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Long-necked monsters roamed more than Scotland’s lochs

Fossil footprints put scientists on sauropods’ trail

sauropod tracks and cast

Tracks made by sauropods some 170 million years ago crisscross a swath of land in Scotland (left); a sediment cast of one track (right) stretched longer than 35 centimeters (lens cap is 5 centimeters wide).

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Step aside, Loch Ness monster. Long-necked behemoths once roamed Scotland in real life.

Brontosaurus’ early relatives stomped through Scottish lagoons some 170 million years ago, suggest a newly-discovered collection of colossal fossil footprints.

The prints, stamped into ancient layers of stone like shallow potholes, stretch up to 70 centimeters wide — about the diameter of a car tire, scientists report December 1 in the Scottish Journal of Geology. Impressions of digits and fleshy foot pads and the sheer size of the prints suggest they belong to sauropods, plant-eating dinos with tree-trunk legs and skyscraping heads perched atop pilllarlike necks.

Until now, the scrappy fossil record of these Middle Jurassic dinosaurs consisted of only a few bones and teeth. The new find places generations of sauropods on an island of Scotland that once held ancient lagoons, which the gigantic creatures may have used to cool off, the study’s authors suggest.  


Taking antiviral drug ‘on demand’ guards against HIV

By Meghan Rosen 10:00am, December 1, 2015
The antiviral drug Truvada taken before and after sex cuts HIV transmission rates.
Animals,, Evolution,, Biophysics

Mystery deepens for what made tarantulas blue

By Susan Milius 2:00pm, November 27, 2015
Blue hair on tarantulas shows what evolution does with iridescence that females probably don’t care about.
Plants,, Molecular Evolution

Conifer ancestors had a double dose of DNA

By Tina Hesman Saey 6:30am, November 24, 2015
The genomes of conifers — pine, cypress and yew trees — doubled twice in the distant past.
Plants,, Technology

Roses rigged with electrical circuitry

By Helen Thompson 4:22pm, November 20, 2015
Bioelectric molecules can form wires and conduct electricity in cut roses, researchers find.
Science & Society,, Genetics,, Animals

Genetically modified salmon gets approval in U.S.

By Tina Hesman Saey 3:33pm, November 19, 2015
Fast-growing salmon become first genetically engineered animals approved for human consumption.

Adorable birds tap dance their way into the heart of a mate

By Helen Thompson 12:55pm, November 19, 2015
Blue-capped cordon-bleu songbirds not only sing, but also tap dance to woo mates, study reveals.
Fungi,, Pollution

Truffles aren’t laced with radioactive cesium

By Thomas Sumner 9:00am, November 18, 2015
Fallout from the Chernobyl disaster hasn’t made truffles dangerously radioactive, scientists find.

Study brews up more evidence for coffee’s health benefits

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 4:00pm, November 16, 2015
Drinking up to five cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of dying early from heart and brain diseases and suicide.
Plants,, Genetics

Ancient gardeners saved the gourd

By Chris Samoray 3:00pm, November 16, 2015
Domestication might have helped early vine plants like pumpkin survive after seed-dispersing megafauna went extinct.
Anthropology,, Genetics

DNA puts Neandertal relatives in Siberia for 60,000 years

By Bruce Bower 3:00pm, November 16, 2015
Recovered DNA suggests Denisovans inhabited Siberia for around 60,000 years.
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