Closer to Neanderthals than we thought

We already knew modern humans had interbred with the Neanderthals before they disappeared from history (See the Cosmos cover story The Neanderthals live on in us). But new research from Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and  David Reich at Harvard Medical School suggests that the interbreeding took place more recently than previously thought. … Continue reading Closer to Neanderthals than we thought

What would we need to create a Jurassic World?

  Like many moviegoers this summer, I plan to watch Jurassic World. And because I’m a paleontologist, I’ll cheer for the movie’s protagonists (the dinosaurs) and jeer at the villains (the humans). But no matter how thrilling this movie may be, one question will plague me throughout: where are the dung beetles? Dung beetles – … Continue reading What would we need to create a Jurassic World?

Triceratops teeth more complex than thought

The three-horned dinosaur Triceratops had more complex teeth than previously thought, according to new analysis of fossils. In fact, their teeth were much more sophisticated than nearly any other reptile and similar in complexity to mammalian teeth. The findings could help scientists better understand how these prehistoric animals adapted to exploit new diets and dominate among herbivorous … Continue reading Triceratops teeth more complex than thought

A bizarre new flying dinosaur

When it comes to big fossil finds, China is full of surprises. The latest dinosaur discovery, announced today in Nature, is a bizarre chicken-sized animal with a delightfully short scientific name, Yi qi, Mandarin for “strange wing” (pronounced “yee chee”). Yi is a new type of scansoriopterygid, a family of small feathered dinosaurs with unusually … Continue reading A bizarre new flying dinosaur