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The 75-million-year-old MEGA TURTLE: Fossilised bones reveal enormous scale of ancient sea reptile

By Sarah Griffiths

  • An amateur palaeontologist discovered the ‘new’ fossil, which is half of a humerus, in Monmouth County, New Jersey in 2012
  • It matched the other half of a fossil that was discovered 162 years previously and has been kept at Drexel University, in Philadelphia
  • Until 2012 the ‘first’ half of the fossil was the only type specimen of the genus and species – Atlantochelys mortoni – an ancient sea turtle
  • The turtle lived between 70 million and 75 million years ago and measured over 10ft long. It is thought to have resembled a modern loggerhead turtle
Luck plays a part in most discoveries of ancient artefacts and bones.

And one amateur palaeontologist has discovered a 75million-year-old giant turtle bone that matches another in a remote museum found over 160 years before.

The perfect match proves the existence of a giant sea turtle measuring 10ft (3 metres) long, making it the largest of its kind ever known.

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The two partial limb fossils from the ancient sea turtle Atlantochelys mortoni fit together perfectly. The two halves were discovered at least 163 years apart, defying conventional wisdom that most fossils break down after weeks or months of surface exposure. The distal half (left) was discovered in 2012 and the proximal half (right) has been at Drexel University for more than a century

The two partial limb fossils from the ancient sea turtle Atlantochelys mortoni fit together perfectly. The two halves were discovered at least 163 years apart, defying conventional wisdom that most fossils break down after weeks or months of surface exposure. The distal half (left) was discovered in 2012 and the proximal half (right) has been at Drexel University for more than a century

 

ATLANTOCHELYS MORTONI

  • Until 2012 just one fossil proved the existence of the ancient giant sea turtle, Atlantochelys mortoni.
  • The animal was about 10ft from tip to tail, making it one of the largest sea turtles ever known.
  • The species may have resembled modern loggerhead turtles, but was much larger than any sea turtle species alive today.
  • The giant sea turtle is one of very few species so ancient that it watched dinosaurs evolve and become extinct.
  • Experts believe that the entire unbroken bone was originally embedded in sediment during the Cretaceous Period, 70 to 75 million years ago, when the turtle lived and died.

Amateur palaeontologist Gregory Harpel discovered the bone on an embankment upstream of his usual fossil-hunting haunt in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he was searching for fossilised shark teeth.

The chemist from Oreland, Pennsylvania, said: ‘I picked it up and thought it was a rock at first – it was heavy’.

He realised that the fossil was more scientifically significant than shark teeth and took it to the experts at the New Jersey State Museum, to which he ultimately donated his find.

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David Parris, the museum’s curator of natural history and Jason Schein, his assistant, immediately recognised the fossil as a humerus – the large upper arm bone – from a turtle, but its shaft was broken so that only the distal end – the end nearest to the elbow – remained.

Dr Parris thought the fossil looked strangely familiar and joked to Dr Schein that perhaps it was the missing half of a different large, partial turtle limb housed in the collections at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia.

That bone also had a broken shaft, but only its proximal end, nearest to the shoulder, remained, so the coincidence was striking.

 

Discovered centuries apart, two turtle bones amazingly match

Based on the complete fossilised limb, experts have calculated the animal's overall size to be about 10ft from tip to tail, making it one of the largest sea turtles ever known. It may have resembled modern loggerhead turtles. In this illustration, it is depicted with the outline of a human diver to indicate scale. The turtle lived 70 to 75 million years ago

Based on the complete fossilised limb, experts have calculated the animal’s overall size to be about 10ft from tip to tail, making it one of the largest sea turtles ever known. It may have resembled modern loggerhead turtles. In this illustration, it is depicted with the outline of a human diver to indicate scale. The turtle lived 70 to 75 million years ago

 

‘As soon as those two halves came together, like puzzle pieces, you knew it,’ said Dr Ted Daeschler, associate curator of vertebrate zoology and vice president for collections at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

The discovery, which was made in 2012, linked scientists from both museums to their predecessors from the 19th century, according to the study in the forthcoming 2014 issue of the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Dr Schein said: ‘I didn’t think there was any chance in the world they [the two fossils] would actually fit.’

That’s because the Academy’s fossil was initially thought to be too old as palaeontologists expect that fossils found in exposed strata of rock will break down from exposure to the elements if they are not collected and preserved, at least within a few years, or a decade at the longest.

There was no reason to think a lost half of the same old bone would survive intact and exposed in a stream bed from at least the time of the old bone’s first scientific description in 1849, they said.

The Academy’s bone was also without a match of any kind, making a perfect match seem even more farfetched.

Amateur palaeontologist Gregory Harpel discovered the bone on an embankment upstream of his usual fossil-hunting haunt in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he was searching for fossilised shark teeth

Amateur palaeontologist Gregory Harpel discovered the bone on an embankment upstream of his usual fossil-hunting haunt in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he was searching for fossilised shark teeth

 

A 3-D scan of the two broken turtle limb fossils from Atlantocheyls mortoni shows a detailed view of their surfaces (pictured). Paleontologists from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and from the New Jersey State Museum concluded that these two fossils came from the same animal, despite being discovered separately at least 163 years apart

A 3-D scan of the two broken turtle limb fossils from Atlantocheyls mortoni shows a detailed view of their surfaces (pictured). Paleontologists from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and from the New Jersey State Museum concluded that these two fossils came from the same animal, despite being discovered separately at least 163 years apart

It was originally named and described by 19th century naturalist Louis Agassiz as the first, or type specimen, of its genus and species, Atlantochelys mortoni.

It remained the only known fossil specimen from that genus and species until 2012 when Dr Schein carried the ‘new’ New Jersey fossil to the Academy in Philadelphia, bringing the two halves together.

 

‘Sure enough, you have two halves of the same bone, the same individual of this giant sea turtle,’ said Dr Daeschler.

‘One half was collected at least 162 years before the other half.’

Now scientists are revising their conventional wisdom to say that, sometimes, exposed fossils can survive longer than previously thought.

Dr Schein said: ‘The astounding confluence of events that had to have happened for this to be true is just unbelievable and probably completely unprecedented in palaeontology.’

The fully assembled humerus now gives the scientists more information about the massive sea turtle it came from as well.

The 70 to 75million-year-old species may have resembled modern loggerhead turtles (pictured), but was much larger than any sea turtle species alive today, at around 10ft long

The 70 to 75million-year-old species may have resembled modern loggerhead turtles (pictured), but was much larger than any sea turtle species alive today, at around 10ft long

 

With a complete limb, they have calculated that the animal was about 10ft from tip to tail, making it one of the largest sea turtles ever known.

The species may have resembled modern loggerhead turtles, but was much larger than any sea turtle species alive today.

Experts believe that the entire unbroken bone was originally embedded in sediment during the Cretaceous Period, 70 to 75 million years ago, when the turtle lived and died.

They think that sediments eroded and the bone fractured millions of years later during the Pleistocene or Holocene, before the bone pieces became embedded in sediments and protected from further deterioration for perhaps a few thousand more years until their discovery.

– “DM”


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French satellite spots 122 objects up to 75ft long in Indian Ocean that could be debris from doomed Malaysian airline

By Ted Thornhill and Richard Shears

  • Images were captured on March 23 and show debris 1,550 miles from Perth
  • Potential debris field measures 155 square miles (400 square kilometres)
  • It follows reports the doomed flight climbed to 43,000ft moments before disappearing from radar

New satellite images have revealed 122 objects in the southern Indian Ocean that could be debris from the Malaysian jetliner missing since March 8 with 239 people on board, Malaysia’s acting transport minister said.

The find has dramatically narrowed the search area, with the debris spotted across an area measuring just 155 square miles (400 square kilometres).

In the past few days the search area has measured around 622,000 square miles.

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Debris field: The satellite has found objects in a 155 square-mile area

Debris field: The satellite has found objects in a 155 square-mile area

 

Breakthrough: Malaysia's Defense Minister and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows a printout of the latest satellite image of objects that might be from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane

Breakthrough: Malaysia’s Defense Minister and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows a printout of the latest satellite image of objects that might be from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane

Focus of air and sea assets: A map of the areas already searched and the planned search areas in the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, on Wednesday

Focus of air and sea assets: A map of the areas already searched and the planned search areas in the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, on Wednesday

 

 

 

Intense search: The Commanding Officer of the Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Success, Captain Allison Norris, on the bridge during the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

Intense search: The Commanding Officer of the Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Success, Captain Allison Norris, on the bridge during the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

 

Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference that the images were captured by France-based Airbus Defence and Space on March 23.

They are the fourth set of satellite images to show potential debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in a remote part of the Indian Ocean roughly 2,500 km (1,550 miles) south west of Perth.

The objects are believed to be solid and range from one metre to 23 metres (three to 75 feet) long.

It is understood some pieces of debris are ‘bright’ but authorities have not confirmed whether they are from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Meanwhile, the pilot of MH370 was distraught over his wife’s decision to move out of their family home and could have taken the plane for a ‘last joyride’ before it crashed into the southern Indian Ocean killing all 239 people on board, according to a long-time friend of the pilot.

The friend, also a pilot, said Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah had been left rattled by his family problems, and didn’t appear to be in the right state of mind to be flying. He warned that it was ‘very possible that neither the passengers nor the other crew on-board knew what was happening until it was too late’.

‘He’s one of the finest pilots around and I’m no medical expert, but with all that was happening in his life Zaharie was probably in no state of mind to be flying,’ he told the NZ Herald on the condition of anonymity.

While his professional record appeared impeccable, Captain Zaharie’s long-time friend said the pilot’s personal life was in turmoil. He said his friend’s relationships were breaking down, and while Zaharie was involved with another woman he was still devastated at his wife’s decision to move out of their family home.

He said the troubled pilot could have seen MH370 as an opportunity to try high-risk maneuvers he’d perfected on his beloved flight simulator.

These shocking new claims follow reports that flight MH370 climbed to between 43,000 and 45,000ft shortly after the last voice communication from the cockpit of the plane.

Scouring the ocean: Royal Australian Air Force airborne electronics analyst Sergeant Samuel Carson uses the advanced camera systems on board an AP-C3 Orion aircraft to search for evidence of MH370

Scouring the ocean: Royal Australian Air Force airborne electronics analyst Sergeant Samuel Carson uses the advanced camera systems on board an AP-C3 Orion aircraft to search for evidence of MH370

 

'Last joyride': A close friend says Captain Zaharie was upset over the breakdown of his marriage, and wasn't in the right frame of mind to fly

‘Last joyride’: A close friend says Captain Zaharie was upset over the breakdown of his marriage, and wasn’t in the right frame of mind to fly

Virtual reality: A close friend of Captain Zaharie says the pilot might have seen MH370 as a chance to try things he'd only previously been able to try on his simulator

Virtual reality: A close friend of Captain Zaharie says the pilot might have seen MH370 as a chance to try things he’d only previously been able to try on his simulator

 

Devastated: A relative of the Chinese passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 grieves after being told the flight ended in southern Indian Ocean

Devastated: A relative of the Chinese passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 grieves after being told the flight ended in southern Indian Ocean

Mourning: High school students hold candles during a vigil for passengers of the missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370 in Lianyungang, China

Mourning: High school students hold candles during a vigil for passengers of the missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370 in Lianyungang, China

The worst news: Ayu Suliasti, daughter of the Indonesian couple Sugianto and Vinny Chynthya Tio, shows pictures of her parents who were passengers on the missing plane

The worst news: Ayu Suliasti, daughter of the Indonesian couple Sugianto and Vinny Chynthya Tio, shows pictures of her parents who were passengers on the missing plane

 

 

An aviation industry source, who wished to remain anonymous, told MailOnline: ‘It was tracked flying at this altitude for 23 minutes before descending. Oxygen would have run out in 12 minutes [in a depressurised cabin], rendering the passengers unconscious.’

The 777-200ER Boeing aircraft used on the ill-fated flight has a maximum service ceiling of 43,000 feet and can very probably fly safely at even greater heights, one expert said.

But at this altitude, where the atmosphere drastically thins, it would take mere minutes if not seconds for hypoxia – a lack of oxygen – to set in if the cabin was manually depressurised by one of the pilots, as seen in the below video of a high-altitude experiment.

Oxygen masks would have dropped down, but these only supply between five and 10 minutes of gas.

Central Queensland University’s head of aviation, Ron Bishop, told MailOnline that a drop in cabin pressure that had knocked out passengers and crew would mean the plane would fly on unmanned until eventually running out of fuel and crashing into ocean.

‘You’d just slowly pass out. But it would have no effect on the plane at all,’ he said.

‘The plane would just keep going until it eventually ran out of fuel.

‘That would explain it all. That plane flew on a very long time, all the way from South East Asia to near the west coast of Australia.’

 

The search continues: Crews aboard HMAS Success had again reached the debris field today

The search continues: Crews aboard HMAS Success had again reached the debris field today

Hypobaric chamber: simulating the effects of high altitude

 

 

BRITISH ENGINEER HAS REVEALED THE TERRIFYING MOMENT AN ENGINE ON HIS FLIGHT CAUGHT FIRE AT 10,000FT ABOVE MALAYSIA

A British engineer has revealed the terrifying moment an engine on his flight caught fire at 10,000ft above Malaysia.

Alan Harper, 68, from Saltash, Cornwall, was one of 70 passengers flying from Kuala Lumpar’s Subang airport to Kuala Terengganu at about 7.30am on Tuesday morning local time.

About ten minutes into the Malindo Air flight Mr Harper, who runs a manufacturing firm and was visiting on a business trip, realised one of the plane’s engines had stalled.

Speaking from Malaysia, he said: ‘We were at about 10,000ft and still climbing. I said to my friend “we just lost an engine”.

‘I looked out of the window and saw flames coming from the cowling on the port side. I called the flight attendant over and said “could you please go to the captain and tell him the engine is on fire”.

‘She looked out and her face went as white as a sheet.

‘The fire started to blister and warp the engine cowels for at least five minutes whilst we lost height.’

The plane turned back towards Subang and ten minutes later was greeted by a fleet of firefighters back at the airport as the passengers were evacuated.

‘The fire appeared to go out but we were watching it, afraid it would catch fire again,’ Mr Harper said.

‘There were fire crews chasing us down the runway and we managed to taxi in to the gate and get out with our bags. We were scared, I thought “this is it”.’

Members of the Terengganu football team were among the passengers, on their way home after a match in Selayang.

Mr Harper and his fellow passengers were eventually able to get another flight to reach their destination.

‘Very few passengers actually realised the engine was on fire, so there was no real panic in the cabin, but the people I was with were very scared,’ Mr Harper said.

‘I was sitting next to my colleague’s wife, they had just left their children and she was very shaken.

We thought it was possibly the end. At 10,000ft when you see flames coming out of the engine that is very bad.

‘I am an engineer so I know what it was. It was clear smoke, it wasn’t black smoke or white smoke.

‘The engine just stopped, just like that, and the next thing there were flames coming out of the exhaust.

‘I do a lot of flying all over the world, I am fascinated by air accidents and how things go wrong.

‘I thought this was it.

‘When we got down we were all congratulating each other for still being alive.

The New Straits Times reports that a Malindo Air spokesman said the aircraft took off at 7.35am and the incident happened shortly afterwards.

He said the pilot had taken immediate action by switching off the affected engine, before safely landing at Subang airport.

The cause of the fire was not known.

The passengers’ devastated families are expected to start arriving in Perth as soon as the debris is confirmed as belonging to MH370, with the Australian Government announcing it would set up a special facility to assist them, as well as waive any visa fees.

A spokeswoman for the city’s Chung Wah Aged Care and Community Centre told MailOnline she had been inundated with phone calls from people who were willing to accommodate the families of the flight’s 139 Chinese passengers.

‘We’ve received many offers from the public who are volunteering to provide accommodation,’ the spokeswoman said.

Since the plane went missing on March 8 the daughter of the chief steward, Andrew Nari, has sent a series of heartbreaking tweets, praying for his safe return.

When news first broke that the plane had gone missing, Maira Elizabeth Nari, tweeting under the name Gorgxous_, wrote: ‘God…. The only thing I want is my father….. Nothing, but my father. I want my father back. :’(‘

Since then she has gained thousands of new followers from around the world, encouraging her to stay strong.

She said on Tuesday that she was ‘still hoping for a miracle’.

 

While the search continues, one relative has begun legal proceedings against Malaysia Airlines and engine manufacturer Boeing.

Januari Siregar, father of Indonesian passenger Chandra Siregar, has instructed lawyers to demand 26 different types of information about the 777 aircraft used on the doomed flight, according to the International Business Times.

It’s thought that Mr Siregar and other relatives will launch full lawsuits soon.

A chief pilot with a South East Asian budget airline became so incensed over the as-yet fruitless search for MH370 that he posted an expletive-riddled Facebook page criticising the Malaysian government – and was subsequently suspended.

The pilot, whose identity has not been revealed after his post was removed, wrote:

‘For f***’s sake…Is there any concrete proof that MH370 has indeed crashed?

‘It’s not right to simply assume when U have no evidence to back up your claims!

‘(The) supposed debris…isn’t even confirmed to be from the plane yet! Show us the proof and then tell us MH370 has crashed.

‘Till then, stop hiding facts! It’s obvious to even a blind man that there (are) tons of info the government definitely knows and isn’t sharing yet!’

His comments were posted on blogs in South East Asia, and one, Malaysiakini, said the pilot’s identity was being withheld and he has since disabled his Facebook account. But it showed earlier that he is a senior first officer at AirAsia X.

The website said that the pilot’s other social media accounts show him in a pilot’s uniform and features a video about his love for flying.

The pilot later apologised for his outburst, saying he was sorry that he had offended some people.

‘It was written in anguish, heavily influenced by my emotions at the time,’ he wrote.

His apology did not save him from suspension.

AirAsia X’s group chief executive officer, Tony Fernandes, said in a Tweet: ‘AirAsia X senior first officer has been suspended pending investigation as company policies were broken in Facebook posting.’

A second official, chief executive officer, Azran Rani Osman, added a comment that the first officer had contravened a ‘specific directive’ not to publicly comment on the search for MH370.

– “DM”


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South Africa defender somehow survives horror crash in which his car is IMPALED

By John Drayton

South Africa international Rooi Mahamutsa walked away with barely a scratch from a horrific car crash in his homeland.

Extraordinary and shocking pictures have emerged showing the wreckage of Mahamutsa’s BMW 3-Series impaled on a guardrail after the smash.

Mahamutsa, who plays for the Orlando Pirates, was out driving when his car slipped on a wet patch out road, causing him to lose control of his vehicle and crash.

How did he survive? Rooi Mahamutsa's BMW was pictured after his horror car crash in South Africa

How did he survive? Rooi Mahamutsa’s BMW was pictured after his horror car crash in South Africa

 

Terrifying: The Orlando Pirates defender had lost control of his car on a wet road before crashing

Terrifying: The Orlando Pirates defender had lost control of his car on a wet road before crashing

 

Wreckage: Mahamutsa's car was impaled by a rail guarding the edge of the road he was driving on

Wreckage: Mahamutsa’s car was impaled by a rail guarding the edge of the road he was driving on

The dramatic pictures show that the rail guarding the edge of the road had somehow pierced the rear of his car and penetrated through the entire vehicle, exiting through the windscreen.

Incredibly, the 32-year-old defender walked away with just minor injuries from the incident. He was taken to Morningside hospital but soon discharged.

The crash took place near Marlboro, Johannesburg, earlier this month but the shocking pictures have only just emerged.

Mahamutsa has won three caps for Bafana Bafana.

 

Happier days: Mahamutsa (right) celebrates winning the Absa Premiership Final in May 2011

Happier days: Mahamutsa (right) celebrates winning the Absa Premiership Final in May 2011

 

On the ball: Pirates defender Mahamutsa has won three caps for South Africa

On the ball: Pirates defender Mahamutsa has won three caps for South Africa

 

Lucky escape: Mahamutsa suffered only minor injuries in his car crash and was soon discharged from hospital

Lucky escape: Mahamutsa suffered only minor injuries in his car crash and was soon discharged from hospital

 


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