An article published in the journal “Current Biology” describes a research on the reasons for the survival of primitive birds the great extinction that struck the dinosaurs. According to a team led by Derek Larson, a paleontologist at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in Alberta, Canada, at the end of the Cretaceous the conditions became such that winged dinosaurs and carnivorous birds became extinct while the ancestors of modern birds that ate seeds survived.

Head skeletons of skate and shark showing gill arch appendages in red (Image Andrew Gillis)

An article published in the journal “Development” describes a genetic study which suggests that the limbs of tetrapods, and consequently those of humans, might have evolved from the gills of cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and skates. A new analysis shows that a genetic program is shared between those gills and human limbs finding possible evidence to a theory that was discarded over a century ago.

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a research that confirms that the ancient animal commonly known as “Tully monster” was a vertebrate. Decades after the discovery of the first fossil of Tullimonstrum gregarium – this is its scientific name – and a number of hypotheses about its classification, this study is the second in a few weeks published in “Nature” to reach the same conclusions.

Aquilonifer spinosus reconstruction (Image Derek Briggs)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” describes the discovery of an arthropod that lived about 430 million years ago. It was named Aquilonifer spinosus, where the genus name means “kite”, a name inspired by the movie “The Kite Runner” because it was carrying its juveniles attached to its body as if they were tiny kites.

Different views of Idmonarachne Brasieri scans (Image Russell J. Garwood et al.)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” describes the discovery of a fossil of a arachnid dating back some 305 million years ago. Named Idmonarachne brasieri, it shows similarities with modern spiders and its exam could provide a lot of information on the evolution of these animals, known to a limited extent because of the scarcity of fossils of their ancestors.