An action thriller by Jock Miller
Fossil fuel has an ageless affinity with dinosaurs. To create oil, dinosaurs died.
The perfect energy storm is sweeping over the United States: Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown has paralyzed nuclear expansion globally, BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill has stalled deep water drilling, Arab oil countries are in turmoil causing doubt about access to future oil, the intensity of hurricanes hitting the Gulf’s oil rigs and refineries has intensified due to global warming, and the nation’s Strategic Oil Supply is riding on empty.
As the energy storm intensifies, the nation’s access to Arab oil, once supplying over sixty percent of our fossil fuel, is being threatened causing people to panic for lack of gas at the pumps, stranding cars across the country and inciting riots.
The U.S. Military is forced to cut back air, land, and sea operations sucking up 58% of every barrel of oil to protect the nation; U.S. commercial airlines are forced to limit flights for lack of jet fuel; and businesses are challenged to power up their factories, and offices as the U.S. Department of Energy desperately tries to provide a balance of electric power from the network of aged power plants and transmission lines that power up the nation.The United States must find new sources of domestic fossil fuel urgently or face an energy crisis that will plunge the nation into a deep depression worse than 1929.
The energy storm is very real and happening this very moment. But, at the last moment of desperation, the United States discovers the world’s largest fossil fuel deposit found in a remote inaccessible mountain range within Alaska’s Noatak National Preserve surrounding six and a half million acres.Preventing access to the oil is a colony of living fossil dinosaurs that will protect its territory to the death.
Nobody gets out alive; nobody can identify the predator--until Dr. Kimberly Fulton, Curator of Paleontology at New York’s Museum of Natural History, is flown into the inaccessible area by Scott Chandler, the Marine veteran helicopter pilot who’s the Park’s Manager of Wildlife. All hell breaks loose when Fulton’s teenage son and his girlfriend vanish into the Park.
Will the nation’s military be paralyzed for lack of mobility fuel, and will people across America run out of gas and be stranded, or will the U.S. Military succeed in penetrating this remote mountain range in northwestern Alaska to restore fossil fuel supplies in time to save the nation from the worst energy driven catastrophe in recorded history?
Friday, March 14, 2014
A feather accompanied by a microphysid plant bug. The coiling observed in the feather is directly comparable to coils found in modern bird feathers specialized for water uptake and are suggestive of diving behavior, but similar structures can be used to transport water to the nest.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Photograph by Toby Smith, Reportage by Getty Images
A cotton-picker works an industrial scale plantation in Boxing, Shandong Province. The cotton bud must be picked and separated from the dry husk. The stalks, which would otherwise be considered waste, are dried and sold as feedstock for biofuel and electricity production.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Ashes covering the fossils are fine-grained, covering charred bone, the researchers found, similar to pyroclastic ash seen in the massive 1883 eruption of the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa. The death poses of the creatures in the bone beds resemble those of other pyroclastic ash victims, with limbs extended. The bones have spiderweb cracks like those seen on the charred bones of Pompeii victims, according to the study.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The oldest confuciusornithid bird, Eoconfuciusornis zhengi Zhang et al., 2008, from the Dabeigou Formation; skeleton and feather impressions on (a) the counterslab and (b) main slab. (Courtesy of IVPP.)
A series of papers in leading international journals, such as Nature and Science, astonished the palaeontological world in the 1990s. In these, ever-more amazing fossils were announced from the Jehol beds in NE China: examples of early birds, feathered dinosaurs, pterosaurs, early mammals, amphibians, pollinating insects and angiosperms. The specimens came from a time interval, the Early Cretaceous, whose faunas and floras were relatively poorly known from other locations and yet these specimens tended to be complete and they were often remarkably well preserved.
The Jehol beds are so extensive and so rich in fossils that it seems amazing that the remarkable birds, dinosaurs, and other fossils were not reported earlier.
One of the most spectacular fossils of all time from the Yixian Formation, two specimens, a presumed male (with long tail plumes) and female of Confuciusornis sanctus, a species now known from more than 2000 specimens. (Courtesy of IVPP.)
The type specimen of Microraptor gui Xu et al., 2003, a remarkable small dromaeosaurid dinosaur with fully developed 'wings' of flight feathers on both arms and both hind limbs, from the Jiufotang Formation. (a) the specimen; (b) CT scan of the skeleton, (c) reconstruction. (Courtesy of IVPP.)
Monday, March 3, 2014
Numerous individual filaments in Late Cretaceous Canadian amber. These filaments are similar to the protofeathers that have been found as fossils with some dinosaurs. These filaments range from clear to near-black.
"All the feathers are preserved down to micron scale, showing indentations and pigmentation," study researcher Ryan McKellar, of the University of Alberta, told LiveScience. "It’s also the first time we've found protofeathers [feathers thought to belong to nonavian dinosaurs] preserved in amber."
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Fossil fuel has an ageless affinity with dinosaurs. To create oil, dinosaurs died. Now, in this riveting action thriller, the tables are turning!
Friday, February 28, 2014
Redirecting a River’s Flow
Photograph by Toby Smith, Reportage by Getty Images
A new dam begins to redirect the flow of the Jiulong River into underground tunnels for power generation in central China's Sichuan Provice.
China's best known hydro project lies to the east of here, the Three Gorges Dam, on the Yangtze River in Hubei province. The largest power plant in the world at 20.5 gigawatts of capacity, Three Gorges is triple the size of the top U.S. hydropower station (Grand Coulee Dam). Its construction, completed in 2006, displaced some 1.3 million people.
And China plans to build the equivalent of more than seven Three Gorges dams in the coming years, 140 gigawatts—enough power to run all of France, as Reuters notes. It's all a part of China's plan to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy. By 2020, China's renewable energy law calls for hydropower and other non-fossil fuel sources to supply at least 15 percent of the country's energy. Still, electricity demand is growing so quickly that the new renewables will not halt the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, only slow it.
Smith says he was lured to take on the project of documenting China's efforts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by the scale of the infrastructure, and the pace at which it was changing. He knew China's economy was built on coal, and that foundation would be difficult to alter. "It feels less like China is making decisions between different energy types, but more decisions on how can it meet demand by using all energy types," Smith says. "As the Western economic growth stabilizes we have a stereotype is that it is a 'switch' to renewable energy. China, however, is increasing coal extraction and imports while investing heavily in wind, hydro, and solar as a complement. I nicknamed this the 'and, and, and, and' philosophy."
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
A specimen of Thecodontosaurus antiquus was discovered by excavators at a quarry in Bristol in 1834, and at the time was only the fourth dinosaur to be found anywhere in the world.
These remains were displayed in the Bristol City Museum but were mostly destroyed during second world war bombing raids. Further specimens of the same species were found in 1975 encased in rock at the nearby Tytherington quarry and became known as the "Bristol Dinosaur".
Until now the bones have been trapped in the limestone-like rock but, thanks to a £295,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, scientists will be able to extract and study the fossils for the first time.
"It's one of the most primitive plant-eating dinosaurs, at the base of the group that gave rise to the long-necked plant-eaters like brachiosaurus and diplodocus," said Mike Benton of the University of Bristol, who will lead the project. "Internationally, it's very important as one of the very earliest plant-eating dinosaurs. It was quite small, about a metre and a half in length and a great deal of that is a long, thin tail. It's a biped, about the height of a 10-year-old child."
The project will last three years and Benton hopes to reconstruct the complete skeleton of the dinosaur, which would have fed on the lush vegetation growing in the Bristol area during the Triassic period, hundreds of millions of years ago.
|Palaeontology student Judyth Sassoon inspects the fossilised remains of the Bristol Dinosaur. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA|
"The main aim is to establish the anatomy in detail of this beast because hitherto we've only looked at bits and pieces," said Benton. "The purpose of that is to discover what the very first plant-eating dinosaurs were like early in their evolution. It's part of the question of why were the dinosaurs so successful in their world. To understand that you need to go right back to the roots of the dinosaurs, the very earliest ones."
The scientists hope to raise further funds to build a permanent exhibit at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.
Nerys Watts, head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: "The remains of the Bristol Dinosaur are of international scientific and heritage importance, offering a chance for us to further understand what our world was like 200 million years ago. Alongside the scientific research, this project will enable local people to learn about one of the city's most important but least well known residents."
Reposted from The Guardian
Monday, February 24, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven noted that "major changes were emerging in the energy world," and one of the transformations is happening in Brazil, due to the massive deepwater oil resources unearthed by new seismic technologies. More super-giant fields, most of them offshore, have been discovered in Brazil over the past decade than anywhere else in the world. The IEA predicts Brazil's oil production will triple to 6 million barrels per day by 2035, accounting for one-third of the net growth in global oil production and making the South American nation the world's sixth-largest oil producer.
But Brazil is expected to maintain a green energy mix for its own needs.Thanks to its huge hydropower stations and its government-driven drive to promote domestically produced sugarcane ethanol, almost 45 percent of the country's primary energy demand is met by renewable energy, making Brazil's energy sector one of the least carbon-intensive in the world. And by 2035, it will rely on fossil fuels for less than 20 percent of its own energy needs, the IEA projects.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Pompeii-style eruptions preserved ancient beasts in mass-death disasters.
|Photos show entombing poses typical of victims of pyroclastic flows (a, Psittacosaurus; b and c, Confuciusornis).|
Now researchers say they were likely killed by a series of volcanic eruptions more than 120 million years ago. The ash entombed and preserved them, much like the doomed victims of Pompeii.
The finding explains why so many creatures would come to be buried on lake floors, and how they remained well preserved enough to retain signs of soft tissue features, such as feathers, tens of millions of years later.
Monday, February 17, 2014
A Cathedral for HydropowerPhotograph by Toby Smith, Reportage by Getty Images
Water runs through five miles (eight kilometers) of rock tunnels from the Jiulong River to reach this turbine hall built more than four miles into the mountainside. Lined with bedrock, this underground powerhouse in Jiang'an, Sichuan, holds a trio of 110-megawatt turbines for generating hydroelectricity.
Constructed, managed, and operated by CLP Group, the project began commercial operations in late 2011. The energy feeds into Sichuan Province's power grid.
Landlocked Sichuan, which is 1,600 kilometers from the coast and surrounded by mountains, is one of China's leading agricultural regions and also is a major center for hydroelectricity.
Today, China has the largest installed hydro capacity of any country in the world, according to the International Energy Agency, with most hydro stations found here, in the country's central and southern regions.
The image illustrates well the access Smith gained in his effort to document China's energy complex. Over two years of effort to win the trust of the developers, he interviewed directors at many of the sites and toured and photographed freely inside the facilities, even when they were under construction.
Smith has been mapping his photographic projects with the help of an Innovation in Storytelling grant from National Geographic. His work across China covered 11 provinces.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Mummified fossil represents first description of a soft-tissue crest atop a dinosaur's head.
|Illustration courtesy Phil R. Bell, Federico Fanti, Philip J. Currie, and Victoria M. Arbour, Current Biology|
A rare, mummified specimen of the duck-billed dinosaur Edmontosauraus regalis shows for the first time that those dinosaurs' heads were adorned with a fleshy comb, most similar to the roosters' red crest.
The structure above the fossil's head was so unexpected that Phil Bell put his chisel straight through the middle of it. "I was just expecting there to be rock, and all of a sudden there was skin underneath, and I thought to myself, 'Whoops,'" he said. What Bell had found was the first dinosaur fossil with a fleshy crest atop its head.
"We know that lots of dinosaurs had different kinds of head ornaments, but these are all made of bones," said Bell, a paleontologist at the University of New England, Australia. "There's never been any indication that any dinosaurs had something like this, so this was totally out of left field," he said.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
|A large stone slab containing mudcracks and many footprints left by
small theropod dinosaurs, as illustrated in Hitchcock's "Ichnology of
Edward Hitchcock was one of America’s first dedicated dinosaur paleontologists. He just didn’t know it. In fact, during the latter part of his career, he explicitly denied the fact. To Hitchcock, the tracks skittering over red sandstone in the Connecticut Valley were the marks of prehistoric birds from when the Creation was new. Hitchcock could not be dissuaded. As new visions of dinosaurs and the notion of evolution threatened to topple his life’s work, the Amherst natural theologian remained as immutable as the fossil footprints he studied.
... Hitchcock began publishing about the peculiar trace fossils in 1836. He was confident from the very start that they must have been created by prehistoric birds. (He was so enthused by the idea he even wrote poetry about the “sandstone birds.”) No variety of creature matched them better. The word “dinosaur” had not even been invented yet; the British anatomist Richard Owen would establish the term in 1842.
... other paleontologists did not agree with Hitchcock’s interpretation. They argued that the tracks could have been made by some unknown variety of amphibian or reptile. This was not so much because of the anatomy of the tracks—anyone could see that they were made by creatures with bird-like feet—but because no one thought that birds could have lived at so ancient a time or grown large enough to make the biggest, 18-inch tracks Hitchcock described.
... Hitchcock remained steadfast, and his persistence was eventually rewarded with the discovery of the moa. These huge, flightless birds recently lived on New Zealand—they were wiped out more than 500 years ago by humans—and in 1839 Richard Owen rediscovered the birds through a moa thigh bone. He hypothesized that the bone must have belonged to a large, ostrich-like bird, and this idea was soon confirmed by additional skeletal bits and pieces. Some of these ratites stood over nine feet tall. When the news reached Hitchcock in 1843, he was thrilled. If recent birds could grow to such sizes, then prehistoric ones could have been just as large. (And, though Hitchcock died before their discovery, preserved moa tracks have a general resemblance to some of the largest footprints from the Connecticut Valley.) Opinion about the New England tracks quickly changed. There was no longer any reason to doubt Hitchcock’s hypothesis, and paleontologists hoped that moa-like bones might eventually be found to conclusively identify the trackmakers.
Monday, February 10, 2014
About 80 million years ago, the flap of wings in a conifer forest let loose feathers that floated through the air before sticking to globs of shining tree sap.
Researchers in Western Canada have discovered these slicks of solidified sap, known as amber, contain a great variety of dinosaur and bird feathers from the Late Cretaceous period.
They found 11 sets of feathers after screening more than 4,000 amber deposits in different museum collections. The feathers were so well-preserved that the researchers were even able to guess at what colors they might have been. They also contained samples of each of the four stages of feather evolution.