The Martian – Well, A Good First Step, Anyway

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Yesterday, American Scott Kelly and Russian Mikhail Kornienko parachuted their Soyuz capsule back to Earth after 340 days on the International Space Station—a new NASA record. Spending almost a year in space is an early step in NASA’s longer term plan for sending astronauts to Mars. And that trip will take two and half years return—hell of a commute.

While orbiting in his tin can, Kelly experienced more than 10,000 sunrises and sunsets in less than a calendar year. He travelled more than 231 million kilometres.

Meanwhile back on Earth, his identical twin, Mark offered himself as a medical test subject so doctors can compare the effects of zero gravity, radiation, etc. on the two brothers.

Here’s to putting boots on mars in our lifetime!

BTW—apparently NASA is looking for volunteers for more 1 year missions.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/03/02/nasas-space-endurance-champ-savours-fresh-air-after-340-days-in-orbit.html

 

 

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Movie Stars and Stolen Dinosaurs—Update

Eight years after purchasing a Tyrannosaurus bataar skull from L.A. art gallery, I.M. Chait, actor Nicholas Cage has returned the stolen find to its native Mongolia.

Cage outbid fellow star and fossil buff, Leonardo DiCaprio for the skull back in 2007, paying $276,000. Cage received a certificate of authenticity from the gallery, and, at the time, all seemed cool.

But then the Department of Homeland Security came knocking. And suspicions were raised that perhaps the skull had connections to infamous fossil thief, Eric Prokopi—who has since served a stretch in the big house for the theft of another Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton from Mongolia.

Once he was advised of that his bataar had been illegally smuggled out of Mongolia Cage agreed to give it back to its country of origin.

Way to do the right thing, Mr. Cage!

Check out the details here:

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/dec/22/nicolas-cage-returns-stolen-mongolian-dinosaur-skull-he-bought-at-gallery

Nessie Makes Tracks

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(Image from Reuters)

Researchers recently uncovered 170 million-year-old fossilized tracks made by a heard of colossal sauropods crossing Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

The tracks, some as much as two feet across, indicate these were massive beasts—maybe 50ft in length and weighing up to 20 tons. Perhaps they were early cousins of brontosaurs or Diplodocii?

Although recent finds suggest sauropods were able to support their own terrific weight on land, this pack had been wading through the depths of the lagoon. Maybe feeding? Maybe avoiding predators?

It’s too soon to say.

But, huge reptilian beasts trekking across prehistoric Scotland…makes you wonder what’s hanging around that loch all these years later…

Check out the article at: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/12/04/giant-footprints-in-scotland-reveal-the-dinosaurs-that-once-roamed-there.html

 

The Big Dinosaur Rethink

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It’s getting weird again….Seems like the past twelve months have brought us more than the usual number of oddball fossil finds, each of which is making scientists reexamine their dinosaur assumptions.

This time the earth-shaking find is a Spinosaurus. Scientists are calling it the biggest dinosaur predator ever found—some 9 feet longer than a T Rex. And even weirder, it didn’t hunt on two legs. It’s the only known quadrupedal carnivore.

So, it’s huge and getting around on all fours—now for the bizarre…It had a 7 foot high bony sail on its back and spent much of its time in the water feeding on sharks, crocodiles and fish the size of Volkswagen Jettas… And, oh yeah, it could swim and had nostrils on top of its skull.

Yeah, I’d say that might cause a bit of a rethink. There’s never been anything else like it.

Meanwhile, in other breaking news—Mammals existed 40 million years earlier than previously thought.

Check out the story here:

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/09/11/waterliving_dinosaur_discovered_its_like_working_on_an_extraterrestrial.html

Siberian dinosaur: fuzzy or feathered?

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A very weird dinosaur found in Siberia reveals that it’s possible that more dinosaurs than previously thought had both scales and feathers—not just the ones who ended up evolving into modern-day birds.

Several hundred of the 140 million-year-old weirdo dinos died and were quickly buried in the sediments on the bottom of a lake. The unique conditions excellently preserved their remains—even their skin. And paleontologists say that the skin is made up of three different types of scales as well as three kinds of feathers.

Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus was part of the dino family that includes more famous names like about stegosaurus, ankylosaurus, and triceratops. All of them were previously believed to be scalely. But now scientists have to reevaluate.

The Kulindadromeus was one and half metres long, walked on two feet and had feathers…. maybe his relatives had a little bird in them as well.

Check out the full story at: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/07/24/incredible_fuzzy_siberian_dinosaur_rekindles_feather_debate.html

 

Volunteer fossil hunter scoops the pros—finds giant dinosaur bone!

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You don’t have to be a PhD. to make an amazing dinosaur discovery. This week paleontologists confirmed that volunteer bone hunter, Kay Fredette, has discovered the largest Apatosaurus femur ever found.

While helping on a dig in Colorado she and another volunteer unearthed the colossal bone (6ft 7inches long) which scientists say came from the leg of a dinosaur that was 80 to 90 long.

And this isn’t her first big find either… in recent years Kay has bagged a handful of sauropods, and even well-preserved dinosaur skin.

 

Check out the story here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/24/volunteer-finds-apatosaurus-femur_n_5522631.html

Mary Anning – the Dorset Dinosaur Hunter

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Mary Anning – the Dorset Dinosaur Hunter

The greatest fossil hunter the world has ever seen was a woman who lived more than two hundred years ago in Dorset, England. Mary Anning, also known as the monster hunter, was responsible for discovering ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and the first recognized pterosaur fossil in England. She got her start combing the beaches of the Dorset coast with her father—and though he died when she was only eleven, she got her passion for the strange beasts captured in the rock of her native county from him.
Check out her fascinating story here:

http://www.strangescience.net/anning.htm