evolution

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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 »

How Fish Could Change to Escape Fishermen

It's the nature of the hunt that the best swimmers survive—and procreate

(Newser) - Similarly to how superbugs are evolving so that they can survive our best efforts to drug them out of existence, it's possible that fish could evolve to swim faster and thus escape our masterfully constructed nets. So report University of Glasgow researchers in the journal Proceedings of the Royal ... More »

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 »

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