Tag Archives: lizard

Asteroid that Killed the Dinosaurs also Wiped out the ‘Obamadon’

The asteroid collision widely thought to have killed the dinosaurs also led to extreme devastation among snake and lizard species, according to new research — including the extinction of a newly identified lizard Yale and Harvard scientists have named Obamadon gracilis.

“The asteroid event is typically thought of as affecting the dinosaurs primarily,” said Nicholas R. Longrich, a postdoctoral associate with Yale’s Department of Geology and Geophysics and lead author of the study. “But it basically cut this broad swath across the entire ecosystem, taking out everything. Snakes and lizards were hit extremely hard.” (more…)

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Scientists Find Oldest Dinosaur – or Closest Relative Yet

Researchers have discovered what may be the earliest dinosaur, a creature the size of a Labrador retriever, but with a five foot-long tail, that walked the Earth about 10 million years before more familiar dinosaurs like the small, swift-footed Eoraptor and Herrerasaurus.

The findings mean that the dinosaur lineage appeared 10 million to 15 million years earlier than fossils previously showed, originating in the Middle Triassic rather than in the Late Triassic period. (more…)

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Crows React to Threats in Human-like Way

Cross a crow and it’ll remember you for years.

Crows and humans share the ability to recognize faces and associate them with negative, as well as positive, feelings. The way the brain activates during that process is something the two species also appear to share, according to new research being published this week.

“The regions of the crow brain that work together are not unlike those that work together in mammals, including humans,” said John Marzluff, University of Washington professor of environmental and forest sciences. “These regions were suspected to work in birds but not documented until now. (more…)

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Why are There so Many Species of Beetles and So few Crocodiles?

Answer may be ‘adaptive zones’ that limit species number, life scientists report

There are more than 400,000 species of beetles and only two species of the tuatara, a reptile cousin of snakes and lizards that lives in New Zealand. Crocodiles and alligators, while nearly 250 million years old, have diversified into only 23 species. Why evolution has produced “winners” — including mammals and many species of birds and fish — and “losers” is a major question in evolutionary biology.

Scientists have often posited that because some animal and plant lineages are much older than others, they have had more time to produce new species (the dearth of crocodiles notwithstanding). This idea — that time is an important predictor of species number — underlies many theoretical models used by biologists. However, it fails to explain species numbers across all multi-cellular life on the planet, a team of life scientists reports Aug. 28 in the online journal PLoS Biology, a publication of the Public Library of Science. (more…)

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From a Few Bones, the Most Primitive Snake Emerges

Researchers at Yale have identified an ancient slithering creature from the time of T. rex as the most primitive known snake, a finding with implications for the debate over snake origins.

“It’s the missing-link snake,” said Nicholas Longrich, a postdoctoral fellow in Yale’s Department of Geology & Geophysics and the lead author of a paper about the lizard-like snake published July 25 online in the journal Nature. “It’s the ‘Lucy’ of snakes.”

The paper argues that snakes descend from terrestrial rather than marine ancestors, as recently proposed by others, and that snakes emerged once lizards developed long, limbless bodies for burrowing. (more…)

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Gecko Feet Don’t Stick Around

The lizards have gained and lost adhesive toes many times

Who wouldn’t envy the little gecko as it dashes up a smooth wall or hangs from a ceiling by a toe?

An engineer’s dream, gecko feet combine the best of duct tape and Post-It® Notes: They stick, but they don’t stay stuck.

The drive to duplicate gecko feats technologically is a hot area of research. Would-be designers of such a technology should note a new study of geckos’ evolutionary history that could simplify their task immensely. (more…)

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Synopsis

Peter Parker, an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy, and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance — leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero. (more…)

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Iconic New Zealand Reptile Shows Chewing is Not Just for Mammals

The tuatara, an iconic New Zealand reptile, chews its food in a way unlike any other animal on the planet –challenging the widespread perception that complex chewing ability is closely linked to high metabolism.

Using a sophisticated computer model, scientists from UCL and the University of Hull demonstrate how the tuatara is able to slice its food like a “steak knife”. The tuatara’s complex chewing technique raises doubts about the supposed link between chewing and high metabolism in mammals.

The New Zealand tuatara (Sphenodon) is a lizard-like reptile that is the only survivor of a group that was globally widespread at the time of the dinosaurs. It lives on 35 islands scattered around the coast of New Zealand and was recently reintroduced to the mainland. Its diet consists of beetles, spiders, crickets, small lizards and, occasionally, sea birds. (more…)

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