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September 8, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
After consulting for several years with Los Angeles County Museum of Art Director Michael Govan over what might replace four older structures on the museum's campus, the acclaimed Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has fashioned a model of a distinctive new building of undulating walls that, seen from above, looks like a splatter of tar - an homage to the La Brea Tar Pits next door on Wilshire Boulevard. Using the tar pits as inspiration is a great idea. But encroaching on them is a problem.
August 30, 2013
Re "For students, fossil fuels become an issue of conscience," Aug. 26 Congratulations to the students of San Francisco State University who persuaded the trustees of their college to divest from fossil fuel companies. However, this article has an egregious omission: the carbon bubble. This bubble will likely pop and fossil fuel stocks will crash in the next decade or so if we are to preserve the planet for future generations. According to the climate change activist group, the planet cannot handle more than 565 gigatons of carbon emissions before 2050.
August 25, 2013 | By Larry Gordon
In the 1980s, student protests against apartheid led universities to sell off stocks in companies doing business in South Africa. More recently, concerns about genocide in Darfur, the health effects of tobacco and handgun violence led to more college divestments. Now another issue - the effect of fossil fuels on global temperatures - is rousing a new generation of student activists to press their schools to drop coal, petroleum and natural gas investments from campus endowments. Student campaigns, such as "Fossil Free UC," are underway at about 300 colleges and universities nationwide, organizers estimate.
August 7, 2013 | By Brad Balukjian
Mammals first appeared 215 million years ago during the Triassic period, according to a new study in the journal Nature. Wait, no, they first showed up 175 million years ago during the Jurassic period, said another study in the same issue of the journal. Who's right? The answer may rest in the middle of your ear. A bit of background: The origin of our mammalian ancestors has long been shrouded by an incomplete fossil record. The first breakthrough occurred during World War II, when German paleontologist Walter Georg K├╝hne was imprisoned in Britain and filled his hours by examining fossils.
July 15, 2013 | By Melissa Pandika
The Tyrannosaurus rex of "Jurassic Park" fame chases any prey that moves, then devours it with a bone-crushing gnash of its enormous jaws and serrated teeth. But paleontologists don't necessarily back Steven Spielberg's portrayal of T. rex , with some saying it may have simply scavenged the remains of dead animals it happened to find. Now scientists have unearthed what they say is the first direct evidence that the dinosaur king hunted its prey, further supporting its reign at the top of the Cretaceous food chain.
July 5, 2013 | By Brad Balukjian
Somewhere between 390 to 360 million years ago, a four-legged vertebrate, or tetrapod, crawled out of the water and gave rise to the amphibians, reptiles and mammals we see today. Scientists have established that this creature descended from fish and evolved its limbs and digits underwater, before its transition to dry ground. Life on land was accompanied by major modifications of the vertebrate skeleton, such as the evolution of a neck. Sandy Kawano, a graduate student at Clemson University, wondered how that transition from surf to turf might have happened - and she turned to modern animals to figure it out. Fossils of such science fiction muses as Ichthyostega , an early tetrapod, provide information on these organisms' appearance, but you can't get behavior out of old bones, Kawano said.
June 26, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
In December 2008, University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher impulsively - and successfully - bid on 12 parcels of land in southern Utah whose oil and drilling rights were being auctioned off by the Bureau of Land Management under outgoing President George W. Bush. That might have been OK had DeChristopher planned to pay for and exploit the properties. But the 27-year-old preservationist was actually at the sale as part of a peaceful protest against the fossil fuel industry when he was randomly handed a bidder's paddle: No. 70. DeChristopher's staunch and inspiring journey after that fateful auction (which was later invalidated by incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar)
June 26, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Researchers have unraveled the genetic code of a wild horse that loped across the frozen Yukon about 700,000 years ago, making it the oldest creature by far to reveal its DNA to modern science. Until recently, experts believed it was impossible to recover useful amounts of DNA from fossils that old. The previous record holder for oldest genome belonged to a polar bear that lived more than 110,000 years ago. The horse sequence, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, amounts to a dramatic increase in how far back scientists can peer into the biochemical history of advanced life.
June 6, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times
A 55-million-year-old fossil of a mouse-sized primate has been identified as a crucial evolutionary link in the chain that led to apes and humans. Four inches long, with a 5-inch tail and protruding eyes, Archicebus achilles probably thrived for millions of years during a warm period of Earth's history, feasting on insects and leaping around in canopies of trees that surrounded a tropical lake in what now is China, according to a report published online Wednesday by the journal Nature.
June 5, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
It's not the missing link between man and apes. But a mouse-sized tarsier that devoured insects in ancient China 55 million years ago could be a long-lost cousin who scampered in the treetops of tropical forests around the time the first primates arose in Asia, according to scientists. A team of paleontolgists carefully peeled apart layers of sedimentary rock containing the fossil, found in China 10 years ago. Then they took the two complementary sections, each of which had parts of the fossilized primate, and subjected them to a sophisticated X-ray technique at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France.
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