First dinosaurs in Arabian peninsula identified

Updated 29 April 2014
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First dinosaurs in Arabian peninsula identified

STOCKHOLM: An international team of paleontologists has for the first time identified dinosaur species that lived in the Arabian peninsula, Swedish scientists said Tuesday.
The researchers found teeth and bones dating from around 72 million years ago in the northwestern part of the region, along the coast of the Red Sea in what is today Saudi Arabia, Uppsala University said in a statement.
The area now a desert, but at the time it was a beach on the African coast, and the Arabian landmass was largely underwater.
The remains are tail vertebrae from a titanosaurid sauropod, an herbivore which was probably longer than 20 meters (65 feet), and teeth belonging to an abelisaurid, a carnivorous theropod which was around six meters long.
“These are the first taxonomically recognizable dinosaurs reported from the Arabian peninsula,” Australian paleobiologist Benjamin Kear said in the statement.
“Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian peninsula, with only a handful of highly fragmented bones documented this far.”
The finding is very rare because sedimentary rocks deposited in streams and rivers in the region during the Age of Dinosaurs are quite uncommon.
“Similar dinosaurs have been found in North Africa, Madagascar and as far away as South America,” the researchers said in the statement.
The finds, jointly authored by Australian, Saudi and Swedish researchers and under the auspices of the Saudi Geological Survey, were published in late December on the scientific journal PLOS ONE.


Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

In this June 22, 2012 file photo, a smoker extinguishes a cigarette in an ash tray in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)
Updated 18 August 2018
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Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

  • Quitters saw their risk of diabetes increase by 22 percent in the six years after they kicked the habit
  • The people enrolled in the studies were all health professionals, and did not mirror current smokers in the general population, who are disproportionately low-income, less-educated and more likely to smoke heavily

NEW YORK: If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may seem like you’re trading one set of health problems for another. But a new US study finds you’re still better off in the long run.
Compared with smokers, even the quitters who gained the most weight had at least a 50 percent lower risk of dying prematurely from heart disease and other causes, the Harvard-led study found.
The study is impressive in its size and scope and should put to rest any myth that there are prohibitive weight-related health consequences to quitting cigarettes, said Dr. William Dietz, a public health expert at George Washington University.
“The paper makes pretty clear that your health improves, even if you gain weight,” said Dietz, who was not involved in the research. “I don’t think we knew that with the assurance that this paper provides.”
The New England Journal of Medicine published the study Wednesday. The journal also published a Swedish study that found quitting smoking seems to be the best thing diabetics can do to cut their risk of dying prematurely.
The nicotine in cigarettes can suppress appetite and boost metabolism. Many smokers who quit and don’t step up their exercise find they eat more and gain weight — typically less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), but in some cases three times that much.
A lot of weight gain is a cause of the most common form of diabetes, a disease in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Diabetes can lead to problems including blindness, nerve damage, heart and kidney disease and poor blood flow to the legs and feet.
In the US study, researchers tracked more than 170,000 men and women over roughly 20 years, looking at what they said in health questionnaires given every two years.
The people enrolled in the studies were all health professionals, and did not mirror current smokers in the general population, who are disproportionately low-income, less-educated and more likely to smoke heavily.
The researchers checked which study participants quit smoking and followed whether they gained weight and developed diabetes, heart disease or other conditions.
Quitters saw their risk of diabetes increase by 22 percent in the six years after they kicked the habit. An editorial in the journal characterized it as “a mild elevation” in the diabetes risk.
Studies previously showed that people who quit have an elevated risk of developing diabetes, said Dr. Qi Sun, one the study’s authors. He is a researcher at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
But that risk doesn’t endure, and it never leads to a higher premature death rate than what smokers face, he said.
“Regardless of the amount of weight gain, quitters always have a lower risk of dying” prematurely, Sun said.