Scientists describe newly discovered dinosaur as ‘one of the weirdest’, ‘pretty goofy’ .

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This undated handout image provided by Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group, shows a Deinocheirus.

Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found bones of two large, powerful dinosaur arms in Mongolia and figured they had discovered a fearsome critter with killer claws.

Now scientists have found the rest of the dinosaur and have new descriptions for it: goofy and weird.

The beast probably lumbered along on two legs like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame. It was 16 feet tall and 36 feet long, weighing seven tons, with a duckbill on its head and a hump-like sail on its back. Throw in those killer claws, tufts of feathers here and there, and no teeth — and try not to snicker.

And if that’s not enough, it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner.

That’s Deinocheirus mirificus (DY’-noh’-KY-ruhs mur-IHF’-ee-kuhs), which means “terrible hands that look peculiar.” It is newly reimagined after a full skeleton was found in Mongolia and described in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature.  Some 70 million years old, it’s an ancestral relative of the modern ostrich and belongs to the dinosaur family often called ostrich dinosaurs.

“Deinocheirus turned out to be one the weirdest dinosaurs beyond our imagination,” study lead author Yuong-Nam Lee, director of the Geological Museum in Daejeon, South Korea, said in an email.

When scientists in 1965 found the first forearm bones — nearly 8 feet long — many of them envisioned “a creature that would strike terror in people,” said University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr, who wasn’t part of the study. “Now it’s a creature that would strike bemusement, amazement.”

And yes, he said, “it’s pretty goofy.”

The find is tremendous but is a cautionary tale about jumping to conclusions without enough evidence, said University of Chicago dinosaur expert Paul Sereno, who wasn’t part of the discovery.

It also reminds us that evolution isn’t always what we think, Sereno said.

“This is evolution in a dinosaur — not a mammal — world,” Sereno said in email. “The starting point is a two-legged animal looking somewhat like a fuzzy-feathered ostrich. Now you want to get really big and suck up lots of soft vegetation. In the end you look like a goofy Michelin ostrich with fuzz and a tail — not a cow.”

Lee figures the tilted wide hips and massive feet show that Deinocheirus was a slow mover and probably grew so big to escape from being regularly feasted on by bigger dinosaurs.

It had a beak that could eat plants, but it also had a massive tongue that created suction for vacuuming up food from the bottoms of streams, lakes and ponds, Lee wrote.

Originally Lee’s team couldn’t find the dinosaur’s skull, but a tip from another researcher led them to recover it from the private market in Germany.

Some kids will soon adopt this dinosaur as their favorite, Holtz said, “and those are kids with a sense of humor.”

Heroin overdoses possibly linked to other causes

A report was recently released that found a full-blown heroin crisis to be on the rise this year, plaguing the streets of New York. This has allegedly been the worst episode of state-wide drug overdoses related to heroin for any given year since 2003. In total, 420 people died in 2013, while there had been a total of 782 cases of overdose.

Writers at MedlinePlus describe heroin to be a white or brown powder, but it can also come in the form of sticky, dark goo. It is made from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance from the Asian poppy plant. The dangerous features about this drug include its fast-acting dependency. Heroin’s dependency can lead to overdose due to the user’s increased tolerance, and increased amount of drug used to satisfy the dependency.

The data from New York found the sharpest spike in heroin use to be from Queens, where 81 people died in 2013.

An addiction specialist and researcher, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, noted the shift in demographics among heroin users in the past 10 years. Claiming that the initial population to abuse this drug consisted of Brooklyn, South Bronx and East Harlem residents, Kolodny says the drug culture now consists of even upper-income neighborhoods found in Staten Island, Queens and Manhattan.

Disproportionately, Hispanic men in their 40s and 50s centered around Bronx have been found using this drug the most. Chief program officer at VIP Community Services, which is a Bronx treatment center, says this older demographic has been on the rise, but the young population is still being seen in treatment facilities for mental health-related issues.

Reasons for sudden increase?

One reason for this increase in heroin overdosing is the rise in laced heroin. Reportedly, pure heroin is “cut” with another substance to decrease the potency of the drug. This method of cutting is usually done with a baby laxative, but as other dangerous drugs like fentanyl are being introduced into the black market, overdoses are expected. Fentanyl is said to be much more potent than heroin, and dangerously fatal on its own.

Outpatient behavioral health director of Addiction Resource Center in Brunswick, Eric Haram, says it is like playing Russian roulette when choosing to do the drug.

Health writer Jen Christensen published an article on CNN earlier this year with yet another take on heroin overdose. Dr. Karen Drexler, director of the addiction psychiatry residency training program and associate professor at Emory University, says heroin makes someone calm, and sometimes even sleepy, but if a user takes too much and falls asleep, they can forget to breathe as the respiratory drive shuts down.

When a person falls asleep, respiration is conducted by an automatic function and usually isn’t controlled consciously. However, heroin overdose can also be caused by other factors as well. For instance, a user’s blood pressure can dip so low that the person’s heart could fail. It has also been reported that intravenous heroin users are 300 times more likely to die from an infection on the surface of the heart, or infectious endocarditis.


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A Night’s Sleep Cleans Brain of Harmful Toxins

A good night’s sleep conveys many benefits to a person, including boosts to memory, concentration and learning. Now, another benefit of sleep has been discovered — it flushes out harmful toxins that build up in the brain during the day, researchers say.
The point of sleep remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in science. Although people spend about one-third of life asleep, researchers still do not know why.
We do know that when people are sleep-deprived, they have problems making decisions and trouble learning, and no human can go without sleep for more than a handful of days. Research has also revealed sleep helps memories form, and it gives the body time to repair itself.

Now, scientists find changes in the brain that are unique to bedtime.
“We show that the brain cleans itself during sleep,” study author Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, co-director of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Center for Translational Neuromedicine in Rochester, N.Y., told LiveScience. [7 Strange Facts About Insomnia]
The researchers investigated the flow of fluids in the brains of sleeping and awake mice. They focused on the flow within the glymphatic system, the spaces between brain cells. The glymphatic system acts much like a sewer, helping to clear out the waste products that brain cells generate during regular tasks.
Experiments revealed these interstitial spaces in the brains of sleeping or anesthetized mice were 60 percent larger than those of the brains of mice that are awake. Interstitial space takes up 14 percent of the volume of the brain of awake mice, while it makes up 23 percent of the brain of sleeping or anesthetized mice.
These changes make the brains of sleeping mice much better equipped to remove its trash. The scientists detailed their findings in the Friday (Oct. 18) issue of the journal Science.
“The brain only has limited energy at its disposal, and it appears that it must [choose] between two different functional states — awake and aware, or asleep and cleaning up,” Nedergaard said in a statement. “You can think of it like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests, or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.”
For instance, the protein beta-amyloid, which is linked with Alzheimer’s disease, flowed out of the brains of sleeping mice twice as fast as it flowed out of the brains of awake mice. Overall, the flow of waste out of the brain while awake was only 5 percent of what it was when mice slept.
Also, the researchers surprisingly found that cells in the brain shrink by 60 percent during sleep. This creates more space between the cells, helping waste to wash out the brain’s plumbing more effectively.
The scientists noted that a hormone called noradrenaline is less active in sleep. This chemical is released in bursts when the brain needs to become alert, often in response to threats. The research team speculated noradrenaline might help control how brain cells expand and contract during sleeping and waking.
“These findings have significant implications for treating ‘dirty brain’ disease like Alzheimer’s,” Nedergaard said. “Understanding precisely how and when the brain activates the glymphatic system and clears waste is a critical first step in efforts to potentially modulate this system and make it work more efficiently.”
This discovery might also help explain why larger animal species typically sleep less than smaller ones, neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel, of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, who did not take part in the new study, wrote in a review on this work.
For instance, bats sleep as many as 20 hours a day, while giraffes and elephants sleep as little as three to four hours daily. It could be that larger brains have more interstitial space to accumulate toxins, and so could withstand much longer periods of waking before the need for sleep, Herculano-Houzel said.