Florida frog skull survey shows spikes, say scientists

Thursday, March 26, 2020

In a new study released by the Florida Museum of Natural History on Monday, scientists report spiky skulls evolved at least 25 separate times in different kinds of frogs. The survey was reportedly to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lead author Daniel Paluh, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Florida, said, “Superficially, frogs may look similar, but when you look at their skulls, you see drastic differences […] Some of the weirdest skulls are found in frogs that eat birds and mammals, use their heads as a shield, or in a few rare cases, are venomous. Their skulls show how strange and diverse frogs can be.”

Some scientists had previously suggested smaller frogs would tend to develop spiky skulls, but that is not what this study reports. Here, researchers evaluated CT scans on 158 different species. They found frogs that had similar ecological niches — meaning they either acquired food in the same way or defended themselves from predators in the same way — tended to develop skulls with similar grooves, spikes, or specialized jaw joints regardless of whether they were ancestrally related to each other.

According to the study, skulls with spikes, grooves or ridges — called hyperossification — often accompanied frogs eating very large prey relative to their own body size. The strong, spacious skulls would allow the frogs to have very big mouths with which to catch birds, rodents, reptiles and other frogs. Spikes sometimes coincided with venomous frogs. The researchers speculated the spikes make it dangerous for predators to hit the frog’s head, as the spikes would break venom sacs under the frog’s skin.

Other bone formations included projections resembling fangs or lower teeth that different species of frogs use for catching prey and fighting. Very few frogs have true lower teeth.

One of the study’s authors, herpetologist David Blackburn, told Discover Magazine the frequency of spiky skulls evolving in otherwise unrelated frogs suggested some deep pattern frogs fell into as circumstances arose: “Somehow, these frogs are turning on some ancient developmental machinery in their DNA.”

Since 1973, when frogs skulls were last comprehensively surveyed, scientists have documented enough new species to double the number known to humans. Also, modern techniques exploit CT scans, of which Paluh and his team made liberal use. The research was part of the oVert project, funded by the National Science Foundation, meant to comprehensively CT-scan over 20,000 vertebrate specimens from United States museums.

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Toxic wetlands may be cause of thousands of bird deaths in Western Australia

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Western Australian government authorities say they believe a toxin may be responsible for the recent mysterious death of an estimated 5,000 birds found in the area of Esperance – on the state’s south eastern coastline. Autopsies by toxicologists from the WA Department of Agriculture will test for organochlorins, organophosphates and heavy metals.

Esperance residents first noticed large numbers of dead birds littering their streets and gardens on December 7 last year. Populations of honeyeaters, wattle birds and miners have reportedly been effected.

The birds were being found vomiting and convulsing in bushland and suburban backyards over an extensive area. Department of Environment and Conservation‘s (DEC) nature conservation coordinator Mike Fitzgerald says toxic wetlands near Esperance are the most likely reason for the mass bird deaths.

The DEC says it has failed to figure out the cause of death despite interviewing industry groups, farmers, grain handlers and timber companies about pesticide and chemical use.

Birds Australia, the peak group dedicated to the conservation, study and enjoyment of Australia’s native birds and their habitats, said it had not heard of a similar occurrence. “Not on that scale, and all at the same time, and also the fact that it’s several different species,” chief executive Graeme Hamilton told the Sunday Times. “You’d have to call that a most unusual event and one that we’d all have to be concerned about.”

Mike Fitzgerald said the DEC were looking at something “pretty potent.” “This is not a normal situation. The common thing that we have seen and heard is that the affected birds have an insatiable thirst… If it turns out to be a toxin that is responsible, that will raise more questions because there is no obvious source of exposure.”

The deaths could be a result of a drier than normal winter, causing algal and bacterial blooms in the Esperance Lakes Nature Reserves. Esperance recorded 457mm rainfall in 2006; the average is 620mm.

Initially, health authorities feared a virus, such as the deadly avian bird flu, was responsible. That was quickly ruled out, along with poisoning from bacteria or eating poisoned insects.

The first deaths were reported by Esperance resident Michelle Crisp – who lives close to the worst-affected area. Dozens of native birds began dying in her back yard a week before Christmas. She says she contacted neighbours to discover if they were experiencing the same thing. Mrs Crisp found four dead birds, then 16, then 30 and finally up to 80.

Mike Fitzgerald said that any one of hundreds of toxins could be causing the deaths but so far all leads had not produced any answers.

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Diebold “whistleblower” faces criminal charges in California

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Los Angeles County prosecutors have brought three felony charges against Stephen Heller for stealing documents from his employer, the law firm Jones Day.

The legal documents discussed the legal ramifications of activist allegations that Diebold Election Systems had used uncertified voting systems in Alameda County elections beginning in 2002. Jones Day represented the controversial electronic voting machine manufacturer at the time. The firm’s lawyers concluded that if such uncertified systems were used, then Diebold could be sued by Alameda County for millions of dollars. The memos also discussed whether the California’s secretary of state had the authority to investigate Diebold.

Mr. Heller has been charged with felony access to computer data, commercial burglary and receiving stolen property. He has pled not guilty.

Blair Berk, Heller’s attorney said, “It’s a devastating allegation for a whistle-blower. Certainly, someone who saw those documents could have reasonably believed that thousands of voters were going to be potentially disenfranchised in upcoming elections.”

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Large study provides new insights in autism’s genetic code

Thursday, February 22, 2007

In the largest study of its kind, a genetic analysis of 1,168 families with multiple cases of autism has identified genetic links to autism. A previously overlooked stretch of DNA on chromosome 11 implicates a gene called neurexin 1 and increases the evidence for the involvement of neurexins and genes related to glutamate transmission in the brain.

Genetic studies of autism have previously been undertaken; however the new study involves the collaboration of more than 120 scientists from more than 50 institutions representing 19 countries who pooled their data as part of the Autism Genome Project. The findings were published in the Feb. 18 issue of Nature Genetics.

Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism, said: “The identification of susceptibility genes will provide profound new insight into the basis of autism offering a route to breakthroughs in new treatments in support of families.” Autism Speaks funded this project in conjunction with the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Joachim Hallmayer, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford and chair of the collaboration’s executive committee, explains what is next: “While promising, these results need to be followed up with more refined genetic maps to home in on other specific candidate genes. We also need to look more closely at chromosomal anomalies in large samples of children with autism.” In the paper, researchers caution that the genetic foundation of autism probably involves multiple genes and chromosomal abnormalities.

Autism affects about one in every 150 children, and the CDC has called it an “urgent health concern”. Autism is a developmental disorder which impairs social interaction, communication and features restricted and repetitive interests and activities. Twin studies and other research clearly suggest a genetic basis for the condition. Currently there is no cure for autism, but both behavioral or sensory interventions and drugs can influence the symptoms.

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School Academy

Today S Paradigm For Intelligence Education And Intelligence Schools

Submitted by: Daniel Sommer

Prior to WWII, strategic security matters were essentially ad hoc functions of the U.S. military war-planning. World War II and the advent of the Cold War awakened the United States to be more proactive in security issues as a matter of national survival. The potential of nuclear warfare made policy makers increasingly aware of a need for a formalized approach in defining strategic security issues. Policy makers also recognized the need to train students in security issues to become productive members of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). Elite military war colleges became de facto intelligence schools, taking on the research and analysis problems of the new strategic security environment. Rand Corporation was established in 1948 as the premier precursor to private industry strategic think tanks for the government. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) became involved in this intelligence education process as the result of an Eisenhower-appointed study group which examined the structure of U.S. foreign intelligence. The military and the think tanks were joined by a few prestigious public and private universities in this quest to provide quality education to students on critical strategic security matters that were ever-evolving during the Cold War era.

During the 1960 -1980 period, new threats to the United States began to emerge as harbingers of the future. The arrival of various disparate terror groups in the 1960s such as the Red Army Faction, Black September, and the Abu Nidal Organization, with their orchestration of airline hijackings and assassinations, became the progenitors to such non-state terror organizations typified by Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda. The reality of this new threat from non-state terror groups was not adequately understood at the time; the IC remained focused on the Soviet Union as typified in the Air War College development of the first comprehensive block of studies on the Soviet Union. These terrorist events made little impact on how evolving intelligence education issues were perceived and defined regarding these new threats.

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The United States now sees strategic security threats which are diverse in nature and yet often related: examples include cyber crimes to criminal enterprises in drug and human-trafficking, as well as political/economic instability and global terrorism. The fluidity of what defines a strategic security threat can only be met with an equally flexible infrastructure in intelligence education. A most significant factor in adapting this flexibility towards these new strategic threats is the emergence of online intelligence schools which are complemented by the extensive data resources on the Internet. The role and importance of the online education in the intelligence education process demonstrates that the professional intelligence opportunities are now opened to a broad population of qualified students; it no longer is the sole province of the few organizations of the past. Online education allows the opportunity to learn from anywhere and at any time. Homeland Security magazine lists over 180 schools providing online instruction in Homeland Security with a majority of the schools offering online programs.

Online intelligence schools must ensure that the academic aspects of the strategic security challenge are solidly reinforced by teaching critical central principles. This academic rigor is necessary but not sufficient; there also must be a corollary practical dimension to this intelligence education process. This required additional dimension for online and resident security education demands that these institutions include faculty members who have actually practiced the arts and crafts of intelligence and security as operators in the field of clandestine missions; this operator-professor serves as a best resource for students to learn the theory and the pragmatic applications outside academia. The opportunity is now available for individuals interested in strategic security careers to pursue the necessary education from the undergraduate to doctorate degree levels.

About the Author: Dan Sommer works for Henley-Putnam University, a leading educational institution in the field of Strategic Security. For more info on Henley-Putnam University,

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, call 888-852-8746 or visit us online at http://www.Henley-Putnam.edu



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Wikimedia Conference Netherlands 2007 held on wikis and education

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Yesterday, a chilly Amsterdam hosted the Wikimedia Conference Netherlands 2007. Held at the Aristo centre in a suburb of the city and run by Wikimedia Netherlands, the conference was a short train ride from Amsterdam Centraal railway station. The topic, Wikis and Education (Wiki’s en Educatie in Dutch). This was an opportunity for Wikimedians and people in education to come together and see how collaboration could help both.

Wikinews freelance reporter Brian McNeil caught a train from Brussels in Belgium and attended, making an impression on the Wikimedia Foundation chair, Florence Devouard, by spilling her coffee over the first two speakers approximately three minutes before they were supposed to officially open the conference.

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China executes nine for ethnic riots

Monday, November 9, 2009

China has executed nine people for taking part in July’s ethnic unrest in the western city of Ürümqi, according to a local state news agency.

The official Xinhau news agency reported that the nine were the first of those convicted in the riots to be executed. It said the sentences were carried out with the approval of the country’s supreme court; however, it was not immediately clear where the executions were carried out.

Violence erupted in the Xinjiang regional capital of Ürümqi on July 5, after Uighurs protested the deaths of two Uighur factory workers in a brawl with Han Chinese in southern China’s Guangdong province.

Uighurs said the protests turned violent when police cracked down on the rally. Protesters then attacked ethnic Han people in the regional capital. Two days later, Han Chinese staged revenge attacks. Nearly 200 people are believed to have been killed, but the official toll is much lower.

At least 21 people have been sentenced in connection with the Ürümqi riots, in crimes ranging from murder to arson, robbery, and destruction of property. Twelve people have been sentenced to death.

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Bulk Materials Handling

Feasible Means To Optimize Local Seo

Submitted by: Virgiler Ortiz

Every enterprise needs to be on the initially page of a look when somebody is wanting for Local businesses. But, how do you increase your odds of obtaining on the first page?

There are a few approaches to help enhance your Local SEO:

First, get detailed with the search engines. Obtaining outlined by Google Roadmaps should assist tremendously. You have to complete out an application, get verified, and after that wait around a couple of months prior to your business could show up. Yahoo Local is a different important listing. One can do this with no the verification and your business will get detailed faster. The a lot more exposure you get on these locations, the much more potential prospects you can get.

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A different way to enhance the SEO for you Local region is to get listed in yellow webpages class directories. Yellow Book, Yellow-colored Pages, Yelp, and CitySearch are all examples of these kinds of directories. People employ these just prefer these folks employed the Yellow-colored Pages telephone book in the past. They need a company or products and these folks glimpse it up. The business can get much far more publicity once posted on these locations.

You must additionally list your organization on free of charge Local classifieds such as Craigslist, Backpage or USFree Ads. Folks look to these sites to come across company every single day. These are really fashionable with World-wide-web users and should get optimum publicity for wee cost and effort.

One more way to get more exposure is to get reviewed. Ask the clients, or the wedding guests to review the business as a a variety of directories and online overview sites. You can also attempt to put a website link to the business enterprise on a variety of Local sites like a Chamber of Commerce site.

One of the a lot essential matter it is possible to do is to deal with the business report. Your report includes the basics: business enterprise name, discuss, telephone variety, and business enterprise description. This is which information should exist when someone accomplishes a look. This details can additionally appear on locations for national info providers. You absolutely wish this information to be correct and give a accurate outline of your company.

If you have a web page, it is easy to do a couple of issues to make it more Local search welcoming. You could possess your address on every page of your site. On top of that, even if you have a toll cost-free cell phone number, you should put your Local cell phone number of just about every web page of the web site.

Creating a web page on your site titles “area/directions” can also help generate it welcoming to Local searches. Have a hyperlink to Yahoo Atlases and Yahoo Road directions on your area/directions page. If your business serves various surrounding towns, list as quite a few of those as it is possible to on the site.

Local SEO is a very important because Yahoo launched Google Roadmaps. Also, the proliferation of netbooks and smartphones possess increased the crucial of receiving listed on top locally. If you possess a enterprise that is residing for Local buyers, understanding how to get the maximum publicity on search engines is crucial to the health of the company.

For more information visit:

About the Author: Virgil Ortiz is a senior associate at Neogain and has spent many years in the local seo Industry.To find more about Local SEO visit the website at




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Slow-cooking dinosaur eggs may have contributed to extinction, say scientists

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A joint research team from the University of Calgary, American Museum of Natural History, and Florida State University announced on Monday that the eggs of non-avian dinosaurs such as the duck-billed dinosaur took as long as six months to hatch, far longer than had previously been believed.

We could literally count [the growth rings] to see how long each dinosaur had been developing.

Bird eggs incubate for 11 to 85 days, about half the time of most other egg-laying vertebrates. Scientists had thought dinosaur eggs were more like those of modern birds than modern reptiles, but this long hatch time is far more reminiscent of monitor lizard than magpie.

The scientists reached this conclusion by comparing CT scans of the teeth of dinosaur embryos of two different species, the Protoceratops andrewsi, which had eggs weighing under 200 grams, and Hypacrosaurus stebingeri, a type of duck-billed dinosaur that had eggs twenty times that size. They observed the von Ebner lines, patterns that form in vertebrate teeth as they grow, to determine how long the overall developmental process was taking. “They’re kind of like tree rings, but they’re put down daily,” said Florida State University co-author Gregory Erickson. “And so we could literally count them to see how long each dinosaur had been developing.” They found the Protoceratops embryo was about three months old and the Hypacrosaurus about six months.

According to the research team, this may be one reason why dinosaurs did not recover after the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 65 million years ago. Both the eggs and any parents guarding them would have drawn the attention of predators and been unable to flee floods or other problems. Guardians might not have been able to move far to find food. This, researchers say, would have put dinosaurs at a disadvantage over animals with quicker-hatching eggs and their mammalian competitors.

Natural History Museum Curator and study co-author Mark Norell cites advances in imaging technology as the reason why this study is being published today: “We know very little about dinosaur embryology, yet it relates to so many aspects of development, life history, and evolution, [b]ut with the help of advanced tools like CT scanners and high-resolution microscopy, we’re making discoveries that we couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago.”

The research team plans to study more fossilized dinosaur embryo skeletons to confirm their findings. Specifically, the current study did not include the skeleton of a velociraptor or any other dinosaur considered closely related to birds.

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