USA: Jurassic crocodilian discovered in Oregon


Metriorhynchidae, thalattosuchiansFrom The Oregonian:

Oregon’s Jurassic croc

The rare reptile fossil found by an amateur paleontologist crossed an ocean of time and the Earth’s crust to get here

Saturday, March 17, 2007

RICHARD L. HILL

The ferocious predator plied Asian coastal waters before dying and, stuck in the ocean floor, took a slow, 100 million-year ride east to the sandstone hills of Central Oregon southeast of Prineville.

In its day, the creature lunged from the water to snare low-flying reptiles called pterosaurs. But less than two years ago, Andrew Bland, an amateur fossil-hunter from Vancouver, scanned a hillside near the tiny town of Suplee and spied a curious brownish-black rock, which turned out to be a strange and very, very old skull.

Bland, a software engineer by profession, had stumbled upon the oldest, most complete crocodile ever found in Oregon — a potentially historic find pegged at about 150 million to 200 million years of age.

The deadly creature, called a thalattosuchian from the Jurassic Period, was about 6 to 8 feet long and would have weighed a few hundred pounds, says William Orr, director of the Thomas Condon State Museum of Fossils at the University of Oregon, which houses the extinct animal’s fossilized bones.

“We were all surprised and delighted,” said Bland, who, with eight other amateur paleontologists on a private ranch, was searching for fossilized shellfish called ammonites.

“This darker rock had eroded out of the hillside. We just started digging.”

The streamlined, long-snouted reptile was lethal. Its powerful, sharklike tail — along with a lack of the bony armor that characterizes modern crocodiles — enabled it to speed after prey.

The short-legged, web-footed crocodile is believed to have come on land only to lay its eggs.

Orr, a UO professor emeritus of geology, estimates that about 60 percent of the skeletal bones were uncovered, which he said makes it significantly more complete than two crocodile fossils found in the area in 1941 and 1985.

Orr says the Crook County croc likely became deposited “somewhere in China or Australia or Japan” then took a 100 million-year “conveyor belt” journey across the Pacific.

A package of the rocks the crocodile was in became annexed to present-day Central Oregon in what geologists call the Snowshoe Formation of the Izee Terrane.

Geologists refer to the Izee as an “exotic terrane,” which means a group of rocks that migrated via plate tectonics from its place of origin.

See also here.

And here.

And here.

A massive volcanic eruption 200 million years ago tipped the scales in the battle between dinosaurs and crocodiles for global dominance: here.

Extinct crocodile of Madagascar: here.

Triassic phytosaurs: here.

Desmatosuchus: here.

Did ammonites survive KT extinction? Here.

Opera against anti-Jewish bigotry, La Juive, on stage


This music video is called Wiener Staatsoper 2003 – Neil Shicoff sings the aria “Rachel, quand du Seigneur…”.

From European Jewish Press:

Historic opera makes plea for tolerance

By Rebecca Assoun

Updated: 18/Mar/2007 12:19

PARIS (EJP)— “La Juive” (The Jewess), a renowned 19th-century opera by French composer Halévy is currently on show in Paris.

Created in 1835, “The Jewess” marked a whole generation of French musicians and drew praise from masters such as Wagner and Berlioz.

The 19th-century composer and music teacher Jacques Fromental Halévy was is the author of numerous works, including 22 operas that went on stage in Paris.

He is best known for his monumental opera, “The Jewess”, which received wide acclaim in Paris.

It was performed 562 times before being dropped from the repertoire and gained worldwide popularity.

The story is set in early 15th-century Switzerland, during a period of religious upheaval, and deals with the history of an impossible love between a Christian man and a Jewish woman.

The work is also a real plea for the tolerance and thus is very topical today.

On the musical level, “the Jewess” is especially known for the aria “Rachel, quand du seigneur”, especially written for tenor Adolphe Nourrit, who interpreted the role of Eléazar.

Halévy was born in 1799 in Paris to a German-Jewish father and a French-Jewish mother, just 10 years after the French Revolution.

He grew up under the early years of the Napoleonic regime, a time of great freedom for Jews and he assimilated entirely into society.

Napoléon offered French citizenship to all Jews in his empire no matter where they lived and he tore down all ghetto walls.

The goal of the libretto was to re-evaluate the status of the Jew in society, as some novels of the time did (for example Balzac’s “the Human Comedy”).

Once considered to be one of the masterworks of the French lyrical theatre, “La Juive” has been neglected in recent years, mainly because of its subject matter — Roman Catholic religious intolerance and anti-Semitism in medieval Europe.

It is for example no coincidence that the piece was never shown during the 1930s, during the rise of fascism in Europe.

Halévy’s ‘La Juive’ is showing at the Opéra Bastille until 25 march 2007.

That even the anti-Semite Richard Wagner, from whom one might not expect that, praised this opera, may say something on its musical quality.

The US Bush administration’s links to Holocaust revisionists: here.

US religious Right bans Gounod opera: here.

Highlights and not so highlights of US palaeontologists Marsh and Cope


Elasmosaurus

From Palaeoblog:

Died This Day: Othniel Charles Marsh

From Today In Science History:

O.C. Marsh (October 29, 1931 – March 18, 1899)

In 1866, the Peabody Museum of Natural History was founded with a gift from George Peabody.

The same year his nephew, O.C. Marsh, was also named its Professor of Paleontology, the first such appointment in the United States.

In 1869 Marsh used the inheritance from his uncle to start to amass large collections of vertebrate fossils.

He went on to long and successful career as a vertebrate paleontologist, most of which was spent fueding [sic] with [h]is rival, E.D.Cope.

Marsh and Cope started their careers on a cordial basis, but the relationship soon soured over an incident involving Cope’s fossil of Elasmosaurus.

Embarassingly, Marsh pointed out that its backbones were mounted backwards.

To settle the arguement the men agreed to let Joseph Leidy decide who was right.

Leidy promptly removed the head from one end and placed it on what Cope had thought was the tail.

Cope than frantically tried to collect all of the copies of a recently printed publication that contained his erroneous reconstruction.

See also here.

The far Right US creationist wingnuts of Conservapedia on dinosaurs: here; and on Tyrannosaurus rex: here.

Pioneers of Stone Age research: here.

Czech village says No to US radar base


From German news agency DPA:

Czech village makes its voice heard on US radar base

By Katerina Zachovalova

Published: Saturday March 17, 2007

Trokavec, Czech Republic- Jan Neoral, the 65-year-old mayor of Trokavec, a small village some 80 kilometres south-west of Prague, does not look the part of Czech politician.

On the day when his neighbours trickle vote to let the world know their stance on a US anti-missile shield facility to build nearby, this vocal opponent to the US installation wears a US-style country western bolo tie complete with the feature of a bison as a clasp.

“I am not anti-American. I like America. It’s the country of freedom,” says Neoral, whose 87-year-old Arizona-based uncle supplies him with cowboy accessories.

“My uncle has lived there since 1951. He tells me about it, writes me about it, calls me about it.

But, in spite of that, I don’t want their radar base.”

On Saturday, Trokavec, whose its population recently increased by two to 100, was the first Czech municipality to hold a local plebiscite on the US military installation in its backyard.

Seventy-two out of 90 eligible voters participated.

All but one authorized their council to take all legal steps possible to stop the US radar base from being built in the nearby military zone.

The Trokavec residents say they are afraid the radar would emit harmful radiation, cause real-estate prices to fall and natives to flee the area.

US missile plans for Poland and Czech republic: here.

See also here.

German government opposition to those plans: here.

Bush’s Star Wars plans: here.

The supposed Iranian threat: here.