A team led by Carleton University’s Hillary Maddin has discovered the earliest fossil evidence of parental care. The fossil predates the previous oldest record of this behavior by 40 million years and is featured in an article in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
“This is the earliest evidence of prolonged postnatal care in a vertebrate,” said Maddin, professor in the Department of Earth Sciences. “The adult animal appears to be concealing and protecting a juvenile in a den. This behavior is very common in mammals today. It is interesting to see this animal, which is on the evolutionary line leading to mammals, exhibiting this behavior so early.”
Maddin’s team recently discovered the specimen of a varanopid synapsid inside a lithified tree stump on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The preserved articulated partial skeleton has a unique combination of features and represents a new species. The preserved remains are of a small individual close to a large individual of the same species in a position resembling a parent denning with an offspring.
The varanopid synapsid is lizard-like in appearance, but is nowhere near lizards in its evolutionary position. Once animals were able to lay eggs on land, they split into two distinct evolutionary branches, one that led to reptiles, birds and dinosaurs and the other, which included the varanopid synapsid, led to mammals.
Parental care is a behavioral strategy where parents make an investment or divert resources from themselves to increase the health and chances of survival for their offspring. While there are a variety of parental care strategies, prolonged postnatal care is amongst the most costly to a parent. This form of parental care is particularly common in mammals, as all mammalian offspring demand nourishment from their mothers. However, there is still little understanding of the evolutionary history of this behavior.
Scientists have attempted to answer questions about the origin of parental care by studying fossils. Evidence of parenting has been generally limited to finding groups of preserved specimens of varying ages of the same species.
Varanopid from the Carboniferous of Nova Scotia reveals evidence of parental care in amniotes. Nat Ecol Evol 4, 50–56 (2020) DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-1030-z , https://nature.com/articles/s41559-019-1030-z
Researcher discovers earliest fossil evidence of parental behavior (2019, December 24)
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NASA's Perseverance rover deploys wind sensor on Mars – Space.com
NASA’s Perseverance rover continues to get up to speed on the Red Planet.
Since Perseverance’s picture-perfect landing on Feb. 18, the rover team has been methodically checking out its seven science instruments and various subsystems. For example, Perseverance just deployed its wind sensor, as before-and-after photos captured by the six-wheeled robot’s navigation cameras show.
The wind sensor is part of Perseverance’s weather station, which is called the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). The instrument will monitor air temperature, humidity, radiation, dust and wind at Perseverance’s landing site, the floor of Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) hole in the ground that harbored a deep lake and a river delta in the ancient past.
Live updates: NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission
Congrats to the MEDA team! Look what just deployed!! The wind sensor! @estrellasycafe You must be so stoked! Find more photos at: https://t.co/MTE3cqSBDd #mars2020 pic.twitter.com/FiGbSTvqYnMarch 1, 2021
Perseverance, the heart of NASA’s $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission, will hunt for signs of life inside Jezero and collect and cache samples for future return to Earth. But that main science work won’t start immediately after the rover gets up and running; Perseverance’s first big job will be to find an airfield where its little helicopter buddy can take off.
That helicopter, a 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) craft named Ingenuity, journeyed to Mars on Perseverance’s belly. Ingenuity will deploy at the airfield and try to make the first-ever rotorcraft flights on a world beyond Earth, demonstrating technology that could pave the way for a whole new Mars exploration strategy.
Ingenuity’s flights will likely take place this spring, with science and sampling work commencing in earnest in the summer, mission team members have said.
But Perseverance’s early days on Mars are far from boring. The rover team has already posted more than 6,300 of the rover’s Jezero photos, many of them spectacular high-resolution shots taken with Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z camera system. You can find them here. Happy sightseeing!
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
Humans Have Started To Dump Trash On The Martian Surface: Report – Mashable India
NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully touched down on Mars at the end-February after a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles (472 million kilometres). Ever since its landing, a lot of new images and videos have surfaced online, giving us a look into the rover’s new home on the Martian surface. On the Martian surface, the ESA-Roscosmos Trace Gas Orbiter also cruised over the landing area of the Perseverance rover a few days after its touch down and managed to get pictures of the rover.
As reported by BGR, in the image shared by ESA, you can see where the rover is placed on the Martian surface as well as all the junk that dropped down as the Perseverance rover landing on Mars. The report states that the rover’s landing on Mars was a very complex event that required a range of machinery and heavy-duty equipment. The images shared by ESA mages show the rover, the descent stage, the parachute, back shell, and a heat shield, all of the equipment that helped the rover during its landing on Mars.
“There it is! And there’s the garbage! The ExoMars orbiter that snapped the image didn’t just provide a birds-eye view of the rover after landing, but also provided NASA with additional information and tracking data when the rover was coming in for its landing,” states the BGR report.
The image of NASA’s Perseverance rover on the martian surface was released by the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), part of the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars program, on February 25. The tweet shared by the agency states that “there you are Nasa Persevere! I finally got the chance to take a photo of you in your new home”.
Fly me to the Moon: Japan billionaire offers space seats – Space Daily
It’s the sort of chance that comes along just once in a blue Moon: a Japanese billionaire is throwing open a private lunar expedition to eight people from around the world.
Yusaku Maezawa, an online fashion tycoon, was announced in 2018 as the first man to book a spot aboard the lunar spaceship being developed by SpaceX.
Maezawa, who paid an undisclosed sum for the trip expected to launch in 2023 at the earliest, originally said he planned to invite six to eight artists to join him on the voyage around the Moon.
But on Wednesday, in a video posted on his Twitter account, he revealed a broader application process.
“I’m inviting you to join me on this mission. Eight of you from all around the world,” he said.
“I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride,” he added.
Maezawa, 45, said his initial plan of inviting artists had “evolved” because he came to believe that “every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist.”
The Japanese entrepreneur said applicants would need to fulfil just two criteria: being ready to “push the envelope” creatively, and being willing to help other crew members do the same.
In all, he said around 10 to 12 people will be on board the spaceship, which is expected to loop around the Moon before returning to Earth.
The application timeline for spots on the trip calls for would-be space travellers to pre-register by March 14, with initial screening carried out by March 21.
No deadlines are given for the next stages — an “assignment” and an online interview — but final interviews and medical checkups are currently scheduled for late May 2021, according to Maezawa’s website.
– Musk ‘highly confident’ –
Maezawa and his band of astronauts will become the first lunar voyagers since the last US Apollo mission in 1972 — if SpaceX can pull the trip off.
Last month, a prototype of its Starship crashed in a fireball as it tried to land upright after a test flight, the second such accident, after the last prototype of the Starship met a similar fate in December.
But the company hopes the reusable, 394-foot (120-metre) rocket system will one day carry crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
“I’m highly confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023 and that it will be safe enough for human transport by 2023. It’s looking very promising,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in Maezawa’s video posted Wednesday.
The mission will be the first private space flight beyond Earth’s orbit, Musk said.
Because it will not land on the Moon, but loop behind it, “we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet Earth,” he added.
Maezawa, known for his eccentric comments and extravagant lifestyle including a penchant for pricey art, was last year valued around $1.9 billion, making him one of Japan’s richest people.
He made his fortune as founder of online fashion store Zozo, which he sold to Yahoo! Japan in 2019.
Maezawa has previously made headlines with an online ad for a girlfriend to join him on his SpaceX flight — only to abruptly cancel the hunt, despite attracting nearly 30,000 applicants.
US space agency NASA is intending to land astronauts on the Moon, including the first woman, in 2024.
One of the goals of its Artemis III voyage is to bring back a total of 85 kilograms (187 pounds) of lunar samples — more than the average 64 kilograms brought back by Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972.
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Cancer survivor to join first all-private spaceflight on SpaceX’s Dragon
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 24, 2021
A physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will join the first all-private space mission in a fundraising effort for the Memphis-based charitable facility.
The mission, called Inspiration4, is scheduled for launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida as early as October for four private citizens. They plan to orbit the Earth for several days aboard a Crew Dragon capsule built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Hayley Arceneaux, 29, survived bone cancer through treatment at the h … read more
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