Extinct sea scorpions could breathe on land


This April 2019 video says about itself:

Sea scorpions thrived for 200 million years, coming in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Over time, they developed a number of adaptations–from crushing claws to flattened tails for swimming. And some of them adapted by getting so big that they still hold the record as the largest arthropods of all time.

From West Virginia University in the USA:

Coming up for air: Extinct sea scorpions could breathe out of water, fossil detective unveils

September 10, 2020

Summary: Through computed tomography (CT) imaging, geologists found evidence of air breathing in a 340 million-year-old sea scorpion, or eurypterid.

Scientists have long debated the respiratory workings of sea scorpions, but a new discovery by a West Virginia University geologist concludes that these largely aquatic extinct arthropods breathed air on land.

James Lamsdell dug into the curious case of a 340 million-year-old sea scorpion, or eurypterid, originally from France that had been preserved at a Glasgow, Scotland museum for the last 30 years.

An assistant professor of geology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, Lamsdell had read about the “strange specimen” 25 years ago while conducting his doctoral studies. Existing research suggested it would occasionally go on land.

Yet nothing was known on whether it could breathe air. The closest living relative to the eurypterid is the horseshoe crab, which lays eggs on land but is unable to breathe above water.

These details puzzled Lamsdell through the years until he reached out to a colleague, Victoria McCoy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and asked, “Do you have access to a CT scanner?”

“We wondered if we could apply new technology to look further into what was preserved of this specimen,” said Lamsdell, who heads a paleobiology lab at WVU. “I like the science and detective work that goes into research. And this was a cold case where we knew there was potential evidence.”

Through computed tomography (CT) imaging, Lamsdell and his team found that evidence, which is published in Current Biology.

Researchers managed to study the respiratory organs of the three-dimensional eurypterid, leading to two findings that stood out to Lamsdell. First, he noticed that each gill on the sea scorpion was composed of a series of plates. But the back contained fewer plates than the front, prompting researchers to question how it could even breathe.

Then they zeroed in on pillars connecting the different plates of the gill, which are seen in modern scorpions and spiders, Lamsdell said. These pillars, or small beams of tissue, are called trabeculae.

“That props the gills apart so they don’t collapse when out of water,” Lamsdell explained. “It’s something that modern arachnids still have. Finding that was the final indication.

“The reason we think they were coming onto land was to move between pools of water. They could also lay eggs in more sheltered, safer environments and migrate back into the open water.”

The discovery of air-breathing structures in the eurypterids indicate that terrestrial characteristics occurred in the arachnid stem lineage, the researchers wrote, suggesting that the ancestor of arachnids were semi-terrestrial.

In addition to Lamsdell and McCoy, co-authors include Opal Perron-Feller of Oberlin College and Melanie Hopkins of the American Museum of Natural History.

Now that Lamsdell has cracked the case living in the back of his head for 20-plus years, he believes there’s more to unearth from the fossil. He noted that the sea scorpion’s back legs expand into a paddle shape, which he suspects would have been used to swim. The bases of their legs also had spikes that ground up food for them that they maneuvered into their mouths, Lamsdell added.

“One of the things that would be really cool to do is to flesh out this model and try to reconstruct exactly how the legs could move and how they were positioned,” Lamsdell said, “like reconstructing the fossil as a living animal.”

Right-winger accuses Black Lives Matter of lesbianism


This 12 June 2020 video says about itself:

Black Lives Matter Protests Around the World

Protesters of all ages, all races, all backgrounds are showing up at Black Lives Matter protests out of love for their fellow human beings. Out of love for George Floyd. Out of love for Breonna Taylor. Out of love for all of the Black people who have lost their lives because of the color of their skin.

You can feel this love when you attend a protest. You can see it on the faces of the people all around you. You can hear it in their voices. Sometimes, it flows through the mass of people like a quiet undercurrent. Sometimes, it’s downright joyful. No matter how it’s expressed, it’s always potent, always powerful. And it’s going to change the world for the better. From New York City to Philadelphia, from Amsterdam to Paris, this is what it is like to attend Black Lives Matter protests.

By Linda Pentz Gunter in the USA, 16 September 2020:

Black Lives Matter accused of heralding a ‘lesbian, anti-family, anti-capitalist Marxist revolution’

The right-wing evangelical political figure Michelle Bachmann‘s outburst accidentally summoned a utopian vision for the US, reports LINDA PENTZ GUNTER

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any wackier, we get the return of Michele Bachmann.

The Minnesota Tea Party Republican, who served in Congress between 2006-2015 and briefly ran for president, likes to extol the virtues of “American exceptionalism”. and claims the US is “the indispensable nation of the world.”

A self-styled evangelical Christian, Bachmann is now painting a rather different vision: the prospect of the country being run by transgender black Marxists.

Bachmann told a televangelist news show, which aired on September 1, that the Black Lives Matter movement consists of “transgender Marxists, transgender black Marxists who are seeking the overthrow of the United States and the dissolution of the traditional family.”

Not to be outdone, Pat Robertson, a bizarre televangelist himself, but apparently determined to give women a fair shake, quickly pronounced that Black Lives Matter would also lead to a “lesbian, anti-family, anti-capitalist Marxist revolution”.

The irony that Bachmann co-owns a mental health care practice with her husband could not escape notice as she uttered one of the crazier conspiracy theories currently in circulation on the right.

Or maybe, unwittingly, she and Robertson had just envisioned a new US utopia.

After all, what could be better than a government led by anti-capitalist lesbians? Or especially by transgender black Marxists?

Wherever they may be lurking in numbers sufficient for such a coup, transgender black Marxists truly understand discrimination. They are discriminated against in triplicate — for their gender, their politics and the colour of their skin.

They know that compassion is essential for a fair and just society. They are anti-racist and support acceptance and equal rights for our LGBT community.

They oppose an economic system based on inequality, believe in unions, condemn the exploitation of working people and want fair wages and an end to capitalist control of profit.

They envisage a world community, not one riven by boundaries and conflict. They want people to be accepted for who they are, what they believe, who they love and what they look like.

The fear-mongering Bachmann has no idea what it is to walk in the shoes of a black transgender person, Marxist or otherwise. Black transgender women are victims of heightened violence in the US.

However, in the US there is as yet “no formal data collection effort that can be used to describe the nature, frequency, or extent of transgender homicides,” according to a paper in the American Journal of Public Health. Most calculations rely on reporting by non-profit groups advocating on behalf of the LGBT community.

However, in that same paper, the researchers concluded that while transgender people overall may not be at greater risk of being murdered than the rest of the population, “young transgender women of colour almost certainly face a higher chance of being murdered.”

According to the US-based Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender and gender non-conforming people — almost all Black transgender women — were killed in the US in 2019.

In June 2019, during her presidential campaign, Senator Elizabeth Warren, tweeted: “The murder of black trans women is a crisis. We’ll fight this, and we will continue to say their names.”

Bachmann claims to belong to the White House “faith advisory group”, which appears to be a figment of her vivid imagination. So, possibly, is her faith, as it is hard to discern a truly Christian sentiment amidst all her volatile hate speech.

Linda Pentz Gunter is a writer based in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.