Nature

Ancient canine craniums, discovered at a 28,500-year-old fossil site in Czechia, may represent one of the earliest stages of animal husbandry. Or, they could just be wolves. Today, all modern dogs (Canis familiaris) are descendants of Eurasian grey wolves (C. lupus), which were likely the first animals humans domesticated. Over millennia, a gradual series of
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A long, long time ago, the Indigenous Gunditjmara people – the traditional owners of lands in southwest Victoria, Australia – are said to have witnessed something truly remarkable. An ancient oral tradition, passed down for countless generations, tells of how an ancestral creator-being transformed into the fiery volcano, Budj Bim. Almost 40,000 years later, new
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A species of jellyfish hunts its prey by hurling venom grenades to create “stinging water”, researchers said Thursday, solving a long-standing mystery as to how they gather food without tentacles. The upside down jellyfish (Cassiopea xamachana), found in shallow waters around Florida, the Caribbean and Micronesia, is a frequent nuisance to snorkelers and surfers who appear
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Sifting through a soup of genes sampled from many environments, including human saliva, animal poop, lakes, hospitals, soils and more, researchers have found hundreds of giant viruses – some with abilities only seen before in cellular life. The international team, led by scientists from University of California, Berkeley, has discovered entire new groups of giant
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Ebola. SARS. Rabies. MERS. Most probably even the flourishing new coronavirus, COVID-19. There’s one animal that innocently and unwittingly gifts all these virulent scourges to humanity. Bats. Why is that? According to new research, it’s because bats may be the ultimate incubator, courtesy of a fiercely effective and robust immune system that seems to, in
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Half of the 1 million animal and plant species on Earth facing extinction are insects, and their disappearance could be catastrophic for humankind, scientists have said in a “warning to humanity”. “The current insect extinction crisis is deeply worrying,” said Pedro Cardoso, a biologist at the Finnish Museum of Natural History and lead author of
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Three years ago, the identification of Zealandia as a continent made global headlines. Now, newly published results from our scientific drilling expedition reveal the largely submerged Zealandia continent, which stretches across five million square kilometres beneath the southwest Pacific Ocean, was shaped by two tectonic events. First it was ripped away from Australia and Antarctica,
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Fireflies are in deep trouble, with many species facing extinction due to habitat loss and exposure to pesticides, according to the first major review of their global status, published Monday. Adding irony to injury, one of nature’s most entrancing spectacles is also being snuffed out by artificial light pollution, researchers reported in the journal BioScience.
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They were the largest animals to ever walk the Earth: sauropods, a dinosaur clade of such immense size and stature, they’re sometimes dubbed ‘thunder lizards’. These towering hulks – including Brontosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Diplodocus among others – needed four thick, powerful legs to support and transport their massive bodies. At least, most of the time.
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For the first time, scientists have produced snake venom toxins in the lab, opening up a much-needed path for developing drugs and venom antidotes that doesn’t involve having to breed and milk real-life snakes. The toxins have been produced through mini glands called organoids, following a process adapted from growing simplified human organs – something
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In an effort to trace a pathway from non-evolving organic chemistry to the first truly living cells, scientists from Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts have proposed those early building blocks contained little-known nucleic acids that aren’t part of any modern genome. The question of how we evolved genomic libraries encoded in DNA that are managed
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During a devastating and unprecedented bushfire season, Australians in Sydney and the surrounding central coast were practically begging for rain. A “bonanza” of deadly spiders was not exactly part of that request, and yet experts at the Australian Reptile Park strongly suspect that’s what’s coming. “We are issuing a message of warning to the public
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Throughout its life, our planet has been pummelled by countless asteroids and comets – even more so than the crater-ridden Moon. Today, thanks to Earth’s continually changing surface, there are remarkably few scars left to tell the tale. Australia’s relatively stable and ancient landscape not only harbours potentially the largest of those blemishes, scientists now
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A 120 million-year-old fossil is helping paleontologists to bridge the ‘phantom’ evolutionary leap between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds. Dubbed “the dancing dragon”, or Wulong bohaiensis, this newly described species is a strange mix between bird and dinosaur, ancient and new. First discovered in China more than a decade ago, in one of the world’s
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Scientists have reported on another devastating biological disaster, caused by a patch of abnormally warm water in the Pacific Ocean known as ‘the Blob’. This concentrated marine heatwave lingered in the northeast Pacific between 2013 and 2016, and researchers now think it was largely responsible for the death of almost a million common murres (Uria aalge),
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