Elephant Birds and Here’s Johnny: Open Thread

File:Aepyornis.jpgGood Evening

My daughter’s cheerleading dinner is tonight, which is a big thing here in Banjoville. It means we get to drive 45 minutes to eat out at a fancy Japanese steak house… you know the ones where they cook on a hot grill right in front of you. So since I am writing this post early in the morning, I hope the links are not repeats from during the day.

First off, this is one huge mutthafukken egg! Watch this video report from BBC:

Giant egg from extinct elephant bird up for auction

A rare giant bird egg is being auctioned at Christie’s auction house in London.

It was laid by an Elephant Bird in Madagascar and is thought to have been discovered by archaeologists in the late 19th or early 20th century.

The species became extinct sometime between the 13th and 17th centuries.

Who will shell out for this pre-17th century fossilised bird egg?

elephant-bird-eggAt 30cm tall and 21cm in diameter, the impressive egg is about 100 times larger than an average chicken egg, and larger than eggs laid by dinosaurs.

Far out innit? Check out the history of the Elephant Bird:

Elephant birds are an extinctfamily of flightless birds found only on the island of Madagascar. They comprised the generaAepyornis and Mullerornis. The reasons for and timings of their extinctions remain unclear, although there are written accounts of elephant bird sightings on the island in the 17th century.

egg

The elephant birds, which were giant ratites native to Madagascar, have been extinct since at least the 17th century. Étienne de Flacourt, a French governor of Madagascar in the 1640s and 1650s, recorded frequent sightings of elephant birds. The famous explorer and traveler Marco Polo also mentions very large birds in his accounts of his journeys to the East during the 12th–13th centuries. These earlier accounts are today believed to describe elephant birds.[2]Aepyornis, believed to have been more than 3 m (10 ft) tall and weighing close to 400 kg (880 lb)[3], was at the time the world’s largest bird. Remains of Aepyornis adults and eggs have been found; in some cases the eggs have a circumference of more than 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and a length up to 34 cm (13 in).[4] The egg volume is about 160 times greater than a chicken egg.[5]

A bird that weighed 880 pounds! Geez!

Click image for more information.

Click image for more information.

Damn, that is one bad ass bird. Can you imagine coming across one of these things in the wild…wow.

And sticking with birds for the moment, True colors of some fossil feathers now in doubt (w/ Video)

Geological processes can affect evidence of the original colors of fossil feathers, according to new research by Yale University scientists, who said some previous reconstructions of fossil bird and dinosaur feather colors may now merit revision. The discovery reveals how the evidence for the colors of feathers—especially melanin-based colors—can be altered during fossilization, and suggests that past reconstructions of the original colors of feathers in some fossil birds and dinosaurs may be flawed.

[…]

In modern birds, black, brown, and some reddish-brown colors are produced by tiny granules of the pigment melanin. These features—called melanosomes—are preserved in many fossil feathers, and their precise size and shape have been used to reconstruct the original colors of fossil feathers. “The problem was that we had no idea whether melanosomes could survive the fossilisation process intact,” said McNamara. “Our experiments show that this is not the case. Our results cast a cautionary light on studies of fossil feather color and suggest that some previous reconstructions of the original plumage colors of fossils may not be accurate.” Using a novel experimental technique pioneered in the group’s recent study on the colors of fossil insects, McNamara’s interdisciplinary team simulated high pressures and temperatures that are found deep under the Earth’s surface. The team used feathers of different colors and from different species, but the geometry of the melanosomes in all feathers changed during the experiments. “This study will lead to better interpretations of the original plumage colors of diverse feathered dinosaurs and fossil birds,” said Briggs. “Fossils that have experienced relatively mild burial conditions will yield the most accurate reconstructions.”

There is a video at that link, you will find it fascinating.

Have you heard about the controversy over in England dealing with Richard III? A lawsuit has been filed….citing human rights issues. It seems strange to me…anyway here is the story: Richard III burial challenged on human rights grounds

The debate over the reburial of English King Richard III is heating up, with a group of the monarch’s supposed descendents challenging the University of Leicester on the plans for re-interment, basing their argument on human rights violations.

University of Leicester archaeologists discovered the bones of the lost monarch under a parking lot in Leicester last year, and they confirmed the king’s identity in February. The U.K. Ministry of Justice issued the university an exhumation certificate before the project began, giving them the right to decide where the king’s remains would be reburied, if found. That certificate hasn’t stopped the eruption of debate over the best spot for the burial.

From the beginning of the long search for Richard’s grave, the University of Leicester officials have stated that the king would be reburied in Leicester Cathedral, not far from his unmarked parking lot grave. But a number of Richard III enthusiasts say they’d rather see the king buried in York, a city where he spent about a third of his life.

Now, the Plantagenet Alliance, a group of about 15 people who claim to be relatives of the dead king, has released its intentions to file a legal challenge against the University of Leicester’s exhumation certificate. The challenge will argue that the Ministry of Justice is in violation of article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which affirms the right to respect for family and home life. [Gallery: The Discovery of Richard III]

According to the Alliance, the Ministry of Justice should have consulted the 15 relatives of Richard III before issuing the university a license to rebury the king as they wished. In a statement, the University of Leicester called this argument “particularly odd.”

“There is no obligation to consult living relatives where remains are older than 100 years,” the University of Leicester said.

In addition, Richard died without offspring. Any relatives are thus the descendents of his siblings, a relatively distant tie.

[…]

“Reinterment on the nearest consecrated ground is in keeping with good archaeological practice,” university officials stated. “Richard has lain in the shadow of St. Martin’s Cathedral, Leicester, for over 500 years.”

Seriously, the plans to re-bury Richard have been stated before they even found him under the car park. Seems like the powers that be in York are looking for a way to cash in on the find. This lawsuit has nothing to do with human rights…it has to do with money and more money than anything else.

The last link I have for you tonight is about Stanley Kubrick: Room 237 Review – The Shining Is Much Scarier Than You Thought

Nine different theories of the film are outlined in Room 237. These range from the somewhat obvious, like the uncovering of Native American themes and images, to outright conspiracy theories, like hidden proofs that Kubrick faked the moon landing. Even that crazy idea has some evidence to support it. Danny is wearing an Apollo 11 sweater during key scenes. Also, Kubrick changed the room number from the book. It was 217. He changed it to 237. The moon is 237 hundred thousand miles from the earth. Spooky, right?

That is all I am going to give you, just go read the entire review at the link.

Hope you enjoy your evening, I know that right about now I am sitting across from a sizzling grill, drinking plum wine and eating some damn good food.

This is an open thread.