Roughly 3.3 billion years ago, Earth’s early life forms were plunged into an unimaginable hell, when a series of massive asteroids smashed into the young planet, vaporizing the oceans and scorching the skies. »
Scientists have shown that body-flinging escape jumps by trap-jaw ants are more than just a neat insectoid party trick.
Here’s a great Charles Darwin story you may not have heard before: In 1862, the famed naturalist foretold the discovery of an unusual animal, based on his observations of a species of orchid endemic to Madagascar. The creature was ultimately discovered in 1903—some 20 years after Darwin’s death. »
The Y chromosome, a chunk of genetic code that is unique to male mammals, isn’t just physically smaller than the X. It also contains far fewer genes. The X has more than 1000 genes, while the Y has fewer than 200 —and most of them don’t even work. Why do men have this odd, stunted chromosome in their genomes? »
This nerve can stretch to twice its resting length. Did you just squirm? If you did, you probably know that the nerves of vertebrates are notoriously inelastic things, and that stretching them even a little bit can result in painful injury. But the nerve in this image is special. In fact, it’s evolved to stretch this… »
Most of the time, the male Superb Bird of Paradise is a fairly nondescript black bird. But when it tries to attract a mate, it flips its feathers around to create a fluorescent kabuki mask that you’ll never forget. In this video, ornithologist Ed Scholes explains how the bird creates the illusion.
Meet Chilesaurus diegosuarezi, a newly described dinosaur discovered by a seven-year-old boy in Chile. The theropod was related to famous meat-eaters like T. rex, but researchers think it was a vegetarian. Stranger still: It possessed a mixture of anatomical features unlike anything researchers have seen before.
Paleontologists have painted a grim picture of the short and brutal life endured by a Daspletosaurus, a member of the tyrannosaur family. Damage inflicted to this specimen's skull affirms the suggestion that that these fearsome carnivores engaged in inter-species combat — and even cannibalism. »
When it comes to birds, males—with their bright feathers, extra accessories, and impressive mating displays—tend to get all the attention. But for many birds, such as the Choco Toucan pictured above, brilliant plumage has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with survival. »
Kissing is so commonplace that most people rarely think to stop and ask where humans picked up the habit in the first place. Where in humanity's evolutionary history did smooshing our faces together come to be regarded as a display of lust, care, friendship, and love? »
Behold Aegirocassis benmoulae, an extinct creature that swam through the Earth's oceans some 480-million years ago. Discovered by paleontologists in Morocco, it possessed modified legs, gills on its back — and a filter system for feeding. Remarkably, it's the oldest known animal to fill an ecological niche now… »
This jawbone pushes back the evolutionary origins of our genus by nearly half a million years, researchers reported today. »
In the Amazon, there is a species of a bird whose babies mimic the appearance of a toxic species of caterpillar that resembles Donald Trump's hair. (Spot the difference above, and after the jump.) Evolution! Ugly as sin, but damn effective. »
What's happening in Siberia's thawing permafrost and Greenland's melting glaciers sounds borderline supernatural. Ancient viruses, bacteria, plants, and even animals have been cryogenically frozen there for millennia—and now, they are waking up. »
What do a butterfly's shimmering wings, a fish's opalescent scales, and a peacock's brilliant feathers have in common? Yes, their colors are beautifully iridescent. But they are also produced by the physical interaction of light with sophisticated nanoscale architecture that we are only just beginning to understand. »
Obviously, alcohol's been a part of human society for a very long time. We started making it at roughly the same time we figured out agriculture, 9,000 years ago. A new study on our now-extinct ancestors revealed that they developed the ability to metabolize alcohol when they started going down to forest floors, about… »
Migrating birds fly in a V-formation to take advantage of the aerodynamic effects of flying behind another bird. Remarkably, birds take turns at the front despite no obvious benefit to the individual. A new study explains why they do it, and why cooperation can be a powerful evolutionary tool. »