Thursday 23 December 2021

Inside a Dinosaur Egg

Inside a Dinosaur Egg 

THIS ARTICLE describes what you see if you happen to have a dinosaur egg hanging about your museum for fifteen years (and are the curator of Yingliang Stone Nature history Museum). Yes the curator noticed some bones poking out of a slightly damaged dinosaur egg. He had a fossil preparator work on the egg and found this!

The oviraptorosaur embryo ‘Baby Yingliang’ provides a rare glimpse into the prehatching behaviour of non-avian dinosaurs. Xing et al., 2021, Author provided

It is an Oviraptosaur embryo and now palaeontologists have a new vocabulary to learn. They have to familiarise themselves in the development of birds inside an egg as this fossil shows that dinosaurs (at least this species) seem to show all the characteristics of hatching birds! 

This is a very interesting article and is worth reading. The wonderful preservation of these specimens from China is breathtaking!

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Asteroid Ryugu and the Early Solar System

Asteroid Ryugu and the Early Solar System 

A few weeks ago I reported on the results of ANOTHER ASTEROID ENCOUNTER.

THIS ARTICLE reports on another one! It concerns the asteroid Ryugu. The encounter collected almost 5.5g of material. The asteroid is rich in carbon and water and this type of asteroid may be the source of carbonaceous chondrites meteorites. 

The recovered material is not as dense as the meteorites but then it has not gone through a fiery entry through the Earths atmosphere. Therefore the material may contain components which are not found in the meteorites.

And that component may be nitrogen from ammonium-bearing clay minerals or nitrogen-rich organic material. Further information is eagerly anticipated!

Image of Ryugu taken by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft in 2018. JAXA/wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Tuesday 14 December 2021

What's Inside an Ammonite

What's Inside an Ammonite 

A correspondent sent me THIS LINK which tells us about new research into ammonites. If you have access you can read the source paper HERE.

The article records the use of X-ray tomography (a non-destructive technique) on an exceptionally well preserved ammonite from Gloucestershire, which is in the National Museum of Wales. It was found 20 years ago. It could have been opened up then, but it was kept until modern methods allowed it to be studied without breaking it.

Backlit shell with visible organs (to the left)

Left: 3D reconstruction. Right: Labelled internal organs

The results are that the animal is believed to have moved by jet propulsion, like many cephalopods and that it had paired muscles which could retract the beast inside its shell.

This is unlike Nautilus which has been used as a modern analogue of ammonites.

Saturday 11 December 2021

Battle Axe Dinosaur

Battle Axe Dinosaur 

A correspondent has sent me A LINK to an article in the New York Times. I am not sure whether this will work indefinitely but give it a go and let me know. The article is based on a paper in Nature. You can see an abstract HERE.

The remains of the beast were found in sub Antarctic Chile and is a species of the ankylosaurs, who are known for their heavy armour. This individual has been named as Stegouros elengassen and has an unusually shaped tail. It looks somewhat like a macuahuitl - a Mesoamerican club edged with obsidian. And a sort of battle axe!

An artist’s reconstruction of a new species of armored dinosaur discovered in southern Chile, Stegouros elengassen.Credit...Luis Pérez López

Digital reconstruction of the unique tail weapon of the new species of armored dinosaur Stegouros elengassen. The tail was encased in pairs of dermal bones; a portion of the dermal bones has been digitally sliced away, to reveal the tail vertebrae within. Different colors signal physically separate bones; many dermal bones have fused into a single unit (liliac).CreditCredit...José Palma and Joao Francisco Botelho

3 Publications

 3 Publications

Three publications have come my way. They are:
  • Geo Conservation Newsletter. You can get it HERE or read it below.

  • Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust news update. You can get it HERE or read it below.

  • A poster from West Midlands Regional Group of the Geological Society detailing everything geological in the West Midlands. With Zoom lectures proliferating much on the poster is available to everyone, You can get it HERE or read it below.

Friday 3 December 2021

Mountain Building Needs Plankton!

Mountain Building Needs Plankton! 

THIS ARTICLE based on THIS PAPER tells us that without organic carbon in the form of graphite, mountain building would not have taken place. Organic carbon became possible after the Great Oxidation Event at c. 2.3 Ga and there are few mountain building episodes before this. The graphite provided the necessary lubrication.

Timeline for the formation of mountains on Earth. J Johnston/University of Aberdeen, Author provided

The academic paper goes through many mountain building episodes and in each of them finds carbonaceous sediments involved in all of them.

The article is well worth reading and the academic paper gives a great deal of information - interesting stuff!

Thursday 2 December 2021

Does Half Our Water Come from the Sun?

Does Half Our Water Come from the Sun?

Remember the Japanese mission to get a piece of an asteroid? It happened in 2011 and work is still being done on the samples returned. THIS ARTICLE records what one team discovered on some tiny particles of the asteroid. The article is based on THIS ACADEMIC PAPER which has not yet been fully published.

Using atom probe tomography they found that the surface of the particles was rich in hydroxide (OH), and much more surprisingly water molecules (H₂O).

The most likely source of the hydrogen atoms is the solar wind which consists of hydrogen ions. The conducted experiments to prove this was possible.

And their conclusion was that half of the Earths water came from this source in the time that the Earth was forming - there were lots of asteroidy things basking in the suns light at this time. And this would explain the isotopic composition of the Earth's water which is otherwise difficult to understand.

The asteroid Itokawa was the source of grains of dust which contained a surprising layer of water. JAXA