Tag Archives | Dinosaurs
Trust the Huffington Post to change the way we think about dinosaurs:
Ever think about dinosaur sex? Paleontologists do. And they’ve come up with some surprisingly specific ideas about how the prehistoric beasts were able to mate despite their enormous size and weight–and despite the horns and other bony appendages that might have proven bothersome when the creatures got hot and bothered.
The males and females of modern-day birds and reptiles have a single body opening for urination, defecation, and reproduction–something called a cloaca (Latin for sewer). Paleontologists believe that dinosaurs had the same basic equipment, and that they coupled by pressing their cloacas together.
No penis is needed to perform a “cloacal kiss.” But some birds have penises and crocodiles sport penis-like “intromittent organs,” and male dinosaurs might have had something similar. As you might imagine, a dinosaur penis might have been pretty big–perhaps up to 12 feet in length for T.
I remember reading long ago an article about how man’s own psychological and sociological biases can shape how they view scientific phenomenon. (Sadly, as this was in the pre-Internet days, I can’t locate it anywhere on the Web, so forgive me if the details are vague or off a bit.) Perhaps the best example: when the biological process of impregnation is usually presented, the model is a valiant army of noble sperm battling waves of defenders to the egg as it lays helpless from the attack without the surrounding protections.
This image evokes the idealized fantasies of the Age of Chivalry, turning the act of conception into a battle between knights and warriors over a chaste and passive queen. (Talk about a Holy Grail.) It also squares with the gender roles that dominate society, that of the male aggressor and the female as his prey.… Read the rest
Okaaaay, Dr. Breslow, let’s hear your theory… (via TG Daily):
It sounds like the plot to a science fiction story, but new scientific research hypothesizes that “advanced dinosaurs” may have evolved on other planets in the universe.
According to Dr. Ronald Breslow, the advanced versions of T. rex and other dinosaurs would likely be monstrous creatures with the intelligence and cunning of humans.
“We would be better off not meeting them,” Breslow concludes in a study that appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
In his report, Breslow discusses the age-old mystery of why the building blocks of terrestrial amino acids (which make up proteins), sugars, and the genetic materials DNA and RNA exist mainly in one orientation or shape…
Great job, NYC! Brian Vitagliano reports on CNN:
Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.
The banned word list was made public – and attracted considerable criticism – when the city’s education department released this year’s “request for proposal” on March 8, 2010. The request for proposal is sent to test publishers around the country trying to get the job of revamping math and English tests for the City of New York.
The Department of Education’s says that avoiding sensitive words on tests is nothing new, and that New York City is not the only locale to do so. California avoids the use of the word “weed” on tests and Florida avoids the phrases that use “Hurricane” or “Wildfires,” according to a statement by the New York City Department of Education …
It sounds completly crazy. But it’s what a group of paleontologists are claiming — the first sentient beings on Earth to create art may not have been humans, but monstrously large, tentacled sea creatures called “kraken” who lived 200 million years ago and possibly arranged bones in geometric, decorative patterns. io9 explains further:
For decades, paleontologists have puzzled over a fossil collection of nine Triassic icthyosaurs (Shonisaurus popularis) discovered in Nevada’s Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. Researchers initially thought that this strange grouping of 45-foot-long marine reptiles had either died en masse from a poisonous plankton bloom or had become stranded in shallow water.
But recent geological analysis of the fossil site indicates that the park was deep underwater when these shonisaurs swam the prehistoric seas. So why were their bones laid in such a bizarre pattern? A new theory suggests that a 100-foot-long cephalopod arranged these bones as a self-portrait after drowning the reptiles.
Didn’t we learn anything from Jurassic Park? Scientists have created embryo’s with ‘alligator-like snouts’ and are hoping to be able to further ‘undo’ evolution with future trials. The New Zealand Herald reports:
Harvard scientists are hoping to turn chickens into mini-dinosaurs, according to the Daily Mail.
Scientists at the Ivy League university have ‘rewound’ evolution with chicken DNA to create embryos with alligator-like snouts instead of beaks.
By altering the DNA of chicken embryos in the early stage of their development, the team were able to ‘undo’ evolutionary progress and give the creatures snouts which are thought to have been lost in the cretaceous period millions of years ago.
Evolutionary biologist Arkhat Abzhanov developed the chickens with snouts by cutting a square hole in the shell of a chicken egg and dropping in a small gelatinous protein bead, before watching the embryo develop – stifling the development of certain molecules and preventing the birds from growing certain features.
It’s been a widely accepted fact that reptiles lay eggs. But did they always? New findings in a pleiosaurs’ fossil revealed that this marine reptile gave birth to live young. Via New Scientist:
Think less sea monsters, more doting parents: the long-necked plesiosaurs that roamed the seas during the dinosaur era gave birth to live young. They probably cared for their offspring and may even have lived in large social groups, like modern-day whales.
Plesiosaurs were reptiles, which as a group tend to lay eggs rather than giving birth. Other prehistoric marine reptiles were known to be exceptions to that rule, but until now fossil evidence that plesiosaurs did the same has been frustratingly elusive. “People have looked and looked,” says F. Robin O’Keefe of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.
Last year O’Keefe was called in to help prepare a fossil plesiosaur for display in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
The two new dinosaurs found in Southern Utah are said to have more horns on their head than any known dino. Now the only question is whether they were functional or just fashionable? From National Geographic:
Two newly discovered horned dinosaur species from an ancient “lost continent” are some of the most surprising and ornate yet found, paleontologists say.
The new dinosaurs are members of the ceratopsids, the group of dinosaurs that includes Triceratops. The animals were generally four-legged herbivores with horns and bony frills rising from the backs of their heads.
The larger of the two dinosaurs, Utahceratops gettyi, had a 7-foot-long (2.3-meter-long) skull, prompting study co-author Mark Loewen of the University of Utah to compare the animal to “a giant rhino with a ridiculously supersized head.”
The other new dinosaur, Kosmoceratops richardsoni, is “one of the most amazing animals known, with a huge skull decorated with an assortment of bony bells and whistles,” study leader Scott Sampson, also of the University of Utah, said in a statement.
Does a third of the population believe that “The Flinstones was a documentary”? In a poll, one out of three Texans say that humans and dinosaurs lived together at one point. Oh, and, the majority say that humanity did not develop from an earlier species. The Texas Tribune reports:
Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, and more than half disagree with the theory that humans developed from earlier species of animals, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
[Professor David] Prindle recall[s] a line from comedian Lewis Black. “He did a routine a few years back in which he said that a significant proportion of the American people think that the ‘The Flintstones’ is a documentary,” Prindle says. “Turns out he was right.”