November 2019

Fukuipteryx prima fossil (Image courtesy Imai et al)

An article published in the journal “Communications Biology” reports the identification of a bird that lived about 120 million years ago, in the Cretaceous period, that was named Fukuipteryx prima. A team of researchers led by Dr. Takuya Imai examined a partial skeleton discovered in today’s Japan noting some features similar to those of the famous Archeopteryx. It’s one of the most primitive birds discovered, particularly outside China, and offers information on the evolution of flight thanks also to its preservation in three dimensions.

Paul McGann in 2015

Paul John McGann was born on November 14, 1959 in Liverpool, England. Paul McGann studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He doesn’t come from a family of actors but his three brothers have become actors as well.

In 1996 the “Doctor Who” TV movie was released in which Paul McGann played the Eighth Doctor. It was a BBC co-production with Universal Studios and Fox Broadcasting Network which aimed to revive the famous show, which was canceled in 1989. The high ratings in Great Britain but low in the USA led to Fox’s giving up its option to start a new series. Despite this, it wasn’t the end of McGann’s experience linked to the saga.

Danuvius guggenmosi fossil bones offer clues to the evolution of bipedal posture

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports a study on fossils of an ape species that was named Danuvius guggenmosi that lived about 11.6 million years ago, during the Miocene period, in today’s Bavaria. A team of researchers led by Professor Madelaine Böhme of the Eberhard-Karls-Universität of Tübingen examined bones belonging to at least four individuals that combine adaptations of bipeds and apes that hang from tree. This suggests that the ancestors of today’s humans and apes had that kind of characteristics and bipedal locomotion evolved in species that still lived at least partially on trees.

Dawn by Octavia Butler (Italian edition)

The novel “Dawn” by Octavia Butler was published for the first time in 1987. It’s the first book in the Xenogenesis trilogy, also known as Lilith’s Brood.

When Lilith awakens in what appears to be a prison cell, she thinks that little time has passed since the atomic war that devastated the Earth. A voice asks her questions that sometimes seem meaningless to her and that goes on for a time she can’t evaluate. Her confusion turns into panic when she’s visited in person by a clearly non-human being.

Lilith is explained that the atomic war brought humanity to the brink of extinction but the Oankali, as the aliens call themselves, managed to save a small amount of humans by taking them to the large alien spaceship, where Lilith remained for 250 years in suspended animation. The humans deemed suitable will be trained and returned to Earth to revive it but their children will be partly aliens.

Hydrothermal vent in the Urashima site (Photo courtesy Submarine Ring of Fire 2014 - Ironman, NSF/NOAA, Jason, Copyright WHOI)

An article published in the journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” reports the creation of protocells in warm and alkaline salt water that replicate the conditions of the hydrothermal vents existing in deep seas. A team of researchers led by University College London (UCL) took a step forward in research into the origin of life on Earth by bringing new clues that hydrothermal vents are the place where the first life forms emerged. In fact, they proved the possible formation of protocells starting from compounds existing in that environment and in those environmental conditions.