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  • S Landreth
    Nuclear bomb detectors uncover secret population of blue whales hiding in Indian Ocean

    Scientists have discovered an entirely new population of pygmy blue whales in the Indian Ocean, which have managed to evade detection for decades despite their enormous size.

    Researchers uncovered the secretive cetaceans by analyzing acoustic data collected by an underwater nuclear bomb detection array, which revealed a unique song scientists had never heard before.

    The new population of pygmy blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) — a smaller subspecies of blue whale that reaches a maximum length of 79 feet (24 meters) — is now called the Chagos population, after a group of islands in the Indian Ocean near the group's lair.

    "We are still discovering missing populations of the largest animal that has ever lived," senior author Tracey Rogers, a marine ecologist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, told Live Science. "It's a testament to the difficulty of studying life in the ocean."

    Bomb detectors

    "Blue whales are generally hard to find," lead author Emmanuelle Leroy, a postdoctoral fellow at UNSW, told Live Science. "They were brought to the edge of extinction by industrial whaling and they are recovering very slowly."

    Currently, about 5,000 to 10,000 blue whales exist in the Southern Hemisphere, compared with the pre-whaling population of about 350,000 there, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The few that remain are often solitary and are spread across large geographic areas, making them easy to miss, Leroy said.

    "The best way to study them is through passive acoustic monitoring," Leroy said. "But this means that we need to have hydrophones recording in the different parts of the ocean."

    In the Indian Ocean, in particular, there are limited scientific acoustic arrays set up. So the team turned to underwater nuclear bomb detectors belonging to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) — an international group that uses a global underwater acoustic relay network to detect illegal nuclear bomb tests in the oceans. This gave the researchers access to a long-term dataset of noises across the Indian Ocean.

    "The CTBTO data is an important international asset," Rogers said. "I think it's cool that the same system that keeps the world safe from nuclear bombs is available to researchers and allows a host of scientists, including us, to do marine science that would not be possible without such sophisticated hydroacoustic arrays."

    A distinct song

    "This new whale song has been a dominant part of the soundscape in the Central Equatorial Indian Ocean for the past nearly 18 years."

    After analyzing the data, the researchers discovered a particular blue whale song that had not previously been heard before.

    "Blue whale songs are very simple in the way that they are the repetition of the same pattern," Leroy said. "But each blue whale subspecies and population has a different song type."

    In general, blue whale songs are long, have a low frequency — sometimes below what humans are capable of hearing (below 20 hertz) — high intensity and are repeated at regular intervals. But different groups of whales have calls that differ in duration, structure and the number of distinct sections.

    The Chagos song, belonging to the new pygmy population, has three sections, the first of which is the most complex, followed by two basic parts.

    "This new whale song has been a dominant part of the soundscape in the Central Equatorial Indian Ocean for the past nearly 18 years," Rogers said. Because of the song's prevalence, the researchers are confident that the song belongs to an entirely new population and not just a few lone individuals. However, the exact size of this new population remains a mystery.

    "Unfortunately, we have no idea of the pygmy blue whale population's size," Leroy said. "Acoustic [surveys] cannot give us this information yet."

    "Finding a new population of pygmy blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere is exciting," Rogers said. "It increases the global population that we did not realize was there before."

    Visual identification is still needed to definitively confirm the existence of the Chagos population, but the researchers are confident that this will only be a matter of time.

    In December 2020, another study using acoustic surveys, of which Rogers and Leroy were co-authors, uncovered another new population of blue whales near Oman.

    "This now takes us to five pygmy blue whale populations in the Indian Ocean," Rogers said, making the area a hotspot for the subspecies.

    These discoveries "would not have been possible" without acoustic surveys, Rogers said.

    The study was published online April 22 in the journal Scientific Reports.:

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  • S Landreth
    A sinkhole larger than a football field has appeared in Mexico — and it's still growing

    A huge sinkhole that emerged on farmland in Central Mexico is continuing to grow in size and is swallowing a brick and cinder block home.

    The sinkhole first appeared in the town of Santa María Zacatepec in Mexico’s Puebla State, east of Mexico City, last month and has continued to expand.

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    The Associated Press reports the large hole is more than 400 feet across, larger than a football field, and a home located on the land is beginning to collapse into it.

    The family that lives in the home has been evacuated.

    “It’s a very hard time for us. It hurts, because this is all that we have,” Magdalena Xalamigua Xopillacle, who lives in the home, told the news outlet.

    “At times we feel sick from so much sadness,” she said.

    The sinkhole measured about 16 feet in diameter when it first appeared then quickly grew over the course of hours, and then days. The Associated Press reports the edge of the hole is about 50 feet deep and the bottom is filled with water that appears to have strong currents.

    While some residents said the sinkhole may be a consequence of excessive groundwater use by factories in the area, officials said it could have been caused by an underground river.

    Authorities have advised people to stay away from the area and have secured the land with soldiers.

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  • S Landreth
    New dinosaur species confirmed as largest ever found in Australia

    A new dinosaur species discovered in Australia's Queensland region is the largest dinosaur ever found in the country — and it's among the biggest in the world, researchers announced Monday in the journal PeerJ.

    The big picture: Australotitan cooperensis, nicknamed Cooper, is believed to have walked the Earth 90 million years ago. Scientists estimate that Cooper would have "weighed about 70 tons, measured two stories tall and extended to about the length of a basketball court," the New York Times notes.
    • Cooper's bones were first discovered in Australia's Eromanga Basin in 2007, but paleontologists from the Queensland Museum and Eromanga Natural History Museum have only just officially classified it, according to the Guardian.

    What they're saying: "We're pretty excited about it because it's just the start of what we think might be a new wave of discoveries of very large dinosaur species in Australia," said study co-author Scott Hocknull, a paleontologist at Brisbane's Queensland Museum, to the Times.:

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  • S Landreth
    Blind man has sight partly restored after pioneering treatment

    A blind man has had his sight partly restored after a form of gene therapy that uses pulses of light to control the activity of nerve cells – the first successful demonstration of so-called optogenetic therapy in humans.

    The 58-year-old man, from Brittany in northern France, was said to be “very excited” after regaining the ability to recognise, count, locate and touch different objects with the treated eye while wearing a pair of light-stimulating goggles, having lost his sight after being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa almost 40 years ago.

    The breakthrough marks an important step towards the more widespread use of optogenetics as a clinical treatment. It involves modifying nerve cells (neurons) so that they fire electrical signals when they’re exposed to certain wavelengths of light, equipping neuroscientists with the power to precisely control neuronal signalling within the brain and elsewhere.

    Christopher Petkov, a professor of comparative neuropsychology at Newcastle University medical school, said: “This is a tremendous development to restore vision using an innovative approach. The goal now is to see how well this might work in other patients with retinitis pigmentosa.”

    This group of rare, genetic disorders, which involves the loss of light-sensitive cells in the retina, affects more than 2 million people worldwide, and can lead to complete blindness.

    The new technique aims to restore visual function at the late stages of the disease, by injecting a harmless virus that has been modified to carry the genetic instructions for making a light-responsive algal protein, into the eye. These instructions are inserted into specific eye cells called retinal ganglion cells, bypassing the damaged retinal cells, and allowing visual information to be transmitted to the brain when the modified cells are exposed to light.

    The light is delivered into the patient’s eye using goggles that capture images from the real world and transform them into pulses at the specific wavelength the gene therapy protein responds to in real time, enabling the man to see.

    The study, published in Nature Medicine, describes the first patient treated as part of an international study investigating the safety and tolerability of the treatment. Two patients have also had the treatment in London.

    It takes time for the eye cells to start producing the protein and for the brain to become accustomed to the new system. Prof José-Alain Sahel at the University of Pittsburgh school of medicine, who co-led the study, said: “Initially, the patient couldn’t see anything with the system, and obviously this must have been quite frustrating. And then spontaneously, he started to be very excited, reporting that he was able to see the white stripes [of a zebra crossing] across the street.”

    His vision improved with further training, although it is not completely restored and he still cannot recognise faces. However, the treatment was well tolerated, and the results expected to be long-lasting.

    “I think there’s a new scientific field [being] born here, namely visual rehabilitation,” said the study co-leader Prof Botond Roska at the University of Basel in Switzerland. “What these ganglion cells are telling the brain is not the normal activity of the ganglion cells. What we are getting into is [teaching] the brain of a 60-year-old a new language.”

    Prof Gero Miesenböck, the director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the University of Oxford, who co-won the Brain prize in 2013 for the invention and refinement of optogenetics, said: “The study represents a significant milestone in therapeutic applications of optogenetics. There has been much speculation – and also a rather large amount of hype – about such applications since the early days of the technology, which originated 20 years ago as a research tool.”

    There are still major obstacles to overcome before optogenetic treatment can be used more widely, including identifying the relevant brain cells to be modified, and finding ways to safely introduce light sources into the brain.

    Miesenböck said: “If optogenetic treatments for other neurological and psychiatric indications are to become a reality, we need to advance our fundamental understanding of the relevant brain structures. This, not technological issues, is the most serious obstacle to wider optogenetic applications.”:

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  • S Landreth
    Einstein letter containing famous equation sells for $1.2M

    A letter from the famous physicist Albert Einstein that includes one of few known examples of his equation, E = mc2, sold for more than $1.2 million at an auction this week.

    The auction began on May 13 and officially ended Thursday, with an anonymous buyer identified as a document collector winning the letter in the over million-dollar bid.

    Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at Boston-based RR Auction, which oversaw the bidding process, told The Associated Press that the letter sold for far more than the $400,000 they had initially predicted.

    The one-page, handwritten letter, which recently became public, was sent to Polish American physicist Ludwik Silberstein and is dated Oct. 26, 1946, according to an image of the letter and description included on RR Auction's website.

    “It’s an important letter from both a holographic and a physics point of view,” Livingston told the news agency.

    The letter to Silberstein, who was widely known for challenging Einstein’s theories, included the groundbreaking equation that went on to influence the field of physics, showing that mass and energy are interchangeable and that time is not an absolute.

    According to RR auction, Einstein wrote in the letter, "Your question can be answered from the E = mc2 formula, without any erudition.”

    The auction website said Einstein in his later years explained on-camera that his famous equation “followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are but different manifestations of the same thing.”

    “Furthermore, the equation E is equal to m c-squared, in which energy is put equal to mass multiplied by the velocity of light squared, showed that a very small amount of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy, and vice versa,” Einstein explained.

    RR Auction noted that according to archivists at the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, there are only three other known examples of Einstein writing out the famous equation.

    Livingston told the AP that the letter auctioned Friday was found among Silberstein’s personal archives that were sold by his descendants.

    Five parties were initially engaged in a bidding war over the letter, Livingston said, though it eventually came down to two prospective buyers.: -

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  • S Landreth

    When a team of scientists used CT scans to virtually unwrap a mummy whose coffin had been inscribed with the name of male priest Hor-Djehuty, it didn't seem to be who it was supposed to be. That was hardly the most shocking thing about this find, though.

    Archaeologist and anthropologist Marzena Ożarek-Szilke of the University of Warsaw led a team of researchers who were just about to finish their investigation on the mummy — whose skeleton was somewhat delicate for a man — when something came to their attention. They were already certain from the scans that this was the body of a woman. What they didn’t expect was something that looked like a tiny foot inside her abdomen.

    Ożarek-Szilke’s husband, an Egyptologist, was the first to notice as the father of three children. More scans and X-rays revealed that this woman had died pregnant.

    “This mummy provides new possibilities for pregnancy studies in ancient times, which can be compared with and related to current cases,” the scientists said in a study recently published in Journal of Archaeological Science, adding that “This specimen sheds a light on an unresearched aspect of ancient Egyptian burial customs and interpretations of pregnancy in the context of ancient Egyptian religion.”

    What seemed to be a case of mistaken identity turned out to be the first pregnant mummy ever found in Egypt. Because current technology is advanced enough to see beyond the wrappings, the mummy of this woman, whose name remains unknown, never needed to be unwrapped. She had been born into the elite class of Thebes (which is probably why she could afford a decent mummification and was found among the royal tombs), and radiology revealed she had been sent off to the afterlife with many magical amulets. She was between the ages of 20 and 30 and around 26 to 30 weeks pregnant. Though she was embalmed, the fetus had been left inside her untouched, but why?

    Ancient Egyptians viewed naming as a person’s very essence. The souls of the dead could only enter the afterlife if they were named. Unnamed souls would be forever lost and earthbound, wandering in the ether. The only way to ensure passage for the unnamed was attachment to someone who was named. This is why it is believed that the fetus was neither removed nor mummified because so long as it remained in the mother, even after death, it was seen as a part of the mother’s body. It had no name because it had not yet seen anything outside the womb. Embalmers left it in the mother so it would pass to the next world as a part of her.

    However, if the fetus was left inside the mother because of its lack of personhood through the eyes of the ancient Egyptians, then what can explain the two mummified fetuses that would have been the daughters of King Tutankhamun if they had actually been born? Tutankhamun’s queen, Ankhesenamun, miscarried at least twice (whether she had more miscarriages earlier on in pregnancy is impossible to know). Some Egyptologists blame inbreeding. Though the miscarried fetuses had not survived, they had still left the body of the mother. They were no longer part of her body. This possibly explains the reason they were mummified. Though the fetuses were not individually named, gold bands on both coffins were inscribed with "The Osiris".

    Whether this was really the reason that this mummy’s fetus was left inside her and the miscarried fetuses of Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun were not is still hypothetical. Though the cause of death is also unknown, it was no secret that the mortality rate was high for pregnant women in Ancient Egypt, who prayed to Tawaret, goddess of fertility and childbirth. Many also died giving birth. Because she was embalmed with so much care, traces of blood were preserved in some of her soft tissues, and examining those could at least prove or rule out pathogens or other toxins.

    “[The pregnant mummy] opens up new possibilities of researching pregnancy in ancient times and practices related to maternity,” the scientists said. “A critical approach of interpretation of Egyptian mummies is [also] necessary, since many of them do not match their coffins.”: -

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  • S Landreth
    Archaeologists discover the oldest known human burial in Africa

    Archaeologists have uncovered the oldest known human burial in Africa: a young child laid to rest in a shallow grave 78,000 years ago.

    New research published Wednesday in the journal Nature details the excavation of the child’s grave at the mouth of the Panga ya Saidi cave site along the coastline of southeastern Kenya.

    Researchers first discovered portions of the child’s bones during excavations in 2013 and spent the next several years digging and casting the fragile bones in plaster.

    “At this point, we weren’t sure what we had found. The bones were just too delicate to study in the field,” Emmanuel Ndiema of the National Museums of Kenya said in a release. “We had a find that we were pretty excited about - but it would be a while before we understood its importance.”

    The specimen was then transported to a laboratory for detailed analysis. Researchers were later able to study teeth and confirm the remains belonged to a 2 to 3-year-old human, who was later nicknamed “Mtoto,” which means "child" in Swahili.

    Scans of the specimen revealed that the child’s body had been laid in a fetal position with knees tucked up towards the chest, and the position of the skull suggests it may have been laid on a headrest or pillow. Researchers believe the body may have been wrapped tightly in a shroud material before burial, and they determined the child was intentionally buried shortly after death.

    “The articulation of the spine and the ribs was also astonishingly preserved, even conserving the curvature of the thorax cage, suggesting that it was an undisturbed burial and that the decomposition of the body took place right in the pit where the bones were found,” María Martinón-Torres, director of the National Research Center on Human Evolution (CENIEH), said.

    While the site is believed to be the oldest known burial site in Africa, Archaeologists have made similar discoveries in Asia that range between 90,000 and 130,000 years old.:

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  • S Landreth
    Malian woman gives birth to nine babies

    A Malian woman gave birth to nine babies on Tuesday - two more than doctors had detected inside her crowded womb - joining a small pantheon of mothers of nonuplets.

    The pregnancy of Halima Cisse, 25, has fascinated the West African nation and attracted the attention of its leaders. When doctors in March said Cisse needed specialist care, authorities flew her to Morocco, where she gave birth.

    "The newborns (five girls and four boys) and the mother are all doing well," Mali's health minister, Fanta Siby, said in a statement.

    Cisse was expected to give birth to seven babies, according to ultrasounds conducted in Morocco and Mali that missed two of the siblings. All were delivered by caesarean section.

    Nonuplets are extremely rare. Medical complications in multiple births of this kind often mean that some of the babies do not reach full term.:

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  • S Landreth
    World’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge Arouca 516 opens in Portugal

    The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge has been completed in Portugal. The bridge, Arouca 516, sits 175 metres above the River Paiva in the north of the country. Its 516 metre-long walkway breaks the record previously held by the Charles Kuonen Bridge in the Swiss Alps. Located near the tiny town of Arouca and within the Unesco-recognised Arouca Geopark, the bridge took two years to construct and is held up by steel cables and two large towers on each side

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  • S Landreth
    Hunt for 48 crates of Hitler’s gold worth $900 million hidden in Polish palace

    Treasure hunters are hoping to dig up 48 crates of Adolf Hitler’s hidden gold worth around $900 million at a Polish palace used as a brothel by his SS henchmen.

    The team of treasure hunters will begin the archaeological excavation at the 18th-century palace in the village of Minkowskie in southern Poland next week and hope to unearth 10 tonnes of gold and other riches.

    The swag was stolen towards the end of World War II under the instruction of SS boss Heinrich Himmler, to fund the creation of a Fourth Reich.

    It is also thought to be made up of jewellery and possessions treasured by Germany’s elite who lived in the area and gave the Nazis their valuables to avoid them being snatched by Russia’s advancing Red Army.

    Diary proves key to finding Nazi gold

    The elusive Gold of Breslau, which disappeared from police headquarters in the Polish city of Wroclaw, is also believed to be among the hidden loot.

    The treasure hunters, from the non-profit Silesian Bridge foundation, determined the location after scouring through secret documents, an SS officer’s diary, and a map they received from the offspring of officers who frequented a discreet lodge dating back over 1000 years.

    The 10th-century Quedlinburg lodge was created during the rule of the first German King Henry the Fowler, who was so fascinating to Himmler, he believed he was the king’s reincarnation.

    Quedlinburg members were awarded high-ranking positions in many Nazi institutions after the two formed an alliance in the Third Reich.

    The records were handed over by descendants as “the return of world heritage is seen as a milestone on the long path of reconciliation,” according to the foundation.

    The uncovered diary, believed to have been written by a high-ranking SS officer under the alias Michaelis, seems to be the key to the buried booty.

    A pencil-written entry from March 12, 1945, discussing the stash at the palace in Minkowskie reads: “A trough has been dug in the orangery, which is a safe ‘home’ for the delivered chests and containers.

    Michaelis continued: “48 chests from the Reichsbank, in good condition, were hidden, very well covered with earth and ‘greened’ with still living plants.

    “Let providence watch over us.”

    The revealing memoir has proved to be quite the treasure map, after it earlier revealed the location of another palace in the region last year where 28 tonnes of valuables are believed to be buried at the bottom of a well.

    But the Silesian Bridge team have opted to excavate the Minkowskie mansion as the stash is easier to access.

    Among the other indicative documents is a letter from a senior SS officer by the name of von Stein, written to a female who worked at the palace who later became his lover.

    “My dear Inge, I will fulfil my assignment, with God’s will. Some transports were successful. The remaining 48 heavy Reichsbank’s chests and all the family chests I hereby entrust to you,” he wrote.

    “Only you know where they are located. May God help you and help me, fulfil my assignment.”

    Masses of loot stolen by Nazis in WWII

    “Several people took part in hiding the deposits in Minkowskie. One of them was an officer called von Stein,” the head of the Silesian Bridge foundation, Roman Furmaniak, told the MailOnline.

    “He used to stay in the palace because he had a lover there. Due to its location it was often visited by high-ranking SS officers who treated it like a brothel.”

    He convinced Inge to keep a watchful eye over the treasure, who happily obliged because “she was in love with the handsome officer in a black SS uniform”.

    “They were like gods,” Mr Furmaniak continued.

    “She believed that she would have to stay there for a year, maybe two, then it would all be over.


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  • S Landreth
    Las Vegas couple finds bones potentially dating back to Ice Age in their backyard

    When Matt Perkins and his husband moved from Washington state to Las Vegas, finding bones potentially dating back to the Ice Age weren't quite on their bingo card — they just wanted a pool.

    “Monday morning we woke up [and] the pool guy said he was going to come to check out the pool," Perkins told KTNV. "We assume that was normal, we wake up he’s out front with the police."

    Joshua Bonde, the director of research of the Nevada Science Center, estimated the bones were between 6,000 and 14,000 years old and could belong to a horse or other large mammal that lived in the Mohave desert at the time. The bones appeared to be surrounded by partially compacted vegetation, he said, speculating that it could have died on the edge of a spring and fallen in, leading the bones to be preserved.

    “So this thing is about four to five feet below the present ground surface and so the animal was probably wandering around the world in Southern Nevada, which was not nearly as populated as it is today," Bonde told KTNV. "There were probably still people in the area and it was probably a little bit marshy."

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    Perhaps it shouldn't have been such a surprise — their home isn't far from Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, where such fossils have been found before, and Bonde told KTNV that neighbors in the Las Vegas Valley shouldn’t be surprised to make similar discoveries.

    “We had joked on Friday that while they started digging, ‘Oh great maybe they will find a dinosaur for us and it will pay for our pool," Perkins told KTNV.

    Technically, according to U.S. laws and precedents, the fossils belong to the property owner, but while they could make a profit, the couple told KTNV that they planned to turn the bones over to the Nevada Science Center.

    "Our bigger concern was this might be something. I’d love to find out what it is and preserve it if we can before we just go to concrete it up," Perkins told KTNV.:

    Hagerman Horse:

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  • S Landreth
    2.5 billion T. rex roamed Earth, but not all at once, study finds

    One Tyrannosaurus rex seems scary enough. Now picture 2.5 billion of them. That’s how many of the fierce dinosaur king probably roamed Earth over the course of a couple million years, a new study finds.

    Using calculations based on body size, sexual maturity and the creatures’ energy needs, a team at the University of California, Berkeley figured out just how many T. rex lived over 127,000 generations, according to a study in Thursday’s journal Science. It’s a first-of-its-kind number, but just an estimate with a margin of error that is the size of a T. rex.

    “That’s a lot of jaws,” said study lead author Charles Marshall, director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology. “That’s a lot of teeth. That’s a lot of claws.”

    The species roamed North America for about 1.2 million to 3.6 million years, meaning the T. rex population density was small at any one moment. There would be about two in a place the size of the Washington, D.C., or 3,800 in California, the study said.

    “Probably like a lot of people, I literally did a double-take to make sure that my eyes hadn’t deceived me when I first read that 2.5 billion T. rexes have ever lived,” said Macalester College paleobiologist Kristi Curry Rogers, who wasn’t part of the study.

    Marshall said the estimate helps scientists figure the preservation rate of T. rex fossils and underscores how lucky the world is to know about them at all. About 100 or so T. rex fossils have been found — 32 of them with enough material to figure they are adults. If there were 2.5 million T. rex instead of 2.5 billion, we would probably have never known they existed, he said.

    Marshall’s team calculated the population by using a general biology rule of thumb that says the bigger the animal, the less dense its population. Then they added estimates of how much energy the carnivorous T. rex needed to stay alive — somewhere between a Komodo dragon and a lion. The more energy required, the less dense the population. They also factored in that the T. rex reached sexual maturity somewhere around 14 to 17 years old and lived at most 28 years.

    Given uncertainties in the creatures’ generation length, range and how long they roamed, the Berkeley team said the total population could be as little as 140 million or as much as 42 billion with 2.4 billion as the middle value.

    The science about the biggest land-living carnivores of all time is important, “but the truth, as I see it, is that this kind of thing is just very cool,” said Purdue University geology professor James Farlow.:

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  • S Landreth
    Rachael Blackmore makes history with Grand National win on Minella Times

    Rachael Blackmore made Grand National history by becoming the first female jockey to win the race as she steered Minella Times across the finishing line at Aintree on Saturday.

    The Irishwoman, who became the first female leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival last month, timed her finish to perfection as Minella Times surged ahead after the 30th and final fence.

    Minella Times, priced at 11-1, never looked threatened in the charge to the finish 100-1 shot Balko Des Flos coming second and Any Second Now in third place.

    The closest a female jockey had previously come to winning the most famous steeplechase in the world was Katie Walsh on Seabass in 2012 when she finished third.

    "I cannot believe it," Blackmore said. "He was a sensational spin. I'm so lucky to be riding. It is unbelievable.

    "He was just incredible and jumped beautifully. I tried to wait as long as I could. When I jumped the last and asked him for a bit, he was there.

    "I don't feel male or female right now, I don't even feel human. This is just unbelievable."

    Favourite Cloth Cap, ridden by Tom Scudamore, pulled up at the third last fence.

    This year's race took place in front of empty stands because of COVID-19 restrictions.

    Female jockeys have only been allowed to enter and race in the National since 1975, when the Sex Discrimination Act was passed. Blackmore is the 20th female jockey to compete in the race.:

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  • S Landreth
    Rare Superman comic sells for record $3.25 million

    One of the few copies of the comic book that introduced Superman to the world has sold for a super-sized, record-setting price.

    The issue of Action Comics #1 went for $3.25 million in a private sale,, an online auction and consignment company, announced Tuesday.

    It narrowly bested the previous record for the comic, set in the auction of another copy in 2014 for slightly over $3.2 million.

    The comic, published in 1938, “really is the beginning of the superhero genre,” said COO Vincent Zurzolo, who brokered the sale.

    It told readers about the origins of Superman, how he came to Earth from another planet and went by Clark Kent.

    The seller of this particular issue bought the comic in 2018 for slightly more than $2 million.

    Zurzolo said that while there were hundreds of thousands of copies initially published, it’s estimated only about 100 exist today, and in varying conditions. He said this copy is among the best-kept ones.

    “There’s no comic book that you could value higher in terms of a comic book than Action Comics #1,” he said.:

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  • S Landreth
    World’s Largest Painting Sells for $62 M. at Dubai Auction

    At 17,000 square feet, Sacha Jafri’s The Journey of Humanity (2020), an abstraction featuring drips, whorls, and splatters of various hues, is the world’s largest painting, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. This week, the grand canvas was sold for a fittingly epic price at an auction in Dubai.

    On Tuesday, The Journey of Humanity sold for $62 million at an auction held at Atlantis, The Palm hotel. The sale puts it among the most expensive artworks by a living artist ever sold at auction, and it is not far behind behind a $69 million Beeple NFT piece that sold at Christie’s earlier this month.

    Jafri’s plan had initially been to slice up the painting and sell it in 60 segments to raise $30 million to support “global digital equality.” Those paintings were intended to have been sold in four auctions.

    But the work instead ultimately sold as one, and it went to Andre Abdoune, chief executive of Altius Gestion International Holding, according to the Emirati outlet National. The proceeds will go a variety of organizations, including UNICEF, UNESCO, the U.A.E.’s Ministry of Education, and the Global Gift Foundation.

    Jafri, who has not previously had a major presence at auction, painted The Journey of Humanity over the course of several months last year at the Atlantis. The resulting canvas includes more than 300 layers of paint and is the size of two football fields. He has previously sold his art to benefit charitable organizations, with actress Eva Longoria, musician Paul McCartney, and former U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly among his buyers.:

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