Biology professor Beth Shapiro is one part laboratory scientist and one part Indiana Jones style adventurer, traveling to remote locations to find fossilized bones and eggshells of ancient animals and extract their ancient DNA for clues to their prehistoric past.
Scientists have discovered that the drastic decline in Arctic musk ox populations that began roughly 12,000 years ago was due to a warming climate rather than to human hunting. The research is the first study to use ancient musk ox DNA collected from across the animal's former geographic range to test for human impacts on musk ox populations. The research will be published in the early on-line edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sometime during the week ending Friday, March 12.
A rare, ancient polar bear fossil discovered in Norway in 2004 is yielding a treasure trove of essential information about the age and evolutionary origins of the species. A paper published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at Penn State, the University at Buffalo, the University of Oslo and other institutions is filling in key pieces of the evolutionary history of polar bears and brown bears, including their response to past climate changes.