A fossil of a small tyrannosaur that lived 70 million years ago was recently discovered in northern Alaska. The pygmy dinosaur, called Nanuqsaurus hoglundi (which means “polar bear lizard”), is believed to be a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
N. hoglundi was much smaller than the T. Rex. Its skull measures 25 inches as compared to the T. Rex‘s 60-inch skull. Researchers have postulated that the pygmy tyrannosaur’s smaller stature was an adaptation to the cooler Arctic climate. Although the Arctic would have been much warmer in the Cretaceous Period than it is today, bouts of cold temperatures would have caused variations in the food supply.
Below is an illustration of the relative size of N. hoglundi (A) as compared to its larger cousin T. Rex (B and C). Although N. hoglundi was only about half the size of the T. Rex, it still was an impressive 23 feet from head to tail.
Nanuqsaurus hoglundi (A) as compared to T. Rex (B and C) and other species. The scale bar equals 1 meter. Courtesy PLoS.
Since November 30, SeaWorld Orlando has experienced a penguin chick boom. Fifteen penguin chicks have hatched at their new exhibit, Antarctica, Empire of the Penguin, which features four different species of penguin: king, Adelie, Gentoo, and rockhopper.
From SeaWorld Orlando:
Although currently ranging in size from 6 inches to 21 inches, the king chick, the largest penguin at SeaWorld’s Antarctica will grow to be as tall as 2.5 ft. and its smallest, the rock hopper will grow to be approximately 12 inches tall.
Researchers in Western Australia are trying a new way to warn swimmers about sharks. Three hundred and thirty-eight sharks have been tagged with acoustic transmitters which will send a signal to a computer if a shark gets too close to land. The computer when then send out a tweet to warn swimmers that there is a shark in the area.
One concern is that the new system will provide a false sense of security because there are still many sharks without tags.
A new addition to the Twycross Zoo: a baby Bornean orangutan! Photo by Twycross Zoo.
Twycross Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of an endangered Bornean orangutan. The baby ape, born on November 28, is happy, healthy and doing very well. The newborn is 36-year-old Kibriah’s fourth offspring.
Mother Kibriah with her new baby.
Great Ape Team Leader, Simon Childs, said: “We’re all very proud. Kibriah is a very loving mum and she’s doing such a great job. She is holding the baby very close so we won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl just yet. When we find out the sex, we can then start to think of a name for him or her. At this stage we don’t mind what sex it is, we’re just happy to have another healthy infant.”
According to Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences: “The Bornean orangutan is classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Redlist (IUCN), with fewer than 50,000 individuals remaining in the wild. As they only give birth on average once every eight years their numbers are dwindling fast as a result of the extreme rate at which forest habitat in Indonesia is being destroyed by deforestation. Experts now agree that orangutans are likely to be extinct in the wild within the next 20 years, so successful breeding is imperative if this ape is to continue to exist on this planet in the future.”
Are you as polite as this marmoset monkey? Photo credit: BirdPhotos.com.
Princeton University researchers discovered that marmosets (a kind of new world monkey) take turns speaking with one another, similar to people! During their vocal exchanges, which can last up to 30 minutes, the monkeys wait their turn to speak. They don’t interrupt each other.
According to one of the study’s authors, Asif Ghazanfar:
“We were surprised by how reliably the marmoset monkeys exchanged their vocalizations in a cooperative manner, particularly since in most cases they were doing so with individuals that they were not pair-bonded with.
“This makes what we found much more similar to human conversations and very different from the coordinated calling of animals such as birds, frogs, or crickets, which is linked to mating or territorial defense.”
This research on marmoset vocalizations could provide clues about the early development of conversation in humans.