British fossil experts sparked turmoil in the normally staid world of paleontology yesterday as they challenged a familiar view of dinosaurs.
The controversy goes to the heart of our perception of the largest of the dinosaurs, the sauropods, which became widespread 150 million years ago in the late Jurassic period.
A fresh analysis of animal bones indicates that the beasts did not stick their necks out in front of them as is often depicted, but held their heads high on majestic, curving, swan-like necks.
The claim overturns the popular impression of the lumbering creatures given by museum exhibits and TV series such as the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs.
The sauropods include many of the best known prehistoric beasts, such as diplodocus and apatosaurus, the dinosaur formerly known as brontosaurus.
“Unless sauropods carried their heads and necks differently from every living vertebrate, we have to assume that the base of their neck was curved strongly upwards,” said Mike Taylor of Portsmouth University in England, who led the study. “In some sauropods, this would have meant a graceful, swan-like S-curve to the neck, and a look quite different from the recreations we are used to seeing today.”
In their study, Taylor and his team examined the natural neck posture of a wide range of land vertebrates, such as cats, rabbits, turtles and crocodiles.
They found that almost all hold their necks in an upright, S-shaped curve, even though analysis of the bones alone would suggest the neck should stick out horizontally. His report appears in the journal Acta Paleontologica Polonica.
The idea that sauropods held their necks upright is not new. Until the 1950s, most dinosaur experts considered this to be their natural posture.
That view changed when scientists suggested that an upright neck would raise the animals’ blood pressure catastrophically.
But Taylor said the estimates of blood pressure were based on extrapolations from smaller animals, which he doesn’t believe are valid for larger creatures.
Chinese state media blasted television host John Oliver’s comedy segment on Taiwan, saying that he “dodged facts” and misled the public about the nation. “As a comedian show that sometimes covers politics, it is not surprising that it didn’t take the issue seriously,” the Global Times said in an opinion piece on Tuesday. “Yet it reflected that most Westerners don’t know why the Taiwan question matters and they don’t care about it,” the op-ed added. The English-language newspaper is the Chinese government’s main vehicle for communicating unofficial government messages to Western audiences. During the segment, Oliver sought to untangle the complicated relationship between Taiwan
Sri Lanka has barred a Chinese ship carrying desperately needed organic fertilizer that experts have found to be tainted with harmful bacteria, officials said yesterday. The ban comes as Sri Lanka battles food shortages caused by a currency crisis. Farmers have said that a ban on chemical fertilizer could ruin their crops this year. The office of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the Sri Lankan National Plant Quarantine Services had tested a sample from the unnamed Chinese vessel and “confirmed the presence of organisms, including certain types of harmful bacteria.” The Sri Lankan Commercial High Court has banned any payment to
PROMPTING MOCKERY : A cryptic announcement of the pianist’s detention by Beijing police was followed by CCTV commenting on the ‘social morality’ of celebrities Concert pianist Li Yundi (李雲迪), one of China’s most famous musicians, has been detained in Beijing over prostitution allegations, state media said on Thursday, prompting some incredulity and a lot of mockery on Chinese social media. Reuters was unable to immediately reach Li or a representative for comment. Police in the Chinese capital’s Chaoyang District said they had detained a 39-year-old man surnamed Li, along with a 29-year-old female surnamed Chen, after receiving reports from the public of prostitution in a neighborhood they did not identify. Both people confessed to the illegal activity, the police said in a statement on a microblogging platform. The
DEMAND-DRIVEN: The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, said law enforcement has allowed palm oil plantations on UNESCO sites, parks and tiger habitats Almost one-fifth of the land used for Indonesian palm oil plantations is located in the country’s forest conservation areas, despite a law banning such activity, a study by Greenpeace has found. The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, describes a catastrophic failure of law enforcement that has permitted swathes of land — including UNESCO sites, national parks and areas mapped as habitats for orangutans and Sumatran tigers — to be cultivated as palm oil plantations. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, which is used in many everyday products and foods, from shampoo and lipstick to chocolate and frozen pizzas. However,