Dinosaur Eating Crocodile

27 Jun 2019

One to wow the kiddiewinks - a dinosaur eating crocodile. Perhaps not as it isn't big enough or fearsome enough - go to https://phys.org/news/2019-06-ancient-croc-preyed-dinosaurs.html ... the partial braincase and jawbone of a new species (or newly named) of crocodile, Isisfordia molnari, was found at Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. It is actually an opalised fossil - associated with opal mining activities. It was found a century ago - and a second one was found 70 years later. It related to modern crocodiles and was around six feet in length. Not too big in relation to some of the dinosaurs. In other words, its prey was small dinosaurs living near water.

It was a more recent discovery near the town of Isisford in Queensland that allowed paleontologists to name the species that had sat on museum shelves for years. Most of the fossils from Lightning Ridge are opalised which means the origianl bone and teeth material had been replaced by opal. Lightning Ridge is an important Australian fossil site and now has a public museum with research facilities. Fossils of dinosaurs and other animals, even plants, have been found opalised. For further information on this see www.australianopalcentre.com/opalised-fossils

Another interesting DNA study in Nature Communications (2019) DOI:10/1038/s41467-019-10628-9 ... (see https://phys.org/news/2019-06-goldilocks-principle-dna.html ... where physics is applied to DNA studies - the so called Goldilocks principle, where a charge cord was used to demonstrate genomic interaction within the nucleus of a cell. Goldilocks, we are told, knew something about porridge. It needed to be just right - neither too hot or too cold. Scientists also know something about DNA. They know that the strands of genetic code, if extended, would measure 2m in length. They also know the strands fold into and move within a cell nucleus the size of about a hundredth of a millimetre. However, they didn't know how or in what state of matter this occurs. Therefore they had a look, inspired by phyics (phase transitions and polymer physics). The published study is the result of what was found on the organisation within the cell. The conditions observed were the Goldilocks principle - the boundary between gel and sol (a solid liquid phase transition). The consistency must be right, like the porridge, for genomic interactions that dictate gene expansion and somatic recombination etc.