evolution

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Vampire Bats Now Feasting on Human Blood

Scientists in Brazil say they're evolving because of a decline in birds

(Newser) - Human encroachment typically means bad news for a given species (recent examples include giraffes and cheetahs ), but one mammal appears to be fighting back. Researchers say the hairy-legged vampire bat has adapted surprisingly fast from drinking the blood of birds to that of humans to survive, reports the Telegraph ... More »

'Ancient' Signal Dictates Where Mom Holds Baby

'Positional bias' is common among humans and wild animals

(Newser) - It's long been observed that mothers tend to cradle their infants on their left side, and this has long been at least informally attributed to handedness (so that right-handed mothers have the right hand free). Now researchers report in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution that "positional bias"... More »

Fossil Fills in Big Blank About the Mysterious 'Ghost Shark'

It belongs to an early chimaera, not a shark

(Newser) - The chimaera, or so-called "ghost shark," is an elusive deep-water fish that has fascinated biologists for more than a century. Like its relative the shark, however, it's made of cartilage and thus rarely fossilizes, so little is known about its evolutionary past, reports Live Science . Now the... More »

Viruses May Hit Men Harder Than Women for a Reason

From a virus' perspective, women are the superior host

(Newser) - It is now well established that many viruses wreak more havoc on men than on women. Examples: Men are five times as likely to develop cancer from HPV as women, twice as likely to develop Hodgkin's lymphoma from the Epstein-Barr virus, and 1.5 times as likely to die... More »

Scientists Figure Out Why Men Have No Penis Bone

Human sex is just too speedy: study

(Newser) - Monkeys have them. In walruses, they might be up to two feet long. Mice have teeny, tiny ones. So why don't human men have a penis bone? Scientists have a theory, and gentlemen, it might hurt your ego a bit. While researching the bone—known as the baculum—researchers... More »

Female Fish Fight Bigger Penises With Bigger Brains

At least when it comes to mosquitofish, where males attack instead of court females

(Newser) - The tiny eastern mosquitofish, indigenous to the southern and eastern US, is unlike much of the rest of the animal kingdom when it comes to reproduction, starting with the differing objectives of the females and males of the species. Because they have to bear the burden of actually carrying the... More »

New Twist on Why Dinosaurs Got So Big So Fast

Those with funky-looking skulls grew most quickly

(Newser) - For years, paleontologists have theorized that many of the world's largest dinosaurs sported head ornaments (think horns, knobs, and crests) as a means of intimidation and defense, and that these giants evolved to be so big because size helped them be more effective killers. But now new research published... More »

Humans Are Natural Killers But We're Not the Worst

Monkeys and meerkats are far more likely to murder their own, researchers say

(Newser) - Violence comes naturally to humans, but we are far less murderous than we used to be, a new study shows. Scientists in Spain who examined the tendency among more than 1,000 mammal species to kill their own found that humans have been "particularly violent" throughout our history, reports... More »

What Roar? Some Dinosaurs Likely Cooed

They perhaps made 'closed-mouth vocalizations' like birds

(Newser) - Dinosaurs may have been much more like modern birds than we knew—and not just because some had feathers . A new study suggests that mighty dinosaurs of yore didn't roar, contrary to every dinosaur movie you've ever seen. Instead, they made a decidedly less scary sound called a... More »

Today's Sperm Whales Descended From One 'Eve'

An ancient whale appears to be the mother of all modern sperm whales

(Newser) - While investigating samples of toxic levels of heavy metals found in sperm whales, researchers stumbled upon a surprising discovery: All of today's sperm whales appear to have descended from the same female, reports Hakai magazine. They've named her Eve and say she lived between 10,000 and 80,... More »

'Missing Link' Fish Found in Slimy Cave

Endangered species in Thailand could explain a lot

(Newser) - According to evolutionary theory, something must have crawled from the sea onto land hundreds of millions of years ago—but what? How about a blind fish called Cryptotora thamicola, which uses four fins like crutches to wriggle up waterfalls and across slimy rocks, the Smithsonian reports. Discovered in northern Thailand... More »

Scientists Grow Chickens With Dinosaur Legs

'With one small modification, millions of years of evolution can be undone'

(Newser) - Scientists—presumably so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think whether they should—have grown chickens with dinosaur legs, Phys.org reports. More accurately, a team at the University of Chile grew chicken embryos with dinosaur-like fibulas. In modern birds, the fibula is shorter... More »

Scientists Finally Know Why Snakes Lost Their Legs

Apparently it was a need to burrow underground

(Newser) - "How snakes lost their legs has long been a mystery to scientists," Dr. Hongyu Yi says in a press release from the University of Edinburgh. But that mystery may have finally been solved thanks to a 90 million-year-old skull and advanced CT scan technology. It's been long... More »

Dead Men Prove It: Our Fists Evolved for Better Punching

Scientists think our hands evolved so that we could punch without injuring ourselves

(Newser) - The delicate human hand with its 27 bones folds up into an effective blunt weapon—and that is probably not a coincidence, say researchers who studied the difference between blows from a clenched fist, an unclenched fist, and an open hand. University of Utah researcher David Carrier and his colleagues... More »

Ancient Crystals Rewrite 300M Years of History

Life may have started 'almost instantaneously'

(Newser) - Life of one kind or another has been around on this planet for 300 million years longer than thought, according to US researchers who took a close look at some incredibly ancient crystals unearthed in Australia. The scientists say that the zircon crystals from 4.1 billion years ago contain... More »

Scientists Uncover Clues About Giraffe's Long Neck

Evolutionary bursts occurred 7M and 1M years ago

(Newser) - In further proof that size matters, the giraffe likely developed a long neck so males could battle each other for mates. If you've ever seen a male giraffe whip its foes , you'll know the neck can be an nasty weapon, with the added benefit that giraffes can reach... More »

Scientists: We've Found a New Human Relative

Experts say Homo naledi may have buried its dead, but others aren't convinced

(Newser) - Scientists say it's a find "unlike anything that we have seen." Deep within a South African cave, experts claim to have uncovered the remains of a previously unknown human ancestor that stood about 5 feet tall, weighed 100 pounds, used tools, and may have buried its dead—... More »

First Big Predator Was 'Angry' Water Bug

You wouldn't want to swim with 'Pentecopterus decorahensis'

(Newser) - Earth's first big predatory monster was a weird water bug as big as Tom Cruise, newly found fossils show. Almost half a billion years ago, way before the dinosaurs roamed, Earth's dominant large predator was a sea scorpion that grew to 5 feet 7 inches, with a dozen... More »

Which Animal Is the 'Superpredator'? We Are

The rate at which humans kill animals is not sustainable, study finds

(Newser) - For tens of thousands of years, where humans go, animals are driven to extinction. We are the superpredator, killing animals—and adults ones at that—at a much higher rate than other predators. And it's not sustainable. So say researchers at the University of Victoria in the journal Science... More »

In Cats vs. Dogs, History Answers

Cats are responsible for the extinction of 40 early canine species

(Newser) - It's official: Cats are better than dogs. Better predators, that is. So say researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences after looking at more than 2,000 fossils of prehistoric cats and dogs in North America. It turns out that when cats arrived on the continent... More »

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