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Fossil Bonanza in China Reveals Secrets from the Dawn of Animal Life

(Inside Science) — A new trove of outstandingly preserved fossils in China from the dawn of animal life rivals the horde of weird creatures found in legendary sites such as the Burgess Shale, and may shed light on many puzzles concerning the animal family tree, a new study finds.

The earliest hints of life in the roughly 4.5 billion-year history of Earth may have appeared 3.95 billion years ago, but for a long time after that, life consisted of relatively simple organisms. However, about

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DARPA’s Newest Drone Submarine Detection Device: Snapping Shrimp

Stick your head underwater near a reef and you may hear the sound of bacon frying. The tempting sound comes from the near-comically oversized claws of snapping shrimp — they slam shut fast enough to create bubbles of air that disappear with a loud pop. The crackling of countless shrimp clacking together is mixed with fish grunts, whale and dolphin calls and other sounds underwater to create what’s called the oceanic soundscape. It’s the kind of biological white noise you might fall asleep to
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It’s Not Just Humans: Sun Bears Also Communicate by Mimicking Facial Expressions

“A smile is infectious,” so goes the cheesy saying. But there’s actually some validity there. It’s long been known that people, often unintentionally, mimic the facial expressions of those around them. This communication technique was thought to only exist in humans and gorillas, but new research is challenging that idea.

A recent study in sun bears, which are the smallest (and possibly cutest) species of bear in the world, shows that they, too, mimic the expressions of their peers. Durin

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An Important Group of European Hunter-Gatherers Taught Themselves To Farm

Some 12,000 years ago, the land was exceptionally fertile curving up from the Nile River basin across Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, down into the Tigris River Valley. The area’s earliest settlers grew wheat, barely and lentils. Some kept pigs and sheep. Farming soon replaced hunting and foraging as a way of life there. The region became known as the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of agriculture.

This pastoral lifestyle eventually spread across Europe from a place called Anatolia, which sits

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How Did Dinosaurs Hear The World? Alligators Give Us Clues

How did dinosaurs hear? Researchers now have an idea thanks to alligators. In a new study, researchers have discovered that American alligators process sounds the same way that barn owls and chickens do. And because birds and reptiles last shared a common ancestor nearly 250 million years ago, the finding means the shared hearing strategy originated before dinosaurs existed.

“We know so little about dinosaurs,” Catherine Carr, a biologist at the University of Maryland in College Park, who