Cretaceous reptile-like mammal discovery in Utah, USA


Cifelliodon wahkarmoosuch reconstruction. Illustration by Jorge A. Gonzalez

From the University of Southern California in the USA:

Utah fossil reveals global exodus of mammals’ near relatives to major continents

A small fossil is evidence that Earth’s ancient supercontinent, Pangea, separated some 15 million years later than previously believed

May 23, 2018

A nearly 130-million-year-old fossilized skull found in Utah is an Earth-shattering discovery in one respect.

The small fossil is evidence that the super-continental split likely occurred more recently than scientists previously thought and that a group of reptile-like mammals that bridge the reptile and mammal transition experienced an unsuspected burst of evolution across several continents.

“Based on the unlikely discovery of this near-complete fossil cranium, we now recognize a new, cosmopolitan group of early mammal relatives”, said Adam Huttenlocker, lead author of the study and assistant professor of clinical integrative anatomical sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

The study, published in the journal Nature on May 16, updates the understanding of how mammals evolved and dispersed across major continents during the age of dinosaurs. It suggests that the divide of the ancient landmass Pangea continued for about 15 million years later than previously thought and that mammal migration and that of their close relatives continued during the Early Cretaceous (145 to 101 million years ago).

“For a long time, we thought early mammals from the Cretaceous (145 to 66 million years ago) were anatomically similar and not ecologically diverse”, Huttenlocker said. “This finding by our team and others reinforce that, even before the rise of modern mammals, ancient relatives of mammals were exploring specialty niches: insectivores, herbivores, carnivores, swimmers, gliders. Basically, they were occupying a variety of niches that we see them occupy today.”

The study reveals that the early mammal precursors migrated from Asia to Europe, into North America and further onto major Southern continents, said Zhe-Xi Luo, senior author of the study and a paleontologist at the University of Chicago.

Fossil find: a new species

Huttenlocker and his collaborators at the Utah Geological Survey and The University of Chicago named the new species Cifelliodon wahkarmoosuch.

Found in the Cretaceous beds in eastern Utah, the fossil is named in honor of famed paleontologist Richard Cifelli. The species name, “wahkarmoosuch” means “yellow cat” in the Ute tribe‘s language in respect of the area where it was found.

Scientists used high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scanners to analyze the skull.

“The skull of Cifelliodon is an extremely rare find in a vast fossil-bearing region of the Western Interior, where the more than 150 species of mammals and reptile-like mammal precursors are represented mostly by isolated teeth and jaws”, said James Kirkland, study co-author in charge of the excavation and a Utah State paleontologist.

With an estimated body weight of up to 2.5 pounds, Cifelliodon would seem small compared to many living mammals, but it was a giant among its Cretaceous contemporaries. A full-grown Cifelliodon was probably about the size of a small hare or pika (small mammal with rounded ears, short limbs and a very small tail).

It had teeth similar to fruit-eating bats and could nip, shear and crush. It might have incorporated plants into its diet.

The newly named species had a relatively small brain and giant “olfactory bulbs” to process sense of smell. The skull had tiny eye sockets, so the animal probably did not have good eyesight or color vision. It possibly was nocturnal and depended on sense of smell to root out food, Huttenlocker said.

Supercontinent existed longer than previously thought

Huttenlocker and his colleagues placed Cifelliodon within a group called Haramiyida, an extinct branch of mammal ancestors related to true mammals. The fossil was the first of its particular subgroup — Hahnodontidae — found in North America.

The fossil discovery emphasizes that haramiyidans and some other vertebrate groups existed globally during the Jurassic-Cretaceous transition, meaning the corridors for migration via Pangean landmasses remained intact into the Early Cretaceous.

Most of the Jurassic and Cretaceous fossils of haramiyidans are from the Triassic and Jurassic of Europe, Greenland and Asia. Hahnodontidae was previously known only from the Cretaceous of Northern Africa. It is to this group that Huttenlocker argues Cifelliodon belongs, providing evidence of migration routes between the continents that are now separated in northern and southern hemispheres.

“But it’s not just this group of haramiyidans”, Huttenlocker said. “The connection we discovered mirrors others recognized as recently as this year based on similar Cretaceous dinosaur fossils found in Africa and Europe.”

See also here.

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Utah, USA police assaults nurse for doing her job


This video from the USA says about itself:

Police Officer Assaults Nurse For Simply Doing Her Job

1 September 2017

In the latest edition of “police officers caught abusing their power” a Utah University nurse, Alex Wubbles, was assaulted and unlawfully arrested back in July while she was simply just doing her job.

By Trévon Austin in the USA:

Notes on Police Violence

Salt Lake City nurse arrested after refusing demand to draw blood from unconscious patient

2 September 2017

Hospital surveillance and police bodycam footage released this week shows a nurse, at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, being unlawfully arrested and assaulted by a police officer.

The incident occurred July 26, at the University of Utah, when a semi-truck driver was brought into the hospital after being struck by a driver fleeing Utah Highway Patrol.

At the time, Alex Wubbles was working as the charge nurse. After refusing his demand to draw a blood sample from the injured patient, in accordance with hospital policy, Wubbles was arrested by detective Jeff Payne.

In the video, Wubbles can be seen explaining that a policy agreed upon by the hospital and police department indicates that blood cannot be taken without the consent of the patient, a warrant from a judge, or if the patient was under arrest.

As Detective Payne continued to demand a blood sample, a representative can be heard on Wubbles’s phone asking, “Why are you attacking the messenger?” Payne responds, “She’s telling me no.”

Told that he was making a mistake by threatening a nurse, Payne escalated the situation by telling Wubbles she was under arrest. He then violently grabbed Wubbles and pushed her outside the hospital. After placing Wubbles in handcuffs, Payne had a short exchange with other staff at the hospital where he was told that his actions were unnecessary. Payne responded that “I’m doing my job” and “I’m leaving now, with her.”

Throughout the encounter, Wubbles complained to the officer that he was hurting her.

The video ends with Wubbles being placed in a police vehicle. As is common in such cases, Wubbles was placed under arrest without being told why.

While officers are not required by law to tell someone why they are under arrest, it is clear that this case was a clear abuse of power.

All arrests without a warrant must be supported by probable cause that a suspect has committed a crime. What was Wubbles’s supposed crime? Following policy set by her employer and saying no to an officer.

The Salt Lake City Police Department has launched an internal investigation, but Detective Payne is still on active duty.

Nurses Condemn Police Assault on Utah Hospital RN for Advocating for an Unconscious Patient. ‘Yet Another Case of Hospital Workplace Violence – Setting a Chilling Example When Done by Law Enforcement,’ Nurses Say: here.

Union Denounces ‘Chilling’ Assault on Nurse Defending Her Patient from Police. “You’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse”, by Julia Conley: here.

American badger buries cow, video


This camera trap video from the USA says about itself:

An American badger buries a calf carcass by itself in Utah‘s Grassy Mountains, January 2016.

See also here.

New national monuments in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Meet Gold Butte: Nevada‘s Piece of The Grand Canyon

21 January 2015

Get to know a treasure of the Mojave Desert, and how you can help preserve it.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Obama Designates Two New National Monuments, Protecting 1.65 Million Acres

By CORAL DAVENPORT

DEC. 28, 2016

WASHINGTON — President Obama designated two new national monuments on Wednesday, protecting 1.35 million acres of federal land surrounding the Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and about 300,000 acres around Gold Butte in Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas.

In Gold Butte, there is ancient Native American rock art.

There are also fossils from the Palaeozoic and later fossil dinosaur tracks.

The monuments are Mr. Obama’s latest effort to protect public lands and waters from development and to nail down as much of his environmental legacy as he can before Donald J. Trump assumes the presidency on Jan. 20.

But some local residents and elected Republicans have opposed the Obama administration’s extensive efforts to protect Western landscapes, calling them federal land grabs, and Utah officials voiced vehement opposition on Wednesday. The family of a Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy, helped take over a national wildlife refuge this year in protest against such federal actions.

The new desert monuments, designated under the executive authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act, encompass Native American sites of sacred and archaeological importance, as well as wildlife habitats and hiking and hunting terrain.

Efforts to place the Bears Ears Buttes under federal protection have been underway since 1936, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s interior secretary, Harold L. Ickes, proposed the monument designation. Native American tribes began promoting legislation to protect Gold Butte in 2008.

“Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. …

Mr. Obama has designated about 553 million acres of public lands and waters as parks, monuments or wilderness areas, more than any of his predecessors. While Mr. Trump has vowed to undo Mr. Obama’s environmental agenda, White House officials said they did not believe he would have the authority to reverse the designations. No president has undone a predecessor’s designations in the law’s 110-year history.

“The Antiquities Act gives the authority to create monuments and does not give explicit authority to undo them,” said Christy Goldfuss, the managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

However, after Mr. Obama this month used an obscure provision of a 1953 law to place about 115 million acres in the Arctic Ocean and about 3.8 million acres of the Atlantic Ocean permanently off-limits to drilling, opponents, including oil companies, said they intended to file a legal challenge.

Native American groups and environmentalists hailed Mr. Obama’s moves Wednesday in Nevada and Utah. Mr. Obama’s designation of Bears Ears as a national monument will create a first-of-its-kind tribal commission of representatives from the five Native American tribes that live in the region. The commission will advise the monument’s federal managers.

“This is an exciting day for Navajo Nation,” Russell Begaye, the tribe’s president, said in a phone call with reporters.

“We have always looked to Bears Ears as a place of refuge, as a place where we can gather herbs and plants and as a place of sacredness,” he said. “It is a place of safety and fortitude. It is a place where our ancestors hid and survived from U.S. cavalry during the Long War.”

Horned dinosaur discovery in Utah, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

New big-nosed, horned-face dinosaur discovered in Utah

July 18, 2013

Researchers in Utah announced they had discovered a new dinosaur on Thursday. Known as Nasutoceratops, or ‘big-nose horned face’, it is unusual in its oversized nose and exceptionally long, curved horns over the eyes and its low, narrow blade-like horn above the nose.

Scientists said Nasutoceratops was a herbivore and would have fed on plants in its tropical, swampy surroundings. The fifteen foot-long beast is a smaller cousin of the Triceratops. The fossilized remains were found in 2006 in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near the border with Arizona. Nasutoceratops is one of several species that have been found in this region of North America.

That was two years ago. And now …

By Lee Speigel in the USA:

New Horned Dinosaur Species Unearthed In Utah

The two-ton plant-eater Machairoceratops cronusi had four horns and lived 77 million years ago.

05/18/2016 07:53 pm ET

A new species of horned dinosaur has been unearthed by scientists in southern Utah.

Remains of the animal, named Machairoceratops cronusi, suggest it was about 26 feet long, weighed two tons and ate plants. The first traces were found a decade ago in an area rich with the remains of centrosaurines — large-bodied, plant-eating dinosaurs that roamed North America and Asia 77 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period.

According to a scientific paper about the discovery in the PLOS ONE journal, “the specimen consists of two curved and elongate orbital horncores, … [and] a nearly complete, slightly deformed braincase.”  …

The new species was discovered by an international team of scientists conducting paleontological and geological surveys in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument of southern Utah.

It can take years for this kind of discovery to find its way to the public.

“The first parts of the specimen were discovered on the surface in 2006, but the full excavation was completed over two additional field seasons (in 2007 and 2009). Then, the process of doing the careful laboratory preparation took another couple of years,” study co-author Patrick O’Connor, a professor of anatomical sciences at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, told HuffPost in an email.

Professional excavators and volunteers from Ohio University and the Natural History Museum of Utah helped the team unearth the horncores and various other skull pieces. …

“An effort like this underscores both the necessity and excitement of basic, exploratory science in order to better understand the history of the world around us,” O’Connor said in a statement.

“Even in a place like western North America, where intense work has been conducted over the past 150 years, we are still finding species new to science,” O’Connor added. …

As it turns out, Machairoceratops is one of two new horned dinosaurs announced on Wednesday. A second one, found in Montana 10 years ago by an amateur fossil collector, was finally identified. Its name is Spiclypeus shipporum, or spiked shield.

Eric Lund, a member of the Utah team that discovered Machairoceratops, remarked on the unrelated announcement horning in on his group’s news.

“It’s true,” Lund told HuffPost in an email. “Today is the day of new horned dinosaurs. Still very exciting for the world of paleontology.”

Bernie Sanders wins Utah, Idaho primary elections


This video from the USA says about itself:

Arizona, Idaho & Utah Democratic Primary Election: TYT Summary

22 March 2016

Cenk Uygur, Jordan Chariton and Jimmy Dore of The Young Turks break down the results of the latest primary election. Cenk discusses the delegate counts in Arizona, Utah and Idaho on the Democratic side.

This video from the USA says about itself:

22 March 2016

Cenk Uygur, Jimmy Dore and Jordan Chariton of The Young Turks breakdown some key differences between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump speeches.

This video from the USA says about itself:

22 March 2016

Wednesday, March 23rd at 6pm eastern Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks will interview BERNIE SANDERS! You don’t want to miss this interview!

Arizona’s Primary Problems Go Way Beyond Long Lines. “Finally find somebody I want to vote for, and they deny me”: here.

Cougar saved from trap in Utah, USA


This 17 March 2016 video from the USA is called Two Utah Men Free An Angry Cougar From A Trap!

About this, another video from the USA which used to be on YouTube used to say about itself:

8 March 2016

Rescuers free furious cougar from bobcat trap in Utah

Footage has been released showing a large cougar being released from a bobcat trap in the Pine Valley Mountains in Utah. Division of Wildlife Resources employee Mark Ekins took the footage after responding to a call…

By Ed Mazza from the USA on this:

The Terrifying Job Of Helping A Trapped, Angry Mountain Lion

The cougar was accidentally caught in a bobcat trap.

03/15/2016 04:13 am ET

How do you help a wounded animal that thinks you want to hurt it, and could tear you to shreds in a matter of seconds if it ever gets its paws on you?

Very, very carefully.

A heart-stopping video shows rescuers in Utah working to free a ticked-off mountain lion who got caught in a bobcat trap.

The rescue was captured on video by Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer Mark Ekins, who told KSL that most cougars can escape bobcat traps on their own without injury.

But from time to time, this happens.

Ekins admitted he was nervous during the rescue effort, and said that’s a good thing.

“If I wasn’t nervous or started to lack respect for the power of that animal, it could potentially be very dangerous,” Ekins told the station. “I’m nervous and I’m extremely careful when doing it… I’ve probably only done three in my career that were as big as the one you saw. That was a really big one.”

Not only does the cougar look intimidating, it also lets out a few angry snarls that sound like something out of a horror movie. …

Ekins told KUTV that he and the other rescuer used catch poles to immobilize the cougar. He said they could also use tranquilizers, but the poles are “more humane and a lot safer.”

Once the cougar was held down, they put a blanket over it, released the trapped paw and stood back until the cat realized it was free to go. The mountain lion ran off with one of the catch poles still attached, but dropped it not too far away.

Ekins told KUTV that the big cat had a cut on its paw but was otherwise fine.

Although the incident happened in December, the video was only recently posted online.

Other sources, like Dutch daily Metro of 19 March 2016, claim the cougar was in a bear trap, not a bobcat trap.