Scientific discoveries this week: 9-6-10

Romania – Fossils from a relative of the Velociraptor were unearthed by scientists giving long awaited insight into dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous period. The predator, named Balaur bondoc, is the first reasonably complete fossil of a carnivorous dinosaur during the last 60 million years of dinosaurs’ existence in Europe. Balaur bondoc exhibited more than 20 anatomically unique features including short and stocky feet and legs and large pelvic muscles. Scientists state that the predator was more suited for kick-boxing than sprinting, leading to the nick-name “The Stocky Dragon.”

Galilee, Israel – A 12,000 year old burial and feasting site was discovered by scientists, giving the first verification that community human feasting began before the occurrence of agriculture. Inside the burial cave the remains of 71 tortoise shells and three wild cattle carcasses were found in specific hollows and showed evidence of being cooked. Community feasts indicate the changing lifestyles of primitive humans, as once-nomadic groups were settling down. The new communities put pressure on local resources leading to the shift to animal domestication and agriculture.   

Göttingen, Germany – Max Planck researchers have succeeded in reducing the recording time for MRI images, giving a “live” look at muscles in action for the first time. Doctors can watch the bending of a knee, the beating of a heart, the movement of the eye and jaw and other areas of the body. This new method will supply vital information about joint and heart diseases. In addition, MRI exams will be made more comfortable for patients who traditionally had to remain absolutely still.

University of Santa Catarina, Brazil – Scientists from a laboratory on the Mediterranean Sea published their study on single-celled life-forms called Foraminifera that live around volcanic carbon dioxide vents off Naples, Italy. The study shows that increased CO2  levels have caused Foraminifera to decrease from 24 to 4 species. The CO2  acidifies the ocean which has a dramatic effect of species like Foraminifera that have a calcium carbonate shell. Scientists state that the tipping pH of 7.8 will likely occur by the end of this century unless CO2  emissions begin to lower. At this critical pH we risk massive extinction of marine life and rises in toxic jellyfish and algae.

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