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The question of whether a 7-million-year-old primate, nicknamed ‘Toumai,’ walked on two or four legs has whipped up drama amongst palaeontologists – complete with a vanishing femur.   Since the discovery of Sahelanthropus tchadensis’s first fossil back in 2001, it has often been cited as our earliest known hominin ancestor. Initial analysis suggested that Sahelanthropus regularly walked
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Ants are pretty organised little creatures. Highly social insects, they know how to forage, build complicated nests, steal your pantry snacks, and generally look after the queens and the colony, all by working together.   Leaf-cutter ants turn that cooperation up several notches. Leaf-cutter ant colonies like Acromyrmex echinatior can contain millions of ants, split
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The origins of life, a few billion years ago, were humble. Single-celled organisms squirming in the ooze, over millions and billions of years developing into multi-celled plants and, eventually, animals.   But when and how these evolutionary spurts occurred has been difficult to puzzle out. Organic material doesn’t necessarily preserve well, and when it does,
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Every now and then, Earth reminds us it’s capable of releasing some furious energy.  Case in point: scientists have just detected a new extreme in hotspots of lightning activity called ‘superbolts’: intense lightning strikes that shine up to 1,000 times brighter than typical lightning strikes.    The observations come from researchers at the US Los
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We live in an age of division. Of red hats versus blue votes. Black lives versus blue lines. Green energy versus gold purses. Society, it seems, is melting like some proverbial iceberg.   It’s a metaphor that extends beyond the poetic. A model of social cohesion created by researchers from the Complexity Science Hub Vienna
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More than 500 years ago, a medieval soldier’s dead body settled at the bottom of a Lithuanian lake, and for centuries it lay hidden beneath the mud. Now, those submerged remains have finally been found.   The skeleton was discovered during an underwater inspection of the old Dubingiai bridge in eastern Lithuania’s Lake Asveja. Though the skeleton lay under
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If you’ve ever studied any chemistry or biology, there’s a very good chance you’ve come across the common pictorial representation of what a chromosome is supposed to look like.   As millions of high-schoolers and undergraduates will attest, it’s a tall, narrow X-shape – visualising what two joined chromatids look like after DNA replication takes place, but
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Volcanoes rank among the most destructive and awe-inspiring phenomena on the planet. But these fiery fissures do much more than just destroy. They also create. In a new study, researchers in Russia report the discovery of one such creation – an unusual mineral never before documented by scientists: an alluring, vibrantly blue-and-green crystallised substance the
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Climate change is testing the resilience of our planet’s birds. While tropical avian species appear especially vulnerable to habitat loss, drought, natural disasters, and declining prey, new research suggests they can withstand heat waves quite well.   Using the largest dataset of its kind, the research calls into question a commonly-held conclusion that tropical birds,
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With global travel curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are finding comfort in planning future trips. But imagine that you finally arrive in Venice and the “floating city” is flooded.   Would you stay anyway, walking through St. Mark’s Square on makeshift catwalks or elevated wooden passages – even if you couldn’t enter the Basilica