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Research: New flying reptile species was one of largest ever flying animals – Tdnews

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A newly identified species of pterosaur is among the largest ever flying animals, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London.

Cryodrakon boreas, from the Azhdarchid group of pterosaurs (often incorrectly called ‘pterodactyls’), was a flying reptile with a wingspan of up to 10 metres which lived during the Cretaceous period around 77 million years ago.

Its remains were discovered 30 years ago in Alberta, Canada, but palaeontologists had assumed they belonged to an already known species of pterosaur discovered in Texas, USA, named Quetzalcoatlus.

The study, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, reveals it is actually a new species and the first pterosaur to be discovered in Canada.

Dr David Hone, lead author of the study from Queen Mary University of London, said: “This is a cool discovery, we knew this animal was here but now we can show it is different to other azhdarchids and so it gets a name.”

Although the remains — consisting of a skeleton that has part of the wings, legs, neck and a rib — were originally assigned to Quetzalcoatlus, study of this and additional material uncovered over the years shows it is a different species in light of the growing understanding of azhdarchid diversity.

The main skeleton is from a young animal with a wingspan of about 5 metres but one giant neck bone from another specimen suggests an adult animal would have a wingspan of around 10 metres.

This makes Cryodrakon boreas comparable in size to other giant azhdarchids including the Texan Quetzalcoatlus which could reach 10.5 m in wingspan and weighed around 250 kg.

Like other azhdarchids these animals were carnivorous and predominantly predated on small animals which would likely include lizards, mammals and even baby dinosaurs.

Dr Hone added: “It is great that we can identify Cryodrakon as being distinct to Quetzalcoatlus as it means we have a better picture of the diversity and evolution of predatory pterosaurs in North America.”

Unlike most pterosaur groups, azhdarchids are known primarily from terrestrial settings and, despite their likely capacity to cross oceanic distances in flight, they are broadly considered to be animals that were adapted for, and lived in, inland environments.

Despite their large size and a distribution across North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe, few azhdarchids are known from more than fragmentary remains. This makes Cryodrakon an important animal since it has very well preserved bones and includes multiple individuals of different sizes.

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Fireball over Japan part of larger asteroid that might one day hit Earth – Newshub

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Watch: A mission to Bennu, an asteroid many believe will hit the Earth, is currently underway. Credits: Video – Newshub; Image – Arecibo Observatory

A fireball that lit up the Japanese skies in 2017 was a part of a big one which might one day slam into Earth, scientists have worked out.

The asteroid that burned up in the atmosphere over Kyoto in April that year was smaller than a ping pong ball, but its parent 2003 YT1 is about 2km across – the length of Auckland’s Queen St. 

Astronomers in Japan wanted to know where the tiny asteroid of 2017 came from, so mapped its trajectory closely – and found it matched up with 2003 YT1.

The mother asteroid was discovered in 2003, and orbits the sun in the same region of space as Earth. It’s classified as a potentially hazardous object, with a 6 percent chance of hitting the Earth sometime in the next 10 million years.

It’s not clear how the baby split off 2003 YT1, but as the latter is a loose clump of rocks that spins around every couple of hours, astronomers say it’s possible it was just flung into space.

2003 YT1 is so big it even has its own moon, which is wide enough to fit a couple of rugby fields. 

It was deemed a minor planet in 2007, but is yet to be given a catchier name. 

The astronomers’ findings were detailed in a paper uploaded to arxiv.org last week.

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Asteroid alert: Astronomer spots a 'potentially hazardous' 990m rock flying towards Earth – Express.co.uk

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According to the astronomer, anyone with a 200mm telescope should be able to spot the rock on Friday.

But does the “potentially hazardous” asteroid pose any threat to the safety of the planet?

NASA said: “An individual’s chance of being killed by a meteorite is small, but the risk increases with the size of the impacting comet or asteroid, with the greatest risk associated with global catastrophes resulting from impacts of objects larger than one kilometre.

“NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small.

“In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years.”

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Christina Koch and Jessica Meir Execute First All-Woman Spacewalk – Science Times

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(Photo : NASA)

Friday, Oct. 18—NASA makes history once again as astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch become the first to participate in an all-women spacewalk.

The walk, streamed live by NASA on Youtube and on NASA television, lasted for seven hours and seventeen minutes. This included a five-minute call from US President Donald Trump, where he congratulated the two women for this historic achievement.

The pair was successful in replacing a power controller that failed after the installation of new lithium-ion batteries last Oct. 11 in the International Space Station’s truss structure. They also made preparations for future spacewalks.

Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan assisted the spacewalkers. Morgan provided airlock and spacesuit support while Parmitano controlled the Candarm-2, ISS’s robotic arm.

Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya was the first woman to conduct a spacewalk, about 35 years ago. Now, Koch and Meir make history for being part of the first all-women spacewalk. This occurs more than 50 years after humanity’s first steps on the moon. NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson hopes that this would be just a first and that this instance could become a common occurrence in the future.

“In the past, women haven’t always been at the table,” says Koch in an interview. “It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted when everyone has a role.” Koch also comments on how historical moments like this inspires and motivate people, which is an important aspect of this story.

Koch and Meir were part of NASA’s class of 2013, where there was a total of eight astronaut trainees. This class was notable for having an equal number of males and females in the class—a first for NASA. Six years later, NASA has 12 female astronauts and 26 male astronauts within its ranks.

This historic moment happened later than it’s supposed to be. Back in March, Koch was scheduled to participate in a spacewalk with colleague Anne McClain, but NASA had to postpone the mission after realizing that they didn’t have appropriately sized spacesuits for the two. This story created a lot of buzzes—even inspiring a Saturday Night Live skit. This delay, many believed, highlighted the challenges women face in space exploration, and, to an extent, in the scientific community.

Anne McClain is a classmate of Koch and Meir for NASA’s class of 2013 and is the first openly LGBT astronaut in space. Out of the class’s four female astronauts, their classmate Nicole Mann remains to be the only one who’s yet to participate in a spacewalk. Mann is currently assigned to Boe-CFT, the first test flight of the Boeing CSG-100 Starliner, which is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

A 30-minute in-space news conference will be held on Monday, Oct. 21, to review the first all-women spacewalk. Both Koch and Meir will participate in this conference while on-orbit. Viewers may watch the conference, which will be aired live on NASA Television and on their website.

©2017 ScienceTimes.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission. The window to the world of science times.

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