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Fossils

Skin cancer selected our ancestors?

Skin cancer selected our ancestors?



We can't find the fossils and the genome can give only some hints. How did the first human-like species survive and why did they have to be black. Mel Greaves has the answers.

Your ancestor was a little therian

Your ancestor was a little therian

We can visualise distant ancestral forms of many organisms by imagining similar species alive today, or complete fossils. Here the scarcity of evidence on early mammalian teeth makes it difficult, but not impossible, to show how incredible events shaped our past into the flower, insect and mammal-dominated Paleocene.

Fracking Nonsense

Fracking Nonsense



While renewable energy struggles to make its mark on politicians, the easy way is to use the good old technology of getting fossils out of the ground and setting them alight. Has anybody remembered the globe is warming quickly now?

Wild Horses from America

Wild Horses from America

The horse, the human and many others are being revealed as stretching way back in time, through ancestries we only dreamed of. The fascination of the horse is because we can truly see what happened because of the great herds that existed and left many useful fossils.

Ancestor of hummingbird and swift

Ancestor of hummingbird and swift

The North American fossils of humming birds are rare compared to other continents. This fossil is early and provides lots of information relevant to swifts and humming birds.

The Neander Valley has a lot to answer for!

The Neander Valley has a lot to answer for!

A new study on Neanderthals and the evolution of human ancestors' brains has been published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

New plant-eating dwarf dinosaur discovered - Pegomastax africanus

New plant-eating dwarf dinosaur discovered - Pegomastax africanus

Pegomastax africanus, a new species of tiny plant-eating dinosaur under two feet long has been found from South African fossils.

Humans certainly know how to wander - but where and when?

Humans certainly know how to wander - but where and when?

63,000 year old skull fragments of modern humans discovered in Laos. Homo sapiens fossils in Asia confirm that 'out of Africa,' humans colonised far and wide, but perhaps earlier than previously thought.

Those pesky apes keep coming and adapting - as do the theories

Those pesky apes keep coming and adapting - as do the theories

Human origins fascinate some people more than our currently-evolved selves. We have, in Africa, the mother of our species and civilisation. Unfortunately, we were fed a false theory in the beginning and now play catch up with the fossils that give us clues about our adaptive ancestors.

The Dwarf Mammoth of Crete: Mammuthus Creticus

The Dwarf Mammoth of Crete: Mammuthus Creticus

The smallest species of mammoth that ever existed lived on Crete. Fossils of Mammuthus creticus, a dwarf mammoth, were discovered on the Greek island.

They're after Iceman Oetzi's 5300-year-old blood!

They're after Iceman Oetzi's 5300-year-old blood!

Oetzi the iceman should not have had any blood preserved for the length of time (5,300 years) he has been lying in the mountains. But, as ever with this persistent man, Oetzi has come up trumps.

Bonaparte the bird-like dinosaur - Bonapartenykus ultimus

Bonaparte the bird-like dinosaur - Bonapartenykus ultimus



Fossils from a new bird-like dinosaur species have been discovered in Patagonia. At 70 million years old, 'Bonaparte' or Bonapartenykus ultimus has fascinated palaeontologists and closely resembles Patagonykus.

Burgess Shale - Life and death as they knew it

Burgess Shale - Life and death as they knew it



The Burgess Shale fossils are one major example of the Cambrian carbonaceous compressions of small bodied animals in mud.

Health Check for Oetzi the Iceman

Health Check for Oetzi the Iceman

When we wrote on Oetzi the archer who became 'The Iceman,' we must have missed the point. Now geneticists have jumped into the glacier with him and extracted his DNA for a whole-genome sequence.

Fossil from prehistoric penguin as tall as humans

Fossil from prehistoric penguin as tall as humans

Years after a fossilised penguin skeleton was found in New Zealand, scientists say it belonged to possibly the tallest ever prehistoric penguin; Kairuku grebneffi stood almost five feet tall.

Footprints Bring Fossil Elephants to Life

Footprints Bring Fossil Elephants to Life

Could it be that elephants are our superiors in matrilocal (mother-based), hierarchical and complex social structures? Research into fossil elephant trackways investigates their behavior.

Living fossil eel takes us back 200 million years

Living fossil eel takes us back 200 million years

Eels are among the most successful of all fish groups, and that extends back through time to the evolution of the bony teleosts themselves. The new species was named Protanguilla palau, complete with a unique family and genus.

Gregarious Cambrians (Siphusauctum gregarium) discovered

Gregarious Cambrians (Siphusauctum gregarium) discovered



Large colonies of gregarious tulip creatures (Siphusauctum gregarium) from 500 million years ago have been discovered near the town of Field in Mount Stephen's Burgess Shale.

Big teeth and strong arms of saber-toothed cat

Big teeth and strong arms of saber-toothed cat

Saber-toothed cats and similar prehistoric predators had large teeth and strong forearms, but their canines were fragile and liable to break, according to a new study

An Ichthyosaur and other Tales

An Ichthyosaur and other Tales



Valentin Fischer of the University of Liege, with several others, including Darren Naisch of the School of Earth Sciences at Southampton University, have illuminated the dark recesses of ichthyosaur biology with the unveiling of a new species.

It is important to get a head

It is important to get a head

Lauren Sallan, post-doctoral student at the University of Chicago has equalled her prestigious colleagues with recent achievements in evolutionary understanding. The idea that the development of features in the head precedes that in other areas such as body shape is a hard one to prove.

A bronze buckle in old Alaska

A bronze buckle in old Alaska

The discovery of a bronze artifact in a prehistoric Eskimo site. No trace of bronze metallurgy had ever been found in Alaska, until now.

Release the 'Kraken', well the Artistic Triassic Cephalopod

Release the 'Kraken', well the Artistic Triassic Cephalopod



A strange explanation is given for a puzzling arrangement of Triassic era fossils. It could seem strange to apply the word 'artistic' to a Triassic creature but an in-depth examination of Ichthyosaur fossils has renewed the general confusion about what happened to the animals on display at Nevada's Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park.

Looking for the climate's future in the distant past

Looking for the climate's future in the distant past

Scientists have turned to fossils from a previous time of high CO2 concentrations and found that previous temperature predictions have probably been too high. The team studied growth rings in the shells of molluscs and tested other material found in the fossils.

Soft-bodied giants roamed oceans longer than thought

Soft-bodied giants roamed oceans longer than thought

A paper in Nature today shows that anomalocaridids, giant predatory sea-creatures, survived 30 million years longer than was previously believed. The conclusion comes from the study of beautifully preserved soft-bodied fossils, found in Moroccan rocks, from the Ordovician period.

'Greenhouse' Effect Endangers Ocean Life

'Greenhouse' Effect Endangers Ocean Life

Scientists discover that the 'greenhouse' effect isn't constrained to the atmosphere. A team of geologists from Newcastle University in the UK have discovered evidence that 'greenhouse oceans' occurred in prehistoric times, resulting in areas of ocean with little or no life due to low levels of oxygen in the water.

Research casts light on planet's future

Research casts light on planet's future

The study of fossilised mollusks could give scientists an invaluable insight into the way the world will respond to climate change. Researchers at Californian university UCLA say that examining the fossils from 3.5 million years ago has allowed them to build a picture of how the world is reacting to current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a key contributor to global climate change.

New evidence of the first Americans

New evidence of the first Americans



A new archaeological find in Texas pushes further back the date when humans arrived in American, spelling the end of the Clovis First theory. The evidence has been found in Texas, where thousands of artefacts were discovered beneath a previous find of Clovis relics. Archaeologists believe the new evidence is between 13,200 and 15,500 years old and shows signs that the Clovis people adapted and improved on previous technologies.

'Pompeii' like fossils of Trilobites found in real-life situations

'Pompeii' like fossils of Trilobites found in real-life situations

Sudden death and burial by hurricane-displaced sediments has frozen ancient creatures in real-life situations which allow scientists to try and decipher how they behaved. University of Cincinnati palaeontologist Carlton E Brett says colonies of ancient sea creatures have been caught in mid-orgy by sudden downpours of fossilising sediment catching snapshots of life in the way that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius did at Pompeii.

Fossil-quake clues in ancient sediments help map out earthquake prediction

Fossil-quake clues in ancient sediments help map out earthquake prediction

The record of earthquakes past may be preserved in water-lain sediments, according to research from Tel Aviv University. These fossil-quakes leave tell-tale wave marks and help push back the record of seismic activity thousands of years. And the more information on an area's seismic past, the more confidently we can project future risks.

No nearer to reasons for Neanderthals' extinction

No nearer to reasons for Neanderthals' extinction

US study indicates that Neanderthal extinction was not due to dietry deficiency. Archaeologists cannot agree whether Neanderthals are a separate human species or a subspecies of modern humans.

Did modern man originate in Israel?

Did modern man originate in Israel?

Israeli archaeologists believe that remains found in a cave indicate that Homo sapiens roamed Israel 400,000 years ago.

Coming together to save Babylon

Coming together to save Babylon

The New York based world monuments fund has undertaken a massive project to restore the damage done to the ruins of ancient Babylon. After years of neglect and violence, archaeologists and preservationists have once again begun working to protect and even restore parts of Babylon.