Picture the fearsome creatures of “Jurassic Park” crossed with the shark from “Jaws.”
Then super-size your imaginary beast to the size of the biggest predator ever to roam Earth.
Now add a crocodile snout as big as a person and feet like a duck’s.
The result gives you some idea of a bizarre dinosaur scientists unveiled last week.
This patchwork of critters comes together in the form of a 50-foot predator. It is the only known dinosaur to live much of its life in the water.
The beast, called Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, was already known to scientists from a long-ago fossil discovery, but most of those bones were destroyed in Germany during World War II. Now, 70 years later, a new skeleton found in Morocco reveals that the beast was far more aquatic than early researchers expected.
Spinosaurus had a long neck, strong clawed forearms, powerful jaws and the dense bones of a penguin. It propelled itself in water with flat feet that were probably webbed, according to a study on its remains. The beast sported a spiny sail on its back that was 7 feet tall when it lived 95 million years ago.
“It’s like working on an extraterrestrial or an alien,” study lead author Nizar Ibrahim of the University of Chicago said, while standing in front of a room-sized reconstruction of the skeleton at the National Geographic Society, which helped fund the research.
“It’s so different than anything else around,” he said.
Reported by SETH BORENSTEING of the Associated PressRead More
Making National Night Out bigger is York Area Regional Police’s goal. The annual night of community outreach is set for Tuesday.
Held at the Dallastown Community Park, just off South School Place, the event runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m., said Sgt. Pete Montgomery.
Highlights include a police motorcycle demonstration at 6 p.m., bounce houses, an inflatable obstacle course and a gaming truck, where younger attendees can play video games.
“For three and a half hours, there’s always something going on,” he said. “It’s always a fun time.”
Night out: National Night Out, held across much of the country, allows police officers to meet with residents, Northern York County Regional Police said in a news release.
The department will host its own event, open to residents who live in its jurisdiction, at the Union Fire and Hose Co., 30 E. Canal St. in Dover from 6 to 9 p.m.
During the event, officers will prepare and serve hamburgers and hot dogs and there will be carnival-style games, a bounce house, a dunk tank that will feature state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township and officers on the hot seat and more.
Here’s a look at all the National Night Out events around York County.
- Calvary United Methodist Church: 11 N. Richland Ave. in York City, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
- Carroll Township Police: Logan Park, along Logan Road, from 5 to 9 p.m. Event includes a cookout and police and fire equipment exhibits.
- Fairview Township Police: Roof Park, 599 Lewisberry Road, from 5 to 9 p.m. Free food, music, raffle drawings and activities, such as bounce houses and games, for children.
- Northeastern Regional Police: Eagle Fire Co., 54 Center St., Mount Wolf, from 6 to 8 p.m. in conjunction with Eagle Fire Co. and Northeastern Area EMS.
- Southern Regional Police: New Freedom Park, along North Main Street, from 6 to 10 p.m. Event features emergency equipment displays, food and fun for children.
- Southwestern Regional Police: Spring Grove Area C & MA Church, 213 N. Main St., from 6 to 9 p.m. Free hot dogs, chips and drinks. Displays include police and fire equipment and there will be music and children’s games.
- Springettsbury Township Police: St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 2935 Kingston Road from 5 to 8 p.m.
- Spring Garden Township Police: Penn State York, 1031 Edgecomb Avenue, from 6 to 8 p.m. Event includes food, music, face painting, bounce houses and other activities for children. Police, fire and public works vehicles will also be on display.
- West York Block Watch: Shelly Park, at North Highland Avenue and Filbert Street, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Featuring music, food and fun.
- Wrightsville Borough: Riverfront Park, along South Front Street, from 6 to 8 p.m. Event includes food, games, fellowship and a chance to meet first responders.
- York City: York City Police and community organizations will hold events at about 30 locations in the city from 5 to 9 p.m. Many will be give away food and McGruff the Crime Dog and police officers will visit as many locations as possible.
Reported by GREG GROSS of The York Dispatch.Read More
Scientists have mapped how a group of fearsome, massive dinosaurs evolved and shrank to the likes of robins and hummingbirds.
Comparing fossils of 120 different species and 1,500 skeletal features, especially thigh bones, researchers were able to build a “family tree” for the two-legged group of meat-eating dinos called theropods. That suborder survives to this day as birds.
“They just kept on shrinking and shrinking and shrinking for about 50 million years,” said study author Michael S. Y. Lee of the University of Adelaide in Australia. He called them “shape-shifters.”
Lee and his colleagues even created a dinosaur version of the iconic ape-to-man drawing of human evolution. In this version of the drawing, shown above, the lumbering large dinos shrink, getting more feathery and big-chested, until they are the earliest version of birds.
For a couple decades scientists have linked birds to this family of dinosaurs because they shared hollow bones, wishbones, feathers and other characteristics. But the Lee study gives the best picture of how steady and unusual theropod evolution was. The skeletons of theropods changed four times faster than other types of dinosaurs, the study said.
A few members of that dino family did not shrink, including T. rex, which is more of a distant cousin to birds than a direct ancestor, Lee said.
He said he and colleagues were surprised by just how consistently the theropods shrank over evolutionary time, while other types of dinosaurs showed ups and downs in body size.
The first theropods were large, weighing around 600 pounds. They roamed about 220 million to 230 million years ago. Then about 200 million years ago, when some of the creatures weighed about 360 pounds, the shrinking became faster and more prolonged, the study said. In just 25 million years, the beasts were slimmed down to barely 100 pounds. By 167 million years ago, 6-pound paravians, more direct ancestor of birds, were around.
The journal Science: http://www.sciencemag.org
Reported by SETH BORENSTEIN of the Associated Press. He can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears
Great white sharks are having an unusual effect on Cape Cod this summer, and many tourists are eager to chomp down on some shark-related goodies.
The sharks being spotted in growing numbers are stirring curiosity and a new sort of frenzy — a buying frenzy.
Shark T-shirts are everywhere, “Jaws” has been playing in local movie theaters and boats are taking more tourists out to see the huge seal population that keeps the sharks coming. Harbormasters have issued warnings but — unlike the sharks in the movies — the great whites generally are not seen as a threat to human swimmers.
Among the entrepreneurs is Justin Labdon, owner of the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, who started selling “Chatham Whites” T-shirts after customers who were renting paddle boards and kayaks began asking whether it was safe to go to sea.
“I mean, truthfully, we’ve probably grown about 500 percent in terms of the sale of our shark apparel,” he said. The T-shirts, hoodies, hats, belts, dog collars and other accessories bear the iconic, torpedo-shaped image of great whites and sell for between $10 and $45.
He said his store brings in thousands of dollars in sales of the shark-themed merchandise.
Tourists peer through binoculars in hopes of catching a glimpse of a shark fin from the beaches of Chatham. The resort town has a large population of gray seals — the massive animals whose blubber is the fuel of choice for great white sharks. Local shops sell jewelry, candy, clothes and stuffed animals with shark motifs.
Shark lovers: “(Great) White sharks are this iconic species in society and it draws amazing amounts of attention,” said Gregory Skomal, a senior marine fisheries biologist who also leads the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, who said people are coming in hopes of witnessing the animals in their splendor. “I have not been approached by anyone who has said to me ‘let’s go kill these sharks.’”
Skomal said sharks have been coming closer to shore to feed on the seals, which he said have been coming on shore in greater numbers because of successful conservation efforts.
Confrontations with people are rare, with only 106 unprovoked white shark attacks — 13 of them fatal — in U.S. waters since 1916, according to data provided by the University of Florida.
Still, officials are wary of the damage that could be done to tourism if one of the predators bites a person. Brochures have been distributed to raise awareness of sharks and safe practices in the event of a sighting.
Kids: Laurie Moss McCandless of Memphis, Tennessee, has vacationed on Cape Cod every summer since she was a little girl and doesn’t remember hearing about sharks back then. But her son is obsessed with sharks, she said, and she’s hoping to hear more about them on their vacation in Chatham.
“He loves all his sharks paraphernalia,” McCandless, 39, said as she bought a shark-themed sweatshirt for one of her three children.
Reported by RODRIQUE NGOWI of the Associated Press from CHATHAM, Mass. Follow Rodrique Ngowi at www.twitter.com/ngowi
Cape Cod Tourism: http://www.capecodchamber.org/
Massachusetts Shark Research Program: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dmf/programs-and-projects/shark-research.html
Atlantic White Shark Conservancy: http://www.atlanticwhiteshark.org/Read More
The U.S. Coast Guard has freed a Canadian sailboat that became trapped in Arctic ice off the north coast of Alaska.
KTUU-TV reports the 36-foot Altan Girl out of Vancouver was attempting to sail to eastern Canada through the Northwest Passage.
It became trapped in ice 40 miles northeast of Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States.
The Coast Guard cutter Healy reached the sailboat, and with the Altan Girl in tow, on Saturday cut a 12-mile path through ice to open water.
The sailboat’s owner says he intends to wait in Barrow for better weather and to restock supplies.
The Healy is on a National Science Foundation-funded research mission in the Arctic. The Coast Guard says the cutter is continuing with its research.
Reported by the ASSOCIATED PRESS from ANCHORAGE, Alaska.
Most people who want an item bad enough will break down, go out and buy it. Others, however, simply aren’t wired that way.
Karl Koch, age 75, certainly has a mind and drive of his own, for as long as the task is doable, he prefers to build whatever it is he wants with his own two hands. Take for example the four – soon to be five — wooden canoes the retired schoolteacher has built all by himself, just for fun.
Koch’s first canoe, a heavy canvas-hulled 15-footer, was finished in 1963 and lasted him nearly 50 years before giving it away to a younger man with a stronger back. Koch then built three more wooden crafts since 2005, and he’s currently working on a 14-foot strip canoe, which needs just a few more finishing touches.
“When I graduated from Penn State in 1961, a friend of mine bought an old broken canoe for $5 at a yard sale,” Koch explained. “It had a huge, gaping hole in the bottom, but he went out and fixed that thing and boy was it beautiful.
“For two years, I marveled over my friend’s canoe, until one day I decided I would build my own. So I bought a 35-cent canoe building plan I saw advertised in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and that’s how it all began.”
As Koch sat on a shaded bench outside his family’s North Londonderry Township home the talented handyman recalled the mistakes he made on his first canoe.
“I used a table saw to cut the boards, which wasted lumber. I sanded some spots too thinly, and if I hit a rock, that canvas started taking on water fast,” he explained. “It wasn’t sealed right.”
But over the years Koch solidly patched up the old canoe so it no longer leaked and the boat really handled well.
Canoe Two: Later, he started in on his second project, a watertight plywood bind-and-seal kit canoe, which he gave this one to his niece.
Canoe Three: His next was a strip canoe, Koch said. “They are lighter, more beautiful, and you have more flexibility in building exactly what you want.”
“The whole process takes about 200 hours depending on how hard you want to work at it,” said Koch. “I really wanted a red cedar canoe, and to me, it didn’t matter how long it took, so I just built one.”
But even this third attempt did not completely satisfy the mindset of the always-improving craftsman. He found that he built the gunwales a little too high for his liking, and they caught the wind too much, making the craft a bit tippy. He gave this one to his son and started over again with a few adjustments.
Canoe Four: On his fourth attempt, Koch got it right. The lower-riding 15-footer he now uses is perfect for him to handle, it steers well and is light enough for him to portage to the water using the wooden wheel and axle system he rigged up for easy transport.
It has a self-woven deer rawhide seat, custom-built kayak-style paddles, and it perfectly clears the back of Koch’s little Volkswagen Jetta, which he uniquely uses for transferring his wooden vessel to various local lakes, streams and rivers.
“I fish this one pretty hard, as you can see from the nicks on the Kevlar scratch pads,” said Koch. “It’s muddy and dinged up pretty good, but it looks beautiful when it’s wet, and that’s when it really matters.”
Canoe Five: As for Koch’s fifth canoe in progress, which currently resides in his shop among an assortment of homemade snowshoes, woven milkweed ropes and “hobo-style” camp stoves, it may well be his last stint at canoe building.
“I think this might be my final one, but you never know,” Koch said with a smile. “I’m just a farm kid at heart, and I’d rather work with my hands than watch television. Building stuff is in my blood.”
Reported by TYLER FRANTZ of The (Lebanon) Daily News from NORTH LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania.Read More