Researchers hypothesize that the asteroid that gave the world over to mammals and birds hit Earth at a 60 degree angle, kicking up far more atmospheric dirt than a direct hit. The resulting climate change would be deadly for massive fauna and the ecosystems that depended on them—as the fossil record shows.
Analysing the structure of the 200-kilometre-wide (125 mile) crater in southern Mexico where the asteroid hit, scientists ran a series of simulations. Lead author Gareth Collins of Imperial College London and colleagues at the University of Freiburg and the University of Texas at Austin looked at four possible impact angles - 90, 60, 45 and 30 degrees - and two impact speeds, 12 and 20 kilometres per second (7.5 and 12.4 miles per second). The best fit with the data from the crater was a 60 degree strike.
"Sixty degrees is a more lethal impact angle because it ejects a larger amount of material fast enough to engulf the planet," Collins told AFP.
Adds Collins: "a very bad day for the dinosaurs". Read the rest
Every time I go back and watch an episode of Dinosaurs, I realize just how far ahead of its time it was (See: "What Sexual Harris Meant." Also the series finale.)
Also Tim Curry voiced a bunch of parts, which has nothing to do with the show's cleverly subversive political nature, but is wonderful nonetheless.
Here he is as the Devil in the fourth season episode "Life In The Faust Lane," in which Earl sells his soul in exchange for a collectible mug. Curry also played the voice of a very sassy jacket on another episode. Read the rest
Police in Murcia, Spain caught a Tyrannosaurus rex violating a coronavirus lockdown. The cops were kind enough to let the dinosaur off with a warning. From CBR:
On the first released video, filmed by a neighbor, the T-Rex wannabe is clearly taking out the garbage. In the second video, however, it seems as if the T-Rex was making a break for a nearby park. The video was accompanied by John Williams' Jurassic Park theme.
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The tiny skull, about the size of a thumbnail, trapped in amber may belong to the smallest dinosaur scientists have ever discovered. Paleontologist Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences spotted the skull in a 99-million-year-old chunk of amber from northern Myanmar. From the New York Times:
[Xing, Chinese Academy of Sciences paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor, and their colleagues] called the bird Oculudentavis khaungraae — a name that comes from the Latin words for eye, teeth and bird. The dinosaur’s skull is only 14.25 millimeters, or a little more than half an inch, from its beak to the end of its skull. The animal had bulbous eyes that looked out from the sides of its head, rather than straight ahead like the eyes of an owl or a human.
“We were able to show that this skull is even smaller than that of a bee hummingbird, which is the smallest dinosaur of all time — also the smallest bird,” O’Connor said. “This is a tiny skull, and it’s just preserved absolutely pristinely"....
Most scientists now believe that birds are theropods, dinosaurs of a group that included tyrannosaurus and spinosaurus, but that birds were on their own evolutionary branch from a common ancestor. Paleontologists have long assumed that as birds evolved away from other dinosaurs, having teeth was a trait that was in the process of disappearing altogether. “But this specimen strongly shows that evolution’s really going in all different directions,” Dr. O’Connor said.
More at Nature: "Tiny bird fossil might be the world’s smallest dinosaur"
image: Lida Xing
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Songwriter Tom Rosenthal had a tweet go viral last week, featuring a short song he'd written in a few takes with his 4-year-old daughter Fenn:
Dinosaurs eating people
Dinosaurs in love
Dinosaurs having a party
They eat fruit and cucumber
They fell in love
They say "Thank you"
A Big Bang came and they died
Dinosaurs, dinosaurs fell in love
But they didn't say "goodbye"
But they didn't say "goodbye"
The song exploded so quickly that even Spotify asked for an official release date. Which shouldn't be surprising, because it's obviously brilliant.
"I genuinely couldn't tell you why she wanted to do a song about dinosaurs," Rosenthal told Buzzfeed. "She's got no particular affiliation with dinosaurs at all. They're not something she particularly cares about or not, this is just what was in her head at the time."
He went to explain the father-daughter creative process: "In terms of her singing and her timing, nothing's altered, but it's done in a couple of sections. … She's by the microphone, she's got the headphones on, she starts singing, and she does as much as she can. … And then eventually after she's done enough little bits of it, it kind of all fits together. Read the rest
The Dragonfly-like Meganeuropsis was a giant insect that plied the skies from the Late Carboniferous to the Late Permian, some 317 to 247 million years ago. It had a wingspan of some 28" with a body length of around 17."
Meganisoptera is an extinct family of insects, all large and predatory and superficially like today’s odonatans, the dragonflies and damselflies. And the very largest of these was Meganeuropsis. It is known from two species, with the type species being the immense M.permiana. Meganeuropsis permiana, as its name suggests is from the Early Permian.
Fossils of the insect were first discovered in France in the late 1800s. This fine fellow, from Bolsover in Derbyshire, was unearthed in 1979.
Read more on Geology In. Read the rest
Genndy Tartakovsky (creator of Dexter's Lab) has a new cartoon on Adult Swim called Primal. I guess it takes place on the same planet the Flintstones live on because humans and dinosaurs coexist. The animation is superb. Here's a fight scene to give you an idea of how violent it is.
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Aw, and they only took one piece each despite being terrifying dinosaurs. Read the rest
Researchers at Chicago's Field Museum collaborated with fragrance chemists to recreate what is likely the foul odor of a T. Rex's breath. Now, museum visitors can push a button for an olfactory experience of the dinosaur age. The new sensory station is part of an exhibit centered around the most complete T. Rex skeleton ever discovered. From Atlas Obscura
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They quickly gave up on imitating T. rex poop. Most of the commercially available synthetic feces scents are imitations of human waste, and our generally omnivorous diets stray too far from SUE’s carnivory. Cat poop is slightly better, because they’re obligate carnivores, (exhibit developer Meredith) Whitfield says, but hyena droppings would be ideal, because that includes both chewed-up meat and ground bones, just like SUE’s deuces. Turns out synthetic hyena poop scent is hard to come by, so the team moved on. (But, Whitfield adds, “If you’re at the hyena enclosure at the zoo and smell their poop, that’s probably close to what T. rex poop smelled like.”)
Dino breath, on the other hand, was both tempting and feasible. “From anatomical studies of SUE’s teeth, we can say, ‘Well, you have the kind of anatomy that might suggest that you have some nasty raw meat decaying in your mouth,’” Whitfield says. “What did that smell like? The answer is: Bad.”
The team found a service that manufactures a range of prepackaged smells—mainly pleasant air fresheners for hotel lobbies and other benign places, but also stinky ones for police training exercises, so that officers can learn to detect stuff like meth labs, decomposing bodies, and other malodorous things.
Scientists drilled into the Chixclub crater in the Gulf of Mexico to learn more about the end of the mesozoic era. They learned more than they expected, reports Katherine Kornei in The New York Times.
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The first day of the Cenozoic was peppered with cataclysms. When the asteroid struck, it temporarily carved a hole 60 miles across and 20 miles deep. The impact triggered a tsunami moving away from the crater. It also catapulted rock into the upper atmosphere and beyond.
“Almost certainly some of the material would have reached the Moon,” Dr. Gulick said.
The largest pieces of debris rained back down to Earth within minutes, Dr. Gulick and his team say, pelting the scarred landscape with solidifying rock. Smaller particles lingered for longer periods, and glassy blobs known as tektites, formed when falling, molten rock cools, have been found across North America and dated to the Chicxulub impact. Within about 30 minutes, ocean water began to flood back into the crater through a gap in its northeastern rim, the researchers suggest.
This week, French paleontologists unearthed a two-meter long dinosaur femur in southwestern France. From Reuters:
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The... femur at the Angeac-Charente site is thought to have belonged to a sauropod, herbivorous dinosaurs with long necks and tails which were widespread in the late Jurassic era, over 140 million years ago.
“This is a major discovery,” Ronan Allain, a paleontologist at the National History Museum of Paris told Reuters. “I was especially amazed by the state of preservation of that femur.”
“These are animals that probably weighed 40 to 50 tonnes.”
This recently-discovered dinosaur weighed 26,000 pounds when it stomped around South Africa's Free State Province 200 million years ago. The University of the Witwatersrand researchers who found the animal's fossils dubbed it Ledumahadi mafube which in the South African language of Sesotho means "a giant thunderclap at dawn." Like the brontosaurus, it walked on four legs and ate plants. From CNN:
Apart from its massive size, there are other evolutionary details about the new species that make it entirely unique, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
"It shows us that even as far back as 200 million years ago, these animals had already become the largest vertebrates to ever walk the Earth," Choiniere said.
The researchers believe that Ledumahadi was a transitional dinosaur, an evolutionary experiment itself during the Early Jurassic period. The forelimbs of this dinosaur are more "crouched," while being very thick to support its giant body.
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Photographer and mom Samantha, aka Roaming Magnolias, shared this incredible gallery of photos on Reddit/IMGUR today. One of her sons is autistic and hates being photographed. His sibling does not mind it. Mom's creative parenting solution, and some amazing images, below. Read the rest
Well their domesticated foxes are really cute. What could go wrong? Read the rest
Tyrannosaurus rex is known for being huge and threatening. What's with those tiny arms though? Don't call them useless.
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Steve Brusatte is a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh and a specialist on the evolution of dinosaurs. He has a new book out called The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. Here's a list of surprising facts about dinosaurs he wrote for Boing Boing. Enjoy -- Mark
The first dinosaurs were not brutish monsters like T. rex or earth-shakers like Brontosaurus. Dinosaurs evolved from skinny, long-limbed, cat-sized ancestors called dinosauromorphs, which lived about 250 million years ago. They were sprinters who ran around on four legs, and lived in the shadows of giant amphibians, reptiles, and mammal ancestors who dominated the food chain at the time.
Overshadowed by crocs
After they originated, dinosaurs diversified during the Triassic Period (252-201 million years ago). Many new species evolved, but they lived in only the more humid parts of the Earth, and none of them got very big. During this time they were being eclipsed by their close cousins, the crocodile group of reptiles. There were more crocs, they lived in more places, and they were at the top of the food chain.
Saved by a mass extinction
As the Triassic Period drew to a close, the world was plunged into chaos. All of the land had been joined together into a supercontinent called Pangea. But now, Pangea began to break apart and as it did so, huge volcanoes erupted in between the fragmenting bits of crust. These eruptions caused a mass extinction—the sudden, simultaneous death of more than half of all species. Read the rest