prehistoric

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Sandstorms Reveal Ancient Designs in Peru Desert

Pilot spots newly exposed Nazca lines

(Newser) - Sandstorms in Peru have revealed mysterious designs believed to have been etched into the desert thousands of years ago. The newly exposed geoglyphs, discovered last week by a pilot flying over the region, include a snake nearly 200 feet long as well as a bird and some llama-like creatures, reports... More »

Oldest Human Poop Discovered

Neanderthal latrine reveals omnivorous diet

(Newser) - Neanderthals who squatted by a campfire in Spain around 50,000 years ago left something that has got today's scientists very excited. What is believed to be the oldest human poop ever discovered has yielded important information about the Neanderthal diet, Discovery reports. The leavings show that the Neanderthals... More »

Vandals Carve Initials in 1K-Year-Old Rock Art

Bureau of Land Management is on the case

(Newser) - It's called one of Utah's most prominent pieces of rock art. But as visitors made their way past the "Pregnant Buffalo" petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon on Memorial Day weekend, vandals decided to make their mark by carving initials and the date into the prehistoric piece, the... More »

New Fossil Find One of History's Greatest

3K fossils, 55 species found in Canada's Kootenay National Park

(Newser) - Researchers in Canada have made an "extraordinary" find: a vast collection of fossils that offer an in-depth look at prehistoric life. The site in Kootenay National Park is being compared to what experts call one of history's greatest fossil finds, a 1909 discovery about 26 miles away in... More »

Did a Flower Shortage Kill the Woolly Mammoth?

Or did a mammoth shortage kill the flowers?

(Newser) - Scary as they might have looked, woolly mammoths had a decidedly non-threatening diet: They feasted on small flowers, according to a new theory. And the decline of these once-abundant plants, called forbs, may explain the disappearance of the mammoths themselves, NPR reports. Experts had believed woolly mammoths ate grass, but... More »

Life May Have Originated Miles Underground

New research questions 'primordial soup' theory

(Newser) - The idea of a "primordial soup," in which life theoretically began in lakes and oceans, may be way off. New studies suggest the beginnings of life on this planet could have occurred deep underground, the Independent reports. Researchers have found microbes up to 3.1 miles below the... More »

Australia Yields Evidence of Oldest Life Ever

Rocks in Pilbara reveal 3.5B-year-old microbes

(Newser) - We have found the oldest life on Earth, and it is Australian. A team of researchers from Down Under have found signs of "complex microbial ecosystems" in rock formations from the Pilbara region in Western Australia dating back 3.5 billion years, the Guardian reports. The discovery "pushes... More »

Ancient Shark Sported Devil Horns

"Devil Tooth" also had spikes on its fins

(Newser) - Researchers have discovered a never-before-seen prehistoric shark in a piece of Arizona limestone, and the creature had a rather frightening feature: a pair of "devil horns." The shark, dubbed the Devil Tooth or Diablodontus michaeledmundi, probably used the horns either to defend itself or to attract mates, Discovery... More »

Here's the Oldest Bird Ever Found —Maybe

Aurornis xui predates Archaeopteryx, but some think China 'enhanced' fossil

(Newser) - The feathered Archaeopteryx long ago laid claim to the title of oldest known bird—but it appears there's a new oldest winged critter in town. Scientists have found a fossil of a feathered dinosaur that predates Archaeopteryx by some 10 million years: Aurornis xui, discovered in northeastern China. The... More »

Scientists Find Ancient Rainforest—in Antarctica

Continent was downright balmy 52M years ago

(Newser) - It turns out Antarctica wasn't always an inhospitable expanse of ice. Drilling in the seabed off Antarctica has dug up sediment cores that, scientists say, reveal that a "near-tropical" forest covered the continent about 52 million years ago, the AFP reports. "There wouldn't have been any... More »

Cave Art Dates Back to Neanderthals

Earliest work more than 40K years old

(Newser) - Our ancestors were artists far earlier than experts had believed, new dating techniques reveal. Paintings in El Castillo cave in northwestern Spain are at least 40,800 years old—the oldest ever found, and ancient enough that Neanderthals could have painted them. That would come as a surprise, since experts... More »

Early Humans Found Unique Way to Get Woolly Mammoth

Fossil suggests they stole prey from lions, say scientists

(Newser) - Prehistoric humans may have sliced up woolly mammoths for dinner after stealing them from lions. Markings on a mammoth fossil show evidence of both human and lion involvement, reports the BBC . Researchers examined an "exquisitely preserved" carcass of a young woolly mammoth that still has its teeth, tusks, and... More »

Scientists Replicate Prehistoric Cricket Sound

Could be the world's oldest known song: researchers

(Newser) - Scientists have brought back a sound that hasn't been heard in 165 million years: the song of a prehistoric cricket. Using a remarkably intact fossil of a katydid—also known as a bush cricket—researchers were able to create soundalike replicas based on the creature's wings, AFP reports.... More »

Artist's Studio From 100000 BC Unearthed

Primitive paint workshop is evidence of early abstract thinking

(Newser) - Around 100,000 years ago, people were already mixing paint, using it to decorate objects and themselves and even storing it, say researchers in South Africa. A cave on the country's Indian Ocean coast has yielded what researchers believe is an ancient artist's studio, where tools were used... More »

Prehistoric Kids Went to Art Class

Cave art suggests adults taught children to be creative

(Newser) - Looks like art class may date back 13,000 years: Back then, research suggests, kids were getting help from adults as they decorated cave walls. Analysis of cave art in France reveals which works were created by kids, and the findings even indicate the artists’ likely ages and genders, the... More »

Ancient Feathers Add Some Color to Dinosaurs

Scientists thrilled with trove found in Canada from 70M years ago

(Newser) - Dinosaurs just got a little more colorful. A batch of prehistoric feathers found in western Canada from about 70 million years ago suggests that feathers on dinosaurs and early birds were more diverse and complex than thought, reports the Los Angeles Times . "Instead of scaly animals portrayed as usually... More »

Researchers Pinpoint Oldest Homo Erectus Tools

Axes, other implements go back 1.8M years in Kenya

(Newser) - A new study has identified the oldest known tools to have been used by Homo erectus. Until now, archaeologists had figured that the oldest tools used by man’s ancestor were somewhere in the ballpark of 1.4 million to 1.6 million years old. But now geologists have discovered... More »

Americas' Oldest Dog Unearthed

9,400-year-old Fido ended up as dinner

(Newser) - The first known domesticated dog in the Americas lived some 9,400 years ago and likely provided its owner with company, security, and, eventually, dinner, an ancient bone fragment suggests. A University of Maine researcher found the bone fragment in a prehistoric sample of human waste in Texas. DNA testing... More »

Dino-Eating Snake Makes Hiss-tory

Serpent preyed on titanosaur babies

(Newser) - Hundred-ton dinosaurs may have been just as scared of snakes as humans are. The recent discovery of a fossilized snake wrapped around a baby titanosaur offers the first-ever direct evidence that prehistoric snakes fed on dinosaur hatchlings. Researchers believe the snake was attacking a baby dinosaur as it hatched; a... More »

How Birds, Crocs Escaped Prehistoric Extinction

One-way breathing pattern points to common ancestor

(Newser) - In the midst of the planet's worst-ever wave of extinction some 250 million years ago, the ancestors of birds and alligators managed to survive thanks to a shared breathing mechanism that enabled them to weather low oxygen levels. New research shows that when birds and alligators breathe, air flows in... More »

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