How scaly dinosaurs turned into feathery birds – new gene study offers clues

November 29, 2017 by  
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Dinosaurs no longer roam the planet – unless you count birds . Recent discoveries have revealed many dinosaurs once had feathers , and birds are actually dinosaurs that have evolved over time. But we don’t really know how feathers evolved. A recent study led by University of Southern California (USC) researchers involving alligator and chicken genes may offer new insight. Feathers and scales are comprised of keratin, and both are part of skin growth, so scientists have surmised they might have a shared evolutionary history. But the nature of that history is still a mystery. A dinosaur unearthed in 2014 in Siberia appeared to possess feather-like filaments, some growing out of scales – leading researchers to think feather-like structures might have evolved from modified scales. So the USC-led team took genes they think might be important in the development of feathers and had them expressed in chicken and alligator embryos while feathers and scales, respectively, developed. They also identified new genes that regulate the development genes and altered the amount of their activity, according to The Guardian . Related: New details of feathered dinosaur could elucidate the origins of flight The researchers produced new types of modified scales, revealing relatively simple changes to some genes can cause alligator early scale development to produce things like the ancestral feathers of non-avian dinosaurs. The Guardian said it’s not a large step from the feather-like structures to something similar to a true early feather. Add the idea that early proto-feathers that gave advantages to their owners would have developed more under natural selection , and it’s not a massive leap to suggest feathers could have formed rather easily. Modifying genes in chickens led to an array of feather forms, including ones seen in dinosaurs, narrowing the gap between feather and scale from a creature with feathers. We still have a long way to go in our understanding, but this recent work could offer some clues. More gene tweaks could potentially reveal the pathway from scale to feather. The journal Molecular Biology and Evolution published the research this month; scientists from institutions in Taiwan, China, and Louisiana contributed to the work. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and PublicDomainPictures.net

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How scaly dinosaurs turned into feathery birds – new gene study offers clues

99-million-year-old dinosaur tail found immaculately preserved in amber

December 9, 2016 by  
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When a small, sparrow-sized dinosaur died about 99 million years ago, part of its tail was immaculately preserved in amber. Researchers who recently discovered the tail from a Hukawng Valley amber mine in Myanmar say it’s a notable find not only because it is the first dinosaur tail ever identified, but also because it is covered in feathers. Co-first author Lida Xing of China University of Geosciences found the amber piece in a Myanmar market in 2015, according to NPR . The Dexu Institute of Palaeontology agreed to purchase the specimen, and Xing and colleagues got to work scrutinizing it. Related: First dinosaur brain tissue discovered in 130-million-year-old fossil The dinosaur was likely a carnivorous coelurosaurus, part of a group that includes the mighty Tyrannosaurus , although the discovered dinosaur probably wasn’t very mighty itself. Scientists can tell it was tiny from the tail bone, which is a mere two millimeters across. Part of the mystery of dinosaurs with feathers is that many probably didn’t use that plumage to fly. The structure of the little dinosaur’s feathers instead resembles ornamental feathers seen on some modern birds . Scientists can see the way the feathers’ barbs bend means they’re far more flexible than feathers used for flight, and could have been employed to send signals or regulate the dinosaur’s temperature. The top of the feathers could have been dark brown, the scientists think, with the underside having no color at all. That or carotenoids – pigments responsible for orange, red, and yellow hues – may have brightened the underside feathers in life but broke down swiftly when the dinosaur died. Thrilled with the discovery, the scientists hope they might be able to find even more specimens in the future. With a conflict between the Kachin Independence Army – who currently possess the Hukawng Valley – and the Myanmar government hopefully coming to a close, scientists may be able to get more access to the amber mines, according to Xing. He speculated they might even find a whole dinosaur one day. 14 scientists from international institutions participated in a new study published by the journal Current Biology . Via National Geographic and The Economist Images via Lida Xing, et al.

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99-million-year-old dinosaur tail found immaculately preserved in amber

‘Feathered’ Brasilia Athletics Stadium for the 2016 Olympic Games Responds to Light and Weather

September 23, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of ‘Feathered’ Brasilia Athletics Stadium for the 2016 Olympic Games Responds to Light and Weather Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: birds , Brasil , Brasilia Athletics Stadium , Brazil , Design Competition , feathers , Rio 2016 Olympic Games , Utopian Spirit , weston williamson , Wooden Plinth        

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‘Feathered’ Brasilia Athletics Stadium for the 2016 Olympic Games Responds to Light and Weather

‘Feathered’ Brasilia Athletics Stadium for the 2016 Olympic Games Responds to Light and Weather

September 23, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of ‘Feathered’ Brasilia Athletics Stadium for the 2016 Olympic Games Responds to Light and Weather Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: birds , Brasil , Brasilia Athletics Stadium , Brazil , Design Competition , feathers , Rio 2016 Olympic Games , Utopian Spirit , weston williamson , Wooden Plinth        

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‘Feathered’ Brasilia Athletics Stadium for the 2016 Olympic Games Responds to Light and Weather

How can I reuse or recycle old kitchen fat?

December 1, 2010 by  
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Since we do what we’re told by our water company, we don’t pour meat fat from cooking down the sink – we scrape/pour it into an old plastic container instead.

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How can I reuse or recycle old kitchen fat?

Great reusing and recycling ideas from November

November 30, 2010 by  
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Here’s some of my favourite comments left on the site over the last month in case you missed them first time around. First up, props to everyone who left comments on our post about how to get into the habit of taking packed lunches – great answers from everyone: Bellen, Alice, Alexis, carol, Bobbie, Karmae, cmdweb, Marti and “Computer Recycling and Disposal”. I almost wish I left the house regularly enough to warrant taking lunch! And Robert Campbell and Rainwater Recycler’s comments on our post about how to improve a greywater system were also very informative.

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Great reusing and recycling ideas from November

Less Than 1% of Oil-Soaked Birds Survive

June 8, 2010 by  
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Photo via Boston “Kill, don’t clean” oiled birds No, that’s not the opinion of a heartless bird-hater, or BP CEO Tony Hayward letting fly another tactless gaffe .

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Less Than 1% of Oil-Soaked Birds Survive

The Greenest Brick: City Votes to Demolish Entire Street of 41 Historic Buildings

June 8, 2010 by  
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Terrific illustration from the National Post We do go on about how The Greenest Brick is the One Already in the Wall , how old buildings have embodied energy, how renovation creates more jobs than new construction, and how

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The Greenest Brick: City Votes to Demolish Entire Street of 41 Historic Buildings

Today Is A Starting Point – Thoughts on World Oceans Day

June 8, 2010 by  
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Photos via The Plastiki It’s very exciting to have a world ocean day, and when you think about our planet being covered in 72% of water, one would think that rather than calling it Planet Earth we would call it Planet Ocean. Today, the 8th of June is a very special day , we get to recognise and appreciate the scale of the ocean and how integral it is to our ability to live on this planet. Often we don’t connect with the ocean; it is often out of sight out of mind, an endless horizon that in real…

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Today Is A Starting Point – Thoughts on World Oceans Day

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