existence of culture in monkeys. The research, published by Dr Antonio Moura, a Brazilian researcher from the Department of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, suggests that monkeys can learn skills from each other, in the same manner as humans. Moura found signs that Capuchin monkeys in Brazil teach each other to bang stones as a signaling device to scare off potential predators.
Evolutionary precursor to snake discovered
(03/23/2007) A University of Alberta paleontologist has helped discover the existence of a 95 million-year-old snakelike marine animal, a finding that provides not only the earliest example of limbloss in lizards but the first example of limbloss in an aquatic lizard.
Prehistoric lizard glided through air using ribs
(03/19/2007) An extinct species of lizard used a wing-like membrane supported by the animal's elongated ribs for gliding through the air according to Chinese researchers. The 6-inch (15.5 cm) lizard, found in the Liaoning Province of northeastern China, lived during the Early Cretaceous period. The specimen is described in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Evolution is faster in temperate zones
(03/15/2007) A new study argues that temperate zones are hotbeds of evolution, not tropical areas as conventionally held.
Caribbean coral reefs result of mass extinction, rise of isthmus
(03/12/2007) Extinctions that resulted from the formation of the Panamanian isthmus were delayed two million years according to a new study by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and London's Natural History Museum. The findings may have implications for global species extinction and evolution.
Ancient humanoids were short and nasty for kung fu fighting, not climbing
(03/12/2007) Ancient ape-like human ancestors called as australopiths were short-legged to help them fight, not to climb trees, argues a new study from a researcher at the University of Utah.
Two new species of eyeless albino millipede found in Arizona
(03/05/2007) A newly discovered genus of millipede may shed light on the poorly understood cave ecosystems of the desert southwest. J. Judson Wynne, with the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and cave research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Southwest Biological Center, and Kyle Voyles, Arizona State Cave Coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), collected the two previously unknown millipede species in caves on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon.
Chimps and humans split 4 million years ago
(02/23/2007) New research using DNA analysis suggests that chimpanzees and humans split from a common ancestor just 4 million years ago -- much earlier than the 5-7 million years currently accepted by biologists. The study is published in Public Library of Science journal PLoS Genetics
Global cooling may have spawned complex life on Earth
(02/13/2007) Icy conditions some 600-800 million years ago may have set the stage for the evolution of more complex lifeforms, according to research published in the February 14, 2007 edition of PLoS ONE. The theory may have implications for life on other planets.
Captive chimpanzees 'talk' to humans
(01/29/2007) Captive chimpanzees use specific vocalizations to communicate with humans according to new research published in the current issue of the journal Animal Behaviour. The researchers, lead by Dr. William Hopkins of Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, say these sounds are not used in other contexts -- only to elicit attention from humans. The researchers say the findings may help explain the evolution of language in primates.
Leaf-mimicking insects at least 47 million years old
(12/25/2006) With the discovery of a 47 million year old fossil of a lead insect, new research suggests that cryptic leaf-mimicking camoflauge is a time-tested strategy used by insects to avoid predators.
Mammals may have flown before birds
(12/14/2006) Mammals may have flown before birds according to a fossil discovery by scientists working in China. Working in the Inner Mongolian region of China, a team of Chinese and American scientists discovered a 125 million year fossil that provides evidence that mammals were capable of gliding flight some 70 million years earlier than previously believed.
Ancient hominid not our ancestor finds new study
(12/07/2006) Scientists have shown that ancient remains once thought to be a key link in man's evolutionary history are 400,000 years to young to be part of human evolution.
Neanderthal life was miserable suggests new evidence
(12/04/2006) New analysis of 43,000-year-old samples of Neanderthal remains from Spain's Iberian Peninsula suggest our relatives eked out a meager existence, possibly supplemented by cannibalism. The results are published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) for the week of December 4-8, 2006.
Clues about origin of life found in meteorite
(12/01/2006) NASA scientists studying a rare type of meteorite have found organic materials that were formed in the early days of the solar system according to a paper published in the December 1 issue of the journal Science. "Organic matter in meteorites is a subject of intense interest because this material formed at the dawn of the Solar System and may have seeded the early Earth with the building blocks of life," explained a media release from the Johnson Space Center. "The Tagish Lake meteorite is especially valuable for this work because much of it was collected immediately after its fall over Canada in 2000 and has been maintained in a frozen state, minimizing terrestrial contamination. The collection and curation of the meteorite samples preserved its pristine state."
Whales share human brain cells
(11/27/2006) Whales share brain cells with humans according to a new study published online November 27, 2006 in The Anatomical Record, the official journal of the American Association of Anatomists. The research suggests that "certain cetaceans and hominids may have evolved side by side."
Researchers find the missing link for elephant evolution
(11/02/2006) A pig-sized, tusked creature that roamed the earth some 27 million years ago represents a missing link between the oldest known relatives of elephants and the more recent group from which modern elephants descended.
Tropical biodiversity results from age of species argues new theory
(11/02/2006) Why are there more species in the tropics than in the temperate regions of the globe? Many of the world's species live in the tropics (perhaps more than half), but the reason has been debated for more than 100 years.
Blood-sucking lamprey is 360 million years old
(10/25/2006) The parasitic blood-sucking lamprey has remained unchanged for 360 million years according to research to be published in the Oct. 26, 2006 issue of the jounral Nature.
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