April 30, 2013 |
Dinosaurs may have been wiped out by a mass extinction about 65 million years ago, but an earlier extinction event may have given their predecessors a leg up on the competition, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dinosaurs roamed the Earth well after the most devastating die-off in the planet's history, 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian period. Though researchers don't know exactly what caused the so-called Great Dying, it must have been ugly, because 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species were wiped out. Researchers had thought that dinosaurs' predecessors hadn't acted quickly enough to fill in the empty ecological niches left after their former occupants were wiped out, because that's what the fossil record seemed to show -- particularly in spots like South Africa's Karoo basin, which was treated as a sort of record of species in southern Pangaea (the super-continent that once contained nearly all the Earth's landmass)
April 23, 2013 |
Microraptor probably was as big as a hawk, had teeth like a crocodile and could spear fish like a kingfisher -- when the diminutive, four-winged dinosaur wasn't busy plucking squirrel-like animals and other birds from trees. That's the conclusion drawn by scientists who found fish remains preserved in the stomach of a Microraptor gui fossil in the Jehol area of northeastern China, known as the Pompeii of the Cretaceous period. Their work was published this week in the journal Evolution.
April 21, 2013 |
Jay Mascis plays the most satisfyingly whiny, teen-angst-filled laments on his guitar. The sound - like a weary, taut wail - perfectly matches his sorrowful, oddly atonal voice. His once-black hair is still long and still hangs in his face. Only now it's gray: a harbinger of what lies ahead for the band's core group of thirty- and fortysomething hardcore fans (if it hasn't arrived already), for whom skating suburban pools and skipping school has given way to office cubicles. Early on Saturday evening at Coachella, Mascis seemed more present as a performer than ever before.
April 10, 2013 |
Scientists have discovered some of the oldest dinosaur embryos ever found - a rare collection of delicate fossils that offer an unprecedented look into the remarkably speedy early development of these enormous animals. The bed of Lufengosaurus bones and smashed eggshell, described in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature , may also provide some insight into the growth of birds and other dinosaur relatives. “There's nothing like this that has been discovered before,” said Luis Chiappe, a dinosaur paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County, who was not involved in the study.
March 31, 2013 |
The blockbuster Steven Spielberg movie "Jurassic Park," being re-released in 3-D on April 5, wouldn't be the same place without paleontologist Jack Horner. In addition to advising the production on scientific matters, Horner provided inspiration for the character of Dr. Alan Grant in the original 1993 movie. Universal Pictures is preparing to shoot a fourth installment in the "Jurassic Park" series and will once again tap Horner to serve as an advisor. "It's fun to see a lot of the stuff that I do in there," said Horner, curator of the Museum of the Rockies and professor at the University of Montana.
March 21, 2013 |
More than 200 million years ago, toothy crocodile-like creatures stalked a hot, dry mega-continent while squid-like mollusks with spiral shells drifted in the surrounding ocean. Then, in what passes for an instant in geologic time, they vanished - making way for the age of the dinosaurs. How some 50% of terrestrial vertebrates and an even larger share of marine life died off in the late Triassic period has become more clear from new research published online Thursday in the journal Science.
February 19, 2013 |
Former baseball slugger and noted critical thinker Jose Canseco (yes, that Jose Canseco) took to Twitter on Tuesday to explain gravity to us, the huddled masses. Canseco said he was giving gravity a lot of serious though in light of the recent meteorite that exploded over Russia, and came up with the following theory, which he unveiled on Twitter. "Ancient gravity was much weaker. "You ever wonder why nothing REALLY big exists today in nature? "Elephants today eight tons.
February 7, 2013 |
It's been more than 30 years since UC Berkeley researchers first suggested that the extinction of the dinosaurs was probably linked to a massive comet or asteroid impact, known as Chicxulub, off the Yucatan coast. The idea was that the collision from space, which left a 110-mile-wide crater off the coast of Mexico, would have cast off debris that wrapped all the way around Earth, altering the climate and resulting in the global extinction. But that story hasn't passed muster everywhere.
February 7, 2013 |
What's cute and furry and has a name only a paleontologist could love? A tiny theoretical creature dubbed the hypothetical placental mammal ancestor is stealing the hearts of some evolutionary biologists -- and annoying others -- as it raises new debate over just when our early mammal ancestors began diversifying across the globe. In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, an international team of researchers described a project in which they used a vast database of fossil and other biological data, as well as DNA evidence, to reverse-engineer a hypothetical ancestor to the largest group of living mammals.
February 1, 2013 |
If writers of the 20th century could be categorized by the war they lived through, today's scribes might be grouped by the blockbuster movie that came out when they were about 7. The silly, raunchy, sweet “Triassic Parq: The Musical,” at Chance Theater in Anaheim Hills suggests that the long-ascendant “Star Wars” generation is passing the torch to artists shaped by the films of the 1990s. (I am eagerly awaiting “Gump: The Musical," "Sixth...