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Dating Mammalian Evolution

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:14:37 +0000

When the age of the dinosaurs ended around 65 million years ago, mammals stepped in to fill the gap, and the age of the placentals began. However, whether early placental mammals were already present on Earth before the demise of the dinosaurs has been the subject of a long standing debate. Recent research in GEE [...]

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The Delicate Balance of Effect and Response

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:50:36 +0000

We may not always be aware of it, but many wild plants, animals, fungi and even bacteria, provide crucial services to us which keep the ecosystems of Earth functioning. Environmental changes caused by human activities are now threatening many species, and those that cannot withstand these changes may be lost forever, potentially taking the services [...]

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It’s All in the Wrist

Fri, 20 Dec 2013 16:18:20 +0000

The evolution of the primate wrist has been dramatic, enabling primates to adapt to a wide variety of lifestyles and walking styles, including tree-swinging, climbing and terrestrial walking both on four legs and two. In hominids, the evolution of the bipedal gait freed up the forelimbs for tool use, and the wrist evolved independently from [...]

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The Transcriptional Profile of A ‘Wingman’

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:25:48 +0000

In many species, males have special adaptations to attract females. From antlers to stalk-eyes, to bright plumage and beards, males across the animal kingdom work hard to look attractive to the opposite sex. In some species, looking good isn’t enough, though. Male wild turkeys need a less attractive ‘wingman’ to help him attract a woman. [...]

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Damage and Fidelity: The Role of the Female Germline in mtDNA Inheritance

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 15:13:12 +0000

Billions of years ago, one single-celled organism engulfed another, beginning a symbiotic interaction that would change live on Earth forever. The mitochondria are what remains of this symbiotic event, and are responsible for producing energy in all eukaryotic cells. Derived from a free-living organism, they carry their own genes, but these genes are at risk [...]

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Dr Anjali Goswami lead author in Royal Society Proceedings B

24 November 2010


Marsupial carnivores, including bizarre pouched lions, wolves, and sabretooths, were once as diverse in their appearance as their placental counterparts are today, according to new research.

Millions of years ago large marsupial carnivores dominated both Australasia and South America.  Today, the Tasmanian Devil is the largest marsupial carnivore left, and is on the brink of extinction. Why these large pouched predators have dwindled is a mystery, but one explanation is that they couldn’t compete with their placental counterparts, like ordinary lions and tigers, because of the constraints of marsupial development. 

Marsupial Sabretooth

Now, by looking at the skulls of living and  fossil marsupial and placental carnivores from around the world, scientists have shown that the diversity between species in marsupial carnivores was in fact slightly greater than it is in more familiar placental carnivores, even though there were fewer species overall.  The research is published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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