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Saturday, December 8, 2012

200-Million-Year-Old Cocoon with Bizarre Creature Inside

By Jeanna Bryner LiveScience Managing Editor

About 200 million years ago, a leech released a slimy mucous cocoon that unwittingly encased and trapped a bizarre animal with a springy tail, preserving it until researchers discovered the teardrop-shaped creature in Antarctica recently.

The cocoon looks like those produced by living leeches, such as the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis. Encased inside was a bell animal that looked similar to species in the genus Vorticella; its body extends 25 microns (about the width of some human hairs) with a tightly coiled stalk about twice that long. And like all eurkaryotes, the organism was equipped with a nucleus -- in this case, a large horseshoe-shaped nucleus inside the main body. (A micron is one-millionth of a meter.)

This bell animal lived during the Late Triassic Period, when the Earth was much warmer, with dense rain forests flourishing along what is today the Transantarctic Mountain Range where it was found. At the time, Antarctica was part of the supercontinent Gondwana, though it was still located at high latitudes.

Past research has suggested this coiled stalk, which is used to attach to substrates, may be one of the fastest cellular engines known, changing from a telephone wire-like structure to a tight coil at a speed of about 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) per second -- the equivalent of a human being walking the across more than three football fields in one second. [See Photos of the Bizarre Vorticella Creature]

Preserving soft tissue

Possibly even more amazing is the fact that this soft-bodied, microscopic creature survived the vagaries of time. Preserving a soft-bodied organism like this one for so long is tricky and requires some outside intervention to keep the tissues from degrading. In this case, rather than tree resin (called amber when hardened) that preserved dino DNA in the bellies of amber-trapped mosquitoes in "Jurassic Park," a mucous cocoon did the trick.

"This preservation is quite bizarre, but soft-bodied organisms cannot usually become fossilized unless they are rapidly entombed in a medium that prevents further decay," study researcher and paleobotanist Benjamin Bomfleur, of the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Kansas, told LiveScience.

Here's how the researchers think the hasty preservation took place: "A leech secreted a mucous cocoon that was deposited under water or in wet leaf litter, somewhere in a river system which lay in present-day Antarctica," Bomfleur said. This bell animal must have used its long, rapidly contracting stalk to attach itself to the cocoon soon after, becoming trapped and completely encased by the still-slimy cocoon, which hardened over hours to days.

"The cocoon with the such-enclosed bell animal then was deposited in mud that over time turned into the sedimentary layer where we found it some 200 million years later," Bomfleur explained.

The only other example of this type of preservation comes from a 125-million-year-old cocoon encasing a nematode worm and discovered in Svalbard.

Identifying the bizarre creature

When Bomfleur first noticed the tiny animal in samples he'd collected from Antarctica, he didn't know what he was looking at and didn't have time to consult with an expert in such microfossils, as he was working on his doctoral degree.

"Later this year, however, I finally found the time to look for someone with an expertise on freshwater microorganisms in order to get an expert opinion on the thing," Bomfleur said, adding he contacted Ojvind Moestrup of the University of Copenhagen.

Bomfleur recalled Moestrup looking at the fossil and saying, "It is often very hard or impossible to identify microfossils, but this one was easy. It is the ciliate Vorticella and the helical structure is the stalk."

Bomfleur and his colleagues detailed their research this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Photo: About 200 million years ago, a leech released a slimy mucous cocoon that unwittingly encased and trapped a bizarre animal with a springy tail. Credit: Benjamin Bomfleur

Friday, November 16, 2012

Possible UFOs over Denver





By Mike Krumboltz | The Sideshow

Straight out of the X Files comes this clip from Denver's Fox 31. Last week, a viewer sent the station a video of something ... something spooky. A flying object was buzzing in the sky, and it looked like maybe it was carrying little green men.

Was it really a UFO? Suspecting the clip was a prank, the TV station sent out its own photojournalist to see if he could document the same weirdness on his own. Guess what? He did.

Fox 31 aired the footage and interviewed several experts in the field. None could identify the flying object. Aviation expert Steve Cowell told Fox 31's investigative reporter Heidi Hemmat, "That is not an airplane, that is not a helicopter, those are not birds, I can't identify it." Cowell, while mystified, did come up with a less mysterious possibility. "Perhaps there is some sort of debris that is being raised by atmospheric winds."

The New York Daily News quotes UFO expert Robert Sheaffer, author of "UFO Sightings." On his blog, Sheaffer writes, "The 'UFOs' appear at least several times a week [for months], we are told, usually around noon to 1 PM. Most flying insects become more active during the warmest part of the day."

Discovery News writer Benjamin Radford thinks bugs are likely the answer. "There are many obvious holes in the spacecraft explanation, not the least of which is that it's amazing that no one in Denver apparently noticed the extraterrestrial spacecraft launching and landing in the skies over the downtown area in the middle of the day. The most likely explanation? A bug or insect, probably a fly or bee."


Check out the clip and judge for yourself. Sure, it's probably a bug, but we much prefer the idea of aliens dropping by (the "E.T." kind, not the "Alien" kind).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hikers take flight when what they thought was a bear resembles Bigfoot

By:Pete Thomas, GrindTV.com


When the black bear you think you're looking at from a safe distance suddenly stands and begins to resemble bigfoot, and that creature stares directly at you, how do you react? The hikers who captured the accompanying footage recently in Utah's Provo Canyon seemed to act appropriately: They bolted through the woods, with the camera still running, to get as far away from the creature as possible. "We ran straight to the car after that, leaving our tent and everything behind. "It's probably all still up there," states Beard Card, the YouTube user who posted the video. This is one of the more realistic Bigfoot escapades in some time.

Naturally, skeptics are analyzing the video in the hopes of finding an explanation. Yet even healthy cynics are pretty impressed with what they see. They note that the witnesses don't appear to be acting. If they were, the skeptics say, they'd likely be a lot more vocal, and fall into the overacting trap. (Watch this video for full breakdown.) They also didn't stick around to get a great shot, which also rings of a very natural reaction, but didn't help when it came to capturing a better image.Nevertheless, the shot of what clearly looks like the animals big broad arms is extremely compelling, which is why Max Roth of Fox 13 caught up with Beard Card to talk about the incredible encounter. Card told Roth how they were standing there for a good chunk of time even before recording what they believed to be a bear at the time, while he was trying to get the camera to work. During their exchange, Card hit on their reaction. Here are a few excerpts.
CARD: "But when it stood up and looked at us--and we assumed it was a bear up to that point--but, when it stood up and looked at us, it was this massive animal. We don't know what it was. I mean, none of us believe in Bigfoot, so...we've talked about it over and over again since Monday when it happened and all of us are positive that thing wasn't a bear."

ROTH: "You're not a Bigfoot guy?

CARD: "Nope...none of us have ever believed in that kind of thing."

ROTH: "So what do you think it was?"

CARD: "I don't know!...We don't know what it was...I don't know if Bigfoot exist or not but that was a huge animal."

Below is an enhanced version of the video.



Whether this is an elaborate prank, or something really scary we don't know for sure. But for the full interview with Card, and more debate on the incident, it's hard to beat the Bigfoot Evidence blog, where believers and non-believers routinely square off.

More on GrindTV.com
-VIDEO: Dog impersonates grizzly bear and catches migrating salmon
-ANIMALS: Stunning photos feature critters with mismatched eye colors
-VIDEO: Talking elephant mimics Korean words

Friday, October 19, 2012

UFO Sighting Associated With Dead Birds? - Gather.com

is very clear and very specific. I've shown it to other people and some people have suggested it might be an unusual cloud formation, but the perimeter is very clear and I don't think that's the case.

"What's really strange is that the day Calum took this picture I discovered about ten dead birds in my garden, the back and the front. They were sparrows and blackbirds. It could just be a co-incidence but the discovery of dead birds is associated with sightings of

View the Original article

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lost Civilisations: Mesopotamia


The great civilizations of Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria are covered in this episode. Throughout the episode, we continue with the question of how Mesopotamia was related to biblical stories. We get a nice comparison between the myths of ancient Mesopotamia and the bible. More in depth, we focus on a discovery in the site of Kumran in Israel, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which include some of the earliest versions of the Old Testament. The ties with Biblical Archeology and Mesopotamia is evident when we view how these earlier archeologists wanted to prove the existence of places mentioned in the bible. The discovery of the Moabite Stone was among the earliest finds that confirmed the existence of place names mentioned in the bible and this kind of discovery eventually lead archeologists to the Middle East in droves in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and led to Iraq. Present day Iraq is the home to the bulk of the civilizations that made up ancient Mesopotamia. We next move to Babylonia, whose capital was Babylon. The site was excavated in the 1800s and was yet another confirmation of Biblical Archeology. The ties here have to do with the "babylonian captivity" of the Israelites by Nebuchadnezzer. The film then moves on the to the discovery of the Assyrians ancient capital of Ninevah. Finally, we end up at the most ancient site of ancient Mesopotamia, the civilization of Sumer, about 3000 BC. It is here that the episode attempts to tie in the concept of an ancient "garden of eden ...
Video Rating: 4 / 5


Follow the trail of clues that lead from the ancient myths of the Aegean world to their real-life counterparts.
Video Rating: 4 / 5