Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Science News Roundup: Stuff that caught my eye this week

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Sun Struck

The web has many fabulous things on it. Too many to include in one little post each week. One of the most fabulous I found this week is a site run by the Helioviewer Project at NASA Goddard where you can view and potentially make videos of activity on the sun’s surface. On Tuesday, the Helioviewer Project captured video of a massive solar flare and they have been kind enough to share it.┬áIf you prefer your solar flare videos with commentary, check out Geeked on Goddard.

One Big Happy Family

Dog adopts ducklings, or is it the other way around? Story (and several ridiculously cute photos) here.

One Step Closer to Solving Pesky Dino Mystery

The book Did Dinosaurs Eat Pizza? (reviewed yesterday) talks about the fact that scientists haven’t yet figured out how to tell whether a dinosaur is male or female. This month scientists have come one step closer to figuring it out, thanks to a new study of 50 Kentrosaurus aethiopicus femurs (thigh bones) conducted by paleontologists Susannah Maidment and Holly Barden and published in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Image Credit: Gunnar Ries Amphibol

Their hypothesis: The muscles that attach to bones affect the shape of those bones. Therefore, you can use the differences in the shape of the bones to calculate relative muscle mass, even though the muscles themselves no longer exist. And any differences in muscle mass could be a clue to gender.

Sure enough, the two scientists identified differences in the top of the thigh bones (where the muscles that attached the dinosaur’s thighs to its hips would have been) and were able to use those differences to classify the bones into two different gender groups. So now they have two heaps of bones, one of which they are pretty sure is male and the other female. They just aren’t sure which is which. Still, it’s progress.

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