Scientists have discovered the complete skull of a previously unknown species of dinosaur, believed to be the smallest on record, in a new study that has raised questions about the ecosystem of the dinosaurs.
As detailed in a recent Nature journal, the skeletal fossil, found trapped in a chunk of 99-million-year-old amber, appears to represent the smallest known dinosaur of the Mesozoic era, rivalling the bee hummingbird in size.
The skull of the new species, dubbed Oculudentavis khaungraae, measures 7.1 millimetres in length and features an enlarged and well-defined eye socket, comparable to lizards, together with a jaw packed full of serrated teeth.
“When I first saw this specimen, it really blew my mind. I literally have never seen anything like this,” said Professor Jingmai O’Connor from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, per CNN. “There’s over 100 teeth present in the jaws. These weird eyes sticking off looking to the side. There’s nothing like this alive today.”
O’Connor explained how discoveries of skeletal fossils encased in amber had “completely transformed” palaeontology, as she admitted that we’re prone to thinking of “huge skeletons” when we think of dinosaurs. Professor Lars Schmitz from Scripps College in California said the study indicates that “we are probably missing a big chunk of the ecosystem of the dinosaurs.”
The events of Jurassic Park were set into motion after the discovery of fossilized mosquitoes found in amber, but unfortunately, Xu Xing, a Chinese palaeontologist, who wasn’t involved in this particular study, said scientists are unlikely to find this to be a source of genetic material in reality.
“Previously people thought amber will be a great source for DNA or proteins, but recent studies demonstrate that it is probably not the case,” Xing explained to the outlet. “But, anyway, it often preserves skin, feathers and other non-skeletal tissues, and… we can get lots of information [from this].”
This certainly isn’t the first time scientists have discovered elements in ancient fossils. A few years ago scientists at Imperial College London found blood cells in a fossilized dinosaur claw. In other discoveries, the oldest meat-eating dinosaur was recently discovered in Brazil and an amber-preserved beetle was also recently found, showing signs of ancient insect pollination.
Adele Ankers is a Freelance Entertainment Journalist. You can reach her on Twitter.
A stunning, rare comet was seen over Vancouver last night (PHOTOS) | Etcetera – Daily Hive
An incredibly rare comet, called the NEOWISE comet was captured above Vancouver last night.
Comet C/2020 F3, or NEOWISE, has been lighting up night skies around the planet for days now, and thankfully, you have the chance to see it for yourself for the next two weeks.
Some lucky Vancouverites who managed to catch a glimpse last night shared the stunning images on social media, including Vancouver photographer Milan Miguel.
Comet NEOWISE will reach the closest point to earth on July 22 to 23, a time when the views will get even more spectacular, so you can still have chance to see it if you haven’t already.
Take a look through some images below:
Even better photos of Comet NEOWISE photographed over Vancouver on Sunday night.
The clearer skies meant the comet’s tail was visible to the naked eye, and photos reveal the comet’s second, fainter ion tail.#comet #cometNEOWISE #NEOWISE #vancouver @c2020f3 @DailyHiveVan @CTV pic.twitter.com/3u5apFNXNS
— Claude Schneider (@claudeschneider) July 13, 2020
Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise over Vancouver! We took this image around 11pm last night, but I first spotted it at 10:15pm. Image credit: Jordash Kiffiak and Joanna Woo pic.twitter.com/d9q5q8ZsXD
— Joanna Woo (@JoannaAstro) July 13, 2020
Comet Neowise setting over Vancouver pic.twitter.com/hrftuFltxI
— Tyler Black, MD (@tylerblack32) July 14, 2020
Comet #NEOWISE this morning Taken with my iPhone 11 single 10 second exposure on Vancouver Island. #NeowiseComet #comet #iphone11 @DavidBflower @HalSherman @beyond90seconds @isabetabug pic.twitter.com/OqngPSTjGj
— Dr. Christian Sasse (@Sassephoto) July 13, 2020
— Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) July 13, 2020
Rare comet NEOWISE and aurora lights captured in Okanagan – Revelstoke Review
A local astrophotographer captured a rare sight only some would be lucky enough to see.
Comet NEOWISE lit up the Northern Hemisphere accompanied by mystifying Aurora Borealis lights on July 14, close to Big Horn Lake near Kelowna. The image of the comet was uploaded to a space enthusiast Twitter account, allowing everyone to bask in its unworldly beauty.
Neowise with aurora over Big Horn Lake near Kelowna BC Canada pic.twitter.com/vCuAeYsq0t
— Space Porn (@redditSpacePorn) July 14, 2020
The bright comet NEOWISE, officially known as C/2020 F3, won’t pass Earth again for another 6,800 years according to the International Dark-Sky Association.
Astronomers are predicting that if NEOWISE continues to hold together, it will be visible in the morning sky until approximately July 16. Scientific research explains that comets are known to be unpredictable and will easily fall apart due to the warmth within the earth’s atmosphere, so keep your eye out, you still may catch a glimpse.
The United Arab Emirates' Hope mission to Mars in photos – Space.com
The UAE’s first interplanetary mission
The United Arab Emirates’ Hope mission, scheduled to launch to the Red Planet July 16, 2020 will conduct a detailed examination of the Martian atmosphere.
Also known as the Emirates Mars Mission, Hope is an orbiter designed to spend one Martian year (two Earth years) looking at the Red Planet’s atmosphere, studying how it eroded over time until Mars no longer was able to host liquid water on the surface.
Click through this Space.com gallery to learn about why the Arab country embarked on such a bold mission, and what this will mean for the country’s science, engineering and education communities.
Technicians are shown here working on the Hope mission at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai.
Going to Mars was meant to spur the nation’s technology industry to great heights, and also to create a planetary science community in a region where there was practically none before the mission.
This is the first time any Arab nation has attempted a Red Planet mission, and the development happened quickly as UAE leaders first considered a Mars orbiter in 2014.
Looking at the spacecraft bus
The UAE has decided to ramp up its own spacecraft-building technologies — such as building Hope’s “bus,” or main structural component seen in this picture — to diversify the nation’s industries.
The nation is largely built on oil revenue and is looking to create other streams of income on top of this one, and it hopes that the Mars mission would help spur technological development in other sectors, such as electronics.
The nearly complete Hope Mars orbiter undergoes checks during the final launch preparations on June 6, 2020.
The team brought on international partners to help get the spacecraft ready efficiently, including the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
The partnership benefitted from the university’s expertise on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which is also studying the Martian atmosphere with different science questions.
Hope is ready!
Some spacecraft engineers pose before the Hope orbiter on Feb. 18, 2020. The UAE built the spacecraft domestically, while asking for international expertise to meet their goal of performing new science at Mars with their very first mission.
Personnel quickly embedded themselves in the international community of Mars scientists to get up to speed on the latest science and to pick what aspects of the planet were best worth studying.
Hope will ride a Japanese H-2A rocket to orbit, lifting off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.
This booster has already sent aloft at least one interplanetary mission — Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft, which studied the planet Venus. Other prominent missions launched on this rocket type include Selene (aka Kaguya) that studied the moon, the Ikaros solar-sailing spacecraft, and the Hayabusa 2 mission that plans to return a sample from the asteroid Ryugu in late 2020.
Cruising to Mars
This artist’s illustration shows the Hope orbiter making its way into space on top of the H-2A rocket. It will spend between seven and nine months traveling to Mars before arriving in orbit in May 2021 — just in time for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates.
The satellite has a total mass, with fuel, of 3,300 lbs. (1,500 kilograms), according to NASA, and is about the size and weight of a small car.
The spacecraft is expected to last for at least two Earth years in Mars’ orbit, but its mission can be extended to 2025 if the spacecraft remains in good health and funding is available for the mission extension.
Complicated maneuvers in space
This illustration shows in detail all the mission steps required to get Hope into orbit around Mars.
Shortly after launch, it will unfold its solar panels to recharge its batteries for the trip to Mars. As Hope approaches the Red Planet, it will use its star trackers to navigate and to enter the correct orbit.
The final orbit will be a 55-hour-long, slightly elliptical path around Mars that measures roughly 12,500 by 26,700 miles (20,000 by 43,000 kilometers). At its widest, the orbit of Hope is 10 times the diameter of Mars.
There are three main instruments on the Hope orbiter:
The Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) looks at the Martian atmosphere’s dust, ice clouds, water vapor and temperature profile.
The Emirates Exploration Imager (EXI) will image the Martian atmosphere to look for dust, water ice and ozone abundance.
The Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) is a spectrometer that will examine changes in the atmosphere and emissions of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon monoxide, among other things.
This is a closeup of the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS).
In collaboration with Arizona State University, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai designed EMIRS to measure the dust, ice clouds, water vapor and temperature profile of the Martian atmosphere. These observations will add on to other missions’ work at the Red Planet and lead to a greater understanding of planetary atmospheres more generally.
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