Woolly mammoths were icons of the Ice Age. Starting 700,000 years ago to just 4,000 years ago, they trundled across the chilly steppe of Eurasia and North America. As ancient glaciers expanded across the Northern Hemisphere, these beasts survived the rapidly cooling temperatures with cold-resistant traits, a characteristic they came by not through evolution, as earlier thought. Woolly mammoths, a new Nature study finds, inherited the traits that made them so successful from a mammoth species closer to a million years old.
Bones from an extinct short-faced bear and a wolf-life carnivore are among the many fascinating remains pulled from a submerged cave in Mexico. The discoveries provide a glimpse into the kinds of animals that lived in Central America during the last Ice Age. Continue reading Treasure Trove of Ice Age Animal Remains Found in Submerged Mexican Cave
The fossilized remains of an early reptile dating back some 250 million years have been uncovered in the unlikeliest of places: Antarctica. The discovery shows how wildlife recovered after the worst mass extinction in our planet’s history, and how Antarctica once hosted an ecosystem unlike any other. Continue reading Rare Fossil of Triassic Reptile Discovered in Antarctica
She died 11,500 years ago at the tender age of six weeks in what is now the interior of Alaska. Dubbed “Sunrise Girl-child” by the local indigenous people, the remains of the Ice Age infant—uncovered at an archaeological dig in 2013—contained traces of DNA, allowing scientists to perform a full genomic analysis. Incredibly, this baby girl belonged to a previously unknown population of ancient Native Americans—a discovery that’s changing what we know about the continent’s first people.
IN 1993, CONSTRUCTION workers building a new freeway in San Diego made a fantastic discovery. A backhoe operator scraped up a fossil, and scientists soon unearthed a full collection of bones, teeth, and tusks from a mastodon. It was a valuable find: hordes of fossils, impeccably preserved. The last of the mastodons—a slightly smaller cousin of the woolly mammoth—died out some 11,000 years ago.
The sixth mass extinction—the one that seven billion humans are doing their darnedest to trigger at this very moment—is shaping up to be like nothing our planet has ever seen. That’s the conclusion of a sweeping new analysis, which compared marine fossil records from Earth’s five previous mass extinction events to what’s happening in the oceans right now.
Bones and teeth belonging to the ancestors of the short-statured human lineage known as “the Hobbits” have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores. The fossils, which date back 700,000 years, are offering fresh insights into the origin of this mysterious species.