News - OD Earth and History of Life

Bronze statuette intended to contain a mummified cat (Ptolemaic period, 332–30 B.C.) (photo: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1956)
19/06/2017

Domestication of the Cat: Ancient DNA Reveals Significant Role of the Near East and Egypt

post by
Reinout Verbeke

DNA found at archaeological sites reveals that the origins of our domestic cat are in the Near East and ancient Egypt. Cats were domesticated by the first farmers some 10,000 years ago. They later spread across Europe and other parts of the world via trade hub Egypt.

Myotis (CC Manuel Ruedi)
09/06/2017

Belgian Discovery: Popular Bat Genus Is Millions of Years Older Than Thought

post by
Jonas Van Boxel

Our palaeontologists have found the oldest fossil of the extant bat genus Myotis (mouse-eared bat). This proves that the widespread genus has existed at least 7 million years earlier than previously assumed.

Two Mystacodon selenensis individuals diving down to catch eagle rays along the seafloor of a shallow cove off the coast of present-day Peru. CREDIT Alberto Gennari.
11/05/2017

Baleen Whales’ Ancestors Were Toothy Suction Feeders

post by
Reinout Verbeke

Modern whales’ ancestors probably hunted and chased down prey, but somehow, those fish-eating hunters evolved into filter-feeding leviathans.

Mandible of the Neanderthal individual Spy II. The DNA in the calculus shows that the woolly rhinoceros was on the menu. The bacterial composition is similar to that in carnivores. (Photo: RBINS)
08/03/2017

Dental Calculus Reveals Neanderthal Menu

post by
Reinout Verbeke

Neanderthals from the Belgian Spy cave mostly ate meat, like woolly rhinoceros. Their family members in northern Spain, however, were vegetarians. Researchers discovered these varying eating habits by analyzing DNA in dental calculus.

To analyze the deformation of the earth’s surface after an earthquake, Katleen creates an interferogram. (photo: Katleen Wils)
23/02/2017

This is How Geologists Measure Movement of the Surface After an Earthquake

post by
Jonas Van Boxel

Katleen Wils studies earthquake zones in Chile. She maps the tiniest movements of the surface with colourful satellite images. 

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