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Scientists have discovered a way to take the temperature of dinosaurs. But how you ask? After all, they have been extinct for millions of years. As it turns out dinosaur teeth are good for more than just the act of chewing. Researchers were able to measure the dinosaurs’ temperatures because body temperature makes a difference in the amount of different types of carbon and oxygen that collect in the tooth enamel.

What is surprising is that the temperature of dinosaurs turns out to be almost the same as ours! They found a long-necked Brachiosaurus had a temperature of about 100.8 degrees F and the smaller Camarasaurus had a temperature of about 98.3 degrees F. People average around 98.6 degrees F. So, wouldn’t that mean that dinosaurs are warm blooded like us? Not necessarily.

When dinosaurs were first discovered, the theory was that they were lethargic and cold-blooded, but recent evidence suggests they may be more likely to be warm-blooded, which would allow them to be more active, like the velociraptors in the Jurassic Park movies.

Although the debate still remains whether or not dinosaurs were warm blooded or cold blooded, lead researcher Robert A. Eagle of the California Institute of Technology suggests, “our analysis really allows us to rule out that they could have been cold [blooded], like crocodiles, for example.” He also adds, “this doesn’t necessarily mean these large dinosaurs had high metabolism like mammals and birds…they could have been ‘gigantotherms’ and stay warm because they were so large.” Large body masses are good at keeping temperatures constant.

According to Roger Seymour of the University of Adelaide, Australia, the findings “confirm that dinosaurs were not sluggish, cold-blooded animals. However, the debate about dinosaur metabolic rate will go on, no doubt, because it can never be measured directly and paleoscientists will often seek evidence to support a particular view and ignore contrary evidence.” The verdict remains to be seen.


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This week held big news for the future of the International Space Station. A new Canadian, Russian and UK collaboration mixes the live stream concept of Google Earth and video playback feature of YouTube to create UrtheCast.com (pronounced “Earth Cast”). With two HD cameras set on the Russian module of the ISS, site users will be virtual spaceship captains, as they search, watch, rewind, fast forward, and zoom in and out of live streams of Earth.

From their own computers and mobile devices, UrtheCast users can clearly see man-made objects and people, and also track the ISS to see when it’ll fly over their homes. At a frame rate of 3.25 frames per second and the ability to zoom-in to 1.1 meters, the cameras are extremely precise in location and time. As if that weren’t stellar enough, UrtheCast can also be shared through Facebook and Twitter, downloaded as a Smartphone App, and third party developers can take video for their own applications.

Here's a video from the company:


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Although the wildfires in Arizona have been almost completely contained at the moment, the Las Conchas wildfire in New Mexico rages on because of the red flag weather conditions (high temperature, high wind and low humidity.) As of June 27, 2011, 8:00 a.m., New Mexico time, the wildfire is approximately 1 mile southwest of the boundary of Los Alamos National Laboratory, famed nuclear research facility. Because of a similar incident that occurred 11 years ago, the Lab is prepared and has already accounted for all radioactive materials and has secured the site.

Currently, firefighters are using fires to fight fires. The hope is that if firefighters use prescribed burns to eliminate fuels in the path of the fire. Then the wildfire will have nothing left to feed on by the time it reaches the points where the prescribed fires were set and eliminated. For up to date information on the New Mexico fires visit this website.

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Up to 420 whale sharks recently gathered off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, forming the world’s largest known assembly of this species. With the largest whale shark ever measurring 40ft. long, with some thought to grow even bigger, this kind of gathering can be quite a sight!

Whale sharks can weigh more than 79,000 pounds and are solitary filter feeders that prefer to be alone in the ocean. The impressive shark assembly proves they will gather for the right reasons. Food now appears to be the draw.

Whale sharks are the largest species of fish in the world, yet they mostly feed on the smallest organisms in the ocean. In spite of their enormous size, whale sharks are not aggressive and move very slowly. Usually they’re seen in the ocean with their up to 5 foot wide mouths open, waiting for food to float in. Tests determined that the whale sharks were gathered feeding on coveted fish eggs from little tunny, a member of the mackerel family.

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The following is the second of a three part series on wildfires...

High winds only serve to exacerbate the problem of wildfires due to its unpredictability and the fact that wind supplies oxygen to fuel the fire, further dry the fuels and push the fire to spread across greater distances. Did you know that wildfires alone can produce winds that are ten times stronger than the winds surrounding them? For this reason, fires are a formidable force.

Not only do high winds promote fire growth, the presence of a fire can actually increase wind speeds. These winds can throw embers into the air and spread them causing “spotting.” Not only that, but strong gusts can hurl the embers into tree tops creating a “crown fire.” For example, the Las Conchas wildfire in New Mexico is currently running, crowning and spotting up to a half mile from the head of the fire.

Here's a look at the Las Conchas fire from KRQE in New Mexico:


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Wildfires are a product of temperature, wind and moisture. High temperatures, high winds and low humidity are conditions that are of concern, especially to those in the West now. These are what can be called red flag conditions. Conditions like these contribute to intense fire behavior and rapid fire growth much like what has been seen recently with the Arizona and New Mexico wildfires.

High temperatures are what serve to induce the first spark to the fire. The ground, including plants, sticks and underbrush, absorbs radiant heat from the sun, which serves to heat and dry potential fuels. Warmer temperatures combined with low humidity or dry air allow for fuels to ignite and burn faster, adding to the rate that wildfires spread. For this reason, wildfires tend to rage in the afternoon, when temperatures are hotter. In New Mexico, the Las Conchas wildfire grew to cover over 43,000 acres in a little less than a day.

Note: This is the first in a three part article describing the recent wildfirs in the Western US and what causes wildfires in general.  Check back for the second part on how wind adds to the dangerous mix.


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Florida is home to 45 snake species and 6 of those kinds are venomous snakes! There are two types of venomous snakes in Florida, the Crotalidae, or pit vipers, and the Elapidae. Included in the family of pit vipers are the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Canebrake Rattlesnake, Pigmy Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth (or Water Moccasin), and the Copperhead. The venom of these snakes is hemotoxic, that is, it destroys the red blood cells and the walls of the blood vessels of the victim and degenerates organs and tissue. The Elapidae, represented in Florida by the Eastern Coral Snake, have neurotoxic venom. This attacks the nervous system of a victim, bringing on paralysis.

With all these venomous snakes just in Florida it would be a good thing to have some of the new ointment being developed by scientists in Australia. Quickly applying a nitric oxide-containing ointment near the bite slows the spread of some venoms. While still only in research stages, this treatment might someday be the difference between dying on the road and getting to the hospital in time.

Worldwide, snakebite causes approximately 100,000 deaths and 400,000 limb amputations each year. Foot-to-groin venom travel times increased from an average of 13 minutes without ointment to an average of 54 minutes with the ointment applied. For now, especially in the United States where death from snakebite is much more rare than the rest of the world, the most proven and effective first aid for venomous snakebite is a call to 911 or a set of car keys.  In the future, the combination of ointment and pressure treatment might be the best way to slow the spread of snake venom!

To learn more about snakes, check out our NatureWorks exhibit! Not only do we have plenty on display, but enthusiasts who are eager to share their time and knowledge!

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