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Environment - Paleontology - 16.09.2020
Discovery of a new mass extinction
Discovery of a new mass extinction
Summary of major extinction events through time, highlighting the new, Carnian Pluvial Episode at 233 million years ago. © D. Bonadonna/ MUSE, Trento. 16 September 2020 It's not often a new mass extinction is identified; after all, such events were so devastating they really stand out in the fossil record.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 17.06.2020
Insect crunching reptiles on ancient islands of the UK
Insect crunching reptiles on ancient islands of the UK
By analysing the fossilised jaw mechanics of reptiles who lived in the Severn Channel region of the UK 200-million-years ago, researchers from the University of Bristol have shown that they weren't picky about the types of insects they ate - enjoying both crunchy and less crunchy varieties. The study, published today in the journal Palaeontology , describes how the team analysed the biomechanics of the skulls of some early lizard-like reptiles called rhynchocephalians to explore their diets.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 11.06.2020
Oldest relative of ragworms and earthworms discovered
Oldest relative of ragworms and earthworms discovered
Scientists at the Universities of Oxford, Exeter, Yunnan and Bristol and have discovered the oldest fossil of the group of animals that contains earthworms, leeches, ragworms and lugworms. This discovery pushes the origin of living groups of these worms (polychaetes) back tens of millions of years, demonstrating that they played an important part in the earliest animal ecosystems.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.05.2020
Ancient giant armoured fish fed in a similar way to basking sharks
Ancient giant armoured fish fed in a similar way to basking sharks
Scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of Zurich have shown that the Titanichthys - a giant armoured fish that lived in the seas and oceans of the late Devonian period 380-million-years ago - fed in a similar manner to modern day basking sharks. Titanichthys has long been known as one of the largest animals of the Devonian - its exact size is difficult to determine, but it likely exceeded five metres in length; like in the basking shark, its lower jaw reached lengths exceeding one metre.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.04.2020
Brain’s language pathway dates back at least 25 million years
A research team involving UCL has discovered an earlier origin to the human language pathway in the brain, pushing back its evolutionary origin by at least 20 million years. Previously, a precursor of the language pathway was thought by many scientists to have emerged more recently, about 5 million years ago, with a common ancestor of both apes and humans.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 15.04.2020
Fossil-inspired flight: pterosaurs hold secrets to better aeronautical engineering
Fossil-inspired flight: pterosaurs hold secrets to better aeronautical engineering
Pterosaurs were the largest animals ever to fly. They soared the skies for 160 million years - much longer than any species of modern bird. However, until now, these ancient flyers have largely been overlooked in the pursuit of bio-inspired flight technologies. In a review, published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution , Bristol researchers outline why and how the physiology of fossil flyers could provide ancient solutions to modern flight problems, such as aerial stability and the ability of drones to self-launch.

Environment - Paleontology - 01.04.2020
Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world
Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world
Researchers have found evidence of rainforests near the South Pole 90 million years ago, suggesting the climate was exceptionally warm at the time. A team from the UK and Germany discovered forest soil from the Cretaceous period within 900 km of the South Pole. Their analysis of the preserved roots, pollen and spores shows that the world at that time was a lot warmer than previously thought.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 13.02.2020
Boom and bust for ancient sea dragons
Boom and bust for ancient sea dragons
A new study by scientists from the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, shows a well-known group of extinct marine reptiles had an early burst in their diversity and evolution - but that a failure to adapt in the long-run may have led to their extinction. Ichthyosaurs were fish-like reptiles that first appeared about 250 million years ago and quickly diversified into highly capable swimmers, filling a broad range of sizes and ecologies in the early Mesozoic oceans.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 27.11.2019
Animal embryos evolved before animals
Animal embryos evolved before animals
Animals evolved from single-celled ancestors, before diversifying into 30 or 40 distinct anatomical designs. When and how animal ancestors made the transition from single-celled microbes to complex multicellular organisms has been the focus of intense debate.

Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 04.11.2019
Discriminating diets of meat-eating dinosaurs
Discriminating diets of meat-eating dinosaurs
A big problem with dinosaurs is that there seem to be too many meat-eaters. From studies of modern animals, there is a feeding pyramid, with plants at the bottom, then plant-eaters, and then meat-eaters at the top. A new study by scientists at the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences , published in the journal Palaeontology, shows that dinosaurian meat-eaters, the theropod dinosaurs, specialised a great deal, and so broadened their food base.

Environment - Paleontology - 17.10.2019
How ocean ecosystems recovered after mass extinction event 66 million years ago
How ocean ecosystems recovered after mass extinction event 66 million years ago
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, have produced an unprecedented record of the biotic recovery of ocean ecosystems that followed after the last mass extinction, 66 million years ago. In an article published in the journal Nature , the team, which includes researchers from Southampton, University College London, Frankfurt and California, present a 13 million-year record of fossil plankton dynamics in the aftermath of near annihilation, providing a remarkable glimpse into how the marine ecosystem ‘reboots'.

Environment - Paleontology - 26.09.2019
Ecosystems take two million years to recover after mass extinctions
Ecosystems take two million years to recover after mass extinctions
It takes ecosystems two million years to recover after a mass extinction and for them to become functional and resilient again, according to new UCL co-led research. The study Hojung Kim and Dr Sarah Alvarez) and academics from Southampton, Frankfurt and California. The team looked at 13 million years' worth of fossil plankton records in the aftermath of near annihilation of ocean plankton, during the Cretaceous/Paleogene mass extinction, providing a remarkable glimpse into how the marine ecosystem 'reboots'.

Paleontology - 29.08.2019
First human ancestors breastfed for longer than contemporary relatives
First human ancestors breastfed for longer than contemporary relatives
By analysing the fossilised teeth of some of our most ancient ancestors, a team of scientists led by the universities of Bristol (UK) and Lyon (France) have discovered that the first humans significantly breastfed their infants for longer periods than their contemporary relatives. The results, published in the journal Science Advances , provide a first insight into the practice of weaning that remain otherwise unseen in the fossil record.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 15.08.2019
Dinosaur brains from baby to adult
Dinosaur brains from baby to adult
New research by a University of Bristol palaeontology post-graduate student has revealed fresh insights into how the braincase of the dinosaur Psittacosaurus developed and how this tells us about its posture. Psittacosaurus was a very common dinosaur in the Early Cretaceous period - 125 million years ago - that lived in eastern Asia, especially north-east China.

Paleontology - 26.06.2019
Blue colour tones in fossilised prehistoric feathers
Blue colour tones in fossilised prehistoric feathers
Examining fossilised pigments, scientists from the University of Bristol have uncovered new insights into blue colour tones in prehistoric birds. For some time, paleontologists have known that melanin pigment can preserve in fossils and have been able to reconstruct fossil colour patterns. Melanin pigment gives black, reddish brown and grey colours to birds and is involved in creating bright iridescent sheens in bird feathers.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 03.06.2019
Feathers came first, then birds
Feathers came first, then birds
New research, led by the University of Bristol, suggests that feathers arose 100 million years before birds - changing how we look at dinosaurs, birds, and pterosaurs, the flying reptiles. It also changes our understanding of feathers themselves, their functions and their role in some of the largest events in evolution.

Earth Sciences - Paleontology - 02.05.2019
Chewing versus sex in the duck-billed dinosaurs
Chewing versus sex in the duck-billed dinosaurs
The duck-billed hadrosaurs walked the Earth over 90-million years ago and were one of the most successful groups of dinosaurs. But why were these 2-3 tonne giants so successful? A new study, published in Paleobiology, shows that their special adaptations in teeth and jaws and in their head crests were crucial, and provides new insights into how these innovations evolved.

Environment - Paleontology - 08.04.2019
Earth's recovery from mass extinction could take millions of years
Earth’s recovery from mass extinction could take millions of years
How long will it take our biosphere to recover from the current climate crisis' It's a question that makes for a sobering examination of Earth's ongoing destruction. It's to the past, specifically the fossils of a tiny species that went out with the dinosaurs, that scientists have turned for the answer.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 29.03.2019
Untangling the evolution of feeding strategies in ancient crocodiles
Untangling the evolution of feeding strategies in ancient crocodiles
Ancient aquatic crocodiles fed on softer and smaller prey than their modern counterparts and the evolution of skull shape and function allowed them to spread into new habitats, reveal paleobiology researchers from the University of Bristol and UCL. For the study, published today in Paleontology , the team digitally reconstructed the skull of an extinct species of marine crocodile and compared it to similar living species to gain new insights into the diet of ancient crocodiles and their role in ecosystems around 230 million years ago.

Earth Sciences - Paleontology - 06.03.2019
Dinosaurs were thriving before asteroid strike that wiped them out
Dinosaurs were thriving before asteroid strike that wiped them out
Dinosaurs were unaffected by long-term climate changes and flourished before their sudden demise by asteroid strike, new research, co-authored by the University of Bristol, has found. Scientists largely agree that an asteroid impact, possibly coupled with intense volcanic activity, wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago.

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