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skull_maba

Bashed-in prehistoric skull hints at the invention of violence




A 126,000 year-old human cranium (pictured right) exhibiting signs of localized blunt force trauma could represent the earliest known incident of interhuman aggression, says an anthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand. The report, appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that a 14mm (0.6 inch) ridged, healed lesion with the […]




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caveman

Caveman cook calorie kerfuffle corrected




Despite our preoccupation with all things gastronomic, surprising little is known about how food preparation affects the energy it supplies to our bodies. Now, for the first time, Harvard researchers have shown that cooked food yields more energy than raw, leading them to speculate that cooking played a key role in driving the evolution of […]




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ichthyosaur

Artistic mega-octopus may topple ichthyosaur from top of Triassic food chain




Neatly arranged fossilized vertebrae from a number of bus-sized ichthyosaurs could actually be a self portrait composed by a verylarge prehistoric octopus predator previously unknown to science, according to paleontologist Mark McMenamin, from Mount Holyoke College. McMenamin’s proposed rejig of the Triassic food chain places the air-breathing, snaggle-toothed ichthyosaur beneath what he says was an […]




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neanderthal

Modern humans healthier thanks to Neanderthal nookie




Mating with Neanderthals and another close relative – the recently discovered Denisovans – has endowed some human gene pools with beneficial versions of immune system genes, say researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans all share a common ancestor in Africa, but the groups split into separate, distinct populations […]




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clay_vesicle

Clay bubbles may have nurtured self-organizing precursors to life




A team of researchers from Harvard, Princeton, and Brandeis universities have demonstrated how small, semi-permeable compartments that form in inorganic clay provide an ideal container for the compartmentalization of complex organic molecules. Scientists say the discovery opens the possibility that the Earth’s first primitive cells might have formed inside inorganic clay bubbles. “A lot of […]




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devonian_epoch

Mass extinction event linked to invasive species




The arrival of invasive species can stop the dominant natural process of new species formation and trigger mass extinction events, say researchers examining fossil records from the Late Devonian epoch. Worryingly, the study of the collapse of marine life 378 – 375 million years ago suggests that the planet’s current ecosystems, which are struggling with […]




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