The dinosaurs died a cold, dark death, new study shows

A snow covered T-Rex life size dinosaur sculpture is pictured at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, January 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

A snow covered T-Rex life size dinosaur sculpture is pictured at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, January 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

It’s widely acknowledged that the Earth was a cold, dark place after a giant meteor, measuring roughly six miles across, struck Mexico about 66 million years ago, which many believe triggered what is known as the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

Now, new research using state-of-the-art computer simulations paints a more detailed picture of this period and how long-lasting cooling and a mixing of the oceans may have spelled the end for the dinosaurs.

The results of the new study discounted the competing theory that it was large-scale volcanic eruptions, as opposed to the meteor’s impact, that led to the extinction.


“Our results show that the impact must have played a significant role in the mass extinction,” lead study author Julia Brugger from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Control told Fox News.

The model assumed that tiny droplets of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere caused the long-term cooling after the comet hit. It’s long been posited that it was dust particles thrown into the air from the meteor strike that lethally blocked the sun, but dust wouldn’t last long enough in the atmosphere to cool the Earth for several years. Sulfate aerosols have a longer cooling effect due to their more sustained time in the atmosphere.

“The target rock, which was struck by the asteroid, contained sulfur,” Brugger explained. “After the impact, sulfur bearing gases evaporated and formed sulfate aerosols high up in the atmosphere.”


For Brugger, the most surprising result of the study was the magnitude of the cooling. When the acid droplets blocked the sun, it caused the Earth’s surface air temperature to drop by at least 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the annual mean temperatures of the tropics went from 80 to 41 degrees. The global average temperature was below freezing for about three years, which was obviously bad news for life on Earth. Dinosaurs used to a tropical climate froze while their food supplies withered and died. It would take 30 years for the climate to recover from the cooling.

“This is based on basic physical laws, but I still find it fascinating that an accident like this asteroid impact can completely change climate for a couple of years,” Brugger said. “It really illustrates how fragile our climate system is.”

Another surprise was the meteor impact’s disruption of ocean circulation.  The ice caps expanded and surface waters cooled down, becoming denser and heavier. While these cooler water masses sank into the depths, warmer water from deeper ocean layers rose to the surface. The warmer waters carried nutrients that likely led to massive blooms of algae that may have been toxic.


“The model simulations of our study allow us to observe a disturbance of the ocean circulation and this leads to a nutrient transport to the surface ocean,” Brugger said. “This could have caused an algal bloom and it is conceivable that these algal blooms produced toxic substances, further affecting life at the coasts.”

This toxic algae– as well as sulfuric acid from the meteor strike mixing into the oceans– might’ve been what led to the deaths of marine life, which would include creatures like the ammonites (marine mollusk animals). Creatures living on the coast would have been greatly affected as well.

While the comet strike likely meant the end for the dinosaurs, it did make way for the evolution of the human species. And though extinction was cold and dark for the prehistoric creatures, it’ll likely be quite toasty for us.

“It’s a certain irony that today the most immediate threat is not from natural cooling but from human-made global warming,” Brugger said.

Hitler’s ‘device of destruction’ could fetch $300,000


NOW PLAYINGMost destructive weapon of all time for sale: Hitler’s phone

The telephone Adolf Hitler used to bark out orders that led to the deaths of millions is going on the auction block. The chipped red phone, with bits of its original black showing through, is engraved on the backside with the Fuhrer’s name and a swastika.

It could fetch as much as $300,000 when it goes up for sale Feb. 19. Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland calls the Bakelite phone made by Siemens “Hitler’s mobile device of destruction” and says it was “arguably the most destructive ‘weapon’ of all time”; he is said to have used it during the war’s final two years.

Shortly after the Allied victory, a British officer removed the phone from the Fuhrerbunker, his son Ranulf Rayner, 82, tells CNN. “My father didn’t see it as a relic of Hitler’s glory days, more a battered remnant of his defeat, a sort of war trophy.” The auction house explains that as the Russians gave Rayner’s father, Ralph, a tour of the bunker, they offered him the black phone used by Hitler’s wife, Eva Braun.

He responded that his favorite color was red, and so they handed him Hitler’s phone instead. His other souvenir: a porcelain Alsatian “almost certainly personally presented to Hitler by Heinrich Himmler,” per the auction house, which says the elder Rayner saw it on Hitler’s desk.

The dog statue, made at the Dachau concentration camp, could fetch $35,000. “It’s a pretty nasty thing, just as sinister as the phone,” Ranulf Rayner tells CNN.

It’s not the only Hitler auction to grab recent headlines: Amid protests by Jewish groups, an Argentine bidder spent more than $650,000 on Hitler’s jacket and other memorabilia at a 2016 auction in Munich, per AFP.

Braun’s things were also recently sold.

This article originally appeared on Newser: One of History’s Deadliest Phones Will Be Sold

Incredible photo shows shark lurking beneath young surfer

In this photo from Jan. 24, 2017, provided by Chris Hasson, 10-year-old Eden Hasson, Chris' son, surfs near what is believed to be a great white shark at Samurai Beach, Port Stephens, Australia.

In this photo from Jan. 24, 2017, provided by Chris Hasson, 10-year-old Eden Hasson, Chris’ son, surfs near what is believed to be a great white shark at Samurai Beach, Port Stephens, Australia.  (Chris Hasson via AP)

Cue the music from “Jaws.”

An incredible photo that has gone viral shows a boy in Australia surfing a wave— while just in front and beneath him a shark is lurking, perhaps a great white.

The 10-year-old surfer, Eden Hasson, said he was oblivious to the powerful predator beneath the waves until his father, Chris Hasson, showed him the photograph.

The photo has since made headlines from Australia to the UK to the United States, and a Facebook post by Hasson about the incident has generated over a thousand reactions.

“If I was on the wave and saw it, I probably would’ve freaked out and fell off,” Eden told an Australian TV station after the brush with the shark. “I was lucky I didn’t fall off.”

The incident occurred at a beach called Samurai, north of Sydney. Chris Hasson told the Associated Press that he told the boy to get off the water after seeing the ghostly image of the shark in the photograph.

“I quickly called him in and whistled,” Hasson said. His son, he said, “saw a shape in the wave and thought it was seaweed and felt something as he went over the top — he got his leg rope caught on something — but he thought nothing of it until he saw the photo.”


The father also said that it was a “gut feeling” that spurred him to review the photos. “I just had a gut feeling so I went into the photos and zoomed in and went ‘No way’,” Hasson said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The same Australian state where this incident took place, New South Wales, was host to a tragedy in 2015, when a 41-year-old Japanese surfer died after a shark attack. The shark attack rate in recent years in Australia has been higher than average.

But one shark expert told the Associated Press that in the case of the “photobombing” shark, the animal was likely just trying to avoid the surfboard.

“From the angle, it looks like the shark was spooked and is rolling away from the board to escape it,” Chin said. “There is no way that this is a hunting approach.”

This is not the only shark to make headlines recently. A mako shark named Hell’s Bay has astounded researchers by breaking a record: in less than two years, it cruised an astounding 13,000 miles in the Atlantic.

Britain discovers its ‘first selfie’: a 4,000-year-old stone carving

Gordon Holmes on Baildon Moor with what he believes is a Stone Age selfie of a person under the symbol for Cassiopeia.

Gordon Holmes on Baildon Moor with what he believes is a Stone Age selfie of a person under the symbol for Cassiopeia.  (© Telegraph and Argus /

A 4,000-year-old Stone Age selfie has been unearthed from one of Britain’s spookiest areas.

Stunned Gordon Holmes, 64, discovered the ancient picture of a face etched into a rock on Baildon Moor in Yorkshire.

Gordon said: “I realised that I was looking at a Stone Age selfie.”

“It also shows a stick figure, which I presume is the artist, sitting or standing in the local landscape or round a fire with almost like a speech bubble above their head showing Cassiopeia above him. It is as if he has carved a selfie of himself.”

The jury’s out on whether it can rival Kim Kardashian’s pout pics – which will set you back £445 a piece.


Ironically, Cassiopeia – which the artist appears to have drawn himself under – is a constellation named after the vain queen Cassiopeia in Greek mythology, who loved bragging about her ravishing looks.

While the portrait might not be as old as the hieroglyphics drawn by the Ancient Egyptians, it’s an incredible marker for British history.

“I know there could be earlier interpretations of selfies, such as those drawn in hieroglyphics by the Ancient Egyptians, but this stone carving selfie on Baildon Moor may well be the earliest example in Britain,” Mr Holmes added.

Gordon is convinced that the moors hold lots more spooky symbols and etchings that point to mystical workings in ancient Britain.

The retired design engineer and IT technician has dedicated his life to studying the weathered ancient carvings.


He added: ”There are many cup and ring stones around the moors, carved into millstone grit.

”But there are at least five such rocks with carvings representing aspects of the night sky which are on Baildon Moor.

“It seems that only Baildon Moor carvings correlated to patterns of star constellations.

“The other moors of Ilkley, Rivock Edge, Harden and Bingley only have the odd example of astronomical significance.

“What’s more, these five appear to have a particular style, a bit like handwriting, and I am convinced they are by the same artist.


“My father said to me all those years ago that no-one knew what the markings were, so I made it a mission to find out. I discovered the carvings showed the Pole Star, Cassiopeia, Hyades and Pleiades.

“One particular stone shows Cassiopeia, distinctive in the night sky because it forms a clear ‘W’ shape.”

This article originally appeared on The Sun.

US Army asks for biodegradable ammo

File photo - Spc. Ethan Esposito, Joint Multinational Training Command, fires his M4 carbine rifle during United States Army Europe's Best Warrior Competition in Grafenwoehr, Germany, July 31, 2012. (U.S. Army)

File photo – Spc. Ethan Esposito, Joint Multinational Training Command, fires his M4 carbine rifle during United States Army Europe’s Best Warrior Competition in Grafenwoehr, Germany, July 31, 2012. (U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army gets through a lot of ammunition thanks to the amount of training it carries out. But that ammunition doesn’t come without waste which slowly degrades over hundreds of years polluting whatever ground (and nearby water sources) it happens to fall upon.

So the Department of Defense (DoD) decided to do something about it, and is requesting environmentally friendly ammunition for use during training exercises.

The request was made via the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Specifically, the DoD wants “biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.”

The ammunition the DoD wants to replace with biodegradable alternatives includes “low velocity 40mm grenades; 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars; shoulder launched munitions; 120mm tank rounds; and 155mm artillery rounds.” There’s also cartridge cases and sabot petals, which can either lay on the ground or end up buried beneath it.

Sourcing the seeds for use in this new ammunition won’t be a problem as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) already bioengineered them so as not to germinate for several months, allowing time for the materials containing them to sufficiently biodegrade. The seeds can then take up any remaining contaminants as they grow, further reducing harm to the environment.

As for what materials could be used to form the ammunition, the DoD points to materials used for manufacturing water bottles, plastic containers and other composite plastics already on the market today.

Any contractor attempting to produce these bullets for the DoD will need to progress through a three phase SBIR process. Phase one involves demonstrating a production process for the biodegradable materials for 40mm-120mm training rounds. Phase two involves proving the fabrication process and passing government ballistic tests. Finally, phase three will involve working with ammunition contractors to turn the tech into a supply of training ammunition.

If successful, the use of biodegradable ammunition will lead to less ground contamination while at the same time ensuring anywhere training exercises are carried out will be left rich in plant life.

This article originally appeared on

Anxiety may give dogs gray hair

File photo: Gamekeeper Bob Pirie poses with his dog Kyle on a heather moor a day before the opening of the grouse shooting season, on the Auchleeks Estate near Trinafour, Scotland August 11, 2010.

File photo: Gamekeeper Bob Pirie poses with his dog Kyle on a heather moor a day before the opening of the grouse shooting season, on the Auchleeks Estate near Trinafour, Scotland August 11, 2010.  (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne )

Just like human hair, dogs’ fur can go gray if they’re going through tough times, a new study finds.

Young dogs whose owners rated them as anxious and impulsive were more likely to have prematurely gray muzzles than dogs that were not regarded as anxious or impulsive, the researchers found.

“Based on my years of experience observing and working with dogs, I’ve long had a suspicion that dogs with higher levels of anxiety and impulsiveness also show increased muzzle grayness,” study lead researcher Camille King, who earned her doctorate at Northern Illinois University’s Adult and Higher Education program in 2011 and now has her own animal behavior practice in the Denver area, said in a statement. [What These 8 Dog Breeds Say About Your Personality]

To investigate, the researchers traveled to dog parks, veterinary clinics and other venues in Colorado, giving questionnaires to the owners of 400 dogs. After the owners answered a 42-item questionnaire about their dogs’ behavior, age and health, the researchers took two mug shots of each dog.

The researchers excluded dogs with light-colored fur, as the coloring made it difficult to discern whether the dogs had a gray muzzle. They also excluded dogs that weren’t between 1 and 4 years old, as older dogs could have gray fur simply from aging, the researchers said.

To gauge each dog’s anxiety level, the researchers asked questions about the pet’s behavior, including whether the dog destroyed things when left alone, whether the dog had hair loss during vet exams or when it entered new places, and whether the dog cringed or cowered in response to groups of people.

To rate impulsivity, the researchers asked whether the dogs jumped on people, whether they could be calmed, if they had a loss of focus and whether they were hyperactive after exercise. Afterward, two independent raters who had never met the dogs graded each photo on a scale of 0 to 3, with 0 indicating no muzzle grayness and 3 indicating full muzzle grayness.

Gray fur

Female dogs tended to have higher levels of grayness than male dogs did, the researchers found. Moreover, dogs that showed fearfulness toward loud noises and unfamiliar animals and people tended to have increased grayness, they said.

In contrast, grayness had nothing to do with the dog’s size, whether it was fixed (that is, spayed or neutered) and whether the dog had any medical problems.

“At first, I was somewhat skeptical of the hypothesis,” said study co-researcher Thomas Smith, a professor in the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. “However, when we analyzed the data, the results actually were quite striking.”

Other studies have shown that stress can alter hair color. It’s unclear whether American presidents go gray because of high levels of stress or genetics, but stress can alter hair growth in mice, according to a 2006 study in the journal Experimental Dermatology. And stress is associated with accelerated aging in mice, a 2014 study in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design found.

The dog findings have practical applications, the researchers noted. If people who work with dogs notice young dogs with prematurely gray muzzles, they could alert the owners that the dog might be experiencing anxiety, impulsivity or fear issues. If necessary, the dogs could enroll in behavior-modification programs, the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the December issue of the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

“This is an original, unique study that has implications for dog welfare,” said study co-researcher Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

Original article on Live Science.

Northern lights’ festive show captured in stunning NASA image

The northern lights — the swirling, cloud-like features in this image — stretched across northern Canada during the nighttime hours of Dec. 22, 2016. (Credit: Jesse Allen / NASA Earth Observatory)

The northern lights — the swirling, cloud-like features in this image — stretched across northern Canada during the nighttime hours of Dec. 22, 2016. (Credit: Jesse Allen / NASA Earth Observatory)

The northern lights put on a festive show over northern Canada just before Christmas, and a NASA satellite captured a stunning infrared image of the spectacular display.

The night after the winter solstice, NASA’s Suomi NPP spacecraft recorded the northern lights, or aurora borealis, across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories in Canada on the night of Dec. 22. From 512 miles above the Earth, the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite captured the northern lights display, which appeared as glowing swirls of clouds over northern Canada, NASA’s Earth Observatory said in a statement.

The northern lights occur when particles from the sun known as the solar wind interact with Earth’s magnetic field, according to NASA scientists. Because the particles are charged, they can cause electrical current changes in the field that then send energetic particles into the upper atmosphere’s gases. When the particles hit the gases, they charge them, and when the gases release this gained energy, the aurora glows are triggered.

As the gases give up the energy, they release photons (light particles) of specific wavelengths, creating different colors. For example, researchers have found that oxygen atoms emit green and sometimes red light, while nitrogen is more orange or red. [Aurora Photos: See Breathtaking Views of the Northern Lights]

While such solar wind events can happen anytime, the solar storms that create the most magnificent displays of the northern lights occur roughly every 11 years, according to NASA researchers. The last cycle peak occurred in 2013, though NASA researchers reported that solar maximum was the weakest observed in a century.

Original article on Live Science.

Ancient underwater potato garden uncovered in Canada

 Submerged rock pavement (shown here) would have allowed the indigenous people to control how far their tubers grew, making for easier harvesting. (Credit: Katzie Development Limited Partnership)

Submerged rock pavement (shown here) would have allowed the indigenous people to control how far their tubers grew, making for easier harvesting. (Credit: Katzie Development Limited Partnership)

This harvest came 3,000 years too late.

Hundreds of blackened potatoes were pulled out of the ground at a prehistoric garden in British Columbia, Canada.

Dating back to 3,800 years before the present, the garden was once underwater, in an ecologically rich wetland. And it shows signs of sophisticated engineering techniques used to control the flow of water to more efficiently grow wild wapato tubers, also known as Indian potatoes. [The 25 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

Archaeologists led by Tanja Hoffmann of the Katzie Development Limited Partnership and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia uncovered the garden during roadwork on Katzie First Nation territory just east of Vancouver, near the Fraser River.

The site had been waterlogged for centuries, resulting in good preservation of plants and other organic materials like wooden tools that would have normally disintegrated over time.

In all, the researchers counted 3,767 whole and fragmented wapato plants (Sagittaria latifolia). Today, these plants are found in wetlands across southern Canada and the United States. Though they were not domesticated, the chestnut-sized roots had long been important to indigenous people, and they are mentioned in some of the first ethnographic accounts of the Pacific Northwest. Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, for example, were offered wapato roots at a native village near present-day Portland, Oregon. Clark wrote in his diary that the plant resembled a “small Irish potato,” and after being roasted, had “an agreeable taste and answers very well in place of bread.”

The ancient tubers that were found in British Columbia had turned dark brown to black in color, and some still had their starchy insides preserved.

The garden had been covered in tightly packed, uniformly sized rocks, leading the researchers to conclude that this was a man-made deposit. Wapato plants can grow far underground, but an artificial rock “pavement” would have controlled how deep the roots could penetrate. This would have allowed the harvesters to more easily find the tubers and pull them out of the muck, Hoffmann and her colleagues wrote in their study, published Dec. 21 in the journal Science Advances.

Besides this waterlogged garden, the archaeological site also had a dry area where people would have lived. The researchers also found about 150 wooden tools that would have been used to dig out the plants.

Radiocarbon dates from the burnt wood found at the site suggest it dates back to 3,800 years ago and was abandoned 3,200 years ago.

The site could represent the first direct evidence of wetland plant cultivation in the prehistoric Pacific Northwest, according to the report on this discovery.

Original article on Live Science.

Check out NASA’s asteroid-catching robot arms

In preparation for the 2021 Asteroid Redirect Mission, this prototype of a robotic capture module system uses a mock asteroid boulder as a test at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. (Credit: NASA)

In preparation for the 2021 Asteroid Redirect Mission, this prototype of a robotic capture module system uses a mock asteroid boulder as a test at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. (Credit: NASA)

NASA is set to launch the robotic portion of its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) in 2021. This will be the first mission to visit and collect a multi-ton sample from a large near-Earth asteroid. The collected sample will be used in a demonstration of enhanced gravity tractor  asteroid deflection.

Recently at the Robotic Operation’s Center of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, a robotic capture module system prototype used a mock asteroid boulder to test its capabilities. [NASA’s Asteroid-Capture Mission in Pictures]

NASA, along with students from West Virginia University, created the mock asteroid boulder from rock, styrofoam, plywood and an interior aluminum frame. The robotic hardware for the project includes three space frame legs with foot pads and two seven degrees of freedom arms with microspine grippers to hold on to the massive rock.

Within the ROC engineers have multiple tools — industrial robots, motion-based platforms, and customized algorithms — to aide in creating simulations of robotic spacecraft operating in space. Engineers will also have the capability to practice and perfect robotic satellite servicing operations, fine tuning systems and controllers and optimizing performance factors for future repair and refueling missions.

This portion of ARM will place the recovered asteroid sample in stable orbit around the moon. Future astronauts will explore the boulder and retrieve samples for study. NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission offers advances in technologies and spaceflight experience, bringing necessary growth for the manned Martian missions planned for the 2030s.

Original story on

The long guns: History of US military rifles

U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Barnett armed with the M14 enhanced battle rifle outside an Afghan border police observation point in Kunar province, Afghanistan (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich)

U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Barnett armed with the M14 enhanced battle rifle outside an Afghan border police observation point in Kunar province, Afghanistan (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich)

The U.S. Army’s upgraded M4A1 combat rifle is just the latest development in a category of weapons that American soldiers have carried since the country’s earliest days.

Long Gun Beginnings

Even before there was actually a “United States” there was what could arguably be considered the first true “American rifle.” Known as the Pennsylvania rifle, the Kentucky rifle or simply the long rifle, it was designed for hunting and was characterized by an unusually long barrel, a unique development that was uncommon in the European rifles of the era.

Military history consultant and former United States Marine Corps Captain Dale Dye told that, in the flintlock era, the long gun was the first to have grooves in the barrel. “These grooves, or rifling, along with the longer barrel, made the guns much more accurate than the British Brown Bess musket,” he said.


The long rifle wasn’t ever produced in large enough numbers to truly make a difference during the American Revolution, but its use by sharpshooters – such as members of Morgan’s Riflemen at the 1777 Battle of Saratoga established the reputation of the American marksman.

The first truly big leap forward in long gun design came with the Caliber .54, Model 1841 Rifle, which was the first to utilize a percussion ignition system. The Model 1841 is sometimes called the Mississippi Rifle due to its use by a Mississippi rifle regiment during the Mexican War between 1846 and 1848. The regiment was commanded by future Confederate States President Jefferson Davis.

Davis, who served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, also authorized the production of the .58 Caliber Musket, or Springfield Model 1861, the first rifled weapon to be produced for general issue by the U.S. Army. The Springfield Model 1861 would go on to be the most widely used U.S Army weapon during the Civil War.


The rest of the 19th century saw other innovations in rifle design including the Springfield Model 1873 “Trapdoor”, a single shot weapon that was not without its problems, and later the Model 1896 Krag-Jorgensen, a reliable but underwhelming bolt action rifle.

Truly American Rifles of the 20th Century

The real change came with the Springfield Model 1903 – an American take on a European classic.

“The Springfield was patterned after the (German-made) Mauser action,” said Dye. “It didn’t have an overly deep magazine, but it was accurate to 800 yards and could be fitted with a scope and used as a sniper version.”


The Springfield M1903 was the standard infantry rifle for all branches of the military during World War I, and was used widely during the early phases of World War II. It was replaced by what has been called one of the finest weapons of the 20th century, the M1 Garand, named after its inventor John Garand.

“This was the first successful semi-automatic used by any military,” Dye told “It is extremely rugged, extremely accurate.”

The M1 Garand, which will celebrate its 80th anniversary next year, was a significant improvement over the bolt action rifles of the day, which required that the weapon was manually cocked between each shot.


“This was really a game changer as it was semi-automatic and held eight rounds,” R. Lee Ermey, better known as the “Gunny”, former United States Marine Corps staff sergeant and host of the Outdoor Channel’s “Gunny Time”, told “It could be argued it helped win World War II.”

After the war the military planners sought to find a one-size fits all rifle, and the result was the M14, which was actually developed to replace four different weapons systems that included the M1 rifle, the M1 Carbine, the M3 “Grease Gun” submachine gun, and the M1918 Browning Automatic Bar (BAR). The upsized M1 had its fans, including the Marine Corps, which still issued one to each platoon in the Vietnam War.

“The M14 could hold its own against the bad guy gun, the AK-47,” added Ermey. “The problem is that it went with a smaller round than the M1, so it lost some of its punch.”


The M14 utilized the 7.62x51mm NATO round, or .308 caliber, which was too powerful for use in fully automatic mode as a replacement for a submachine gun, but yet too light to serve as a replacement for the BAR. In the end,  however, the problem wasn’t so much the gun, but rather the situation.

“It was a little too late for the changing tactics of the conflict,” said Dye. “The select fire didn’t work out as well as planned. It had too heavy a cartridge for close-quarter fighting, and it made for a heavy weapon. While you are willing to trade weight for firepower, the rifle was not ideal for the situation in Vietnam.”

The irony is that the weapon that replaced the M14 proved not to be ideal at first either. The M16 had a rough baptism of fire, largely due to the fact that it was erroneously billed as self-cleaning and issued without cleaning kits.


“It had a turbulent introductory period,” said Dye. “The problem for the M16 is that it was introduced while fighting was going on, and this didn’t allow for the familiarization period that small arms really need. As a result it cost lives, and that is what you don’t ever want to do.”

The other problem with the M16 was the fact that military planners switched the ammunition to one that produced more fouling, and this resulted in jams. The rifle, however, was refined with the M16A1 version.

“The Americans don’t have a good track record of backing up,” Dye told “With the M16 this meant improving it and it proved to be a reliable weapon.”


As the battlefield changed, the military adapted as well with the introduction of the M4 Carbine, a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2. This has replaced the M16 in most U.S. Army and Marine Corps combat units as the primary infantry weapon today.

“Lightening the load has been the constant quest and the result is the slimmed down M16,” said Dye. “Engagement tactics said we didn’t need the long-range weapon for combat.”

The other refinement of the M4 has been its modular design, which allows it to be fitted with numerous accessories including bipods, laser pointers, telescopic sights and even grenade launchers. However, even in the M4A1 version the military may not have found the definitive rifle for the next battlefield. While the M4A1 may be more lethal at close range, there is still a need for taking out targets at distance.

“The next challenge is going to be that long range rifle,” said Dye. “This isn’t about arming everyone with it, or even making it a sniper rifle, but there is a need for long range shooting and that is going to be the challenge to find the next great long range weapon for the U.S. Army.”