Yet another new dinosaur was discovered last week. Wendiceratops pinhornensis is a new horned dino, named after Alberta’s famous fossil hunter, Wendy Sloboda. The dino is literally named “Wendy’s horned-face” and she’s not really a single dino. In fact, the new species was described using the bones of 3 adults and a young dinosaur found in a bone bed discovered by the aformentioned awesome Wendy Sloboda in Alberta, Canada.
This new species is part of the same group as the Triceratops (Ceratopsidae) but is considerably older than its famous great-cousin twice removed. Her tall nose horn may shed some light on the evolution of horn nosed dinosaurs, and facial ornamentation more generally or, as Dr. David Evans put it in an interview with AAAS,
The wide frill of Wendiceratops is ringed by numerous curled horns, the nose had a large, upright horn, and it’s likely there were horns over the eyes too. The number of gnarly frill projections and horns makes it one of the most striking horned dinosaurs ever found.
We agree Dr. Evans, Wendy is a very striking dinosaur.1
In animals that still exist news: Chameleons are freaking weird.
This may seem self-evident, but did you know that in addition to changing colors on demand chameleons’ eyes swivel independently? These people did:
Anyway, so this is not really news, but it is important: the independent eye swiveling means that chameleons can track two completely different views of the world at the same time.
Scientists decided that this was a phenomenon we should know more about and so they researched this dual view and figured out that not only can chameleons see two things at once, they know where both eyes are looking at the same time. How do you conduct such research? You make chameleons play video games. Oh, hard life, chameleons.
Proof? Here is a pet chameleon playing Ant Crusher.
The researchers showed the chameleons insects running around on the screen, the chameleons targeted the insect, and stuck their tongues out, ready to fire. After several rounds, the researchers became evil villains, having the computer split the virtual insect in two and having it run in opposite directions. At that point, the chameleons figure out the trick and attacked their vicious captors!
Fine. That’s just what we wanted the chameleons to do. Instead,
“There are a few seconds of indecision. It knows that it has targets to shoot at but it cannot decide which target is the one to be shot’, chuckles Katzir. [Note: we did not add the chuckle. It was already in the AAAS article, so yeah no sympathy for you if the chameleons attack, Dr. Katzir. ]
Once the chameleon makes its decision, its eyes converge on a single fly and the chameleon strikes
This indicates that the eyes aren’t quite as independent as once thought and also that chameleons remain weird and incredible.2
Finally, dolphins deserve yet another animal kingdom medal. Not only are they insanely smart, they are awesome exhalers.3
When marine mammals dive deep into the sea, carbon dioxide and nitrogen accumulation in the blood can cause intoxication and decompression sickness, while low internal pressures in rigid lungs can force blood into their airways, just like in humans. But, rarely do we see this in the wild. Scientists hypothesized 70 years ago that marine mammals had a stiff upper airway and collapsible lungs, but the technology to prove this didn’t exist.
And so, enter the research team of Fahlman, Loring, Levine, Rocho-Levine, Austin, and Brodsky (who could officially be a law firm with that name) and their newly developed portable pneumotachometer.
Dolphins waited patiently as the pneumotachometer was affixed to their blow hole and then the scientists measured their inhalations and exhalations.
And so we learned that dolphins could exhale 137 litres of air per second, pretty much three times of their closest terrestrial competitor – the horse. They also proved the the dolphin did in fact have uber-compressible lungs. Bam. 70 years later, science gets to confirm a thing. Go science!
[Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock]
Evans DC, Ryan MJ (2015) “Cranial Anatomy of Wendiceratops pinhornensis gen. et sp. nov., a Centrosaurine Ceratopsid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Oldman Formation (Campanian), Alberta, Canada, and the Evolution of Ceratopsid Nasal Ornamentation” PLOS ONE 10(7): e0130007. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130007 ↩
Published article: Ketter Katz, H., Lustig, A., Lev-Ari, T., Nov, Y., Rivlin, E. and Katzir, G. (2015) “Eye movements in chameleons are not truly independent – evidence from simultaneous monocular tracking of two targets.” J. Exp. Biol. 215, 2097-2105 ↩