Friday Headlines, October 14, 2016
THE LATEST IN THE GEOSCIENCES
Dinosaur skin makes a big impression
Aww. A new dwarf planet
Bones aren’t the only fossilized evidence we find of dinosaurs. Impressions, such as foot prints, can tell us a lot about a dinosaur.
We also often find impressions of dinosaur skin.
Skin can tell us a lot about not only what a dinosaur looked like, but also how it related to its environment. Skin, especially structures in the skin like feathers, hair, scales, or bony scutes, can also help us identify the animals.
In this case, footprints and skin impressions tell scientists what animals were running around at the time the rocks were deposited. The rocks in question were laid down near the end of the Cretaceous, just before the extinction of the dinosaurs. And the dinosaurs that were roaming were the enormous titanosaurs, the last surviving group of long-necked sauropod dinosaurs.
Dwarf planets are bodies of stone and gas that orbit the sun that just aren’t quite big enough to be called true planets. I can’t remember the details of scale for what makes a body too small, but I do know that this definition is what knocked Pluto from its status as the 9th planet.
There are actually lots of bodies orbiting the sun that are considered dwarf planets. This new one, 2014 UZ224, was discovered by an unusual means.
Most of our known planets were recognized using telescopes. Some were discovered when the orbital shapes of known planets didn’t make sense unless another planet was also out there.
This dwarf planet was discovered when scientists using the eeriliy named Dark Energy Camera were taking photos of the sky to learn more about the long-distant origins of the universe. In doing so, scientists took photos of the same patch of sky over the course of weeks, and noticed something moving.
I hope they come up with a better name for the poor little dwarf planet soon!