Giant, newly discovered dinosaur was literally a huge weirdo

Standard

You’re standing in a lush forest 230 million years ago in what is now Argentina. 

You’re alone among the Triassic shrubbery. Suddenly, an elephant-sized dinosaur comes lumbering your way through the overgrowth.

The dinosaur looks somewhat familiar — kind of like a much smaller brachiosaurus — but it’s definitely different. 

Instead of the straight legs, huge bodies, and long necks that have come to define the sauropods, this odd-looking creature has bent legs and a shorter neck, but it’s definitely huge, if not as big as its much larger cousins. 

It’s… weird looking.

But here it is. And its name is Ingentia prima.

A study published earlier this week in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution details the discovery of the first Ingentia fossil in Argentina. 

The new finding reveals that giant dinosaurs evolved at least 30 million years earlier than sauropods like brachiosaurus or titanosaurus, changing our understanding of the huge beasts that lorded over our planet before we came along.

Artist's illustration of the newfound dinosaur.

Artist’s illustration of the newfound dinosaur.

“This is a really unexpected new discovery, and I think one of the most important new dinosaurs of the last few years,” paleontologist Steve Brusatte, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said via email.

Initially, scientists thought that huge dinosaurs evolved in a very specific way. Basically, researchers have suggested that large dinosaurs needed to have straight legs with bones that grew at a steady rate over a relatively long period of time. 

Ingentia throws a wrench into that model of giant dino evolution. 

The newly discovered dinosaur not only walks on bent legs, but those bones appear to have grown at a more irregular pace, according to the new study. 

Earlier dinosaurs in the sauropodomorph group walked on their hind legs and were small, but Ingentia appears to be something in between those smaller dinosaurs and the much larger brachiosaurus or titanosaurus, which existed millions of years later. 

“Sauropodomorph dinosaurs are a wildly diverse group that originated at the very beginning of the age of dinosaurs and survived until the moment that dinosaurs went extinct,” Kristina Curry Rogers, a paleontologist at Macalester College in Minnesota, said via email.

 “…The group is probably best known for their recognizable body plan – tiny head, long neck, columnar limbs, huge body, and long tail.  Since nearly all later sauropods have this basic body plan, discovering animals that hint at how and when such a plan first evolved is exciting,” Curry Rogers, who wasn’t involved in the new study, added. 

“This discovery helps shed light on when the different traits that we think led to the extreme gigantism in sauropods first evolved — it’s important because it helps connect some dots between earlier little sauropodomorphs and the real giants that ruled the Mesozoic later on.”

The newfound dinosaur fits into a subgroup called the lessemsaurids, distant cousins of the better-known sauropods. 

The new study looks at both Ingentia and another lessemsaurid, Lessemsaurus sauropoides, which also lived in what is now Argentina. 

“We all need to learn a new dinosaur name, the lessemsaurids, because these were the first dinosaurs to grow to huge sizes of about 10 tons,” Brusatte said. 

“They got big back in the Triassic Period, about 215 million years ago. This is much earlier than we thought dinosaurs got so big. So, the lessemsaurids force us to rethink when, why, and how some dinosaurs got so monstrous.”

At the moment, it’s unclear exactly why these dinosaurs did grow to their huge size earlier than initially expected.

And the truth is, there may be no reason for the gigantism at all. 

“Who knows what purpose evolving a larger body size may have had — usually things evolve by chance, but work well enough in an environment to get passed down and stick around in populations of organisms,” Curry Rogers said. 

“But, sometimes being larger can be a helpful defense against predators — and growing fast to gain that bigger body size makes it possible to outpace those things in your ecosystem that might try and eat you if you stay small for a long time.” 

from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2L8ncIU
via IFTTT

Meet the drone that flies without propellers

Standard

impeller_drone_1

Every drone on the market (or even a DIY one) has one iconic detail. The propeller that gives it vertical lift-off. The propeller is pretty much the most important part of the drone, but it’s also the most vulnerable. The minute even one propeller snags a tree branch or catches the corner of a building, the drone plummets downwards and begins flailing around like an injured bird. To overcome this, some drones come with propeller guards. Other, more advanced drones come with obstacle detection and collision avoidance technology… but RCA student Marcus Kung may have the most creative solution yet. Ditch the propellers altogether.

Marcus Kung’s Impeller Drone sort of gives away the secret in the name itself. Rather than using an axial fan, or a propeller, Kung’s drone uses centrifugal fans, or impellers. The kind found in leaf blowers and hair dryers, impellers pull air from the back and instead of pushing it out the front like a regular fan, push the air out sideways. The Impeller Drone, therefore, uses centrifugal fans arranged the way wheels on a car are. The air is pulled from the sides, and pushed downwards, thanks to the housing around the fan that directs the air-flow. The housing additionally protects the impeller from making contact with anything outside, and the air inlet itself remains guarded by a grill.

The advantages of an impeller setup are that your drone is much safer from object collision and irreversible damage to crucial components. The impeller housing also allows air to be pushed out with more force through the outlet, allowing drones to fly higher with lesser power. The only disadvantage is that just like a leaf-blower or a hairdryer, the Impeller Drone is going to make a great deal of noise… but that’s just a small price to pay for a drone that’s more robust and sturdy, right?

Designer: Marcus Kung

impeller_drone_2

impeller_drone_3

impeller_drone_4

impeller_drone_5

impeller_drone_6

impeller_drone_7

from Yanko Design http://bit.ly/2ulYeiX
via IFTTT

Casper opens a storefront for $25 naps

Standard

Casper is opening a storefront designed specifically for sleepy New Yorkers in need of a nap.

In The Dreamery, you can reserve nooks for 45 minutes at a time, at a cost of $25 per session. These nooks are basically giant wooden “O”s with curtains and soundproofed backing, and of course they’re stocked with Casper beds.

It’s easy to dismiss or giggle about a nap store, but it seems a lot less funny when it’s a warm afternoon and you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open at work. In fact, I will happily confess to taking advantage of the TechCrunch New York couch after a big lunch, or after a morning that started stupidly early thanks to deadlines and embargoes.

The Dreamery, of course, is a lot fancier than the office couch, as I discovered when I dropped by for a quick tour. Beyond the nooks themselves, there are also lockers to drop off your stuff, private washrooms to get cleaned up, a lounge for hanging out and drinking coffee before or after, plus additional amenities like pajamas and Headspace “sleepcasts.” (And yes, a Casper spokesperson assured me that the sheets are changed between each session.)

The Dreamery

“The Dreamery is about making sleep and rest a part of our regular wellness routines — similar to how many people prioritize a workout class,” ​said COO Neil Parikh in a statement. ​“The concept enables us to pilot new ways of bringing better sleep to more people and to more places — whether that’s here, the workplace, airports, or beyond.”

Oh, and this new storefront is located on the same New York City block as a Casper sleep store, so it should be a pretty quick walk if you love the experience so much that you want to take a mattress home.

from TechCrunch https://tcrn.ch/2Lc8Uab
via IFTTT