A Couple of Science “Quick Hits”

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

Just thought we’d share a couple of interesting science news bits that we’ve come across lately.

First up: TED, the Twitter Earthquake Detector.

Created by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), TED is a prototype system that tracks Twitter responses to earthquakes. According to the USGS, TED

…gathers real-time, earthquake-related messages from the social networking site Twitter and applies place, time, and key word filtering to gather geo-located accounts of shaking. This approach provides rapid first-impression narratives and, potentially, photos from people at the hazard’s location. The potential for earthquake detection in populated but sparsely seismicly-instrumented regions is also being investigated.

Pretty cool.

Closer to home, and sure to please all you dinosaur fans out there, is news from the Morrison Natural History Museum about the discovery of a set of tracks believed to have been left by juvenile sauropods — running.

The find was revealed at Monday’s 2010 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver (read the abstract here). If this interpretation holds up, it most likely represents the first evidence that these massive, long-necked herbivores locomoted at anything other than a leisurely saunter. Plus, the lack of foreleg prints and tail marks indicates that young sauropods may have run on their hindlegs, holding their tails off the ground.

Some people are saying the sauropods may have run like this guy,

Basilisk lizard running

while others argue that the way sauropod legs are positioned under their bodies would make that style of running impossible. Further analysis of the paper and the tracks will tell us more.

Read about it here: Dinosaur footprints yield clues to running behavior and here: Did wee little sauropods stand up to run?

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