Archaeopteryx in the Headlines Again: New Specimen Reported

first_imgThe best-preserved fossil yet of Archaeopteryx was announced in Science this week,1 the tenth in all.  This one, described by Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Natural History Museum (Frankfurt, Germany), had a better-preserved foot than the others (all found in the Solnhofen Limestone beds of Bavaria) with indications it had a hyperextendable second toe somewhat similar to those on deinonychosaurs.  Not being reversible, as on modern birds, this toe led the discoverers to conclude Archaeopteryx was not a perching bird.  National Geographic News is convinced this fact plus the theropod-shaped skull settles the dispute about the relationship of birds to theropod dinosaurs.    Erik Stokstad, however, in a News Focus article in the same issue of Science,2 denied that there was anything radically new about this specimen.  There’s another problem: Burkhard Pohl, an amateur collector and founder of the for-profit Wyoming Dinosaur Center where it will be housed (also co-author of the announcement in Science) is not forthcoming on this fossil’s pedigree:The origins of the Archaeopteryx, however, remain hazy.  Pohl says he “found a donor” to buy it from a private collector after the Senckenberg failed to raise enough money.  (Mayr declines to reveal the asking price, but the Paläontologische Museum München paid DM 2 million–about $1.3 million–for a less spectacular specimen in 1999.)  The Archaeopteryx appears to be legal, because Bavaria allows the export of fossils.  Pohl won’t say who legally owns it, but he says that it’s “guaranteed that it will stay in a public collection.”   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Pohl has connections with the world of commercial fossil dealing, and some scientists “remain uncomfortable” working with him, according to Stokstad.  “They want to be absolutely certain that fossils, particularly foreign ones, were legally excavated.”  They also want such important fossils to be housed in accredited public collections.  Stokstad did not question the authenticity of this fossil specifically, and included some details supporting Pohl’s credibility and good intentions, but that he did raise these concerns by scientists in the same issue as the announcement of the discovery seemed unusual.    Science News (Week of Dec. 3, 2005; Vol. 168, No. 23, p. 355) offered additional information.  It said that the interpretation of the foot is not conclusive.  Some scientists, including Larry Martin (U of Kansas) and Alan Feduccia (U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) are not convinced that the discoverers proved their case that the bird was unsuited for perching in trees.  To them, the claws look curved for perching and the toe looks reversible for clinging, just like on the other specimens.1Gerald Mahr, Burkhard Pohl and D. Stefan Peters, “A Well-Preserved Archaeopteryx Specimen with Theropod Features, Science, 2 December 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5753, pp. 1483 – 1486, DOI: 10.1126/science.1120331.2Erik Stokstad, “Best Archaeopteryx Fossil So Far Ruffles a Few Feathers,” Science, 2 December 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5753, pp. 1418 – 1419, DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5753.1418.Once again, a cloud of doubt is raised around this icon of evolutionary “transitional forms.”  Fred Hoyle wrote a whole book about possible fraud surrounding the most famous feathered Archaeopteryx fossils (not all have feather impressions), and others have done the same over the years.  Now we have another, the best-looking of all, and we can’t be absolutely sure where it came from.  Why can’t the best paleontologists go over to Bavaria and uncover a clear example of a feathered specimen in situ to end all doubt?    Although Hoyle’s hoax theory is not widely accepted, the lure of famous fossils cannot be discounted (05/06/2004).  Owning a feathered Archaeopteryx is a prize so lucrative, one can imagine the temptation to hire shadowy figures to carve feather impressions around a plain old theropod fossil.  The cost of an expert carving could be covered many times over by the sale of a prize specimen.  We’re not claiming this is what happened; it probably does not matter anyway.  Jonathan Wells argued in Icons of Evolution that cladistic diagrams show that Archaeopteryx preceded the “bird-like dinosaurs” thought to be the ancestors of birds, so its status as a transitional form is questionable (08/05/2004).  Clearly, “an animal cannot be older than its ancestor,” he joked (cf. 10/24/2005).(Visited 16 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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World Cup ambulances redistributed

first_img1 September 2010Seventy-three new ambulances bought specifically for the 2010 Fifa World Cup have been redistributed among state hospitals in South Africa’s North West province.The North West provincial government bought the new Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz ambulances to the tune of R17-million (US$2.3-million) ahead of the football spectacle to meet the potential demand for health services during the event. The Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, North West’s platinum mining area, was one of the World Cup host venues.The ambulances have now officially been distributed to the province’s four municipal districts. Bojanala Platinum District Municipality’s public health system was the major beneficiary, receiving 28 ambulances.The government health services of the Ngaka Modiri Molema district were allocated 17 new vehicles. The Dr Kenneth Kaunda district received 16 ambulances, while 10 went to the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati district health services.All these vehicles were stationed in the benefiting communities during the World Cup, said the province’s Department of Health and Social Development spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane.The North West Emergency Medical Rescue Services College in Orkney, whose health professionals were deployed during the tournament, has been granted two ambulances to use.“The department bought a new fleet of ambulances to meet World Cup demand,” said Health and Social Development MEC Rebecca Kasienyane in a statement. “This was necessary because we did not want the tournament to affect existing emergency services.”Improving servicesMaking the new ambulances available to public health is part of North West’s drive to bolster its services, Lekgethwane said.More ambulances should improve response time to communities’ emergency calls, he said. “The response time in the province has not been good. The communities were always complaining,” Lekgethwane added.“The more ambulances we have, the earlier we’ll respond to emergencies.”More than 40 other new ambulances were allocated to the districts in early 2010, according to Lekgethwane.As North West is still facing a shortage of the life-saving vehicles, the 73 inherited from the World Cup are welcome, Kasienyane said. “I must however emphasise that these ambulances will not completely eradicate the shortage, but we do believe they will substantially improve the situation.”The provincial government will continue to look for additional funds to buy more vehicles, “because we know that a shortage of ambulances hinders transportation of patients such as pregnant women, the seriously sick and those injured in road accidents, to hospitals and clinics”.Call for cautious drivingOne of the prevailing challenges was to ensure that old ambulances are replaced with new ones, and are no longer used. Kasienyane also appealed to emergency drivers to drive more cautiously.“The department has also previously dealt with cases of negligent driving on the part of our drivers,” she said. “This has led to substantial shortfalls.”First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.last_img read more

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A first generation farmer’s perspective: 25 years of chances given and lessons learned

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest When thinking about a typical farmer in Ohio, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to find out that they might run a couple thousand acres of corn, soybeans and wheat. One would also expect that there is a barn full of livestock right alongside a barn even fuller of machinery and implements. Brent Pence of Lynn Alan Farm is fitting of all of these ag-centered stereotypes, but the one characteristic of this New Carlisle, Ohio producer that may be a surprise is that he is a first generation farmer.“When I was young I knew that this was the path I wanted to take and I knew all about the obstacles that I would have to face by not having generations of farmers in my family behind me,” Pence said. “I started working for Bob Kaffenbarger in middle school and he had me bailing straw and hay and doing all the odds and ends chores that a young kid could do without messing things up to much. He took me under his wing and explained to me the management side of farming and tried to help me understand what agriculture was all about. It was a very humbling experience and gave me the opportunity to learn so much.”Time went on and Pence worked his way through high school and college, but the bulk of the education that he still uses on a daily basis was learned off campus. Pence began his farming career with a 123-acre field just down the road from his current homestead. He continued using equipment from the Kaffenbarger farm until he was able to purchase his first tractor – a John Deere 4440.“I never understood when I was younger hearing all of the older guys saying they wanted their first tractor back,” Pence said. “I had to trade in mine to upgrade to a newer one years ago and now I get it because I’d like to have that one back. I’m still trying to find it.”Brent Pence gets his John Deere planter ready for another seasonWith no farm background, no land passed down from generations before and little experience on his own, many thought Pence was crazy and destined to fail. The one thing that Pence had going for him were people willing to take a chance on him.“We were very lucky because when I first started out, a guy by the name of Jerry McMahan was the very first person that ever rented ground to me,” Pence said. “If he wouldn’t have bet on me when he had no reason to, I don’t know where we’d be today. We had a lot of people take a chance on us who knew we had no established background and didn’t know if we were going to pay the rent. There were just so many things that fell into place to make this life possible.”In the mid 1990s, as his farming operation grew to 200 and then 300 acres, Pence met his now wife, Christine. Her family was of the farming variety from Greene County. Brent and Christine had much different upbringings and, as it turns out, the way Brent learned how to farm and the way his wife’s family was doing things on their farm was just as different.“Her dad was no-tilling and I didn’t know any other way to plant corn besides working and working and working the land until it was beautiful,” Pence said.  “I would go up to her dad on his farm and I would say, ‘What are you doing? This is terrible. It looks like jungle planting.’ But he had been farming that way since the late 70s to early 80s and people made fun of him then. He had a lot of problems because the chemistry wasn’t there back then and the equipment certainly wasn’t the same as it is today.”After watching his future father-in-law through a couple of seasons, Pence realized that he could farm so much more without having extra manpower or equipment and be so much more efficient on the farm. There are still some farms in Greene County that Pence now manages that haven’t been tilled since 1979.“That really has helped to heal the ground and makes it better and we are all no-till today,” Pence said. “I’ve seen it firsthand when we’ve taken spots in fields that were pretty sad where water wants to stand from plowing year in and year out and what we’ve done, but not doing any of that over the past several years has helped those fields.”No matter how deep of an agriculture background a beginning farmer may or may not have, some experiences come at a cost of learning and every farmer has that “punch in the gut” moment. For Pence, that moment came in 1999.“I’ll never forget that year,” Pence said. “We still weren’t farming that many acres, maybe 700 to 800 acres. I had crop insurance that year, but I didn’t have it set up properly. Back then it wasn’t called an enterprise unit, it just kind of lumped all of the counties together. One of my fields made 60-bushel corn and 15-bushel beans and other fields that I farm in the area saw 140-bushel corn and 40-bushel beans. My crop insurance wouldn’t kick in because my averages we too high. That was about a $100,000 loss and when you’re that young, you want to talk about a setback. I learned very quickly how to get my crop insurance set up just right if we were going to farm across four counties. Of all of the struggles I have seen, I will never forget 1999. It was terrible.”Brent, Christine and Paige Pence from Lynn Alan Farm in New Carlisle, OhioSince then, agriculture has seen some of the best times ever and more recently, a steady decline in commodity prices and farm income, but Pence took his experiences of the late 90s and put them to work.“When we had $8 corn we paid equipment off and we paid the house off,” Pence said. “I was also able to buy a couple of farms during that era but locking in fixed interest rates for 25 years is a big deal, especially after the recent rise in those rates.“I obviously wasn’t around farming when things were at their worst, but I have plenty of friends and neighbors that tell me how things got back in the 80s and if those stories don’t scare you straight, nothing will.”As much of a name as Brent Pence is making for himself on the row crop side, there is a second generation farmer at Lynn Alan Farm that is becoming well known in livestock show barns all over the country. Brent’s daughter, Paige, has about every banner a 13-year-old can have for every species of animal and she’s just getting started.“I go back to the humbling years of me showing livestock and my wife showing livestock and I, honest to God, don’t know where Paige gets it from,” Pence said. “I was petrified in the show ring and my steers had no hair, but she’s got a talent. Her situation is no different than a kid that plays sports. If they have a certain skill you need to, as parents, to help them reach their full potential.”Paige Pence at the 2017 Ohio State Fair Sale of ChampionsAt The Ohio State Fair alone in 2016, Paige had the Reserve Champion Market Lamb, Reserve Champion Market Goat, Reserve Division 5 Market Steer, Champion Berkshire Barrow and numerous other accomplishments in the Ohio State Fair Open Show, NAILE, the Sioux Empire Livestock Show, Illinois State Fair Open Show, Pennsylvania’s Fayette County Premier, and the Cornhusker Classic.“We have surrounded our daughter with wonderful people in this industry,” Pence said. “The families that we show goats, sheep, hogs and steers with are helping Christine and I raise our kid and all of those wonderful people involved in what we do are helping us make her into the young lady that she is becoming.”And in those rare times when she’s not working livestock, she’s helping out dad on the farm.“Last year I started letting her drive the tractor some and she ended up doing some vertical tillage and this year she thinks she’s going to start driving the baler,” Pence said. “I truly believe that she will stay around the farm or be a part of agriculture in some way, but if Paige wants nothing to do with this farm someday or marries someone that doesn’t want to pursue this type of lifestyle I am okay with that too.”With 25 years of planting, growing and harvest seasons acres under his belt and over 3,000 acres to farm, most would say that Pence is well on his way. But for every one person that gave him a shot, there were a dozen that counted him out before the first round.“When somebody tells me that I can’t do something, then I am going to prove them dead wrong,” Pence said. “I just work harder, keep my head down and keep my mouth shut. That’s how my whole family lives our lives. I can’t tell you how many people told me I would never get this done. Thanks to those chances given to a young naïve kid and the great help around me every day since, I have plenty of reasons to smile when I think about what I have been able to accomplish.”last_img read more

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Froome on brink of fourth Tour de France crown

first_imgTrump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games “It’s something special for me today. After the stage when I went alone I was thinking, ‘I have to do something nice again’.“Today I got more luck than the other stage, I’m really happy about this.”In what has been the closest Tour battle in years, the top three riders started the day separated by less than 30 seconds, building hope for a grandstand finale in the steamy southern port city ahead of Sunday’s procession into Paris.But any such romantic notions of Frenchman Bardet overturning his 23sec deficit to Froome had disappeared long before the end of Saturday’s 22.5km race against the clock, which began and ended in Marseille’s iconic Velodrome football stadium.Bardet started the day second overall but only narrowly escaped the double humiliation of being pushed off the podium by Landa and overtaken by a charging Froome, who started his time-trial two minutes after the Frenchman.ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ LATEST STORIES Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant Froome reached the first time check after 10.2km in second place, two seconds behind team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski, with Bodnar third at 6sec.By then it was already clear there would be no grandstand finish as Uran was 23sec down on Froome having begun with a 29sec deficit, while Bardet had given up 44sec to the British leader.CrisisBy the second time check, Colombian Uran was starting to gain back a bit of time and looked certain to take second overall.But Bardet was in crisis, already 1min 17sec off Kwiatkowski, who still had the best time at the second check, although only fractions of a second ahead of Spanish veteran Alberto Contador, after 15.6km and the climb up to the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica, with Froome fourth at 3sec.Spaniard Landa, who had started the day 1:13 behind Bardet, was now starting to threaten the Frenchman’s podium hopes.At the finish, Uran almost came a cropper, hitting the side boardings on a tight bend in a technical run-in to the Velodrome.It cost him a few seconds but disaster was averted as he stayed upright to finish 31 seconds behind four-time Polish time-trial champion Bodnar, whose strong final section took him a second ahead of Kwiatkowski, the 2014 world road race champion.“Coming second in this race is the most important result in my career,” said Uran, 30, who has also twice finished runner-up at the Giro d’Italia.Landa had finished 51sec back and as Bardet came into the stadium, fans were counting down the seconds to see if he would hang on to third place, while the looming yellow-clad figure of Froome lurked in his rear-view mirrors. Bardet finished 2:02 behind Bodnar to hold onto third by a single second while Froome crossed the line moments later, to claim third place on the stage and secure a fourth Tour title.“I’m at my limit, I’m tired, I gave everything,” said the 26-year-old.“I’m delighted to have given it everything and there’s a little bit of success in having saved a podium place.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ MOST READ “It’s incredible, the atmosphere here in Marseille, it’s massive being here in the stadium,” said Froome, 32, who will nonetheless finish without a stage win this year.“It’s the Tour de France, you can’t always win everything,” said the Sky team leader.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars“We had to put in the effort over three weeks and that’s what we did.”For Bodnar, it was sweet revenge have come within a few hundred metres of a solo victory on stage 11, before he was caught by a charging peloton and Marcel Kittel took the sprint finish. Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Great Britain’s Christopher Froome wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey competes in a 22,5 km individual time-trial, the twentieth stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 22, 2017 in and around Marseille, southern France. / AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOISChris Froome all but secured a fourth Tour de France title by finishing third in Saturday’s 20th stage time-trial in Marseille as Maciej Bodnar took the stage victory.Rigoberto Uran moved into second overall at 54 seconds, set to be the tightest winning margin of Froome’s four Tour successes, while Romain Bardet held on for third by just one second ahead of Mikel Landa.ADVERTISEMENT Gilas ‘has to finish strong’ as PH faces Iran in Jones Cup closer Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

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