nandi's blog

One of the Largest Ever Land Mammals Evolved Into Extinct Dwarf Elephant

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Reconstruction of an almost complete dwarf elephant skeleton found in the same cave, the Puntali cave. Credit: Archives of the Gemmellaro Geological Museum

An extinct species of dwarf elephant experienced a weight and height reduction of 8,000kg and almost two meters after evolving from one of the largest land mammals that ever lived, a new study has confirmed.

The island-dwelling Sicilian dwarf elephant Palaeoloxodon cf. mnaidriensis —which it is thought may have become extinct about 19,000 years ago—was just 15% of its original body mass by the time its dwarfing process was complete

The study, involving Nottingham Trent University, the University of Potsdam in Germany and the Natural History Museum, used combined molecular and fossil evidence to define the minimum and maximum dwarfing rate of the species.

The team found that the less than 2m tall dwarf elephant reduced in weight and height by a maximum 200kg and 4cm per generation.

Because of their insular and isolated environments, evolution on islands is a process which can lead to a variety of extreme changes in a short timeframe, including dwarfism and gigantism and is often referred to as 'evolution in action." To put the extent of the size reduction of the dwarf elephant into context, it would be comparable to modern humans dwarfing to approximately the size of a Rhesus monkey.

As part of the work the team successfully recovered ancient DNA from dwarf elephant remains from Sicily's Puntali Cave, with an estimated age of between 175,000 and 50,000 years.

Many island dwarfs and giants are now extinct and measuring the rate of change in extinct animals from fossils alone can be challenging due to the incompleteness of the fossil record. And molecular dating using ancient DNA to measure the rate of evolutionary change is hampered by the fact they often existed on islands with warm climates in which DNA does not survive well.

To overcome the challenge of DNA degradation, the researchers analyzed a piece of petrous bone—part of the skull that contains the organs of the inner ear—which is known to preserve DNA better than other parts of the skeleton.

By combining the DNA and fossil evidence the researchers were able to determine that this specific Sicilian elephant's mitochondrial, or maternal, lineage diverged from the straight tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon antiquus from Neumark Nord (Germany), which stood at almost 4m tall with a weight of ten tons.

Palaeoloxodon antiquus livedon the European mainland between 800,000 and 40,000 years ago and the team believes it will have colonized Sicily some time between 70,000 and 200,000 years ago. Colonization probably occurred during periods of cold climate when sea levels were lower, exposing land bridges that the elephants could have utilized to colonize the islands.

It is thought that the dwarfing process at the earliest began once the Puntali elephant diverged from its mainland relative.

Using the estimated age of the Puntali elephant fossil, the size and mass of the straight-tusked elephant, and the estimated start of the dwarfing process, the team was able to calculate size and body mass reduction rate per year and per generation.

The study, which is published in the journal Current Biology, also involved the University of York, the University of Iceland, the University of Palermo and the University of Cambridge.

"By combining ancient DNA with paleontological evidence we can show the timing of observable evolutionary changes with greater accuracy," said Dr. Axel Barlow, an expert in palaeogenomics and molecular bioscience in Nottingham Trent University's School of Science and Technology.

He said: "The magnitude of dwarfing resulting from this rapid evolutionary process is truly striking, resulting in a loss of body mass of almost 85% in one of the largest ever terrestrial mammals. As the descendants of giants, the extinct dwarf elephants are among the most intriguing examples of evolution on islands."

Dr. Victoria Herridge, an evolutionary biologist based at the Natural History Museum London, said: "It's such an achievement to successfully sequence an ancient mitochondrial genome from a Sicilian dwarf elephant, and to finally have DNA from a southern European straight-tusked elephant.

"It opens the door for more studies of this kind, and with it the chance to finally crack one of the big mysteries of evolutionary biology: why elephants evolve to be so small on islands."

Dr. Johanna Paijmans, a research fellow in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge, said: "This is a really exciting example of the power of multidisciplinary studies. Only through combining multiple lines of evidence we were able to gain a better understanding of the dwarfing process of this iconic species."

The dwarf elephant remains are kept in the Gemmellaro Museum (University of Palermo) where the specimens were sampled.

Dr. Giulio Catalano, a postdoctoral researcher in the STEBICEF Department at the University of Palermo, said: "With this exciting study we shed new light on the complex evolutionary history of dwarf elephant species lived in Sicily in the Pleistocene."

More information: Sina Baleka et al, Estimating the dwarfing rate of an extinct Sicilian elephant, Current Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.05.037
Journal information: Current Biology 

Source: https://phys.org/

UK’s Youngest Dinosaur Footprints Found

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A paleoartist’s impression of the dinosaurs and their footprints. Image credit: Megan Jacobs.

The 110-million-year-old footprints discovered in Kent, southern England, were left by three types of dinosaurs, including theropod, ornithopod, and ankylosaur dinosaurs.

The 110-million-year-old (Early Cretaceous period) dinosaur footprints were discovered in the cliffs and on the foreshore in Folkestone, where stormy conditions affect the cliff and coastal waters, and are constantly revealing new fossils.

“This is the first time dinosaur footprints have been found in strata known as the Folkestone Formation and it’s quite an extraordinary discovery because these dinosaurs would have been the last to roam in this country before becoming extinct,” said Professor David Martill, a paleontologist in the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences at the University of Portsmouth.

The Folkestone footprints are thought to be from ankylosaurs, rugged-looking armored dinosaurs which were like living tanks; theropods, three-toed flesh-eating dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex; and ornithopods, plant-eating ‘bird-hipped’ dinosaurs so-called because of their pelvic structure being a little bit similar to birds.

The 110-million-year-old dinosaur footprints in Folkestone, Kent, southern England. Image credit: Hadland et al., doi: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2021.04.005.

Most of the findings are isolated footprints, but one discovery comprises six footprints.

This trackway was likely left by an ornithopod dinosaur and assigned to the ichnogenus Ornithopodichnus.

“This is a remarkable discovery because the rocks here represented the last time there was land in the British Isle of about 50 million years, during which time the dinosaurs went extinct,” Professor Martill said.

“We have documented the very last dinosaurs to walk in Britain.”

The largest Folkestone footprint measures 80 cm (31.5 inches) in width and 65 cm (25.6 inches) in length and belongs to an Iguanodon-like dinosaur.

“To find such an array of species in one place is fascinating,” Professor Martill said.

“These dinosaurs probably took advantage of the tidal exposures on coastal foreshores, perhaps foraging for food or taking advantage of clear migration routes.”

The discovery is described in a paper published this month in the journal Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.

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Philip T. Hadland et al. The youngest dinosaur footprints from England and their palaeoenvironmental implications. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, published online June 17, 2021; doi: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2021.04.005

Source: www.sci-news.com/

What James Cameron's Version Of Jurassic Park Might Have Looked Like

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Spielberg beat Cameron to the film rights by 'a few hours.' If he'd called earlier, Jurassic Park could've turned out very differently.

Steven Spielberg and James Cameron have the distinction of being the only two directors to have broken the record for highest-grossing movie ever made more than once. Cameron has broken the record twice, with Titanic and Avatar, while Spielberg has broken it a whopping three times with Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park. But the only reason that last movie was directed by Spielberg and not Cameron was a little twist of fate.

While at the opening of the Titanic Museum in Belfast back in 2012, Cameron revealed that he actually wanted to direct Jurassic Park himself. He read Michael Crichton’s source material, envisioned a film adaptation, called the publisher to ask about picking up the rights, and was met with some bad news. Cameron explained, “I tried to buy the book rights and [Spielberg] beat me to it by a few hours.”

Whether Spielberg or Cameron directed the movie is about much more than whose name appears in the end credits. While they’ve both broken their fair share of ground in the world of visual effects, Spielberg and Cameron have very different filmmaking styles. Spielberg’s alien movie has a mild-mannered dad recreating Devil's Tower with mashed potatoes; Cameron’s alien movie has Marines being torn to shreds on a distant planet. Spielberg’s robot movie is essentially Pinocchio with artificial intelligence; Cameron’s robot movie has a police station massacre.

At the time, Cameron said, “When I saw the film, I realized that I was not the right person to make [Jurassic Park]. He was, because he made a dinosaur movie for kids, and mine would’ve been Aliens with dinosaurs, and that wouldn’t have been fair. Dinosaurs are for eight-year-olds.” When Spielberg read Jurassic Park, he envisioned a movie for the whole family, but when Cameron read it, he saw a dark, violent, bloody movie for grownups.

Spielberg sanitized a lot of the book’s violence. In the book, Nedry carries his own intestines after his initial attack. Muldoon cuts a raptor in half with a rocket launcher. John Hammond is eaten alive by a group of compys. If Spielberg didn’t tone down the violence and adapted the book faithfully, it couldn’t hope to avoid an R rating. Cameron’s plan was to lean into the graphic, brutal nature of Crichton’s source material: “I’d have gone further, nastier, much nastier.” One gruesome death scene that Spielberg was going to leave in was Samuel L. Jackson’s character, but bad weather prevented Jackson from flying out to the set. So, in the final movie, his death is merely implied by the presence of his severed arm.

It seems that the main difference between Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and Cameron’s Jurassic Park is that Spielberg aimed for a PG-13 rating and Cameron would’ve aimed for an R rating. “Aliens with dinosaurs” is the key descriptor. Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror masterpiece Alien is defined by its hard-R violence, nonstop grisly spectacle, and overwhelming sense of sheer terror. But it also has plenty of thought-provoking sci-fi storytelling that’s often overlooked. Carter Burke’s attempt to impregnate Ripley or Newt with a xenomorph so he can bring it home is similar to John Hammond playing God by cloning dinosaurs for an amusement park.

Cameron’s concession that Spielberg was the right filmmaker to helm Jurassic Park hinges on kids’ ability to enjoy it, but kids love Aliens (kids whose parents are cool enough to let them watch Aliens, anyway). As much as ‘90s kids loved Spielberg’s take on Jurassic Park, they probably would’ve lapped up a more blood-soaked version, too.

Spielberg was able to create mountains of tension without excessive on-screen violence in Jurassic Park. While Cameron’s version would’ve relied on boundary-pushing blood and guts to shock the audience, Spielberg terrified audiences across the world with a relatively bloodless PG-13 movie. The scene in which the raptors stalk Lex and Tim through the kitchen is a masterclass in suspense-building. The T. rex attack is both a thrilling midpoint twist and a perfectly crafted set piece. The threat of the raptors outlined by Alan Grant in an early scene is terrifying enough without actually seeing them claw out people’s guts.

It’s tough to say whether Cameron’s version would’ve turned out better than Spielberg’s because Cameron’s version didn’t get any further into development than calling to enquire about the rights, but Spielberg’s version is an untouchable masterpiece. With its revolutionary visual effects (which still hold up today), Jurassic Park is one of the greatest and most groundbreaking movies ever made.

After seeing Spielberg’s film, Cameron conceded that he was the wrong person to adapt Crichton’s novel. His Jurassic Park might’ve been a cool movie, though. In the age of re-imaginings, someone in Hollywood should cook up a blood-drenched, R-rated riff on Jurassic Park with more brutal, realistic dinosaur attacks in line with Cameron’s curious original vision for the Spielberg classic.

Source: https://gamerant.com/

Did Dinosaurs Fart?

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Talk about a blast from the past.

Yes! Just like dogs, some insects, and even millipedes, dinosaurs undoubtedly would have passed gas.

Not only did Brontosaurus and Triceratops make wind, but they would have made a lot of it. So much, in fact, that it affected the entire Earth and its climate. One study found that dinosaurs’ ‘emissions’ were an important factor in keeping the planet warm and moist during the Mesozoic Era (250 to 65 million years ago).

Similarly, farts and burps shape our modern climate: emissions from livestock account for more than 10 per cent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions today.

Source: www.sciencefocus.com/

Jurassic World 3's Opening Delivers On What Spielberg Dreamed Of

Monday, June 21, 2021

Jurassic World: Dominion will open by showing audiences the dinosaurs living 65 million years ago, which is something Spielberg couldn't do in 1993.

The opening scene of Jurassic World: Dominion will deliver sights that Steven Spielberg could only dream of when he made Jurassic Park. Director Colin Trevorrow's 2022 dinosaur movie will close out both his Jurassic World trilogy and the 6-film Jurassic saga Spielberg launched in 1993. However, five minutes of Jurassic World: Dominion footage will accompany IMAX screenings of Fast & Furious 9 so fans can get an early glimpse of the dinosaurs in their literal heyday.

When it was released 28 years ago, Jurassic Park was an astounding, state-of-the-art blockbuster that delivered completely realistic dinosaurs, which was something audiences had never experienced before. A blend of cutting-edge CGI technology and Stan Winston's animatronics, Jurassic Park was also a roller-coaster adventure story but it was the dinosaurs that truly dazzled and left an indelible impression that has lasted for a generation. Yet despite the revolutionary technical wizardry Spielberg and his visual effects team employed to bring prehistoric beasts like the T-Rex, the Brachiosaurus, and Velociraptors to life - and what they achieved still holds up to modern VFX standards - CGI was still in its infancy and they were limited by the technology of the era. Spielberg also maintained the general plot of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novel so the director's dinosaur dreams were contained to the dinosaur theme park run amok.

Back in 1993, Spielberg couldn't deliver a sequence like Jurassic World: Dominion's prologue: Trevorrow opens his film back in the Cretaceous era, 65 million years ago. Fans will get to the dinosaurs as they really lived and they'll witness the literal origin of Jurassic Park. In Dominion's opening scene, which also introduces several species of real-life dinosaurs the Jurassic movies haven't shown before, a T-Rex gets into a fight with and is killed by one of the film's new dinos, the Gigantosaurus. However, a mosquito lands on the T-Rex's corpse and sucks its blood before becoming trapped in a tree's amber - and this is the exact same mosquito that InGen recovered and tapped for dinosaur DNA, which enabled John Hammond's (Richard Attenborough) geneticists to clone the T-Rex and the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park!

Jurassic World: Dominion's prologue is an ingenious way to bring the story full-circle and homage another of Jurassic Park's memorable sequences when Hammond gave Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) a tour of Jurassic Park's genetics lab to see how the dinosaurs were made. They watched an amusing animated short film describing how a fly bit a dinosaur, got trapped in amber, and had its blood containing dino DNA extracted so that InGen's scientists could clone dinosaurs. Although in the cartoon, the fly bit a Brachiosaurus and not a T-Rex, Jurassic World: Dominion's opening sequence is still the same origin story fully realized.

Jurassic Park's origin cartoon was a snappy and entertaining way to convey Michael Crichton's pseudo-science explaining how the dinosaurs were cloned, and it also perfectly suited John Hammond's reputation as a huckster and showman. But if Spielberg had today's technology back in '93, it's quite possible he would have opted to show the real dinosaurs living and breathing in the Cretaceous era 65-million years ago too. Certainly, no one complained about what wonders Spielberg delivered with Jurassic Park at the time, but Jurassic World: Dominion taking advantage of modern advancements in visual effects means the movie can wow fans (and likely Steven Spielberg himself) in a way the legendary director could only dream of almost 30 years ago.

Source: https://screenrant.com/

T. Rex Teens May Have Driven Medium-Sized Dinosaur Species Extinct

Saturday, June 19, 2021

New research suggests that as T. rex rose to dominance, their young took over the ecological role of middle-sized predators.

Fast and agile, Tyrannosaurus rex juveniles were able to outcompete other medium-sized dinosaurs and drive them to extinction as the species became more dominant, scientists believe.

Previous research has suggested that these predators disappeared about 80 million years ago due to a lack of prey but a new study, published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, suggests young tyrannosaurs may be to blame.

“Earlier in the history of dinosaurs, in most communities you’d have a bunch of different types of carnivores of various size ranges from small fox-sized all the way up to the occasional giants,” said Dr Thomas Holtz, a principal lecturer in the University of Maryland’s department of geology in the US.

“Then something happens between 95 and 80 million years ago, where we see a shift. The really big carnivores, larger than an elephant, like tyrannosaurs and their kin, become the apex predators, and the middle-sized predators, say leopard to buffalo-sized carnivores, are either missing or very rare.”

For their study, the researchers looked at an existing record of 60 dinosaur communities that roamed the planet around 201 to 66 million years ago. Analysis showed that in 29 of these communities, T. rex were the largest and most dominant predator, weighing in at over 1,000kg.

In those communities, found in central Asia and North America, middle-sized predators, ranging from 50kg to 1,000kg, were rare or absent around 80 to 66 million years ago, the researchers said.

Holtz and his team then looked for shifts in the number of prey species in those communities, to see if the disappearance of these dinosaurs was linked to changes in their prey. Specifically, they were looking for two types of changes: prey species increasing dramatically in the absence of predators, or prey species dropping off leading to a disappearance in medium-sized predators.

But the researchers did not find any evidence of changes in prey species diversity, which suggests “something continued to fill the ecological role of the missing middle-sized predators”.

They believe young tyrannosaurs, who were faster and more agile than their parents, likely hunted prey in a similar way to medium-sized dinosaurs. As a result, the researchers say it is possible that as T. rex evolved and grew to dominance, their juveniles outcompeted other carnivorous dinosaurs in the middle-size range.

“In those communities where middle-sized predators are gone but the prey species are just as diverse, can we say that no-one is preying upon these middle-sized prey?” Holtz said. “No. That’s almost certainly not the case. It is quite likely juvenile tyrannosaurs took over the ecological role of the missing middle-sized carnivores.”

An alternative explanation may also be possible: something else eliminated the other carnivores and T. rex simply stepped in to fill the gap. More research was needed to understand what happened.

“Ultimately resolving that is going to rely on the most basic first-level aspect of palaeontology, which is boots-on-the-ground and picks in the sediments,” said Holtz. “We need more sampling sites from this interval between about 95 and 80 million years ago.”

Source: www.sciencefocus.com/

Paraceratherium linxiaense: Fossils of New Giant Rhino Species Found in China

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Life reconstruction of Paraceratherium linxiaense. Image credit: Yu Chen.

A new species of the giant rhinoceros genus Paraceratherium has been identified from the fossilized remains found in Gansu Province, northwestern China.

The newly-identified rhino species lived during the Oligocene epoch, around 26.5 million years ago.

Named Paraceratherium linxiaense, it belongs to Paraceratherium, a small genus of extinct hornless rhinos.

“The giant rhino has been considered as one of the largest land mammals that ever lived,” said Professor Tao Deng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology and colleagues.

“Its skull and legs are longer than all reported land mammals, but the metapodials (long bones of the hand and feet) are not massive in outline.”

“Its body size was suitable for open woodlands under humid or arid climatic conditions.”

“Except for some remains found in Eastern Europe, Anatolia, and Caucasus, giant rhinos lived mainly in Asia, especially in China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.”

“All forms of the giant rhino, including six genera, have been recorded from northwest to southwest China through the Middle Eocene to the Late Oligocene.”

“The genus Paraceratherium was the most widely distributed form of the giant rhino, but aside from East and Central Asia, many records from East Europe and West Asia comprise fragmentary specimens,” they added.

“Only Paraceratherium bugtiense, known from the southwestern corner of the Tibetan Plateau, has ample records and undoubtable taxa identity and is key to the origin and dispersal history of Paraceratherium.”

Phylogenetic relationship of giant rhinos. Image credit: Deng et al., doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-02170-6.

The fossilized remains of Paraceratherium linxiaense — a complete skull and mandible with the associated atlas, and an axis and two thoracic vertebrae of another individual — were recovered from the Jiaozigou Formation of the Linxia Basin in Gansu Province, China, located at the northeastern border of the Tibetan Plateau.

The analysis of the specimens shows that Paraceratherium linxiaense is the highly derived species of its genus.

“We found that all six members of the Paraceratherium genus are sister species to Aralotherium and form a monophyletic clade in which Paraceratherium grangeri is the most primitive, succeeded by Paraceratherium huangheense and Paraceratherium asiaticum,” the paleontologists said.

“We were able to determine that, in the Early Oligocene, Paraceratherium asiaticum dispersed westward to Kazakhstan and its descendant lineage expanded to South Asia as Paraceratherium bugtiense.”

“In the Late Oligocene, Paraceratherium returned northward, crossing the Tibetan area to produce Paraceratherium lepidium to the west in Kazakhstan and Paraceratherium linxiaense to the east in the Linxia Basin.”

“Late Oligocene tropical conditions allowed the giant rhino to return northward to Central Asia, implying that the Tibetan region was still not uplifted as a high-elevation plateau,” Professor Deng said.

“During the Oligocene, the giant rhino could obviously disperse freely from the Mongolian Plateau to South Asia along the eastern coast of the Tethys Ocean and perhaps through Tibet.”

“The topographical possibility that the giant rhino crossed the Tibetan area to reach the Indian-Pakistani subcontinent in the Oligocene can also be supported by other evidence.”

“Up to the Late Oligocene, the evolution and migration from Paraceratherium bugtiense to Paraceratherium linxiaense and Paraceratherium lepidum show that the Tibetan Plateau was not yet a barrier to the movement of the largest land mammal.”

The study was published in the June 17, 2021 edition of the journal Communications Biology.

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T. Deng et al. 2021. An Oligocene giant rhino provides insights into Paraceratherium evolution. Commun Biol 4, 639; doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-02170-6

Source: www.sci-news.com/

Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt Review: Slow And Tedious

Friday, June 18, 2021

Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt is an unexciting first-person shooter about taking down gigantic dinosaurs that often leave the player frustrated.

From the title, Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt sounds like a game full of excitement, conjuring up images of ferocious battles with gigantic dinosaurs in exotic, pre-historic landscapes. In reality, it's exactly the opposite - a slow, tedious crawl through monotonous levels with little to no reward and a poor currency system that often hinders the player's feeling of progression.

Developed by Digital Dreams Entertainment, Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt is a first-person shooter that is focused on hunting dinosaurs. The player, armed with a map and a weapon of their choosing, must stalk various species of dinosaurs without alerting them to their presence. Then, as one would expect, it's time to take aim and fire, hopefully bringing down one of the large reptiles to claim a reward.

Unfortunately, the actual hunting process is never as fun as it would seem on paper. Although there is a map to work with, the dinosaurs are often spaced far apart or too close together, causing dull traversal for what seems like miles to encounter one of the creatures or to scare all of them off with one missed or unsuccessful shot.

Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt tries to help players by implementing a "breathing" system, which hypothetically lets players see weak points on each dinosaur by pressing a button to breathe while aiming, but even when lining up the shot shot, it's still rarely an efficient take down. Instead, the dinosaur often requires at least one more shot to kill, which would be fine except getting shot scares it (understandable), and it runs off as fast as possible, and scattershot subsequent fire is much less accurate and much more infuriating to experience.

This is important because ammo is a coveted resource in Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt. In each level, there is only a limited amount of ammunition, and once it's exhausted, that particular run is over. There's never any chance to get more, which makes it even more frustrating when ammo is wasted because a dinosaur ends up bolting.

There is a form of in-game currency that can be used to upgrade weapons but the problem is that the same currency is used to unlock weapon upgrades, character upgrades and hunting licenses, and it's not always easy to acquire. The player is gifted currency by successfully killing a dinosaur and transporting it back to base; however, the amount each dinosaur yields is often quite low and not enough to quickly rack up points to unlock new upgrades or licenses.

Because of the currency limitations, the player is often put in a loop of saving up money to unlock new licenses to make more money to unlock more upgrades, which is frustrating because without the upgrades, it's difficult to kill dinosaurs and without killing dinosaurs, there's no way to buy upgrades.

Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt isn't all bad. It's still a thrilling accomplishment to take down huge dinosaurs like a tyrannosaurus rex or a triceratops after following them around, hiding in the bushes with a gun poised and ready to fire. Unfortunately, the tediousness of the hunt outweighs much of that excitement, and the slow progression system often feels like a hinderance instead of motivation to keep playing. There are quite a few moments to enjoy, especially for gamers that might prefer methodical shooters, but Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt still manages to trip over its own feet, making hunting dinosaurs feel more like a chore and less like a triumphant conquest of enormous reptilian beasts.

RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Best Video Games For Fans Of The Jurassic Park Series

Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunt is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Screen Rant was provided with a digital PS4 code for the purpose of this reivew.

Source: https://screenrant.com/

Oculudentavis is Bizarre Lizard, Not Bird-Like Dinosaur

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

An artist’s impression of Oculudentavis naga, which was between 5 and 8 cm (2-3 inches) long, not including its tail. Image credit: Stephanie Abramowicz / Peretti Museum Foundation / Current Biology.

In 2020, paleontologists described an ancient species, Oculudentavis khaungraae, based on a tiny skull trapped in a piece of Cretaceous-period amber from Myanmar. Several unusual features led to its identification as the smallest bird-like dinosaur on record, comparable to the smallest living hummingbirds. In a new paper published in the journal Current Biology, they describe a more complete specimen that demonstrates Oculudentavis is actually a bizarre lizard.

The newly-identified reptile species, named Oculudentavis naga, is represented by a partial skeleton that includes a complete skull, exquisitely preserved in 99-million-year-old amber with visible scales and soft tissue.

Dr. Arnau Bolet from the University of Bristol and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and colleagues used CT scans to separate, analyze and compare each bone in the two specimens digitally, uncovering a number of physical characteristics that earmark the small animals as lizards.

Oculudentavis is so strange, however, it was difficult to categorize without close examination of its features,” Dr. Bolet said.

“The specimen puzzled all of us at first because if it was a lizard, it was a highly unusual one.”

“From the moment we uploaded the first CT scan, everyone was brainstorming what it could be,” said Dr. Juan Diego Daza, a researcher at Sam Houston State University.

“In the end, a closer look and our analyses help us clarify its position.”

CT scans of this fossilized Oculudentavis naga showcase the specimen’s scales, skin and soft tissue. Image credit: Stephanie Abramowicz / Peretti Museum Foundation / Current Biology.

Major clues that the mystery animal was a lizard included the presence of scales; teeth attached directly to its jawbone, rather than nestled in sockets, as dinosaur teeth were; lizard-like eye structures and shoulder bones; and a hockey stick-shaped skull bone that is universally shared among scaled reptiles, also known as squamates.

The paleontologists also determined both species’ skulls had deformed during preservation.

Oculudentavis khaungraae’s snout was squeezed into a narrower, more beaklike profile while Oculudentavis naga’s braincase — the part of the skull that encloses the brain — was compressed. The distortions highlighted birdlike features in one skull and lizard-like features in the other.

Photograph, computed tomography scans and interpretive drawings of the Oculudentavis khaungraaea specimen: (a) photograph of the amber piece with skull ventrolaterally exposed; scan (b) and drawing (c), left lateral view; scan (d) and drawing (e), rostral view; scan (f) and drawing (g), occipital view; scan (h) and drawing (i), dorsal view. Abbreviations: de – dentary, fr – frontal, hy – hyoid bone (or bones), jg – jugal, la – lacrimal, mx – maxilla, pa – parietal, pm – premaxilla, po – postorbital, qd – quadrate, sc – scleral ossicle, so – supraoccipital, sq – squamosal, th – teeth. Scale bars – 5 mm; longer scale bar below (b) applies to (b-i). Image credit: Xing et al, doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2068-4.

“Imagine taking a lizard and pinching its nose into a triangular shape. It would look a lot more like a bird,” said Dr. Edward Stanley, director of the Digital Discovery and Dissemination Laboratory at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

In the better-preserved specimen of Oculudentavis naga, the researchers were also able to identify a raised crest running down the top of the snout and a flap of loose skin under the chin that may have been inflated in display.

However, they came up short in their attempts to find Oculudentavis’ exact position in the lizard family tree.

“It’s a really weird animal. It’s unlike any other lizard we have today. We think it represents a group of squamates we were not aware of,” Dr. Daza said.

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Arnau Bolet et al. Unusual morphology in the mid-Cretaceous lizard OculudentavisCurrent Biology, published online June 14, 2021; doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.05.040

Source: www.sci-news.com/

Please Don’t Do a Jurassic World Fast and Furious Crossover

Monday, June 14, 2021

At this moment it sounds as though the notion of a Jurassic World/Fast and Furious crossover is being pushed simply for the fun of it and to see how many people are going to take it seriously.

The fact is that of the two franchises, people are thinking that it would be more feasible in favor of the Fast and Furious franchise than it would for Jurassic World, simply because when looking at the two, Jurassic World is actually the more grounded. Yeah, you read that right, Jurassic World is more grounded than Fast and Furious. There’s an explanation there and it’s pretty simple since the Fast and the Furious have a pair of characters going into space with a jet engine strapped to a car in the upcoming F9 movie, where Jurassic World is featuring a landscape where dinosaurs have been introduced and are now challenging humans for territory. The latter is a little more grounded in reality, not much, but a little, since the dinosaurs were brought back using methods that aren’t scientifically sound but have more basis in reality than a movie that features street racers being recruited by a shadow agency to help do their dirty work in retrieving items and destroying them when necessary.

Playing along with the joke, these two franchises might appear to deserve each other since they’re both stretching the reality they’re based around in a very profound manner. If anyone thinks that the life of a street racer can lead them to the same places as Dom and his crew then they need a serious reality check since street racing is more likely to get them incarcerated. In terms of Jurassic World, there have been plenty of rumors in recent years about scientists wanting to clone dinosaurs, but the thing is that without DNA, which is bound to be pretty degraded after millions of years, it’s not bound to happen. Anything that might be created in a lab would be a living, breathing creature, but it wouldn’t be the same. Mashing these two together in a movie would be insane but it’s something that a lot of people might actually push for.

Seriously, some folks might love to see this, in fact, it’s easy to imagine Roman running from a T.Rex or a velociraptor, shouting in his customary style and talking about teeth marks on his backside perhaps. It would kind of depend on who else would be in the movie as to how they would all react since each one of the team would be likely to do something different. But it’s fair to say that if this does happen that it would be like an upgraded version of Sharknado, meaning that it would be the A-List spoof movie without actually being a spoof movie. Yeah, it sounds awkward, but so does the idea.

This is the kind of cowboys vs. aliens type of idea that has been pushed by kids all over the world when playing with different toys, imagining what might happen if a G.I. Joe encountered a dinosaur, or if a Transformer met up with a dragon from a fantasy story, and so on and so forth. It’s a mash that people have thought up for a long time now, a mismatch of epic proportions that a lot of people want to see just because it hasn’t happened lately. There is some interest obviously since some people figure that if a good enough story can be told to link the different elements that it wouldn’t matter who or what was in the movie. But if this ever does happen then the credibility of both franchises, which is already walking a very fine line, could possibly lessen simply because, well, this is kind of a ludicrous idea. It’s not exactly a desire to see stories kept apart that fuels this idea, but a desire to see both franchises keep to their respective lanes, which have worked thus far.

Keeping the two franchises separate sounds like the best idea at this time, especially since it sounds as though both of them are looking to keep expanding, and there’s plenty of room for both of them to grow without running into one another. Granted, some franchises can mingle and make it work since their premises are close enough to each other and the suspension of belief has already taken full effect. But when two franchises are this different and are bound to be smashed together like a child wielding clay in one hand and playdough in the other, there’s a bit of concern to be had at that moment. In order to keep both franchises moving forward in the successful manner they have been it’s better to keep them separate, no matter how badly people want to see if Dom and his crew can handle a dinosaur.

Source: www.tvovermind.com/

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