greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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Old things, and really old things.

As I mentioned in in my last entry, the latest issue of Nature includes the description of a new theropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone of Germany. Like most vertebrate finds made in the Solnhofen, the same geological formation which has preserved Archaeopteryx lithographica, the holotype of Juravenator starki is a spectacularly beautiful and well-preserved fossil (Jura = after the Bavarian Jura Mountains venator, Latin, meaning "hunter'; the species name honours the quarry owners). It's been placed in the Compsognathidae, along with the genera Compsognathus (also from the Solnhofen), Sinosauropteryx and Huaxiagnathus (both from China). Juravenator starki is the most complete non-avian theropod known from anywhere in Europe. And it's a tiny beast, just a little more than two feet from the end of the snout to the tip of its slender tail, but as this specimen is clearly a juvenile, the size of an adult Juraventor remains unknown. Unlike many (if not most) other theropods, Juraventor appears to have lacked feathers:

Juraventor starki

Artist's restoration.

Also, new data gathered by NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) is giving astrophysicists new clues as to the nature of the universe in the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, some 13.7 billion years ago. The findings support "inflation," first proposed 25 years ago as part of the Big Bang Theory, and indicates that during this initial fraction of a second, the universe expanded from an object the size of a marble to an object larger than the entire visible universe.

Meanwhile, there's pink snow falling in Russia...which must mean it's time for me to go to bed.
Tags: astronomy, paleo, pink snow

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