Lucy - Australopithecus afarensis - skeleton reconstruction

Two articles, one published in the journal “Nature” and one in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS), describe a research about the possible coexistence of different species of hominins in East Africa between 3.8 and 3.3 million years ago. In 2015 fossils found in Ethiopia were assigned to a new species called Australopithecus deyiremeda, which lived close to the species Australopithecus afarensis, the one the famous specimen nicknamed Lucy belonged to.

An article published in the “South African Journal of Science” describes the sophisticated technologies used to create a 3D map of the cave in which the bones of more than 1,500 hominid fossils called Homo Naledi were found. The team of Professor Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand’s (Wits) was forced to work in difficult conditions and it’s for this reason that Ashley Kruger, part of his team, turned to various technologies to map the cave.

Reproduction of a marine environment in Antarctica at the end of the Cretaceous (Image courtesy James McKay)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a research based on the analysis of more than 6,000 fossils of Antarctic marine organisms concluding that the mass extinction occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period that wiped out the dinosaurs was as deadly in the polar regions. This contradicts the idea that in far south regions of the world there would be less danger during that event.

Sclerocormus parviceps complete (a), in close-ups (b, c, d) and in reconstructions (e, f, g, h)

An article published in the journal “Scientific Reports” describes the analysis of an ichthyosauriform reptile that lived at the beginning of the Triassic period, about 248 million years ago, in today’s Anhui province in China. Called Sclerocormus parviceps, it has very different characteristics from most other members of the same group. This shows that those marine reptiles had rapidly evolved and diversified after the great extinction at the end of the Permian period, far quicker than previously thought.