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85 million-year-old sea monster found in Kansas

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Popularized in the hit movie "Jurassic World," the mosasaur has come back to life after an 85 million-year-old fossil of a newborn creature was discovered in Kansas.

A "neonate-sized Tylosaurus specimen" (a type of mosasaur), has been identified and examined, with researchers looking at broken bones, including its snout, braincase and upper jaw.

"Despite its small size, a suite of cranial characters diagnoses FHSM VP-14845 [the fossil’s identification] as a species of Tylosaurus, including the elongate basisphenoid morphology," the study’s abstract reads.

JURASSIC-ERA MONSTER PREDATORS FLOURISHED DURING EXTREME CLIMATE CHANGE 150M YEARS AGO

The creature, which could grow up to 42 feet when it reached adulthood, had an "estimated skull length of 30 [centimeters]," indicating its neonatal state. It was found in the Smoky Hill Chalk Member of western Kansas in 1991, LiveScience reports, but it was originally identified as a Platecarpus, a genus that could grow to almost 20 feet in length.

Dentigerous portion of tylosaurine premaxillae. A–B, FHSM VP-14845, Tylosaurus sp. in A, dorsal and B, ventral views. C, TMM 40092-27, Tylosaurinae, in ventral view. Broken lines in A and B indicate reconstructed outlines of the element. C based on Polcyn et al. (2008 Polcyn, M. J., G. L. Bell Jr., K. Shimada, and M. J. Everhart. 2008. (Credit: Takuya Konishi, Paulina Jiménez-Huidobro & Michael W. Caldwell)

Dentigerous portion of tylosaurine premaxillae. A–B, FHSM VP-14845, Tylosaurus sp. in A, dorsal and B, ventral views. C, TMM 40092-27, Tylosaurinae, in ventral view. Broken lines in A and B indicate reconstructed outlines of the element. C based on Polcyn et al. (2008 Polcyn, M. J., G. L. Bell Jr., K. Shimada, and M. J. Everhart. 2008. (Credit: Takuya Konishi, Paulina Jiménez-Huidobro & Michael W. Caldwell)

The paper was written in August 2017 and finally published online on Thursday, determining that it is indeed a Tylosaurus.

Other variants of mosasaur could reach up to 50 feet in length and are thought to have weighed as much as 30,000 pounds, with some referring to them as the "T. rex of the seas."

The study’s lead researcher, University of Cincinnati assistant professor Takuya Konishi, was able to determine that the fossil was indeed a mosasaur after looking at its long snout and sharp teeth, a feature similar to modern-day orcas, according to LiveScience.

SCIENTISTS MAY HAVE UNCOVERED WHAT DINOSAUR DNA LOOKS LIKE

"Somewhat unexpectedly, both pairs of premaxillary teeth project anteriorly and laterally at the base, implying a procumbent nature atypical of tylosaurines," the study reads. "Also unusual are closely spaced first and second premaxillary teeth, where the second pair is also located posterolateral to the first pair."

Unlike dinosaurs, which laid eggs, mosasaurs gave birth to live young. The size of this newborn, which likely would have measured at around 7 feet, suggests it did not live long, Konishi said, according to LiveScience.

NEW SPIKY-SKULLED DINOSAUR LIVED ON A LOST CONTINENT

"I’m thinking that this came out and somehow, miraculously, it got preserved and then discovered," Konishi said.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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Voyager 2 has finally entered interstellar space, more than 40 years after its launch – MIT Technology Review

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It’s only the second object made by humans to ever reach this distance, following Voyager 1 in 2012.

The long journey: Since launching more than 40 years ago back in 1977, the probe has traveled 11 billion miles to get to cross into interstellar space. While it launched before Voyager 1, its flight path put Voyager 2 on a slower path to reach this milestone.

What does that mean? No, Voyager 2 hasn’t left the solar system. Our solar system is huge and goes way beyond its last planet. Instead, it means Voyager 2 has left the heliosphere, the pocket of particles and magnetic fields created by our closest star. Solar wind, the charged plasma particles that come out from the sun, generates this bubble.

How do they know? Today NASA announced that on November 5, researchers saw a steep drop-off in the speeds of solar winds around the probe. Now no solar wind is being observed, indicating the craft is in interstellar space.

What now? It’s estimated it will take about 30,000 years for Voyager 2 to leave the solar system by flying beyond the Oort Cloud, a ring of icy objects that is believed to encircle the sun, way beyond the furthest planets. Sadly the spacecraft won’t still be sending us data at that point. Right now it takes about 16.5 hours for scientists to receive data from the spacecraft, and it has an estimated five to 10 years of life left. In that time it will relay back new information about the new environmental conditions that surround it.

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  • NASA/JPL-Caltech

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NASA's Voyager 2 becomes 2nd craft in interstellar space – Prince George Citizen

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WASHINGTON — NASA’s Voyager 2 is now the second human-made object to zip away from the sun into the space between the stars.

Voyager 2 last month exited “this bubble that the sun creates around itself,” longtime NASA mission scientist Ed Stone said Monday. The spacecraft is now beyond the outer boundary of the heliosphere, some 11 billion miles (about 18 billion kilometres) from Earth.

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It’s trailing twin Voyager 1, which reached interstellar space in 2012 and is now 13 billion miles (21 billion kilometres) from Earth. Interstellar space is the vast mostly emptiness between star systems.

Even though they are out of the sun’s bubble, the Voyagers are still technically in our solar system, NASA said. Scientists maintain the solar system stretches to the outer edge of the so-called Oort Cloud. It will take about 30,000 years for the spacecraft to get that far.

Scientists know that Voyager 2 has left the sun’s influence because of four different instruments that are measuring solar particles and different types of rays. They showed a dramatic change on Nov. 5, indicating the spacecraft was now in between the stars. One of the instruments measures solar plasma and this is the first time NASA saw a drop in that key instrument; the same instrument wasn’t working on Voyager 1.

The twin Voyagers launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 1977, and zipped by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2 has already logged more than 18.5 billion miles (30 billion kilometres) on its interstellar trip going 34,191 mph (55,025 kph).

“Both spacecrafts are very healthy if you consider them senior citizens,” Voyager project manager Suzanne Dodd said.

She said the probes should last at least five, maybe 10 more years, but the cold — the temperature outside the vehicles is about 49 degrees below zero (minus 45 Celsius) — and waning power supply will eventually end their usefulness.

Yet the two Voyagers will keep travelling and in 40,000 years or so they’ll get close to the next stars, or actually the stars, which are moving faster, will get close to them, Stone said.

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Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears .

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Astronaut Saint-Jacques holds court for first time since blasting off into space – National Post

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ST-HUBERT, Que. — Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques says he is slowly getting used to life in space.

The Quebecer spoke to reporters for the first time today since arriving at the International Space Station Dec. 3. The Canadian Space Agency set up a video link at its headquarters south of Montreal.

Saint-Jacques says he is adjusting to the sensation of living in microgravity, proving his point by dropping his microphone and continuing to talk as it remained floating in place.

He says he was thunderstruck when he emerged from the Soyuz capsule that brought him to the station along with fellow astronauts Anne McClain of NASA and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.

He says he was dazzled by the sight of the sun rising over Earth and by the general beauty of the cosmos.

The 48-year-old physician is expected to conduct a series of experiments in orbit on topics such as the physical impacts of gravity on the body.

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