The tiny skull, about the size of a thumbnail, trapped in amber may belong to the smallest dinosaur scientists have ever discovered. Paleontologist Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences spotted the skull in a 99-million-year-old chunk of amber from northern Myanmar. From the New York Times:
[Xing, Chinese Academy of Sciences paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor, and their colleagues] called the bird Oculudentavis khaungraae — a name that comes from the Latin words for eye, teeth and bird. The dinosaur’s skull is only 14.25 millimeters, or a little more than half an inch, from its beak to the end of its skull. The animal had bulbous eyes that looked out from the sides of its head, rather than straight ahead like the eyes of an owl or a human.
“We were able to show that this skull is even smaller than that of a bee hummingbird, which is the smallest dinosaur of all time — also the smallest bird,” O’Connor said. “This is a tiny skull, and it’s just preserved absolutely pristinely”….
Most scientists now believe that birds are theropods, dinosaurs of a group that included tyrannosaurus and spinosaurus, but that birds were on their own evolutionary branch from a common ancestor. Paleontologists have long assumed that as birds evolved away from other dinosaurs, having teeth was a trait that was in the process of disappearing altogether. “But this specimen strongly shows that evolution’s really going in all different directions,” Dr. O’Connor said.
“There are bugs and they will bite on your face.” — a bad review about Sequoia National Park
This is hilarious. Designer Amber Share discovered that there were one-star reviews for all 62 of our National Parks and decided to illustrate and hand letter travel posters for them “as a way to put a positive, fun spin on such a negative mindset.” She calls her Subpar Parks series a “snarky love letter to the National Parks System” and it’s absolutely delightful.
See the entire series on her Instagram, and purchase stickers and postcards (mugs and calendars to come) on her website.
When a plane is in trouble, the pilots dump all its its fuel before making an emergency landing. This is controversial; though fuel usually dissipates before reaching ground, it’s a dangerous pollutant all the same and sometimes it gets dumped close enough to humans that it puts them at risk.
This 1984 film, of a test of jet fuel formulated to resist igniting, shows why pilots dump it. NASA and the FAA loaded a retired training jet with test dummies, then remote-piloted it to a crash landing in the Mojave desert. It comes down rough but stays in one piece as it plows through earthworks and obstacles. If it were out of gas, chances of everyone surviving would be good. But with a full tank?
Spoiler: the fuel ignites. As one commenter puts it, “proponents of antimisting kerosene did not have a great day.”
The test went generally according to plan, and produced a spectacular fireball that required more than an hour to extinguish. The FAA concluded that about one-quarter of the passengers would have survived, that the antimisting kerosene test fuel did not sufficiently reduce the risk of fire, and that several changes to equipment in the passenger compartment of aircraft were needed.