The Canadian Press
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish authorities gave the go-ahead for the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. on Wednesday, paving the way for the rollout for Turkey’s vaccination program starting with health care workers and other high-risk groups. The country’s health minister and members of the country’s scientific advisory council received the first shots live on television, soon after the health regulatory authority, the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency, announced it had given its approval for CoronaVac’s emergency use in the country of 83 million. “I had previously said that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Koca said as he received the first dose of the vaccine, which will be delivered in two doses. “I believe that the days ahead of us will be bright.” Koca said Turkey’s vaccination program would begin on Thursday, starting with health care workers. He urged all citizens to be vaccinated, saying it was the most promising way to beat the pandemic. The shots would carry a QR code assigned to a person’s name in accordance with Ankara’s vaccination program and an online appointment system. The Sinovac vaccine underwent clinical trials in Turkey, Brazil and Indonesia, which have all reported diverging efficacy rates. In December, Turkish authorities announced an efficacy rate of 91.25% from interim analysis of 29 cases in a trial with 7,371 volunteers. About 12,450 volunteers, including 1,500 health care workers, are involved in the late-stage clinical trials. This week, Indonesia which, conducted its own Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine with 1,620 volunteers, announced a efficacy rate of 65.3%. Brazil’s Instituto Butantan said last week that the vaccine was 78% effective in mild cases and 100% effective against severe and moderate infections based on 220 COVID-19 cases from 13,000 volunteers. The first shipment Sinovac vaccine, consisting of 3 million doses, arrived in Turkey late last month. Turkey is scheduled to receive a total of 50 million doses. Turkey had previously also announced that it has agreed to procure 4.5 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, with an option to procure 30 million more doses later, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that talks with BioNTech were ongoing. Turkey has reported about 2.34 million infections and around 23,000 deaths. The country has imposed weekend lockdowns and evening curfews to fight the surge in the cases. ___ Associated Press writer Zeynep Bilginsoy contributed to this report from Istanbul. Suzan Fraser, The Associated Press
All-purpose dinosaur opening reconstructed – Science Daily
For the first time ever, a team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, have described in detail a dinosaur’s cloacal or vent — the all-purpose opening used for defecation, urination and breeding.
Although most mammals may have different openings for these functions, most vertebrate animals possess a cloaca.
Although we know now much about dinosaurs and their appearance as feathered, scaly and horned creatures and even which colours they sported, we have not known anything about how the vent appears.
Dr Jakob Vinther from the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, along with colleagues Robert Nicholls, a palaeoartist, and Dr Diane Kelly, an expert on vertebrate penises and copulatory systems from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, have now described the first cloacal vent region from a small Labrador-sized dinosaur called Psittacosaurus, comparing it to vents across modern vertebrate animals living on land.
Dr Vinther said: “I noticed the cloaca several years ago after we had reconstructed the colour patterns of this dinosaur using a remarkable fossil on display at the Senckenberg Museum in Germany which clearly preserves its skin and colour patterns.
“It took a long while before we got around to finish it off because no one has ever cared about comparing the exterior of cloacal openings of living animals, so it was largely unchartered territory.”
Dr Kelly added: “Indeed, they are pretty non-descript. We found the vent does look different in many different groups of tetrapods, but in most cases it doesn’t tell you much about an animal’s sex.
“Those distinguishing features are tucked inside the cloaca, and unfortunately, they’re not preserved in this fossil.”
The cloaca is unique in its appearance but exhibits features reminiscent to living crocodylians such as alligators and crocodiles, which are the closest living relatives to dinosaurs and other birds.
The researchers note that the outer margins of the cloaca are highly pigmented with melanin. They argue that this pigmentation provided the vent with a function in display and signalling, similar to living baboons and some breeding salamanders.
The authors also speculate that the large, pigmented lobes on either side of the opening could have harboured musky scent glands, as seen in living crocodylians.
Birds are one the few vertebrate groups that occasionally exhibit visual signalling with the cloaca, which the scientists now can extend back to the Mesozoic dinosaur ancestors.
Robert Nicholls said: “As a palaeoartist, it has been absolutely amazing to have an opportunity to reconstruct one of the last remaining features we didn’t know anything about in dinosaurs.
“Knowing that at least some dinosaurs were signalling to each other gives palaeoartists exciting freedom to speculate on a whole variety of now plausible interactions during dinosaur courtship. It is a game changer!”
Dinosaur fossils could belong to the world's largest ever creature – CTV News
Experts have uncovered the remains of a gigantic dinosaur in Argentina, and believe it could be one of the largest creatures to have ever walked the Earth.
Paleontologists discovered the fossilized remains of a 98 million-year-old titanosaur in Neuquén Province in Argentina’s northwest Patagonia, in thick, sedimentary deposits known as the Candeleros Formation.
The 24 vertebrae of the tail and elements of the pelvic and pectoral girdle discovered are thought to belong to a titanosaur, a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs, characterized by their large size, a long neck and tail, and four-legged stance.
In research published in the journal Cretaceous Research, experts say they believe the creature to be “one of the largest sauropods ever found” and could exceed the size of a Patagotitan, a species which lived 100 million to 95 million years ago and measured up to a staggering 37.2 meters (122 feet) long.
“It is a huge dinosaur, but we expect to find much more of the skeleton in future field trips, so we’ll have the possibility to address with confidence how really big it was,” Alejandro Otero, a paleontologist with Argentina’s Museo de La Plata, told CNN via email.
Titanosaur fossils have been found on all continents except Antarctica. But the biggest “multi-ton” varieties of the species — including those titanosaurs exceeding 40 tons — have mostly been discovered in Patagonia.
Without analyzing the dinosaur’s humerus or femur, experts say it is not yet possible to say how much the creature weighs. However, the partially recovered dinosaur “can be considered one of the largest titanosaurs,” experts said, with a probable body mass exceeding or comparable to that of a Patagotitan or Argentinosaurus.
Patagotitans may have been the world’s largest terrestrial animal of all time, and weighed up to 77 tons, while Argentinosaurus were similarly gargantuan, and measured up to 40 meters (131 feet) and weighed up to 110 tons — weighing more than 12 times more than an African elephant (up to 9 tons).
Experts believe that the specimen strongly suggests the co-existence of larger titanosaurs together with medium-sized titanosaurs and small-sized rebbachisaurids at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous period, which began 101 million years ago.
“These size differences could indeed explain the existence of such sauropod diversity in the Neuquén Basin during the Late Cretaceous in terms of niche partitioning,” they wrote.
Researchers said that, while they don’t believe the creature to belong to a new species, they have so far been unable to assign it to a known genus of dinosaur.
The research was conducted by Argentina’s The Zapala Museum, Museo de La Plata, Museo Egidio Feruglio and the universities of Río Negro and Zaragoza.
Tuesday brings no new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Newfoundland and Labrador – SaltWire Network
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
For the second straight day, there were no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 announced by Health and Community Services.
The provincial government says another person in the Eastern Health region has recovered, bringing the number of active cases in the province down to five. One of those individuals is still in hospital.
To date, 76,740 people have been tested and 384 people have recovered.
Public Health is reminding residents that COVID Alert is available for download free through the Apple or Google Play app stores and is encouraging people to download it in order to help reduce the spread of the virus.
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