Biology news

Grazing Animal Dispersal of Grains and Seeds

This is an interesting story at ... many of the grains, including quinoa, amaranth, the millets, hemp, and buckwheat, have traits that indicate they co-evolved to be dispersed by large grazing animals. During the Pleistocene there were great herds of ruminants and these directed the ecology over most of the surface of the earth (or that is the assumption made). As such, they brought into being evolutionary changes in plants.


A completely preserved lily was found in calcareous sediments of a former lake in NE Brazil dating back, it is said, to 115,000 years ago (in the early Cretaceous). Go to ... It is in fact a member of the lily family (which is fairly broad, including for example the diminutive lily of the valley). It is nothing like your modern garden lily. Its roots, flower, and stem are perfectly preserved, and 40cm in length.

Amino Acids and Enzymes

At ... peptides, which are a chain of amino acids, are an essential element of all life on Earth. They form the fabric of proteins which serve as a catalyst for biological processes. However, it is thought they require enzymes to control their formation from amino acids. This is described as a chicken and egg problem - how did the original enzymes come into being.

What is a modern human?

What is a modern human? Does it depend on the cranium - and the old idea skull shape is the primary arbitrator. At ... lately we have had early modern humans turn up in Ethiopia, the Levant, and Morocco. Now we have one in Greece - dating back 200,000 years ago. This is said to be the first example of a modern human outside of Africa. The strange thing is that the modern human skull is dated prior to another skull, at 170,000 years ago, and that one belongs to a Neanderthal.

A cave in the Crimea

A cave in Crimea has yielded the bones of an ostrich like bird - but three times the size of the modern version. At ... Humans are said to have lived alongside them but a bison bone in the cave has been dated at one and half million years old (so we are talking about way before the Neanderthals). These giant birds could have been a source of meat, feathers for decoration, bones used for tools, and eggshell (because it is big and oval and can be decorative).

Dinosaur Eating Crocodile

One to wow the kiddiewinks - a dinosaur eating crocodile. Perhaps not as it isn't big enough or fearsome enough - go to ... the partial braincase and jawbone of a new species (or newly named) of crocodile, Isisfordia molnari, was found at Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. It is actually an opalised fossil - associated with opal mining activities. It was found a century ago - and a second one was found 70 years later. It related to modern crocodiles and was around six feet in length.

Arctic Hyenas

Sent in by William. Hyenas in the Arctic - is this evidence of pole shift. However, the main stream mantra is that this is, instead, evidence of climate change - in the past. The inference is that if it happened millions of years ago there is nothing to contradict the idea global warming will not melt the Arctic in the next 100 years or so (or whatever the activists want to believe). Go to ... and various other media sources. In the modern world hyenas inhabit savannah habitats in Africa and Asia, being both hunters and scavengers.

Planktonic Blooms

This is an interesting piece of research as it has been suggested the chalk formations have a connection with planktonic blooms - but what might have caused such huge blooms. A study at Stanford University shows how hydrothermal vents fuel massive phytoplankton blooms - see for example ...

New Genes

At ... how do new genes and functional proteins arise and develop? This is an important question to answer as far as evolutionary biology is concerned. In the latest piece of research the idea of new genes and protein arising from randomised DNA sequences has been explored. How does 'nothing' turn into a function affecting a small advantage that is favoured by natural selection?

Ordovician Fossils

Go to ... a research paper published in The Science of Nature (2019) DOI:10.1007/s00114-019-1623-z ... 'Soft Bodied Fossils from the Upper Valongo Formation of northern Portugal'. More soft tissue fossils. This time from the Ordovician - older by far than the Dinosaur age. The Ordovician in Britain is best associated with seams of coal which infers a catastrophic event (burial of vegetation and trees in order to form coal). To preserve soft bodied tissue requires rapid burial.