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Matthew Slotkin • Author at Mirror Daily

The pterosaur remnants might have belonged to one of the largest flying creatures in the world

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A team of researchers has recently stumbled upon the remnants of a huge flying creature which preyed upon smaller creatures about 70 million years ago. The fossils have been spotted in Mongolia, and likely belong to one of the largest animals of the kind which lived during that period.

The fossils belonged to a pterosaur

After a close analysis of the remains, researchers could tell they belonged to a pterosaur. This represented a group of reptiles which were able to fly, and lived during the same period as dinosaurs. Given their age, these reptiles were probably the first to fly among the vertebrates, and probably the biggest winged creatures which could also fly.

As soon as the Mongolian pterosaur was discovered, researchers were amazed by the impressive size of its neck bones. Therefore, judging from how big the remnants were, they could immediately tell the specimen belonged to this group of animals. The site of the discovery was the Nemegt Formation, a region in the Gobi Desert where many other dinosaur finds had occurred.

However, this was the first time when researchers discovered a pterosaur in the area. They had stumbled upon fossils of the animal in many other places, indicating its wide distribution over an extensive area 70 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period.

How big was this pterosaur?

The most remarkable and well-preserved parts of the fossil were the neck bones. This means it’s quite hard to estimate the exact dimensions of the creature. However, thanks to its footprint, researchers assumed the specimen must have been close in size to the biggest species which belonged to the pterosaur group.

The species in question, Hatzegopteryx and Quetzalcoatlus, reached about 36 feet when they spread their wings. Therefore, the Mongolian pterosaur must have been as big as a small plane, which is remarkable for a flying animal. However, researchers say that the animal could have actually been smaller, and the neck bones could have reached an abnormal size.

The study on the unusual pterosaur has been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Image Source: Pixabay

The Jackson’s climbing salamander has been spotted again after 40 years

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A team of researchers made an encouraging discovery which left them rejoicing. While exploring the Cuchumatanes Mountains in Guatemala, they stumbled upon a Jackson’s climbing salamander. This finding matters a lot, as this is the first time in 40 years when they spot the species, and many thought it had already gone extinct.

The Jackson’s climbing salamander is back from the dead

The Jackson’s climbing salamander can be easily spotted thanks to its striking yellow color, which also led to it being called the golden wonder. This species was spotted for the first time in 1975, in a jungle in Guatemala. However, this month, a guard looking after the Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve spotted a baby salamander belonging to the same species. This was the third specimen ever spotted.

This attracted the attention of the Global Wildlife Conservation group, who have dedicated their time to look for species which people regarded as extinct. They were extremely excited by the discovery, and said endangered species still have a chance. Since such a species was spotted again within a protected area, this means there’s still hope.

An expert confirm that the specimen belonged to the long-lost salamander species

The conservation group decided to check if the mysterious salamander really belonged to the Jackson’s climbing species. Therefore, they snapped a quick photo of the specimen, and sent it to an expert. This was the curator of herpetology at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, Carlos Vasquez, who has been on an avid quest to find the salamander since 2005.

He confirmed its origin, and was happy to see that the species didn’t disappear, after all. However, the discovery isn’t valuable only for the species alone, but for the entire area. This highlights the ideal conditions for different species to thrive, and promises a bright future for the creatures which populate it.
Image Source: Pixabay

Paul Weitz had a 28-year-long career as a NASA astronaut

(Mirror Daily, United States) – NASA has just announced the death of one of the greatest astronauts it has ever had. Paul Weitz was the commander of the Challenger space shuttle, and led it on its maiden voyage through space. The retired astronaut was 85, and died at the beginning of this week.

Weitz spent over 790 hours flying through space, and was an astronaut for 28 years of his life. NASA revealed he led an avid struggle with cancer, but the space administration didn’t reveal if this was the actual cause of the man’s death.

The man was a Navy astronaut, and was selected by NASA in April 1966, together with 18 other astronauts. Then, in May 1973, he was the pilot of the spaceship Skylab 2, when he also established a world record by flying into space for 28 days straight. He got retired in 1976, returned to the Navy, but then regained its collaboration with NASA later.

Weitz came back from his retirement at 51 to fly back into space

Back then, it was remarkable for an astronaut to abandon retirement and return to NASA to fly into space. Therefore, he was given the command of the Challenger mission, which launched on April 4th, 1983. Weitz was 51 at the time, proving that age didn’t matter. The same space shuttle was relaunched in January 1986, but it had a cruel fate. Soon after launching, it exploded and seven members of the crew lost their lives.

Afterwards, Weitz was named deputy director of the Johnson Space Center, and remained there until his final retirement in 1994. NASA deeply regrets his loss, as he was a remarkable man who didn’t allow himself to be constrained by age or any other limitations. All scientists and astronauts will remember him for his amazing contributions to the astronomical world, and use him as a true role model.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Not all blood transfusions might be safe

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A recent research revealed some distressing information regarding blood transfusions. It turns out men are at a higher risk of death after a transfusion if the donor was a woman who had been pregnant. Researchers cannot tell which is the cause of this association, but 10 years worth of data showed a higher mortality among these men.

Pregnant women might not be the best blood donors for men

The results of the study showed how male receivers younger than 50 were 1.5 more likely to die after blood transfusions coming from women who had been pregnant at least once in their lifetime. This is about six times the regular mortality in these cases.

The study used a sample of 31,118 patients, with almost 4,000 of them dying after the transfusions. As the most common cause of death, there was severe lung injury, which can rarely occur after a patient receives blood. Also, the statistics showed a higher chance of death among men who received transfusions from a woman who had been pregnant.

The study needs more research before the imposing of a restriction on transfusions

Although the cause of this phenomenon isn’t clear, researchers think it has to do with the changes suffered by the immune system during pregnancy. However, the risk could also be related to different in iron concentrations in the organism between a man and a pregnant woman, or to a vital difference between the two patients’ red blood cells.

However, the study was observational. The next step would be to identify the cause of this risk, the mechanism behind it, and to determine if the results are significant from a clinical point of view. In other words, before banning blood transfusions from mothers to men, it’s necessary to see if they pose a real risk. Until then, all people are encouraged to donate blood, regardless of sex or pregnancy status.
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Ocean critters are responsible with releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A recent study discovered a new element which contributes to climate change, and to the release of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The culprits are ocean critters, such as worms and clams, which release a high amount of gases as methane and different types of nitrous oxides.

Ocean critters release high amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

A team of researchers from the Universities of Cardiff and Stockholm analyzed the gut bacteria inside ocean critters, and their effect on global warming. This is how they found out the activity of these bacteria led to the release of one of the strongest greenhouse gases existent on the planet.

The gases in question are nitrous oxides and methane. The latter, for instance, has about 28 times the warming capacity of carbon dioxide, and can easily make its way into the atmosphere from water. This leads to a great contribution on the process of global warming.

A new threat for the environment

Researchers analyzed methane emissions from the Baltic Sea, and discovered about 10 percent of them are caused by ocean critters. Although it doesn’t sound dangerous, this amount of gas equals the emissions produced by 20,000 cows, the next big animal ‘pollutant’. Therefore, being aware of the effect of these ocean critters could be vital for the future of our planet.

Officials thought that promoting farming of ocean critters would be beneficial for the environment, as it would prevent the damaging of other marine life forms. However, if clams and worms can emit such dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases, it might be a better decision to avoid massive farming.

The results of the research are worth considering. This study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, only looked at the effects of ocean critters from the Baltic Sea, which represents only 0.1 percent of all seas and oceans on Earth. This leads to a dangerous conclusion, meaning that seaworms and clams have a huge contribution on global warming.
Image Source: Pixnio

Haumea is the first ringed cosmic object situated beyond Neptune’s orbit

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists have made an exciting discovery regarding one of the less known members of our Solar System. A remote dwarf planet, orbiting further away than Pluto, has an incredible formation around it. The small body, called Haumea, is surrounded by at least one ring. This dwarf planet lies in the Kuiper belt, and a recent observation revealed the unusual formation which accompanies it.

The fourth ringed object in the Solar System

Haumea borrowed its name from the goddess of childbirth in the Hawaiian mythology, and sits far away in the Solar System. Scientists discovered it in 2004, and approximated it lay at 43 times the distance between our planet and the Sun. This year, on January 21st, a stellar occultation occurred, and allowed for the study of the entire Kuiper belt. Occultation occurs when a planet or dwarf planet passes in front of a star, making it easier to be studied.

Scientists used dozens of telescopes to study Haumea, and identified a ring around the planet’s equator. This ring has a width of 70 kilometers and, once every three rotations Haumea performs around its axis, the ring performs one rotation around the dwarf planet. Therefore, Haumea became the fourth planetary object in the Solar System with a ring.

The observations revealed more information about Haumea

However, Haumea is special, since it’s the first discovered ringed object situated beyond Neptune. The four big planets which have rings revolving around them are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, but Saturn’s rings are by far the biggest and most visible. Apart from them, there are two other smaller objects which also have rings. They are the Centaurs Chariklo and Chiron.

The observations performed on Haumea revealed how its ring resembles the ones surrounding Neptune and Uranus. Also, they managed to make some other discoveries, such as the dimensions of the cosmic body, its lack of atmosphere, and the presence of two moons orbiting it. All these details have been presented in a paper in the journal Nature.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The missing visible matter is actually hiding at the threshold of galaxies

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists have always been fascinated by the dark matter which comprises the universe, often neglecting the visible matter which is also a part of it. However, most of this matter appeared to be missing which, again, kept puzzling scientists for a longer period of time. Now, they finally managed to find out what was going on with it, and discovered it was merely hiding.

This matter was presumed to occupy the space between galaxies, and was called baryonic matter. Previous models of the shape of the universe indicated it hid right at the boundaries of galaxies, making itself difficult to be observed. Now, scientists obtained the first evidence which confirmed this hypothesis.

Baryonic matter is made up mostly of typical particles, namely protons, electrons, and neutrons, and comprises only 4.6 percent of the universe. The rest of it is dark matter. These kinds of visible particles surround cosmic objects, such as stars, and emit light. By studying this light and then correlating it with what we know about the size of the universe, we can get an idea of their expansion.

Some of the visible matter in the universe appears to be hiding

However, the result doesn’t account for all the visible matter that should be there, and about 90 percent of it seems to be missing. However, a physical phenomenon helped scientists prove baryonic matter hid behind galaxies.

This phenomenon is called the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Effect, and causes the scattering of the photos left out after the Big Bang. These photons are scattered when they pass through galaxies and the electrons which surround them. The particles have been studied by two different teams, and were situated at different distances from Earth.

Therefore, the two teams, one from the University of British Columbia, and the other from the University of Edinburgh, obtained different results. However, the results are still consistent, and would accurately account for the distribution of visible matter across the universe.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The most precise atomic clock ever is powered by a quantum gas

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A team of researchers from the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Standards and Technology managed to build the most precise atomic clock ever. This device makes use of all three dimensions, and returns an error rate of only 3.5 to 10 quintillion, and was developed by the same team which made the previous most precise clock in the universe.

The research team was determined to create the perfect atomic clock, and their two attempts proved incredibly successful. After the first attempt, the 2015 clock had an error rate of 2 to 1 quintillion, and had the capacity to keep the time perfectly for more than the age of the universe. Therefore, it was able not to lose or add any second for 15 billion years.

For the manufacturing of these clocks, researchers used quantum engineering. Therefore, the 2015 version made use of a layer of strontium atoms, placed in a unidimensional wall. Now, researchers switched to 3D, and ordered the atoms in a cube form, packing them up at a density 1,000 times higher than the previous one.

The most precise atomic clock is powered by 3D formations of atoms and quantum gas

These atom formations were kept in place with the help of several laser beans. In fact, this radiation is what helps them be so precise in keeping the time. The electrons in these atoms are very precise when they vary from one state to another.

However, unidimensional clocks are more likely to get inaccurate, since each electron is measured on its own. When ordered in a three-dimensional cube, the electrons work together as a system. This way, they are less likely to collide, reducing the chances of inaccuracy and providing as much precision as possible.

Another important role was played by the gas which surrounded the atom cube, which researchers called ‘quantum gas’. It is also known as a Fermi gas, as it’s present in a state which contains many fermions. This gas reduces some of the properties of the gas, which prevents other factors from intervening and from perturbing the ability of the atomic clock to keep time.

The study on the new atomic clock has been published in the journal Science.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The bird catcher trees have deadly fruits which trap birds and don’t let go

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Being a bird can be tough, as they often struggle with many threats out there. Scientists are aware of many predators who love to feast on winged creatures, but it seems they do not only have to guard themselves against moving foes. In the heart of the Puerto Rican, a team of researchers have recently discovered two species of bird catcher trees which capture the animals with their fruit.

The bird catcher trees act like savage killers

The two bird catcher trees both have fruits which can easily trap a bird, and prevent it from escaping. These fruits are covered in some sort of hooks, which attach to a bird’s body if it lands on the tree. Birds might carry these fruits with them, but they often get too entangled on their body, preventing them from escaping, and eventually killing them.

The fruits of these bird catcher trees are true killers. Most of the time, the trees are covered in tiny bones and carcasses of the birds which fell victims to the spikes, displaying a disturbing image meant to bring shivers down your spine.

The trees have been given the most suitable names

Scientists decided to call the bird catcher trees after two iconic female figures related to the Puerto Rican history. The first one is called Pisonia horneae, named after Frances W. Horne, an illustrator who drew many plants from the rich flora of the country. For the second tree, researchers chose the name Pisonia roqueae, after the Puerto Rican amateur ethnobotanist and writer Ana Roqué de Duprey.

Both women dedicated their lives to expanding the knowledge on the plants and flowers in Puerto Rico, so naming the impressive specimens of the country’s flora seemed like the most suitable choice. The two bird catcher trees have been unknown for the scientific community until recently.

Similarly, many academics were unaware of the great efforts of these two women. Now, the discoverers of the trees hope they can properly honor the memory of these two botany enthusiasts. All the details regarding the exciting tree species have been published in the journal Phytokeys.
Image Source: Flickr

Facebook posted an Instagram ad using a photo of a rape threat

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Facebook made another huge mistake after some of its algorithms went wrong. This time, the platform promoted Instagram through an offensive ad, which contained an image with a rape threat. As expected, the Facebook-owned company wasn’t happy about it, and felt the need to apologize for the incident.

Facebook selected an offensive Instagram post for an ad

A Guardian reporter, Olivia Solon, was the one who posted the picture with the rape threat on Instagram. This was a screenshot of a message she had received, and she wanted to make everybody aware of the hate and despise that she received in her job as a journalist. About a year later, she was surprised to find the picture again where she wouldn’t have expected it to be.

Facebook’s algorithms had taken Solon’s Instagram post, and used it to advertise the image-sharing app on the platform. When the image was initially posted on Instagram, it attracted a few comments and likes. However, the algorithms found this was enough to determine a post needed attention, and regarded it as worthy of including it in an ad.

Relying too much on algorithms can lead to huge mistakes

Instagram responded immediately to the situation, and apologized for the huge mistake. However, their response didn’t seem fitting of the situation. They said they didn’t wish any user to have such an experience, and then explained the ad was an attempt to get people more engaged with the image-sharing platform.

This was quite a serious mistake, and another evidence of the dangers of algorithms. Most of the time, they are incredibly useful and make things quicker, but relying on them too much can lead to such errors. If a human would have reviewed the images selected for ads before going public, the platform would have managed to avoid many unpleasant situations.
Image Source: Pexels

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