Inside the fossilized guts of a 77-million-year-old dinosaur, scientists have spotted a surprise. The dino’s stomach is crisscrossed with thin tunnels. These appear to be leftovers of the once-slimy trails of parasitic worms.
Like ticks and fleas, these worms would have been parasites — biological hitchhikers that steal a meal from their host.
These fossil worm tunnels are the...Readability Score: 7.4
PHOENIX, Ariz. — A small lump of amber dug up in Southeast Asia may have come from a previously unknown type of ancient tree. That’s what a Swedish teen concluded after analyzing the fossilized tree resin. Her discovery may shed new light on ecosystems that existed millions of years ago.
Many fossils, or traces of ancient life, look like dull rocks. That’s because they’re typically made...Readability Score: 8.1
Titanosaurs were plant-eating dinos of titanic size. The largest known individual belonging to the species Rapetosaurus krausei would have shook the ground with its epic 16,700 kilogram (36,800 pound) heft. A baby dino would have looked a lot like its grown-ups, a new study shows. And it probably acted like them, too.
Scientists discovered (relatively) tiny fossils of a roughly 1- to 2-...Readability Score: 7.1
Call it a T. rex pregnancy test. Analyzing the chemistry of tiny slivers of fossilized bone can reveal whether a Tyrannosaurus rex was about to lay eggs.
A female bird that is producing eggs is called "in lay." And when a bird is in lay, some of her bones temporarily develop a tissue known as medullary (MED-ju-laar-ee) bone. It’s loosely woven with lots of holes, kind of like a sponge....Readability Score: 6.0
Humans and Neandertals may have hooked up much earlier than previously thought.
Neandertals — Homo neanderthalensis — are ancient members of the human family tree. New evidence has just turned up early ancestors of humans in Africa mated with Neandertals about 110,000 years ago. The clue to that mixing is in the DNA of a Neandertal woman in Siberia, Russia.
Many humans today carry...Readability Score: 7.6
The smell pouring out of the shoebox-sized container makes my body involuntarily jerk back with disgust. The odor is part dry, dusty cheese, part rotting meat. Its vileness is matched by what is is stuffed in the clear, plastic box. It’s a large salamander — or what’s left of one. In the nooks and crannies of its body and box, busy gray insects wriggle. These are the larvae of dermestid...Readability Score: 7.2
In 1823, fossil hunter Mary Anning discovered the first complete skeleton of a plesiosaur. That’s a type of ancient marine reptile. Her find led to more than 190 years of arguing. Some experts claimed the long-necked sea beast used its four flippers like the oars of a boat. Others argued that the flippers flapped through the water like bird wings.
Explainer: What is a computer model?...Readability Score: 6.9
Earth offered a harsh environment for its earliest inhabitants. It now appears that some of them survived by living in a bubble. A beach bubble.
The earliest life would have been single-celled microbes. Pockets of gas trapped along ancient shorelines would have given them a cozy place to call home about 3.2 billion years ago. Or so scientists reported December 4 in Geology. Such a snug...Readability Score: 7.1
Many dinosaurs are known for their fearsome teeth. Allosaurus had sharp, bladelike choppers. Many were 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) long. Tyrannosaurus rex had bigger ones — the size of bananas. Big teeth are a plus for a predator. But unless a creature can open its mouth very wide, long teeth might actually be a good recipe for starvation. Many big-toothed species survived for millions...Readability Score: 7.3
BALTIMORE — Microscopic vampires may have prowled ancient seas some 750 million years ago. Scientists have found the fossilized remains of their punctured victims. Those fossils may be the oldest direct evidence of predators hunting eukaryotes (Yu-KAIR-ee-oats). This domain of complex life includes both plants and animals.
The monstrous microbes probably didn’t look like tiny Count...Readability Score: 7.7