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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Strange creature ripping apart cattle in a small village of Ecuador

The small community of “La Cuadra” (The block) has seen multiple cattle mutilated and torn apart by something powerful. The ghastly findings are out of the ordinary, even for local known predators. The residents concluded that what ever it is that has killed steer and cows, it’s powerful enough to rip them apart and leave huge, deep prints with large claws in the mud.

Arming themselves with machetes, guns and flashlights a search party was rounded up in order to capture the creature. Upon investigation the residents saw a ‘large black animal move through brushes”. Nearby they found some cattle remains. What are the residents of La Cuadra dealing with?

Talks from the residents point to a possible escaped cougar. Others say that this is just another attack by the infamous Chupacabra.

No photographs of the paw prints have been released, although photographs of the mutilated cattle speak for the shocking attacks. What is stalking the cattle in Ecuador? In order to inflict that kind of damage seen in the photographs, I would have to say that a large cat is on the lose, or a pack of canids are attacking the cattle.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned

A team of Japanese genetic scientists aims to bring woolly mammoths back to life and create a Jurassic Park-style refuge for resurrected species. The effort has garnered new attention as a frozen mammoth is drawing crowds at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan (see photo).

The team of scientists, which is not associated with the exhibit, wants to do more than just put a carcass on display. They aim to revive the Ice Age plant-eaters, 10,000 years after they went extinct.

Their plan: to retrieve sperm from a mammoth frozen in tundra, use it to impregnate an elephant, and then raise the offspring in a safari park in the Siberian wild.

"If we create a mammoth, we will know much more about these animals, their history, and why they went extinct," said Kazufumi Goto, head scientist at the Mammoth Creation Project. The venture is privately funded and includes researchers from various institutions in Japan.

Many mammoth experts scoff at the idea, calling it scientifically impossible and even morally irresponsible.

"DNA preserved in ancient tissues is fragmented into thousands of tiny pieces nowhere near sufficiently preserved to drive the development of a baby mammoth," said Adrian Lister, a paleontologist at University College London in England.

Furthermore, Lister added, "the natural habitat of the mammoth no longer exists. We would be creating an animal as a theme park attraction. Is this ethical?"

Ice Age Giants

Mammoths first appeared in Africa about four million years ago, then migrated north and dispersed widely across Europe and Asia.

At first a fairly generalized elephant species, mammoths evolved into several specialized species adapted to their environments. The hardy woolly mammoths, for instance, thrived in the cold of Ice Age Siberia.

In carvings and cave paintings, Ice Age humans immortalized the giant beasts, which stood about 11 feet (3.4 meters) tall at the shoulder and weighed about seven tons.

"It is hard to imagine that woolly mammoths browsed around the places where we live now, and our ancestors saw them, lived with them, and even hunted them," said Andrei Sher, a paleontologist and mammoth expert at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow, Russia.

At the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, woolly mammoths dwindled to extinction as warming weather diminished their food sources, most scientists believe.

There are believed to be ten million mammoths buried in permanently frozen soil in Siberia. Because of the sparse human population in the region, though, only about a hundred specimens have been discovered, including two dozen complete skeletons. Only a handful of complete carcasses have been found.

Viable DNA?

The scientists with the Mammoth Creation Project are hoping to find a mammoth that is sufficiently well preserved in the ice to enable them to extract sperm DNA from the frozen remains.

They will then inject the sperm DNA into a female elephant, the mammoth's modern-day counterpart. By repeating the procedure with offspring, scientists say, they could produce a creature that is 88 percent mammoth within 50 years.

"This is possible with modern technology we already have," said Akira Iritani, who is chairman of the genetic engineering department at Kinki University in Japan and a member of the Mammoth Creation Project.

In 1986 Iritani's lab successfully fertilized rabbit eggs artificially, employing a technique now used in humans. In 1990 his colleague Goto, the Mammoth Creation Project head scientist, pioneered a breeding plan to save a native Japanese cow species by injecting dead sperm cells into mature eggs.

The current challenge, however, is finding viable woolly mammoth DNA. The DNA in mammoth remains found to date has been unusable, damaged by time and climate changes.

"From a geologist's point of view, the preservation of viable sperm is very unlikely, and this is so far confirmed by the poor condition of cells in the mammoth carcasses," said Sher, the Russian paleontologist.

Current Siberian permafrost temperatures are 10 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 to 8 degrees Celsius), which may not be cold enough for DNA survival.

Sperm is not the only possible DNA source, and mammoth-elephant crossbreeding isn't the only potential way to resurrect the woolly mammoth.

An alternative method would be to clone a mammoth from DNA found in mammoth muscles or skin. To do this, however, scientists would need preserved cells with some unbroken strands of DNA.

"There is no evidence this exists, and even if it did, it is very unlikely to be preserved without significant errors having accumulated—probably leading to birth defects," said Lister, the London paleontologist.

Safari Park

The Japanese scientists, however, are not deterred.

Iritani is planning a summer expedition to Siberia to search for more carcasses.

His team has already picked out a home for living mammoths in northern Siberia. The preserve, dubbed Pleistocene Park, could feature not only mammoths, but also extinct species of deer, woolly rhinoceroses, and even saber-toothed cats, he said.

"This is an extension of my work for the past 20 years in trying to save endangered species," Iritani said.

Other scientists are less enthusiastic about the project.

"Even if the cloning experiment is successful, they are not reconstructing the past but rather creating a new mammoth-like creature," said Anatoly Lozhkin, an Ice Age expert at the Northeast Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute in Magadan, Russia.

"Scientists are always able to learn from every experiment, but I am not sure that cloning a mammoth will help us significantly move forward our understanding of the animal or the conditions under which it lived," Lozhkin said.

In May 2010 it was reported that a Canadian-led research team has successfully revived a long-dormant blood protein from the DNA of an extinct mammoth, solving the mystery of how the elephant's woolly cousin evolved to live in cold, northern ecosystems before dying out after the last Ice Age.

In the breakthrough experiment headed by University of Manitoba biologist Kevin Campbell, the scientists "resurrected" woolly mammoth hemoglobin to determine how adaptations in the blood protein helped the species survive in Arctic and sub-Arctic habitats so vastly different than the African environments roamed by its pachyderm relatives.

The Mysterious Flying Creatures of Texas

For centuries, many of the Native American tribes who live in the western half of the US have told stories of creatures known as thunderbirds. Big (and fierce) enough to feed on full-grown bison, with wings so powerful that they could produce thunderclaps, the birds hold a special place in tribal lore.

But could thunderbird legends be based on animals still living in remote parts of America?

In 1890, two Arizona cowboys claimed to have killed a gigantic, featherless bird. Photographs (which disappeared long ago) are said to have shown a strange creature with an alligator-like head and a wingspan longer than the length of a barn. Some believe that the bird's description matches that of the extinct Pteranodon (see above).

In the years since, sightings of similar flying “monsters” have been surprisingly common, particularly in South Texas. According to one terrified San Antonio eyewitness, an enormous, black creature with “stooped-up shoulders” flew over his car less than ten years ago. In 1976, three school teachers reported that their car had been similarly “buzzed.”

Yet another reputable witness claims he once saw two of the birds perched on a hillside. “These creatures were so huge they looked like the size of small planes,” he said. “All of the sudden one of them jumped off dropped off the top of the mountain, came down the front of the mountain and all the sudden these huge wings just spread out. I would say the wings were at least a 20-foot wingspan.”

'Alien Baby' Stumps Experts

IS this bizarre creature really an alien baby or just part of an elaborate hoax - and was it the cause of a mysterious revenge death?

Mexican TV revealed the almost unbelievable story - in 2007, a baby 'alien' was found alive by a farmer in Mexico.

He drowned it in a ditch out of fear, and now two years later scientists have finally been able to announce the results of their tests on this sinister-looking carcass.

At the end of last year the farmer, Marao Lopez, handed the corpse over to university scientists who carried out DNA tests and scans.

He claimed that it took him three attempts to drown the creature and he had to hold it underwater for hours.

Tests revealed a creature that is unknown to scientists - its skeleton has characteristics of a lizard, its teeth do not have any roots like humans and it can stay underwater for a long time.

But it also has some similar joints to humans.

Its brain was huge, particularly the rear section, leading scientists to the conclusion that the odd creature was very intelligent.

But it has seemingly left experts stumped.

And in a further mystery, Lopez has since mysteriously died.

According to American UFO expert Joshua P. Warren (32), the farmer burned to death in a parked car at the side of a road.

Apparently the flames apparently had a far higher temperature than in a normal fire.

Now there are rumours that the parents of the creature Lopez drowned were the ones who in turn killed him out of revenge.

There are frequent UFO sightings and reports of crop circles in the area where the creature was found. Perhaps it was left behind deliberately by aliens.

Mexican UFO expert Jaime Maussan (56) was the first to break the story. He claimed it was not a hoax. Farmers also told him that there was a second creature but it ran away when they approached.

Canadian Scientist Says He Can Create Dinosaurs From Chickens

Hans Larsson believes that by flipping certain genetic levers during a chicken embryo's development, he can reproduce the dinosaur anatom.

Hans Larsson, the Canada Research Chair in Macro Evolution at McGill University in Montreal, said he aims to develop dinosaur traits that disappeared millions of years ago in birds. Mr Larsson believes that by flipping certain genetic levers during a chicken embryo's development, he can reproduce the dinosaur anatomy, he told AFP in an interview.

Though still in its infancy, the research could eventually lead to hatching live prehistoric animals, but Mr Larsson said he has no immediate plans to create dinosaurs, for ethical and practical reasons - a dinosaur hatchery is "too large an enterprise."

"It's a demonstration of evolution," said Mr Larsson, who has studied bird evolution for the last 10 years. "If I can demonstrate clearly that the potential for dinosaur anatomical development exists in birds, then it again proves that birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs."

The research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Research Chairs programme and National Geographic. The idea for the project, Mr Larsson said, came about during discussions with Jack Horner, the American paleontologist who served as technical advisor for the Jurassic Park films.

Mr Horner recently wrote a book entitled "How to build a dinosaur", in which he refers to the embryo experiment as part of a quest to create a "chickenosaurus."

Mr Larsson's team previously worked to uncover prehistoric animal remains, including eight unknown species of dinosaurs and five new types of crocodile in Niger. He also recently uncovered the remains of a new carnivorous dinosaur in Argentina.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chinese Airport shut down after UFO sightings

A Chinese airport was forced to shut down after this bizarre shape was seen streaking across the sky.

Freaked out locals in Zhejiang's provincial capital Hangzhou captured images and video of the object, which was described as a "comet-like fireball".

Xiaoshan airport officials spotted the UFO on their radar and chose to ground planes and divert incoming flights rather than risk a collision.

The shape disappeared off radar screens and officials have now launched an investigation into the sighting.

Some Chinese media reports said officials had indicated they knew what the craft was but could not disclose the details because of a "military connection".

An official statement is expected later today, the Daily Mail reports.

The airport was shut down for three to four hours during the incident and dozens of flights were diverted.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The real Moby Dick, an ancient cannibal

When a group of palaeontologists stumbled on a few large bones in a desert in Peru, they thought they were elephant tusks.

But it turned out the bones, some the size of a human shin bone, were teeth.

Further excavation revealed an almost complete three-metre-long skull and mandible, or lower jaw, that belonged to the mammoth mouth of a newly found but extinct species of sperm whale.

European researchers discovered the fossils, believed to be about 13 million years old, in the Pisco-Ica Desert in southern Peru while on an expedition in 2008.

The whale, nicknamed Moby Dick, was between 13 and 18 metres long and lived during the Miocene epoch - when sea levels could have been more than 50 metres higher than today.

The extinct species, dubbed Leviathan melvillei after Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, were raptorial feeders which caught their prey individually.

Their bite, from more than 30 teeth, some more than 10 centimetres wide, could be the biggest of any animal that has swum or roamed the planet.

With teeth so big, the whale probably wasn't a gentle giant of the ocean. It is quite possible their main source of food was other cetaceans, such as baleen whales, said the researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Nature.

"This sperm whale could firmly hold large prey with its interlocking teeth, inflict deep wounds and tear large pieces from the body of the victim," the researchers said.

Leviathan melvillei differ from modern-day sperm whales which, despite being one of the world's largest predators, feed mainly on squid. Modern sperm whales, which have small teeth in their lower jaw and are almost toothless in their upper jaw, use a suction technique to catch their dinner.

Scientists believe this ancient species of sperm whale died out as a result of the global cooling at the end of the Neogene period, less than 5 million years ago.

The fossil bones will be displayed in the Museo de Historia Natural in Lima.