The evolution of barn swallows, a bird ubiquitous to bridges and sheds around the world, might be even more closely tied to humans than previously thought, according to new study from the University of Colorado Boulder.
A new study, led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, suggests that early hominin dispersals beyond Africa did not involve adaptations to environmental extremes, such as to arid and harsh deserts. The discovery of stone tools and cut-marks on fossil animal remains at the site of Ti's al Ghadah provides definitive evidence for hominins in Saudi Arabia at least 100,000 years earlier than previously known. Stable isotope analysis of the fossil fauna indicates a dominance of grassland vegetation, with aridity levels similar to those found in open savanna settings in eastern Africa today. The stable isotope data indicates that early dispersals of our archaic ancestors were part of a range expansion rather than a result of novel adaptations to new environmental contexts outside Africa.
The first vertebrates on Earth were fish, and scientists believe they first appeared around 480 million years ago. But fossil records from this time are spotty, with only small fragments identified. By 420 million years ago, however, the fossil record blossoms, with a huge variety of fish species present en masse.
A team of evolutionary biologists from the University of Konstanz, headed by Prof. Dr. Axel Meyer, has discovered the genetic basis for the repeated evolution of colour patterns. The findings about the stripes of the diverse species of East African cichlid fishes explain how evolution can repeat itself at record speed. The study is published in Science magazine on 26 October.
An international team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the University of Oxford has revealed that New Caledonian crows are able to create tools by combining two or more otherwise non-functional elements, an ability so far observed only in humans and great apes.
For over 200,000 years, humans and their gut microbiomes have coevolved into some of the most complex collections of living organisms on the planet. But as human lifestyles vary from the urban to rural, so do the bacterial diversities of gut microbiomes.
Planktonic foraminifera (forams) - tiny, shelled organisms that float in the sea—left behind one of the most complete fossil records of evolutionary history in deep sea deposits. Consequently, evolutionists have a relatively sturdy grasp on when and how new lineages arose and developed their own unique features. However, a study publishing October 17 in the journal iScience reveals that one foram lineage evolved much more rapidly than everyone predicted, and researchers are looking beyond Darwin's original theories of gradual evolution to understand why.
House mice carrying a specific selfish supergene move from one population to another much more frequently than their peers. This finding from a University of Zurich study shows for the first time that a gene of this type can influence animal migratory behavior. It could help in dealing with invasive plagues of mice.