215 pterosaur eggs unearthed in biggest collection ever found

December 4, 2017 by  
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Scientists recently uncovered the largest group of fossilized pterosaur eggs ever. In a 10-foot-long sandstone block in northwest China , they came across 215 eggs – 16 of which have embryonic remains. Discoveries of pterosaur eggs are exceedingly rare. The only previous discoveries with an intact embryo and well-preserved 3D structure include three in Argentina and five in China , so researchers around the world are especially thrilled with this latest find. Pterosaurs may have been around on Earth up to 225 million years ago, but vanished with the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago. This new discovery of pterosaur eggs from the species Hamipterus tianshanensis reveals the reptiles – the first creatures following insects to evolve powered flight – actually couldn’t soar right away after they were born, requiring care from parents. Paleontologist Alexander Kellner of the Museu Nacional at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro told AFP, “Since these are extremely fragile fossils , we were very surprised to find so many in the same place. Because of this discovery, we can talk about the behavior of these animals for the first time.” Related: Ancient flying reptile was around the size of a small plane The eggs are an estimated 120 million years old, from pterosaurs that as adults would have been around four-feet-tall with an 11-foot wingspan. Researchers unearthed partial skull and wing bones , and even one entire lower jaw, filling in some of the gaps in our knowledge about the pterosaur life cycle. The baby pterosaurs would have had functional hind legs not too long after hatching, but weak chest muscles. Kellner said they “could walk but not fly…This is one of the biggest discoveries we have made.” Scientists also found some adult pterosaur bones in the vicinity, leading them to think adult pterosaurs may have come back to the same nesting spots. The journal Science published the work this month. 17 scientists from institutions in China and Brazil contributed; paleontologist Xiaolin Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences led the study. He said there could be as many as 300 eggs at the excavation site – there appear to be some buried beneath the exposed ones. Via Phys.org , EurekAlert! , and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Images via Xinhua/Wang Xiaolin/Chinese Academy of Sciences and Alexander Kellner (Museu Nacional/UFRJ) ( 1 , 2 )

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215 pterosaur eggs unearthed in biggest collection ever found

Cannabis walls add warmth to this eco-friendly home in Israel

December 4, 2017 by  
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Cannabis is good for more than just medicine—industrial hemp has its uses in eco-friendly architecture too. Haifa-based studio Tav Group built Ein Hod, an eco-minded home for artists, using hempcrete, a bio-composite made from hemp hurds, hydrated lime, and water with desirable thermal properties. Located on a hillside in a rural Israeli artist’s village, the beautiful terraced home is optimized for passive solar and ventilation to further minimize energy demands. The use of natural materials and external lime plaster helps blend the 250-square-meter Eid Hod home into the rocky terrain. Concrete is avoided save for the mandatory safety room and foundations. Locally excavated stone make up the lower floor walls, while hempcrete, set between wood framing, makes up the walls of the upper levels. Interior walls are built of rammed earth and earth-based plaster is applied throughout the light-filled interior to create a warm and comfortable non-toxic environment. Timber ties the rooms together and can be seen in the rustic furnishings, stairways, window frames, and exposed ceiling beams. The architects say the Ein Hod home is the first structure in Israel built of hempcrete , a fire-resistant plant-based material with carbon sequestration benefits. The use of lime coating also adds to hempcrete’s anti-microbial and anti-fungal advantages. However, hempcrete is no replacement for concrete; the material isn’t suitable for structural use but is an eco-friendly insulation choice, albeit a pricey one depending on where it’s used. Related: Hemp-based insulation makes a comeback in Belgium In addition to the use of hempcrete and passive solar principles , Ein Hod is also equipped with solar panels and rainwater collection as well as graywater purification systems to minimize water use. + Tav Group Images by Yoav Etiel

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Cannabis walls add warmth to this eco-friendly home in Israel

New ‘Hobbit’ fossils provide a glimpse into human relative

June 9, 2016 by  
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With the discovery of a tooth here or a bone fragment there, archaeologists piece together the history of humanity – and a recent discovery on the Indonesian island of Flores provides new insight into human evolution . The teeth and mandible belong to a tiny 3-foot-tall hominin species many have nicknamed ‘Hobbits.’ Archaeologists first discovered these Hobbits, or Homo floresiensis , back in 2004 in the Liang Bua cave on western Flores. At that time the fossils created more questions than answers. Did they evolve from Homo erectus , or from other smaller hominins such as Homo habilis or Australopithecus ? They appear to have been small, with small brains, leading some to think they didn’t evolve from Homo erectus at all. Related: Did scientists just discover a new kind of ancient human? In 2014, archaeologists discovered new Hobbit fossils at Mata Menge, about 30 miles east of Liang Bua on Flores in an older layer of rock. This month, the journal Nature published their findings . The six teeth from at least three individuals and one mandible fragment they found reveals the Hobbits likely did evolve from Homo erectus . If that is the case, then the Hobbits’ bodies and brains shrunk. The archaeologists say it would have been an ” evolutionary reversal .” The Hobbits had small brains about the size of a chimpanzee’s, according to Gerrit van den Bergh, lead author on the recently published paper. However, they showed signs of sophistication and walked upright. As one explanation, the archaeologists speculate that since they lived on an island, perhaps they didn’t require large brains. In a video for Nature, Van den Bergh said, “Maybe they didn’t need such a big brain, because a brain is a very expensive organ, and maybe a smaller brain might work as well here in an island setting. But what is clear is that they made stone tools so they were not stupid.” The fossils uncovered date to about 700,000 years ago and were older than the Liang Bua fossils. Via ABC News Images via screenshot

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New ‘Hobbit’ fossils provide a glimpse into human relative

Australian wave energy project sets a new world record with 14,000 operating hours

June 9, 2016 by  
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Surfers at Sydney’s Bondi Beach aren’t the only Australians catching waves. The Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy Project just set a world record by completing 14,000 cumulative operating hours. Located off Garden Island, Western Australia, the CETO 5 marine energy system has for the past year been generating clean, renewable electricity and potable desalinated water for Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, on Garden Island. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided $13.1 million in funding for the $40 million project — the first array of wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid. “ARENA is proud to help local companies, like [Carnegie Wave Energy Limited], develop new renewable energy solutions that have the potential to change the way the world generates electricity,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht. “We do this by providing Australian innovators with the support they need during the critical RD&D period, when patient funding is essential.” The CETO 6 is the next generation of wave energy technology. Each unit has a targeted one megawatt capacity, which is four times the output of the CETO 5 unit. The power is transmitted onshore via subsea cable. The CETO 6 design is the product platform that will be used in commercial CETO projects. Related: The world’s first wave energy microgrid project is coming to Australia Wave energy technology has enormous potential to provide zero emissions electricity to Australians because more than 80 percent of the population of 24 million people reside along the coast. + Carnegie Wave Energy + Australian Renewable Energy Agency Via Climate Action News Images via Carnegie Wave Energy Save

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Australian wave energy project sets a new world record with 14,000 operating hours

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