Triassic dinosaur predecessors, new research


This video says about itself:

Meet Teleocrater, a Croc-Like Early Dinosaur Relative

12 April 2017

A 245-million-year-old creature with crocodilian-like legs is an early relative of dinosaurs.

From Virginia Tech in the USA:

Early dinosaur cousin had a surprising croc-like look

Paleobiologist’s latest discovery of Teleocrater rhadinus has overturned popular predictions

April 12, 2017

Summary: Teleocrater and other recently discovered dinosaur cousins show that these animals were widespread during the Triassic Period and lived in modern day Russia, India, and Brazil. Furthermore, these cousins existed and went extinct before dinosaurs even appeared in the fossil record.

For decades, scientists have wondered what the earliest dinosaur relatives looked like. Most assumed that they would look like miniature dinosaurs, be about the size of a chicken, and walk on two legs.

A Virginia Tech paleobiologist’s latest discovery of Teleocrater rhadinus, however, has overturned popular predictions. This carnivorous creature, unearthed in southern Tanzania, was approximately seven to 10 feet long, with a long neck and tail, and instead of walking on two legs, it walked on four crocodylian-like legs.

The finding, published in the journal Nature April 12, fills a critical gap in the fossil record. Teleocrater, living more than 245 million years ago during the Triassic Period, pre-dated dinosaurs. It shows up in the fossil record right after a large group of reptiles known as archosaurs split into a bird branch (leading to dinosaurs and eventually birds) and a crocodile branch (eventually leading to today’s alligators and crocodiles). Teleocrater and its kin are the earliest known members of the bird branch of the archosaurs.

“The discovery of such an important new species is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Sterling Nesbitt, an assistant professor of geosciences in the College of Science.

He and Michelle Stocker, a co-author and also an assistant professor of geosciences in the College of Science, will give a free public talk with the fossils at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 13, 2017 at the Virginia Tech Museum of Geosciences on the second floor of Derring Hall.

Teleocrater fossils were first discovered in Tanzania in 1933 by paleontologist F. Rex Parrington, and the specimens were first studied by Alan J. Charig, former Curator of Fossil Reptiles, Amphibians and Birds at the Natural History Museum of London, in the 1950s.

Largely because the first specimen lacked crucial bones, such as the ankle bones, Charig could not determine whether Teleocrater was more closely related to crocodylians or to dinosaurs. Unfortunately, he died before he was able to complete his studies. The new specimens of Teleocrater, found in 2015, clear those questions up. The intact ankle bones and other parts of the skeleton helped scientists determine that the species is one of the oldest members of the archosaur tree and had a crocodylian look.

Nesbitt and co-authors chose to honor Charig’s original work by using the name he picked out for the animal, Teleocrater rhadinus, which means “slender complete basin” and refers to the animal’s lean build and closed hip socket.

“The discovery of Teleocrater fundamentally changes our ideas about the earliest history of dinosaur relatives,” said Nesbitt. “It also raises far more questions than it answers.”

“This research sheds light on the distribution and diversity of the ancestors of crocodiles, birds, and dinosaurs,” says Judy Skog, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Earth Sciences, “and indicates that dinosaur origins should be re-examined now that we know more about the complex history and traits of these early ancestors.”

Teleocrater and other recently discovered dinosaur cousins show that these animals were widespread during the Triassic Period and lived in modern day Russia, India, and Brazil. Furthermore, these cousins existed and went extinct before dinosaurs even appeared in the fossil record.

The team’s next steps are to go back to southern Tanzania this May to find more remains and missing parts of the Teleocrater skeleton. They will also continue to clean the bones of Teleocrater and other animals from the dig site in the paleontology preparation lab in Derring Hall.

“It’s so exciting to solve puzzles like Teleocrater, where we can finally tease apart some of these tricky mixed assemblages of fossils and shed some light on broader anatomical and biogeographic trends in an iconic group of animals,” said Stocker.

Stocker and Nesbitt are both researchers with the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech. Other co-authors on the paper include: Richard J. Butler with the University of Birmingham; Martin D. Ezcurra with Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales; Paul M. Barrett with the Natural History Museum of London; Kenneth D. Angielczyk with the Field Museum of Natural History; Roger M. H. Smith with the University of the Witwatersrand and Iziko South African Museum; Christian A. Sidor with the University of Washington; Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki with Uppsala University; Andrey G. Sennikov with Borissiak Paleontological Institute and Kazan Federal Univeristy; and Charig.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, a National Geographic Society for Young Explorers grant, and the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.

See also here.

Ancient saber-toothed cat skull discovery in Germany


This video says about itself:

12 August 2015

“Homotherium” is an extinct genus of machairodontine saber-toothed cats, often termed “scimitar-toothed cats”, that ranged from North America, South America, Eurasia, and Africa during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs.

It first became extinct in Africa some 1.5 million years ago. In Eurasia it survived until about 30,000 years ago. In South America it is only known from a few remains in the northern region, from the mid-Pleistocene. The most recent remains of Homotherium date to 28,000 years BP.

Homotherium” reached 1.1 m at the shoulder and weighed an estimated 150 [kilogram] – and was therefore about the size of a male African lion. Compared to some other machairodonts, like “Smilodon” or “Megantereon”, “Homotherium” had shorter upper canines, but they were flat, serrated and longer than those of any living cat. Incisors and lower canines formed a powerful puncturing and gripping device. Among living cats, only the tiger has such large incisors, which aid in lifting and carrying prey. The molars of “Homotherium” were rather weak and not adapted for bone crushing. The skull was longer than in “Smilodon” and had a well-developed crest, where muscles were attached to power the lower jaw. This jaw had down-turned forward flanges to protect the scimitars. Its large canine teeth were crenulated and designed for slashing rather than purely stabbing.

It had the general appearance of a cat, but some of its physical characteristics are rather unusual for a large cat. The limb proportions of “Homotherium” gave it a hyena-like appearance. The forelegs were elongated, while the hind quarters were rather squat with feet perhaps partially plantigrade, causing the back to slope towards the short tail. Features of the hind limbs indicate that this cat was moderately capable of leaping. The pelvic region, including the sacral vertebrae, was bear-like, as was the short tail composed of 13 vertebrae—about half the number of long-tailed cats.

From the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Germany:

Skull of saber-toothed cat found almost complete

Third individual saber-toothed cat was discovered in Schöningen

April 12, 2017

Summary: An excavation team found the remains of a saber-toothed cat at the archeological site in Schöningen. An examination of the skull fragments revealed the animal to be a representative of the European saber-toothed cat, Homotherium latidens. The recent discovery constitutes the third example of this large predatory cat from Schöningen.

Led by scientists of the Senckenberg Research Institute and the University of Tübingen, the excavation team found the remains of a saber-toothed cat at the archeological site in Schöningen. An examination of the skull fragments at the Dutch University of Leiden revealed the animal to be a representative of the European saber-toothed cat, Homotherium latidens. The recent discovery constitutes the third example of this large predatory cat from Schöningen.

Long claws, razor-sharp, curved canine teeth and the size of a fully grown lion: the saber-toothed cat (Homotherium latidens) was a competitor as well as a dangerous predator that even posed a risk to the humans of its time. “In the course of our excavation in May 2015, we came across conspicuous bone fragments,” explains Dr. Jordi Serangeli, a scientist at the University of Tübingen and the excavation leader at the approximately 300,000-year-old archeological site, and he continues, “In total, there are three individuals of Homotherium present in these relatively young sediment layers.

Until the first discovery of a saber-toothed cat in 2012 at the Schöningen excavation site in Lower Saxony it had been assumed that the large cats were already extinct about 200,000 years earlier, i.e., around 500,000 years ago. “Our findings show that 300,000 years ago, the saber-toothed cats were not as rare as previously thought,” adds Serangeli.

During a restoration in 2016, André Ramcharan and Ivo Verheijen at the University of Leiden were able to reassemble the eleven bone fragments into an almost complete neurocranium. “We then compared the reconstructed skull with recent and already extinct species of large carnivores and were thus able to demonstrate that the remains represented the head of a European saber-toothed cat,” explains Professor Dr. Thijs van Kolfschoten of the University of Leiden.

The third saber-toothed cat specimen that was discovered offers a great potential: thanks to the excellent level of preservation at the Schöningen dig, the interior of the skull reflects the shape and structure of the Homotherium brain. By examining the detailed brain structures, the team of scientists hopes to gain insights into the visual and hearing abilities as well as the feeding habits of the large cats. “The third Homotherium from Schöningen is invaluable for our understanding of the European saber-toothed cat,” summarizes Professor Nicholas Conard of the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment and head of the Institute for Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology at the University of Tübingen.

In the near future the international team from the Schöningen project intends to publish the results of its interdisciplinary studies regarding the three saber-toothed cats discovered to date. “Moreover, we expect that future digs will produce additional Homotherium finds,” offers Serangeli as a preview.

The dig in Schöningen keeps a team of ten members employed full-time — and during the main excavation season, the team is joined by five to ten students, who support the scientific excavation. Worldwide, about 50 scientists from 30 institutions and a wide variety of disciplines are involved in researching the discoveries from Schöningen. The dig is financed by the State of Lower Saxony.

The spectacular new discovery is put on display for the public at the palaeon in Schöningen as part of the special exhibition “The Ice Age Huntress.” Thanks to the close cooperation between Senckenberg, the international partners and the der palaeon GmbH, it is possible to make spectacular scientific findings available to the public in a timely manner.

Donald Trump’s war on Syria update


This video from London, England says about itself:

Protesters rally outside Downing Street, London on Friday April 7 [2017] to oppose the US bombing of Syria.

Notwithstanding their vocal support for last week’s US missile strike on Syria, the European powers are increasingly coming into conflict with the US over trade and foreign policy: here.

A report by the British monitoring group Airwars has found that the death toll from US air strikes in Iraq and Syria nearly quadrupled in the month of March as compared to the last full month before Donald Trump entered the White House. Reported civilian deaths jumped from 465 in December 2016 to 1,754 in March 2017, a rise of 277 percent: here.

In the wake of the April 7 US missile strike at Syria’s Shayrat air base, the Turkish government is pressing for military escalation and attacking Russia for not withdrawing its support to the Syrian regime. In an attempt to restore its position in the Middle East and prevent the creation of a Kurdish state along its southeastern borders, it is seizing on the chemical attack in Idlib province and the ensuing US missile attack to escalate the drive for regime change in Syria: here.

US claims of Syria nerve gas attack: The anatomy of a lie: here.

Pistol shrimp named after Pink Floyd band


This video says about itself:

12 April 2017

A new species of shrimp has been named after Pink Floyd thanks to a pact between prog rock-loving scientists.

The Synalpheus pinkfloydi uses its large pink claw to create a noise so loud it can kill small fish.

The team behind the discovery vowed years ago if it ever found a new pink shrimp it would “honour” the rockers.

Sammy De Grave, head of research at Oxford University Museum of National History, said he has been a fan of the band since he was a teenager.

He said: “I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old.

“The description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favourite band.

“We are all Pink Floyd fans, and we always said if we would find a pink one, a new species of pink shrimp, we would name it after Pink Floyd.”

The pistol, or snapping shrimp, has an ability to generate sonic energy by closing their enlarged claw at rapid speed.

It can reach 210 decibels – louder than your average rock concert – and results in one of the loudest sounds in the ocean.

The description of the species, found off the Pacific coast of Panama, has been published in the Zootaxa journal and was co-authored with the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil, and Seattle University in the US.

Source: here.

From the University of Oxford in England:

Rock giants Pink Floyd honoured in naming of newly discovered, bright pink pistol shrimp

April 12, 2017

Summary: A fuchsia pink-clawed species of pistol shrimp, discovered on the Pacific coast of Panama, has been given the ultimate rock and roll name in recognition of the discoverers’ favorite rock band Pink Floyd.

A strikingly bright pink-clawed species of pistol shrimp, discovered on the Pacific coast of Panama, has been given the ultimate rock and roll name in recognition of the discoverers’ favourite rock band — Pink Floyd.

The conspicuously coloured pistol shrimp has been named as Synalpheus pinkfloydi in the scientific description of the species, published in Zootaxa journal.

Just like all good rock bands, pistol shrimps, or snapping shrimps, have an ability to generate substantial amounts of sonic energy. By closing its enlarged claw at rapid speed the shrimp creates a high-pressure cavitation bubble, the implosion of which results in one of the loudest sounds in the ocean — strong enough to stun or even kill a small fish.

Combined with its distinct, almost glowing-pink snapping claw, Synalpheus pinkfloydi is aptly named by the report’s authors, Arthur Anker of the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Brazil, Kristin Hultgren of Seattle University in the USA, and Sammy De Grave, of Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

De Grave has been a life-long Pink Floyd fan and has been waiting for the opportunity to name the right new species after the band.

“I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old. I’ve seen them play live several times since, including the Hyde Park reunion gig for Live8 in 2005. The description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favourite band,” he says.

Arthur Anker, the report’s lead author, says: “I often play Pink Floyd as background music while I’m working, but now the band and my work have been happily combined in the scientific literature.”

Synalpheus pinkfloydi is not the only pistol shrimp with such a lurid claw. It’s closely-related and similar-looking sister species, Synalpheus antillensis, scientifically described in 1909, is found in the western Atlantic, including the Caribbean side of Panama. But the authors of the new paper found that the two species show considerable genetic divergence, granting S. pinkfloydi a new species status and its very own rock and roll name.

Animals feature frequently in the Floyd back-catalogue. Indeed, the 1977 album Animals includes tracks titled Dogs, Sheep, and a suite of music dedicated to pigs. Then there’s Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict from 1969’s Ummagumma. In fact, other biologists have already named a damselfly after that album: Umma gumma, in the family Calopterygidae. However, until today there have been no crustacean names known to honour the band.

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations nine nominees!


Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. Frenchy Wanderlust

2. RedheadedBooklover

3. Vinz Poetry

4. Sensible Nonsense

5. My Map

6. callumalexanderscott.wordpress.com

7. hilalachmar

8. rebel notes

9. May Day Festival of Solidarity

Young squirrels on school building, video


This 11 April 2017 video is about young red squirrels is a nest at a fifth storey window of the building of Eijkhagencollege school in Landgraaf local authority in Limburg province in the Netherlands.

Mother squirrel reaches the nest via a tree or a wall.

Patrick Bellen made this video.