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n2doc

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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 35,269

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

What was Earth's first predator and when did it live?

by
Colin Barras
Around the world right now, thousands of animals are about to die. The game is up for untold numbers of deep-sea fish, mountain-dwelling hares, subterranean earthworms and high-flying songbirds. They are all seconds away from becoming dinner for predators like lions, eagles and sharks.

But when did this carnage begin? Have predators stalked the Earth since the origin of life itself? Or was our primordial planet once a Garden of Eden where species lived in peaceful co-existence?

The truth is, no one actually knows for sure. But evolutionary biologists have learned enough about the history of life on Earth to begin the hunt for the first predator. Their work suggests it was about as far removed in appearance from today's killers as it's possible to imagine.

Before we pick up the trail, it might help to spell out what a predator is. According to most biologists, predation must involve the death of one living thing at the hands (or teeth, or claws) of another, which has to gain some nutritional benefit from the kill. A lion is a predator because it kills and eats a gazelle, but the gazelle is not a predator, because it doesn't have to kill the grasses it eats.

more

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141202-what-was-earths-first-predator

Etchings on a 500,000-year-old shell appear to have been made by human ancestor



By Michael Balter 3 December 2014 1:00 pm 0 Comments
In 2007, Stephen Munro got the shock of his life. The archaeology graduate student was studying mollusk shells gathered more than 100 years ago on the Indonesian island of Java, where an early human ancestor, Homo erectus, had roamed at least 1 million years ago. As he studied photographs of the shells, Munro spotted one apparently engraved with a pattern of zigzag lines. “I almost fell off my chair,” he says. That’s because the oldest known engravings date back 100,000 years and were made by modern humans—the only species thought to be capable of making abstract designs.

Now, after 7 years of work on the shells, Munro and colleagues have confirmed their observations. They also report that one of the shells was used as a tool of some sort, a finding that would expand the known toolmaking capabilities of H. erectus, which was thought to have made only simple tools out of stone.

“If correct it certainly pushes back in time the evidence for marking objects in a way that arguably could be considered evidence for symbolic activity,” says Curtis Marean, an archaeologist at Arizona State University, Tempe, who was not involved in the study. But he points out that the Java site, known as Trinil, was excavated in the 1890s using “quite primitive” archaeological methods and that no one has reexamined the location using modern techniques. That means, he says, that “the observation is essentially devoid of context.”

Mindful of this kind of criticism, archaeologist and team leader Josephine Joordens of Leiden University in the Netherlands says her group took its time answering a series of questions about how the shell came to be engraved as well as when it might have happened. First, the researchers looked at how the shells accumulated at Trinil in the first place. Munro had focused his research on about 166 specimens of the freshwater mollusk Pseudodon, collected by Dutch paleoanthropologist Eugène Dubois at the site where he found now-famous H. erectus fossils. Studying cigar boxes full of mollusks from the site that are now housed in Leiden, Joordens and other team members found that a third of the shells had holes right where a muscle that keeps the shell closed is found. These holes were apparently made by humans using shark teeth, also found at the site, as tools to open the shells so they could eat them; when team members did their own experiments trying to open shells with sharks’ teeth, they got a very similar pattern of holes.

more

http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2014/12/etchings-500000-year-old-shell-appear-have-been-made-human-ancestor

Wednesday TOON Roundup 3: The Rest


Defense



Cookies



WalMart




Climate






Season


Wednesday TOON Roundup 2: Class-less Party














Wednesday TOON Roundup 1: Just Offensive













LOL- Tony Blair's Christmas Card



"Menacingly odd", "fabulously awkward", "terrifying" and plain "creepy" - just some of the reactions to the Christmas card sent this year by Tony and Cherie Blair, notes Ben Milne.

It's set up to look like a domestic scene of an elder statesman and his devoted wife. But there's no getting around it - the former prime minister looks perturbed, even angry, according to dozens of tweeters. His teeth are bared and his eyes appear to be downright fierce, they suggest. "Perhaps the oddest thing about Tony Blair's threatening Christmas card is that this must have been the BEST photo..." tweets one observer. "The strange thing about Tony Blair's Christmas card is how the teeth seem to follow you round the room." "Be afraid. Be very afraid," write others.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-30289820

100 brains go missing from Texas university

The University of Texas at Austin is missing about 100 brains — about half of the specimens the university had in a collection preserved in jars of formaldehyde.

One of the missing brains is believed to have come from clock tower sniper Charles Whitman.

“We think somebody may have taken the brains but we don’t know at all for sure,” psychology Professor Tim Schallert, co-curator of the collection, told the Austin American-Statesman.

His co-curator, psychology Professor Lawrence Cormack, said: “It’s entirely possible word got around among undergraduates and people started swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks.”

more

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/03/100-brains-go-missing-from-university

Police: Suspect denied stealing meat, but tongue found in his pants

Police in Florida say a Wal-Mart shopper denied slipping $35 worth of beef tongue into his pants, but the telltale tongue told a different story.

DeLand police say 44-year-old Jason Puckett was charged last week with misdemeanor theft after a Wal-Mart security guard spotted him slipping two packages of tongue into his waistband.

When the guard confronted Puckett at the store's exit, Puckett denied stealing the packages and said he had put them back on a shelf.

But the guard told authorities Puckett then removed the tongue from his pants when he didn't think he was being watched and ran from the store. Jail records show Puckett remained in jail Tuesday. Bail was set at $2,500. A public defender assigned to Puckett did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

more

http://www.katc.com/story/27528651/police-suspect-denied-stealing-meat-but-tongue-found-in-his-pants

Stephen Hawking Wants to Be a Bond Villain

He said in a recent interview that he has the right voice for the part

Writing the international bestseller A Brief History of Time and being the subject of a major Hollywood biopic isn’t enough notoriety for Professor Stephen Hawking– he wants to be a Bond Villain.

The internationally renowned physicist said that his wheelchair and distinctive motorized voice would make him the perfect pick to play a villain in the next James Bond movie. His ideal role would be as “A baddie in a James Bond film,” he told Wired magazine for their January issue, according to The Telegraph. “I think the wheelchair and the computer voice would fit the part.”

Hawking is currently the subject of The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne, in theaters now. He has also been depicted on The Simpsons, had a cameo in a Star Trek where he plays poker with Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, and has appeared in the Monty Python Live series. So why not Bond, too? After all, you only live twice.

http://time.com/3612611/stephen-hawking-wants-to-be-a-bond-villain/

MLB umpire Dale Scott comes out as gay in quietest way possible

By Jim Buzinski

Major League Baseball umpire Dale Scott bleeds the green and yellow of his beloved Oregon Ducks football team, having gone to games since the Johnson Administration. He has two black Labs, Roman and Rollie, who rule his world. Using his skills as a former DJ, he has recorded the voice mail greetings for 15 of his fellow umpires. He loves history, politics and documentaries and watches every season of "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race." He has worked three World Series, three All-Star Games, two no-hitters and numerous playoff games. He is gay and married to his partner of 28 years.

That last fact is just part of who Dale Scott is and has had no impact on his abilities as an umpire for the past 29 seasons. Yet it is understandably the one that most people will notice, because Scott is the first Major League Baseball umpire to publicly say he is gay while active (and the first out active male official in the NBA, NHL, NFL or MLB). This story you are reading now came about because Scott made a decision to first come out in a very quiet and understated way.

Scott was profiled in the October issue of Referee magazine, a subscription-only publication with a circulation of about 45,000. The article by Peter Jackel was a look at Scott's 29 years as a Major League umpire, and how he became one of the game's best despite nearly being fired early in his career. It also delved into his past career as a disc jockey with his "distinctive, radio-rich voice of a Vin Scully and the comedic timing of a George Carlin."

Jackel talked to friends of Scott's who grew up with him in Eugene, Ore., but nothing was written about his private life since he became an umpire. Prior to publication, the magazine's editor, Jeff Stern, wanted some non-game photos and that's when Scott made a decision to reveal a part of himself previously hidden from the public.

more
http://www.outsports.com/2014/12/2/7295993/major-league-baseball-umpire-dale-scott-gay-coming-out
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