T. Rex: I Was a Teenage Monster

first_imgThe news media quickly latched onto a report in Nature1 that Tyrannosaurus rex had a growth spurt in adolescence.  Dr. Gregory Erickson of Florida State measured growth lines in leg bones and found faster growth between age 14 and 18 on the famous Rex specimen named Sue, says EurekAlert based on info from Florida State and the Field Museum.  (See also National Geographic News, BBC News etc. that figured out this means Sue gained 5 pounds a day as a teen.)    “T. rex is notable for its great size, which is at least 15-fold greater than the largest living terrestrial carnivorous animals today and second only to Giganotosaurus among theropod dinosaurs,” the paper in Nature begins.  “How did it attain such great proportions within the Tyrannosauridae?” Because the growth rates of dinosaurs is “a topic of considerable interest in evolutionary biology,” Erickson’s team tried to fit the growth rate to “two competing phylogenetic hypotheses for the Tyrannosauridae,” but no clear winning hypothesis seemed to emerge; T. rex’s “method of attaining gigantism contrasts with that in the largest crocodilians and lizards, where ancestral growth rates were retained and the exponential stages lengthened,” the paper says.  Fast growth rate seems to be diagnostic of the Tyrannosauridae, but not its ancestors, according the paper.  Also, “A second substantial increase in growth rate optimizes as a physiological autapomorphy of Tyrannosaurus irrespective of phylogenetic hypothesis and optimization criterion.”  [Autapomorphy: “a character state that is seen in a single sequence and no other.  Sometimes called a uniquely-derived character state.” Source: Molecular Systematics and Evolution glossary.]From the two competing hypotheses of tyrannosaurid phylogeny it is most parsimonious to conclude that T. rex acquired the majority of its giant proportions after diverging from the common ancestor of itself and D. torosus, a species with an optimized body mass of about 1,800 kg.  Direct comparison between the tyrannosaurid growth curves shows that the transition to the exponential and stationary phases of development occurred about 2-4 years later in T. rex (Fig. 2).  However, such temporal post-displacement had little to do with the evolution of its gigantism because the exponential stage, during which most body size is accrued, was not extended beyond the ancestral, 4-year condition observed in other tyrannosaurids.  Rather, the key developmental modification that propelled T. rex to giant proportions was primarily through evolutionary acceleration in the exponential stage growth rate and the transition zones bounding it.  This is reflected in the regions of maximal slope on the growth curves depicted in Fig. 2 and holds true regardless of which evolutionary hypothesis is correct and how the maximum growth rates are optimized….The actual magnitude of the growth rate change reconstructed at ancestral nodes differs with topology and more drastically with the optimization method.  Linear parsimony yields a punctuated pattern with higher changes at individual nodes, whereas squared-changes parsimony forces a ‘smoother’ distribution on the data but also incurs some counterintuitive deceleration in growth for the slower-growing basal taxa.Since T. rex seems to stand on its own two feet phylogenetically, the study ends on a question instead of a definitive answer: “How other dinosaurs attained gigantism within their respective sub-clades will serve as an interesting line of inquiry in the future.  Does the same pattern of acceleratory growth seen here characterize the means by which all or most members of the Dinosauria attained great size?”    The study might help the next Jurassic Park movie.  The researchers suggest that T. rex teens might have been able to run.  After reaching 1000 kg, they probably were too heavy to chase down a jeep.1Erickson et al., “Gigantism and comparative life-history parameters of tyrannosaurid dinosaurs,” Nature 430, 772 – 775 (12 August 2004); doi:10.1038/nature02699.We’ll leave the teenage monster jokes to the imagination of our readers.  Notice in passing how the popular-level reports of this paper all talk about how these studies are going to help us understand dinosaur evolution: such as, “With the life history parameters, we can better understand T. rex evolution, biology, biomechanics and population dynamics.”  Three out of four, maybe, but what evolution?  The paper looked for it and didn’t find it.  Give us some evidence, not empty promises.  We’re getting frustrated with the ubiquitous unresolved plots in the endless soap opera, Charlie’s Angles.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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The fantasy Olympics

first_imgKevin DavieA friend who lives in the United States, and is of techno bent, has his rowing machine hooked up to the Internet. He can compete against other rowers from across the world.This means, at least for this discipline, that you don’t have experience the Olympics from your armchair. You can participate, race against the very best in the world. You may take twice the time or more to finish, but hey, you’ve competed against the greats.My friend’s techno sports go further than just rowing, though. He has his own fantasy league. You chose your team from the best of the players available, in this case the NFL, and then each week the statistics generated from actual plays pushes your team up or down the league.Fantasy leagues mean your team can be tops in cyberspace, even though it never gets near the Superbowl finals. These leagues, I am informed, are hot around the globe and across numerous sporting codes. They are, for instance, big in cricket in India, as you might well expect them to be.My web surfing tells me that there is a fantasy Olympics, but only for US athletes. Mine, aimed at medal-deprived South Africans, would be for any athlete who has a good chance of being in the medals.The medal deprivation is so bad that twice last week at the office I experienced an entirely new thing, the phantom medal. This is like a phantom pregnancy, when a woman goes to term, complete with some of the physical hallmarks of the real thing, only to produce air.The phantom medal creates a roar around the office as television watchers cheer as their athlete comes in among the medals. Hooray! But then, on closer inspection, you find that actually the bronze which you thought was ours went to New Zealand.I can admit to being the cause of one of the two phantoms we won at the office. I was sure we’d got a canoeing bronze and told a colleague or two. Turned out, though, that we were not in the top three, and the event wasn’t a final.The antidote to all of this is the fantasy Olympics. But before I tell you how this could work, you need to know a little more about me as a sports fan.I tend towards the fickle. My loyalty extends as far as how well the team is playing. I am happy for my team to lose so long as it played well. But I will even support North Korea against the Boks if they make fewer handling errors.I am not the loyal fan through thick and thin. If my team is facing relegation, so be it. I will click over to BBC Prime or BBC Food. I don’t care because I know I can always find another team.With the Beijing games now winding up at the time of writing, I realise that I really needed to win some medals this Olympics. I did not need even to match the six that South Africa brought home from Athens.I also do not also care what the discipline is. It could be wrestling in a cardboard box after taking a hot shower or for the most spectacular fall off a BMX after watching three bouts of Greco-Roman wrestling. But I needed at least one gold medal.Thinking back I think I had a reasonable expectation of winning at least one, if not a clutch full of silver and bronzes.It was not as though our athletes did not enjoy some profile. If swimmer Ryk Neethling, in particular, had been able to convert into gold the number of times he appeared showing his abs in woman’s magazines, he’d be up there with Phelpsie.But if we have an icon for this Olympics, it’s not Mr Abs. It’s the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who runs on bladelike carbon fibre artificial limbs. He’s a fantastic story, winning the right to compete at Beijing against all the odds. He’s a bit of a phantom too, though, as he was too slow to qualify.We also have Natalie du Toit, another disabled athlete who moved up from the Paralympics to the real deal. Du Toit competes in an incomprehensible discipline, the 10-kilometre swim. In my book if you can swim 10 kays, you should get a gold medal irrespective of where you finish.If we’re going to be spectators rather than participants in the medal ceremonies, perhaps the fantasy Olympics is the answer.My fantasy team would have been mostly of Chinese, but I’d be overweight in Americans compared to how they actually did at Beijing.I’d have had more Australians than medals won and far fewer Poms relative to how they did. I’d have had a fair showing of Kenyans but definitely no Zimbabweans. I suppose, without knowing who or what, I’d have put us up for at least one gold medal.If I was in charge of my own fantasy league I would have bought the national colours of my most favoured nations and been ready to don these colours for the medal ceremonies. I may have even had a go at humming the national anthems.But forget fantasy and let me get back to reality. My new hero is Khotso Mokoena, the long-jumper who won South Africa’s single medal. I hope they take endless pictures of his abs.As a journalist Kevin Davie is a Nieman Fellow and editor of numerous South Africa business magazines and newspapers. As an Internet entrepreneur he co-founded South Africa’s first online stockbroker and WOZA, the first news portal which was independent of a traditional publisher.He divides his time between the Mail & Guardian, where he  runs the business section and pursues the twin interests of economics and environmentalism, and projects in construction (particularly green building) and a better way to search the Internet. He also makes time to paddle and ride his mountain bike.last_img read more

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Foreign investors eye African consumers

first_img25 May 2011When the world’s biggest retail company, the US-based Walmart, announced in September 2010 a plan to buy South African retailer Massmart for a staggering US$4.2-billion, eyebrows were raised. Foreign investors in Africa have tended to put their money in the riches that lie beneath its soil, where the profits are higher.In fact, the steady growth of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the continent during most of the past decade has mostly been concentrated in extractive sectors, especially oil (see Africa Renewal, January 2005).Yet, much like Walmart, a growing number of major investors are now betting on the continent’s ultimate wealth, Africans themselves, according to the World Investment Report 2010 by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).And for all the shock that Walmart’s foray into Africa initially prompted, when it announced in December that it was seeking to acquire only 51 percent of Massmart’s shares for $2.5-billion, the transaction was still second to the continent’s biggest business deal unrelated to natural resources. Late in March 2010, a record $10.7-billion transaction took place as Kuwait’s telecommunication company Zain sold its African assets to Bharti, an Indian competitor.Investors eye new sectorsOverall, the Unctad report notes, amidst a recent slump in FDI flows to Africa (see graph): “The services sector, led by the telecommunications industry, became the dominant FDI recipient.”Across the continent, new deals involving major foreign corporations are becoming a common occurrence in sectors previously considered unattractive to investment heavyweights. Nestle, a Swiss food company, announced plans to spend $1-billion by 2013 for acquisitions in various African countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Angola. Less than two years ago, Nestle’s main competitor, France’s Danone, bought the yoghurt and desserts division of Clover, South Africa’s leader in fresh cultured dairy products.Such developments call “for reassessment of FDI in Africa, as a different picture emerges,” the Unctad report argues. Potentially, development experts note, an increase in FDI flows to infrastructure, services and retail sales could have a far more positive impact on African economies. Unlike investments in the extractive industries, investments in consumer-oriented sectors often lead to the creation of many more jobs and stimulate consumer spending.Rise of the African middle classAfrica’s booming middle class, with its recently acquired purchasing power, is the main reason behind the new FDI trend on the continent. Various researches suggest that the number of Africans who can afford to buy more than the necessities of daily life is rising rapidly.A much-talked-about report by McKinsey, a US-headquartered multinational consulting firm, estimates that the continent is home to around 50-million middle-class households (defined as those with incomes of at least $20 000), as many as in India. (The report, entitled “Lions on the Move: The Progress and Potential of African Economies”, was published in June 2010.)One in every 10 Africans, says a different study by a French aid agency, is already a “solvent consumer” – one who can afford the latest smartphones, the newest computers and dinners at trendy restaurants.The rise of this middle class is linked to the strong economic performances recorded in many African countries since the end of the 1990s. Average economic growth has been around 5 percent a year, while the average inflation rate fell to 8 percent from an earlier high of 22 percent.From 2000 to 2010, six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa, reports The Economist, an authoritative London weekly. In fact, the publication argues that Africa is the site of “the surprising success story of the past decade,” high praise from a magazine that is generally not very enthusiastic about the continent.Strong and sustained growth rates – and not only in the oil-rich countries that benefited from booming demand from emerging economies – provided a platform from which numerous households moved upwards in income.And while growth in oil-producing countries usually did not result in massive job creation, growth in other countries did create some employment, in turn boosting domestic consumption. In South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, Africa’s four most advanced and diversified economies, domestic consumption became the largest contributor to growth in recent years, says the McKinsey report.Policies, peace and governanceAfrica’s improved economic performances are also a result of good economic policies and improved political contexts, maintained the World Bank in its report Africa Development Indicators 2007. In Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania, for example, business-friendly policies opened new markets to investors. Angola and Rwanda became fast-growing economies after long civil wars.Some also argue that a continental development plan has helped as well. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), adopted by African leaders in 2001, “did help shape a new, more positive perception of Africa,” argues Patrick Osakwe, an economist with the UN Economic Commission for Africa and co-author of a study on FDI to Africa.By emphasising the importance of good governance, Osakwe told Africa Renewal, the plan illustrated a momentous shift in the way Africans seek to interact with the rest of the world.Expanding prosperityFor a continent so long regarded by outside observers as “hopeless,” the coming years will bring more good news, various analysts say. Africa weathered the global recession better than most regions of the world, and its recent economic performance is second only to that of Asia, according to several international institutions. Over the next five years, The Economist recently projected, “The average African economy will outpace its Asian counterpart.”Such promising prospects are central to Walmart’s expansion plans in Africa. Other major Western investors are likely to follow the US giant, analysts say. One reason is that the continent’s combined consumer spending is forecast to reach $1.4-trillion by 2020, up from $860-billion in 2008. Companies from emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil are already strengthening their positions in the region.As foreign investors rush to benefit from the rise of the new categories of African consumers, prosperity still remains elusive for too many other Africans. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, 250-million people in Africa are undernourished.“To expand prosperity, African leaders need to invest in infrastructure and education, to diversify their economies, so that many more people can benefit from growth,” argues Osakwe.Others note that improving the standard of living of the poor not only makes business sense, but is also a political necessity, as suggested by the recent waves of protests across North Africa. Not addressing people’s economic rights, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay pointedly remarked this January, causes grievances “to fester and eventually erupt on a large scale.”This article was first published in Africa Renewal – produced by the Africa Section of the United Nations Department of Public Information, Africa Renewal provides up-to-date information and analysis of the major economic and development challenges facing Africa today.last_img read more

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Cooper Farms adds a new sow farm

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Cooper Farms held an open house and ribbon cutting on April 22 for their new sow hog farm, Pheasant Run, located in Mark Center.The new farm will be home to female hogs and their piglets. Utilizing state of the art technology, Pheasant Run takes farming to a new level.“We like to think of it as more of a smart barn,” said Kevin Stuckey, Sow Division Manager. “With the help of technology we can provide high quality individualized care for each animal in the barns.”This technology controls barn temperatures, alternating fans, airflow and cooling cells to keep a consistent and comfortable climate for the hogs at all times. The system also has the ability to self-heal.“If a fan were to stop working correctly overnight, the system would recognize that and turn on a different fan in the same area,” said Bud Koenig, Facility Maintenance Manager.Open pen gestation allows the pregnant sows to roam in large stalls of 80 sows each.It will also feature electronic feeding stations to provide the pregnant sows with individualized diets and care, while in the open pens.“With each new farm we build, we are working to improve the environments for the animals, and make them more comfortable by using the latest technology available,” Stuckey said.The farm sits on approximately 640 acres and will use a center pivot system to apply all-natural fertilizer on 120 tillable acres. Pheasant Run farm will bring new jobs to the area, employing 20 full-time team members, one certified livestock manager and 18 other indirect jobs at the farm’s completion.last_img read more

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The New Sales Roles Are Taylorism Taken Too Far

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now We have sliced sales roles so thinly that the role of sales no longer makes any sense.The very limited role of BDR has been relegated to prospecting, and more specifically, qualifying. Even though being “qualified” creates no value for the prospective client, and even though their prospects avoid the appointments they agree to because the BDR has created so little value that they can’t see wasting any more time.The SDR role has morphed into something heretofore unimaginable: a sales role with little or no responsibility to prospect. The rationale is that the best value creators should only spend their time with “qualified” opportunities. The inaneness of this decision is staggering. The idea that the person who can—and should—create the most value should not prospect ignores the reality of prospecting, namely the fact that you better have deep chops and be a serious value creator, or you have no value to trade for the meeting you are requesting.The SDRs, who are supposed to occupy the high perch of trusted advisor, can offer only to bring a SME to a sales call, upon which they have become completely dependent. This, regardless of the fact that they have heard the SME’s shtick eleven times over the past three months. Sure, the salesperson should be the strategic orchestrator of the resources you need to bring to bear on an opportunity. But shouldn’t they know enough about the music being played to have a reasonable picture of what you do, how you create value, and a conversational knowledge of everything everyone on their team knows?The idea of turning opportunities over to an account executive to capture the opportunity created by another person is a strange discontinuity. The client thinks, “I was working with this person, then they brought in these experts, and now I am being handed off to a new person, one who hasn’t been involved in any of this up to the point.”Once the client is won, a new account manager enters the picture. This person is designed to handle their day-to-day needs, and the account executive and the rest of the many other “sales” people all disappear, allegedly on to hunt for the next opportunity. The account manager is supposed to be a farmer, but they are also expected to hunt inside their account, even though they don’t posses both of those skill sets.This is Taylorism taken too far. The division of labor is no longer reasonable or effective, and it it no longer considers what is necessary to serve clients, nor what is necessary to win deals.last_img read more

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15 players called up as Gilas resumes practice; Ravena, Paras on the list

first_imgTOTAL Excellium revs up for the second leg of the Toyota Vios Cup MOST READ Also included in Reyes’ tweet were Kiefer Ravena, Raymar Jose, Kobe Paras, and Fil-German forward Christian Standhardinger to suit up in the sessions two weeks from now.Gilas is gearing up for the upcoming 2017 Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon and 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the PBA have yet to reach an agreement when it comes to the availability of the pool members in the coming international tournaments.ADVERTISEMENT What ‘missteps’? World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide In a short tweet on his Twitter account @coachot, the veteran mentor called up 15 names to participate in the Gilas practices.Gilas resumes practice June 20 & we’re calling in Jio,Mike,Almond,Ed,RR,Matt,Von,Kev,Carl,Mac,Fonz,Kief,Reymar, Kobe & Christian to actionFEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout— Chot Reyes (@coachot) June 9, 2017Pool members Jio Jalalon, Mike Tolomia, Ed Daquioag, Roger Pogoy, Matt Wright, Von Pessumal, Kevin Ferrer, Carl Bryan Cruz, Mac Belo, Fonzo Gotladera, and practice player Almond Vosotros were named in the post. With less than two months left for Gilas Pilipinas to prepare for the upcoming international tiffs, coach Chot Reyes has already sent his message loud and clear to cadet members and a number of amateurs to join the national team practices to begin on June 20.ADVERTISEMENT 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chickencenter_img Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken LATEST STORIES Cayetano dares Lacson, Drilon to take lie-detector test: Wala akong kinita sa SEA Games View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’last_img read more

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