Tag Archives | Dinosaurs

Dark Matter ‘Disc’ May Have Killed the Dinosaurs

PIC: Nina Zeretsky/National Science Foundation (PD)

PIC: Nina Zeretsky/National Science Foundation (PD)

As if blazing comets pounding into the earth and wiping out giant lizard monsters isn’t metal enough, now some scientists are speculating that “dark matter” may have played a role in the great dinosaur die-off. The scientists theorize that as our solar system circles around the center of our galaxy it might pass through a dark matter “disc” every 35 million years. The disc might send comets flying our way. Me? I think I’ll call it the Loc-Nar theory of mass extinction.

Via New Scientist:

Its name has always made it sound ominous – and now dark matter could have a menacing role in Earth’s history. A recent explanation for the identity of the mysterious stuff leads to a scenario in which it could be to blame for the extinctions of dinosaurs, or at least send a few extra comets shooting our way.

Although the sequence of events connecting dark matter to dinosaurs, or even comets, is still pretty tenuous, it is intriguing because it brings together two big open questions: the identity of dark matter and whether there is a pattern to comet strikes on Earth.

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Could Living Dinosaurs Be Bred From The DNA Of Birds?

dinosaursAre the species of the ancient past lying in wait, encoded in plain sight? The Telegraph writes:

Oxford biochemist Dr Alison Woollard said it would be theoretically possible to recreate ancient animals, through the DNA of birds. By identifying and altering certain genes found in the DNA of modern birds, she believes scientists may be able to “design” genomes of the prehistoric creatures.

“We know that birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, as proven by an unbroken line of fossils which tracks the evolution of the lineage from creatures such as the velociraptor or T-Rex through to the birds flying around today,” said Dr Woollard. “This evolution implies that buried deep within the DNA of today’s birds are switched-off genes that control dinosaur-like traits.”

The difficulty, claims Dr Woollard is finding and understanding the full length of a dinosaur’s genome in order to know which edits to make to a bird’s genome.

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Io Saturnalia!

dinopartyYesterday marked the beginning of the ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia.

Via Suvudu.

Today marks the beginning of Saturnalia, an ancient Roman holiday dedicated to the pagan god Saturn. Ever heard of it? No? You might actually be celebrating some part of it and not even know it. Hold that thought.

On December 17, the Romans would go to the temples and unbind the feet of their statues of Saturn (Normally they were adorned with felt shoes) and even move their idols to tables for banquets in honor of the god. Government shut down to some degree. It was forbidden to declare war or sentence criminals during Saturnalia.

In the public, the normally rigid Roman class structure was thrown out of the window. Everyone let down their hair a little bit and spoke their minds – even Roman slaves! During Saturnalia, slaves were allowed to criticize their masters without rebuke. Some scholars say that masters and slaves dined together.

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The Next Burgeoning Literary Trend: Dinosaur Erotica

dinosaur eroticaYes, this is real and apparently quite popular. A sub-genre of the fast-growing “monster erotica” book realm, softcore dinosaur porn is epitomized by authors Alara Branwen and Christie Sims, who claim to earn six figures churning out e-books for their obsessed fans. Jezebel offers a taste:

Azog stood, clad only in damp buckskins, waiting for the beast to slash at her torso until she lay helpless and bleeding on the damp cave floor. Instead, it reached out with a classed hand to snatch at her damp animal hide as it clung to one shoulder. Azog felt the kiss of sharp claws against her skin as the hide slid from her shoulder and exposed on naked, heaving breast.

A reptilian tongue, stiff and hot, dashed out to lick at the tender, naked flesh so suddenly exposed. Azog gasped at the touch, then gradually relaxed as her body warmed to the intoxicating sensation of the beast’s flesh against her own.

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American Creationists Searching For Living Dinosaurs In Africa

dinosaursVia the Institute for Creation Research, William J. Gibbons on his scientific expeditions to the Congo in search of the elusive surviving dinosaurs which he and some other creationists are convinced are hidden there:

Perhaps the most exciting prospect for the world of creation science is the possibility that dinosaurs may still be living in the remote jungles of the world. Evolution and its accompanying necessity of long ages of evolutionary development would be hard pressed to accommodate a living dinosaur. Such is the story of Mokele-mbembe, a creature that some scientists believe could be a surviving sauropod dinosaur. The one area today that would favor living dinosaurs is the vast and unexplored swamps of equatorial Africa.

Very little was heard of Mokele-mbembe until 1976 when herpetologist,
James Powell from Texas, traveled to Gabon to study rainforest crocodiles. Powell picked up stories from the Fang people about an enormous river monster called N’yamala, and a local witchdoctor called Michael Obang picked out a picture of the diplodocus from a book on dinosaurs as being a dead ringer for the N’yamala which he saw exit a jungle pool in 1946.

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Australian Billionaire Orders 117 Animatronic Dinosaurs For Jurassic Park-Style Resort

With so many very rich people in the world, why has it taken so long for someone to do this? Via the Australian:

Clive Palmer is a giant step closer to creating his own Jurassic Park after the eccentric billionaire put in an order for more than 100 mechanical dinosaurs.

The mining magnate, who is also building a replica Titanic, already has a tyrannosaurus rex called Jeff and an omeisaurus named Bones in his Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane.

Mr. Palmer said today he had ordered another 117 animatronic dinosaurs for the resort from central China. He said the new arrivals would include a 1200kg brachiosaurus and a 7m tall mamenchisaurus – both tall plant-eating reptiles.

The animals, which will be displayed in the woodlands around the resort, will sway their tails, heave their chests and blink, Mr. Palmer said.

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Fear The Obamadon!

ObamaI have a sneaking suspicion that David Icke is behind the naming of a lizard after the leader of the free world … story from Reuters:

Researchers have named a newly discovered, prehistoric lizard “Obamadon gracilis” in honor of the 44th president’s toothy grin.

The small, insect-eating lizard was first discovered in eastern Montana in 1974, but a recent re-examination showed the fossil had been wrongly classified as a Leptochamops denticulatus and was in fact a new species, researchers told Reuters on Tuesday.

Obamadon gracilis was one of nine newly discovered species reported on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In naming the new species, scientists from Yale and Harvard universities combined the Latin “Obamadon” for “Obama’s teeth” and “gracilis,” which means…

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Will a ‘Ban’ on Long Hair, Tattoos and Piercings Help the Ailing Music Retailer HMV?

Picture: "Amanda's Tattoos", Bridget from Seattle (CC)

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde

It seems UK music store HMV has gotten itself into a bit of bother with a controversial new dress policy that has restrictions on long hair and tattoos. Its core demographic of long-haired tattoo-wearing teenagers have inevitably been annoyed.

The story was first reported in The Sun newspaper:

HMV warns anyone ignoring the policy will be disciplined. Until recently the chain owned some of Britain’s best known rock venues such as London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Many top stars — like tattooed Ed Sheeran and Professor Green, and long-haired Jack White of The White Stripes — would be ruled out of an HMV job because of their appearance.

One worker said: “We’ve got new management. It’s ridiculous and discrimination.” HMV insisted it wanted staff to express their personalities but had to balance this with customer expectations.

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Cloning Of Dinosaurs And Ancient Animals Proven Impossible

Humanity will never be able to resurrect the creatures of long ago. New research suggests that even under ideal conditions, DNA becomes unreadable after a mere 1.5 million years. Thus all the dino bones and amberized insects in the world are useless for cloning purposes, Scientific American writes:

Palaeogeneticists led by Morten Allentoft in Perth, Australia, examined 158 DNA-containing leg bones belonging to three species of extinct giant birds. By comparing the specimens’ ages and degrees of DNA degradation, the researchers calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. That means that after 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in the backbone of a sample would have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone; and so on.

The team predicts that even in a bone at an ideal preservation temperature of −5 ºC, effectively every bond would be destroyed after a maximum of 6.8 million years.

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