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Embryo discovery shines light on dinosaur-era turtles: U of C researcher – Calgary Herald

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The land tortoises, or nanhsiungchelyids, were the largest such creatures during the Cretaceous period with the fossilized egg dating back 75 to 90 million years

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They were giant turtles hunted by dinosaurs, but the lack of any embryo evidence limited our knowledge of them.

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That changed in 2018 when a farmer in the central Chinese province of Henan discovered an egg between the size of a golf and tennis ball, and figured it should be analyzed by scientists.

Chinese researchers called on University of Calgary paleontologist Darla Zelenitsky and former Royal Tyrrell Museum researcher Dr. Don Brinkman to help determine the find’s significance.

“This is the first time a turtle embryo has been identified to belong to a specific type of turtle,” said Zelenitsky.

“They don’t usually have embryos encased in them.”

CT scans developed 3-D models of the egg’s contents — the skeleton of a baby turtle that would likely have grown to have a shell 1.6 metres in length.

The land tortoises, or nanhsiungchelyids, were the largest such creatures during the Cretaceous period, with the fossilized egg dating back 75 to 90 million years.

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“These were giant, land-dwelling turtles that lived alongside the dinosaurs,” said Zelenitsky.

“The surprising part of this study was the size of these turtles.”

The tortoises also vanished with the dinosaurs, she noted.

But they managed to migrate from Asia to North America, though their cousins in places like Alberta seemed to have been smaller, said the paleontologist.

And discoveries of the significance of the ones made in China haven’t been replicated in Canada, said Zelenitsky, whose work along with that of Brinkman’s and Chinese researchers will be published next week in the Royal Society Journal.

“They lived in Alberta, too, but we just haven’t found those eggs yet,” she said, adding ancient turtle eggs have been unearthed in the Milk River area.

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The find supplies a better glimpse of how the tortoises nested and reproduced — and how they might have survived the unwanted attention of hungry dinosaurs who would have been deterred by the turtles’ hard shell.

Their eggs wouldn’t have been easy to crack, with hard shells that were 1.88 mm thick and laid in considerable profusion — 15 to 30 at a time.

“But eggs and hatchlings were the worst off for predation,” said Zelenitsky.

Perhaps just as noteworthy as anything from the discovery is spreading awareness of the diversity of life that existed at that time on earth, said Zelenitsky.

“We’ve always known of dinosaurs as creatures living during the Cretaceous, but not many people know there were turtles as well,” she said.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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Elon Musk pledges $50M to St. Jude fundraiser – WAGM

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(CNN) – SpaceX founder Elon Musk helped St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital reach its $200 million fundraising goal.

Musk pledged $50 million in response to a public call for donations following the successful splashdown of the SpaceX Dragon capsule.

Billionaire Jared Isaacman personally financed the Inspiration4 mission as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor who now works for the hospital, joined him on the three-day space tourism mission.

The crew will continue fundraising for the children’s hospital by auctioning off some of the items they took into space, including signed collectibles.

Copyright 2021 CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.

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Elon Musk: Next SpaceX flight will have better toilets, WiFi, oven – Business Insider

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

REUTERS/Steve Nesius


  • Elon Musk said the next SpaceX civilian mission would have a better toilet.
  • SpaceX successfully completed its first all-civilian mission, Inspiration4, last week.
  • Musk said on Twitter there had been “challenges” with the toilet, without elaborating.

Elon Musk said on Twitter that SpaceX plans to upgrade the amenities for its next space-tourist flight, including the toilet.

The Inspiration4 crew, made up of four non-astronauts, took off on Wednesday aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. They landed back on Earth on Saturday evening.

Elon Musk tweeted on Monday saying he’d met the crew in person in Florida, and then answered questions from Twitter users about the company’s plans for the next mission.

Responding to one user, Musk said the next flight would have “upgraded toilets,” adding, “we had some challenges with it this flight.”

The billionaire did not elaborate on what these challenges were, or how exactly the toilets would be upgraded.

Jared Isaacman, one of the passengers on Inspiration4, told Insider in July the toilet for Crew Dragon was located on the ceiling of the spacecraft and featured a glass dome, meaning crewmembers had a 360-degree view while using the bathroom.

“It’s not a ton of privacy. But you do have this kind of privacy curtain that cuts across the top of the spacecraft, so you can kind of separate yourself from everyone else,” Isaacman said.

Isaacman added that learning to use the toilet on the spacecraft was part of the civilian astronauts’ rigorous pre-flight training. 

crew dragon spaceship above earth with glass dome cupola beneath nosecone

An illustration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship with a glass dome or “cupola” at its nose — containing the toilet.


SpaceX



Musk also said the next flight would have a small oven for heating food, and WiFi provided by Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet project.

The crew for the Inspiration4 mission took cold pizza on their three-day flight. While in space they chatted with Musk and actor Tom Cruise.

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SpaceX Tourists Struggled With Space Toilet – Futurism

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There was an issue with the Waste Management System.

Toilet Troubles

Four space tourists circled the Earth for three full days as part of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission last week.

It was mostly smooth sailing for the four civilians, who ate cold pizza and even watched “Spaceballs” during the trip.

But it sounds like the mission did leave some room for improvement — there were issues with the toilet, Space.com reports.

“It was very clean mission from start to finish,” SpaceX human spaceflight programs lead Benji Reed said during a press conference following the successful landing on Saturday. “We had a couple of issues that we worked, we did work something on the Waste Management System, but that was worked [out] fine and, you know, the crew was happy and healthy.”

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Sucking Up Waste

The toilet — located underneath the massive glass cupola no less — is radically different from the ones you find on Earth. In the simplest terms, they are two vacuum tubes for sucking up pee and poop that rely on suction fans to remove waste.

We don’t know exactly what the issue was yet with the Waste Management System, but it involved the suction fan, according to Reed. It’s also unclear whether the malfunction had anything to do with the surprising decision not to release photos or videos inside the spaceship during the journey.

Inspiration4 was a little different than preceding Crew Dragon flights. The crew spent three whole days in the tiny capsule instead of less than 24 hours, the maximum length of a trip to the International Space Station.

Unfortunately, the crew wasn’t actually able to catch glimpses of the Earth while doing their business as the hatch had to be closed during toilet use, according to Space.com.

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The space tourists have yet to speak out about their toilet experience — but fortunately, it sounds like the issue was quickly resolved.

READ MORE: SpaceX’s private Inspiration4 astronauts had some toilet trouble in space [Space.com]

More on the launch: SpaceX Tourist Watches Movie While Careening Down to Earth

Futurism Readers: Find out how much you could save by switching to solar power at UnderstandSolar.com. By signing up through this link, Futurism.com may receive a small commission.

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