Light Friday: Dinosaur Discovery Suggests Desert Ecosystem in Niger
Credit: Live Sicence.
Credit: Live Sicence.

Plus:
The Mustang that Almost Was
Let’s Go Shopping in Space
How to Turn Sound into Light


Scientists have discovered a dinosaur that lived in an isolated desert over 260 million years ago that somewhat resembles another great lizard from a desert a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Dr. Christian Sidor of the University of Washington in Seattle led the study, which investigated a region of Niger in Africa that was isolated from its surroundings for a great period of time. The discovered dinosaur, Bunostegos akokanensis, lived at the center of the megacontinent Pangaea, which was a desert during what is now known as the Permian era. Because the cow-sized bunostegos roamed an isolated ecosystem, it encountered fauna that developed uniquely separate from other creatures.

“Our work supports the theory that central Pangaea was climatically isolated, allowing a unique relict fauna to persist into the late Permian,” Dr. Sidor said in a report published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

“Our understanding of the Permian and the mass extinction that ended it depends on discovery of more fossils like the beautifully bizarre bunostegos,” Dr. Gabe Bever of the New York Institute of Technology told The Daily Mirror.

“Beautifully bizarre?” Maybe. But personally, hearing about a cow-sized bony dinosaur roaming the desert makes me hope it finds the droids it’s looking for…

Credit: Wookiepedia

Credit: Wookiepedia

The Mustang that Almost Was

It’s been nearly 50 years since the iconic American Ford Mustang (as we know it) became a widespread name, and now the automaker is touting the lesser known pre-production car called the “Mustang I.” The aluminum-bodied concept car made its official debut in 1962, and its design — albeit ultimately impractical — was made for performance: stationary seats were molded into a tub constructed from aluminum, much unlike cars today that feature adjustable seats. It was powered by a small V4 engine that was mounted behind the passenger compartment, Wired.com reported.

After the Mustang I unveiling, Formula One racing driver Dan Gurney took it for a test drive around the track and found that the car, created as a competitor to the Chevrolet Corvair, was up to speed with F1 racecars, nearly matching their lap times.

While the Mustang I never made it very far, well known features, such as the galloping horse logo and the trademark low turn signals made it  to the final version that you can see on the road today.

Check out more Ford reflections on the Mustang I here:

Let’s Go Shopping… in Space

Nobody likes their internet access, especially if it means missing out on some spur-of-the-moment Amazon.com purchases. That’s why PayPal has teamed with SETI Institute – yes, the people who make a living looking for aliens – to create PayPal Galactic, a project that will make buying stuff in space a reality.

“Space tourism is opening up to all of us in the next decade or so, and we want to make sure that PayPal is the preferred way to pay from space and in space,” said PayPal President David Marcus in a video accompanying the announcement last week.

The service is aimed at fulfilling needs as simple as paying bills back on Earth while you’re in orbit, say, in the International Space Station. Before it will be up and running, the project will aim to answer important questions, such as how banking will have to evolve in an interstellar economy, and what kind of regulations will apply to such a system.

How to Turn Sound into Light

Two types of shrimp – the pistol shrimp and the mantis shrimp – are capable of snapping their claws in such a way that it creates a sonic shockwave the shocks and kills prey. But the attack also creates a small burst of light.

The light is the result of a phenomenon known as sonoluminescence. But while such events can be duplicated easily in a lab, scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes sonoluminescence. The video below from Minute Physics explains more.

 

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