Biggest ever apatosaurus discovery in Colorado


This video is called Origami Dinosaur: APATOSAURUS.

From the Grand Junction Free Press in the USA:

Record dinosaur bone found in Colorado quarry

By Brittany Markert

07/21/2014 12:01:00 AM MDT

Rabbit Valley’s Mygatt-Moore quarry is home to hundreds of fossils left behind by dinosaurs and extinct sea creatures. Its most notable recent find was a 6-foot-7-inch-long, 2,800-pound apatosaurus femur.

That is the largest apatosaurus ever found anywhere, said Dinosaur Journey curator of paleontology Julia McHugh.

It is a groundbreaking discovery because it belonged to a beast likely 80 to 90 feet long, which is 15 to 25 feet longer than average, she said.

After five summers of work excavating the dinosaur leg bone, it was lifted Thursday morning from the quarry outside Grand Junction near the Utah border. A crew of experts led by the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey Museum oversaw the excavation.

“It’s funny that it was discovered from a small piece exposed about the size of a pancake,” volunteer Dorthy Stewart said.

The creature ordinarily grew up to 69 feet long and ate plants.

According to the National Park Service, “You may have heard it referred to by its scientifically incorrect name, Brontosaurus. This sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) was discovered and named Apatosaurus, or ‘false lizard,’ because of its unbelievably large size. After Apatosaurus was named, other sauropod specimens were named Brontosaurus. It was later determined that both names actually referred to the same animal, Apatosaurus.”

United States amphibians declining


This video, recorded in Colorado, USA is called Metamorphosis: Amphibian Nature Documentary.

From Wildlife Extra:

U.S. amphibian populations declining at precipitous rates

Study shows amphibians declining fast, even in protected areas

May 2013. The first-ever estimate of how fast frogs, toads and salamanders in the United States are disappearing from their habitats reveals they are vanishing at an alarming and rapid rate.

According to the study released in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, even the species of amphibians presumed to be relatively stable and widespread are declining. And these declines are occurring in amphibian populations everywhere, from the swamps in Louisiana and Florida to the high mountains of the Sierras and the Rockies.

Significant declines even in protected national parks and wildlife refuges

The study by USGS scientists and collaborators concluded that U.S. amphibian declines may be more widespread and severe than previously realized, and that significant declines are notably occurring even in protected national parks and wildlife refuges.

“Amphibians have been a constant presence in our planet’s ponds, streams, lakes and rivers for 350 million years or so, surviving countless changes that caused many other groups of animals to go extinct,” said USGS Director Suzette Kimball. “This is why the findings of this study are so noteworthy; they demonstrate that the pressures amphibians now face exceed the ability of many of these survivors to cope.”

Decline of 3.7% per year

On average, populations of all amphibians examined vanished from habitats at a rate of 3.7 percent each year. If the rate observed is representative and remains unchanged, these species would disappear from half of the habitats they currently occupy in about 20 years. The more threatened species, considered “Red-Listed” in an assessment by the global organization International Union for Conservation of Nature, disappeared from their studied habitats at a rate of 11.6 percent each year. If the rate observed is representative and remains unchanged, these Red-Listed species would disappear from half of the habitats they currently occupy in about six years.

“Even though these declines seem small on the surface, they are not,” said USGS ecologist Michael Adams, the lead author of the study. “Small numbers build up to dramatic declines with time. We knew there was a big problem with amphibians, but these numbers are both surprising and of significant concern.”

9 years of data

For nine years, researchers looked at the rate of change in the number of ponds, lakes and other habitat features that amphibians occupied. In lay terms, this means that scientists documented how fast clusters of amphibians are disappearing across the landscape.

In all, scientists analyzed nine years of data from 34 sites spanning 48 species. The analysis did not evaluate causes of declines.

The research was done under the auspices of the USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative, which studies amphibian trends and causes of decline. This unique program, known as ARMI, conducts research to address local information needs in a way that can be compared across studies to provide analyses of regional and national trends.

Very bad news

Brian Gratwicke, amphibian conservation biologist with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, said, “This is the culmination of an incredible sampling effort and cutting-edge analysis pioneered by the USGS, but it is very bad news for amphibians. Now, more than ever, we need to confront amphibian declines in the U.S. and take actions to conserve our incredible frog and salamander biodiversity.”

The study offered other surprising insights. For example, declines occurred even in lands managed for conservation of natural resources, such as national parks and national wildlife refuges.

“The declines of amphibians in these protected areas are particularly worrisome because they suggest that some stressors – such as diseases, contaminants and drought – transcend landscapes,” Adams said. “The fact that amphibian declines are occurring in our most protected areas adds weight to the hypothesis that this is a global phenomenon with implications for managers of all kinds of landscapes, even protected ones.”

Amphibians seem to be experiencing the worst declines documented among vertebrates, but all major groups of animals associated with freshwater are having problems, according to Adams. While habitat loss is a factor in some areas, other research suggests that things like disease, invasive species, contaminants and perhaps other unknown factors are related to declines in protected areas.

“This study,” said Adams, “gives us a point of reference that will enable us to track what’s happening in a way that wasn’t possible before.”

American Gunnison sage-grouse in danger


This video is about the Gunnison sage-grouse in the USA.

Formerly lumped with the Gunnison sage-grouse as a single species until a formal split in 2000, the greater sage grouse is the largest grouse in North America and has impressive courtship displays that draw both prospective mates and curious birders every year: here.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comment on Gunnison Sage-Grouse

In a New York Times op-ed today, Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick tells the Gunnison Sage-Grouse‘s remarkable story of discovery and disappearance. Known for centuries to the inhabitants of modern-day Colorado and Utah, it was only formally described as a new species in 2000—despite the bird’s flamboyant displays and former popularity as a gamebird. As the bird’s numbers continue to fall from changes to its sagebrush habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is weighing listing the species under the Endangered Species Act—a move that would trigger important protections. To aid their decision they’ve issued a call for public comments, which are due by March 12.

Why were dinosaurs big?


This video is called Tribute to Theropod Dinosaurs.

From the Geological Society of America:

Were dinosaurs destined to be big? Testing Cope’s rule

GSA Annual Meeting Presentation: Testing Cope’s rule and the existence of an upper bound for body size in non-avian dinosaurs

Boulder, CO, USA – In the evolutionary long run, small critters tend to evolve into bigger beasts — at least according to the idea attributed to paleontologist Edward Cope, now known as Cope’s Rule. Using the latest advanced statistical modeling methods, a new test of this rule as it applies dinosaurs shows that Cope was right — sometimes.

“For a long time, dinosaurs were thought to be the example of Cope’s Rule,” says Gene Hunt, curator in the Department of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Washington, D.C. Other groups, particularly mammals, also provide plenty of classic examples of the rule, Hunt says.

To see if Cope’s rule really applies to dinosaurs, Hunt and colleagues Richard FitzJohn of the University of British Columbia and Matthew Carrano of the NMNH used dinosaur thigh bones (aka femurs) as proxies for animal size. They then used that femur data in their statistical model to look for two things: directional trends in size over time and whether there were any detectable upper limits for body size.

“What we did then was explore how constant a rule is this Cope’s Rule trend within dinosaurs,” said Hunt. They looked across the “family tree” of dinosaurs and found that some groups, or clades, of dinosaurs do indeed trend larger over time, following Cope’s Rule. Ceratopsids and hadrosaurs, for instance, show more increases in size than decreases over time, according to Hunt. Although birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, the team excluded them from the study because of the evolutionary pressure birds faced to lighten up and get smaller so they could fly better.

As for the upper limits to size, the results were sometimes yes, sometimes no. The four-legged sauropods (i.e., long-necked, small-headed herbivores) and ornithopod (i.e., iguanodons, ceratopsids) clades showed no indication of upper limits to how large they could evolve. And indeed, these groups contain the largest land animals that ever lived.

Theropods, which include the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, on the other hand, did show what appears to be an upper limit on body size. This may not be particularly surprising, says Hunt, because theropods were bipedal, and there are physical limits to how massive you can get while still being able to move around on two legs.

Hunt, FitzJohn, and Carrano will be presenting the results of their study on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 4, at the annual meeting of The Geological Society of America in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

As for why Cope’s Rule works at all, that is not very well understood, says Hunt. “It does happen sometimes, but not always,” he added. The traditional idea that somehow “bigger is better” because a bigger animal is less likely to be preyed upon is naïve, Hunt says. After all, even the biggest animals start out small enough to be preyed upon and spend a long, vulnerable, time getting gigantic.

US Democratic Party office shot at


Another shooting in Colorado, USA … this time, fortunately, not with consequences as lethal as another one.

This video from the USA is called Obama Campaign Office Shooting: Shot Fired Into Denver Building.

From Associated Press:

October 12, 2012, 9:39 PM

Shot fired at Obama campaign office in Denver

DENVER Denver police say someone has fired a shot through the window of President Barack Obama’s Denver campaign office.

Police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez says people were inside the office when the shooting happened Friday afternoon, but no one was injured. A large panel of glass was left shattered at the office on West Ninth Avenue near Acoma Street.

Lopez says investigators are looking at surveillance video but have not yet confirmed a description of a vehicle that might be linked to the shooting. Police didn’t immediately release other details while detectives pursue leads.

Lopez says she isn’t aware of any previous threats against the campaign office.

The Secret Service referred questions about the incident to Denver police.

An Obama campaign spokeswoman declined to comment.

People behind the window might have died, or the glass shards might have severely wounded people.

United States Aurora cinema massacre


This video from the USA is called Footage shows panic and chaos following cinema shooting.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

Aurora Shooting: Suspect Opens Fire At Colorado Movie Theater, Killing 12

Posted: 07/20/2012 5:38 am Updated: 07/20/2012 10:02 am

A heavily armed man entered a movie theater in suburban Denver early Friday and opened fire, killing at least 12 people and injuring 50 others.

The incident, which took place about 12:30 a.m. at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., occurred during midnight screenings of the new Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“This is a horrific event,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said during a news conference.

Click here for latest updates.

The gunman, who was wearing a gas mask, reportedly set off a smoke or tear gas bomb then walked up to the front of the screen in one of the theaters and opened fire.

When the movie patrons realized the attack was real and not part of the movie, pandemonium erupted and they began to flee. The film continued to play on the screen as bloodied customers took refuge outside. According to witnesses on the scene, some of the bullets also went through the walls of an adjacent theater, injuring patrons.

From the Facebook site of United States filmmaker and activist Michael Moore:

Having spent much time in the Aurora/Denver/Littleton area over the years, I am too sad about this most recent tragedy to comment at the moment, other than to say this:

I fear anthropologists and historians will look back on us and simply say we were a violent nation, at home and abroad, but in due time human decency won out and the violence ceased, but not before many, many more died and the world had had its fill of us.

Thoughts, prayers, and whatever comfort can be found for the victims and their families…

Seriously inappropriate Tweet from the NRA this morning: here.

Carrying concealed weapons just keeps getting easier: here.

Aurora theater shooting story updated with photo of suspected gunman: here.

James Holmes Identified As Alleged Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooter That Left 12 Dead (PHOTOS, LIVEBLOG): here.

Gun Violence and Our Dark Underside: 12 More Dead in Shooting Gallery America: here.

The Dark Knight Rises is the most conservative and right-wing of Christopher Nolan’s PG-13 Batman films to date: here.