Newfound fossils of a giant dolphin-shaped reptilian predator are now shedding light on how the world recovered after the most devastating mass extinction in history, researchers say.
This prehistoric sea monster could provide information on how the planet might deal with the mass extinction humans are causing now, scientists added.
The giant marine predator was at least 28 feet (8.6 meters) long, fossils showed. The carnivore was recovered over a course of three weeks in 2008 from what is today a mountain range in central Nevada, and is now kept at the Field Museum in Chicago.
This new species, formally named Thalattoarchon saurophagis — which means “lizard-eating ruler of the sea” — was an early member of the ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles that evolved from land reptiles just as modern whales did from land mammals. Ichthyosaurs cruised the oceans for 160 million years, apparently going extinct about 90 million years ago, some 25 million years before the age of dinosaurs ended.
“They were the most highly adapted of all marine reptiles, acquiring a fishlike shape and giving birth to live young,” said researcher Martin Sander, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Bonn in Germany.
Thalattoarchon possessed a massive skull and jaws armed with large teeth with cutting edges used to seize and slice prey. The researchers say it probably could have tackled victims as large as itself or larger.
Iceberg in Argentina gives spectators a rare show!
The iceberg flipped over in Argentina while people captured the event on their cameras. Here’s what the author says about the event under her Youtube video:
osibaruch writes:“This Iceberg was “calved” by Argentina’s Uppsala glacier. While we were passing by it with a catamaran, the huge berg lost a part of itself (look at the right side sinking) and then flipped over with a huge roar. In the process of melting this happens all the time, but it is seldom that it is captured on video WHEN it happens…”
This year’s Lyrid meteor shower is expected to peak between midnight and dawn on Saturday night/Sunday morning. That means two things. One: it’s the weekend, which means you have no excuse not to stay up. Two: it’s a new Moon, which means for the first time in almost nine months, stargazers will have a chance to catch a meteor shower without having to worry about any moonlight ruining their nighttime visibility. Here’s what you need to know to spot as many meteors as possible.
The thing about the Lyrids is that they’re a capricious bunch. Sometimes this shower peaks at just 20 meteors per hour, but they’re also notorious for really bringing the awesome when you least expect it; on a good year, stargazers can expect to spot upwards of 100 Lyrid meteors per hour during peak stargazing hours.
This year, the shower is expected to peak Sunday morning at 05:30 GMT (That’s 1:30 am EST and Saturday, 10:30 pm PST). As usual, you’ll want to seek high elevations and shun city lights, pack plenty of warm clothing, and bring a comfortable lounge or blanket that will allow you to watch as much of the night sky as possible without craning your neck.
You won’t need a telescope to spot the meteors, but if you have one you should definitely bring it. Saturn is currently at opposition (this means Earth is currently orbiting right between Saturn and the Sun, which puts Saturn opposite the Sun and illuminated in the sky for much of the night); with the exception of the Eta Aquarid shower in early May (which will take place during a Full Moon… booo), the next time you’ll have a chance to watch a meteor shower and see Saturn in this position won’t be for another five years.
The shower’s radiant (the region of the sky from which meteors will appear to originate) is, as its name suggests, near the constellation Lyra, but your best bet is to forget about that and just keep your eyes pointed straight up, keeping in mind that meteors can appear anywhere in the sky.
Some additional Lyrid meteor shower resources
- For more tips on what to bring on a stargazing outing and how to avoid light pollution, see our how-to guide for last year’s Perseids — a different shower, obviously, but the pointers still apply.
- Want to join local experts in observing the shower? Look up your neighborhood astronomy club.
- Wondering when the ideal time to watch is for your specific geographic location? Check out NASA’s Fluxtimator (you’ll want to change the first field to “6 April Lyrids,” select the location nearest you, and change the date to April 21—22 2012).
- Cloudy skies ruining your stargazing? Watch the shower live via NASA’s sky cam in Huntsville, Alabama along with meteor experts Dr. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw in a live webcast and webchat.
- Read more about the Lyrids, including NASA’s plans to observe them from the ISS, over on SPACE.com.
Radiant via SPACE.com
Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds technique applied to animals
Controversial anatomist returns to UK with new show based on plastination process – Animal Inside Out
A decade ago, Gunther von Hagens brought his ghoulish travelling show of preserved humans, Body Worlds, to the UK. Now he’s back, this time with a zoo’s-worth of animals that have undergone the same plastination technique: extracting water and fatty tissues from the body and replacing them with polymers to stop its decomposition.
Muscle, bone and organs are exposed, and skin flayed open to show the inner workings of these creatures’ bodies. This blue shark is one of the few specimens that hasn’t been dissected; its skin has been stripped off to reveal the blood vessels underneath.
With his skeletal, bloodless face, black fedora and horror-film name, von Hagens has always cultivated a macabre persona: part Dr Frankenstein and part Leonardo da Vinci, he revelled in the controversy and moral outrage his original show attracted. Governments in almost every country it visited attempted last-ditch legal challenges; religious groups questioned its morals.
Titanoboa returns! Smithsonian recreates world’s biggest snake - a 48-foot monster which ruled Earth after the dinosaurs.
A terrifying 48-foot, 2,500lb predator that slithered through rainforests 60 million years ago has been brought back to life by the Smithsonian.
In the wake of the dinosaurs, other predators battled for supremacy. Titanoboa was the biggest - a huge snake that would dwarf any anaconda, and which is the undisputed largest in history.
The Smithsonian has recreated the terrifying beast in a new TV show which explores a question that puzzled scientists - why the snake grew so large.
‘This is a find that seems so fantastic that it may appear to be an object of fantasy. A creature that has sprung from a Spielberg-imagined past and yes, it has a name that evokes a giant and mythic monster. It is called Titanoboa,’ David Royale, the Smithsonian Channel’s head of programming, announced.
The Smithsonian Channel has created a film that chronicles the discovery of the 48 foot long and 2,500 pound snake that existed more than 60 million years ago - and recreates what the predator might have looked like. The film has been promoted with a life-size statue which was on show in New York’s Grand Central.
Allosaurus fragilis (by Your Neighbor Satan)
There’s been some more research into figuring out whether or not Torosaurus is just a full grown adult Triceratops. Whenever dinosaurs are named (and in many cases the same is named more than once), the first official documented name sticks, which is Triceratops in this case. The controversy between whether or not they are the same species has been going on for quite some time. Last time news came out, Torosaurus had been scratched off the dino-map, but now it seems Torosaurus is back in the game to fight for becoming a valid species of ceratopsid.
The photo above shows Triceratops (top), and Torosaurus (bottom). Researchers have been doing tests on all ages of Triceratops and Torosaurus, finding that there isn’t a right transition (skull) between the dinosaurs to confirm that Torosaurus was just a full grown Triceratops.
“We looked at a bunch of changes in the skulls as the animals age and used a programme to arrange the skulls from youngest to oldest,” explained Dr Longrich to BBC News.
“What we found is there are young Torosaurus individuals and very old Triceratops individuals and that’s inconsistent with Torosaurus being an adult Triceratops.”
So, guys, any thoughts on the recently released news?
Jane, a juvenile T. rex on display at the Burpee Museum
First thought to be a skeleton of Nanotyrannus, “Jane” has been looked over thoroughly by many well known palaeontologists since her discovery back in 2001. It has been concluded that “Jane” is actually a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. There is still much research and debate to whether or not Nanotyrannus is a valid genus.