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Key: Meeting Journal Funder
Public Release: 31-Jul-2014
Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds
A new study involving scientists from the University of Southampton has revealed how massive, meat-eating, ground-dwelling dinosaurs evolved into agile flying birds: they just kept shrinking and shrinking, for over 50 million years.

Contact: Glenn Harris
University of Southampton

Public Release: 31-Jul-2014
Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds
A new study led by an Adelaide scientist has revealed how massive, meat-eating, ground-dwelling dinosaurs -- the theropods -- evolved into agile flyers: they just kept shrinking and shrinking, for over 50 million years.

Contact: Mike Lee
University of Adelaide

Public Release: 30-Jul-2014
Current Biology
Chinese mosquitos on the Baltic Sea
Strange finds indeed have been reported by researchers from China, Europe and the USA in the journal Current Biology: 50 million years ago, there were insects living in East Asia that very much resembled those in Northern Europe. This is what amber, which was found in East China showed, in whose analysis the University of Bonn is currently participating. The fossil resin clumps give evidence of arthropods from more than 80 different families.

Contact: Dr. Bo Wang
University of Bonn

Public Release: 30-Jul-2014
Decades-old amber collection offers new views of a lost world
Scientists are searching through a massive collection of 20-million-year-old amber found in the Dominican Republic more than 50 years ago, and the effort is yielding fresh insights into ancient tropical insects and the world they inhabited. (Includes a video about the work narrated by David Attenborough.)
National Science Foundation

Contact: Diana Yates
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Public Release: 28-Jul-2014
Biological Reviews
Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events, study shows
Dinosaurs might have survived the asteroid strike that wiped them out if it had taken place slightly earlier or later in history, scientists say.
National Science Foundation, European Commission

Contact: Catriona Kelly
University of Edinburgh

Public Release: 24-Jul-2014
Synchronization of North Atlantic, North Pacific preceded abrupt warming, end of ice age
Scientists have long been concerned that global warming may push Earth's climate system across a 'tipping point,' where rapid melting of ice and further warming may become irreversible -- a hotly debated scenario with an unclear picture of what this point of no return may look like. A new study suggests that combined warming of the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans thousands of years ago may have provided the tipping point for abrupt warming and rapid melting of the northern ice sheets.
National Science Foundation

Contact: Summer Praetorius
Oregon State University

Public Release: 24-Jul-2014
Leaf-mining insects destroyed with the dinosaurs, others quickly appeared
After the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period that triggered the dinosaurs' extinction and ushered in the Paleocene, leaf-mining insects in the western United States completely disappeared. Only a million years later, at Mexican Hat, in southeastern Montana, fossil leaves show diverse leaf-mining traces from new insects that were not present during the Cretaceous, according to paleontologists.

Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State

Public Release: 23-Jul-2014
3-D image of Paleolithic child's skull reveals trauma, brain damage
3-D imaging of a Paleolithic child's skull reveals potentially violent head trauma that likely lead to brain damage.

Contact: Kayla Graham

Public Release: 22-Jul-2014
Jeju Island is a live volcano
The Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources indicated that there are the traces that indicated that a recent volcanic eruption was evident 5,000 years ago.

Contact: Jongwon Lee
Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM)

Public Release: 21-Jul-2014
Mammoth and mastodon behavior was less roam, more stay at home
UC research on mammoths and mastodons could benefit modern-day elephants.

Contact: Tom Robinette
University of Cincinnati

Public Release: 18-Jul-2014
GSA Bulletin
Catastrophic debris avalanches -- a second volcanic hazard
Volcanic hazards aren't limited to eruptions. Debris avalanche landslides can also cause a great deal of damage and loss of life. Stratovolcanoes, with their steep, conical shapes made up of lava and unconsolidated mixed materials, can reach a critical point of instability when they overgrow their flanks. This leads to partial collapse, and the product of this slope failure is a large-scale, rapid mass movement known as a catastrophic landslide or debris avalanche.

Contact: Kea Giles
Geological Society of America

Public Release: 17-Jul-2014
Estimating earthquake frequency and patterns in the Puget Lowland
The hazard posed by large earthquakes is difficult to estimate because they often occur hundreds to thousands of years apart. Because written records for the Puget Lowland of northwestern Washington cover less than 170 years, the size and frequency of the largest and oldest earthquakes on the Seattle and Tacoma faults are unknown. Past earthquakes can only be estimated through geologic studies of sediments and landforms that are created when faults break the ground surface.

Contact: Kea Giles
Geological Society of America

Public Release: 17-Jul-2014
Oregon geologist says Curiosity's images show Earth-like soils on Mars
Soil deep in a crater dating to some 3.7 billion years ago contains evidence that Mars was once much warmer and wetter, says University of Oregon geologist Gregory Retallack, based on images and data captured by the rover Curiosity.

Contact: Jim Barlow
University of Oregon

Public Release: 16-Jul-2014
Are ants the answer to carbon dioxide sequestration?
A 25-year-long study published in Geology on July 14th provides the first quantitative measurement of in situ calcium-magnesium silicate mineral dissolution by ants, termites, tree roots, and bare ground. This study reveals that ants are one of the most powerful biological agents of mineral decay yet observed. It may be that an understanding of the geobiology of ant-mineral interactions might offer a line of research on how to "geoengineer" accelerated carbon dioxide consumption by calcium-magnesium silicates.

Contact: Kea Giles
Geological Society of America

Public Release: 16-Jul-2014
Organismal biologists needed to interpret new trees of life
Molecular information forces the revision of many ideas about the evolution of animal body plans, but providing persuasive explanations for events that occurred in the remote past is likely to remain a major challenge. To construct evolutionary hypotheses that integrate the new data with science more generally, organismal biologists need to use their imaginations. But they should also be disciplined about assessing the broadest possible range of evidence, to avoid being misled by faulty intuitions.

Contact: James Verdier
American Institute of Biological Sciences

Public Release: 16-Jul-2014
Brain of world's first known predators discovered
Scientists have found the fossilized remains of the brain of the world's earliest known predators, from a time when life teemed in the oceans but had not yet colonized the land. The discovery reveals a brain much simpler than those known in some of the animal's prey and helps answer questions surrounding the evolution of arthropods.
National Natural Science Foundation of China, Leverhulme Trust, Center for Insect Science, University of Arizona, Air Force Research Laboratory

Contact: Daniel Stolte
University of Arizona

Public Release: 16-Jul-2014
Tooth plaque provides insight into our prehistoric ancestors' diet
A new study may provide evidence that our prehistoric ancestors understood plant consumption and processing long before the development of agriculture.

Contact: Kayla Graham

Public Release: 15-Jul-2014
BMC Evolutionary Biology
Dodos and spotted green pigeons are descendants of an island hopping bird
The mysterious spotted green pigeon was a relative of the dodo, according to scientists who have examined its genetic make-up. The authors say their results, published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, support a theory that both birds are descended from 'island hopping' ancestors.

Contact: Anna Perman
BioMed Central

Public Release: 15-Jul-2014
Nature Communications
New feathered predatory fossil sheds light on dinosaur flight
A new raptorial dinosaur fossil with exceptionally long feathers has provided exciting insights into dinosaur flight. A paper published in Nature Communications on July 15, 2014, asserts that the fossil -- discovered by an international team led by Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County paleontologist Dr. Luis Chiappe -- has a long feathered tail that Chiappe and co-authors believe was instrumental for decreasing descent speed and assuring safe landings.

Contact: Kristin Friedrich
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Public Release: 14-Jul-2014
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Meet the gomphothere: UA archaeologist involved in discovery of bones of elephant ancestor
An ancient ancestor of the elephant, once believed to have disappeared from North America before humans ever arrived there, might actually have roamed the continent longer than previously thought. Archaeologists, including the University of Arizona's Vance Holliday, have uncovered the first evidence that gomphotheres were once hunted in North America.
National Geographic Society, Argonaut Archaeological Research Fund in the University of Arizona School of Anthropology, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Center for Desert Archaeology

Contact: Alexis Blue
University of Arizona

Public Release: 14-Jul-2014
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Running for life: How speed restricts evolutionary change of the vertebral column
One of the riddles of mammal evolution is explained: the conservation of the number of trunk vertebrae. Dutch and American researchers show that this conservation is due to the role of speed in survival of fast running mammals. They measured variation of 774 skeletons of fast and slow species. The researchers found that a combination of developmental and biomechanical problems prevents evolutionary change in the number of trunk vertebrae in fast, but not in slow mammals.
ESF, Synthesys

Contact: Frietson Galis
Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Public Release: 10-Jul-2014
Biology Letters
Extinct sea scorpion gets a Yale eye exam, with surprising results
Poor peepers are a problem, even if you are a big, bad sea scorpion. One minute, you're an imperious predator, scouring the shallow waters for any prey in sight. The next, thanks to a post-extinction eye exam by Yale University scientists, you're reduced to trolling for weaker, soft-bodied animals you stumble upon at night.

Contact: Jim Shelton
Yale University

Public Release: 8-Jul-2014
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
CU-Boulder-led team identifies fossils of tiny, unknown hedgehog
Meet perhaps the tiniest hedgehog species ever: Silvacola acares. Its roughly 52-million-year-old fossil remains were recently identified by a University of Colorado Boulder-led team working in British Columbia.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Contact: Jaelyn Eberle
University of Colorado at Boulder

Public Release: 8-Jul-2014
Journal of Paleontology
Ancient arachnid brought back to life
A stunning video based on fossils of a 410-million-year-old arachnid -- one of the first predators on land -- recreates the animal walking.

Contact: Aeron Haworth
University of Manchester

Public Release: 8-Jul-2014
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Ancient hedgehog and tapir once inhabited British Columbia
A study published in the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology describes an ancient hedgehog and tapir that lived in what is now Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park, British Columbia, approximately 52 million years ago.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology