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Environment - Paleontology - 20.03.2024
Ancient Giant Dolphin Discovered in the Amazon
Ancient Giant Dolphin Discovered in the Amazon
Measuring between 3 to 3.5 meters, 16 million years old: Paleontologists from the University of Zurich have announced the discovery of a new species of freshwater dolphin in the Peruvian Amazon region. Surprisingly, its closest living relatives can be found in the river dolphins of South Asia.

Paleontology - Environment - 21.12.2023
A long-known deposit yields new secrets
A long-known deposit yields new secrets
Paleontologists lack the fossils they need to trace the evolutionary history of the Amazon region, a region characterized by unparalleled biodiversity. By exploiting data from a site known for over a century, Juan Carrillo, a researcher at the University of Fribourg, and his colleagues from other institutions, have made exceptional discoveries that shed new light on this little-known past .

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 10.08.2023
Study undermines evolutionary rule
Study undermines evolutionary rule
According to Cope's rule, today's animal species are on average larger than older species of the same genus. A large-scale study led by a researcher at the University of Fribourg has just demonstrated that this is not the case in turtles . Paleontologists have noticed that, in the course of their evolution, certain species tend to get bigger and bigger.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.07.2023
Coelacanths thrived in Switzerland after a mass extinction
Coelacanths thrived in Switzerland after a mass extinction
Fossils of coelacanth discovered in Ticino reveal the existence of an unexpected diversification after the greatest mass extinction in the history of life. The study of a new species of coelacanth from the Middle Triassic period, with a strange morphology for these fish known as "living fossil", show the formation of several species in a short time, after a mass extinction that occurred 252 million years ago, with more than 80% of marine species disappearing.

Paleontology - 03.07.2023
First evidence of monitor lizards in Switzerland
First evidence of monitor lizards in Switzerland
After a chance discovery in the collection's repository, a Basel researcher provides the first evidence of the existence of monitor lizards in Switzerland. While working in the vertebrate fossil collection at Basel's Natural History Museum, paleontologist Bastien Mennecart's eye was caught by two teeth of a large lizard.

Paleontology - Environment - 14.03.2023
Dwarf and giant species are most at risk of extinction
Dwarf and giant species are most at risk of extinction
Islands are biodiversity hotspots and are home to animal species with unique characteristics, including dwarf specimens, which have evolved to very small sizes compared to their mainland relatives, and giants. An international study now reports that these species are at higher risk of extinction. The findings are supported by software developed by Daniele Silvestro of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) at the University of Fribourg.

Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 20.12.2022
Giant arthropods dominated the seas 470 million years ago
Giant arthropods dominated the seas 470 million years ago
An international team of scientists has made a groundbreaking discovery at a major new fossil site in Morocco: giant arthropods - relatives of modern animals such as shrimps, insects and spiders - would have dominated the seas 470 million years ago. The excavations were carried out in Taichoute, in Morocco, on a site formerly underwater but today desert.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 25.10.2022
Vocal Communication Originated over 400 Million Years Ago
Vocal Communication Originated over 400 Million Years Ago
Acoustic communication is not only widespread in land vertebrates like birds and mammals, but also in reptiles, amphibians and fishes. Many of them are usually considered mute, but in fact show broad and complex acoustic repertoires. According to researchers at the University of Zurich, the evolutionary origin of vocal communication dates back more than 400 million years.

Paleontology - 17.08.2022
New 3D Model Shows: Megalodon Could Eat Prey the Size of Entire Killer Whales
New 3D Model Shows: Megalodon Could Eat Prey the Size of Entire Killer Whales
Megalodon, the largest shark that ever lived, is famous for its huge, human-hand-sized teeth. However, there is little fossil evidence of its whole body. International researchers in collaboration with UZH used an exceptionally preserved specimen to create a 3D computer model of its full body. Their results suggest that the megalodon could fully consume prey the size of today's killer whales and then roam the seas without more food for two months.

Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 17.05.2022
Previously Unknown Dolphin Species Was Present in Switzerland
Previously Unknown Dolphin Species Was Present in Switzerland
Twenty million years ago, the Swiss Plateau region, or -Mittelland-, was an ocean in which dolphins swam.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 10.05.2022
Complex Human Childbirth and Cognitive Abilities a Result of Walking Upright
Childbirth in humans is much more complex and painful than in great apes. It was long believed that this was a result of humans- larger brains and the narrow dimensions of the mother's pelvis. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now used 3D simulations to show that childbirth was also a highly complex process in earlier hominin species that gave birth to relatively small-brained newborns - with important implications for their cognitive development.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 08.04.2021
Modern Human Brain Originated in Africa Around 1.7 Million Years Ago
Modern Human Brain Originated in Africa Around 1.7 Million Years Ago
The human brain as we know it today is relatively young. It evolved about 1.7 million years ago when the culture of stone tools in Africa became increasingly complex. A short time later, the new Homo populations spread to Southeast Asia, researchers from the University of Zurich have now shown using computed tomography analyses of fossilized skulls.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 18.11.2020
Prehistoric Shark Hid Its Largest Teeth
Prehistoric Shark Hid Its Largest Teeth
Some, if not all, early sharks that lived 300 to 400 million years ago not only dropped their lower jaws downward but rotated them outwards when opening their mouths. This enabled them to make the best of their largest, sharpest and inward-facing teeth when catching prey, paleontologists at the Universities of Zurich and Chicago have now shown using CT scanning and 3D printing.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 06.08.2020
Long Neck Helped Reptile Hunt Underwater
Long Neck Helped Reptile Hunt Underwater
Its neck was three times as long as its torso, but had only thirteen extremely elongated vertebrae: "Tanystropheus", a bizarre giraffe-necked reptile which lived 242 million years ago, is a paleontological absurdity. A new study led by the University of Zurich has now shown that the creature lived in water and was surprisingly adaptable.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.05.2020
Prehistoric Giant Fish Was a Suspension Feeder
Prehistoric Giant Fish Was a Suspension Feeder
Scientists from the University of Zurich and the University of Bristol have investigated the jaw mechanics of Titanichthys, a giant armored fish that roamed the seas and oceans of the late Devonian period 380 million years ago. New findings suggest that it fed by swimming through water slowly with its mouth open wide to capture high concentrations of plankton - similar to modern-day basking sharks.

Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 04.11.2016
Herbivorous mammals have bigger bellies
Herbivorous mammals have bigger bellies
The researchers have studied the shape of the ribcage in more than 120 tetrapods - from prehistoric times up to the present day. (Image: UZH) What do enormous dinosaurs have in common with tiny shrews' They are both four-legged vertebrates, otherwise known as tetrapods. In the course of evolution, tetrapods developed various body shapes and sizes - from the mouse to the dinosaur - to adapt to different environments.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 09.08.2016
Origin of the turtle shell lies in digging
Origin of the turtle shell lies in digging
In today's turtles the shell has a key protective function. The animals can withdraw into it and protect themselves against predators.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 06.01.2016
Last meal reflects spiral-shaped intestine
Last meal reflects spiral-shaped intestine
A last meal provides new insights: The fossilized food remains of the extinct predatory fish Saurichthys reflect its spiral-shaped intestine. The spiral valve in fossils from Southern Switzerland is similar to that of sharks and rays. Paleontologists from the University of Zurich have thus closed a gap in the knowledge concerning the evolution of the gastrointestinal tract in vertebrates.