(MENAFN – NewsIn.Asia) March 12 (CNN) – The complete skull of a previously unknown species of bird-like dinosaur has been discovered trapped in a chunk of 99-million-year-old amber.
Smaller than the size of the tiniest hummingbird alive today, its head was the size of a thumbnail, its jaw packed with serrated teeth and its eyes bulging and lizard-like. Despite its teeny-tiny stature, the creature was likely a predator.The researchers said the fossil, named Oculudentavis, represented the smallest dinosaur ever found.”When I first saw this specimen, it really blew my mind. I literally have never seen anything like this,” said Jingmai O’Connor, senior professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and a research associate at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.”There’s over 100 teeth present in the jaws. These weird eyes sticking off looking to the side. There’s nothing like this alive today.”While people tend to think of dinosaurs as huge, lumbering creatures, this skull and other recent finds in amber suggest that life in dinosaur times was probably more diverse than we think, with many more tiny dinosaurs and other creatures that haven’t yet showed up in the fossil record.”One of the key messages from this study is that we are probably missing a big chunk of the ecosystem of the dinosaurs,” said Lars Schmitz, a biology professor at Scripps College in Claremont, California, who along with O’Connor, authored the paper that published Wednesday in the journal Nature. “We don’t know a lot about tiny things in the age of the dinosaurs.”The fossilization of bones in sediments such as clay, silt and sand can crush and destroy the remains of small animals, but amber, which forms from the resin of coniferous trees, allows for their preservation in three dimensions.”When you have an animal preserved in amber it looks like it just died yesterday — all the soft tissue in place trapped into this little window into an ancient time,” said O’Connor.Beyond our imaginationThe first dinosaur skeleton to be found entombed in amber was detailed in 2016 by Chinese paleontologist Lida Xing, who found the remarkable specimen of a dinosaur tail at an amber market in northern Myanmar.He has since made more discoveries in amber, traveling to Myanmar and its border with China to every two months to search for new specimens, and he was also an author of this latest study.”I think the diversity of dinosaurs is beyond our imagination. We previously found a dinosaur footprint of 1 centimeter in length, which I thought was the minimum length of a dinosaur. Until we found Oculudentavis,” whose name means eye-tooth bird, said Xing.
Xing said the piece of amber was bought in Myanmar by Khaung Ra, the mother-in-law of Chen Guang, the director of a museum in southwestern China near the Myanmar border that is dedicated to amber. Khaung Ra, who donated it to the Hupoge Amber Museum so it could be studied by scientists, is also honored in the dinosaur’s official full name: Oculudentavis khaungraae.David Grimaldi, a curator for amber at the American Museum of Natural History, said that the rich amber deposits in Myanmar formed in larger chunks than elsewhere and are heavily mined and commercially marketed. As such, he said, they have become a source of many interesting discoveries of ancient plants, insects and fungi, and more recently, dinosaurs.”This seems an exceedingly interesting find, because of the excellent preservation of the fossil and the minute size of the bird-like dinosaur — note the teeth and eye bones!” said Grimaldi, who wasn’t involved in the research.Unique traitsThe tiny dinosaur’s unique traits shed light on how birds, which descended from dinosaurs, evolved, suggesting they attained their minimum body size much quicker than previously thought.”This process — called miniaturization — commonly occurs in isolated environments, most famously islands. It is no wonder that the 99-million-year old Burmese amber is thought to have come from an ancient island,” O’Connor said.”Miniaturization is commonly associated with traits like tooth loss and proportionately large eyes. However, since Oculudentavis has more teeth than usual, it shows that evolution doesn’t always follow the rules.”Other ancient birds such as the winged dinosaur Archaeopteryx were much bigger. It’s not clear from the skull how Oculudentavis is related to early birds and bird-like dinosuars.Schmitz said there were only a few species of frog and lizards that were smaller than this lilliputian dinosaur. “It’s really at the lower limit of small [that] a vertebrate can get.”Unlike hummingbirds, which have no teeth and feed on nectar, the researchers think Oculudentavis would have hunted and feasted on tiny insects. They think it would have had feathers though none were preserved in the amber.Its eyes were particularly unusual, the study said. The bones of the eye socket would have formed a cone, like eye bones in owls, suggesting it had sharp eyesight. But its eyes faced to the side rather than the front like an owl. They also would have bulged out of its head sideways, which is a type of visual system not used by any other any other dinosaur or current animal species.Xu Xing, a Chinese paleontologist who wasn’t involved in the research, said that while amber had yielded some fascinating discoveries, it did have some limitations.”Normally it preserves only small organisms, and if it preserves larger ones, it is often incomplete and thus you often miss a complete picture,” he said.”Even in the case of this discovery of an extremely small dinosaur, it preserves only [the] skull, which is sometimes not enough to be used to infer its systematic position in the dinosaur family tree. In another words, the suggested position for this new species within [the] dinosaur family is tentative.”Some scientists have hoped that amber could be a source of genetic material from the creatures trapped within — as in the plot of the “Jurassic Park” movie franchise, when scientists extract dinosaur DNA from blood found inside insects found in amber. But Xu said this was still unlikely.”Previously people thought amber will be a great source for DNA or proteins, but recent studies demonstrate that it is probably not the case. But, anyway, it often preserves skin, feathers and other non-skeletal tissues, and… we can get lots of information [from this].”O’Connor said the dinosaur skull was “so weird” it was hard to figure out how it fit in with other known dinosaurs, but said amber was likely to yield equally surprising finds.”When we think of dinosaurs, we think of these huge skeletons, but paleontology right now is being completely transformed by the discovery of skeletal fossils, fossils of vertebrates, preserved in amber.” Amber Bird Dinosaur Preserve Preserved Smallest Species Unknown
Tesla's Musk earns $770M in stock options, company confirms – SooToday.com
DETROIT — Tesla confirmed Thursday that CEO Elon Musk will get the first tranche worth nearly $770 million of a stock-based compensation package triggered by the company meeting several financial metrics.
The electric car and solar panel maker’s board certified that Musk earned the big payout, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing says Musk can buy 1.69 million shares of Tesla stock for $350.02 each, but it wasn’t clear whether he had exercised the stock options. His payout is based on the difference between the option price and Thursday’s closing share price of $805.81.
Musk earned the options as part of an audacious compensation package approved by the board in 2018.
According to the filing, the board certified that Tesla had reached the milestones by hitting $20 billion in total revenue for four previous quarters and a total market value of $100 billion. The company also reached $1.5 billion in adjusted pretax earnings, but that must still be certified by the board, the filing said.
Musk has to hold the stock for a minimum of five years, under the terms of the compensation package.
Musk can afford to wait before cashing in on his latest windfall, given his wealth is estimated at $39 billion by Forbes magazine.
All told, the incentives approved by Tesla’s board in 2018 consist of 20.3 million stock options that will be doled out in 12 different bundles if the company is able to reach progressively more difficult financial goals. It’s one of the biggest corporate pay packages in U.S. history.
In order for Musk to receive all 20.3 million stock options, Tesla will have to generate adjusted annual earnings of $14 billion on annual revenue of $175 billion coupled with a market value of $650 billion. In the past four quarters, Tesla, which is based in Palo Alto, California, has reported adjusted earnings totalling $3.6 billion on revenue totalling $26 billion.
The Associated Press
Elon Musk reaches first Tesla compensation award worth nearly $800 million – The Verge
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has unlocked the first of 12 possible stock option awards from the massive compensation plan he signed in 2018, and it’s worth nearly $800 million. The company disclosed on Thursday that Musk now has the option to buy 1.69 million of its shares because Tesla eclipsed $20 billion in total revenue over the last four quarters and a market capitalization of more than $100 billion — the first in a series of tandem milestones Tesla must hit for Musk to realize the full value of the plan.
Tesla’s stock price was $805.81 when the markets closed on Thursday, meaning those shares are worth about $1.36 billion. But Musk only has to pay a $350.02 per share “strike price” to get them, according to the agreement, or a total of about $591 million — meaning he could net around $770 million depending on when he pulls the trigger.
If Tesla’s stock price keeps going up, and the company hits additional revenue goals, Musk could wind up collecting around 20.3 million new shares of Tesla at that strike price, clearing a path for him to collect tens of billions of dollars or more.
Musk does not collect a salary at Tesla, and the company originally categorized the compensation plan — which replaced one from 2012 — as an “at-risk performance award” that “ensures [Musk] will be compensated only if Tesla and all of its shareholders do extraordinarily well.” Musk is worth around $40 billion on paper already, but has downplayed his personal wealth. He repeatedly points out that he reinvests a lot of the money he makes back into his own companies and is relatively cash poor. But he also borrows against his Tesla holdings and puts that money into his companies as well, so the more of the company he owns, the more money he could have access to in the future.
Confirmation of the award was tucked inside Tesla’s annual “proxy filing,” a document that lays out what shareholders should expect at the company’s annual meeting. This year that meeting will take place on July 7th, according to the filing. While many companies have been holding online-only shareholder meetings during the pandemic, Tesla says it will hold an in-person event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California in addition to a webcast. The company is leaving room for that to change, though.
“[W]e will continue to monitor public health and travel safety protocols required or recommended by federal, state and local governments. If necessary or advisable to protect our personnel and stockholders, we will change the date, time, location and/or format of the 2020 Annual Meeting,” the company writes.
Shareholders will have seven proposals to vote on at that meeting, the first three of which are from Tesla. The first is to reelect Elon Musk and Tesla chairwoman Robyn Denholm to the board of directors, and to approve the recently-announced appointment of Hiromichi Mizuno. The second is to approve compensation for Tesla’s executives. The third is to reappoint PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as Tesla’s auditor.
Proposal four is from shareholder James M. Danforth, who wants Tesla to start spending money on advertising — something Musk has famously avoided. Danforth says Tesla should “spend at least $50/car produced to advertise its products/services in order to increase brand and product awareness and interest, achieve other goals set forth in the supporting statement below and to help mitigate and/or reduce harm to Tesla’s goals, objectives, reputation and finances.”
Danforth says advertising “became necessary the moment Tesla announced in Q1-19 that it would shut down retail stores and start focusing solely on website based sales instead.” He says Tesla ads could “mitigate and dilute substantial FUD (“Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt”) and misinformation campaigns sponsored by competitors and detractors worldwide and steer the narrative more favorably,” and “increase knowledge and support for climate damage avoidance worldwide.”
“Tesla’s call to action via advertisements will ring loudly and credibly with billions of consumers, many of whom who don’t know who Tesla is at all. This call to action has never been more necessary or important than right now,” he writes.
Tesla disagrees, and is recommending shareholders vote down the proposal. “While we welcome stockholder feedback, we also believe we have an experienced management team that is best situated to determine Tesla’s day-to-day business operations, including our sales and marketing practices and expenditures,” the company writes. Tesla also disagrees with Danforth’s assessment of the changes it made last year to its retail operations.
The fifth proposal comes from shareholder James McRitchie, who wants these votes to be measured by a simple majority — something he’s done repeatedly in the past. Tesla recommends voting it down.
Proposal six is for Tesla to scrap forced arbitration. It comes from impact investment firm Nia, which argues that forced arbitration “limits employees’ remedies for wrongdoing, keeps misconduct secret, precludes employees from suing in court when discrimination and harassment occur, and prevents employees from learning about shared concerns.”
“Continuing to rely on arbitration clauses when these protections may be removed, with retroactive implications, creates a long-tail risk for Tesla,” Nia writes. “Investors’ concerns about non-transparent working conditions, which allow for potential harassment and discrimination, are particularly pertinent to Tesla, which has faced allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.”
Tesla disagrees, and recommends shareholders vote against the proposal. The company defends its use of arbitration, and says Nia “does not state convincing support for a correlation between arbitration and harassment, discrimination, or limits on employee grievances generally.”
The final proposal comes from the Sisters of the Good Shepherd New York Province, who want Tesla to prepare a report about human rights violations at the companies it buys raw materials from. Tesla believes the Supplier Code of Conduct and Human Rights and Conflicts Minerals Policy on its website and the company’s annual conflict minerals report (the 2019 version of which was published Thursday) go far enough, and recommends shareholders vote against the proposal.
SpaceX's historic astronaut launch try draws huge crowds despite NASA warnings – Space.com
Despite warnings from NASA officials and the risks implied by the current pandemic, which has so far claimed over 100,000 lives in the U.S., approximately 150,000 people gathered on Florida’s space coast to watch SpaceX’s first attempt at launching astronauts to space yesterday (May 27).
SpaceX attempted to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft with two veteran NASA astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center yesterday as part of the Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station. Unfortunately, bad weather delayed the launch to no earlier than Saturday (May 30).
Despite the risks of the coronavirus pandemic (there have been over 52,000 cases and 2,300 deaths related to the novel coronavirus in Florida so far), stormy weather and a tornado warning, approximately 150,000 people traveled to watch the event. “We are still running cell phone data and other reports for possible additional insight, but the estimated number of viewers in person was 150,000,” Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism told Space.com in an email.
Full coverage: SpaceX’s historic Demo-2 astronaut launch explained
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made a public announcement before the launch, urging people to do the exact opposite of what these visitors did: stay home. Bridenstine said that people should watch the launch virtually, as full launch coverage was available live on NASA TV and, by gathering and not social distancing, there is a risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Kennedy Space Center was not even open to visitors for SpaceX’s launch attempt yesterday, but its visitor center reopened to the public today (May 28). NASA scheduled the facility’s big reopening for after the SpaceX launch. But, as photos from the event show, people still came in droves and packed into Florida’s nearby beaches and the causeway, desperate to get a peek at the launch.
“Not many masks were sighted among the onlookers. Crowds were far smaller than for high-profile launches of the past and between the COVID-19 crisis and bad weather … NASA had urged spectators to stay away” and watch on TV. https://t.co/5JoeIUlDsE via @Florida_TodayMay 27, 2020
The crowds of spectators, who filled highway lanes, creating serious traffic jams on their drives home following the launch delay, were impressive. However, if this launch didn’t take place during a pandemic, approximately 500,000 people could’ve been expected on the space coast, Dale Ketcham, the vice president of government & external relations at Space Florida, told Space.com in an email.
Florida has recently begun to loosen its restrictions, originally imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, by reopening businesses and public spaces like beaches. It is yet to be seen how many people will return to Kennedy (which will by then be open to the public) this Saturday for the next launch date.
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