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Newly named dinosaur species named largest land animal of its time

Newly named dinosaur species named largest land animal of its time

Science
Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Paleontologists have discovered a new giant dinosaur species in South Africa's Free State Province. The plant-eating dinosaur weighed 12 metric tons and stood more than 13 feet tall at the hip, roughly twice the size of an African elephant. Scientists named the species Ledumahadi mafube, Sesotho for "a giant thunderclap at dawn." The Sesotho language is indigenous to the region where the species was discovered. "The name reflects the great size of the animal as well as the fact that its lineage appeared at the origins of sauropod dinosaurs," Jonah Choiniere, a professor of paleontology at South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand, said in a news release. "It honors both the recent and ancient heritage of southern Africa." The proportions of the newly named species r...
Extinct Madagascan species named 'world's largest bird'

Extinct Madagascan species named 'world's largest bird'

Science
Sept. 26 (UPI) -- After decades of disagreement and debate, scientists have agreed to name Vorombe titan, an extinct Madagascan species, the "world's largest bird." Some 12,000 years ago, Madagascar was home to several colossal, flightless bird species, dubbed elephant birds. The birds belong to the family Aepyornithidae, but disagreements over the structure of the family tree has led to confusion over which of the species deserved the title of world's largest bird. Through the years, various studies have described the existence of 15 different species of elephant birds belonging to two different genera. The latest research -- published this week in the journal Royal Society Open Science -- suggests there are only four distinct elephant bird species. The four species belonging to three ge...
New small, neon fish species discovered

New small, neon fish species discovered

Science
Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Scientists aren't sure how a fish this brightly colored went undiscovered for so long. But it did. Tosanoides aphrodite, a new coral fish species, was described for the first time this week in the journal ZooKeys. Scientists discovered the neon species among the reefs of St. Paul's Rocks, an archipelago off the coast of Brazil. Perhaps it is the species' remote home in the middle of the equatorial Atlantic that made the fish so elusive. But once scientists spotted the bright pink, yellow and green fish, they couldn't look away. "This is one of the most beautiful fishes I've ever seen," Luiz Rocha, curator of fishes at the California Academy of Sciences, said in a news release. "It was so enchanting it made us ignore everything around it." Genetic analysis confirmed the ...
Prickly cactus species 'under threat'

Prickly cactus species 'under threat'

Science
The iconic cactus plant is veering into trouble say researchers. The most serious problem is illegal smuggling. Despite the international ban on uncontrolled trade in cacti, policing the smuggling faces many problems and semi-professional hunters continue to uproot plants to order, stealing from National Parks, Indian Reservations, but more significantly from the wild.In southern Spain, the plants are being devastated by the cochineal beetle. But the picture there is mirrored across other regions of the world.As Anton Brugger strides purposefully around his plantation set on the side of a steep hill in Almeria, southern Spain, he casts his gaze over the more than 10,000 cacti artfully arranged in terraces over two hectares."When ...
African killifish matures faster than any vertebrate species

African killifish matures faster than any vertebrate species

Science
Aug. 6 (UPI) -- New research suggests no vertebrate species matures as quickly as Africa's turquoise killifish. The tiny fish persist for most of the year as diapausing embryos buried in savannah sediments. Like dormant plant seeds, the embryos suspend their development until rains arrive. When rains finally do arrive and water pools in small depressions, the fish are on the clock. They must hatch, grow and reproduce before the pools dry up. When scientists surveyed turquoise killifish, Nothobranchius furzeri, populations in southern Mozambique, they found the tiny fish hatch, grow and begin reproducing in just two weeks. "We guessed that some populations of this species could achieve very rapid growth and sexual maturation under particular conditions," Martin Reichard, researcher at the...