Long before T-rex claimed the top dog spot among terrestrial predators, a vicious crocodile ancestor that walked on its hind legs was at the top of the food chain during the Triassic. The fossils of the Carnufex carolinensis, also known as the the “Carolina Butcher,” were discovered decades ago in the Pekin Formation, a geological formation in North Carolina’s Chatham County. It was only recently that researchers reanalyzed the fossils and concluded they were dealing with an all new predator that roamed the Earth several million years before dinosaurs were even around.
Life has found our blue gem planet as a welcoming host, but it hasn’t always been all fun and games. To our knowledge, life has gone through five major mass extinctions over the past couple hundred millions of years. During this time countless species and even families were wiped out in a heart beat, but geological time frame standards. When faced with overwhelming odds, nature favors those who can adapt. According to researchers at the University of Gothenburg plants have always been surprisingly resilient to these challenging times, compared to animals. That’s not to say that plants didn’t go extinct as well – sure, countless as well, but others soon filled their space at a much great pace than animals could.
The Permian was a geologic period that ended some 250 million years ago, with the largest extinction our planet has known. Geologists have now found evidence that global acidic rain accentuated or even caused the massive extinction.
In a groundbreaking analysis based on data extracted from hundreds of studies, scientists concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented and irreparable damage to the ocean environments. The patterns are clear, and extremely worrying, researchers say – but we still have time to act.
This amazing animal is the pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta), a native to the freshwater rivers, streams and lagoons of the Northern Territory in Australia and parts of southern New Guinea. With its delicate piggy snout, webbed flippers and beautiful colors, this turtle gives to show yet again why Australia is home to some of the world’s wackiest creatures. And although it
From the tropics to the poles, bird populations all over the world are facing a sharp decline, cornered by climate change and exposure to man-made biochemicals, namely pesticides. According to to BirdLife International, one in eight species (more than 1,300 species) of birds are under serious threat of becoming extinct. The list includes iconic birds of pray and song like eagles, vultures, swifts or swallows, but also seabirds like sandpipers, pelicans or storks.
Once one of Madagascar’s crown inhabitants, the elephant bird (Aepyornis maximus) is considered the largest bird to have ever lived. The first records of the bird are from the 9th century when Saracen and Indian traders visited Madagascar and spoke of legends of the the giant roc (rukh). The elephant bird became rarer and rarer once with the settling of Madagascar’s
The bucardo, a mountain goat perfectly adapted for life in the extreme cold and snow of winter in the Pyrenees, became extinct in 2000. From the last living specimen, a goat called Celia, researchers managed to harvest living cells and store them in liquid nitrogen. Using these cells, Spanish researchers now plan to de-extinct the species by cloning it. This
A recent study has revived an older controversy, after Dartmouth Professor Mukul Sharma and his team reported what they claim is the first conclusive evidence that links an extraterrestrial impact in Canada with the beginning of the Younger Dryas, a period of abrupt climate change that caused major cooling through the Earth. During this time, a number of species became extinct and the human hunger-gatherer
The reemergence of the critically endangered population of Huemul deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus) marks a fantastic achievement by local governments and conservationists worldwide. Brought back from the brink of extinction, when populations measured less than 1% of original numbers, the Huemul populations have not only stabilized – but have started increasing, according to a new study. The south Andean deer, as
A new study sheds new light on the impact humans had on the local aviary fauna in the Pacific, after the authors conclude that human colonization of the Pacific Islands is the main driving factor that wiped out some 1,300 bird species in the area or roughly 10% of the entire bird population on the planet. The study also shows
So far… it’s re-extinction Almost 10 years ago, on July 30, 2003, a team of Spanish and French scientists reversed time. They brought an animal back from extinction, if only just to see it go extinct again. The animal they revived was a kind of wild goat known as a bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex. For tens of thousands of years,
I had the chance to witness, on several occasions, how bears change their behaviors when people feed them (which they really shouldn’t!). Bears, who usually just avoid people, or if they feel threatened display some sort of aggressive behavior, just started to beg for food, much like a dog around Thanksgiving dinner. This dramatically altered their general behavior, and as
Apparently, every month brings forth a new theory on the demise of the Neanderthals – the cookies one being that bunnies were the main culprit. This month’s theory claims that the Neanderthal skull has larger eye sockets than the human one, therefore it had bigger eyes, therefore the brain spent more of its processing power to process visual images. So
This bright little fellow is known as the lesula to the local people of a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and as of recently has been recognized as a new, distinct species of monkey. Lucky for the lesula, the discovery came in the nick of time for preservation efforts to be rolled, as the species faces extinction
The world we’re living in seems to be heading towards a mass extinction, in which humanity plays a crucial role. Sadly, Asia, the largest continent in the world is one of the ‘leaders’ in terms of wildlife extinction. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Asian governments must take action to protect Asian species, which are at a crossroads –
As it turns out, no one single factor was powerful enough to wipe out the woolly mammoth – instead, a sum of factors acted towards their demise, much like many animals are threatened today. Woolly mammoths roamed the globe for 250.000 years, wandering from North America to Europe to Asia, until they were driven extinct by a multitude of culprits:
A recently published study suggests that the Earth might have been visited by a giant space rock 13,000 years ago, an event which might have sparked an unusual cold period in the planet’s climate history. The Younger Dryas, also known as the Big Freeze, was a brief period of cold climatic conditions and drought which occurred some 13,000 years ago. Scientists
During man’s exploits through out history, a great number of species were driven to extinction, either by excessive hunting, habitat destruction, disease or pest introductions and so on. There are currently around 11,000 animal species listed as endangered, and the list is getting ever thicker each day. During the past few decades, as awareness to the hazards of losing some
Climate change and over-fishing are held responsible for the swift collapse of coral reefs and the propagation of mass extinction among marine life. According to the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), which presented the study this Tuesday to the U.N., the Earth is faced with its biggest spate of mass extinctions in millions years. “We now