Major changes in the chemical composition of the world’s oceans enabled the first large organisms – possibly some of the earliest animals – to exist and thrive more than half a billion years ago, marking the point when conditions on Earth changed and animals began to take over the world.
An international group of researchers has dated a large volcanic eruption in Iceland to within a few months. The eruption, which is the oldest volcanic eruption to be precisely dated at high northern latitudes, occurred shortly before the first permanent human settlements were established, when parts of the now mostly treeless island were still covered with forest.
A project exploring the role of East Africa in the evolution of modern humans has amassed the largest and most diverse collection of prehistoric bone harpoons ever assembled from the area. The collection offers clues about the behaviour and technology of prehistoric hunter-gatherers.
A tiny sea creature identified from fossils found in China may be the earliest known step on an evolutionary path that eventually led to the emergence of humans
Researchers have identified the first known example of fossilised brain tissue in a dinosaur from Sussex. The tissues resemble those seen in modern crocodiles and birds.
The earliest example of an organism living on land – an early type of fungus – has been identified. The organism, from 440 million years ago, likely kick-started the process of rot and soil formation, which encouraged the later growth and diversification of life on land.
A 520 million-year-old fossilised nervous system – so well-preserved that individually fossilised nerves are visible – is the most complete and best example yet found, and could help unravel how the nervous system evolved in early animals.
Javier Ortega-Hernández (Department of Zoology) discusses what the discovery of the earliest known fossilised nervous system could tell us about evolution.
A new study of 565 million-year-old fossils has identified how some of the first complex organisms on Earth – possibly some of the first animals to exist – reproduced, revealing the origins of our modern marine environment.
A newly-identified species of spike-covered worm with legs, which lived 500 million years ago, was one of the first animals on Earth to develop armour for protection.