Glaciers are spectacular phenomenons of nature. The physics they are based on is surprising, while the geological role they have is essential. In this article, we discuss these facts, as well as their retreats and their dangers.
Maia Krall Fry, a student at the University of St Andrews, brings a touch of poetry to geology in her 60 second film. "I wanted to bring some of the key ideas about geology into one minute," says Maia.
An international team of scientists from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is set to embark on a $1 billion (£617 billion) expedition to drill into the mantle layer, and make history by collecting the first ever mantle samples...
Planetary scientists at the European Space Agency have released 3D images of the "striking upper part of the Reull Vallis region of Mars," which reveal a 932-mile-long (1500 kilometer) river running from the Promethei Terra Highlands to the vast...
Nesting site yields earliest known organic remains of a terrestrial vertebrate.
Palaeontologists working in China have unearthed the earliest collection of fossilized dinosaur embryos to date. The trove includes remains from many individuals at different developmental stages, providing a unique opportunity to investigate the embryonic development of a prehistoric species.
Robert Reisz, a palaeontologist at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Canada, and his colleagues discovered the sauropodomorph fossils in a bone bed in Lufeng County that dates to the Early Jurassic period, 197 million to 190 million years ago. The site contained eggshells and more than 200 disarticulated bones — the oldest known traces of budding dinosaurs, the researchers report in Nature.
“Most of our record of dinosaur embryos is concentrated in the Late Cretaceous period,” says David Evans, curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “This [study] takes a detailed record of dinosaur embryology and pushes it back over 100 million years.”
But it is not just the age of the fossils that is notable, the researchers say. Spectroscopic analysis of bone-tissue samples from the Chinese nesting site revealed the oldest organic material ever seen in a terrestrial vertebrate. That was surprising because the fossilized femur bones were delicate and porous, which made them vulnerable to the corrosive effects of weathering and groundwater, says Reisz.
“That suggests to us that other dinosaur fossils might have organic remains,” he says. “We just haven’t looked at them in the right ways.”
Reisz thinks that the complex proteins his team detected in that organic material are preserved collagen. Because collagen composition varies across species, further analyses could help researchers to compare the sauropodomorph fossils with those of other creatures. They include the mighty sauropods, close relatives — and perhaps descendants — of early sauropodomorphs that weighed in at about 100,000 kilograms each, making them the largest animals ever to roam Earth.
The researchers think that the Lufeng dinosaurs are sauropodomorphs because they are similar in many ways to intact embryonic skeletons of Massospondylus, a sauropodomorph that Reisz unearthed in South Africa in 20052. But their analysis does identify key differences between the two fossil finds. The Lufeng embryos were less developmentally advanced than the Massospondylus embryos, and they seem to be examples of a different genus, Lufengosaurus.
By: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer Published: 03/19/2013 07:40 AM EDT on LiveScienceA tectonic plate that disappeared under North America millions of years ago still peeks out in central California and Mexico, new research finds.
I have a hard time seeing this as anything other than a paean to humanity’s inability to learn: This was the view out the International Space Station’s cupola on Jan. 1, 2013, around 09:37 UTC, looking nearly straight down the gullet of Italy’s Mt.
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