Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found bones of two large, powerful dinosaur arms in Mongolia and figured they had discovered a fearsome critter with killer claws.
Now scientists have found the rest of the dinosaur and have new descriptions for it: goofy and weird.
The beast probably lumbered along on two legs like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame. It was 16 feet tall and 36 feet long, weighing seven tons, with a duckbill on its head and a hump-like sail on its back. Throw in those killer claws, tufts of feathers here and there, and no teeth — and try not to snicker.
And if that’s not enough, it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner.
That’s Deinocheirus mirificus, which means “terrible hands that look peculiar.” It is newly reimagined after a full skeleton was found in Mongolia and described in a report for the journal Nature. Some 70 million years old, it’s an ancestral relative of the modern ostrich and belongs to the dinosaur family often called ostrich dinosaurs.
“Deinocheirus turned out to be one the weirdest dinosaurs beyond our imagination,” study lead author Yuong-Nam Lee, director of the Geological Museum in Daejeon, South Korea, said in an email.
When scientists in 1965 found the first forearm bones — nearly 8 feet long — many of them envisioned “a creature that would strike terror in people,” said University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr, who wasn’t part of the study. “Now it’s a creature that would strike bemusement, amazement.”
And yes, he said, “it’s pretty goofy.”
The find is tremendous but is a cautionary tale about jumping to conclusions without enough evidence, said University of Chicago dinosaur expert Paul Sereno, who wasn’t part of the discovery.
It also reminds us that evolution isn’t always what we think, Sereno said.
“This is evolution in a dinosaur — not a mammal — world,” Sereno said in email. “The starting point is a two-legged animal looking somewhat like a fuzzy-feathered ostrich. Now you want to get really big and suck up lots of soft vegetation. In the end you look like a goofy Michelin ostrich with fuzz and a tail — not a cow.”
Lee figures the tilted wide hips and massive feet show that Deinocheirus was a slow mover and probably grew so big to escape from being regularly feasted on by bigger dinosaurs.
It had a beak that could eat plants, but it also had a massive tongue that created suction for vacuuming up food from the bottoms of streams, lakes and ponds, Lee wrote.
Originally Lee’s team couldn’t find the dinosaur’s skull, but a tip from another researcher led them to recover it from the private market in Germany.
Some kids will soon adopt this dinosaur as their favorite, Holtz said, “and those are kids with a sense of humor.”
Reported by SETH BORENSTEIN of the Associated Press. He can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears
A gourd weighing 2,058 pounds took first prize and set a new tournament record Monday at an annual pumpkin-weighing contest in Northern California.
John Hawkley, 56, won this year’s Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off in Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco.
Hawkley “squashed” his competition, beating the runner-up by more than 300 pounds, Tim Beeman, a spokesman for the weigh-off said.
Hawkley — a production manager for a local newspaper — credited his success at least in part to warm weather. He ended up with a total of six pumpkins on a 4,500-square-foot patch of land in his front yard in California’s Napa Valley, which is famous for its wine grapes. One of his other pumpkins also weighed more than 2,000 pounds.
“My wife said this is as much pumpkin patch area as I’m going to get,” he said.
Hawkley said he will use the more-than $13,000 in prize money to make repairs on his home, which was damaged during a strong earthquake in the Napa area in August.
All 30 pumpkins weighed at this year’s tournament were from California, according to Beeman. The contest normally gets growers from Oregon and Washington as well.
Last year’s winner was also from the Napa Valley and came in at 1,985 pounds.
Hawkley’s gourd will be on display this weekend at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival.
Reported by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS from HALF MOON BAY, Calif.
The Nobel Prize for peace was awarded to Malala Yousafzai, 17, for her efforts as a teenager to push equal-opportunity education in Pakistan and the world. She shared the award with Kailash Satyarthi of India. In this video, she talks about finding out about her win and her hopes for the future.
The 2014 Nobel Prizes were announced last week by committees in Stockholm and Oslo, with the last one coming up on Monday. The $1.1 million awards will be handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896. Here is a wrap-up of the winners.
U.S.-British scientist John O’Keefe split the Nobel Prize in medicine with Norwegian couple May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser on Monday for breakthroughs in brain cell research that could pave the way for a better understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and Japanese-born U.S. scientist Shuji Nakamura won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes, which promises to revolutionize the way the world lights its homes and offices — and already helps create the glowing screens of mobile phones, computers and TVs.
U.S. researchers Eric Betzig and William Moerner and Stefan Hell of Germany won the Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for finding ways to make microscopes more powerful than previously thought possible, allowing scientists to see how diseases develop inside the tiniest cells.
French writer Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday for his lifelong study of the Nazi occupation and its effect on his country. Among more than 40 works, Modiano wrote the Prix Goncourt-winning “Missing Person” and co-wrote the acclaimed movie “Lacombe, Lucien.”
Children’s rights activists Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for campaigning for the rights of children and young people, particularly their right to education.Read More
More than 50 sperm whales emerged off the Southern California coast in an extremely rare, hours-long sighting that had whale watchers and scientists giddy with excitement.
Pods of mothers and juveniles rolled and played with dolphins Monday a few miles off Laguna Beach, the Orange County Register reported.
They later were spotted off San Diego and were heading south, said Jay Barlow, a sperm whale expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It’s by far the largest group ever spotted so near to shore in Southern California, Barlow said Tuesday.
“I’ve been counting whales and been on the water for 35 years. We’ve never had a large group like this ever,” said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, director of the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project.
The massive mammals were spread out over an area of up to 3 square miles and came within inches of boats as they poked their heads out of the waves, said David Anderson, who operates Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari sightseeing tours.
Monster size: Sperm whales are the huge, toothed creatures mentioned in the novel “Moby Dick.” They were hunted nearly to extinction for their oil in the 1800s.
The whales weigh up to 45 tons and eat about a ton of squid a day. They prefer to hunt in deep waters and can dive to 3,000 feet.
Why the sperm whales showed up remains a mystery.
Unlike toothless gray whales, which migrate down the California coast each year, sperm whales aren’t frequent visitors.
Usually, only one or two adult males show up each summer or fall while large groups of females normally are found in warmer waters, Barlow said.
However, this year has seen a lot of warmer water close to shore, he said.
“The climate patterns have definitely been weird,” Barlow said.
Other species that prefer warmer waters also have shown up this year, including pilot whales, false killer whales, and various species of tropical birds.
The sperm whales also might have been chasing food, Barlow said. “That’s mostly what they think about.”
Humboldt squid, which can weigh 60 pounds or more, have been turning up in the area for a decade.
“Could be they’re catching on,” Barlow said.
The whales also could simply have gotten confused by the complicated ocean terrain and “wandered in not intending to be here,” he said.
Reported by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Information from: The Orange County Register, http://www.ocregister.comRead More
Nobel season is upon us. On Monday, the Nobel Prize judges will begin a series of daily announcements revealing this year’s winners. To help avoid any embarrassing mistakes on the playground, here’s a true-or-false guide to the prizes created in 1895 by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel — the world’s most famous awards besides the Oscars.
Never heard of the Nobel Prizes? They’re international awards that honor achievements in science, peace and other categories. The winners get a gold medal and more than $1 million. The prize was originally set up by Alfred Nobel of Sweden who ordered that his fortune be used to honor those who worked toward making the world a better place.
Now, take your best shot at our Nobel Prize quiz.
TRUE OR FALSE:
- You can only win a Nobel Prize once
- You can only be nominated in one Nobel category
- A Nobel prize cannot be revoked
- Four people can share a Nobel Prize
- Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
- Winston Churchill won a Nobel Peace Prize
- Nobel Prizes can be given posthumously
- Over 94 percent of Nobel Laureates are men
- The economics prize is not an original Nobel
- All Nobel Prizes are presented in Stockholm
1) YOU CAN ONLY WIN A NOBEL PRIZE ONCE
False. There is no limit to how many Nobel Prizes you can win. American scientist John Bardeen won the physics award twice, in 1956 and 1972, while British biochemist Frederick Sanger got two chemistry awards, in 1958 and 1980.
2) YOU CAN ONLY BE NOMINATED IN ONE NOBEL CATEGORY
False. Marie Curie of France won the physics prize in 1903 and the chemistry award in 1911. Linus Pauling, a scientist and peace activist, won the chemistry prize in 1954 and the Nobel Peace Prize eight years later.
3) A NOBEL PRIZE CANNOT BE REVOKED
True. The Nobel statutes are clear on this: Once you’ve received a Nobel Prize, it’s yours forever. Paragraph 10 states: “No appeals may be made against the decision of a prize-awarding body with regard to the award of a prize.” So those online petitions calling for a particular prize to be withdrawn have no effect.
4) FOUR PEOPLE CAN SHARE A NOBEL PRIZE
False. The Nobel statutes say the awards can be split among multiple winners but in no case “may a prize amount be divided between more than three persons.”
5) HITLER WAS NOMINATED FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
True. The Nazi dictator was nominated in 1939 by Swedish lawmaker E.G.C. Brandt for the prize, which is meant to promote “fraternity between nations” and global disarmament. Brandt later withdrew the nomination, saying it was meant as satire. This just shows that anyone can be nominated — it doesn’t say anything about their chances of actually winning.
6) WINSTON CHURCHILL WON THE PEACE PRIZE
False. The eloquent British conservative leader did win a Nobel Prize, but in the literature category, not peace. Churchill received the literature prize in 1953 “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”
7) NOBEL PRIZES CAN BE GIVEN POSTHUMOUSLY
False. Since 1974, only living people are considered by the prize committees. However, the Nobel Foundation made an exception in 2011 when it found out right after the medicine prize was announced that one of the winners, Ralph Steinman, had died just days earlier. They let the prize stand and Steinman’s share of the prize money was given to his survivors.
8) OVER 94 PERCENT OF NOBEL LAUREATES ARE MEN
True. Of the 847 individuals who have won a Nobel Prize, only 44, or 5 percent, were women. Fifteen women have won the peace prize, while only one — Elinor Ostrom in 2009 — has won the economics award. Nobel judges say they don’t consider gender when selecting winners and that the awards simply reflect the historical dominance of men in many fields of research.
9) THE ECONOMICS AWARD IS NOT AN ORIGINAL NOBEL
True. The economics award was not among the five awards that Alfred Nobel established in his will for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. It was created by the central bank of Sweden in 1968 in Nobel’s honor. It is announced along with the other prizes, carries the same prize money of $1.1 million, and is handed out at the annual Nobel ceremony in December. But it’s technically not a Nobel Prize. The official title is The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
10) ALL NOBEL AWARDS ARE PRESENTED IN STOCKHOLM
False. The peace prize is both announced and handed out in Oslo, the Norwegian capital, according to the wishes of Alfred Nobel. No one knows why he wanted it that way but during his lifetime Sweden and Norway were joined in a union.
Reported by KARL RITTER of The Associated Press from STOCKHOLM, Sweden. Karl Ritter can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/karl—ritterRead More