Holdren Gets Warm Embrace From Letterman on Climate Policies

first_imgThe words “bantering” and “climate change” rarely go together. But last night, presidential science adviser John Holdren and late night talk show host David Letterman pulled it off. Making his second appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, Holdren deftly handled all manner of questions, both serious and silly, on the topic while simultaneously plugging the Obama Administration’s policies. After Letterman asked whether global warming means his son may never see snow, Holdren shot back, “It depends on his latitude.” But when Letterman called coal the “culprit” and said he doubted there was such a thing as “clean coal,” Holdren chose his words carefully. “There is no such thing as clean coal,” he began, “but there is cleaner coal.” Asked whether he could leaven the continuing stream of bad news about the worsening impact of global warming on the planet, Holdren mentioned the U.S. economy’s increasingly efficient use of energy and talked about opportunities for people “to make a lot of money” on new energy technologies. But just as Holdren was beginning to tick off how the stimulus money is helping move the country to a low-carbon economy, Letterman interrupted with a non sequitur. “So does the president like your beard?” Amid laughter from the CBS studio audience in New York City, Holdren was rendered speechless. And the show went to commercial before he could reply. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Even though Letterman gave top billing to actor Jason Bateman—bantering about his new movie, snakes, and slippers—Letterman seemed genuinely interested not just in climate change but also in the job of the science adviser. Asked how often he talked with the president, Holdren answered candidly, “sometimes a couple of times a week, sometimes not for a few weeks,” adding that “it’s catch as catch can.” It was an impressive performance, especially at a time—Holdren took his seat at 12:23 a.m.—when most policymakers are fast asleep. The 15-minute segment closed with the 65-year-old physicist getting a verbal pat on the back. Expressing his displeasure with the policies of former President George W. Bush and his support for the new Administration, Letterman opined that “we have many reasons to breathe a little easier these days, and you’re one of them.” There’s no clip of Holdren’s appearance on the Late Show Web site (you can check out Jason Bateman), but the full show should be posted in a day or two.last_img read more

Experts Opine on Childhood Obesity Push

first_imgDavid Ludwig, a childhood obesity specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, is cheered by Michelle Obama’s obesity initiative: “The obesity epidemic isn’t [due to] a lack of knowledge. It’s a lack of political will in Washington.” That includes reluctance to push for high-quality food in schools, have farm subsidies that are in line with public health and not special interests, and make healthy foods available to low-income neighborhoods, Ludwig says. “There’s certainly room for discussion among the experts” about how best to tackle all this. But Obama’s campaign “offers a promise of ending this paralysis” and Ludwig says he’s hopeful it will. Others are not as sanguine. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

NASA Solar Sail Vanishes in Space

first_imgNASA’s solar-powered sail craft NanoSail-D is missing, and scientists don’t know whether it’s adrift in space or was never ejected in the first place. The nanosatellite, roughly the size of a loaf of bread, was supposed to be ejected from its 400-pound mother satellite last Monday—and all signs indicated it did. But it was also supposed to check in 3 days later, when the 8-pound canister would blossom into a solar sail 10 square meters and thinner than a human hair. When the appointed time came and NASA scientists got no signal, they knew something had gone wrong, NASA announced on Friday. NASA operates ground instruments to pick up those kinds of signals all over the world, according to Marshall Space Flight Center media officer Kim Newton. The silence suggests the tiny satellite may never have left home at all. But Newton says there are no firm hypotheses. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) Bill Nye, executive director of the Planetary Society in Pasadena, California, thinks three things could have gone wrong. One, the battery may have been too small and ill-equipped to deal with the cold of space. Two, NanoSail-D could have not ejected at all, as NASA speculates. Or three, the sail could have failed to unfurl. “The key is to make it go out slowly, even in the inertial zero-gravity situation of space,” says Nye. “It wouldn’t be surprising, based on the rudimentary nature of the design, that it went out fast and tangled.” NanoSail-D blasted into orbit in November as part of NASA’s Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite (FASTSAT), which is also carrying five other experiments. It marked NASA’s second attempt at launching a solar sail. The first one never made it to orbit due to a failure at launch. Before its untimely disappearance, scientists hoped NanoSail-D would help them test a low-cost way of pulling old satellites back to Earth. Because it needs only photons from the sun to propel it forward, it saves money on fuel. Cramming the fragile sail into a small canister protects it from being ripped to shreds by Earth’s atmosphere. NASA isn’t the only organization to experience these kinds of headaches with solar sailing. The Planetary Society made a similar effort in 2005 with Cosmos 1 that was lost in a rocket mishap. Now they’re working on their own second shot, Lightsail-1. Meanwhile, Japan’s solar sail IKAROS, launched last May, became the first successful attempt at solar sailing to date, deploying its sail, confirming photon propulsion and performing attitude control tests. A review committee is likely to declare the mission a complete success later this month. Although Nye is optimistic about the future of solar sailing in general, he’s more reserved about this particular NASA mission. “Maybe they will recover it. But I’ve got a feeling it’s lost.”*This article has been corrected. It originally identified IKAROS as the Japanese probe that missed Venus earlier this week, which was actually Akatsuki.last_img read more

1,200 Indians to Shell out Half-a-million Dollars For US Green Card

first_imgAbout 1,200 Indians have queued up to shell out half-a-million US dollars each to migrate to the US through a government sponsored ‘invest in the US and get a green card scheme’, according to immigration consultants. Related Itemslast_img

Designer material clears hurdle for turning carbon dioxide into fuel

first_imgPlants are great at pulling carbon dioxide out of the air. But they are slow, and researchers would love to speed up the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2)—a key greenhouse gas—from the atmosphere. Today, researchers in California report that they’ve taken the first step to doing just that, by developing a porous material that converts CO2 into carbon monoxide (CO) and oxygen. Not only could the new material clean our skies, but it might also serve as the starting point for making fuel from renewable power sources.Chemists have been trying to do something useful with CO2 for decades. But CO2 is a very stable, unreactive molecule. To split it into CO and oxygen, researchers have to add energy, typically electricity. That’s not done now, because it’s far cheaper to make fuel by refining oil. But some catalysts—substances that speed up chemical reactions—could make the process cheaper by reducing the amount of energy that needs to be pumped in.One promising catalyst is a ring-shaped organic molecule with a cobalt atom at its core, called a porphyrin. When added to a solution with two electrodes, an electrolyte, and some dissolved CO2, the porphyrin nuzzles up close to the negatively charged electrode and ferries electrons to the CO2, splitting it into CO and oxygen that bubble away. But the setup works only when the porphyrins are dissolved in an environmentally questionable organic solvent. And there are other problems: Porphyrins tend to clump together over time, destroying their electron-ferrying abilities.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To get around these problems, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, led by chemists Omar Yaghi and Chris Chang, found a way to link porphyrins together into a porous solid material called a covalent organic framework (COF). Yaghi and his colleagues have developed a variety of COFs as filters for separating different gases from one another. But in hopes of taking a first step to making renewable fuels, they wanted to see if their cobalt COF could split CO2 as well. Porphyrins seemed like a natural choice, because they’re not only good at ferrying electrons to CO2, but they can also conduct electricity. In theory, using a porphyrin COF as a catalyst would allow the material to conduct electrons from an electrode to porphyrin components throughout a thick film of the material. And the COF’s porous nature would allow CO2 to percolate through and gain access to the catalytically active cobalt atoms at the porphyrin’s core.After synthesizing their new COF, Yaghi, Chang, and their colleagues placed a layer atop an electrode. Because their catalyst was already in contact with the electrode, they didn’t need the organic solvent that’s required for the molecular porphyrin catalyst, and they could use a simple water-based electrolyte instead. When they applied an electric current, they found that the porphyrin COF did a better job than the molecular version of splitting CO2 into CO and oxygen.The key to the molecular splitting process is when CO2 molecules bind to the cobalt atoms at a porphyrin’s core. But Yaghi’s team found that in their cobalt porphyrin COF not all of the CO2 molecules found their cobalt targets. So they rebuilt their COF frameworks so they had slightly larger pores to ease the passage of CO2. They also added a bit of copper. CO2molecules tend to avoid copper in favor of cobalt, and adding copper caused the CO2 molecules to crowd around the remaining cobalt atoms, like groupies swarming a rock star. That increased the likelihood that CO2 molecules would make actual contact with a cobalt atom and be split.The upshot—which the Berkeley team reports online today in Science—was that the dual-metal COF split CO2 molecules 60 times as well as the free-floating cobalt porphyrin molecules. The COFs also proved highly efficient, using 90% of the electrons to split CO2 molecules into CO. Finally, the catalysts were extremely active, fracturing some 240,000 CO2 molecules per hour, 25 times as fast as the cobalt-only COFs. That makes the material among the best CO2-splitting catalysts out there.“This is very nice work,” says Paul Kenis, a chemist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He notes that lots of groups are trying to improve their CO2-to-CO conversions by using porous electrode materials. But this work makes the electrode itself out of a catalytically active material. “So you get two for one,” Kenis says.Ultimately, the CO created could be combined with hydrogen (made by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen) to produce hydrocarbon fuels from renewable energy sources like wind and solar, Kenis and Yaghi say. That’s not economical today, because it’s still far cheaper to refine oil. But if countries ever want to make fuels from renewable energy only, and avoid dumping more fossil fuel CO2 into the air, catalysts such as this one could be an essential component.last_img read more

River dolphin’s ancestor unearthed?

first_imgPaleontologists may have found an ancestor, or at least a long-lost close cousin, of the Amazon river dolphin. Despite its common name, that species (Inia geoffrensis) also inhabits several other river systems in northern South America, and its evolutionary origins are as murky as those sediment-laden waters. Its ancestors may have left the ocean for fresh water when sea-level rise opened up new habitats about 6 million years ago. But in 2011, researchers excavated the fragmentary fossil of a seagoing dolphin—one that anatomical comparisons reveal is, at the very least, closely related to Inia—at a site along the Caribbean coast of Panama. The preserved bits that hadn’t been lost to erosion include a partial skull, lower jawbones, a few scattered teeth, and a scapula (which in humans is commonly known as the shoulder blade). Distinctive fossils in the surrounding rocks helped the team narrow down the age of the dolphin to between 5.8 million and 6.1 million years ago, a time when the Isthmus of Panama hadn’t yet risen from the sea. Dubbed Isthminia panamensis—a blend of the genus name of today’s Amazon river dolphin and the location where the new species was found—the dolphin (artist’s reconstruction above) was about 2.85 meters (9.4 feet) long and is thus slightly smaller than its modern-day namesake, the researchers report online today in PeerJ. The shape of the creature’s 36-centimeter (1.2-foot) snout, which points straight forward rather than slightly downward like today’s river dolphins, suggests the mammal spent most of its time at sea and likely fed on fish, the scientists say. Based on the anatomical features of the fossil, Isthminia was either a close relative or ancestor of today’s Amazon river dolphin (which probably invaded South America’s river systems when sea-level rise expanded those habitats about 6 million years ago), or it was a descendant of an older and as-yet-undiscovered river dolphin that went back to sea.last_img read more

Top predator wannabe is just another T. rex

first_imgDALLAS, TEXAS—Every school kid knows that Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the biggest dinosaurs that ever lived and probably the baddest, ripping into other dinos with its lacerating, bone-crunching teeth. Yet some scientists think that T. rex, which roamed the western United States between 68 million and 66 million years ago, had a smaller but equally voracious cousin, named Nanotyrannus, which lived in the same place at the same time. A new study, presented at the meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology here, disputes that claim, and concludes that the two supposed specimens of Nanotyrannus are simply juvenile versions of T. rex. If so, T. rex, as its name implies, would have been sole king of the neighborhood.The finding has implications for how tyrannosaurids grew and also for how diverse they were. “We need to know how many dinosaurs were around during this critical time period right before they went extinct” about 66 million years ago, says Lindsay Zanno, a paleontologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.The story of Nanotyrannus goes back to 1946, when a paleontologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History described a skull found in Montana as a member of the widespread tyrannosaur family, which includes T. rex and its relatives. But in the late 1980s, researchers including Robert Bakker, an iconoclastic paleontologist now affiliated with the Houston Museum of Natural History, studied the skull anew and concluded that it was a separate, smaller taxon. Whereas T. rex can reach up to 12 meters in length, the Montana specimen measured about 5 meters, inspiring the Bakker team to call it Nanotyrannus or “dwarf tyrant.” The team concluded that the specimen represented an adult, because the bones in its skull appeared to be fused rather than open as in immature specimens.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Some years later, Thomas Carr, a paleontologist at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, published his own study examining features of the same specimen’s skull, teeth, and skeleton, along with comparisons with other juvenile specimens of T. rex. Carr found that the skull bones were not fused as earlier claimed, and also that the texture and microscopic structure of the skull bones were typical of an immature individual. Carr thus concluded that Nanotyrannus was simply a T. rex youngster. This conclusion was bolstered when, in 2002, another skull and partial skeleton similar to that of the claimed Nanotyrannus was found in Montana. Nicknamed “Jane,” it was better preserved than the earlier 1940s specimen, and many researchers concluded it was a juvenile based on the shape of its teeth and other skeletal features. Indeed, a few former Nanotyrannus advocates changed their minds based on the new skull. But others continued to argue that it was a separate species.In Dallas, Carr presented a new analysis of Jane’s skull and skeleton, based on a three-dimensional computer reconstruction of the skull which filled in missing segments and allowed him to analyze the features in more detail. His team examined microscopic “growth rings” in Jane’s calf bone, which accumulate per year of life. The team found nine such rings in the bone and space for two more, leading them to conclude that Jane was indeed a juvenile, about 11 years old when she died. Moreover, close examination of the skeleton revealed that it was still undergoing “remodeling” typical of very fast growing bone. Although younger and older specimens of T. rex are known, Jane filled an important gap in researchers’ knowledge of the growth pattern of tyrannosaurs, Carr told the meeting. “She was just about to, or had already entered, the rapid phase of growth” typical of very large carnivorous dinosaurs.In addition, Carr argued, a comparison of Jane with the 1940s Nanotyrannus skull—made possible if both are considered juveniles—kills the idea that the original Nanotyrannus skull has unique features that T. rex does not. “Jane was heralded by some as the second coming of Nanotyrannus,” Carr said. But according to his analysis, the two skulls share a number of features once thought to be unique to Nanotyrannus, including a hole in a small jaw bone and a long and low snout. Rather than being diagnostic of a separate species, Carr concluded, such features actually characterize juvenile tyrannosaurs.Some paleontologists at the meeting found Carr’s arguments convincing. The two skulls “are the same animal, the same species,” says Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. Zanno agrees. “Tom makes a compelling argument” that there was only one top predator in western North America rather than two. “His explanation is the simplest and most parsimonious.”But Bakker is standing his ground. “Tom has not seen the best specimen,” of Nanotyrranus, he told Science. Yet details about that specimen—a third and nearly complete skeleton found in Montana in 2006—has not yet been published. It is mired in controversy after its owners tried—and failed—to sell it at auction for $7 million or more. Most paleontologists, citing the ethics of their profession, will not study it unless it is either donated to or purchased by a museum.Until that new specimen is available for study, says Thomas Holtz, a paleontologist at the University of Maryland in College Park, “the ball is…in the Nanotyrannus court. They need an adult specimen of Nanotyrannus to pursue [their] argument.”last_img read more

Motorboat noise helps predators kill fish

first_imgThe noise people make in the ocean from shipping, motorboats, seismic surveys, and pile-driving is known to interfere with the hearing and communication of marine animals. But showing how this interference directly affects the creatures’ survival has proven difficult. Now, via experiments in the lab and the wild, scientists have hard evidence that the sounds of motorboats help predators kill fish. Using recordings of boat noise, the scientists tested the hunting success rate of the predatory dusky dottyback fish (Pseudochromis fuscus) on one of its favorite prey, the Ambon damselfish (Pomacentrus amboinensis). Both species (shown in the photo above) are found in the Great Barrier Reef. Adult damselfish are residents on the reef, but their larvae develop in the open water, only settling on the coral as juveniles. At that stage, they suffer a high rate of mortality from new predators, including the dusky dottyback. The noise of motorboats passing 10 to 200 meters away significantly increases the young damselfishes’ death rate, the scientists report online today in Nature Communications. The scientists placed juvenile damselfish in the wild on isolated experimental reefs, and then either broadcast recordings of motorboats or the ambient sounds of their habitat. Only 27% of the juvenile damselfishes on the reefs with the motorboat noise survived during a 72-hour observation period, whereas 79% of the youngsters survived on the control reefs. Other experiments showed that the motorboat noise increases the metabolic rate of the juvenile fish, and makes them less likely to startle (the appropriate response) when attacked. The findings may help efforts to create marine quiet zones or regulations directing motorboats to avoid areas where juvenile fish are abundant, the scientists say.last_img read more

Enormous otters once roamed southwestern China

first_imgSix million years ago, the wetlands and river valleys of southwestern China were full of life: tapirs and small deer strolled the shores, and the waters brimmed with clams. Swimming and striding through it all was a huge otter—described today for the first time—that weighed in at around 50 kilograms, twice the size of today’s otters (see artist’s representation, above). That’s about the same as modern wolves and among the largest otters that ever lived. Scientists first unearthed the creature’s fossils, including limb bones and a severely crushed skull, from carbon-rich rocks around a decade ago. The team CT scanned the fossils and then used sophisticated software to digitally reconstruct the skull from more than 200 fragments. They couldn’t accurately gauge the creature’s length, because none of the fossils preserved its tail. But based on its skull length—about 21 centimeters—the researchers were able to estimate its hefty weight, they report online today in Journal of Systematic Paleontology. The researchers dubbed the creature Siamogale melilutra, thanks to similarities of the skull and teeth to both otters (lutra) and badgers (melis). The otter likely lived near and foraged in a shallow lake or wetland in a warm, humid climate, say the scientists. And unlike large land mammals in the region, whose dispersal northward was blocked by two broad rivers, these semiaquatic otters and their kin were able to spread unhindered; fossils of a similar species from approximately the same era have been unearthed at another site about 1400 kilometers to the northeast.last_img read more

Update: Life after Harvey—scientists take stock of the damage, and their luck

first_img Indeed, all the turtles and birds fared well, and the 30 turtles deemed ready to be on their own were released immediately after the storm. The rest were packed into the back of a pickup truck and driven to another wildlife rehab facility, the Texas SeaLife Center in Corpus Christi. They will remain there for at least a month as the keep is repaired. As for the birds, “They now have a lot more room than on the back porch,” says Jace Tunnell, manager of NERR.—Elizabeth Pennisi NOAA/NASA Update: Life after Harvey—scientists take stock of the damage, and their luck In Colorado, a global flood observatory keeps a close watch on Harvey’s torrents Home with mom and several dozen rescued birds The turtles were moved in the back of a truck. Jace Tunnell Jace Tunnell Related Harvey stories Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas coast in this color-enhanced satellite image. ‘Substantial’ damage at University of Texas marine instituteMarine researchers are facing “substantial” water damage to one of two major laboratory buildings at the University of Texas (UT) Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, according to Communications Coordinator Sally Palmer. And five instrument stations in a nearby estuary that transmitted real-time weather and environmental data blinked offline this past Saturday night as Hurricane Harvey roared ashore.“We’re hoping that at least some of the instruments are still there somewhere, but haven’t been able to check yet,” Palmer tells ScienceInsider.The good news is that none of the institute’s 200 staff members were hurt as the storm made landfall just a few dozen kilometers to the east of the coastal station, which focuses on conducting ecological, fisheries, and biogeochemistry research. But many employees have yet to be able to return to their homes in nearby communities, and the station’s “operations are suspended until further notice,” Palmer says. Preliminary surveys suggest a laboratory primarily used for fisheries research and aquaculture experienced some flooding but avoided major damage, Palmer says. Emergency electrical generators kicked on during the height of the storm, and researchers hope that kept pumps and bubblers going in tanks full of larval fish and other aquatic creatures.A second building full of laboratory space wasn’t so lucky. The hurricane appears to have torn its roof and damaged facilities inside, Palmer says. Response teams are now assessing the damage, making sure laboratory chemicals are safely contained, and setting up security at the site.Reports suggest a third institute facility in nearby Rockport, Texas, might have sustained worse damage, Palmer says. The building, used primarily for public outreach and education, sits just 20 meters from the shore near the center of the city, which was hard hit by the storm.The institute’s fleet of small boats, which were moved to a warehouse before the storm, are apparently safe. And a former shrimp trawler used for education programs rode out the tempest in a sheltered harbor. Still, Palmer says it could be weeks before the institute can resume regular operations.In the meantime, Palmer says that—like many other institute employees—she is dealing with some storm damage on the homefront. Winds knocked down the backyard fence at her residence in suburb of Corpus Christi, and it will need to be replaced.In a 27 August statement, Gregory Fenves, the president of of UT, which is based in Austin, noted that “John Sharp, the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, has offered [marine institute staff] the temporary use of facilities at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, for which I am deeply grateful.”—David MalakoffAt medical center in Houston, optimism about flood defensesSo far, researchers appear optimistic that flood defenses will hold at the Texas Medical Center, the behemoth complex of hospitals and medical research labs in Houston that includes Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center.Raghu Kalluri, a cancer biologist at MD Anderson, managed to return to his lab this morning to find everything in working order: Freezers full of important samples had been protected by backup generators, and facilities housing research animals had stayed dry. Kalluri, who 5 years ago saw colleagues’ research devastated by damage from Hurricane Sandy while at Harvard Medical School in Boston, was pleasantly surprised by the center’s response. “I’m quite impressed of how they’ve prepared themselves,” he says.Several researchers say the center is benefiting from hard lessons learned from Tropical Storm Allison, which in 2001 breached aging dykes at Texas Medical Center and flooded hospital basements, killing thousands of research rodents and thawing frozen tissue samples. The complex now has a system of flood doors that sealed off basements and first floor facilities as water levels rose over the weekend. A spokesperson for Baylor described a system of gates and concrete walls rising 15 meters above sea level.“Disruption of research should be modest unless the situation worsens,” predicts cancer researcher Kent Osborne of Baylor. But he and others have been unable to visit their labs, as water continues to block roads to the medical center.“Maybe the flood control efforts after Allison are working,” says infectious disease researcher Herbert Dupont of the University of Texas Health Science Center, “but we need the storm to move along!” —Kelly Servick Alicia Walker, the Amos Rehabilitation Keep Program coordinator, and Andrew Orgill, an animal attendant, release turtles into the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Harvey hit the coast. After record-breaking rains and catastrophic flooding, many scientists remain in suspense about how Hurricane Harvey will affect their research. Some are still unable to return to their labs and field sites to assess any damage. But others are beginning to get a look at the storm’s aftermath. Here is a sampling of what ScienceInsider is hearing from researchers. And we’re eager to hear your story. Let us know how Harvey is affecting your research, for better or worse, by sending an email to dmalakof@aaas.org. By Science News StaffSep. 1, 2017 , 3:45 PM Hurricane Harvey provides lab for U.S. forecast experiments Human influence may prolong ocean cycle that gave birth to Harvey Riding out the storm downtown with the animalsAs the hurricane roared into Houston, Mary Robinson hunkered down at the University of Texas Health Science Center downtown. Robinson, a veterinarian and director of the animal facilities there, headed up the storm “ride-out” crew caring for the laboratory animals until regular staff could return to work. The addition of submarine doors and flood gates after Tropical Storm Allison (see below), as well as moving the animal facilities out of the basement, helped make Robinson’s 5-day stint relatively quiet. “Not a single animal was hurt or killed or even seemed to be bothered by the storm,” she says. —Carrie Arnold On the eve of Harvey making landfall in Texas, Andrew Orgill sorely tested his mother’s love for him. Orgill, an animal attendant at a local wildlife rescue facility, showed up at her house with nine pelicans, a roseate spoonbill, and more than 30 other injured birds that he brought home for safekeeping and released onto her back porch. Orgill, who started working at the Amos Rehabilitation Keep at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) on the Gulf Coast when he was 10, knew that as long as he fed them their daily rations of frozen fish, cut to each bird’s size needs, they would tolerate the close quarters. Together, the Orgills and the birds weathered the hurricane intact.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The keep also had 60 sea turtles of various sizes under its care, which were evacuated to an emergency wildlife facility built to handle animals caught in an oil spill. Deemed safer in that metal frame building, with its heavy duty steel beams and large garage doors secured with chains, than in the keep’s wood structures, the turtles still could have been flooded by the storm surge. But the thinking was they could swim around until the water receded and thus survive.last_img read more

NASA’s Parker Probe will venture closer than ever to the sun to explore its mysterious atmosphere

first_img It is absolutely a unique time for solar physics. There is combined science that we can do that is going to be awesome. Last October, a sprightly retiree donned a hairnet, blue booties, and a lab coat to visit APL’s clean room, flanked by mission scientists. Eugene Parker had come to see his namesake, a probe devoted to studying the very wind he had described 6 decades earlier—partly from observations of comet tails pointing away from the sun like wind socks.The idea was once controversial—two reviewers outright rejected Parker’s paper. Now, the solar wind sits at the cornerstone of an emerging applied science. Understanding the corona’s behavior on good days may prove key to predicting bad ones. Whatever physics accelerates the solar wind also launches dangerous solar storms.Adverse space weather falls into several classes. Workaday solar wind would pose a health risk only to astronauts traveling outside Earth’s protective magnetic field, to deep-space locations such as the moon or Mars. Solar flares hurl stronger bursts of particles and radiation toward Earth that can cause problems for satellites and, funneled by the planet’s magnetic field toward the poles, create auroral light shows. The rarest and strongest events, called coronal mass ejections (CMEs), launch dense blobs of particles that can overwhelm Earth’s field and cripple communications technology. In 1967, for example, the U.S. Air Force started to prepare for nuclear war after multiple early warning radar systems appeared to be jammed. The culprit, found in time to forestall disaster, was a massive CME.”When will they occur? How long are they going to last? How intense are they going to be?” Singer asks. “There are huge gaps in understanding how to predict some of these phenomena.”CMEs come with little warning. The NASA and NOAA satellites that track the solar wind hover near a stable Earth-sun gravitational point that lies just 1% of the way to the sun. At solar wind speeds, a space weather event picked up there can reach Earth 15 minutes later. So learning to discern warning signs of disruptive events right at the sun from data from Parker, DKIST, and the Solar Orbiter, will lead to better predictions, Singer says.DKIST will take a microscope to the same magnetic structures that spew flares. The Solar Orbiter will measure magnetic fields on the far side of the sun and test whether monitoring intense fields before they rotate into view could improve future predictions. And Parker should improve space weather models by measuring conditions in the corona as small flares erupt. Team members are hoping the probe may be lucky enough to dart through a CME.But all that is work still ahead. Congdon’s own quest is almost over. The heat shield sits fastened tightly atop Parker, ready for space. She has booked her own ticket to Florida for the start of the August launch window, not to work on it, but to appreciate it as a tourist in a special viewing area for APL visitors. So has Eugene Parker, traveling with close family, who will be feted like a VIP.”The joy on the scientists’ faces—that’s what we’re looking for,” Congdon says. Ignoring the lessons of mythology, Betsy Congdon has spent the first decade of her young engineering career on a singular quest: to build something that will fly dangerously close to the sun.On a drizzly day in May at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, Congdon crouches next to a foil-wrapped test copy of her team’s product: a carbon-foam heat shield, a little wider and a lot thinner than a king size mattress. Another copy sits nearby, a flight-ready spare sealed in a metal drum stamped with an unintentionally ironic warning: “Do not expose to direct sunlight.”The real one has headed south to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where on or soon after 11 August, it will blast off, fastened to the business end of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. Six weeks later, the probe will reach Venus. That planet’s gravity will tip the probe toward the heart of the solar system. Six weeks after that, Parker will plunge through the sun’s corona, a tenuous atmosphere of hot charged particles, or plasma, on the first of two dozen flybys between now and 2024.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)During those flybys, the heat shield must keep the probe’s fragile electronics safe while temperatures on its surface soar up to a steel-melting 1370°C. The heat doesn’t come from the million-degree plasma in the corona itself, which is too thin to transfer much energy, but from the sheer glare of the sun. Yet Congdon isn’t nervous. “We’ve put it through all its paces,” she says, her voice echoing in the cavernous spacecraft assembly room. “We’ve put multiples of them through all their paces.”If all goes well, the spacecraft—safe in the shadow of the shield—will beam back a record of the corona’s plasma and the tangled net of magnetic fields that shape it. Those data could solve fundamental mysteries. For example, what heats the plasma to more than 200 times the temperature of the sun’s surface? And how does the solar wind, a stream of plasma particles, escape into space? The solar wind has been a puzzle since solar physicist Eugene Parker, the probe’s namesake, described it in 1958. Understanding it better could help today’s researchers improve their forecasts of solar storms, the gusts of solar wind that crash into Earth’s magnetic field and, at their strongest, knock out satellites and electrical grids.The $1.5 billion Parker isn’t the only big upcoming project aimed at the sun. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, astronomers are putting finishing touches on the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), a $350 million project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. With a 4-meter mirror, DKIST is more than twice the size of the largest existing solar telescopes. It should be able to zoom in on the sun’s surface with unrivaled sharpness when operations start in June 2020. That same year, the Solar Orbiter is due to launch, with €780 million in core support from the European Space Agency. The spacecraft will observe high-energy radiation rippling through the corona from slightly farther away than Parker. 1 (LEFT TO RIGHT) NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS APL/ED WHITMAN; NASA 2 Valentin MartÍnez Pillet, National Solar Observatory NASA’s Parker Probe will venture closer than ever to the sun to explore its mysterious atmosphere NASA The sun’s visible surface, the photosphere, simmers at about 5500°C. Grade school physics holds that because the corona is farther still from the heat source at the sun’s core, temperatures should fall. Instead, they soar to more than 1 million degrees Celsius.Heliophysicists have battled for decades over the origin of this extra heat. On the broad strokes, at least, they agree. The energy probably starts as motion in the photosphere or just below, where astronomers see granules—seething, ever-shifting cells the size of Texas. Those are bubbles of convecting plasma, and they boil like a cauldron, carrying tremendous amounts of kinetic energy. Scientists also agree that magnetic fields transport the energy outward.Unlike everyday materials, charged plasma responds to magnetism, flowing along field lines. The moving particles themselves create electric currents that generate additional magnetic fields. Sometimes the fields reach up through the surface of the sun and into the corona, which could establish a path for the granules’ kinetic energy to be transformed into thermal energy.”Beyond that, if we brought in five theorists, we might get 15 theories,” St. Cyr says. But the proposed pathways of coronal heating do fall into two general branches.In one, sudden changes in the protruding tangle of magnetic field lines pump heat into the corona. With both feet planted in the photosphere, many of those lines resemble the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, Missouri. But as the surface churns, the feet move around, tangling the lines overhead. Stress builds up. When the field lines suddenly snap into a more stable arrangement, vast amounts of energy are released into the surrounding plasma.Missions such as NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory have monitored almost second-by-second changes on the sun since 2010. They have observed those abrupt changes, called magnetic reconnection, and shown that they can kick out solar flares. The events take place often enough to account for some, but not all, of the corona’s heat. Theorists have long suspected that much smaller “nanoflares” could also pop off close to the surface, too small and faint to be detected. A million such flares per second, each about as powerful as a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb, could fully account for the corona’s measured temperature. “I really think these are transformative missions,” says Howard Singer, chief scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Singer and his colleagues deliver forecasts of solar activity not only for satellite and grid operators, but also for astronauts and airlines that fly near the poles, where high-energy, tissue-penetrating particles more readily slip through Earth’s magnetic field.If current schedules hold, DKIST and the Solar Orbiter will observe the corona well before Parker makes its closest solar flybys in 2024. That timing should allow heliophysicists to mix and match remote and in situ data—collected at the same moment, no less—enabling them to measure changes in the corona while watching the sun’s roiling surface for clues to the processes that stir and heat it. Earlier this year at APL, representatives of the three projects met for the first time to discuss how they could tackle the corona together. “It is absolutely a unique time for solar physics,” says Valentin Martínez Pillet, director of the National Solar Observatory in Boulder, the organization building DKIST. “There is combined science that we can do that is going to be awesome.”Parker’s journey to the sun fulfills an ambition as old as the U.S. space program itself. In 1958, still reeling from the success of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik satellite, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee chaired by early space physicists John Simpson and James Van Allen brainstormed a wish list of missions that, scientifically, could put the United States in the lead in space. One concept was a probe that would venture inside Mercury’s orbit to taste solar plasma.For decades, the idea did not budge from the wish list. “We’ve tried it half a dozen times,” says Chris St. Cyr, project scientist for NASA’s contributions to the Solar Orbiter at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It never got the political will of the science community at the same time the funding was available.”By the early 2000s, NASA and NAS were both pushing a solar probe as a top priority. Parker, the eventual result, will come within 0.04 astronomical units (AU) of the sun. (One AU is the average distance between the sun and Earth.) That’s 10 times closer than Mercury’s path and seven times closer than the current record holders, the Helios probes of the mid-1970s, built by West Germany and NASA. The twin probes spun once per second to evenly distribute the sun’s heat. Inclined 25° above ecliptic Even 0.04 AU represents a compromise for Parker. NASA’s previous solar probe concept, devised in 2005, would have gone at least twice as close for one or two flybys.But it was expensive. In 2007, NASA asked APL managers to cut costs. In response, they changed the mission design, backing off from the sun and increasing the number of flybys to compensate. They also replaced a costly radioisotope generator with panels to draw solar power—all too abundant in the corona. To prevent overheating, Parker hides the panels in the shade under the heat shield as it draws closest to the sun in its elliptical orbit. The probe stretches the panels open to catch the sun’s rays when the spacecraft is farther away, while a pumping system cools them with a water bath.Then there’s that all-important shield. In her office upstairs from the clean room where Parker was built, Congdon keeps a suitcase-size square of the black material used for testing. It’s built like a sandwich, with a thick filling of carbon foam, an airy mesh of carbon molecules, sitting between thin sheets of carbon-carbon, a material woven from carbon fibers that gets stronger, not weaker, when heated to a few thousand degrees. Thick pads of carbon-carbon adorned the nose and wings of NASA’s space shuttles.Congdon picks up the sample and holds it out. It’s surprisingly light—the full-size shield weighs only as much as a person. At a touch, the coarse foam exposed at the edges of the sample rubs off like the lead of a soft pencil. The outside of the real shield has a white coating designed to reflect as much heat as possible, but on this unpainted sample, parts of the surface are darkened, overtoasted.Engineers have taken pains to ensure the shield never strays from its position between Parker and the sun, including when radio contact with Earth is cut off as the probe disappears behind the sun or when the sun’s own radio emission drowns out the spacecraft’s. If sensors discover that the heat shield has rotated out of position, an automated system engages to right the craft. “We need to recover within a few minutes before something gets severely damaged,” says Jim Kinnison, Parker’s mission system engineer at APL.Ironically, the heat shield is flammable on Earth in the presence of oxygen. One high-temperature test took a “terrifying” turn when the test chamber’s vacuum seal broke and oxygen leaked in, Congdon says. “The thing went up in flames.” But in the rarefied plasma of the solar corona, oxygen is scarce and the few atoms there have had their outer electrons torn away by bafflingly high temperatures. Parker’s science team hopes to figure out why. Sun Earth’s magnetic field deflects most solar wind particles. But intense solar storms can cause problems for satel lites and power grids. Weathering the storms The sun’s surface is only 5500°C, whereas the tenuous gases of the corona can reach temperatures of 1 million degrees Celsius or more. Researchers have proposed two mechanisms by which magnetic fields could turn kinetic energy from the sun’s roiling surface into coronal heat (1 and 2, below). Turn up the heat The sun’s surface is a mass of boiling plasma cells that constantly shake and drag the magnetic field lines embedded in it. Stirring the field lines The spacecraft’s inclined orbit gives it views of the sun’s poles, where a faster solar wind emanates from open magnetic field lines. Solar Orbiter The boiling plasma can create waves in the open field lines that stretch into space. The wiggling can heat nearby plasma particles. 1 Magnetohydrodynamic waves Looping magnetic fields can becometangled. When they snap into a stable arrangement, they can trigger flares, heating the corona. 2 Magnetic reconnection Pore Convection Closedloops Heat shield Radiators Parker closest pass(0.04 AU) Solar Orbiterclosest pass(0.28 AU) Mercuryaverage orbit(0.395 AU) Corona Sunspots Granule At a boundary called the Alfvén surface, plasma particles in the solar wind escape the sun’s gravity. Unknown forces accelerate them into the solar system. Solar panelsextend beyondthe heat shieldwhen the probesits farther out inits elliptical orbit. A mighty wind Between now and 2024, the spacecraft will dip into the sun’s corona two dozen times, protected from steel-melting tem peratures by a carbon heat shield. Its most intimate pass will bring it 10 times closer than Mercury. Parker Solar Probe Alfvén surface Solar panel Heat shield Earth Technicians test solar cells on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe by shining a laser on them (left). The probe awaits the addition of its heat shield and solar panels prior to launch in Florida (right). Eclipticorbit Two spacecraft, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter, will skim the sun to tackle two long-standing mysteries: why the corona is so hot, and what powers the solar wind. The Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield is lowered into a chamber that mimics the vacuum of space and the heat of the sun. If the corona’s heat does come from swarms of undiscovered staccato explosions, freshly heated pockets of the corona should reach temperatures as high as 10 million degrees Celsius before the energy can spread around. And in recent years, satellites and suborbital rockets, observing above Earth’s atmosphere in x-rays and the ultraviolet (UV), have spotted emissions from coronal plasma at those temperatures, adding indirect support to the theory. “It’s there. That’s sort of incontrovertible,” says Goddard astrophysicist Jim Klimchuk.Other theorists envision a different path for heat rising from the depths of the sun. The motion of the bubbling plasma cells excites waves of magnetic energy that course outward. In theory, those waves can jangle field lines in the corona like ropes in a CrossFit gym—especially lines with one foot on the sun and the other dangling into space. That wiggling heats nearby particles, which steal away thermal and kinetic energy “like a surfer on the crest of a wave,” says Kelly Korreck, a solar physicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts.The trio of upcoming missions should help apportion the corona’s heat budget between reconnection and waves, and perhaps hint at specific subprocesses such as nanoflares, although Korreck sounds a note of caution: “There is no one telescope that’s definitely going to find the answer.” Parker will traverse a path where wave heating is expected to dominate. If Parker senses waves, it can check how much energy they contribute. And by measuring just-cooked plasma close to the sun—say, the gust of hot helium atoms unleashed by a nanoflare—Parker should also be able to sniff out traces of reconnection heating events.DKIST and the Solar Orbiter, for their part, will add to the picture by studying the area beneath Parker’s path. Both observatories—DKIST, using infrared light; and the Solar Orbiter, using UV and x-rays—will map the fleeting, tangled field structures that might be sparking nanoflares.The Parker probe will also explore the mystery that Eugene Parker, now a 91-year-old physicist emeritus from the University of Chicago in Illinois, left for his scientific heirs: What drives the gale of charged particles expanding hundreds of kilometers per second out into the solar system? Low in the corona, the solar magnetic field has a stiff hold on plasma. Somewhere above that, the particles move fast enough to shake free of the sun’s gravity and escape into the solar system. That is “where the magic happens, where the solar wind is accelerated so much that it then takes off,” says Nicola Fox, the probe’s project scientist at APL. “We’ll be in that region.”The wind, like the corona, seems to defy basic physics: It should cool and slow down as it begins to spread into the solar system. But it doesn’t. Something keeps driving it outward—perhaps the energy emitted by particles following spiral paths or the dissipation of turbulent gusts of plasma. By recording the small-scale physics of the plasma it flies through, Parker will pinpoint where the wind takes flight and narrow the possible mechanisms that could launch it. “We all know the devil is in the details,” Fox says. C. BICKEL/SCIENCE SUN CATCHERS Deflected windparticles 1 astronomical unit (AU) Solar wind By Joshua SokolAug. 1, 2018 , 11:00 AMlast_img read more

New batlike dinosaur was early experiment in flight

first_img Even Ambopteryx’s stomach contents were preserved. Researchers recovered pieces of bone and small rocks called gastroliths, which modern birds use to grind plant material, indicating the species may have been omnivorous. Though the creature was replete with feathers, these were a downy fuzz and not used for flight. O’Connor also speculates that males of the species may have sported long ornamental tail feathers, possibly to woo females, as can be seen in other scansoriopterygid fossils.The complete skeleton has allowed scientists to make the first detailed analysis of differences in wing design and mode of flight between these dinosaurs and birds. Researchers measured the bones of the arms and fingers in each type of wing and compared them using statistical methods.Ambopteryx’s wings were formed by elongating the humerus and ulna, the bones of the upper and lower arm in humans, the team reports today in Nature. Birds instead achieved flight by elongating their metacarpals, analogous to our fingers. “The main lift-generating surface of birds’ wings is formed by feathers,” O’Connor explains. “In bats, pterosaurs [dinosaur-era reptiles that flew similar to bats], and now scansoriopterygids—you instead have flaps of skin that are stretched out in between skeletal elements.”“This new discovery shows Yi qi was not an aberrant species, but that there was an entire group of bat dinosaurs taking to the skies in the [Jurassic],” says Darla Zelenitsky, a paleontologist at the University of Calgary in Canada who has studied feathered dinosaurs.However, although nearly 10,000 species of birds live today, no scansoriopterygids survived past the end of the Jurassic. That suggests their early experiment in flight was far less successful, O’Connor says. Still, she says, their existence is remarkable, given that flight has only evolved in a handful of groups of animals across the entire history of life. “The idea that flight evolved more than once in dinosaurs is incredibly exciting and hasn’t quite sunk into the scientific community yet.”“The evolution of flight wasn’t a gradual march from dinosaur to bird,” Brusatte adds. “It involved lots of experimentation and tinkering.” Min Wang/Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology/Chinese Academy of Sciences Min Wang/Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology/Chinese Academy of Sciences A number of tiny, bat-winged dinosaurs flew the Jurassic skies, according to the strongest evidence yet for such creatures—a well-preserved fossil of a starling-size fluffball that may have looked a little like a flying squirrel. The find, recovered near a farming village in northeastern China, suggests dinosaurs were experimenting with several methods of flight during this period, but many were an evolutionary dead end.“This fossil seals the deal—there really were bat-winged dinosaurs,” says Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved with the study.Scientists were already confident that a number of dinosaurs could fly. There are birds, of course, which are technically dinosaurs and appeared during the Jurassic period, at least 150 million years ago. Other dinosaurs sported feathers on their hind- and forelimbs, effectively giving them four birdlike wings.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Then, in 2015, researchers discovered a dinosaur that may have flown more like a bat. Named Yi qi (Mandarin for “strange wing”) and discovered in northwestern China, the crow-size creature appeared to have a flap of skin stretched between its body and arm bones that was supported by a rod of cartilage. But the fossil, which belongs to an enigmatic group of dinosaurs called the scansoriopterygids, was partial and poorly preserved, so scientists couldn’t be sure it actually flew like a bat. “There’s been debate about whether the skin flap was really an airfoil or used for another purpose,” Brusatte says.The new fossil, named Ambopteryx longibrachium (meaning “both-wing” and “long arm,” referring to this second method of dinosaur flight) and dated to about 163 million years ago during the Jurassic period, doesn’t have that problem. Nearly every part of the little dino—which was uncovered by a farmer who provides the fossils he finds to the Chinese Academy of Sciences’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing—is well-preserved, including membranous batlike wings similar to those of Yi qi. “You could have fit it in your hand,” says IVPP paleontologist and study author Jingmai O’Connor. “It would have been this tiny, bizarre-looking, buck-toothed thing like nothing alive today.” New batlike dinosaur was early experiment in flightcenter_img The new Ambopteryx fossil, with two folded wings in the center and the remains of fuzzy feathers along the neck An artist’s illustration of Ambopteryx By John PickrellMay. 8, 2019 , 1:00 PMlast_img read more