What caused the Earth’s first mass extinction?

Nearly 500 million years ago in the late Ordovician period, a mass extinction wiped out 85% of marine species. Scientists have now used modelling to narrow down the cause of this colossal loss of life – and they reckon it was due to a cooling climate. Throughout the last 500 million years, the planet has … Continue reading What caused the Earth’s first mass extinction?

9 funky stories for Fossil Day

Happy Fossil Day! Here at Cosmos, we love a good yarn about fossils, from dinosaurs to ancient humans to the earliest animals on the planet. Today we celebrate the exceptionally old specimens that harken from a time past. Here are 9 of our favourite funky fossil stories to get the old bones going! 1. Junior … Continue reading 9 funky stories for Fossil Day

New prehistoric “Hobbit” from the dawn of the Age of Mammals

Researchers from the University of Colorado have described three previously unknown mammal species that lived not long after the extinction of the dinosaurs – and one is named after a hobbit. Their findings, described in a new study in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, suggest that mammal evolution was far more rapid in the wake … Continue reading New prehistoric “Hobbit” from the dawn of the Age of Mammals

Oldest ever methane-cycling microfossils discovered

Researchers have discovered the fossilised remains of 3.4-billion-year-old methane-cycling microbes that lived in a hydrothermal system beneath the ancient seafloor – the oldest microfossils of this type found to date. According to the study, published in Science Advances, these microfossils provide evidence that this type of life can survive in extreme volcanic environments – maybe … Continue reading Oldest ever methane-cycling microfossils discovered

New species of ancient giant rhino

The giant rhino was one of the largest land animals to exist, but its evolutionary history in Asia has been a mystery – except now, scientists have found a new ancient species. A team of researchers, led by Tao Deng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have recovered the remains of a previously undiscovered species … Continue reading New species of ancient giant rhino

Exciting Australian discovery: the first complete dwarf emu egg

Tucked away in a sand dune on King Island, off the southern coast of Australia, researchers have discovered the first almost-complete egg of the island’s extinct dwarf emu. The small bird (Dromaius novaehollandiae minor) barely reached a metre in height and was less than half the size and weight of the mainland emu (D. novaehollandiae). … Continue reading Exciting Australian discovery: the first complete dwarf emu egg