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It's been a weird week for science.
Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:37am

Here's the stuff I've noticed:

Littlefoot isn't a dinosaur any more

At least, not according to a new paper printed in Nature (TetZoo article, because 'Nature' is paywalled), which claims to make therapods (ie carnivorous bipedal dinosaurs) closer to ornithischians (ie smallish plant eaters) than to sauropods (ie long-necks). The trouble with that is that the two definitions of Dinosauria are:

"The last common ancestor of Triceratops and the common sparrow and its descendents."

"The last common ancestor of the original three dinosaurs (Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, Hylaeosaurus) and its descendants."

... neither of which includes sauropods under the new system! So Littlefoot is just a very large reptile. ^_^

(Okay, to be fair, the new paper proposed a new definition using the last ancestor of Triceratops, the sparrow, and Diplodocus, which loops him back in. But you've got to admit it's funnier this way.)

Croc-faced T. rex is back

A new report also in 'Nature' (but not paywalled this time) demonstrates that a close relative of T. rex had crocodile-like facial scales, not the bare skin or feathers some had assumed. The news article I read last night pointed out that the sensitivity of these scales could mean they were used in mating behaviour - so yeah, tyrannosaur makeouts.

(They still probably had feathered bodies, though.)

(Natural Geographic article on the subject.)

There and Back Again... Twice!

This unprepossessing sight is a SpaceX Falcon 9 first-stage booster, sitting pretty on the barge Of Course I Still Love You, having landed after boosting a satellite up to space. Not that special, SpaceX has pulled that trick off before - but that's the thing: so has this booster.

Yes, this is the refurbished, reloaded, and relaunched first-stage booster from the first successful barge landing. It's been launched not once, but twice - and has been successfully recovered both times. And that, I think you'll agree, is pretty spectacular.

You can watch the launch video here.

That's what's penetrated through to my awareness, but I'm certain there's more science news out there. Throw it out here if you've got it, folks.


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