Natural History

Archaeopteryx : X-rays shine new light on mystery 'bird'
Archaeopteryx (meaning "ancient wing") is a very early prehistoric bird, dating from about 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period.

The first, and one of the most complete fossils of archaeopteryx is known as the London specimen. It was discovered in 1861, just two years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and made a stir being a transitional form.
Only 12 of these curious creatures have ever been found. Now they are going under the glare of a giant X-ray machine - to find out what lies buried beneath the surface.

Using a new "camera obscura" technique - inspired by Leonardo da Vinci - scientists have captured some of the clearest ever images of Archaeopteryx. For the first time, they can see the complete skeleton in 3D. Not just the surface outlines, but all the hidden bones and feathers too.
"We want to know how Archaeopteryx lived," says Martin Roeper, curator of the Solnhofen Museum, which houses one of the specimens. "Was he a little dinosaur running, climbing trees - or was he flying? That's the most important question. Could Archaeopteryx fly or not?"

The answer grows closer as new, microscopic details of its anatomy emerge from ever more precise scans. Blood vessels within the bones, for example, can be compared to modern birds.



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The largest dinosaur predator that ever stalked Earth was also the strangest. Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was the largest carnivore dinosaur of all time. It measured 18 meters (50 feet) long, 4.9 to 7.7 meters (16 to 25 feet) tall and weighed 11 (12 tons) tonnes. Spinosaurus lived in Cretaceous North Africa from 102 to 93 mya
In November scientists announced the discovery in Moroccan desert cliffs of new fossil remains of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, a monster that breaks the mold for how a dinosaur predator looked and behaved.

It was roughly 2.5 metres longer than Tyrannosaurus rex and equally massive. Living during the Cretaceous Period, Spinosaurus is the only known carnivorous dinosaur adapted for a semi-aquatic lifestyle.

The distinctive spines of Spinosaurus, which were long extensions of the vertebrae, grew to at least 1.65 meters (5.4 ft) long and were likely to have had skin connecting them.

Spinosaurus roamed the swamps of what is now North Africa.

Spinosaurus terrorized a vast North African river system from Morocco to Egypt. Spinosaurus's environment was "the most dangerous place in the history of our planet."

Spinosaurus was the undisputed king of waterways teeming with sharks and 11-metre crocodilians. Flying reptiles with wingspans of seven meters soared overhead. It may not have been very agile on land but would have taken down anything unfortunate enough to be in it's path.


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Teyujagua paradoxa found in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Scientists in Brazil found an ancient 250-million-year-old beast that they have named Teyujagua paradoxa. Fossil remains of the previously unknown species of reptile were found in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. It is an important find because it is a link between ancient reptiles and the creatures that would eventually become dinosaurs and then birds and crocodiles.

This skull reveals for the first time the mosaic assembly of key features of the archosauriform skull.
The fossil was found in an area of exposed Triassic rock, and it would have lived not long after a massive volcanic eruption in eastern Russia eliminated 90 percent of living species. The reptile - and its close relatives the archosauriforms - became the dominant animals on land and eventually gave rise to the dinosaurs.

Teyujagua paradoxa are transitional in morphology between archosauriforms and more primitive reptiles.
Teyujagua paradoxa was a small, quadrupedal reptile. The species grew up to about 5 feet (1.5 m) in length and lived in the margins of lakes and rivers, hunting amphibians and procolophonids — extinct, small bodied reptiles similar to lizards.

Its teeth were recurved with fine serrations and sharply pointed, indicating a carnivorous diet.


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Ichthyosaurs – Ancient Victims of Climate Change
They ruled the oceans for more than 157 million years; dolphin-like marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs. Science learned of ichthyosaurs’ existence early in the nineteenth century with the discovery of the first complete skeleton in England. The order Ichthyosauria (Greek for fish-lizard) was named in 1834.
The mystery surrounding their extinction 66 million years ago towards the end of the Cretaceous period (30 million years prior to the global dinosaur extinction) has prompted many theories. Newly published research suggests the fate of ichthyosaurs was tied to climate change.
Strong fluctuations in temperatures and sea levels 100 million to 94 million years ago during the Cenomanian stage of the Cretaceous period coinciding with intense volcanic action, ice-free poles, rapidly shifting continents and periods of anoxia (a lack of oxygen) on the sea floor affected a large portion of the marine biosphere and significantly changed marine ecosystems.
Ichthyosaurs were unable to successfully evolve new species in response to their quickly changing world.
http://www.newhistorian.com/6099-2/6099/

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Smithsonian scientists solve "Cerro Ballena" mystery
It is one of the most astonishing fossil discoveries of recent years - a graveyard of whales found beside the Pan-American Highway in Chile. And now scientists think they can explain how so many of the animals came to be preserved in one location more than five million years ago.

It was the result of not one but four separate mass strandings, they report in a Royal Society journal.
The site was first discovered during an expansion project of the Pan-American Highway in 2010. The following year, paleontologists from the Smithsonian and Chile examined the fossils, dating 6-9 million years ago, and recorded what remained before the site was paved over.

The team documented the remains of 10 kinds of marine vertebrates from the site, named Cerro Ballena—Spanish for "whale hill." In addition to the skeletons of the more than 40 large baleen whales that dominated the site, the team documented the remains of a species of sperm whale and a walrus-like whale, both of which are now extinct. They also found skeletons of billfishes, seals and aquatic sloths.
The skeletons were preserved in four separate levels, pointing to a repeated and similar underlying cause. The skeletons' orientation and condition indicated that the animals died at sea, prior to burial on a tidal flat. Today, toxins from harmful algal blooms, such as red tides, are one of the prevalent causes for repeated mass strandings that include a wide variety of large marine animals.
From their research, the scientists conclude that toxins generated by harmful algal blooms most likely poisoned many ocean-going vertebrates near Cerro Ballena in the late Miocene (5-11 million years ago) through ingestion of contaminated prey or inhalation, causing relatively rapid death at sea. Their carcasses then floated toward the coast, where they were washed into a tidal flat by waves.




http://www.sciencecodex.com/smithsonian_scientists_solve_sudden_death_at_sea_mystery-128615
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26343894

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Meet Anzu wyliei - "Chicken from Hell"
A birdlike dinosaur some 2.1 metres tall (7 feet) that weighed around 226 kilograms (500 pounds) roamed western North America on its long, slender hind legs.
The dinosaur’s remains were excavated from the uppermost level of the Hell Creek rock formation in North and South Dakota.

The dinosaur lived some 66 million to 68 million years ago in a hot and humid landscape, rather like the Louisiana bayou, he said. It ate plants and maybe small animals. The dino is one of the earliest oviraptorosaurs, so it lived close to the dinosaur extinction event, when an asteroid struck Earth 65 million years ago.
Its scientific name refers to Anzu, a bird-like demon in Mesopotamian mythology, and wyliei, after a boy named Wylie.

Oviraptorosaurs are a group of dinosaurs that are closely related to birds and often have strange, cassowary-like crests on their heads.




http://news.discovery.com/animals/dinosaurs/chicken-from-hell-is-a-fowl-looking-dinosaur-140319.htm

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Archaeopteryx : X-rays shine new light on mystery 'bird'

Archaeopteryx (meaning "ancient wing") is a very early prehistoric bird, dating from about 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period.

The first, and one of the most complete fossils of archaeopteryx is known as the London specimen. It was discovered in 1861, just two years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and made a stir being a transitional form.
Only 12 of these curious creatures have ever been found. Now they are going under the glare of a giant X-ray machine - to find out what lies buried beneath the surface.

Using a new "camera obscura" technique - inspired by Leonardo da Vinci - scientists have captured some of the clearest ever images of Archaeopteryx. For the first time, they can see the complete skeleton in 3D. Not just the surface outlines, but all the hidden bones and feathers too.
"We want to know how Archaeopteryx lived," says Martin Roeper, curator of the Solnhofen Museum, which houses one of the specimens.
"Was he a little dinosaur running, climbing trees - or was he flying? That's the most important question. Could Archaeopteryx fly or not?"

The answer grows closer as new, microscopic details of its anatomy emerge from ever more precise scans. Blood vessels within the bones, for example, can be compared to modern birds.



http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27502354

Devil’s Coulee is the richest dinosaur nesting site found in Canada and the third nesting site discovered in North America. The site was found in May 1987 near Warner, Alberta when ten fossilized dinosaur eggs, believed to have come from a Hadrosaur were found. The site was designated a Provincial Historic Resource the same year.

Finds at the site include young dinosaurs, eggs, embryonic bones, and nests of hadrosaurs as well as numerous clutches of dinosaur eggs, some containing embryos.
The find dates from the Late Cretaceous period (100-65 Million years ago). Hadrosaurids, or duck-billed dinosaurs, were a common herbivore in the Upper Cretaceous Period.

The Devil's Coulee area was once part of a vast inland sea.

Mesozoic Inland Sea of North America - 65 million B.C.
A team from Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum said the Devil’s Coulee site is rich with ancient nests of at least two separate duck-billed dinosaurs and five different Cretaceous-era carnivores.

“It’s really a rich spot — the area is literally covered with dinosaur egg shells.”



See ----->http://pennystockjournal.blogspot.ca/2014/08/shrinking-dinosaurs-became-modern-birds.html
See ----->http://pennystockjournal.blogspot.ca/2014/05/archaeopteryx-x-rays-shine-new-light-on.html
See ----->http://pennystockjournal.blogspot.ca/2014/05/largest-creatures-to-ever-walk-earth.html
See ----->http://pennystockjournal.blogspot.ca/2014/03/meet-anzu-wyliei-chicken-from-hell.html

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The lake appeared in the Tunisian desert like a mirage; one minute there was nothing but scorching sand, the next a large expanse of turquoise water. For locals, roasting in the 40C heat, the temptation to cool off in the inviting water quickly overcame any fears about the mysterious pool.

Hundreds flocked to what quickly became known as the Lac de Gafsa or Gafsa beach to splash, paddle, dive, and fling themselves from rocks into the lake, ignoring warnings that the water could be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, riddled with disease or possibly radioactive.
Gafsa became the centre of the country's mining industry after phosphate was discovered in the southern Tunisian region in 1886. Tunisia is now the world's fifth largest exporter of phosphate, which is used in industry.
Shepherds discovered the lake, thought to be up to 18 meters deep and covering one hectare, three weeks ago. Local geologists suspect seismic activity may have ruptured the rock above the water table sending the liquid to the surface.

"This region is overflowing with large deposits of phosphate, which can leave behind radioactive residue so there is a real risk that the water is contaminated and carcinogenic.

The site is certainly stunning, but it has become infested with green algae, meaning the water is stagnant and conducive to diseases."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/01/mysterious-lake-tunisian-desert-turquoise-green-sludge

It is known that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs, but a new study published in the journal Science shows that the key to this transformation was, for one particular group of giant lizards called theropods, to continually get smaller and smaller over a 50-million-year time span.
Researchers present a detailed family tree of these dinosaurs and their bird descendants which maps out this transformation.
They showed that the branch of theropod dinosaurs which gave rise to modern birds were the only dinosaurs that kept getting smaller. These bird ancestors also evolved new adaptations four times faster than other dinosaurs.

"Birds evolved through a unique phase of sustained miniaturisation in dinosaurs," says lead author Associate Professor Michael Lee, from the University of Adelaide's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the South Australian Museum."
"Being smaller and lighter in the land of giants, with rapidly evolving anatomical adaptations, provided these bird ancestors with new ecological opportunities, such as the ability to climb trees, glide and fly.
Ultimately, this evolutionary flexibility helped birds survive the deadly meteorite impact which killed off all their dinosaurian cousins."

The study examined over 1500 anatomical traits of dinosaurs to reconstruct their family tree. The researchers used sophisticated mathematical modelling to trace evolving adaptions and changing body size over time and across dinosaur branches.
Paleontologists looking at fossils of meat-eating dinosaurs, particularly those that were small bipedal like the Veloceraptors, have pointed out years ago how they share an uncanny number of traits with modern birds: everything from wishbones, light hollow skeletons and three-fingered hands that folded like bird wings to an array of bright, complex feathers. Many of them also had some ability to glide, perhaps even fly.

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/geekquinox/incredible-shrinking-dinosaurs-become-modern-birds-study-says-195209903.html


See ----->http://pennystockjournal.blogspot.ca/2014/05/archaeopteryx-x-rays-shine-new-light-on.html
See -----> http://pennystockjournal.blogspot.ca/2014/05/largest-creatures-to-ever-walk-earth.html
See -----> http://pennystockjournal.blogspot.ca/2014/03/meet-anzu-wyliei-chicken-from-hell.html
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A tiny fraction of meteorites on Earth contain strikingly beautiful, translucent, olive-green crystals embedded in an iron-nickel matrix. Called pallasites, these "space gems" have fascinated scientists since they were first identified as originating from outer space more than 200 years ago.
Impactites are often colorful glasses that can be faceted, cut into cabochons, or carved into small sculptures.

The highest quality "as found" specimens are of greatest interest to scientists, meteorite collectors, and mineral collectors. The best gem-quality materials generally go to a small number of designer jewelers who use them to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Smaller and lower quality items fall into the novelty gem and collectibles markets.
The largest demand for extraterrestrial gem materials comes from people interested in alternative and complementary medicine.

They believe that these materials have special properties that are helpful in promoting wellness.
Pallasite Peridot. A faceted piece of gem-quality olivine, known as peridot in the gem trade, that was removed from a pallasite meteorite. Extraterrestrial peridot is one of the rarest gem materials on Earth.
Libyan Desert Glass is a material that is thought to have formed during a meteorite impact in the Libyan desert about 26 million years ago near what is now the border between Egypt and Libya. One theory has the meteorite exploding in an air burst that flash-melted sand and other material on Earth's surface below. Many pieces of glass have shallow surface indentations, similar to the regmaglypts of meteorites, that suggest ablation as the glass moved rapidly through Earth's atmosphere. Like moldavite, desert glass is considered to be an impactite.
Over 3300 years ago, the ancient Egyptians knew about Libyan Desert Glass and held it in high regard. The pendant shown was one of several buried with King Tutankhamun (King Tut) who ruled between 1332 and 1323 BC.

Tektites are fragments of ejecta produced when a large extraterrestrial object strikes the Earth. The heat of the impact flash melts rock in the impact area and ejects it in the molten state. These molten masses solidify in flight and fall to Earth in the area around the imact. The impact that produced the tektites of the Indochina strewn field occurred about 800,000 years ago.




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http://pennystockjournal.blogspot.ca/2014/05/american-museum-of-natural-history-gems.html