Thursday, January 31, 2013


Researchers have discovered a new species of feathered but flightless little dinosaur from the Jurassic period.

Remains of the tiny beast, dubbed Eosinopteryxbrevipenna, found in northeastern China suggest it was slightly less than a foot long (30 centimeters) and had a short snout and a short tail. Based on the dinosaur's small wingspan and bone structure, researchers believe it would have been able to run around quite easily, but likely couldn't whip up enough of a wing-beat to fly. The dinosaur also sported toes that would have been suitable for walking along the ground, the researchers added.
This birdlike dinosaur's plumage was much more reduced compared with the feathers on some of its contemporaries, which suggests that feathering was already diversified by the Late Jurassic, adapted to different ecological niches and purposes, the researchers said. (The Jurassic period lasted from about 199.6 million to 145.5 million years ago.)

"Our findings suggest that the origin of flight was much more complex than previously thought."
"This discovery sheds further doubt on the theory that the famous fossil Archaeopteryx — or 'first bird' as it is sometimes referred to — was pivotal in the evolution of modern birds," researcher Gareth Dyke, a senior lecturer in paleontology at the U.K.'s University
 of Southampton, said in a statement.
Archaeopteryx was long thought by many to have been the earliest bird. Discovered in 1860 in Germany, it is sometimes referred to as Urvogel, the German word for "original bird" or "first bird." But recent findings suggest late-stage Jurassic Archaeopteryx was actually just a relative of the lineage that ultimately gave rise to birds.
The new research was detailed in the Jan. 22 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Amazing Nature Shots

Let's start January 30th with a few pics that demonstrate the photographer was at the right place and at the right time.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cookiecutter Shark
Top of the morning to you.  We are back for a few days off the road.  Hope I can get the ole blog updated more often.  Enjoy news from the ocean!

Two pictures of the great white shark with bite and scar inflicted by a cookiecutter shark. To the right of the fresh bite (arrow) is a suspected crescent-shaped scar from an earlier bite.
Douglas MainOur Amazing Planet
Cookiecutter sharks aren't very neighborly. Like most sharks (or any marine animal, for that matter), cookiecutters roam the ocean looking for food. But unlike typical meat eaters, these sharks don't kill their prey — they just take a bite and move on.
And for the first time, scientists have found evidence that these small sharks even go after one of the world's most fearsome predators, the great white shark. Great whites are about 10 times the size of a cookiecutter shark.
"Animals at the top of the food chain can still get attacked by things a lot smaller than them," Papastamatiou told OurAmazingPlanet.Divers in a shark tank off of Guadalupe Island, which is about 150 miles (240 kilometers) west of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, took a photograph of a great white sporting a fresh bite from a cookiecutter, as documented in the journal Pacific Science. It's the first photographic evidence of such a bite, said study author Yannis Papastamatiou, a marine biologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Cookiecutter sharks leave a very distinctive scar when they bite; their specialized jaw allows them to "scoop out a hemispherical plug of flesh from their prey," according to the study. The sharks' name comes from the uniformity of the bite, which looks "like you took a cookie cutter to some dough," Papastamatiou said. "'Ice-cream-scoop shark' would be technically more accurate, but it doesn't have quite the same ring to it."
The sharks have been known to prey on a wide variety of marine animals, including swordfish, whales, orcas and even a human swimmer — and now, great white sharks. "This really shows there's no marine predator that can't be attacked by this little shark, which is impressive," he said. Scientists don't think bites from the cookiecutters can seriously harm these large predators. 
The cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis) can grow up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) long, while great whites can reach lengths of nearly 20 feet (6 meters), according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Cookiecutter sharks range throughout the world in tropical and subtropical waters. They often dive during the day and come near the surface at night. One specimen was caught at a depth of 9,840 feet (3,000 meters), Papastamatiou said.
But how wise is it to attack large predator 10 times your size? There's almost no evidence of how often the cookiecutter's bold strategy fails, Papastamatiou said. However, researchers found one cookiecutter shark in the stomach of a large bluefin tuna,  suggesting the tactic isn't foolproof.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I love Frogs!

Christine Dell'Amore
Published January 14, 2013
Scientists have stumbled across a new species of flying frog—on the ground.
While hiking a lowland forest in 2009, not far from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, "we came across a huge green frog, sitting on a log," said Jodi Rowley, an amphibian biologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney and lead author of a new study on the frog.
Rowley later discovered that the 3.5-inch-long (9-centimeter-long) creature is a relatively large new type of flying frog, a group known for its ability to "parachute" from tree to tree thanks to special aerodynamic adaptations, such as webbed feet, Rowley said.
Rowley dubbed the new species Helen's flying frog, in honor of her mother, Helen Rowley, "who has steadfastly supported her only child trekking through the forests of Southeast Asia in search of frogs," according to a statement.
The newfound species—there are 80 types of flying frogs—is also "one of the most flying frogs of the flying frogs," Rowley said, "in that it's got huge hands and feet that are webbed all the way to the toepad."
"Females even have flappy skin on their forearms to glide," added Rowley, who has received funding from the National Geographic Committee on Research and Exploration. "The females are larger and heavier than males, so the little extra flaps probably don't make much of a difference," she said.
As Rowley wrote on her blog, "At first it may seem strange that such a fantastic and obvious frog could escape discovery until now—less than 100 kilometers [60 miles] from an urban center with over nine million people."
Yet these tree dwellers can easily escape notice—they spend most of their time in the canopy, she said.
Flying Frog on the Edge
Even so, Helen's flying frog won't be able to hide from development near Ho Chi Minh City, which may encroach on its existing habitats.
So far, only five individuals have been found in two patches of lowland forest hemmed in by rice paddies in southern Vietnam, Rowley said. The animals can probably tolerate a little bit of disturbance as long as they have large trees and temporary pools, she added.
But lowland forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world, mostly because they're so accessible to people, and thus chosen for logging and development.
"While Helen's flying frog has only just been discovered by biologists," Rowley wrote, "unfortunately this species, like many others, is under great threat from ongoing habitat loss and degradation."
The new flying frog study was published in December 2012 in the Journal of Herpitology.   

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Can Spring Be Far Away?

Here it is January 17th and the Lenten Roses are getting ready to bloom.  These are in our side garden.  I love the flowers! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Love Sarah's Post on Facebook!

Sarah Meads Dodson

Nate (3 yrs): There is a bee in my cereal!

Me: Seriously?!?! Hold on! Don't move!

Nate: I'm going to eat it!


*looks in bowl*

This kid continues to make me smile!...and keeps us on our toes! ♥
 — with Jeff Dodson.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New session

This past Sunday the Glenville Presbyterian Church installed new Session members.  The Session is the local administrative church council. The new members from left to right are David Millard  Pastor Charlie Ringe, Jim Meads, Ida Mills, and Kathy Gilbert.

Monday, January 14, 2013

 Christmas 2012 (well 2013!)

Sorry I have been lax on blogging lately.  As many of you know, we have had many adventures the last few months.  Hopefully things will settle down, but I am not banking on it!   

It was difficult to find a date in December when we could celebrate our family Christmas.  Our Christmas was finally scheduled January 5, 2013 at Sarah's and Jeff's.  As seen above, Grandma Great Meads was present.  At 88 she is so important in our lives.

The Dodson household provided food from Muriel's Italian Restaurant in Fairmont.  It was certainly yummy!

After lunch, we exchanged gifts.  Grandma Great gave all the grand kids mechanical animals as a gift.  Nate loved his bunny.

Lucy opened her kitten.

Flora received a baby bear complete with milk bottle.

All the kids received a plethora of books.  Grandma Meads saw to it that many books would be available throughout the year to each of the grand kids.  Reading is so important.

Nate received from Grandpa and Grandma a Spooner board which helps develop balance.  Sam had to try Nate's board.

The grand gals received roller skates.  It was fun to watch them tryng to balance themselves.

Sam received from us a skateboard.  He will catch onto this mode of transportation very fast.

It was, as always, a blessed time!