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.


Google chief trusts AI makers to regulate the technology

Updated 13 December 2018
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Google chief trusts AI makers to regulate the technology

  • Tech companies building AI should factor in ethics early in the process to make certain artificial intelligence with “agency of its own” doesn’t hurt people, Pichai said
  • Google vowed not to design or deploy AI for use in weapons, surveillance outside of international norms, or in technology aimed at violating human rights

SAN FRANCISCO: Google chief Sundar Pichai said fears about artificial intelligence are valid but that the tech industry is up to the challenge of regulating itself, in an interview published on Wednesday.
Tech companies building AI should factor in ethics early in the process to make certain artificial intelligence with “agency of its own” doesn’t hurt people, Pichai said in an interview with the Washington Post.
“I think tech has to realize it just can’t build it, and then fix it,” Pichai said. “I think that doesn’t work.”
The California-based Internet giant is a leader in the development of AI, competing in the smart software race with titans such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Facebook.
Pichai said worries about harmful uses of AI are “very legitimate” but that the industry should be trusted to regulate its use.
“Regulating a technology in its early days is hard, but I do think companies should self-regulate,” he said.
“This is why we’ve tried hard to articulate a set of AI principles. We may not have gotten everything right, but we thought it was important to start a conversation.”
Google in June published a set of internal AI principles, the first being that AI should be socially beneficial.
“We recognize that such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use,” Pichai said in a memo posted with the principles.
“As a leader in AI, we feel a deep responsibility to get this right.”
Google vowed not to design or deploy AI for use in weapons, surveillance outside of international norms, or in technology aimed at violating human rights.
The company noted that it would continue to work with the military or governments in areas such as cybersecurity, training, recruitment, health care, and search-and-rescue.
AI is already used to recognize people in photos, filter unwanted content from online platforms, and enable cars to drive themselves.
The increasing capabilities of AI have triggered debate about whether computers that could think for themselves would help cure the world’s ills or turn on humanity as has been depicted in science fiction works.