Talk about a rodent of unusual size.The biggest rodent to ever stalk the Earth lived about 3 million years ago in what is now South America — and it used its large front teeth the way today's elephants use their tusks.The bull-size creature likely used its incisors to root around in the ground for food, possibly even fighting off predators with the sturdy teeth, according to a new study.An amateur paleontologist first unearthed the skull of an extinct rodent, Josephoartigasia monesi, from a boulder on a beach in Uruguay. The stunningly well-preserved skull was about 20 inches (51 centimeters) long, suggesting the rodent could grow to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms), the researchers calculated.For comparison, the next largest rodent ever discovered, Phoberomys, may have weighed up to 1,500 pounds (680 kg). And the modern world's biggest rodent, the capybara, can weigh a modest 130 pounds (60 kg). [Rumor or Reality: The Creatures of Cryptozoology]These ancient overgrown … [Read more...] about Extinct Mega-Rodent Had Teeth Like Elephant Tusks
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Millions of years ago the oceans were ruled by a bus-sized, whale-eating shark with teeth as big as your hand.Scientists have long believed that the prehistoric megalodon shark evolved into today's scariest sea predator, the great white. However, a new study comparing teeth suggests that the great white is more closely related to the smaller, but equally vicious mako shark."Most scientists would probably say the great whites evolved from the megalodon line, which existed from two to twenty million years ago," said Chuck Ciampaglio, a geologist and paleontologist at Wright State University. "However, our research, which is based on analyzing fossils of several hundred shark teeth, shows that the great white shares more similarities with the mako shark."A great white shark compared to the much larger megalodon, and a hapless hypothetical human. LiveScience IllustrationReconstructing prehistoric sharks is difficult. A shark's skeleton is made of cartilage, which decomposes quicker than … [Read more...] about Are Great Whites Descended from Mega-Sharks?
Thirty-two hectares of land, 1 lakh makeshift toilets, 20,000 construction workers, an equal number of sanitation workers, and 40,000 LED lights — that’s what makes up Kumbh Nagri, the temporary city near Triveni Sangam where Kumbh 2019 begins on January 15. On the ground, there is a makeshift administration office, with the Mela Adhikary wielding the powers of a DM, and supervising day-to-day proceedings. In the run-up to the mega event, the entire city of Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) is under construction. Footpaths and speed-breakers are being built. The roads are dotted with digital hoardings where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his cabinet are welcoming visitors to the Kumbh. At the Kumbh Nagri camp office, thousands line up at Mela Adhikary Vijay Kiran Anand’s office with applications to be allotted space during the 49-day event. Spiritual organisations are offered free living quarters with basic facilities during the Kumbh. Here, some rue that their … [Read more...] about Kumbh Mela: With 1 lakh makeshift toilets, 40 police stations, Kumbh Nagri set for mega gathering
The common cold has the twin distinction of being both the world’s most widespread infectious disease and one of the most elusive. The name is a problem, for starters. In almost every Indo-European language, one of the words for the disease relates to low temperature, yet experiments have shown that low temperature neither increases the likelihood of catching a cold, nor the severity of symptoms. Then there is the “common” part, which seems to imply that there is a single, indiscriminate pathogen at large. In reality, more than 200 viruses provoke cold-like illness, each one deploying its own peculiar chemical and genetic strategy to evade the body’s defences. It is hard to think of another disease that inspires the same level of collective resignation. The common cold slinks through homes and schools, towns and cities, making people miserable for a few days without warranting much afterthought. Adults suffer an average of between two and four colds each year, … [Read more...] about Why can’t we cure the common cold?
Chinese authorities have reportedly ordered the closure of churches in the eastern city hosting the G20 summit later this year to “create a safe environment” for world leaders when they meet. Heads of state will fly into Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, in early September for the two-day meeting hosted by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. In an effort to reduce congestion, local officials have declared a week-long public holiday to coincide with the G20 summit and are reportedly trying to convince thousands of residents to leave town. Now reports have emerged that authorities are also banning religious worship during the annual summit. The Global Times, a Communist party-run tabloid, said Xiaoshan, a district in south-east Hangzhou where the G20 meeting will be held, had outlawed large-scale religious activities until four days after the event. It said the move was an attempt “to create a safe environment for the meeting”. One Hangzhou pastor told … [Read more...] about China to shut churches in G20 host city on safety grounds – reports