The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 27, 2001 · Page 21
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 21

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, April 27, 2001
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Page 21
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THE SALINA JOURNAL SCIENCE FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2001 C7 • DINOSAURS Downy debate Small dinosaur fossil found in China indicates down might have been grown to provide protection from cold weather By RICK CALLAHAN The Associated Press A duck-sized dinosaur fossil unearthed in China last year sports a downy coat from head to tail, bolstering evidence feathers arose first for insulation and not flight, scientists report. The fossil, which likely will stoke the debate over the origin of birds, is the most complete of several found with featherlike features in China in recent years. It is dated between 126 million and 147 million years old. Lying in a slab of petrified mud, the skeleton is fringed with feathery impressions that researchers said were left by talis of down and primitive feathers. One scientist said the downy coat suggests it and other two-legged carnivores called advanced theropods were warm-blooded. "There's strong evidence that these body coverings were originally insulation for warm-blooded dinosaurs and were only later co-opted for flight," said Mark Norell, chairman of the division of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The fossil, which was discovered last year and went on display Wednesday at the New York museum, is described in Thursday's issuq of the journal Nature. Norell said the dinosaur was a dromaeosaur, a sma:ll, swift relative of the vicious Velociraptors portrayed in the film "Jurassic Park." Scientists have not determined if it represents a new species. Feather counter A scientist who examined it last year in Beijing said he saw no evidence of feathers. "To me, it's the best speci- • men yet showing that these structures are not feathers," said Storrs Olson, curator of birds at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. The Associated Press A130 million-year-old fossil dinosaur covered from head to tail with downy fluff and primitive feathers was unveiled Wednesday at the American l\/luseum of Natural History in New York. The fossil, identified as a~ dromaeosaur, a small, fast-running dinosaur closing related to a velociraptor, was unearthed last spring by farmers in China. "There's nothing there that has a structure like a feather." Olson said the featherlike covering could be many things, including impressions of decaying skin or feathery mineral crystals common to many fossils. He also questioned Norell's contention the fossil supports the case that theropods pioneered feathers before ancient birds. Olson notes finds of feathered theropods all appear younger than the earliest-known bird, Ar- chaeopteryx, which had highly advanced feathers. But Norell said that because theropods date back at least 235 million years, they likely developed primitive feathers well before Archaeopteryx, which is about 145 million years old. Olson and a minority of other scientists believe dinosaurs and birds had separate origins, putting them at odds with most scientists' position that birds arose from the small, meat-eating theropods. Herringbone pattern The new fossil was found in northeastern China's Liaon- ing Province, a fossil-rich region where animals were entombed in lake bottoms by volcanic ash. Thomas Holtz Jr., a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland, said he is particularly intrigued by herringbone patterns protruding from the fossil's arms and tail. The patterns suggest structures such as barbs seen in modern feathers were organizing the feather fibers into adjacent rows of parallel lines. The fossil makes it increasingly plausible theropods — including Tyrannosaurus rex — were fluffy and not scaly, at least in their adolescence, Holtz said. "These things were fluffy, probably sort of like a kiwi bird today, from the snout to tail," he said. "Sort of fuzzy killing machines." Richard Prum, curator of birds at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum, predicted the fossil will buoy the theory birds evolved from dinosaurs. "It is now impossible for any credible person to claim that birds are not theropod dinosaurs," he said. "It's the final straw. We've all lived long enough for the dino-deniers to have to face the evidence. This comes as close to proof as we find in science." T SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION New exhibit looks into Lucas' flights of fancy Movie version of 'Starfighter' to be center of attention By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — A mythical "Star Wars" spacecraft took the name of a real jet fighter. And the ongoing fiction that now features the imaginary craft has furnished a nickname for a real anti-missile project. There used to be a real "Starfighter" — the F-104, sometimes called the "man in a missile," that gave the U.S. Air Force its first fighter with twice the speed of sound in the 1950s. An F-104 is normally on permanent show at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, in a section temporarily closed for repairs. The 35-foot chrome-and-yellow "Naboo Royal N-1" Starfighter came nearly half a century later, from the imagination of filmmaker George Lucas, for use in his most re­ cent episode of "Star Wars," called "The Phantom Menace." The Smithsonian opens an exhibit Saturday called "Star Wars: the Art of the Starfight-: er." It centers on the fantasy craft, built in Britain for the filming in 1997. A movie prop, it was never designed to fly or fight. Like similar imaginary vehicles, its shape was adjusted to illustrate episodes in the story One design, an information panel explains, was based on auto hood ornaments of the 1950s. The show will start a four-, year tour of affiliated museums after it closes June 24 in Washington. An earlier Smithsonian exhibit — "Star Wars: the Magic of Myth" — is touring through 2003. It was the original movie that furnished critics with the derisive nickname — "Star Wars" — for President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. President Bush hopes to make a reality of a scaled-back version. The Keyboard Carriage Has Arrived! One Time Only Yamaha Clavinova Truckload Sale! Digital Pianos * F^?,^ delivery/50 ^ $1 ,595 v^^a^'^ 825-6273 / South St. & Clark. Salina / 1 -800-875-6273 FREE BERNINA Free! Imagine that. A free Actlva 130, value $1,399, when you buy an Artista 180E? Yep, that's right. You'll get the finest, most customizable sewing system in the world, the machine accomplished sewers dream of. Plus a free Activa 130 - the perfect machine to help a new generation of sewers experience quality. It's a great gift for a daughter, grandchild or niece. Or even your favorite youth charity. But remember, this great offer only lasts from May 1 to May 31, 2001. So Bring this ad in today. AcrosH fVom GlIiHotiH & K-Mart 340 S. Broadway, Salina (785) 825-0451 • 1-800-864-4451 Mon.-Fri. 9:00-5:30 ElWI^IBM^ Sat. 9;00-5;0Q www.midwestsew.com t4 Pool School ^Wm May 8th, "OW^* 6:30 p.m. Pools Plos of Salina 823-POOL (823-7665) Events oiW^^ '^'Salina Journal Cmnecling communities wilK ir\formalioti Holm Automotive Center, Inc. Abilene, Kansas WWW.h0tMnm9Ma.com Coming Soor^^m to the Hutchinson Mall Island Groov A Cool Store Specializing In Hot t ^'/J M Jamaican Merchandise, f J §y ™ Featuring a full line of Bob Marley products. Also Available: • Flags • Dolls • Knitted Caps • Mesh Shirts For Current, Accurate Weather Information '^'Salina Journal Connecting communities with information The Salina Public Library's Second Annual NovelKansas Presents JIM & KATE LEHRER APRIL 28 • 7:30 - 9:00 P.M. KANSAS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY'S SAMS CHAPEL Come hear these engaging, award- winning authors speak about their experiences and their craft. A book signing will immediately follow. NovelKansas 2001 is sponsored by the Friends of the Salina Public Library, Smoky Hills Public Television, EBC Radio, Cox Communications, Sunflower Bank, Renaissance Cafe, Exline Inc., Ryan Mortuary, Bennington State Bank, PKM Steel and Country Inn & Suites. For more information, call the Ubrary at (785) 825-4624, stop by 301 W. Elm or check our web site at — www.saipubUb.org. SAUNA PUBLIC UBRARY

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