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
A life-size animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex at a Colorado dinosaur theme park went down in flames yesterday. Zach Reynolds, co-owner of Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience, says it was probably caused by an electrical malfunction.
Although the 24-foot-tall T-Rex is a big loss to the park, Reynold's had a sense of humor about it when he joked, “We knew he had a temper, but today he blew his top.” He added, "it made for some spectacular imagery along the way."
The good sport hopes a new dinosaur will take its place by this summer.
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Turtles were at the center of a hundred-year evolutionary controversy since the 1887 discovery of a Proganochelys fossil in Germany. AS PBS Eons explains, the question of how turtles got their shells led scientists "to rethink the entire history of reptile evolution." Read the rest
Fair warning: This might just be the cutest, and simultaneously educational, thing you'll see all week.
Using the drawings and story provided by his young son Nathan, Allen Mezquida created a wonderful "animated dinosaur drama" they've simply titled, Dinosaur.
Allen writes that his dino-obsessed five-year-old spends hours drawing ("mostly dinosaurs") every day and that he was "so inspired" by his work that he offered to animate them:
He also loves watching BBC documentaries about dinosaurs. Next thing I knew, we were working on this short film together. Nathan was very clear about the story he wanted to tell and how he wanted it to look. He said he wanted it to be very real, "never cartoony." I did my best to stay true to his vision...
Yes, proud father aside, it came out great. The Museum of Natural History in LA even posted it.
Parent/child collabs ftw! Read the rest
Something nice, perhaps even wonderful, is going viral! Are birdcalls "slowed down", or lowered several octaves, examples of what the dinosaurs would have sounded like?
A reddit user debunks the speculation, but substitutes an experimental effort to recreate dino song, by sound artist Courtney Brown.
Actually, though birds are descendants of dinosaurs, their voiceboxes (the syrinx) have no evolutionary precursor organ. The syrinx also didn't evolve until after the KT extinction, so this video really has no relation at all to what dinosaurs may have sounded like. Going even further, there is no evidence that dinosaurs actually had voiceboxes, as it is a soft tissue organ, which don't fossilise well.
The sound dinosaurs made probably came from resonating air in nasal/skull cavities...
Anyone with an ounce of scientific credibility knows that dinosaurs sounded like Norm McDonald standing on a British plug.
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Within a Millennial's lifetime, depictions of dinosaurs have gone from leathery lizards to feathered floofbeasts as our understanding of ancient biology grew. But it's still speculation, reports Atlas Obscura's Eric Grundhauser, and shaky at that. Check out The Bad Hair, Incorrect Feathering, and Missing Skin Flaps of Dinosaur Art. Pictured above is what a swan would look like if a dino artist drew one based upon its skeletal remains, as brilliantly rendered by C. M. Kosemen. I am pretty sure that's how swans see themselves, so I'm cool with it (but not with swans closer to me than, say, 70 feet.) Read the rest
Chris Rodley fed some pictures of dinosaurs to a "style transfer" machine-learning system that had been trained to draw flowers, and this was the gorgeous result. (via Kottke) Read the rest
World champion balloon artist Mark Verge twisted up this huge Tyrannosaurus rex from 700 balloons. He calls it the "the coolest thing I’ve ever made.”
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At a market in northern Myanmar (Burma), China University scientist Lida Xing found a piece of amber containing a remarkably well-preserved dinosaur tail, complete with feathers. It likely belonged to a coelurosaur, a birdlike beast that lived about 99 million years ago. National Geographic video above. Plans for future research below.
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IMGUrian Colo1 shared this wonderful series of images documenting a cardboard dinosaur creation. Read the rest