Asgard archaea in the tree of life (Image courtesy Eva Fernandez-Caceres)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of new microorganisms that provide more information on the evolution of eukaryotic organisms, the ones formed by complex cells. The new species discovered are archaea that were called Thor, Odin and Heimdall, simpler organisms that however have some characteristics found only in eukaryotes and together with another archaea family called Loki whose discovery was announced in September 2015, form a group that was called the Asgard archaea.

Tongtianlong limosus skeleton (Image courtesy Junchang Lü et al.)

An article published in the journal “Scientific Reports” describes the discovery of a new species of winged dinosaur that was named Tongtianlong limosus. The specimen studied was found in the Nanxiong Formation, in the Guangdong province, in south-eastern China, where it lived between 66 and 72 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period.

An article published in the journal “PLOS Genetics” describes a research on the genes existing in non-African modern humans inherited from Neanderthals. According to a team of researchers led by Ivan Juric of University of California at Davis only a small amount of Neanderthal genes have remained in the DNA of modern humans because natural selection removed a lot of deleterious variants.

Evolution in yeast species (grey and red) with mass spectrometry in green (Image courtesy Villen Lab/University of Washington)

An article published in the journal “Science” describes a research that states the importance of the mechanism called post-translational modification (PTM) in evolution. An international team led by Pedro Beltrao of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and by Professor Judit Villen of the University of Washington investigated in particular phosphorylation obtaining information also useful in medical research such as that on cancer.

Convergence between ancient reptiles and dinosaurs (Image courtesy Michelle Stocker et al.)

An article published in the journal “Current Biology” describes a research on a species of reptile that was called Triopticus primus. A group of paleontologists led by Michelle Stocker of Virginia Tech College of Science studied this reptile that lived about 230 million years ago, noting several features similar to those of pachycephalosaur dinosaurs that lived 100 million years later. The research also revealed other similarities between animals contemporary to Triopticus primus and dinosaurs that lived millions of years later.