A fossil egg found by a Chinese farmer has turned out to have a rare surprise inside: A baby turtle nearly ready to hatch. And that’s allowed scientists to make a unique and important connection, a new study reports.
“This is actually the first time that [fossil] turtle eggs or a nest really could be attributed to a particular turtle,” said Darla Zelenitsky, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary.
The egg belonged to a nanhsiungchelyid turtle, an ancient, huge, land-dwelling creature that lived in Asia and North America and was related to modern softshell turtles, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The turtle lived among dinosaurs — such as long-necked, plant-eating sauropods, duck-billed hadrosaurs and large meat eaters, similar to tyrannosaurs — during the Cretaceous period. It went extinct with them.
“It was a giant turtle for the time,” said Zelenitsky.
She estimates the female that laid the egg was more than 1.6 metres long — roughly as long as an average woman is tall, and longer than a giant Galapagos tortoise, although it had a flatter, less domed shell.
Like the Galapagos tortoise, it lived entirely on land. Nanhsiungchelyids lived in arid desert environments, but the egg was found near the shores of an ancient river.
“During the rainy season, these river systems may have overflowed and buried the eggs that were on the floodplain, potentially preserving them as fossils,” said Zelenitsky.
The Henan region of China where it was found is also known for fossil dinosaur eggs, she said.
The estimated size of the embryo’s mother is based on the known relationship between the size of a turtle’s body and its eggs. The fossil is roughly the size and shape of a tennis ball — perfectly spherical — with a shell as thick as that of a much bigger ostrich egg.
“I was thinking, ‘How did this little turtle hatch out of this egg, with it being so thick?'” Zelenitsky recalled. “They must have been doing a lot of flexing and extending … to work their way out.”
The embryo was extremely well preserved, allowing researchers to X-ray it with a CT scanner and reconstruct its skeleton in 3D. They concluded it was a nanhsiungchelyid after comparing it to other ancient and modern turtles.
Egg helps identify nests
By identifying that egg, which was found by itself, the researchers were also able to identify entire nests of identical turtle eggs found elsewhere. It showed that nanhsiungchelyids normally laid 15 to 30 eggs at a time.
The farmer who originally found the egg in 2018 donated it to a museum.
The lead author of the study, Yuzheng Ke, a graduate student at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, contacted Zelenitsky and asked her to participate because she previously had done research on dinosaur eggs and even a pregnant turtle.
Zelenitsky said she jumped at the chance: “I was excited about it the entire time.”
The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Daniel Lawver, a researcher at Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine in New York who was not involved in the study, has been doing similar, not-yet-published research on a different turtle egg and embryo.
He was pleasantly surprised by the study, he said, as a turtle with an identifiable embryo inside is a “very, very rare” find and this one is a “really cool specimen.”
That’s because most turtles have thin eggshells composed of a mineral called aragonite that’s unstable on the Earth’s surface. During fossilization, it’s converted to another mineral that makes them hard to identify, Lawver said. And often, they’re fossilized before the embryo has developed, resulting in a fossil eggshell filled with rock.
Jordan Mallon, a paleontologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa who has studied nanhsiungchelyid fossils from North America, including Alberta, agrees with the identification of the embryo. He was also not involved with this research.
The thick, water-retaining eggshells add to evidence that the turtles were fully land-dwelling, he said, something that has been debated.
The techniques used in the study could later be used to examine older turtle embryos and uncover long-standing puzzles about turtle evolution, like how their shells evolved, said Mallon.
“I think the authors of this paper are sort of leading the way.”
See the Far Side of the Moon: Incredibly Detailed Pictures From Artemis I Orion Close Lunar Flyby – SciTechDaily
The Earth is seen setting from the far side of the Moon just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this video taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orion’s solar arrays. The spacecraft was preparing for the Outbound Powered Flyby maneuver which would bring it within 80 miles of the lunar surface, the closest approach of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, before moving into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence on Sunday, November 20, making the Moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. Credit: <span class="glossaryLink" aria-describedby="tt" data-cmtooltip="
” data-gt-translate-attributes=”["attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"]”>NASA
On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion made a close flyby of the Moon, passing about 81 miles (130 km) above the surface. During the close flyby, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew.
The Earth and Moon are tidally locked, which means that the Moon spins on its axis exactly once each time it orbits our planet. Because of this, people on Earth only ever see one side of the Moon. In fact, humans didn’t see the lunar far side until a Soviet spacecraft flew past in 1959. This side we never see is known as the “far side of the Moon.” Sometimes it is called the “dark side of the Moon,” which some people consider a misnomer because it gets just as much sunlight as the near side of the Moon. However, “dark” in this case is referring to unknown, rather than a lack of light.
Here are the detailed images of the Moon captured by Orion’s optical navigation camera:
NASA’s live coverage of the Artemis I Close Flyby of the Moon.
Mission Accomplished: UVic Satellite Reaches International Space Station – Abbotsford News
While the International Space Station was travelling over the Pacific Ocean early Sunday (Nov. 27) morning, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying a miniature satellite built by University of Victoria students autonomously docked to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module.
UVic’s optical reference calibration satellite, known as ORCASat, embarked on its journey into space at 11:20 a.m. on Saturday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Witnessing the launch was a major relief for ORCASat project manager Alex Doknjas, who nervously watched from his family’s living room in Campbell River on Saturday morning.
“It was pretty awesome,” Doknjas, a recent graduate of UVic’s engineering program, told Black Press Media. The initial launch scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 22 was scrapped due to poor weather.
UVic’s ORCASat won a national competition funded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Canadian CubeSat Project, which saw 15 teams of students from each province and territory design and build their own CubeSat with the guidance of CSA experts and representatives from the Canadian space industry.
As a result, UVic’s satellite was one of two post-secondary projects from Canada chosen to be part of Saturday’s launch, alongside a satellite built by students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.
“It’s pretty remarkable, especially because UVic isn’t a huge school,” Doknjas said. “I think that’s pretty impressive.”
More than 100 full-time researchers, co-op and volunteer students from UVic Satellite Design, UBC Orbit and Simon Fraser University Satellite Design have all contributed to the project which began in 2018.
ORCASat is comparable to the size of a two litre carton of milk or tissue box, and only weighs about two-and-a-half kilograms. Once sent out into earth’s orbit the satellite will act as an artificial star, serving as a reference light source in orbit that can be viewed by telescopes back down on earth, said Doknjas.
“What we’re trying to do is demonstrate this concept of calibrating telescopes,” he said. “If you’re a telescope on the ground observing a star, you’re observing the light that the star emits and that light travels through earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere is constantly changing and as light passes through it, the light gets scattered, and that effect of how light reacts in the atmosphere is not well understood.”
The difference between ORCASat and an actual star, however, is that scientists on earth can communicate with ORCASat, allowing them to know exactly how bright the satellite is, in addition to how bright it appears through a telescope.
“Now you have two separate measurements. You know exactly how bright it actually is, and you know bright it appeared to you. From those two measurements you can calculate the difference, which is how much of that light is lost in the atmosphere,” explained Doknjas.
Doknjas said that although the concept isn’t new, it’s the first time that a light source capable of performing an experiment like this has been carried on a satellite into space. He added that the technology could be used in the future for earth observation, or even methane detection for climate change.
ORCASat will remain at the International Space Station before being released into earth’s orbit to collect data for approximately one year, but that depends on factors like sun flares and solar radiation that impact the life of the satellite.
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Crack or Survive? YouTuber Mark Rober Just Dropped an Egg from Space for Humanity – News18
YouTuber Mark Rober Dropped Egg from Space. (Image: Youtube/@MarkRober)
YouTuber Mark Rober, best known for his gadgets and fun science videos has now dropped a couple of eggs from space.
Popular YouTuber Mark Rober, best known for his gadgets and fun science videos has done another experiment. In his recent YouTube video, he dropped a couple of eggs from space that fell in the Victor Valley. This was done earlier this year, however, the “Egg Drop From Space” video was uploaded to YouTube on Black Friday. In the video, the team could be seen driving on Bear Valley Road toward Deadman’s Point in Apple Valley. A shot from the weather balloon in space showed the Victor Valley, including landmarks such as Spring Valley Lake and the Mojave River.
The video, since uploaded, has garnered 9.9 million views. The team included rocket and propulsion specialist Joe Barnard, of BPS Systems. He majorly helped with the rocket’s guidance system and design. Have a look:
His original plan was to fix an egg on a rocket that would be lifted by a giant weather balloon.
Meanwhile, earlier, the YouTuber talked about his son. He revealed that his son has special needs. This was the first time Mark talked about his son’s condition and explained how children with autism view the world differently. In the video, which is around 10 minutes, Mark shared some intimate moments that showed him and his son engaged in heartwarming conversations. Mark explained that he felt protective about his son, which is why he never shared anything about him.
He had launched a fundraiser in collaboration with Next for Autism organisation where several celebrities will join him to raise funds for autistic adults. Mark explained that there are several organisations that help kids with autism but as they grow up and step into the real world not much support is extended to them. Autistic adults also need special support to get them through education and jobs, and hence with this upcoming fundraiser Mark and several celebrities hope to generate that awareness and money.
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