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Dinosaur bone discovered on Scottish island the 1st of its kind in the country –



A rare dinosaur bone from the Middle Jurassic was discovered in Scotland, thanks to the keen eye of a local paleontologist.

Elsa Panciroli got separated from her colleagues while searching for fossils on the Scottish Isle of Eigg. She was hopping from boulder to boulder on the shoreline to catch up with the rest of the team when something caught her eye. 

“I suddenly realized the boulder I had just hopped onto and run past, it had something in it. But I wasn’t sure quite what,” Panciroli, who is a paleontologist at National Museums Scotland, told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. 

“So I turned around, went back to look, and it was a dinosaur bone sticking out of the boulder on the shoreline I’d just literally stepped on.” 

Her discovery turned out to be a 48-centimetre dinosaur bone, belonging to a species that has never been seen in Scotland before. 

Scottish paleontologist Elsa Panciroli discovered a fossil that turned out to be a leg bone from a Jurassic-era stegosaurus. (S. Brusatte)

1st dinosaur on Eigg

Panciroli was so surprised to find the dinosaur bone, she says she downplayed her discovery to her colleagues at first. 

“I was a bit reluctant to say the d-word, so I just kept saying I found something,” she said. “And eventually they teased [it] out of me, and of course the moment I said ‘dinosaur’ everyone … wanted to come and have a look.”

Hundreds of people have likely walked over the boulder without noticing anything, she said, and finding the fossil was a matter of luck as much as training. 

“I think a lot of the time for people who search for fossils, it’s about pattern recognition. You’re looking to recognize something. And it was almost unconscious, because I wasn’t looking anymore; I was running.”

Panciroli said Eigg has been extensively studied, and the purpose of the trip was to look for fossils seen on the island before, like those of marine reptiles and fish. 

The researchers never expected to find signs of something as big as a dinosaur — and it turns out that Panciroli’s discovery is even rarer than that. 

Rare fossil from the Middle Jurassic

After months of extensive tests on the bone, its owner was established to be a young stegosaurian dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic period. This is the first time this type of dinosaur and a fossil this old have been found in Scotland. 

“It’s 166 million years old, and this is a time when fossils — globally speaking, not just in Scotland —  are very, very rare,” Panciroli said. 

“So just finding it in the first place is really quite significant.”

Panciroli imagined the last moments of the young stegosaurus, whose fossilized bone she discovered, in her painting. (Elsa Panciroli )

It’s also the first time a dinosaur fossil has been found on Eigg; all other dino fossils in Scotland were discovered on the Isle of Skye. 

The newfound bone was likely a back lower leg bone of a stegosaurian dinosaur, a large quadruped species with distinctive plates on the back.

Previously, only fossils from two different types of dinosaurs —  “the big, long-necked, very heavy dinosaurs” and “the meat-eating dinosaurs that walk on two legs” — have been found in Scotland, Panciroli said.

Researchers will now continue looking for fossils on Eigg and Skye in hopes of building a more complete picture of the ecosystem of that time period. 

“We already know that there were also mammals at this time, the very earliest ones, but also things like salamanders, crocodiles, turtles — so we can even look at food chains. It really is only the beginning of research,” Panciroli said.

The researcher also said she was happy to find something so close to home. “It’s always lovely to find something in your home country. I think I expected that I would probably have to travel abroad to look for something like this, so it’s a big surprise.”

Written by Olsy Sorokina. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong. 

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NASA tweaks space station's position to avoid collision with massive debris – National Post



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NASA quickly shifted the position of the International Space Station to avoid a potentially catastrophic encounter with debris that would have passed within less than a mile of the orbital laboratory — a close shave in space terms.

The three-member crew was moved into a Soyuz spacecraft until the station was considered out of danger from the object, which was expected to pass by at about 5:21 p.m. Central time on Tuesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said in a statement.

The agency didn’t reveal the size of the debris, which would have passed within 1.39 km (0.86 mile), forcing the 150-second “avoidance maneuver” burn by Mission Control in Houston. Colliding with orbital debris, or space junk, of even a few centimeters in diameter would be potentially catastrophic to the space station given that objects in low-earth orbit can travel at speeds of roughly 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers an hour) and higher.

The space station’s move occurred about an hour before the closest approach using thrust from the Russian Progress resupply craft that is docked on the ISS Zvezda service module.

Adjustments of the station’s orbit are fairly routine, although having the crew take shelter in the Soyuz spacecraft isn’t.

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New Brunswick reports one new case of COVID-19, has four active cases – Yahoo News Canada



FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today.

Health officials say the new case involves an individual between 60 and 69 years old in the Miramichi region.

They say the case is related to travel from outside of the Atlantic bubble and the person is self-isolating.

There have been 197 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in New Brunswick to date, and 191 people have recovered.

Two people have died, and four cases are still active.

Health officials have conducted a total of 71,585 tests.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Newly-discovered asteroid buzzes past Earth Thursday morning – The Weather Network



Astronomers are tracking a newfound asteroid that is expected to make a brief but very close pass by Earth, early Thursday morning.

Asteroid 2020 SW was discovered on September 18, by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. Estimated at between 5 to 10 metres wide, this space rock will make its closest pass by Earth at 7:12 a.m. EDT, on Thursday, September 24.

At that time, it is expected to be roughly 22,000 kilometres above the planet’s surface.

“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year,” Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a press release on Wednesday. “In fact, asteroids of this size impact our atmosphere at an average rate of about once every year or two.”

This frame from the NASA asteroid trajectory animation shows 2020 SW at its closest approach to Earth. Credit: NASA JPL

At that distance, the asteroid is actually closer than the ring of geostationary weather and communications satellites surrounding Earth at a distance of around 36,000 kilometres. However, as the image above shows, by then, the asteroid will be below the satellite ring and beneath Earth.

Although 2020 SW is logged as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” in NASA’s records, it doesn’t pose any threat to Earth. According to CNEOS, who has traced the asteroid’s orbit back to 1975 and forward to 2095, this September 24 pass is the closest this object has ever come to us in that timespan.

Asteroid-2020SW-Orbit-NASA-CNEOSThe shape of asteroid 2020 SW’s 373-day orbit around the Sun marks it as an Apollo asteroid – an Earth-crossing asteroid that spends all of its time between the orbits of Venus and Mars. Credit: NASA CNEOS

The next time the asteroid will be anywhere close to Earth again is in September of 2041. At that time, it will be pass far beyond the Moon, at a distance of over 3.5 million kilometres.

While 2020 SW poses no threat to Earth, it is still of interest to scientists. NASA’s Goldstone Observatory is planning to bounce radio waves off the asteroid’s surface during this close pass. The data collected can then be turned into radar images, revealing the asteroid’s shape and giving us an idea of its composition.

Goldstone-Observatory-NASAThe 34-meter DSS-13 radio antenna at the Goldstone Observatory is used for radio astronomy, including collecting radar images of passing near-Earth objects. Credit: NASA

According to NASA, if 2020 SW or an asteroid of similar size did actually strike Earth, it would almost certainly break apart high up in the atmosphere as a fireball. Only the toughest space rocks of this size – those primarily composed of metal – can reach the surface mostly intact.

“The detection capabilities of NASA’s asteroid surveys are continually improving,” added Chodas, “and we should now expect to find asteroids of this size a couple days before they come near our planet.”

Indeed, the fact that this tiny rock was spotted roughly six days before its flyby is a testament to the Catalina Sky Survey’s asteroid detection skills.


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