Daffy dinosaur has a unique look — and way to eat

The Deinocheirus has a look that's akin to Jar Jar Binks mixed with Barney the Dinosaur. (AP Photo/Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group)

The Deinocheirus has a look that’s akin to Jar Jar Binks mixed with Barney the Dinosaur. (AP Photo/Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group)


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.
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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.”

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Online:

Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature

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Reported by SETH BORENSTEIN of the Associated Press. He can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

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2014′s biggest pumpkin weighs in at 2,058 pounds

Ashley Goldsmith, 6, of San Ramon poses for a photo with the winning pumpkin at the 41st Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off  in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. The 2,058 lb. winner was grown by John Hawkley in Napa Calif.(AP Photo/Alex Washburn)

Ashley Goldsmith, 6, of San Ramon poses for a photo with the winning pumpkin at the 41st Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. The 2,058 lb. winner was grown by John Hawkley in Napa Calif.(AP Photo/Alex Washburn)

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.

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Get the facts on the Nobel Prize

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:

Nobel Prizes are awarded in the categories of peace, medicine, literature, physics and chemistry. An associated award in economics is also handed out. Aside from a medal, recipients also get a cash award of about $1 million.

Nobel Prizes are awarded in the categories of peace, medicine, literature, physics and chemistry. An associated award in economics is also handed out. Aside from a medal, recipients also get a cash award of about $1 million.

  1. You can only win a Nobel Prize once
  2. You can only be nominated in one Nobel category
  3. A Nobel prize cannot be revoked
  4. Four people can share a Nobel Prize
  5. Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
  6. Winston Churchill won a Nobel Peace Prize
  7. Nobel Prizes can be given posthumously
  8. Over 94 percent of Nobel Laureates are men
  9. The economics prize is not an original Nobel
  10. All Nobel Prizes are presented in Stockholm

ANSWERS:

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.

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Reported by KARL RITTER of The Associated Press from STOCKHOLM, Sweden. Karl Ritter can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/karl—ritter

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That bath water? It could be really, really old

Cowboy, a 5-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever trained by Jason Kidd of PawPaw, Mich., competes in a competition in Gray Summit, Mo. The water Cowboy is jumping into could be billions and billions of years old, according to a new study. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Invision for Purina Pro Plan/AP Images)

Cowboy, a 5-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever trained by Jason Kidd of PawPaw, Mich., competes in a competition in Gray Summit, Mo. The water Cowboy is jumping into could be billions and billions of years old, according to a new study. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Invision for Purina Pro Plan/AP Images)

Some of the water molecules in your bath water were created more than 4.5 billion years ago, according to new research.

That makes them older than the Earth, older than the solar system — even older than the sun itself.

In a new study, researchers say the distinct chemical signature of the water on Earth — and throughout the solar system — could occur only if some of that water formed before the swirling disk of dust and gas gave birth to the planets, moons, comets and asteroids.

This primordial water makes up 30% to 50% of the water on Earth, the researchers estimate.

“It’s pretty amazing that a significant fraction of water on Earth predates the sun and the solar system,” said study leader Ilse Cleeves, a University of Michigan astronomer.

Scientists are still not entirely sure how water arrived on Earth. The part of the protoplanetary disk in which our planet formed was too hot for liquid or ice water to exist, and so the planet was born dry. Most experts believe the Earth’s water came from ice in comets and asteroids that formed in a cooler environment, and later collided with our planet.

But this theory leads to more questions. Among them: Where did the water preserved in the comets and asteroids come from?

water-with-fish

Replacing hydrogen: To find out, scientists turned to chemistry. Here on Earth, about one in every 3,000 molecules of water is made with a deuterium atom instead of a hydrogen atom.

A deuterium atom is similar to a hydrogen atom except that its nucleus contains a proton and a neutron, instead of a lone proton. (Both atoms also contain a single electron.) That makes deuterium twice as heavy as hydrogen, which is why water molecules made with deuterium atoms (HDO) are known as “heavy water.”

At the time that our sun was born, the ratio of deuterium to hydrogen throughout the universe was about 1 deuterium molecule to every 100,000 hydrogen molecules. But for water in the solar system, the proportion is significantly higher.

Water with a high deuterium content can only form under specific conditions. The environment needs to be very cold, and there needs to be enough energy to power the reaction that binds hydrogen, deuterium and oxygen.

Ted Bergin, an astronomer at the University of Michigan and co-author of the Science study, said the work suggests there may be an abundance of ancient water in young planetary systems throughout the universe.

Reported by DEBORAH NETBURN of the Los Angeles Times (MCT). Follow her @DeborahNetburn and “like” Los Angeles Times Science & Health on Facebook.
(c)2014 the Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Help York County’s dogs, help a Scout

Nicole Assi of Dover Township talks with Kevin Perkey of Spring Garden Township and meets his dog Tucker, a chocolate Labrador, while her Labrador/shepherd-mix puppy Malcolm runs around at John Rudy County Park on Friday. (The York Dispatch)

Nicole Assi of Dover Township talks with Kevin Perkey of Spring Garden Township and meets his dog Tucker, a chocolate Labrador, while her Labrador/shepherd-mix puppy Malcolm runs around at John Rudy County Park on Friday. (The York Dispatch)

A longtime Boy Scout is combining his love of dogs with a project to become an Eagle Scout.

Grant Dudney, the 16-year-old Scout, will begin the project to improve the dog park in John Rudy County Park this weekend.

And he’s looking for a few volunteers to lend a hand.

The project entails repairing fencing around the dog park, including placing new rocks around the nearly two miles of fencing and staining fence posts with a rain repellent, Dudney said.

Dog lover: Dudney, with Troop 57 in Manchester, said he opted for the project at the dog park because he loves dogs but could never have one because his mother suffers from severe allergies when she’s around them.

So instead, Dudney stops by the dog park to check out pooches when he goes for walks at John Rudy County Park, located just off Mundis Race Road in East Manchester Township.

Dudney got his start in Scouting in 2007 when he joined as a Cub Scout while in third grade.

Now seven years on, he’s striving to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank a boy can obtain in the Boy Scouts of America program.

Work at the park starts Friday, and work days will be held through September.

Help wanted: The Eagle Scout project to improve the dog park in John Rudy County Park along Mundis Race Road in East Manchester Township starts Friday.

Work will be done Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through September.

To sign up to help out, go to eaglescoutcaninepark.weebly.com.

Donations can be mailed to Troop 57 BSA/Grant Dudney, C/O Christ Lutheran Church, 66 S. Main St., Manchester, PA 17345. Checks should be made out to Troop 57 with Eagle Scout/Dudney on the memo line.

For more information, email bsatroop57@troop57-bsa.org.
Reported by GREG GROSS of The York Dispatch in YORK, Pennsylvania. Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.

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What makes rocks slide across the desert?

This undated photo provided by the National Park Service shows rocks that have moved across a dry lake bed in Death Valley National Park in California's Mojave Desert. Cousins Richard Norris and James Norris say the movement is made possible when ice sheets that form after rare overnight rains melt in the rising sun, making the hard ground muddy and slick. (AP Photo/National Park Service)

This undated photo provided by the National Park Service shows rocks that have moved across a dry lake bed in Death Valley National Park in California’s Mojave Desert. Cousins Richard Norris and James Norris say the movement is made possible when ice sheets that form after rare overnight rains melt in the rising sun, making the hard ground muddy and slick. (AP Photo/National Park Service)

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — For years scientists have wondered how large rocks — some weighing hundreds of pounds — zigzag across a flat portion of desert in Death Valley National Park. As they moved on their own when no one watched them, the rocks would leave long trails etched in the earth.

Now two researchers have photographed these “sailing rocks.” How are they moving? It turns out they are being blown by light winds across the former lake bed known as the Racetrack Playa.

Cousins Richard Norris and James Norris said the movement is made possible when ice sheets that form after rare overnight rains melt in the rising sun, making the hard ground muddy and slick.

Last year, the cousins catalogued 60 rocks moving across the playa’s pancake-flat surface.

“Observed rock movement occurred on sunny, clear days, following nights of sub-freezing temperatures,” they wrote in their report.

The conclusion proves theories that have been floated since geologists began studying the moving rocks in the 1940s.

The phenomenon doesn’t happen often because it rarely rains in the notoriously hot and dry desert valley. Even more impressively, the rocks move about 15 feet per minute, the report says.

The Norrises launched their “Slithering Stones Research Initiative” in 2011. After getting permits from the National Park Service, they installed a weather station in the area and placed 15 stones equipped with global positioning devices on the desert surface.

The “GPS stones,” which were engineered to record movement and velocity, were stationed at the southern end of the playa. They were placed near where non-GPS-infused rocks begin their strange journeys after tumbling down a cliff.

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Someone tried to sneak 67 giant snails into the U.S.

One of the snails from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport peeks out of its shell on July 1, 2014.  (AP Photo/USDA, Greg Bartman)

One of the snails from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport peeks out of its shell on July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/USDA, Greg Bartman)

Inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized an unusually slimy package — 67 live giant African snails that are a popular delicacy across West Africa.

The snails — which are prohibited in the U.S. — arrived from Nigeria and were being sent to a person in San Dimas, said Lee Harty, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border protection.

The snails were confiscated July 1 and a sample was sent the next day to a federal mollusk specialist in Washington, D.C., who identified them as a prohibited species, Harty said.

The mollusks are among the largest land snails in the world and can grow to be up to 8 inches long. They are native to Africa and can live for up to 10 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture incinerated the snails after they were inspected, Harty said. The animals are prohibited in the U.S. because they can carry parasites that are harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis.

The snails are also agricultural pests, said Maveeda Mirza, the CBP program manager for agriculture.

“These snails are seriously harmful to local plants because they will eat any kind of crop they can get to,” Mirza said.

The person the snails were destined for is not expected to face any penalties, Mirza said. She said authorities are investigating why a single person would want so many snails.

By KRYSTA FAURIA of the Associated Press from LOS ANGELES.

A person uses two hands to hold a single snail that was part of an air cargo shipment that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1, 2014.  (AP Photo/USDA, Greg Bartman)

A person uses two hands to hold a single snail that was part of an air cargo shipment that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/USDA, Greg Bartman)

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Extra-special effort to deliver order

A little thing like a flooded creek was not enough to keep an Alaska restaurant owner from delivering Thai ribs and fried rice to stranded customers over the weekend.jd-greatbigworld

Anuson “Knott” Poolsawat, owner of Knott’s Take Out in North Pole, forded the swollen waters of Clear Creek to reach two customers stuck along the Richardson Highway, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Mike Laiti and Brandon Borgens were completing a multi-day drive Saturday night up the Alaska Highway when they called in their order to the restaurant, which was near closing.

As they approached Clear Creek, they learned a sinkhole had developed from heavy rain near the creek. The state Department of Transportation closed the bridge.

Laiti called Poolsawat to cancel their order at the restaurant more than 25 miles away in North Pole.

“I called him and said, ‘Hey man, I can’t make it,’ and he said, ‘Not a problem, I’ll come cross the waters,’” Laiti said. “He called me and said, ‘Should I bring a boat?’”

Poolsawat arrived with takeout boxes containing Thai barbecue ribs and Thai fried rice. Another box held a “dinosaur egg” — a hardboiled egg that’s fried and covered in a sweet sesame sauce.

Poolsawat hiked up his shorts and waded through the creek, holding the takeout boxes over his head. The cold water was hip-deep.

Poolsawat had already done them a favor by staying open late, Laiti said. The delivery was beyond expectations.

“He’d help anybody out. He’s just a really good positive attitude, just a good guy,” said Laiti. “He’s definitely a goofball character and the food he makes is great.”

Reported by the Associated Press from FAIRBANKS, Alaska.

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Science has its say on Bigfoot

In this 2008 photo, a man in an ape costume is seen outside a hotel where a media conference is held announcing the claim that a deceased bigfoot or sasquatch creature has been found in Georgia.  DNA testing has analyzed more than 30 hair samples reportedly left behind by Bigfoot.  (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

In this 2008 photo, a man in an ape costume is seen outside a hotel where a media conference is held announcing the claim that a deceased bigfoot or sasquatch creature has been found in Georgia. DNA testing has analyzed more than 30 hair samples reportedly left behind by Bigfoot. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

DNA testing is taking a bite out of the Bigfoot legend. After scientists analyzed more than 30 hair samples reportedly left behind by Bigfoot and similar mythical beasts like the Himalayan Yeti, they found all of them came from more mundane creatures like bears, wolves, cows and raccoons.

In 2012, researchers at Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology issued an open call asking museums, scientists and Bigfoot aficionados to share any samples they thought were from the legendary ape-like creatures.

“I thought there was about a 5 percent chance of finding a sample from a Neanderthal or (a Yeti),” said Bryan Sykes of Oxford University, who led the research, the first peer-reviewed study of Bigfoot, Yeti and other “anomalous primates.”

Sykes and colleagues tested 36 hair samples from Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia and the U.S. using DNA sequencing and all of them matched DNA from known animals. Most were from bears, but there were also hairs from a Malaysian tapir, horses, porcupine, deer, sheep, and a human.

While Sykes said they didn’t find any proof of Bigfoot-related creatures, he acknowledged their paper doesn’t prove they don’t exist.

“The fact that none of these samples turned out to be (a Yeti) doesn’t mean the next one won’t,” he said. The scientists did find two samples from ancient polar bears in the Himalayas, who are not known to live there. That suggests there could be a new or hybrid bear species out there, Sykes said.

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Reported by MARIA CHENG of the Associated Press from LONDON. AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

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World Cup visitors enjoy a look at village life

A man plays the flute in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil. Here, the villagers lead a hybrid life, maintaining the ancestral traditions of their assorted tribes while enjoying some of the advantages of urban life. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

A man plays the flute in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil. Here, the villagers lead a hybrid life, maintaining the ancestral traditions of their assorted tribes while enjoying some of the advantages of urban life. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

At the sound of an approaching boat, the people of Aldeia Indigena Tatuyo, a small village in Brazil, run out to greet their visitors, feather headdresses bobbing, loincloths and grass skirts rustling. Riding atop two of the women’s heads, baby monkeys grab fistfuls of hair as they clutch on for dear life.

The villagers are far removed from the global spectacle taking place in Manaus, Brazil, one of the World Cup host cities. Here, in the Amazon rainforest, the two worlds meet. People smile at one another and snap souvenir photos.

The community of palm-roofed houses is home to nine families who moved to the riverside plot some 15 years ago from deep inside the rainforest. Their old home was near Brazil’s border with Colombia. The villagers lead a hybrid life, maintaining the ancestral traditions of their assorted tribes while enjoying some of the advantages of urban life.

They hunt wild pigs, deer, the large rodents known as capybaras and other forest animals. They fish in the inky waters of the Rio Negro River and grow some crops. Visits by outsiders provide supplemental income, and they hope that before World Cup play wraps up in Manaus, with Honduras to face Switzerland on Wednesday, some of the international soccer fans will come to glimpse their way of life.

While they normally wear the shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops that are standard fare throughout Brazil, the villagers change into their ceremonial finest to receive tourists. The men and boys don loincloths embellished in the back with bunches of freshly cut leaves and rattling anklets made from hollow seeds. The women and girls wear graceful skirts of dried grass.

Everyone wears graphic face paint that melts with sweat during the aerobic ceremony of chants and rhythmic dances. The celebration is held in the village’s central building, a dark lodge infused with the smell of smoke, and visitors snap away madly with their cameras while the more outgoing join in the dancing, much to the children’s amusement.

Other visitors try to coax the baby monkeys off their owners’ heads and onto their own, with extremely limited success. Sometimes visitors join in the high-adrenaline, co-ed soccer matches that are the afternoon entertainment of choice for the villagers.

After about an hour, the tourists pay a small fee, generally ranging from about $5 to $10 a person, depending on the size of the group, and hop back aboard their boat.

“It’s nice to have visitors,” said Cecilia Godinho, a Guanano tribeswoman whose husband founded the village after accompanying an ailing relative to the hospital in Manaus. “We learn from them and I hope they learn from us, too.”

Reported by JENNY BARCHFIELD of the Associated Press from ALDEIA INDIGENA TATUYO, Brazil

Boys play soccer in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil.  (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Boys play soccer in the Tatuyo indigenous community near Manaus, Brazil. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

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$306,800 statue was good enough for gerbils

This $300,000 statue by Auguste Rodin once shared shelf space with a gerbil cage.

This $300,000 statue by Auguste Rodin once shared shelf space with a gerbil cage.

A fancy sculpture that a Potomac, Maryland, family owned for decades without knowing it was genuine sold for $306,800 at an auction last weekend.

The amazing thing is the pricey bronze-and-marble sculpture — which depicts a woman crossing her legs — once shared space with Elizabeth Tillson’s family’s gerbil.

Why? Because the family didn’t know it was an original work of art created by French sculptor Auguste Rodin, whose work is in museums around the world.

The green-colored “Le Desespoir [Despair],” was item No. 160 at Saturday’s auction at Quinn’s Auction Galleries and was among several fine and decorative art pieces that were sold.

Selling the Rodin sculpture took less than three minutes. There were 10 bidders on the phone and three on the floor. Bidding opened at $37,500 and quickly escalated to its final sale price.

“You could tell the excitement was growing,” said Tillson, 55, who attended the auction with her children and sister. “We were almost in tears. . . . The bids kept going up, and people on the phone kept conversing, and all of a sudden, it was done.”

Bidder No. 18, who was calling in from Germany, won it.

Was it the real thing? For a long time, Tillson and her family wondered if the sculpture that she remembers from her childhood home was real. Last year, a New York auction house offered to sell the 14-inch-tall statue, but because the auctioneers could not verify its origin, the house estimated its sale price at only $1,500 to $2,500.

The family wasn’t happy with that number, and just to be safe, they sought a second opinion from Quinn’s Auction Galleries, where Matthew Quinn worked for months validating that it was an original work by Rodin, known for his statue “The Thinker.” It was a difficult task, as Tillson and her siblings had never asked their parents how the sculpture came to be in their home. All they knew was that their grandfather had somehow acquired it before he died in 1960.

Quinn found the raised signature of “A. Rodin” at the bottom of the sculpture. He then brought the piece to an exper who validated the sculpture as an original.

The money:Tillson and her two siblings will probably split the proceeds, she said, adding that she plans to use some for a family trip and perhaps buy a convertible. A special family lunch was the start of the celebration, she said. But before that, Tillson paid a final visit to the sculpture she once thought of as “creepy.”

“I have come to quite love the piece,” she said.

She carefully rubbed the back of the sculpture — “just to wish it luck, and wish us luck.”

Reported by LUZ LAZO of The Washington Post.

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Teen’s death sheds light on an American mystery

Divers Alberto Nava and Susan Bird transport the Hoyo Negro skull to an underwater turntable so that it can be photographed to create a 3-D model in an underwater cave in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.  (AP Photo/National Geographic, Paul Nicklen)

Divers Alberto Nava and Susan Bird transport the Hoyo Negro skull to an underwater turntable so that it can be photographed to create a 3-D model in an underwater cave in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. (AP Photo/National Geographic, Paul Nicklen)

Thousands of years ago, a teenage girl fell into a deep hole in a Mexican cave and died. That’s certainly a horrible way to die, but her death is now helping us learn more about the past.

Her skeleton and her DNA, the chemical code that makes us what we grow into, are confirming a long-held theory that humans arrived in the Americas by way of a land bridge from Asia, scientists say.

The girl’s nearly complete skeleton was discovered in 2007 by expert divers who were mapping water-filled caves in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula. One day, they came across a huge chamber deep underground.

“The moment we entered inside, we knew it was an incredible place,” one of the divers, Alberto Nava, told reporters. “The floor disappeared under us and we could not see across to the other side.”

They named it Hoyo Negro, or black hole.

Months later, they returned and swam to the floor of the 100-foot tall chamber, which was littered with animal bones. They came across the girl’s skull on a ledge, lying upside down “with a perfect set of teeth and dark eye sockets looking back at us,” Nava said.

The divers named the skeleton Naia, after a water creature of Greek mythology, and joined up with scientists to research the find.

Who was she? The girl was 15 or 16 when she met her fate in a cave, which at that time was dry, researchers said. She may have been looking for water when she tumbled into the chamber some 12,000 or 13,000 years ago, said study author James Chatters. Her pelvis was broken, suggesting she had fallen a long distance, he said.

The analysis of her remains, reported in the journal Science by researchers from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Denmark, addresses a puzzle about the settling of the Americas.

Where did they come from?
Most scientists say the first Americans came from Siberian ancestors who lived on an ancient strip of land, now submerged, that connected Asia to Alaska across the Bering Strait. They are thought to have entered the Americas sometime after 17,000 years ago from that land mass, called Beringia. And genetic evidence indicates that today’s native peoples of the Americas are related to these pioneers.

Naia provides a crucial link. DNA recovered from a tooth contains similar material found in today’s native peoples, especially those in Chile and Argentina. The genetic signature is thought to have arisen among people living in Beringia, researchers said.

That suggests that the early Americans and contemporary native populations both came from the same ancestral roots in Beringia — not different places, the researchers concluded. The anatomical differences apparently reflect evolution over time in Beringia or the Americas, they said.

———

Online:

Journal Science: http://www.sciencemag.org

Reported by Malcom Ritter of the Associated Press

National Geographic, divers make their way toward Hoyo Negro, an underwater cave in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula where the remains of "Naia," a teenage girl who lived 12,000 to 13,000 years earlier, were found. (AP Photo/National Geographic, Paul Nicklen)

National Geographic, divers make their way toward Hoyo Negro, an underwater cave in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula where the remains of “Naia,” a teenage girl who lived 12,000 to 13,000 years earlier, were found. (AP Photo/National Geographic, Paul Nicklen)

Diver Susan Bird, working at the bottom of Hoyo Negro, a large dome-shaped underwater cave in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, brushes a human skull found at the site while her team members take detailed photographs.  (AP Photo/National Geographic, Paul Nicklen)

Diver Susan Bird, working at the bottom of Hoyo Negro, a large dome-shaped underwater cave in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, brushes a human skull found at the site while her team members take detailed photographs. (AP Photo/National Geographic, Paul Nicklen)

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World Cup fuels Brazil’s sticker-collecting craze

Collectors look over their World Cup stickers at a trading table outside the Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The stickers, which look a lot like baseball cards, are attracting collectors from all age groups as the World Cup nears. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Collectors look over their World Cup stickers at a trading table outside the Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The stickers, which look a lot like baseball cards, are attracting collectors from all age groups as the World Cup nears. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

You may think you like getting stickers, but down in Brazil there’s a sticker frenzy going on, all thanks to the World Cup.

The World Cup is soccer’s international showcase event, and this year Brazil is the host of the tournament, which starts on June 12.

What does this have to do with stickers? Well, for every World Cup since 1970 the sticker manufacturer Panini has created a sticker album. That album starts out blank, and it’s a sticker collector’s job to find all the right stickers to complete it. Each sticker features one of the players expected to play in the tournament. This time collectors must gather a whopping 649 stickers to complete the 80-page album.

Since they’re known for their Soccer obsession, Brazilians have long been avid fans of World Cup sticker albums. In fact, everybody is talking stickers, from kids to adults, students to doctors. Even Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Collection obsession: The craze is at such a fever pitch that fans have set up trading places in front of stadiums, plazas and bookstores to swap their stickers in hopes of completing their sets. Some are hardcore collectors. Others are helping their kids or just there for the thrill of it. For others, its a bit nostalgic.

A soccer fans looks over his collection of World Cup stickers while sitting at a trading table outside the Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Stickers are sold in packs of five for about 45 cents. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

A soccer fans looks over his collection of World Cup stickers while sitting at a trading table outside the Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Stickers are sold in packs of five for about 45 cents. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

“The last time I did this was when I was just a little kid, but with the World Cup coming to Brazil there was no way I was going to pass up on this one,” said 32-year-old Fernando da Silva, who was trying to complete his second album at a trading point in front of the Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo. “The World Cup is here and this album will be historic. This brings back all memories from when I used to swap stickers with my friends at school.”

Likewise, stores and other public places are happy to cater to the collection obsession.

Hundreds of people have been going to the Pacaembu every weekend, as well as to other trading places across Brazil’s largest city, including supermarkets, cafes and malls. The city’s main art museum, MASP, is one of the most popular places for enthusiasts, attracting groups of teenagers, couples and entire families looking to swap their stickers.

There are even Internet groups devoted to people wanting to swap their stickers, and countless apps are at the disposal of fans looking for those hard-to-come-by stickers. There’s even a virtual album created by Panini.

“This time it has been really easy to find the stickers because everybody has an album,” said Inez Carvalho Oliveira, a 28-year-old pediatrician who was at the Pacaembu to try to find the 13 stickers still needed for her album.

Right next to her, 60-year-old Jucileia Lobato hastily flipped through a pack of duplicates, checking the missing numbers from her list.

“I started helping my grandkids when they bought the album because of the World Cup, and I liked it so much that I decided to buy one for myself,” she said, still looking at the stickers. “But I have to hurry because my husband is waiting in the car. … I just want to find a few more stickers.”

President Rousseff told journalists she is helping her 3-year-old grandson complete his set.

High demand: Panini has been in charge of the official World Cup album since the 1970 tournament in Mexico. It has two printing facilities, one in Brazil to handle sales for the Latin American market and another in Italy to handle sales for the rest of the world.

Panini says sales for this tournament’s stickers have already exceeded the previous World Cup, with Brazilians being the top buyers.

Thierry Weil, marketing director for FIFA, the global soccer association that runs the World Cup, said the album gives soccer’s governing body a way to “promote the FIFA World Cup and fuel fans’ excitement ahead of the event all over the world.”

“It has been very pleasing to see the interest from fans in collecting the stickers,” he said, adding that more than 1 million users had already signed up for the virtual album alone.

Buy 4,505 for the guarantee: In Brazil, Panini said it distributed 6.5 million free albums in marketing actions that began in April. FIFA said in a video on its website that fans would need to purchase 4,505 stickers to ensure a complete album. Each pack with five stickers costs 1 real in Brazil, or about 45 cents.

“These albums bring people together,” said 55-year-old computer science specialist Jan Mascarenhas, who was “a South Korean player away” from completing his set. “We are swapping stickers but we are also swapping experiences.”

___

Reported by TALES AZZONI of the Associated Press from SAO PAULO, Brazil. Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

A young collector in Brazil mouths a World Cup sticker while he contemplates a trade for another sticker as he struggles to fill his World Cup Album, an 80-page book that requires more than 600 stickers to complete.   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

A young collector in Brazil mouths a World Cup sticker while he contemplates a trade for another sticker. The boy was struggling to fill his World Cup Album, an 80-page book that requires more than 600 stickers to complete. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

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New frogs discovered, but they are already in trouble

One of the 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs discovered by a team headed by University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju in the jungle mountains of southern India. (AP Photo/Satyabhama Das Biju)

One of the 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs discovered by a team headed by University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju in the jungle mountains of southern India. (AP Photo/Satyabhama Das Biju)

Scientists have discovered 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs in the jungle mountains of southern India — just in time, they fear, to watch them fade away.

Indian biologists say the population of the tiny acrobatic amphibians, which earned their name with the unusual kicks the guy frogs use to attract mates, is disappearing fast. The little frogs breed after the yearly monsoon in fast-rushing streams, but that particular habitat appears to be disappearing.

“It’s like a Hollywood movie, both joyful and sad. On the one hand, we have brought these beautiful frogs into public knowledge. But about 80 percent are outside protected areas, and in some places, it was as if nature itself was crying,” said the project’s lead scientist Sathyabhama Das Biju.

Biju said that, as researchers tracked the frog population for 12 years, the creatures’ habitat seemed to change around them. Forest soil lost moisture. The stream they lived in started to run dry.

The study listing the new species — published in the Ceylon Journal of Science — brings the number of known Indian dancing frog species to 24.

They’re found exclusively in the Western Ghats, a lush mountain range that stretches 990 miles from the western state of Maharashtra down to the country’s southern tip.

Only the males dance — it’s a unique behavior called foot-flagging. They stretch, extend and whip their legs out to the side to draw the attention of females who might have trouble hearing their croaks over the sound of water flowing through perennial hill streams.

They bigger the frog, the more they dance. They also use those leg extensions to smack away other males — an important feature considering the gender ratio for the amphibians is usually around 100 males to one female.

“They need to perform and prove, ‘Hey, I’m the best man for you,’” said Biju.

There are other dancing frogs in Central America and Southeast Asia, but the Indian family, known by the scientific name Micrixalidae, evolved separately about 85 million years ago.

A 2010 report by India’s Environment Ministry also said the Ghats were likely to be hard-hit by changing rainfall patterns due to climate change, and more recent scientific studies have also suggested monsoon patterns will grow increasingly erratic.

Reported by KATY DAIGLE of the Associated Press from NEW DELHI. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/katydaigle

Another one of the 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs discovered by a team headed by University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju in the jungle mountains of southern India.  (AP Photo/Satyabhama Das Biju)

Another one of the 14 new species of so-called dancing frogs discovered by a team headed by University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju in the jungle mountains of southern India. (AP Photo/Satyabhama Das Biju)

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What sunk the150-year-old Civil War submarine? Scientists are trying to figure it out

The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sits in a conservation tank at a lab in North Charleston, S.C., before it was to be covered in a chemical bath on Thursday, May 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sits in a conservation tank at a lab in North Charleston, S.C., before it was to be covered in a chemical bath on Thursday, May 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

It’s sometimes hard to believe that the Civil War, which happened more than 150 years ago here in America, was also fought underwater with submarines. Yep, you read it right — soldiers for the Blue and for the Gray were sneaking around inside of the some of the first submarines to exist.

Now scientists near the city where the Civil War started were getting ready to investigate one of those submarines in a new way. They are planning to soak an encrusted Confederate vessel in a chemical bath. Those chemicals would then eat away at the accumulated rust and other gunk to reveal the sub’s hull for the first time in 150 years.

Why do they want to do it? The scientists hope to solve the mystery of what happened to the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship

The hand-cranked H.L. Hunley — which now rests in a 76,000-gallon tank — will be treated with a solution of sodium hydroxide for about three months. The chemical mix will loosen the encrustation coating the hull and interior of the sub.

It’s not an easy process either. Every day, workers will drain the tank. Once all the chemicals are gone, they will use tools to remove the hard sand, sediment and rust coating. At the end of the day, they’ll refill the tank again.

History:
Removing the gunk will reveal the original surface of the hull and also show any damage that could explain why the Hunley sunk in the Atlantic Ocean outside of Charleston, S.C., in 1864. The war had begun with the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor three years earlier.

The sub and its crew of eight had set off an explosion that sank a Union ship. But the Hunley never returned from its mission and just why remains a mystery.

Discovery: The wreck of the Hunley was discovered off the coast in 1995. Five years later, in August of 2000, cannons boomed, church bells rang and thousands watched from the harbor as the 40-foot-long sub was raised from its watery grave. From there, it was brought by barge to the conservation lab. The silt-filled interior of the sub was later excavated and the remains of the crewmen removed.

After studying the sub, scientists announced it appears the explosive that sank the Union ship the Hunley attacked was still attached to the front of the sub. That could mean the crew was knocked unconscious by the explosion and died before awakening. A closer look at the hull may provide clues.

Eventually the Hunley will be put on display in a new museum in North Charleston not far from the conservation lab.

Reported by BRUCE SMITH of the Associated Press from the NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.

 Bathing the hand-cranked Hunley in chemicals marks a new step in the conservation of the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship.  (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

Bathing the hand-cranked Hunley in chemicals marks a new step in the conservation of the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

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