Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Sea Monster Discovered : A spectacularly well-preserved sea monster that once prowled the oceans during the Cambrian Period has been unearthed in China.
The 520-million-year-old creature, one of the first predators of its day, sported compound eyes, body armor and two spiky claws for grabbing prey.
The fossils of the new species were so well preserved that the nervous system and parts of the brain were still clearly defined.
Before the Cambrian Period, which lasted between 543 million and 493 million years ago, most life resembled simple algae and stationary jellyfishlike creatures, but during the Cambrian explosion, a period of rapid evolution when biodiversity exploded, swimming sea creatures with compound eyes, jointed legs and hard exoskeletons emerged.
The period also saw the rise of an iconic group of shrimplike creatures known as anomalocaridids. These ancient sea monsters were the top predators of the Cambrian seas, and sported bladed body armor and a cone-shaped mouth made of concentric plates. Some of the biggest of these bizarre creatures could grow to be up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) long.
But most anomalocaridid specimens paleontologists found have been poorly preserved, making it difficult to know precisely where they fit in the tree of life, said co-author Peiyun Cong, a researcher at Yunnan University in China.
Some scientists thought anomalocaridids belonged to a group that split off before the most recent common ancestor of all living arthropods, while others thought the animals were part of a group called chelicerates that includes spiders and scorpions. Still others thought anomalocaridids had converged upon similar features to those of modern arthropods but didn't evolve from the same lineage, Cong said.
In the last several years, the researchers unearthed three spectacularly preserved specimens of a new species of anomalocaridid in fossil sediments in China. The sediments had frozen these creatures in time so perfectly that the entire nervous system, as well as the gut and some muscles, were still visible.
The creature, dubbed Lyrarapax unguispinus, was about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long.
"The three known specimens may represent immature stages of the animal, so it might be larger," Cong wrote in an email to Live Science.
L. unguispinus had a tail that looked a bit like that of a lobster, and two giant pincers for grasping prey. As it grew, the creature molted, shedding its outer cuticle.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Oldest Zircon Crystal Fragment on Earth Discovered : By zapping single atoms of lead in a tiny zircon crystal from Australia, researchers have confirmed the crystal is the oldest rock fragment ever found on Earth 4.375 billion years old, plus or minus 6 million years.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Night Marchers / Huaka'i Po : Night Marchers are Hawaiian ghostly apparitions who move around the Hawaiian islands to the beat of primitive pounding drums. Some say they are armed spirit warriors, toting weaponry and clothed in ancient Hawaiian attire. Other accounts tell of high-ranking alii (ruler) spirits being guided to places of great importance or to welcome new warriors to join in battle. Maybe these restless souls are looking to reclaim their territory, replay a battle gone awry, or avenge their own deaths. Some say the Night Marchers are searching methodically for an entrance into the next world.
Huaka'i Po / Night Marchers are said to roam through very specific locations throughout the Hawaiian islands, between seashore and mountains and are often recognized by their raised torches and repeated olis, or chants. Although there have been a few scattered reports of daytime marches, these apparitions appear to be most active at night and are said to march on certain nights designated by the moon. And although the Night Marchers allegedly float a few inches off the ground, some local accounts tell of seeing mysterious footprints in their path after they’ve passed.
There are two different processions, it seems, according to legend, who march on two separate nights. The first consists of kings, chieftains, priests, and their attendants. Each chief is carried in a sling, befitting his station, though the warrior chiefs are prone to walk between two of their warriors. They are most often reported near old temples, with flutes and drums heralding them, as well as laughter.
The second type of procession is seen just after sunset and lasts until sunrise the next morning. Comprised of warriors, chiefs, and the gods themselves, this phenomenon is marked by high winds that seem to snap branches off trees, with bright torches to honor the gods. They are also often associated with sudden lightning storms and rough surf.
Legend has it, meeting their eyes will result in them claiming the soul of yourself, relatives or friends and taking it with them to march for all eternity. Any sound or movement could invite a Night Marcher’s deadly glance.
Monday, January 13, 2014
The Roman Catholic Church is training new exorcists, because of increases in possible demonic cases.
Dioceses across Italy, as well as in countries such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, fabled to rid people of possession by the Devil.
The rise in demonic cases is a result of more people dabbling in practices such as black magic, paganism, Satanic rites and Ouija boards, often exploring the dark arts with the help of information readily found on the internet, the Church said.
The increase in the number of priests being trained to tackle the phenomenon is also an effort by the Church to sideline unauthorised, self-proclaimed exorcists, and its tacit recognition that belief in Satan, once regarded by Catholic progressives as an embarrassment, is still very much alive.
The trend comes four decades after the 1973 release of The Exorcist, the American horror film based on the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and attempts to exorcise her by two priests.
Monday, January 6, 2014
Cryptozoology News : New sea creatures discovered in the North Atlantic off the Scottish coast. Surveys off the continental shelf in the North Atlantic have uncovered a brand new species of large sea snail, two kinds of clams and a marine worm.
International experts have now confirmed that they are completely new to science — meaning the mysterious molluscs have managed to avoid detection during decades of underwater research around the Rockall plateau.
The finds a could indicate the presence of a cold seep, where hydrocarbons are released from the sea bed. If confirmed, it would be the first cold seep to be discovered in the vicinity of Rockall.
Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Our oceans are often called Earth’s final frontier and these new species prove just how much we still have to learn about this rich marine habitat.
“Scottish waters cover an area around five times bigger than our land mass and are miles deep in places, and these hidden gems offer a fascinating glimpse of the treasures that still await discovery under the waves.
“While understanding more about these great depths is clearly very challenging, we know that Scotland’s seas are home to a diverse range of precious sea life and it is our responsibility to protect this fragile environment.
“The area where these species were found is not currently fished and the confirmation of a cold seep is likely to result in the region being closed to bottom contact fishing.”
Jim Drewery from Marine Scotland Science, who oversaw the research on the deep water invertebrates, said: “The discovery of these new species is absolutely incredible, especially when you consider that the sea snail measures a relatively large 10cm, yet has gone undetected for decades.
“Its capture on these surveys could be due to the new techniques we are now employing at Marine Scotland Science in our research on the deep sea floor.”
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Scotland’s seas have once again thrown up some truly amazing new wildlife. These surveys highlight that we’ve still so much to learn when it comes to life beneath the waves.
“These latest discoveries underline the need for a precautionary approach in the management and use of our seas.
“The location where these species were found is not currently fished and we hope it stays that way. However, we now know enough to say that the area should certainly be put off limits to any future plans for oil and gas exploration.”