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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
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Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
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ScienceShot: Life After Extinction
29 April 2013 3:05 pm
Mass extinctions have a silver lining, providing opportunities for marginalized creatures to rise to power. While that notion seems obvious, it hadn't been demonstrated for the end-Permian extinctions, which occurred about 252 million years ago and wiped out about 90% of life on Earth. So, researchers took a detailed look at the numbers and distribution of land-dwelling species at five sites scattered across the southern part of Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed at the time of the die-offs. (Previous analyses had looked at only trends in marine species or for limited regions on land, the team notes.) Of the 62 species found at the sites about 5 million years before the die-offs, 21 (or about 34%) were found in two or more of the sites, suggesting a wide distribution of those creatures. But 10 million years after the end-Permian extinctions, only five species out of 68—none of which matched the 62 that lived before the die-offs—were found at more than one site. The analysis also reveals that after the mass extinctions, species typically had smaller, less-connected geographical ranges than did the species living before the die-offs, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Altogether, the trends suggest that when widely prevalent creatures such as the pig-sized Dicynodon (left) were removed from the scene, species such as the 3-meter-long Asilisaurus (right)—a member of the archosaurs, which included dinosaurs and many groups alive today, such as crocodilians and birds—could diversify and thrive.
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*Correction, 9:25 a.m. on 30 April: This article has been updated to remove mammals from the list of living groups within archosaurs.