View Full Version : Hicks Odd News 11/11

11-11-2005, 07:11 AM

Meet Godzilla, discovered at last in the Andes

The fossilised bones of a giant sea monster nicknamed Godzilla have been unearthed at the foot of the Andes mountains in Argentina.

Scientists believe that the extinct creature was a marine predator between 65 million and 250 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled the land.

The beast measured 13ft from nose to tail and had jaws a foot and a half long which were armed with four-inch serrated teeth that could interlock to form a vice-like grip.

Diego Pol, a researcher at Ohio State University who helped to identify the find, said that the sea monster belonged to a crocodile-like group of reptiles that spent all their time in water.

"The animal is the most bizarre marine crocodile known to date," he said. "This species was very unusual, because other marine crocodiles that were around at the same time had very delicate features ? long, skinny snouts and needle-like teeth for catching small fish and molluscs. But this croc was just the opposite. It had a short snout, and large teeth with serrated edges. It was definitely a predator of large sea creatures."

Dr Pol added: "This was a top predator that probably swam around using its jagged teeth to bite and cut its prey, like dinosaurs and other predatory reptiles did."

Crocodiles evolved during the late Permian period and became widespread during the Cretaceous period ? from 146 to 65 million years ago.

Details of the find, released by the journal Science, reveal that Dakosaurus andiniensis had a hefty jaw capable of crushing large prey ? a marine equivalent of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Zulma Gasparini and Luis Spalletti of the National University of La Plata in Argentina found the fossilised bones at a site in Patagonia.

"This sea croc reminded me of the famous Godzilla coming out of the sea, " Dr Gasparini told the National Geographic Society, which helped to fund the expedition.

Unlike modern crocodiles, Dakosaurus had fins instead of legs but still used its immensely powerful tail to swim like today's members of the crocodile family.

Scientists believe that no other crocodile living at the time of Dakosaurus were as large as the reptile, or as robust. At the time that Dakosaurus lived, the area that is now Patagonia formed a deep tropical bay in the Pacific Ocean which was richly populated by fish, molluscs and smaller reptiles.

Fossils of all other crocodile-like animals alive at the time show that they had long, slender snouts and needle-like teeth, rather than the thick-set head and jaws and blunt, peg-like teeth of Dakosaurus,

"This is the most remarkable change in the size of the teeth and snout in the history of marine crocs," Dr Pol said, adding that the results indicated a greater diversityof the crocodiles in the Jurassic period than was thought.

Excavations in the desert region of Neuqu?n province have resulted in three specimens of Dakosaurus being uncovered so far, including an intact skull and several vertebrae.

The shape of the fossils at first presented a puzzle, but Dr Pol was finally able to map the creature's lineage using sophisticated software, which marked the Dakosaurus out as a hunter of large marine reptiles rather than a fish.

11-11-2005, 07:15 AM
Male Sexual Prowess Drives Evolution?


Nov. 10, 2005? Genes that favor enhancements to male sexual potency may be exerting a strong influence on human evolution, a recent study suggests.

The study determined that at least one new gene has emerged once every million years on the human lineage during the past 63 million years of primate evolution. Most of these new genes appear to be linked to male sexual prowess.

Since the new genes evolved from genes that are not directly related to male sexual function, this suggests natural selection aggressively promotes positive changes to male reproductivity.

Scientists focused their research on a specific kind of gene, called a retrogene.

Retrogenes, which also are called processed genes, can emerge when RNA, or ribonucleic acid, from a parent's gene converts to DNA and makes a copy of itself. These copies are identical, or nearly identical, to the original. The identical, or slightly altered, copy then may give rise to active retrogenes.

The overall process is called retroposition, and for some reason it has been happening a lot in primates, including humans, over the last several million years.

"The burst of retroposition seems to have generated a number of genes that have contributed to new phenotypes (physical characteristics) to humans and related non-human primates, in particular to male reproduction," said Henrik Kaessmann, one of the authors of the study, which is featured in the November issue of PLoS Biology.

Kaessmann, assistant professor of integrative genomics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, explained to Discovery News that the newly identified retrogenes are expressed in the testes, which consequently have evolved better means of producing more effective sperm.

"It seems that retrogenes have contributed to increase the productivity and efficiency of sperm production. They probably didn't contribute to changes in appearance, although generally, there are large size differences among primates," he said.

Kaessman and his team made the determinations after analyzing the human genome, sequencing retrogenes, analyzing evolutionary patterns and conducting gene expression experiments.

So far, the researchers have identified 11 retrogenes, but given the data about the "once every million years" retrogene appearance, they suspect many more exist that have yet to be found.

"There are probably at least another 50 primate retrogenes out there," he said, and explained that some may be unique to humans, but most probably are shared among humans, chimps, gorillas, orangutans and Old World monkeys, like macaques.

Since the genes often are not exact copies of the parental genes from which they emerged, the differences might help to explain why humans have physical characteristics in common with these primates, but yet we obviously also are very different.

Manyuan Long, professor of genetics and evolution at the University of Chicago, told Discovery News that Kaessmann and his team "did a really careful and innovative study."

Long added, "These data show that male sexual functions have been rapidly evolving in primates. Other studies support this as well. I think that this is related to evolution of the whole sexual reproduction systems in primates, especially humans, that have been shown to be under natural selection, leading to fixation of large number of genetic changes for novel male functions."

The researchers are continuing to study both human and primate genomes to find other retrogenes and to more precisely determine how the discovered genes enhance male sexual function.

11-11-2005, 07:20 AM
Pat Robertson Tells Dover Residents They Rejected God


DOVER, Pa. -- Pat Robertson had a special message for residents of Dover, Pa., today after voters there elected to boot the current school board, which instituted an intelligent design policy that led to a federal trial.

Robertson made the comment after Lee Webb of CBN News delivered a report on how residents in Dover voted in eight new Democratic board members, replacing all eight current members who had voted for a policy that required students in ninth-grade biology classes to hear a statement on intelligent design before hearing lessons on evolution. Webb then asked Robertson what he thought about the vote.

Here was Robertson's response.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected him from your city. And don't wonder why he hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for his help because he might not be there."

The new school board members have said that they are not against intelligent design, but that they just don't want it taught in science class.

Intelligent design backers have consistently argued that the teaching is purely scientific and has nothing to do with religion.

Cape Cod Steel Head
11-11-2005, 09:11 AM
Wasn't seperation of church and state one of the principles that this country was founded on? Look out Dover your in trouble now :rofl:

11-11-2005, 10:40 AM
Wasn't seperation of church and state one of the principles that this country was founded on? Look out Dover your in trouble now :rofl:

Ever notice how creationists look really unevolved?

tony hipchest
11-11-2005, 10:52 AM
robertson has gone off the deep end here recently. cool stories