National Geographic paleoartist John Gurche used fossils from a South African cave to reconstruct the face of Homo naledi, the newest addition to the genus Homo. Photo by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic hide caption

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An ancient stone tool unearthed at the excavation site near Kenya's Lake Turkana. It's not just the shape and sharp edges that suggest it was deliberately crafted, the researchers say, but also the dozens of stone flakes next to it that were part of the same kit. MPK-WTAP hide caption

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The most recent common ancestor of all today's snakes likely lived 120 million years ago. Scientists believe it used needle-like hooked teeth to grab rodent-like creatures that it then swallowed whole. Julius Csotonyi/BMC Evolutionary Biology hide caption

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The skull of a chicken embryo (left) has a recognizable beak. But when scientists block the expression of two particular genes, the embryo develops a rounded "snout" (center) that looks something like an alligator's skull (right). Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar hide caption

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The Two-Way

How Bird Beaks Got Their Start As Dinosaur Snouts

Hoping to help trace the history of how velociraptors evolved into birds, researchers at Harvard and Yale may have tracked a key beak transformation to two genes.

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Reconstruction of the giant filter feeder, scooping up a plankton cloud. Aegirocassis benmoulae was one of the biggest arthropods that ever lived. Family members include today's insects, spiders and lobsters. Marianne Collins/ArtofFact hide caption

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Think Man-Sized Swimming Centipede — And Be Glad It's A Fossil

This sea monster swam Earth's seas about 480 million years ago and was the biggest creature of its day, scientists say.

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An artist's rendering of what Dearcmhara shawcrossi probably looked like in dinosaur times. Todd Marshall/University of Edinburgh hide caption

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Workers at the National Geographic Museum in Washington grind the rough edges off a life-size replica of a spinosaurus skeleton. Mike Hettwer/National Geographic hide caption

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Love your hair. Artists' depictions of a Neanderthal man and woman at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany. Martin Meissner/AP hide caption

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A family of elephants in Kenya's Maasai Mara game reserve. Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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