evolution

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Boys and Girls Have Different Spines—From Birth

The difference allows the female spine to adapt during pregnancy

(Newser) - Boys and girls have subtly different spines, and the difference is present at birth, according to a new study out of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on 35 full-term newborn girls and 35 full-term newborn boys, researchers report in the Journal of Pediatrics that vertebral... More »

Chimps Are More Advanced Than Us in One Specific Way

Their hands have evolved more dramatically than humans'

(Newser) - Consider yourself more advanced than a chimpanzee? When it comes to your hands, at least, you might be wrong. American and Spanish researchers who studied the hands of chimps, orangutans, humans, as well as those of human ancestors and ancient apes, say a chimp’s hands have evolved significantly since... More »

Scientists Can Finally Tell Animal's Head From Its Butt

What experts thought was Hallucigenia's head turned out to be fluid from its anus

(Newser) - A strange sea creature's embarrassment is over. More than a century after the now-extinct Hallucigenia was first found, scientists say they've discovered which end is its face and which is its butt. In Hallucigenia's defense, all fossils of the tiny creature—which was thinner than a hair... More »

How the Turtle Got Its Shell

The 240M-year-old 'grandfather' turtle had no shell and a very long tail

(Newser) - For at least a century, scientists have puzzled over the turtle. Thanks to a gap in the fossil record between 260 million and 220 million years ago, it's unclear how the turtle got its shell and to whom it's most closely related. Now a fossil from 240 million... More »

Moon Jellyfish Shock Scientists With This Trick

'Symmetrization' has never been observed before

(Newser) - When Caltech biologist Michael Abrams cut two arms off a young jellyfish in 2013, he figured it would do what many marine invertebrates do—grow new ones. But no. "[Abrams] started yelling... 'You won't believe this, you've got to come here and see what's happening,... More »

Snakes Used to Have Ankles

Ancestor likely had little toes, too

(Newser) - Scientists have created the most comprehensive family tree of snakes to date, and the ancestor at the very top looked different than the snakes we know today in one noticeable way: It "had tiny hind limbs, with complete ankles and toes," says a Yale researcher in a post... More »

Scientists Uncover Big Clue as to Why Men Exist

Sexual selection, by which males compete for females, improves gene pool: study

(Newser) - Scientists have long wondered why men exist. Sex between males and females is simply not nearly as efficient as asexual reproduction. But now a group out of the UK is reporting in the journal Nature that, after looking at several years of lab-controlled procreation of the Tribolium flour beetle, they'... More »

How Creatures Began Growing Heads

They started with a hard plate called the anterior sclerite: study

(Newser) - Ever wonder how creatures on Earth grew heads? Probably not, but they seem to have started with a hard plate in front of their brains. A recent study in Current Biology says fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years show the first signs of this plate, known as the... More »

Scientists Grow Chicken Embryos With Dino Snouts

As part of an effort to learn about beak evolution

(Newser) - It sounds straight out of Jurassic Park: Researchers have successfully created chicken embryos with what LiveScience frames as Velociraptor-like snouts. It's an end that has its beginning in a bird-dino quandary described by Carl Zimmer at the New York Times : "Even the most exquisitely preserved fossil can't... More »

Back Pain Sufferers Have Less Evolved Spines

Their vertebrae are more like those of chimps than the unafflicted

(Newser) - People who suffer from back pain have been dealt a lousy hand by evolution and might be more comfortable walking on their knuckles like our closest relatives, chimpanzees, according to Canadian, Scottish, and Icelandic researchers. Their study found that lower back pain sufferers have a lesion called a "Schmorl'... More »

DNA Analysis Fills in Piece of Dolphins' History

It suggests they moved into the Mediterranean roughly 18K years ago

(Newser) - Bottlenose dolphins may be an iconic draw to the Mediterranean, but they're not exactly indigenous. So say researches out of the University of Lincoln in the UK, who report in the journal Evolutionary Biology that the water-dwelling mammals didn't arrive until the end of the last Ice Age... More »

Scientists Uncover More Disturbing Form of Sexual Cannibalism

Some hungry praying mantises lure in males by lying about their health

(Newser) - If you don't know about sexual cannibalism, here's a quick primer: It's most common among insects and arachnids, and typically involves a female luring in a male for sex only to eat it, often via beheading, thereby promoting egg development and the likelihood of successful procreation. But... More »

We've Been Able to Hold Our Booze for 10M Years

That may have helped humans live on ground, rather than in trees

(Newser) - Studies have previously suggested that people started drinking alcohol about 9,000 years ago, around when we invented the means of making it. But new research suggests we could handle the stuff far before that: more along the lines of 10 million years, the Los Angeles Times reports. Humans have... More »

Did US Experts Just Resolve 'Darwin's Dilemma'?

He was bugged by the speed of evolution

(Newser) - Charles Darwin worried about a possible hole in his theory of evolution, but some American scientists may just have plugged it. For about a billion years after the dawn of life on Earth, organisms didn't evolve all that much. Then about 600 million years ago came the "Cambrian... More »

Insects Made History 400M Years Ago

They were first to grow wings, rule the skies

(Newser) - Want human beings to feel a massive ego-boost? Then look elsewhere, because a ground-breaking study published by Science finds that insects ruled the Earth about 400 million years ago and grew wings long before any other animal, reports Heritage Daily . They cropped up as plants began diversifying, in fact, and... More »

Here's How Penises Evolved

Scientists identify link between genitalia and growth of limbs

(Newser) - Most guys probably don't sit around the locker room pondering the finer points of how the male penis evolved, so leave this one to Harvard researchers: The mystery is solved thanks to … lizard limbs. Yup, Harvard scientists investigating the origin of external genitalia have found a link relating... More »

Amphibious 'Sea Monster' Made the Move to Water

Ancient ichthyosaur reveals missing link to evolutionary record

(Newser) - Scientists have found a real, not-live "sea monster" they say finally fills an evolutionary gap between sea and land dwellers around the time of the dinosaurs. Cartorhynchus lenticarpus—imagine a dolphin with huge flippers and a short snout—made waves in what is now China 248 million years ago,... More »

'Punxsutawney Phil on Steroids' Is Unearthed

'Vintana sertichi' dwarfed other mammals of its day

(Newser) - Back in the dinosaurs' day, mammals were the size of mice. But towering above them was one beefy rodent that one scientist calls "Punxsutawney Phil on steroids"—with super senses to boot. The 20-pound Vintana sertichi was accidentally found in a giant slab of sandstone in Madagascar, reports... More »

Pope Francis: Sorry, Creationists, God Has No 'Magic Wand'

God isn't a 'magician,' and the Big Bang makes sense, he says

(Newser) - Pope Francis has some bad news for creationists and those who believe in the theory of intelligent design: He thinks both camps are wrong. In remarks to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Francis embraced the concepts of evolution and the Big Bang theory in straightforward language, reports the Independent .
  • God
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Whales Got So Big After Super-Sized Shark Died Out

Megalodon died out 2.6M years ago, scientists estimate

(Newser) - Great white sharks have nothing on the ancient megalodon, which grew up to 50 feet in length and sported teeth as long as 7 inches. And now scientists have their firmest timeframe yet for when the creature went extinct. Scientists at the University of Florida in Gainesville report this week... More »

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