rhadinus was a carnivorous animal living more
than 245 million years.(Natural
History Museum, London, artwork by Mark Witton)
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Looked Like Croc - The creature named Teleocrater
rhadinus is a carnivorous animal living more than 245
million years ago during the Triassic Period, before dinosaurs.
Recently unearthed in southern Tanzania, the creature was
approximately seven to 10 feet long, with a long neck and
tail. The NSF-funded international team of scientists led
by Virginia Tech was surprised to find that rather than
walking on two legs, this creature walked on four legs like
a crocodile. T. rhadinus predated dinosaurs and shows up
in the fossil record right after a large group of reptiles
known as archosaurs split into a bird branch (leading to
dinosaurs and eventually birds) and a crocodile branch (leading
to alligators and crocodiles). T. rhadinus and its kin are
the earliest known members of the bird branch of the archosaurs.
The finding was published in the journal Nature and
fills a gap in the fossil record.
Mummies and Sarcophagi Found at Luxor - The Egyptian
Ministry of Antiquities announced they've excavated eight
mummies, ten motley sarcophagi and many figurines found
in several 3,500-year-old tombs. The objects were all found
at complex belonging to a city judge named Userhat, a New
Kingdom nobleman, at the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis near
Luxor in southern Egypt. The inner chambers of the main
tomb include a collection of sarcophagi from the 21st Dynasty
and mummies wrapped in linen, the ministry said in a statement.
The sarcophagi are in good condition, they noted. To get
to the tomb entrance workers needed to remove 450 cubic
meters of debris. Excavation work continues "to reveal the
secrets of these two tombs," the ministry added.
Skin May Hold New Way to Fight the Flu - In the future
if you avoid the flu, you may have a frog to thank. A study
published in the journal Immunity, suggests that
the peptides found on the skin of frogs represent a resource
for antiviral drug discovery. Researchers from Emory Vaccine
Center and the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology in
India have discovered a component of the skin mucus secreted
by South Indian frogs can kill the H1 variety of influenza
viruses. Anti-flu peptides could become handy when vaccines
are unavailable, in the case of a new pandemic strain, or
when circulating strains become resistant to current drugs,
says senior author Joshy Jacob, a PhD, associate professor
of microbiology and immunology at Emory Vaccine Center and
Emory University School of Medicine. While developing antimicrobial
peptides into effective drugs has been a challenge in the
past, partly because enzymes in the body can break them
down, Jacob's lab is also now exploring ways to stabilize
antiviral peptides that would make them more useable.
Knee? Doctors May Soon Be Able to Fix It with a 3D Printer
- The human knee takes a lot of punishment and when
the menisci - ear-shaped cushions of cartilage nestled between
the thigh and shin bones - get damaged by age or accident,
every step can be painful. Now a new material promises to
allow doctors to replace the menisci by printing the patient
a custom one on a 3D printer. Doctors would scan the patient's
knee to get the shape then use hydrogel-based material to
print new menisci. The new material is the first to match
human cartilage in strength and elasticity while also remaining
3-D-printable and stable inside the body. "We've made it
very easy now for anyone to print something that is pretty
close in its mechanical properties to cartilage, in a relatively
simple and inexpensive process," said Benjamin Wiley, an
associate professor of chemistry at Duke and author on the
paper, which appears online in ACS Biomaterials Science
and Engineering. Feichen Yang, a graduate student in
Wiley's lab and an author on the paper, experimented with
mixing together two different types of hydrogels -- one
stiffer and stronger, and the other softer and stretchier
-- to create what is called a double-network hydrogel. "The
two networks are woven into each other," Yang said. "And
that makes the whole material extremely strong."
an Asteroid Hit the Earth, What About it Would be Most Likely
to Kill You? - If an asteroid struck Earth, which of
its effects--scorching heat, flying debris, towering tsunamis--would
claim the most lives? A new study has the answer: violent
winds and shock waves are the most dangerous effects produced
by Earth-impacting asteroids. The study explored seven effects
associated with asteroid impacts--heat, pressure shock waves,
flying debris, tsunamis, wind blasts, seismic shaking and
cratering--and estimated their lethality for varying sizes.
The researchers then ranked the effects from most to least
deadly, or how many lives were lost to each effect. Overall,
wind blasts and shock waves were likely to claim the most
casualties, according to the study. In experimental scenarios,
these two effects accounted for more than 60 percent of
lives lost. Shock waves arise from a spike in atmospheric
pressure and can rupture internal organs, while wind blasts
carry enough power to hurl human bodies and flatten forests.
"This is the first study that looks at all seven impact
effects generated by hazardous asteroids and estimates which
are, in terms of human loss, most severe," said Clemens
Rumpf, a senior research assistant at the University of
Southampton in the United Kingdom, and lead author of the
new study published in Geophysical Research Letters,
a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Quote of the Month - "Science
may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to
imagination." - Bertrand Russell
New at the Museum:
Picchu: The Lost City -
In 1911, American explorer, Hiram Bingham, set out to
find the capital of the long gone Incan Empire in Peru.
With his expedition, he traveled down the Urubamba River,
asking local farmers about ancient ruins. When he reached
a place called Mandor Pampa, Bingham, spoke to an innkeeper
named Melchor Arteaga. Arteaga told Bingham he knew of an
excellent set of ruins and led him up a steep slope to an
altitude of almost 8,000 feet. There, nestled in a saddle
between two peaks, Bingham found the ancient city we now
call Machu Picchu. -
Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
Dinosaurs - I have a Question which deals with something
found in a LOT of Sci-fi and fantasy stories: The situation
is this... That human beings and dinosaurs or dinosaur-like
creatures live side by side... COULD humanity be able to
domesticate dinosaurs or dino-like creatures in the same
way we domesticated dogs, cattle, or cats? I already know
nobody has tried to domesticate the Komodo Dragon, but still...
Iguanas and small lizards are sold as pets, alligators are
farmed for hides and meat, and so on... But could, if they
had still been around, something like an armored ankylosaur
or Triceratops, have been domesticated in the same way Humanity
domesticated cattle or dogs? - David R.
Could humanity have domesticated dinosaurs in the same way
we domesticated dogs, cattle, or cats if humans had lived
in the same era? Well, let's start by defining domestication.
It not quite the same thing as training a wild animal. A
true domesticated animal has been bred by humans to be sociable
and easy to handle along with other desirable characteristics.
Scientists can even estimate the date that certain animals
were domesticated in history by looking for changes in the
fossil record of animal's body that gave some advantage
to the human's that did the domestication. Usually the domestication
process takes decades, if not centuries.
even if you didn't domesticate a wild animal, you still
might be able to train it to assist you and live with you.
Generally, the smarter, more social, and less aggressive
a creature is, the more likely you would able to get it
to cooperate. Wolves are good example. They are pack creatures,
very social and very smart. If trained from a young age
they can live with humans, though they still tend to have
a wild streak in them.
example is the elephant. These creatures are large and powerful,
yet humans have been able to tame them to get them to do
you might be aware, reptiles (like snakes and crocodiles)
are generally not very easy to train for some of the reasons
I've already mentioned. They tend to be not as smart or
sociable as many mammals. However, dinosaurs, while they
are reptiles, are also thought to be the ancestors of birds,
which are often highly trainable.
any particular species of dinosaur can be trained or even
domesticate is an open question. When people think of dinosaurs
they tend to picture the larger ones like the T-Rex or Apatosaurus.
However, there were thousands of dinosaur species, some
of which were no bigger than chickens. We believe some even
hunted in a pack (velociraptor for instance) which would
indicate they were of high intelligence and very social.
It seems likely that at least some dinosaurs would have
had the right characteristics to allow to be trained. Even
if there weren't, however, humans could have still bred
them till they were domesticated, if only for no other purpose
then to serve as food (imagine chicken-like dinosaurs raised
as a food source).
a cave man have been riding around on a T-Rex if they had
co-existed? My guess is probably not as they were likely
to have been top predators and very aggressive as well as
very large and powerful. However, humans have even had some
success in training lions and tigers, though they usually
don't ride on them, so perhaps a trained T-Rex is not an
are nothing but domesticated gray wolves, so it seems possible
that something like a velociraptor, which might fill a similar
niche in the environment, might both be trainable and perhaps
eventually domesticated too.
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Skyscraper - On May 1st inn 1884, construction began
on the first skyscraper. Located in Chicago, it was a ten-story
office building for the Home Insurance Company of New York.
It was the use of a steel skeleton that made this, and all
skyscrapers, possible because it allowed the frame to carry
the weight of the structure, instead of the walls themselves.
The building was completed in the fall of 1885.
May Meteor Shower - The Eta Aquariids meteor shower
comes on May 6th this year. This shower is not one of the
stronger ones and may seen better from the tropics or the
Southern Hemisphere. Halley's Comet provides the debris
of which the shower is made. Look for the radiant to be
the Water Jar asterism of Aquarius.
Californians See A lot of Flying Saucers - According
to a newly released book, California has the largest number
of UFO sightings of any state in the U.S.. Author and UFO
columnist Cheryl Costa says her "UFO Sightings Desk Reference:
United States of America 2001-2015" catalogs reports to
The National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) and the Mutual
UFO Network (MUFON) from 2001 to 2015. She said there have
been more than 120,000 UFO sightings reported from 2001-2015
in the U.S. and California holds down the top position among
the states with 16,000 sightings, while Los Angeles County
outranks 40 individual states with 3,200 sightings.
and Meep are on a well deserved vacation. In their place
we feature highlights from their past adventures.
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