Big Triassic reptiles discovery in Texas


This video says about itself:

Texas Tech University Scientists Discover Prehistoric Crocodile Species

28 Jan 2014

Texas Tech scientists recently discovered a new species of phytosaur, which is like a modern-day crocodile. The skull was found near Post, Texas, and is believed to be 210 million years old.

Though phytosaurs look like crocodiles, there is doubt how closely related to them they were.

Today, not only news from China about the discovery of a gigantic dinosaur from the Cretaceous age.

Also news from Texas in the USA about the discovery of another reptile species; much older; smaller, but still big.

From Texas Tech University today:

Paleontologists discover new Triassic swamp monster (w/ Video)

18 hours ago by John Davis

In the dangerous waters of an ancient oxbow lake created by a flooded and unnamed meandering river, the female phytosaur died and sank to the bottom 205 million years ago. About 40 yards away the remains of a larger male also came to rest, and both disappeared in a tomb of soil and sediment.

Evidence for the cause of their deaths and the rest of their bodies have vanished with time, but their skulls remained. After careful research, a Texas Tech paleontologist says he and others have discovered a new species of the Triassic-age monster in the wilds of West Texas.

Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal, Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Bill Mueller, assistant curator of Paleontology at the Museum of Texas Tech University, said the team named their find Machaeroprosopus lottorum after the Lott family who own the ranch on which the animal was discovered.

“We found them in an area we’d been excavating in,” Mueller said. “I think we’ve gotten four skulls out of that area already. Doug Cunningham found this specimen, and then we dug it up. When he found it, just the very back end of the skull was sticking out of the ground. The rest was buried. We excavated it and brought it into the museum to finish preparation.”

Cunningham, currently a field research assistant at the museum and a retired firefighter, remembered finding the unusual female skull on June 27, 2001. After removing it from the mudstone, he recalls looking it over carefully with others and wondering if his discovery would add a new animal to science.

“It was really well preserved with the teeth and everything,” Cunningham said. “Finding one with teeth is pretty rare. It was so odd, but when they come out of the ground, you have a long way to go to actually see what you have because they’re still covered in matrix. We were all kind of in awe of it. It had this long, skinny snout. It was quite a bit different. It took me years to get it prepped and ready. At the time, I was working full-time and I did that on my days off.”

By looking an opening on the skull called the supratemporal fenestra, the snout and the shape of the bones at the back of the head, the team compared it to other phytosaurs and determined they’d discovered a separate species.

While West Texas is dry and dusty today, Mueller said the landscape looked more like a swampy, tropical rainforest during the Triassic period. Our planet’s landmasses had converged to form the supercontinent of Pangaea. In the forest undergrowth covered by tall conifers and choked with ferns, phytosaurs lurked beneath the water and waited for prey.

“A phytosaur resembles a crocodile,” Mueller said. “They had basically the same lifestyle as the modern crocodile by living in and around the water, eating fish, and whatever animals came to the margins of the rivers and lakes. But one of the big differences is the external nares, the nose, is back up next to its eyes instead of at the end of its snout.”

Mueller said scientists can tell the sexes of the animals by a distinctive feature on males. A bony crest stretched from the nostrils by the eyes to the tip of the animal’s beak – a feature lady phytosaurs probably found sexy.

Judging by the female’s skull size, which is more than three feet in length, Mueller guessed she would have measured 16 to 17 feet in length from nose to tail tip. The male would have measured about 17 to 18 feet. Their thin jaws suggested they hunted mainly fish as opposed to big prey.

Mueller said phytosaurs lived throughout the Triassic period from 230 to 203 million years ago, but died out during a mysterious mass extinction. Highly successful animals, they are commonly found because these animals liked to live in swampy areas and were more likely to become covered in sediment and fossilized.

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Private prison corporation Geo Group kills immigrants


This video from the USA is called GEO Background – Investigation shows GEO group has history of prisoner abuse.

It says about itself:

1 Dec 2008

WILLACY COUNTY – The GEO Group, the prison corporation at the center of the indictments has a long history filled with allegations of prisoner abuse. The abuse has sometimes even turned deadly.

A former corrections officer who did not want to be identified says she was on-duty at the Willacy State Jail in 2001 when Gregorio De La Rosa, Jr. was beaten to death by fellow inmates. She says he was bloody and not very responsive after the incident. De La Rosa died just four days before his release date.

His family sued the prison owner at that time, the GEO group known then as Wackenhut. The family won a $47 million settlement.

Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News, a prison watchdog group, says that the GEO Group has a bad reputation for a reason. “They gain their contracts through lobbying and cronyism and political favoritism,” Wright said. “They make their profits once they have the contracts through short staffing their facilities and underpaying their staff.”

Wright says the GEO runs prisons full of problems. “Very high incidents of escapes, assaults, murders, sexual assaults and riots as well,” he said. However, the former corrections officer of the jail says that there’s always going to be riots and assaults in a prison setting. She says those incidents don’t make it to the news because they are kept in-house. Lawmakers are calling for a review of all GEO’s contracts in Texas, though they claim it has nothing to do with the Willacy County indictments, which accuse the Vice President of the U.S., Dick Cheney of wrong doing since he owns a stock in company connected to the GEO group.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Privateer ‘lacks humanity’ but wants probation

Friday 17th January 2014

Firm bids for sold-off service despite being slammed by prison watchdog

A privateer accused yesterday of lacking basic humanity is in the running to scoop lucrative contracts as ministers flog off the probation service.

HM Inspectorates of Prisons uncovered an appalling litany of failing at Geo Group-run Harmondsworth immigration removal centre.

Among the most alarming documented incidents was the death of an 84-year-old immigration detainee with dementia after he was taken to hospital in handcuffs.

The Canadian national, believed to be Alois Dvorzac, spent three weeks at Harmondsworth despite doctors saying he was unfit for detention.

His death is one of a number of “shocking cases where a sense of humanity was lost,” HMIP said in its report on an unannounced visit last August.

Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon asked: “Have the authorities responsible for Harmondsworth forgotten the basic principles of humanity and decency that must apply to any form of custody?”

Geo, a British subsidiary of the US group of the same name, also runs Dungavel House immigration removal centre in South Lanarkshire.

The firm, which has been dogged by allegations of abuse, mistreatment and fraud, runs an estimated 96 facilities and provides services to the US concentration camp Guantanamo Bay.

But the Ministry of Justice announced in December that Geo Group UK and Geo Delta were among the firms which had made it through to the next round of bidding on the spoils of the government’s selloff of 70 per cent of probation services.

Probation union Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “Yet again we are hearing another private contractor’s failure to meet the requirements of their contract and it is the people they are charged with looking after that are suffering.

“The very idea that these companies should be in charge of monitoring and rehabilitating offenders in the community is ludicrous and dangerous.

“The public need to start asking this government why they insist on putting costs cuts before public safety.”

Last year, an 84-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease died in handcuffs in a British immigration centre: here.

Fears over public safety have led to a delay in privatising a large part of the probation service, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said yesterday: here.

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Good American aplomado falcon news


This video from the USA says about itself:

16 March 2009

This is a video of Aplomado Falcons that have been reintroduced in south-eastern New Mexico. This is an educational video to familiarize people with the movements of the falcons and the type of preferred habitat. The recovery project is a group effort involving the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Peregrine Fund, Turner Endangered Species Fund and other organizations.

From BirdNote in the USA:

Aplomado Falcon

Species Recovery Projects Are Working!

Aplomado Falcons were once widespread residents of the American Southwest, but by the 1950s, they’d disappeared entirely from the region. Loss of habitat, loss of prey, and pesticides all played a role.

But in the 1980s, a group called The Peregrine Fund began breeding captive Aplomado Falcons. Over the next 25 years, 1,500 fledglings were set free in South Texas. At the same time, conservation pacts with private landowners provided more than two million acres of habitat. Learn more in Related Resources below.

Texas government cheats pharmacists on death penalties


This video from the USA, with music by Steve Earle, is called Huntsville, Texas death-row prison cemetery.

From News Line daily in Britain, Friday, 11 October 2013:

Meanwhile, the Reprieve charity has issued a statement that ‘Pharmacies in the US are demanding that executioners in Texas not use their drugs to carry out lethal injections, claiming that the state “misrepresented” their plans for the drugs, or that they were completely unaware of the intended use.’

Texas is one of a number of states – including Pennsylvania, Colorado and South Dakota – which has attempted to secure the execution drug pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, after major pharmaceutical companies took steps to block the use of their products in capital punishment.

However, it has emerged that both of the pharmacies from which Texas procured supplies of ‘compounded’ (i.e. made-to-order) pentobarbital have either blocked the order or are demanding the return of the drugs.

One of the suppliers, Pharmacy Innovations, which is headquartered in Jamestown, NY, was according to court documents, ‘completely unaware that the drugs … were purchased with the intent to use them for lethal injections,’ and once informed, ‘cancelled the order before it had been filled’.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) had attempted to purchase under the cover name of the Huntsville Unit Hospital – even though the hospital has not existed since 1983.

The owner of the other supplier, the Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy, wrote this weekend to the TDCJ to ‘demand that TDCJ immediately return the vials of compounded pentobarbital,’ complaining that ‘the State of Texas misrepresented this fact (that the purchase would remain private) because my name and the name of my pharmacy are posted all over the internet.’

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of legal charity Reprieve’s Death Penalty team said: ‘This shows that responsible pharmacies, like responsible drugs companies, do not want to be part of the death penalty system.

Texas’ underhand behaviour – trying to order the drugs through a non-existent hospital to mask their intended use – should come as a warning to pharmacies everywhere to be on their guard. Pharmacists are in the business of healing, not killing – it is high time all those US states desperately seeking new sources of execution drugs realised that.’

New butterfly species from Texas discovered


Vicroy's ministreak, Ministrymon janevicroy, left and gray ministreak, right

By Laura Klappenbach, About.com Guide in the USA:

New Species of Butterfly Named

May 29, 2013

Over a century ago, specimens of a tiny, green-eyed butterfly were preserved in the Smithsonian entomology collection. At the time, the butterfly specimen was classified as a gray ministreak. But recently, scientists re-examined the species and determined that it was not a gray ministreak after all. They declared it a new species and gave it the common name Vicroy’s ministreak.

The Vicroy’s ministreak is a native to Texas. The new species differs from the gray ministreak in that it has green eyes (not black, like those of the gray ministreak). The Vicroy’s ministreak is about the size of a thumbnail. Its habitat overlaps with that of the gray ministreak.

The new species was discovered by Jeffrey Glassberg, the president of the North American Butterfly Association. He named the species after his wife, Jane Vicroy Scott.

More about this is here.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

Butterfly Metamorphosis VIDEO: CT Scans Show Transformation Of Insects Inside Outer Shell: here.