Ethiopian opal geode
That’s an egg.
THAT’S A DRAGON EGG YOU JUST KILLED A BABY DRAGON
GREAT NEWS! Researchers have developed a new reconstructive procedure that uses lab-grown cartilage instead of borrowed cartilage from ribs or ears to reconstruct noses, and have performed the first reconstructive nasal surgery using engineered tissue. The method is less invasive and can also be used to engineer cartilage for eyelids or ear reconstruction procedures.
Read more: http://bit.ly/P4s8A8 via Smithsonian Magazine
Image: Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel
The mineral heliotrope, also known as bloodstone, is a form of chalcedony. The “classic” bloodstone is green chalcedony with red inclusions of iron oxide or red jasper. Sometimes the inclusions are yellow, in which case the mineral is given the name plasma. The red inclusions are supposed to resemble spots of blood; hence the name “bloodstone”.
The thick-headed Lizard, Pachycephalosaurus (1931)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Ornithischia
Family : Pachycephalosauridae
Genus : Pachycephalosaurus
Species : P. wyomingensis
As befits a dinosaur named after its massive skull—which was 10 inches thick on the front and forward side of its head—most of what we know about Pachycephalosaurus is based on skull specimens. Still, that hasn’t kept paleontologists from making educated guesses: it’s believed that Pachycephalosaurus had a squat, thick trunk, five-fingered hands, and an upright stance. This dinosaur has given its name to an entire breed of odd-looking boneheads, the pachycephalosaurs, other famous examples of which include Dracorex hogwartsia and Stygimoloch (the “horned demon from the river of hell”).
Why did Pachycephalosaurus have such a thick skull? As with most such anatomical quirks in the animal kingdom, the popular explanation is that the males of this genus (and possibly the females as well) evolved big skulls because they head-butted each other for dominance and the right to mate; they may also have gently, or not so gently, butted their heads against the tender flanks of menacing tyrannosaurs and raptors. Whatever the case, Pachycephalosaurus’ block-shaped bean clearly didn’t protect it from extinction; this was one of the last dinosaurs on earth when a meteor impact 65 million years ago rendered the entire breed extinct.
As with another family of ornamented dinosaurs, the ceratopsians, there’s a fair amount of confusion about pachycephalosaurs in general (and Pachycephalosaurus in particular) at the genus and species level. It may well be the case that many “diagnosed” genera of pachycephalosaurs actually represent the growth stages of already-named species; for example, both Dracorex and Stygimoloch may well turn out to belong under the Pachycephalosaurus umbrella (which will no doubt be a major disappointment to Harry Potter fans!).
Pair of bluebirds captured by
This is the colourful candy-striped land snail (Liguus virgineus), and it’s only found on Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba. For years its colourful shell made a popular souvenir for travellers visiting these Caribbean islands, but now a law forbids people from harvesting the shells and selling them.
Top photo credit: Miguel A. Landestoy