Amber Preserves Tick On Dinosaur Feather

By Gemma Tarlach | December 12, 2017 10:00 am
Hard tick grasping a dinosaur feather preserved in 99 million-year-old Burmese amber. (Credit papers authors here)

A tick grasping a dinosaur feather preserved for posterity in 99 million-year-old Burmese amber. (Credit Peñalver et al 2017, doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01550-z)

Turns out even dinosaurs got ticked off. A nearly 100 million-year-old piece of amber has preserved a tick latched onto a dinosaur feather, the oldest such preserved specimen of the parasite everyone loves to hate. Additional ticks found in related pieces of amber provide more evidence that the nasty critters were feasting on feathered dinos back in the day.
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Was The Thylacine Doomed Even Before Humans Arrived in Australia?

By Gemma Tarlach | December 11, 2017 10:00 am
Benjamin, the last living thylacine (as far as we know), photographed in 1933, three years before his death, at the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania. Credit: Photographer unknown, Wikimedia Commons.

Benjamin, the last living thylacine (as far as we know), photographed in 1933, three years before his death. (Credit: Photographer unknown, Wikimedia Commons)

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, went extinct in the 1930s after a concerted eradication campaign by humans. But a new study suggests that the marvelous marsupial native to Australia may have been in trouble long before then.
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It’s Official: Timeline For Human Migration Gets A Rewrite

By Gemma Tarlach | December 7, 2017 1:00 pm
The traditional story of human migration out of Africa to points north and east has been on shaky ground for years. Researchers in a new Science paper are finally calling for a revision. (Archaic Homo sapiens photographed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Credit Ryan Somma/Wikimedia Commons)

The traditional story of human migration out of Africa has been on shaky ground for years. Researchers in a new Science paper are finally calling for a revision. (Archaic Homo sapiens photographed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, credit Ryan Somma/Wikimedia Commons)

The wealth of new paleoanthropological, archaeological and genetic evidence has passed the tipping point: In a review published today in the prestigious journal Science, researchers acknowledge that the conventional timeline of human migration out of Africa “can no longer be considered valid.”

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Duck, Duck, Dinosaur! Meet Halszkaraptor, A Mongolian Mash-Up

By Gemma Tarlach | December 6, 2017 12:00 pm
No, not an escapee from the Island of Dr. Moreau. It's Halszkaraptor escuilliei, a newly described dinosaur with an unusual combination of traits. (Credit Lukas Panzarin)

No, not an escapee from the Island of Dr. Moreau. It’s Halszkaraptor escuilliei, a newly described dinosaur with an unusual combination of traits. (Credit Lukas Panzarin)

If it looks like a duck…it may be a curious new dinosaur, Halszkaraptor escuilliei. The Mongolian maniraptor is a mouthful to say and a, uhm, glory to behold. But the most interesting thing about it is how it apparently lived. Read More

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This Is Not The Yeti You’re Looking For

By Gemma Tarlach | November 28, 2017 6:00 pm
Photo caption here. (Credit XXXX)

A partial femur collected from a cave in Tibet allegedly belonged to a yeti, the infamous cryptid also known as the abominable snowman. DNA tests showed it was from a Tibetan brown bear. (Credit Icon Films Ltd.)

Researchers took another crack at hair, bone and other samples allegedly from the yeti, or abominable snowman, of the Himalayas. The analysis was the most sophisticated to date but — spoiler alert — the results won’t thrill cryptozoology fans. The study did reveal, however, an evolutionary plot twist of scientific significance.
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A New Titleholder For Earliest Wine?

By Gemma Tarlach | November 13, 2017 2:00 pm
Known for its unusual varietals and millennia-old wine traditions, the Republic of Georgia may also be where viniculture was born. (Credit G. Tarlach)

Known for its unusual varietals and millennia-old wine traditions, the Republic of Georgia may also be where viniculture was born. (Credit G. Tarlach)

Where are the roots of the earliest wine? Countries in southwestern Asia have long contested who was first to ferment grapes. To date, the oldest widely accepted evidence for viniculture came from the Zagros Mountains of Iran.

But now new research from the Republic of Georgia — a perennial and fierce challenger for the title — suggests people in that Southern Caucasus country were sipping the nectar of the gods even earlier.
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MORE ABOUT: archaeology

First Americans: Overland Beringia Route Takes Another Hit

By Gemma Tarlach | November 9, 2017 1:00 pm
A large valley moraine in northern Canada's Nahanni National Park. (Credit Brian Menounos, UNBC)

East of the now-submerged land bridge Beriniga, a large valley moraine in northern Canada’s Nahanni National Park dates to 13,800 years ago, roughly the end of the last ice age. (Credit Brian Menounos, UNBC)

One if by land, two if by sea…if only the debate about how the first humans arrived in the Americas was as easy to sort out as Paul Revere’s fabled lantern signal. Maybe it is. A new study from a different field offers indirect support to researchers advocating a coastal route for human migration to the New World.

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Did the First Americans Arrive Via A Kelp Highway?

By Gemma Tarlach | November 2, 2017 1:00 pm
The First Americans may have followed a "kelp highway" of marine resources available on a coastal route from Siberia to the New World. Nutrient-rich kelp beds such as these near Crook Point on the Oregon coast. (Credit Roy W. Lowe/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

The First Americans may have followed a “kelp highway” of marine resources via a coastal route from Siberia to the New World. Nutrient-rich kelp beds such as these, near Crook Point on the Oregon coast, attract salmon and other sea life that would have sustained the early explorers. (Credit Roy W. Lowe/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

The average person’s idea of how — and when — the first people arrived in the Americas needs a serious revision, say researchers: The First Americans arrived significantly earlier and via a different route than most of us learned in school. There’s something fishy about the whole thing.

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About That Dinosaur Family Tree Rewrite…

By Gemma Tarlach | November 1, 2017 1:00 pm
A proposed dinosaur family tree rewrite may sound like a crazy challenge to dinosaur canon, but remember, not that long ago scientists thought Iguanodon looked like this (hint: we know better now). (Credit Samuel Griswold Goodrich from Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859).

A proposed dinosaur family tree rewrite may sound like a crazy idea, but remember, not that long ago scientists thought Iguanodon looked like this (hint: we know better now). (Credit Samuel Griswold Goodrich/Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom, 1859)

Earlier this year, a trio of paleontologists led the charge to rewrite the most fundamental thing we believe about dinosaurs. Their call to action generated controversy and, more importantly, serious academic discussion. Now, a bevy of researchers weigh in on whether the dinosaur family tree really does need a revision — and their answer likely will surprise many armchair dino enthusiasts.
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MORE ABOUT: dinosaurs, paleontology

Southern Africa’s New Mega-Carnivore: A Whole Lotta Dinosaur

By Gemma Tarlach | October 25, 2017 1:00 pm
CAPTION HERE (Credit Fabian Knoll and Lara Sciscio)

Known so far only from its giant footprints, a new Southern African mega-carnivore is believed to be the region’s largest dinosaur predator ever. (Credit Fabian Knoll and Lara Sciscio)

My, what big feet you have…200-million-year-old dinosaur footprints found in the mountainous Southern African country of Lesotho are unique within the Southern Hemisphere and the largest of their kind ever discovered on the continent. But size isn’t the only thing that matters about the mega-carnivore that made them.
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