It seems these days that new dinosaur taxa are being named faster than I can keep up with them. My thanks to shadowcircus for putting me wise to the new titanosauroid sauropod, Erketu ellisoni. Its remains were discovered in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia in 2002 (but only just described), in Cretaceous-aged rocks. The titanosaurs were the last lineage of the great long-necked sauropods, which included such familiar beasts as Apatosaurus ("Brontosaurus"), Diplodocus, and Brachiosaurus. Erketu likely measured more than 15 metres snout to tail tip, with half that length being neck. It appears to have had the longest neck, relative to total body length, of any known sauropod.
Erketu ellisoni, named for dino illustrator Mick Ellison.
Also, Dr. Brett Gladman, from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver has delivered a paper during the astrobiology session of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, proposing that meteorites created from the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous — that is, Earth rocks thrown into space by the tremendous blast — might have had the potential to carry terran microbes as far away as Europa and Titan, where they might have survived and taken hold. Panspermia is seeming just a little more respectable these days, and I'm beginning to wonder if a century or two from now exobiologists are going to be faced with a true headache of molecular genetics, trying to figure out if life originated several times on different bodies in our solar system, or if it originated in just one place and then spread via such impacts. Are we Martians? Will Europans be Terrans? Like sclerotic_rings, I was very amused by Dr. Gladman's response when questioned by another Conference participant as to whether he thought Earth microbes might survive in Titan's frigid environment. I quote, "That's for you people to decide, I'm just the pizza delivery boy."
Okay. It's bedtime for nixars...