Friday, November 17, 2017

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Mystery surrounds poisoned trees in Norfolk





















The trees are protected due to their age and historical significance. 
Authorities have been investigating a recent 'attack' on a number of protected 200-year-old trees.

The incident, which occurred at Koolunga House in Gorleston, England, saw unknown individual drill holes in the trunks of eight protected trees before pouring a poisonous substance inside.

"It's a real mystery as to why anyone would want to do it," said council leader Graham Plant. "I don't know what their motive is, but they are doing it and it's got to stop."

Residents of the property have offered a monetary reward for information leading to the culprit's arrest.

The trees, which have been damaged but may not have to be felled, include a horse chestnut tree and beech trees.

"This is part of Gorleston's history, and it isn't just in Koolunga, there's been a 200-year-old beech tree that's been attacked at a neighbouring garden," said Plant.

"It's somebody who has got a motive and their reason for doing things, I don't care what they are, we will do what we can to protect those trees."

Source: BBC News
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Monday, November 13, 2017

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Prehistoric shark found off coast of Portugal

This ancient species was around during the time of the dinosaurs.
Considered to be a 'living fossil', the frilled shark has remained unchanged for over 80 million years.

The extremely rare shark, which would have swam the prehistoric seas at the same time Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops roamed the land, is only seldom observed by scientists.

Usually found up to 4,200ft beneath the surface, the frilled shark can grow up to 6ft and possesses a unique set of gills that, unlike those of other fish, stretch all the way across its throat.

It also has a particularly unusual set of teeth designed to help it latch on to its prey.

This latest specimen, which was caught off the Algarve coast, was discovered by European Union researchers who were working on a project to 'minimize unwanted catches in commercial fishing'.

In total, only a very small number of frilled sharks have ever been observed alive.
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Friday, November 10, 2017

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Barbary Lion

The Barbary lion was considered one of the biggest lion subspecies. They had dark, long-haired manes that extended over the shoulder and downwards to the belly. It is said that they developed the colors and size of their manes due to ambient temperatures, their nutrition, and their level of testosterone. It is also possible that they developed such long manes due to the temperature in the Atlas Mountains, which is much lower than other regions in Africa.

Habitat:

The Barbary lion once roamed the deserts of Morocco, Algeria,Maghreb and other regions around Atlas Mountains.The Atlas Mountains had cold temperatures when compared to other parts of the African region, especially in the winter. The Barbary lions lived in prides, even when there were not many of them left, especially in the eastern Maghreb.

Extinction:

The Romans greatly admired Barbary lions and used them in the Colosseum to battle with gladiators.The Romans killed thousands of lions in their games, the Arab empire that followed squeezed the remaining animals into smaller territories.

In Algeria, they lived in the forest-clad hills and mountains between Ouarsenis in the west, the Pic de Taza in the east, and the plains of the Chelif River in the north. There were also many lions among the forests and wooded hills of the Constantine Province eastwards into Tunisia and south into the Aurès Mountains. By the middle of the 19th century, their numbers had been greatly diminished. The cedar forests of Chelia and neighbouring mountains harboured lions until about 1884.The last survivors in Tunisia were extirpated by 1890.

The last known wild Barbary lion was shot in the Moroccan part of the Atlas Mountains in 1942. However, several people reported sightings of the Barbary lions in the 1950's in Morocco and Algeria although it was never proven. Some people say that small populations may have even survived until the early 1960's, but it is not known for sure. These lions used to be offered to royal families of Morocco and Ethiopia and were known as the "royal" lions. It is said that some of these "royal" lions survived until the late 1960's, until a respiratory disease just about wiped them all out.

There have been numerous sighting over the past three decades, but none of them have been genetically proven. Several zoos around the world claim to have Barbary lions in their collections. In all likelihood most if not all of these big cats are not real Barbary lions but rather hybrids with lions from sub-Saharan Africa.



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Friday, November 3, 2017

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Mysterious void found inside Great Pyramid

Khufu's pyramid was built by Pharoah Khufu during 4th dynasty.
Physicists have used the by-products of cosmic rays to reveal a large, previously unidentified chamber inside the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt. The find is the first discovery since the nineteenth century of a major new space inside the pyramid.

Egyptologists have been quick to dismiss any idea of finding lost treasure in the 30-metre-long void. “There’s zero chance of hidden burial chambers,” says Aidan Dodson, an Egyptologist at the University of Bristol, UK, who studies ancient Egyptian tombs. But experts hope that the finding will lead to significant insights into how this spectacular pyramid was built.

Khufu's Pyramid was built during the fourth dynasty under Pharaoh Khufu, who reigned from 2509 to 2483 BC. Despite being one of the oldest and largest monuments in the world, there is no consensus about how it was constructed.It famously contains three large interior chambers and a series of passageways, the most striking of which is the 47m-long, 8m-high Grand Gallery.
"We don't know whether this big void is horizontal or inclined; we don't know if this void is made by one structure or several successive structures," explained Mehdi Tayoubi from the HIP Institute, Paris.
"What we are sure about is that this big void is there; that it is impressive; and that it was not expected as far as I know by any sort of theory."

"To better understand its internal structure, we imaged the pyramid using muons, which are by-products of cosmic rays that are only partially absorbed by stone," the scientists reported in Nature.

"The resulting cosmic-ray muon radiography allows us to visualise the known and potentially unknown voids in the pyramid in a non-invasive way."

This study reported the discovery of the chamber of at least 30m in length, situated above the Grand Gallery of the pyramid.

"While there is currently no information about the role of this void, these findings show how modern particle physics can shed new light on the world's archaeological heritage," the scientists said.

Ultimately the plan is to try drilling a tiny hole in the adjoining wall so that a small robot can be sent through in to the hidden area to find out what might lie inside.

Permission from the Egyptian authorities will need to be given however before this can go ahead. 

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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Mystery ancient stone structures found in Saudi desert

Several of the mysterious 'gates' can be seen in this image.
Over 400 unexplained structures have been discovered in the Saudi Arabian desert using Google Earth.

Found by Australian researcher David Kennedy whose team has already identified thousands of archaeological sites in the Middle-East, these peculiar man-made edifices seem to defy explanation.

Thought to have been constructed between 2,000 and 9,000 years ago by the ancestors of the modern-day Bedouin people, the structures are only visible when viewed from high above.

"You can't see them in any intelligible way at the ground level but once you get up a few hundred feet, or with a satellite even higher, they stand out beautifully," said Kennedy.

"I refer to them as Gates because when you view them from above they look like a simple field gate lying flat, two upright posts on the sides, connected by one or more long bar."

"They don't look like structures where people would have lived nor do they look like animal traps or for disposing of dead bodies. It's a mystery as to what their purpose would have been."

He said not much was known about the people who built them, but they were believed to be ancestors of the modern-day Bedouin.


Their discovery came about by chance after a Saudi doctor who was interested in the area's history contacted him, having heard about his work in Jordan.

"He said 'I'm interested in the heritage of my country, I've spotted on Google Earth that there are some rather strange structures in the lava fields'," Kennedy told broadcaster ABC.

"He sent the coordinates of them to me and I had a look and I was bowled over by them."

Kennedy, a founding director of the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa project, specializes in aerial archeology.

Since 1997, he and his team have photographed tens of thousands of stone-built structures, mostly in Jordan, ranging from giant circles to animal traps and funerary monuments.
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Saturday, October 28, 2017

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Scorching hot exoplanet 'snows' sunscreen

Artist’s illustration showing the scorching-hot exoplanet Kepler-13Ab, which orbits very close to its host star, Kepler-13A.
Astronomers have observed an extrasolar planet with some of the weirdest weather conditions ever seen.

Six times more massive than Jupiter and situated at a distance of 1,730 light years from the Earth, Kepler-13Ab, with often sees dayside surface temperatures of up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, is one of the hottest extrasolar planets ever discovered,
 Kepler-13Ab is "tidally locked," always showing the same face to its star. So, it has a dayside and a nightside.)

Situated extremely close to its parent star and with an orbital period of 1.8 Earth days, this distant world is tidally locked so that one side of the planet is always facing its star.

Now astronomers believe that strong winds may also carry titanium dioxide - one of the active ingredients in sunscreen - around to the planet's cooler side where it condenses in to clouds.

The peculiar 'snow' then falls in to the lower atmosphere where it stays due to the planet's gravity.

"These observations of Kepler-13Ab are telling us how condensates and clouds form in the atmospheres of very hot Jupiters, and how gravity will affect the composition of an atmosphere," said study lead author Thomas Beatty from Pennsylvania State University.

"When looking at these planets, you need to know not only how hot they are, but also what their gravity is like."

"In many ways, the atmospheric studies we're doing now on these gaseous, 'hot Jupiter' kinds of planets are test beds for how we're going to do atmospheric studies of terrestrial, Earth-like planets," he said in the same statement. "Understanding more about the atmospheres of these planets and how they work will help us when we study smaller planets that are harder to see and have more-complicated features in their atmospheres." 

As its name suggests, Kepler-13Ab was discovered by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, back in 2011. The planet is part of a triple-star system that includes the hot Jupiter's host star, Kepler-13A, and two companion stars (Kepler-13B and Kepler-13C).
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'Mega-carnivore' dinosaur found in Africa

An enormous meat-eating dinosaur measuring up to 30ft in length once roamed what is now Southern Africa.

Discovered by a team of researchers from universities in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, this prehistoric behemoth was part of a group of carnivorous dinosaurs known as 'megatherapods'.

Its footprints were found in the Maseru District of Lesotho - a small country in Southern Africa.

The discovery of such a large carnivorous dinosaur dating back to the Early Jurassic epoch was particularly unexpected as meat-eaters from that time were typically much smaller.

"The latest discovery is very exciting and sheds new light on the kind of carnivore that roamed what is now Southern Africa," said Dr Fabien Knoll from the University of Manchester.

"That's because it is the first evidence of an extremely large meat-eating animal roaming a landscape otherwise dominated by a variety of herbivorous, omnivorous and much smaller carnivorous dinosaurs. It really would have been top of the food chain."
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