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Scientists discover bones of new dinosaur species on Isle of Wight – Barrie 360

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Li Cohen – CBS News

Scientists have discovered two new species of large, predatory dinosaurs with “unusual, crocodile-like skulls” on England’s Isle of Wight. The dinosaurs are believed to be species of spinosaurids, and are the first skeletons of the dinosaur family to be uncovered in the United Kingdom since 1983.

The two new species are related to an ancient “unusual and controversial” family of dinosaurs, according to a report by paleontologists at the University of Southampton that was published in Scientific Reports on Wednesday.  

The first, Ceratosuchops inferodios, which means “horned crocodile-faced hell heron,” has a head filled with low horns and bumps along its brow region, scientists found, and is believed to have had a hunting style similar to a “terrifying heron.” 

The second discovery, Riparovenator milnerae, which means “Milner’s riverbank hunter,” is similar to that of the Ceratosuchops inferodios and has a long tail and a crocodile-like snout. It was named in honour of British paleontologist Angela Milner who died on August 13. Milner is credited with naming the new species’ closest relative, the Baryonyx dinosaur. 

The skeletons are still incomplete but based on the tail and cranial fossils found so far, researchers believe both dinosaurs were about nine meters long — more than 29 feet. Their skulls were roughly a meter long — more than 3 feet. 

Study co-author David Horne said it’s “very common” for “similar and closely related” carnivores to have lived in the same ecosystem.

“The Early Cretaceous rocks on the Isle of Wight describe an ancient floodplain environment bathed in a Mediterranean-like climate. Whilst generally balmy, forest fires occasionally ravaged the landscape, and the remains of burnt wood can be seen throughout the cliffs today,” the University of Southampton said in a press release. “With a large river and other bodies of water-attracting dinosaurs and housing various fish, sharks and crocodiles, the habitat provided the newly discovered spinosaurids with plenty of hunting opportunities.”

The new dinosaurs are believed to be from the Cretaceous period, with the bones estimated to be more than 125 million years old, scientists said in a press release. Their research suggests spinosaurids may have first evolved in Europe before migrating to Asia, Africa, and South America. 

Isle of Wight is commonly known as “Dinosaur Island,” as fossils can be easily found along its beaches. 

The discovered braincase of the Ceratosuchops inferodios, which translates as the “horned crocodile-faced hell heron.” Anthony Hutchings/University of Southhampton

In fact, it was a simple discovery on these beaches by two fossil collectors that ignited the hunt to identify the new species. In 2013, the University of Southampton said, fossil collectors found parts of two skulls near the isle’s Brighstone Beach. Soon after, members of Dinosaur Isle Museum found a large portion of a tail, and now, more than 50 bones have been found, scientists said. 

“This is the rarest and most exciting find I’ve made in over 30 years of fossil collection,” Brian Foster, one of the collectors, said in a statement. 

Jeremy Lockwood, who also found some of the fossils, said, “We realized after the two snouts were found that this would be something rare and unusual. Then it just got more and more amazing as several collectors found and donated other parts of this enormous jigsaw to the museum.”

But scientists have long had a hunch that there were other spinosaur species out there. 

“We’ve known for a couple of decades now that Bryonyx-like dinosaurs awaited discovered on the Isle of Wight,” said study co-author Darren Naish in a statement, “but finding the remains of two such animals in close succession was a huge surprise.” 

The last and only time a spinosaurid skeleton had been uncovered in the U.K., researchers said, was in 1983. Aside from that skeleton, which was deemed to be that of a Baryonyx, researchers have only come across isolated teeth. 

feature image: artists’ impression of newly identified species, Anthony Hutchings/University of Southhampton

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Russian crew returns from shooting the first feature film on the ISS – Yahoo Movies Canada

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Shooting for the first feature-length movie in space has wrapped. Space.com reports Russian actress Yulia Pereslid, producer Klim Shipenko and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy have returned to Earth after the first two spent 12 days filming their movie The Challenge aboard the International Space Station. The three left the ISS in a Soyuz spacecraft at 9:14PM Eastern on October 16th and landed in Kazakhstan just a few hours later, at 12:35AM.

Pereslid and Shipenko arrived on October 5th through an agreement between the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the TV network Channel One and the production studio Yellow, Black and White. Novitskiy had been there since April 9th as part of his regular duties, although he also played a key role — the movie has Pereslid play a surgeon who makes an emergency visit to the ISS to operate on the cosmonaut.

The filming required significant sacrifices for some of the ISS crew. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov were originally slated to return aboard the Soyuz capsule, but both have had their stays extended by six months to accommodate the film producers. Vande Hei will set a record for the longest spaceflight by a US astronaut as a result, spending exactly one year in orbit. Pereslid also broke ground as the first professional actor to visit space, beating William Shatner by roughly a week.

It will be a while before The Challenge is ready to watch, and it’s safe to say the production is aimed primarily at a Russian audience. It’s a major milestone for private uses of space, though, and hints at a future when Tom Cruise and other stars are frequently blasting off to produce shows in orbit.

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Russian actor, director arrive back on earth from ISS – Euronews

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A Soyuz space capsule carrying a cosmonaut and two Russian filmmakers has returned to Earth after leaving the International Space Station (ISS) earlier on Sunday.

The capsule landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan carrying Russian actor Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko, who returned to Earth after filming scenes for the world’s first movie in orbit – a project the Kremlin said would help burnish the nation’s space glory.

Peresild and Shipenko rocketed into orbit in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on October 5 for a 12-day stint on the station to film segments of the movie titled “Challenge,” in which a surgeon played by Peresild rushes to the space station to save a crew member who needs an urgent operation in orbit.

The pair returned to Earth on Sunday with another Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Novitskiy, who also stars as the ailing cosmonaut in the movie.

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VIDEO: NASA’s asteroid hunter Lucy soars into sky with diamonds – Abbotsford News

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A NASA spacecraft named Lucy rocketed into the sky with diamonds Saturday morning on a 12-year quest to explore eight asteroids.

Seven of the mysterious space rocks are among swarms of asteroids sharing Jupiter’s orbit, thought to be the pristine leftovers of planetary formation.

An Atlas V rocket blasted off before dawn, sending Lucy on a roundabout journey spanning nearly 4 billion miles (6.3 billion kilometers). Researchers grew emotional describing the successful launch — lead scientist Hal Levison said it was like witnessing the birth of a child. “Go Lucy!” he urged.

Lucy is named after the 3.2 million-year-old skeletal remains of a human ancestor found in Ethiopia nearly a half-century ago. That discovery got its name from the 1967 Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” prompting NASA to send the spacecraft soaring with band members’ lyrics and other luminaries’ words of wisdom imprinted on a plaque. The spacecraft also carried a disc made of lab-grown diamonds for one of its science instruments.

In a prerecorded video for NASA, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr paid tribute to his late colleague John Lennon, credited for writing the song that inspired all this.

“I’m so excited — Lucy is going back in the sky with diamonds. Johnny will love that,” Starr said. “Anyway, if you meet anyone up there, Lucy, give them peace and love from me.”

The paleoanthropologist behind the fossil Lucy discovery, Donald Johanson, had goose bumps watching Lucy soar — “I will never look at Jupiter the same … absolutely mind-expanding.” He said he was filled with wonder about this “intersection of our past, our present and our future.”

“That a human ancestor who lived so long ago stimulated a mission which promises to add valuable information about the formation of our solar system is incredibly exciting,” said Johanson, of Arizona State University, who traveled to Cape Canaveral for his first rocket launch.

Lucy’s $981 million mission is the first to aim for Jupiter’s so-called Trojan entourage: thousands — if not millions — of asteroids that share the gas giant’s expansive orbit around the sun. Some of the Trojan asteroids precede Jupiter in its orbit, while others trail it.

Despite their orbits, the Trojans are far from the planet and mostly scattered far from each other. So there’s essentially zero chance of Lucy getting clobbered by one as it swoops past its targets, said Levison of Southwest Research Institute, the mission’s principal scientist.

Lucy will swing past Earth next October and again in 2024 to get enough gravitational oomph to make it all the way out to Jupiter’s orbit. On the way there, the spacecraft will zip past asteroid Donaldjohanson between Mars and Jupiter. The aptly named rock will serve as a 2025 warm-up act for the science instruments.

Drawing power from two huge circular solar wings, Lucy will chase down five asteroids in the leading pack of Trojans in the late 2020s. The spacecraft will then zoom back toward Earth for another gravity assist in 2030. That will send Lucy back out to the trailing Trojan cluster, where it will zip past the final two targets in 2033 for a record-setting eight asteroids visited in a single mission.

It’s a complicated, circuitous path that had NASA’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, shaking his head at first. “You’ve got to be kidding. This is possible?” he recalled asking.

Lucy will pass within 600 miles (965 kilometers) of each target; the biggest one is about 70 miles (113 kilometers) across.

“Are there mountains? Valleys? Pits? Mesas? Who knows? I’m sure we’re going to be surprised,” said Johns Hopkins University’s Hal Weaver, who’s in charge of Lucy’s black-and-white camera. “But we can hardly wait to see what … images will reveal about these fossils from the formation of the solar system.”

NASA plans to launch another mission next month to test whether humans might be able to alter an asteroid’s orbit — practice in case Earth ever has a killer rock headed this way.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press


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