Large volcanic eruption may have caused the first mass extinction

Researchers say they may have found the cause of the first mass extinction of life. According to Science daily

There have been five mass extinctions since the divergent evolution of early animals 600 -450 million years ago. The cause of the third and fourth was volcanic activity, while an asteroid impact led to the fifth. But triggers of the first and second mass extinctions had, until now, been unknown.

The first mass extinction occurred at the end of the Ordovician. This age is between the divergence of the Ordovician and land invasion of vascular land plant and animals. Animals in the Ordovician-Silurian comprised marine animals like corals, trilobites, sea scorpion, orthoceras, brachiopods, graptolite, crinoid and jawless fish. Approximately 80% of species disappeared at the end of the Ordovician.

How climate change could kill off reptiles

Global warming could threaten the survival of reptiles by reducing the number of bacteria living in their guts, researchers have found. According to Daily mail

They found that warming of 2-3°C (35-37°F) caused a 34 per cent loss of microorganism diversity in the guts of common lizards.

The researchers said that similar effect could be seen in other cold-blooded animals too, which depend on external sources of body heat.

Baby humpback whales 'whisper' to mums to avoid predators

The humpback whale is known for its loud haunting songs, which can be heard 20 miles away. According to BBC

However, new recordings show mothers and calves "whisper" to each other, seemingly to avoid attracting predators.

The quiet grunts and squeaks can be heard only at close range.

By calling softly to its mother, the calf is less likely be overheard and preyed on by killer whales, scientists believe.

Dr Simone Videsen is part of a team of scientists who tracked eight baby whales and two mothers to learn more about the first months of a humpback whales life.

'World's oldest fungus' raises evolution questions

Fungus-like life forms have been found in rocks dating back 2.4 billion years. According to BBC

The fossils, drilled from rocks that were once beneath the seafloor, resemble living fungi.

Scientists say the discovery could push back the date for the oldest fungi by one to two billion years.

Unknown ancient reptile roamed the mountains

The footprints of a mysterious reptile that lived about 250 million years ago have been identified in fossils from the Pyrenees mountains.

Scientists say the new species is a member of the group that gave rise to crocodiles and dinosaurs. According to BBC

The reptile lived at a time when the Earth was recovering from a mass extinction that wiped out most animals.

The discovery may shed light on how the group of animals evolved and spread.