Not that I would ever recommend this, but … This would be a pretty funny April Fool’s prank to pull on your coworker who goes away for a long Easter weekend. Of course, you wouldn’t use their actual keyboard because that would be mean. Just get an old deprecated one from your IT guys. Not that I’m recommending you do this though, because that would be immature …. ~AR
31 july 1947 – 29 march 2013
Goodbye Uncle Vernon.
Thanks for everything. Potterheads all over the world.
This just goes to show you do not need a formal education to find scientifically important specimens. If you know what to look for, and are in the right place at the right time, you can find some very extraordinary things! Also, it’s wonderful Daisy and her family did the right thing and donated the holotype to the Natural History Museum in London. Because of this, now the fossil can be studied and articles like below can then be made for us all to enjoy and learn from.
Here’s a bit of an introduction from PLOS ONE for anyone who may be curious:
Background: Pterosaurs have been known from the Cretaceous sediments of the Isle of Wight (southern England, United Kingdom) since 1870. We describe the three-dimensional pelvic girdle and associated vertebrae of a small near-adult pterodactyloid from the Atherfield Clay Formation (lower Aptian, Lower Cretaceous). Despite acknowledged variation in the pterosaur pelvis, previous studies have not adequately sampled or incorporated pelvic characters into phylogenetic analyses.
Methodology/Principal Findings: The new specimen represents the new taxon Vectidraco daisymorrisae gen. et sp. nov., diagnosed by the presence of a concavity posterodorsal to the acetabulum and the form of its postacetabular process on the ilium. Several characters suggest that Vectidraco belongs to Azhdarchoidea. We constructed a pelvis-only phylogenetic analysis to test whether the pterosaur pelvis carries a useful phylogenetic signal. Resolution in recovered trees was poor, but they approximately matched trees recovered from analyses of total evidence. We also added Vectidraco and our pelvic characters to an existing total-evidence matrix for pterosaurs. Both analyses recovered Vectidraco within Azhdarchoidea.
The Secret Door could take you anywhere in the world. Only unlike completely randomised websites that drop you in the middle of the Australian outback, it’s likely to take you somewhere really, really cool.
it took me to the horizon of a city. and then i looked around and i realized…
it was a miniature city
people were standing around it and all this time i was thinking it was a real city
i got scared there for a moment
it dropped me IN THE OCEAN in front of a manta ray
I am in some turkish baths
Muscular dudes and ladies are looking at me
I ENDED UP IN LEGOLAND
i think i should get points for recognising it instantly
EDIT: omg now i’m in a garden centre in Worcestershire
I am in a leather bag shop.
I AM IN A GLORIOUS CAVE IN OKINAWA
HERE IS WHERE I SHALL CONSTRUCT MY SUPERVILLAIN LAIR
it took me to a thrift store, a hiking trail, and then a candy store.
IT’S LIKE IT KNOWS ME
OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING.
I landed in the Grand Canyon, then the Inuit Museum (I think), then a a bar?!?! *click more*
I’M LIKE IN FUCKING NARNIA OR SOME SHIT. THIS IS AWESOME.
Smoky quartz on albite.
I hope you guys don’t mind if I post my minerals here, but I think they are pretty and I want to share them with YOU.
A total of 380 Yangtze finless porpoise have been visually identified during a survey of the Yangtze River, marking a significant decline from 2006 numbers.
Acoustic equipment identified 172 finless porpoise during an expedition. Also known locally as the river pig, a 2011 survey revealed that the porpoise population currently stands at 1,000 in the Yangtze River, and is decreasing by 6.4 percent annually.
These porpoises are being scattered and isolated which is not good for their reproduction. The scattered distribution pattern could be the result of shipping traffic that made migration harder, projects that altered hydrological conditions in the middle and lower reaches, and habit loss. Illegal fishing practices are affecting the finless porpoise populations as well.
I just really hope China steps it up and helps them out. Haven’t they already learned from the extinction of the Baiji dolphin?
This is such a shame. The article linked above was from December 2012, so I found a more recent article from the BBC in February (2013) for anyone curious on what’s happening now:
From 2013 BBC article: “Protection for highly threatened Yangtze finless porpoises in China is “insufficient”, researchers say.
The mammals have suffered a dramatic decline and are now threatened with extinction.
Researchers carried out a survey to the establish how the animals are distributed in the Yangtze river.
They found current protected sections of the Yangtze do not cover all the areas where most porpoises were found.
Details of the findings are published in the journal Animal Conservation.”
You can read further at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/21261583
Zhangye Danxia - Geology From a Storybook
Long ago, colorful sediments were deposited in western China, layer after layer, century after century. If you were there at the time, you would have seen unremarkable ground, a single hue of dirt no different from a thousand other places on Earth.
But after thousands and thousands of years subject to the forces of pressure and tectonic movement, the total of those layers has been pushed upward, letting us peek at a rainbow-hued slice of Earth’s past perhaps unmatched on this planet. The planet looks more like the cross-section of a jawbreaker candy than layers of rock in these photos, near Zhangye, China.
The Zhangye formation, not to be confused with this danxia, a UNESCO heritage site, reminds us how our crust is heaved and hurled throughout the ages, a slow evolution that will continue into the distant future. It’s yet another story of Earth’s past, written in stone, but perhaps with the same pen as a fantasy storybook.
One of my absolute favourite places on Earth.
Hexagonal rocks-WUT: The columns form due to stress as the lava cools. The lava contracts as it cools, forming cracks. Once the crack develops it continues to grow. The growth is perpendicular to the surface of the flow. Entablature is probably the result of cooling caused by fresh lava being covered by water. The flood basalts probably damned rivers. When the rivers returned the water seeped down the cracks in the cooling lava and caused rapid cooling from the surface downward. The division of colonnade and entablature is the result of slow cooling from the base upward and rapid cooling from the top downward. (via Hexagonal rocks)
Columnar basalt is just too awesome.
I hate waking up to bad news.
Thanks to Congress and the White House failing to agree on budget cuts, and the subsequent “sequestration” (across-the-board, slash-and-burn, top-to-bottom money-trimming), NASA has announced that they are suspending all education and public outreach activities. It’s a suspension, not a cancellation … but uggghhhh.
NASA knows this sucks. But they’ve been put in a place where they have to choose whether they can support their actual missions with the money they have been given, and no matter how much they value the extras (and they do), it’s rock-and-a-hard-place time for space folks. It’s hard to put presents under the tree if you’re struggling to keep the lights on.
Projects like the Mars Curiosity Twitter account and NASA’s Twitter socials will continue. So what could we be saying goodbye to? These are the outreach programs that put Mars science in underprivileged classrooms, turning science into smiles. The programs that publish free ebooks of our Earth as art, erasing borders and instilling wonder in one fell swoop. Programs that allow us to travel beyond our planet in a single click. These are programs that plop down space telescope mock-ups in the middle of downtown Austin so the kid in me can do cartwheels with sciencey glee.
Today, online, there are so many wonderful places that can take up the slack (blogs and websites like this). But will we be able to do this effectively if NASA can’t even do it themselves? I don’t know. But we will try.
Because if we do try, then we can remind people who vote and people who make budgets of what NASA already knows: Whenever we look up, we are inspired to make new things possible, in sciences terrestrial and astronomical. And when we look back down at Earth, and those borders disappear, doesn’t it make you want to make this chart a little more even?
I’ve lost the will to live.
A research team led by the Canadian Museum of Nature has identified the first evidence for an extinct giant camel in Canada’s High Arctic. The discovery is based on 30 fossil fragments of a leg bone found on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, and represents the most northerly record for early camels, whose ancestors are known to have originated in North America some 45 million years ago….
The camel bones were collected from a steep slope at the Fyles Leaf Bed site, a sandy deposit near Strathcona Fiord on Ellesmere Island. Fossils of leaves, wood and other plant material have been found at this site, but the camel is the first mammal recovered. A nearby fossil-rich locality at Strathcona Fiord known as the Beaver Pond site has previously yielded fossils of other mammals from the same time period, including a badger, deerlet, beaver and three-toed horse.
Determining that the bones were from a camel was a challenge. “The first time I picked up a piece, I thought that it might be wood. It was only back at the field camp that I was able to ascertain it was not only bone, but also from a fossil mammal larger than anything we had seen so far from the deposits,” explains Rybczynski, relating the moment that she and her team had discovered something unusual.
Some important physical characteristics suggested the fossil fragments were part of a large tibia, the main lower-leg bone in mammals, and that they belonged to the group of cloven-hoofed animals known as artiodactyls, which includes cows, pigs and camels. Digital files of each of the 30 bone fragments were produced using a 3D laser scanner, allowing for the pieces to be assembled and aligned. The size of the reconstituted leg bone suggested it was from a very large mammal. At the time in North America, the largest artiodactyls were camels.
Full confirmation that the bones belonged to a camel came from a new technique called collagen fingerprinting that was pioneered by Dr. Mike Buckley at the University of Manchester in England. Profiles produced by this technique can be used to distinguish between groups of mammals.
Minute amounts of collagen, the dominant protein found in bone, were extracted from the fossils. Using chemical markers for the peptides that make up the collagen, a collagen profile for the fossil bones was developed. This profile was compared with those of 37 modern mammal species, as well as that of a fossil camel found in Yukon, which is also in the Canadian Museum of Nature’s collections.
The collagen profile for the High Arctic camel most closely matched those of modern camels, specifically dromedaries (camels with one hump) as well as the Yukon giant camel, which is thought to be Paracamelus, the ancestor of modern camels. The collagen information, combined with the anatomical data, allowed Rybczynski and her colleagues to conclude that the Ellesmere bones belong to a camel, and is likely the same lineage as Paracamelus.
“We now have a new fossil record to better understand camel evolution, since our research shows that the Paracamelus lineage inhabited northern North America for millions of years, and the simplest explanation for this pattern would be that Paracamelus originated there,” explains Rybczynski. “So perhaps some specializations seen in modern camels, such as their wide flat feet, large eyes and humps for fat may be adaptations derived from living in a polar environment.”
The scientific paper also reports for the first time an accurate age of both the Fyles Leaf Bed site and the Beaver Pond site—at least 3.4 million years old. This was determined by Dr. Gosse at Dalhousie University using a sophisticated technique that involves dating the sands found associated with the bone. The date is significant because it corresponds to a time period when the Earth was 2°C to 3°C warmer than today, and the Arctic was 14°C to 22°C warmer.
National Geographic: A Velociraptor Without Feathers Isn’t a Velociraptor by Brian Switek
Jurassic Park is the greatest dinosaur movie of all time. Aside from being an exceptionally entertaining adventure, the film introduced audiences to dinosaurs that had never been seen before – hybrids of new science and bleeding-edge special effects techniques. The active, alert, and clever dinosaurs that paleontologists had recently pieced together were revived by way of exquisite puppetry and computer imagery, instantly replacing the old images of dinosaurs as swamp-dwelling dullards. Despite the various scientific nitpicks and some artistic license overreach – let’s not talk about the “Spitter” - Jurassic Park showed how science and cinema could collaborate to create something truly majestic. That’s why it’s so disappointing to hear the the next Jurassic Park sequel is going to turn its back on a critical aspect of dinosaur lives. In Jurassic Park 4, the film’s director has stated, there will be no feathery dinosaurs.
I talked a bit about this yesterday in another post. Feathers are okay, they don’t bite…
But the animal its on does!
Director, Colin Trevorrow, of Jurassic Park IV says “No feathers.”
Mixed feelings about this. Despite the fact that, in the 20 years since Jurassic Park was created we know for sure that several dinosaur types did in fact have feathers, I’ve never been on board with the idea of retconning JP’s dinosaur stars with feathery coats (although the plumed raptors in JP3 were pretty cool).
However, that’s not say any new dinosaurs introduced in the fourth film shouldn’t be feathered. If Trevorrow or the screenwriting team decide to throw in, say, a troodon or oviraptor (or just about any new theropod, really), there’s absolutely no reason for it not to be feathered.
Jurassic Park, for it’s time, was the cutting edge in its depictions of dinosaurs. At a time when the public opinon (and even among some stragglers in the scientific community) was still that dinosaurs were cold-blooded, slow moving, tail tragging, swamp-bound monsters, Jurassic Park enlisted the help of the latest paleontological research and dared to show dinosaurs that were active, intelligent, fast-moving, warm blooded, bird-like creatures.
It is my opinion that, with exceptions for continuity and artistic license relating to the narrative, depicting scientifically accurate dinosaurs should always be a goal — nay, a responsibilty — of the Jurassic Park films.
He’s got a point. The fact that Dr. Grant mentioned raptors being like birds and that it actually happened to be true in real life, I wouldn’t see why a new species of a feathered dinosaurs couldn’t appear in the fourth movie, especially if the storyline continued a bit on how they were experimenting with dino dna. It’s possible. I wouldn’t mind seeing one or two feathered dinosaurs honestly.
Ah, so many feelings with this. As stated above, Jurassic Park was so advanced for its time when it came to changing how so many viewed dinosaurs: pre-dinosaur renaissance. There was so much being discovered even during the filming, which tied in to things they were already doing. It was a wonderful time, and opened the door to so much.
20 years later, a lot has happened: new fossils, theories, discoveries, evidence, technology, etc. There is just so much we cannot ignore. I appreciate Jurassic Park with and without its faults, but does that mean we have to stick to what we knew 20 years ago?
What’s so great about Jurassic Park is the fact you can really make some crazy dinosaurs with it - or at least morph them. What I mean is that with the science they created these dinosaurs by, the DNA and all the fuckery that happened, you can have Jurassic Park IV feature more accurate dinosaurs by blaming the way these animals were genetically programmed. They’ve been thriving ever since the disaster, so why not push the limits a bit. There are so many plots you can work with on this. Were there other experiments happening that were never mentioned in the book or previous films? The raptors in Jurassic Park III had morphed, so why not continue to build on that with other new and old dinosaurs? I’m not saying to cover them completely in feathers either, but there is room to make some changes to create animals we now know to feature some cool stuff. Now shrinking down the Velociraptors to be accurate would unfortunately be a bit of a shock to just about everyone, but again, I feel there are a lot of areas that can be worked with that will not jolt the audience too much. And hey, if they’re shocked, go with it! Creative writing, awesome plots, make everything even more bizarre (but not in a crazy way like, “Oh, look, that T. rex has two heads!”).
Again, so many feels on Jurassic Park IV. I’ve been waiting for another movie for years, and years, and years, so it’s hard to know how to feel with where they may take this. I can understand not changing certain animals due to their iconic memories that stay with so many people, but it’s a give and take situation no matter what. I just hope it’s good, but also incorporate the modern theories and studies we now have on these animals.