A college student found prehistoric proof of an evolutionary connection between dinosaurs and birds.

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!

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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