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Evolution

Animal origin theory challenged: Early animals needed almost no oxygen

The first animals on Earth could get by with much less oxygen than previously thought, new study reveals.

Close-ups: Manuscript fragments

By studying hand-written text fragments researchers chart the evolution of written language in Norway.

Ageing: Theory needs to be revised

The existing evolutionary theories of ageing need to be revised, according to a new study, which shows that many of Earth’s plants and animals grow old in surprising ways.

Hummingbirds can fly with almost no oxygen

The hummingbird’s super-fast wing beats are among the most energy-intensive movements in the animal kingdom. Still, the birds can fly 4,000 metres above sea level, where there is very little oxygen. Scientists have now figured out how this is possible.

DNA links Native Americans with Europeans

Ancient DNA reveals that the ancestors of modern-day Native Americans had European roots. The discovery sheds new light on European prehistory and also solves old mysteries concerning the colonisation of America.

Chimpanzees catch yawns from humans

Chimpanzees yawn when they see a human yawn, but not until they reach a certain age, shows study, which hints at a new explanations of the development of empathy.

Surviving ash trees help to address evolutionary riddle

A pathogenic fungus is killing thousands of European ash trees every year. Danish researchers are now trying to uncover the genetics behind the unknown defence mechanism in ash trees. Not only to save the ash trees, but also to address an evolutionary mystery in trees.

Extreme rituals enhance social cohesion

Physically and mentally exhausting rituals promote the spirit of community in society, according to a new study. This is the first time that this hypothesis has been confirmed experimentally.

Ancient fish face bears signs of modern jaw

A smiling fish that lived in China 419 million years ago revolutionises our conception of the origin of humans and most other vertebrate animals.

Oxygenated Earth much older than we thought

The discovery of the world’s oldest soil suggests that Earth’s atmosphere contained oxygen as early as three billion years ago. That’s 700 million years earlier than previously thought.