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Hot Topic Origins Origin & Evolution of Life
Cambrian Explosion Lasted 20 Million Years
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
New research is causing geologists to rethink the timeline of when animals appeared on the Earth. The fossil record indicates that a large number of animal species appeared during the 'Cambrian Explosion' some 542 million years ago. Now it seems that their appearance may not have been so sudden.

Poking an Alien Pod
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
In October, a UFO (unidentified 'floating' object) was spotted in Newport News, Virginia. The bizarre blob was not a Halloween prank, and has been identified as a 'magnificient bryozoan.' This species' fossil record spans some 500 million years - but the Newport News specimen is larger than most reports of the organism.

Fungi Helped Plants Move to Land
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
A new study shows how Earth's first plants began to colonize the land by forming a partnership with soil fungi. The research is helping scientists better understand mechanisms behind the evolution of life.

The Many Causes of the Great Dying
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
More than 251 million years ago, Earth almost became a lifeless planet. Chemical evidence buried in rocks that formed during this major extinction indicates a devatated landscape with huge 'dead zones' in the oceans and runaway greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Snowball Earth Linked to Rise of Animals
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
New research could link the 'Snowball Earth' glacial events some 750 to 580 million years ago to the rise of early animals. The research team tracked phosphorus concentrations in the oceans through history. Phosphorus is linked to the abundance of life in the oceans, and concentrations appear to have spiked at a time corresponding to the Snowball Earth event.

The Universal Need for Energy
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
A team of scientists have determined that the evolution of mitochondria - not the cell nucleus - was fundamental to the development of complex life on Earth. The team believes that the energy provided by these cellular 'power stations' could even be required for complex life to evolve on alien worlds.

Bacteria That Stand Up and Walk
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Bacterial biofilms can be extremely resistant to environment stresses, including antibiotics. Scientists studying biofilms have found that during the initial stages of formation, the bacteria can actually stand upright and 'walk'. The discovery of a new mechanism for bacterial motility is providing new information about the evolutionary history of these durable organisms.

Stem Cells: The Next Generation
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Embryonic stem cells behave differently outside the pull of Earth's gravity, researchers suggest. These findings indicate why the human body deteriorates during long space missions, and warn that procreation in space may be fraught with peril.

Dinosaurs Benefited from Mass Extinction
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
A newly discovered species of dinosaur may show that dinosaurs spread throughout the world by taking advantage of a natural catastrophe that wiped out their competitors. The study provides an example of how extinction events have shaped the evolution of Earth's biosphere.

Stepping Stones through Time
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Stromatolites are the most ancient fossils on Earth, and these structures built by microbes can still be found forming today in various places around the globe. Although they provide a straight line of life´s history from the past to the present, comparing modern and ancient stromatolites is not a straight-forward endeavor.

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