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In 2009, a team of scientists from the University of Alberta discovered a dinosaur.

Really.


GIF from "Jurassic Park."

OK, OK, it was just a partial skeleton of a dinosaur. But it was remarkably well-preserved.

It was unearthed in a fossil-rich area known as Dinosaur Provincial Park. This particular specimen's head and arms were missing, so, at the time, the team of paleontologists decided it was less of a priority than some of the other uncovered fossils and shelved it.

A few years later, the team handed it off to undergraduate student Aaron van der Reest to see if there was anything worth exploring further. You know, just in case.

These aren't van der Reest's hands, but you get the picture. Photo by iStock.

Just minutes into the project, van der Reest made a monumental discovery: well-preserved dinosaur feathers.

The team had discovered the skeleton of an Ornithomimus (Latin for "bird mimic"), a dinosaur that lived over 75 million years ago. The Ornithomimus stood over two meters tall, but more than that, it had fine feathers covering its neck, back, and tail. Its legs, however, were completely bare.

Artists rendering of Ornithomimus based on the fossil findings. Illustration by Julius Csotonyi, used with permission.

Many scientists believe birds and dinosaurs have a biological connection and this finding is one more piece of prehistoric proof.

To date, scientists have discovered three Ornithomimus skeletons, but the discovery of such well-preserved soft tissue and feathers makes this a rare and exemplary specimen. After years of extensive preparation and additional research, the team (lead by van der Reest) published their analysis of the feathers last week.

The Ornithomimus was a fast-moving, flightless creature. Why did it have feathers?

The paleontologists examined the feathers under an electron microscope and discovered a structure that is very similar to a modern-day ostrich feather.

Photo by iStock.

Like the Ornithomimus, ostriches are fast-moving, can't fly, and have bare legs. They use their feathers as an efficient way to regulate their body temperature. Van der Reest and his team believe that Ornithomimus most likely used its feathers in the same way.

While it's widely acknowledged birds and dinosaurs have an evolutionary connection, this discovery provides proof of an important missing link.

"By knowing that this method [of temperature regulation] was being used so early in the origins of birds we can get important insight into the evolution of temperature control in large ground-dwelling birds like ostriches and emus," van der Reest told the Huffington Post.

An emu. Not to be confused with en e-moo which is a text from a cow. Photo by iStock.

Birds are thought to have descended from carnivorous predators like Archaeopteryx, and Hesperornis, due to their bone shape and egg features. But this breakthrough suggests there may be a common ancestor at the top of the avian family tree.

Hats off to van der Reest for turning a seemingly ordinary undergraduate project into a seriously awesome dino-discovery!

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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