Fossil footprints reveal existence of big early dinosaur predator

In a handout picture released by Manchester University on October 26, 2017 Fabien Knoll, honorary senior research fellow at the University of Manchester, lies next to the newly discovered dinosaur footprints, belonging to the newly named species Kayentapus ambrokholohali found in Lesotho. (AFP)
Updated 27 October 2017
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Fossil footprints reveal existence of big early dinosaur predator

WASHINGTON: A trail of fossilized three-toed footprints that measure nearly two feet (57 cm) long shows that a huge meat-eating dinosaur stalked southern Africa 200 million years ago at a time when most carnivorous dinosaurs were modest-sized beasts.
Scientists on Thursday described the footprints from an ancient river bank in Lesotho, and estimated that the dinosaur, which they named Kayentapus ambrokholohali, was about 30 feet (9 meters) long.
No fossilized bones were found, but the footprints alone showed a lot about the animal. The scientists concluded it was a large theropod — the two-legged carnivorous dinosaur group that included later giants like Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus — but that it was more lightly built than those brutes. The theropod group also gave rise to birds.
Kayentapus lived early in the Jurassic Period, shortly after a mass extinction that doomed other large reptilian terrestrial predators that lived in the preceding Triassic Period, when dinosaurs first appeared.
“Our finding corroborates the hypothesis that theropods reached a great size relatively early in the course of their evolution, but apparently not before the Triassic-Jurassic boundary,” said paleontologist Fabien Knoll, of the Dinopolis Foundation in Spain and the University of Manchester in Britain.
There are no skeletal fossils of meat-eating dinosaurs this large so early in the dinosaur evolutionary history. It lived on the ancient southern hemisphere super-continent of Gondwana.
There are other fossilized footprints from Poland that indicate a similar-sized theropod inhabited the northern super-continent of Laurasia around the same time.
Theropods of similar size do not appear in the fossil record until 30 million years later, Knoll said.
The footprints were found on what was once a river bank, bearing telltale ripple marks and desiccation cracks.
“It is the first evidence of an extremely large meat-eating animal roaming a landscape otherwise dominated by a variety of herbivorous, omnivorous and much-smaller carnivorous dinosaurs,” added paleontologist Lara Sciscio of the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
The research was published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.
In separate research, other scientists on Thursday described another new dinosaur, a plant-eater called Matheronodon provincialis, that lived 70 million years ago. Its fossils were unearthed in southern France.
Matheronodon is distinctive for its large teeth with a chisel-like cutting edge that provided a powerful shearing action like scissors to eat tough vegetation, said paleontologist Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels.
That research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.


British pharmacy Superdrug says customers’ information was compromised

Superdrug said in the statement that it had advised its customers to change their online passwords. (Shutterstock)
Updated 22 August 2018
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British pharmacy Superdrug says customers’ information was compromised

  • The hacker shared a number of details with us to try and ‘prove’ he had customer information

LONDON: British pharmacy Superdrug said late on Tuesday that there had been a “possible disclosure” of personal information of some of their Superdrug.com customers, which could include names, addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers.
Superdrug said in a statement on Twitter that customers’ payment care information had not been compromised. It did not specify how many customers were affected.
Superdrug did not respond to a request outside regular business hours for comment and additional information.
“The hacker shared a number of details with us to try and ‘prove’ he had customer information — we were then able to verify they were Superdrug customers from their email and log-in,” a Superdrug spokeswoman was quoted as saying in a report by the Independent https://ind.pn/2MNoeOE.
Earlier, the BBC reported that the hacker or hackers had attempted to extort a ransom from the company.
Superdrug said in the statement that it had advised its customers to change their online passwords and that it had contacted the police and Action Fraud, the UK’s national cybercrime reporting center.