Stingray injuries spike at Southern California beach

NOW PLAYINGStingray Attacks in California

Authorities say there’s been a spike in stingray injuries at a Southern California beach even as water temperatures cool.

The Orange County Register reports Sunday that Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Claude Panis says there were 17 reports of injuries on Thursday and another 10 on Friday.

He says stingray injuries tend to occur when the water is warmer and waves are smaller but have been reported amid cooler water temperatures and bigger swells.

Signs have been posted to warn beachgoers. Panis says people have gotten stung during low tide in the afternoon.

He did not know the reason for the surge.

‘Beardog’ discovery offers clues to how canines evolved

This undated illustration provided by Monica Jurik and The Field Museum in Chicago, shows the artist's reconstruction of an early 38 million year-old beardog.

This undated illustration provided by Monica Jurik and The Field Museum in Chicago, shows the artist’s reconstruction of an early 38 million year-old beardog.  (Monica Jurik/The Field Museum via AP)

For decades a fossilized carnivore jawbone sat largely unnoticed in a drawer at Chicago’s Field Museum.

Now the scientist who grew curious when he opened that drawer has established with a colleague that the fossil belonged to an early, long-extinct relative of dogs, foxes and weasels known as a beardog. The Field Museum fossil and another at the University of Texas each represent a new genus, the taxonomic rank above species.

The researchers believe these beardogs, which lived up to 40 million years ago, may eventually tell the world more about the evolution of dogs and other carnivores and how animals adapt to changes in climate.

According to a paper to be published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the jawbones belonged to two closely related types of Chihuahua-sized beardogs, new genera now named Gustafsonia and Angelarctocyon.

The Field Museum fossil set off the research by post-doctoral researcher Susumu Tomiya, who works at the museum and spends much time taking care of its large collection of fossils.

“In my spare time I like to walk around the aisles in the collections and open up drawers,” he said. “One day I just stumbled on these interesting-looking jaws of a little carnivore.”

The fossil was discovered in Texas in 1946 and 30 years ago was loosely classified as some type of carnivore. But no one knew where it fit into the carnivore family, said Tomiya, who authored the paper with Jack Tseng of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The teeth stood out to Tomiya. They had flatter surfaces for crushing that suggested their owners ate more than meat — maybe berries and bugs, too, like present-day foxes.

The teeth reminded Tomiya of beardogs he was familiar with, he said. But the types of beardogs he knew were much larger predators that were the size of a bear and once roamed parts of North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

The researchers also compared the fossil with one written about in an earlier paper at the University of Texas. Tomiya and Tseng concluded both belonged in what had essentially been a blank spot in the branch of the mammalian tree that includes dogs, raccoons, weasels and similar animals. Beardogs evolved alongside the ancient cousins of present-day dogs, cats, bears and other carnivores.

The evolution of beardogs from the small varieties classified by Tomiya and Tseng to the much larger animals that needed more food and habitat seems to match evolutionary paths of other animals that led to extinction, Tomiya said. Beardogs were extinct by 5 million to 10 million years ago, he said.

Studying how the diversity of beardogs waxed and waned over time could tell us about larger patterns in carnivore evolution,” he said.

The two genera of small beardogs also lived at a time of climate transition in North America, from subtropical to cooler and relatively dry. Further study could help answer questions about what kinds of animals adapted well to that change, Tomiya said.

The new research is interesting in part because the fossils were found in North America, said Steven Wallace, a geosciences professor at East Tennessee State University and curator at the East Tennessee Natural History Museum.

Beyond that, Tomiya and Tseng’s work is a reminder to scientists that discoveries don’t just come from fresh digs in far-flung locales.

“It’s almost like they feel that once a specimen’s been described, they’ve learned everything they can from it,” Wallace said. “Sometimes the coolest discoveries come right out of a museum.”

Why mice are nature’s jet engines

File photo

File photo  (REUTERS/Daniel Munoz)

Wondering what animal might have the most in common with a jet engine? Prepare to be surprised. Elena Mahrt, author of a study published Monday inCurrent Biology, says mice sing ultrasonic songs using a method “never found before in any animal,” according to a press release.

It has, however, been found in jet engines. Mice use these high-pitched whistles—inaudible to humans—to defend their territory and find mates, but until now scientists had no idea how they made the noises, especially because mice’s vocal cords stay absolutely still while producing the “ultrasound bleeps,” Live Science reports.

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“Mice seem to be doing something very complicated and clever to make ultrasound,” study coauthor Dr. Anurag Agarwal says in the press release. To produce the high-pitched song, a jet of air originating in the mouse’s windpipe bounces off the inner wall of the larynx and doubles back on itself, making a “feedback loop.” This process—discovered in mice using high-speed cameras—has only ever been seen before in jet engines and their ilk.

Coauthor Coen Elemans says it’s likely many rodents use this same method, possibly even accounting for the echolocation of bats, according to theTelegraph. “Even though mice have been studied so intensely, they still have some cool tricks up their sleeves,” he says.

Researchers are studying the vocalizations of mice to better understand stuttering, autism, and other communication disorders. (Scientists makeshrunken, see-through lab mice.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Why Mice Are Nature’s Jet Engines

Ancient teeth lead researchers to prehistoric shark discovery

Megalolamna paradoxodon had grasping-type front teeth and cutting-type rear teeth likely used to seize and slice medium-sized fish and it lived in the same ancient oceans megatoothed sharks inhabited.

Megalolamna paradoxodon had grasping-type front teeth and cutting-type rear teeth likely used to seize and slice medium-sized fish and it lived in the same ancient oceans megatoothed sharks inhabited.  (Kenshu Shimada)

Researchers have discovered a new species of prehistoric shark, and at about 13 feet long, it was comparable to the size of the great white sharks of today.

The new predator, called Megalolamna paradoxodon, lived about 20 million years ago and is now extinct. The scientists based their discovery on just a handful of teeth from the shark, describing five of the prehistoric chompers (which originated from three different countries) in a new study in the journal Historical Biology. Like great whites, the shark is a member of the lamniformes group, and it lived during the Miocene epoch, which spans about 23 million to five million years in the past.

Kenshu Shimada, the lead author of the new paper and a professor at DePaul University, described the species as “exceptionally rare.”

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“The fact that such a large lamniform shark with such a wide geographic distribution had evaded recognition until now indicates just how little we still know about the Earth’s ancient marine ecosystem,” he told FoxNews.com in an email.

He said that their newly-discovered ancient shark was “distantly related” to great white sharks.

The new shark had teeth in the front meant for grasping, and teeth in the back for cutting, and likely ate “medium-sized fish” according to a statement from DePaul University announcing the discovery. Its teeth measured as much as 1.8 inches long.

Sharks attack 2 different surfers in Florida beach area

new smyrna beach 103

 (Google Street View)

Two surfers are recovering from shark bites off the beaches in central Florida over the weekend.

Authorities say a 32-year-old surfer was bitten on his side in New Smyrna Beach on Saturday evening. The next day, a shark nipped a 21-year-old surfer on the left foot.

Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue Capt. Andrew Ethridge says neither surfer wanted to be transported to a hospital for treatment.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports there have been 14 shark bites in the county so far this year. Officials say that’s an increase from previous years. In 2014 there were 10 unprovoked shark attacks in Volusia County and seven in 2015.

One day last month, officials say three people were bitten by sharks in one day.

Toughie the frog, likely the last of his species, dies

Toughie the frog (Atlanta Botanical Garden).

Toughie the frog (Atlanta Botanical Garden).

A frog named Toughie, likely the last of his species, died quietly in his enclosure at the Atlanta Botanical Garden this week, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“He will be missed by Garden staff and visitors alike,” the Garden posted onFacebook. The Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog wasn’t even discovered until 2005 when scientists were attempting to rescue specimens of any amphibian they could before a deadly chytrid fungal infection hit Panama.

According to National Geographic, Toughie made it out of Panama, but it’s estimated that the chytrid fungus killed up to 85 percent of all amphibians left behind in his natural habitat.

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He had lived in isolation at the Garden since 2008. A cause of death is unknown, but Toughie was believed to be at least 12 years old.

In his final years, Toughie became a “symbol of the extinction crisis.” His photo was projected onto St. Peter’s Basilica, and he was visited by film directors and race car drivers.

“A lot of people were moved to tears when they saw him,” a photographer who worked with Toughie says. “When you have the very last of something it’s a special deal.” While some scientists are holding out hope for the Rabbs’ tree frog, it’s likely Toughie was the last, Scientific American reports. His species hasn’t been seen in the wild since 2007. It’s rare for humans to actually witness an extinction when it happens and not just learn about it years later. (For the first time, bees have been put on the endangered species list.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Toughie the Frog, Likely the Last of His Species, Dies

Montana hiker survives 2 attacks by the same bear, sheriff says

 (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart, File)

A hiker in Montana managed to survive a “Revenant”-style series of attacks — apparently by the same bear — and even drove himself to the hospital for treatment over the weekend, investigators said.

Todd Orr recorded video of himself after the mauling and posted it online. With gashes on his arms and blood streaming down his face, the 50-year-old survivor told the camera: “Yeah, life sucks in bear country… be safe out there.”

Warning: Video is graphic!

The first attack unfolded Saturday morning not far from the man’s home in Bozeman, Madison County Sheriff Roger Thompson confirmed. Orr said he unleashed bear spray and rolled into a ball to play dead as the bear chewed on him. He said it looked like a grizzly bear protecting two cubs.

The man headed back to the trailhead — but was attacked again. After the second attack, the bear wandered away and the man escaped.

“It’s like being struck by lightning twice in the same day; you don’t get attacked by the same bear in one day,” Thompson said. “I think he should go out and buy a lottery ticket now.”

Bleeding all over, Orr drove himself 17 miles to the Madison Valley Medical Center in Ennis. He called the sheriff’s office to report the attacks.

“He did everything he was supposed to do,” said Thompson. “He got a small fracture in his left forearm when the bear jumped on him.”

Despite the gruesome injuries, doctors say they expect Orr to survive.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will determine what will happen to the bear, the Montana Standard reported.

In the Oscar-winning 2015 movie “The Revenant,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s character barely survives a mauling by a bear in the 19th century American wilderness.

Bozeman is about 90 miles southeast of Helena.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

New pterosaur species with intact skull uncovered in Patagonia

An artist's reconstruction of a new species of pterosaur, Allkaruen koi.

An artist’s reconstruction of a new species of pterosaur, Allkaruen koi.(Gabriel Lío)

A new species of pterosaur named for its “ancient brain” has been found in Patagonia.

The flying reptile lived in the early Jurassic period, between about 199.6 million years ago and 175.6 million years ago. Paleontologists found the new fossil in north central Chubut province in Argentina. To their delight, the fossil included an intact braincase, offering them a new look at pterosaur neuroanatomy.

The researchers named the new species Allkaruen koi. All means “brain,” andkaruen means “ancient,” in Tehuelche, a language indigenous to Patagonia. [Photos of Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs]

“Allkaruen, from the middle lower Jurassic limit, shows an intermediate state in the brain evolution of pterosaurs and their adaptations to the aerial environment,” study researcher Diego Pol, a paleontologist at the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina, said in a statement. “As a result, this research makes an important contribution to the understanding of the evolution of all of pterosaurs.”

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The new pterosaur was found in a bone bed that contains many pterosaur remains. Archaeologists uncovered a vertebra, jaws and a braincase. The braincase was only a few dozen millimeters long, indicating that it was from a small pterosaur species, the researchers said.

It’s rare to find an intact pterosaur braincase, according to the researchers, and little has been known about the way pterosaur skulls (and thus brains) evolved over time. The researchers used computed-tomography scans to build digital models of the reptile’s inner ear and the interior of its skull.

This technique, in turn, let the scientists put Allkaruen in its place in the pterosaur family tree. For instance, the researchers learned that some skull features associated with Pterodactylus — one genus of pterosaurs — had evolved by the early to middle Jurassic, even though pterodactyls themselves had not yet evolved.The research appeared Tuesday in the open-access journal PeerJ.

Pterosaurs had a suite of adaptations that made them strong fliers. Their bones were feather-light, and they sported air sacs extending from their lungs to keep their body density down and their air exchange efficient, a 2009 study found. While some pterosaur species were tiny, others grew to be the size of giraffes. These behemoths may have used their limbs to leapfrog into flight, paleontologists say.

In 2015, researchers reported the discovery of a 200-million-year-old pterosaur in Utah that had a wingspan measuring 4.5 feet long, and 110 teeth, including four that were 1 inch long.

Original article on Live Science. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Watch this stunning close-up of a sixgill shark

NOW PLAYINGRare sixgill shark sighting deep in ocean amazes scientists

This stunning video gives shark aficionados everywhere a rare close-up view of a sixgill shark.

A team working with OceanGate, an organization that provides subsea research and exploration, filmed the shark alongside a posse of dogfish earlier this month. The sixgill was spotted as the team explored the water using OceanGate’s Cyclops 1 submarine near British Columbia’s Desolation Sound.

The shark was spotted at a depth of 490 feet, and is estimated to be about 12 to 15 feet long. Sixgills typically stay at depths below 200 feet and have been known to swim as deep as 8,000 feet, according to OceanGate. Their preference for deep waters makes them difficult to spot.

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OceanGate added that sixgills are the world’s third-largest predatory shark and hail from the period before dinosaurs roamed the earth. The six slits on the shark indicate its age and more commonly found less primitive sharks have five slits.

Large piece of snake skin found near Maine river

Large snake skin found in Maine.

Large snake skin found in Maine. (Westbrook Police Department)

Authorities in Maine have warned the public about snakes after a large snake skin was found near the Presumpscot River on Saturday.

Westbrook police said they have been searching for a 10-foot snake since June after a woman reported seeing it near a playground. There have been several other sightings of the reptile, dubbed “Wessie,” since, according to WMTW-TV.

The snake skin was found near Riverbank Park at around 3 p.m., Police Chief Janine Roberts said.

Police are trying to determine the type of snake.

“Until the type of snake is determined and we can assess the safety risk, we caution people who recreate along the Presumpscot River to remain alert, maintain a safe distance from any wildlife, and report any sightings of the snake to the Westbrook Police Department,” authorities said in a statement.