160-million-year-old ‘Monkeydactyl’ was the first animal to develop opposable thumbs

The 'Monkeydactyl' was a flying reptile that evolved highly specialized adaptations in the Mesozoic Era.

Credit: Zhou et al.
  • The 'Monkeydactly', or Kunpengopterus antipollicatus, was a species of pterosaur, a group of flying reptiles that were the first vertebrates to evolve the ability of powered flight.
  • In a recent study, a team of researchers used microcomputed tomography scanning to analyze the anatomy of the newly discovered species, finding that it was the first known species to develop opposable thumbs.
  • As highly specialized dinosaurs, pterosaurs boasted unusual anatomy that gave them special advantages as aerial predators in the Mesozoic Era.
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The evolution of modern rainforests began with the dinosaur-killing asteroid

The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.

meen_na via Adobe Stock
  • One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
  • A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
  • The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.
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Godzilla vs. Kong: A morphologist chooses the real winner

Ultimately, this is a fight between a giant reptile and a giant primate.

The 2021 film “Godzilla vs. Kong" pits the two most iconic movie monsters of all time against each other. And fans are now picking sides.

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Incredible fossil shows dinosaur sitting on preserved nest of eggs

Fossils of ancient creatures doing anything are rare. This one is absolutely unique.

Credit: Shundong Bi
  • A new fossil from southern China shows a dinosaur incubating its eggs at the time of its death.
  • The find sheds light on oviraptor eating and egg-tending behavior.
  • The find will be the focus of further study for some time.
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Ornamental dinosaur frills seem to have evolved thanks to sexual selection

While other factors exist, sexual prowess appears to have helped determine the role of Protoceratops frills.

Credit: AntoninJury, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • New research seeks to explain why dinosaurs featured an elaborate diversity of ornamentation in their frills and crests.
  • A team at the Natural History Museum in London investigated a sheep-size Gobi Desert dweller known as Protoceratops.
  • While sex alone does not explain the design, "socio-sexual selection" seems to have played an essential role.
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