Science Briefs : New dinosaur species identified


New dinosaur species identified

South African and Argentinian palaeontologists have identified a previously unknown type of herbivorous dinosaur with cross-shaped foot bones after they re-examined remains found in the 1930s.

The 200-million-year-old bones belong to four dinosaurs of the same species that lived close to the present-day South African border with Lesotho, the University of Cape Town said in a statement.

"This and other recent dinosaur discoveries in Argentina and South Africa are revealing that the diversity of herbivorous dinosaurs in our continents was remarkably high back in the Jurassic, about 190 million years ago, when South America, South Africa and other Southern Hemisphere continents were a single super-continent known as Gondwana," said Dr Jonah Choiniere, a senior researcher in dinosaur palaeobiology.

The dinosaur has been named Sefapanosaurus (above), after the word for cross, sefapano, in the Sesotho language.


This Australian bird communicates meanings A bird in Australia is able to string together sounds and mix them up to communicate different meanings to others, a skill previously attributed only to humans.

The study looked at the chestnut-crowned babbler found in the Australian Outback. Researchers have long known that birds can put together different sounds and patterns for the songs they sing, but these are not believed to hold any meaning, said lead author Sabrina Engesser from the University of Zurich.

"Changing the arrangement of sounds within a song does not seem to alter its overall message," she said.

But the babbler bird does not sing. "Instead, its extensive vocal repertoire is characterised by discrete calls made up of smaller, acoustically distinct individual sounds," she said.

Researchers found that different patterns were used in certain circumstances. For instance, two sounds that scientists named "A" and "B" were combined for a flight call ("AB") and for a feeding call ("BAB"). When the researchers played the sounds back, the birds showed different reactions - such as looking at their nests when they heard a feeding prompt call, and looking out for incoming birds when they heard a flight call, the study said.

"This is the first time that the capacity to generate new meaning from rearranging meaningless elements has been shown to exist outside of humans," said co-author Simon Townsend from the University of Zurich.


Boost productivity? Let workers take short naps

Employees who want to boost their productivity at work should take a nap.

A University of Michigan study has found that taking forty winks may make people less impulsive and less likely to give in to frustration.

Napping, the researchers said, can be a cost-efficient and easy strategy to increase workplace safety, and employees could be more productive if the workplace has nap pods or extended break times.

It has becoming increasingly common for people, especially adults, to not sleep for an entire night, said the university in a statement. This can affect attention and memory.

Results from this latest study indicate that staying awake for an extended period hinders people from controlling negative emotional responses, said the study's lead author, Ms Jennifer Goldschmied.

Compiled by Samantha Boh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2015, with the headline 'Science Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe