The biggest dinosaur… debatable

It would have weighed more than 10 African elephants put together and had a thighbone taller than the man who helped dig it up. A team of researchers finally decided what to call this new species of prehistoric colossus: Patagotitan mayorum. The name roughly translates to the “giant from Patagonia” — with a nod to the Mayo family, which own the farm where the fossils were found.

Researchers say the size of the femur (from the thigh) and humerus (from the upper arm) suggests the species’ mass outpaces other massive sauropods that have had those two bones preserved. And because Patagotitan‘s skeleton was so complete when recovered, they were able to arrive at separate estimates — through three-dimensional modeling — that “represent approximately twice (or more) the body mass inferred by the same volumetric methods for other sauropods.”

Yet some paleontologists remain unconvinced the find represents an undisputed record. Rather, given the margin of error surrounding such size estimates — especially estimates of other massive (but far less complete) sauropod skeletons — paleontologist Mathew Wedel argues the competition for World’s Largest Dinosaur™ is closer to a “three-way tie” between Patagotitan and two other titanosaurs, Argentinosaurus and Puertasaurus.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m about to start googling the above three dinosaurs so I can have an informed opinion about which one is the largest. Goodbye productivity for today… hello massive dinosaurs.

Read about it here, read the original paper here.

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Sperm packages of ungodly size, genitals that double as a souped-up stomach, and an unexpected set of chewing jaws

And all of those are found in just one species, the Pieris rapaethe cabbage white butterfly.

In an wonderful piece over at the Atlantic, we learn about the crazy sex life/organs of this very common butterfly.

I was enthralled reading the whole thing, but the main investigator is quoted below, is really why I’m sharing this.

“Jumping spiders with telescope eyes are singing and dancing to impress their mates. That butterfly on your kale has a chewing jaw in its reproductive tract that helps it to regain control over its own reproductive timing. It is this ability of life to continually surprise us that brings me such joy as a scientist. And it’s my hope that, in some small way, my work can return some childlike wonder to the daily lives of others. It is only through falling back in love with nature that we stand any chance of saving it.” –Nathan Morehouse

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All the trees will die, and so will you

The title of this post is not my own, but it kind of has a point. Not “everything dies” but rather, a lot more apocalyptic.

A brown-black beetle (the polyphagous shot hole borer) breeds inside trees. It drills networks of tunnels, which then get infected by a fungus it carries to feed it’s young. Eventually the tree dies, the beetle moves on and the whole cycle starts again.

This would be a cute horror story, if the beetle wasn’t on track to kill 26.8 million trees across Southern California. Which is going to directly link to the death of humans. Interested? Find out why here.

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Crazy Giant Bug Invasion

This title is not as excessive as it might seem at first. So let’s break it down.

The cicadas that live in DC are on a 17-year cycle. That means once every 17 years, they all emerge at once, make a ton of noise, leave their exoskeletons everywhere, mate, and go back into the ground. It’s pandemonium when it happens. If you want to know more, check out cicadamania.com.

The giant bug swarm is not due back till 2021, but some of these giant menaces are climbing out early. Four years early actually, as in, right now. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why this is happening. What to know more about the confused (“Crazy”), larger than mosquitoes (“Giant”) insects (“Bugs”) that are showing up before their time (“Invasion”)? Read about it here.

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The Case of the Poisoned Hunters

Back in the sixties, a group of hunters in Oregon were found dead at their campsite, and the only clue to what had killed them was – there was a newt that was boiled in their coffee pot.

Want to know how this is related to coevolution, or learn about the awesome work being done by rockstar evolutionary biologist Joel McGlothlin from Virginia Tech?

Check out the Pulse of the Planet audio program. 

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