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...
Tag Archives | Dinosaurs
“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:
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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.
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:
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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.
Trust the Huffington Post to change the way we think about dinosaurs:
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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
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 …
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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:
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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:
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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.