Dinosaur Discovery & Updates on Cloud Rats | Natural News from The Field Museum | Ep. 1

Dinosaur Discovery & Updates on Cloud Rats | Natural News from The Field Museum | Ep. 1


Hey, and welcome to Natural News! A new news story where we talk about natural history news. We have three topics that we’re going to cover today. One, a discovered dinosaur, Two, the results of a fifteen year study of the mammals of Luzon Island in the Philippines, And we finally have an exact number for all known tree species in the Amazon! Holy cow. Let’s get to it! [Cheerful Theme Music] Dinosaur discovery! We all know fashion trends change throughout the ages and for the Cretaceous Period, 65 million years ago, tiny arms were all the rage! A newly discovered dinosaur unearthed by Field Museum paleontologists and their collaborators has short two fingered claws like the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Although the two aren’t related and are on opposite sides of the theropod family tree. The new species, Gualicho shinyae, is a modestly sized Allosaurid and estimated to weigh a mere dainty ton. And considering Allosaurids aren’t closely related to Tyrannosaurs, the discovery suggests that tiny arms evolved more than once in dinosaurs. Seriously! Even though this thing was the size of a polar bear, it had the arms of a child! How is that even feasible? [Typing, Frustrated Grumbling] [Phone Rings] Hello, I…? …Tech support? And this new fossil species was discovered by and named for our chief fossil preparator, Akiko Shinya. The first name, “Gualicho,” comes from a spirit revered by Patagonia’s Tehuelche people. Cursed with bad luck, the expedition team had joked that they were plagued by the spirit. Like when they rolled one of their trucks. Thankfully, everyone was ok and on the last day while they were hoping that they’d finally find something good, Akiko turned around and was like, Bam! Brand new species of carnivorous dinosaur! It’s like the proverbial mic drop of a paleontologist. Akiko out. Let’s talk about trees! In 2013, Field Museum scientist Nigel Pitman and his coauthors published a paper in the journal “Science” where they estimated the number of individual trees that grow in the Amazon River basin. Their estimate was about 16,000 species with 390 billion individual trees. That’s about as many stars as there are in the Milky Way galaxy a number too immense for me to ever comprehend And it turns out that number isn’t terribly helpful, even to scientists who care a whole lot about the number of trees in the Amazon. So in a recent report, they looked at digital records and photographs of specimens from museum collections all over the world dating back to as far as 1707 over 300 years worth of material. They found that there are 11,676 species of trees in the Amazon River basin. And this number supports their work in 2013, leaving about 4,000 species of the rarest trees yet to be discovered and described. So the next time you think we’ve got every inch of this planet mapped out, think again! There are 4,000 species that could have your actual name on them. Latinized! And according to the proper binomial nomenclature system. Nigel and his team estimate that it’ll take another 300 years to find all of them. So what are you waiting for? And, speaking of botany! Let’s go to a quick storytime. [Solemn Brassy Music] Let me tell you a quick story about Dr. Margery C. Carlson, who was a pioneering botanist and former research associate for the Field. She graduated with a Ph.D. in 1925 and became one of the first female faculty members to teach at Northwestern University. Her research focus was on rare plants of Central America and she made frequent collecting trips, sometimes for six months at a time, driving 10,000 miles or more. Even at sixty years old. And there to accompany Margery on these trips was her life partner, Kate Staley, who many news reports at the time were reluctant to address as such. During these lengthy expeditions, the two of them lived in a yellow truck they named “El Caracol,” which in Spanish means “the snail.” Because they’re both truckin’ along with their houses on their backs. These trips were not without the occasional incident. On one adventure to Mexico, Margery and Kate were eating lunch when they suddenly found themselves face to face with two men brandishing machetes and demanding money. Margery responded, “Don’t you realize you could have scared us to death?” “And then you would’ve never gone into heaven.” And then she invited them to share their lunch. Which they did. Margery died in 1985 at the age of 92, leaving behind a botanical legacy, 4,000 plant specimens to the Field, and fifteen new species. And that, friends, is an unsung hero of science. [TV clicks on, static] Hey, friends. Tired of the same old fitness routine? Well, do we have the solution for you! The Prehistoric Workout! For the low, low price of your dignity, you can have this film reel set delivered right to your home. We- We’ll emulate the locomotions of our Permian synapsid ancestors And show you how to subdue prey animals with two digits and tiny arms, like the fiercest Ah-Allosaurids. Watch Emily embarrass herself thoroughly in this 500 part series which details the movement of all life on Earth dating back to 2,500 million years of scootin’ cytobacteria. Call now! And for our final segment, we have so many mammals up in heeeere And by here, I mean Luzon Island in the Philippines. Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines, slightly larger than the state of Indiana, and home to some 50 million people. Recently, a fifteen year study examining the number of mammal species there has concluded, and shows that out of the 56 non-flying mammal species known to live on Luzon, 52 of those live nowhere else in the world. Twenty eight of those new mammals were discovered during the course of the project. All since the year 2000. Move over, Madagascar! Luzon is now home to more unique mammal species than any other place on the planet! So Field Museum curator, Larry Heaney, was a lead on the project and offered us some insight as to how a relatively small area can reach such high levels of diversity. Being an island, Luzon may have experienced a sped up version of evolution. When animals are closed off from the rest of the world, and there are no predators or competitors, they branch out and adapt fairly quickly becoming distinct species. Add into that the geography of Luzon, an island with mountains, and you get unique island-like isolated ecosystems on each of those mountain peaks. Among the twenty eight new species are four species of tiny tree mice, with whiskers so long they reach nearly to their ankles And five species of shrew-like mice that feed primarily on earthworms. And adorable cloud rats! So now that they’ve got a solid idea of what’s found on Luzon, serious conservation efforts can kick into gear to address things like deforestation and overhunting, which threaten this remarkable diversity. You know, I was thinking what they really need is a Pixar or DreamWorks movie about the adorable cloud rat who gets separated from its parents and then goes on a journey enlisting a helpful cohort representative of all 52 new species. And they work together to finally reunite the family, and in the process, take down the giant timber concession. And also, the soundtrack is by Elton John and Lin Manuel Miranda. I’ve made some preliminary sketches, just for inspiration. I- I look forward to being listed in the credits in that blockbuster hit. I named her Patricia! Hey! Thanks for watching the first episode of the Natural News. If you like this kind of content, make sure you subscribe so you can get a reminder every time we post a new video. And, if you’re interested in these topics, check out the links in the doobly-doo. We’ll include links to other research topics, stories, and news outlets that have covered some of the things that we talk about in this episode. Thanks. [inaudible: “It still has brains on it”]

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