Armored dinosaur with spiky head unveiled at Utah museum

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A life reconstruction of the head of the new armored dinosaur Akainacephalus johnsoni, which lived 76 million years ago in Utah, U.S. is seen in this image provided July 19, 2018. (REUTERS)
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This undated photo from the Natural History Museum of Utah shows the heavily ornamented skull of an ankylosaur, a squat plant-eater that was covered in bony armor from its spiky head to its clubbed tail, before its unveiling at the museum in Salt Lake City. (AP)
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In this July 19, 2018 photo, a fresh mount of new fossils of a new genus and species of ankylosaur dubbed Akainacephalus johnsoni are displayed at the Natural History Museum of Utah, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AP)
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In this July 19, 2018 photo, volunteer Randy Johnson, left, and Randy Irmis, paleontology curator at the Natural History Museum of Utah, pose next to a fresh mount of new fossils of a new genus and species of ankylosaur dubbed Akainacephalus johnsoni in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Armored dinosaur with spiky head unveiled at Utah museum

  • Paleontologists believe the animals migrated to North America several times over the eons when lowered sea levels allowed them to cross a land bridge
  • The fossil was discovered on the Kaiparowits Formation, a thick layer of sandstone that also has vast coal reserves inside a sprawling national monument

SALT LAKE CITY: A dinosaur that was covered in bony armor from its spiky head to its clubbed tail has been unveiled at a museum in Utah.
The species of ankylosaur was a squat plant-eater that roamed southern Utah on four legs about 76 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous Period. At that time, the desert state was hot and humid, covered with slow-moving streams and rivers as well as large conifer trees, paleontologist Randall Irmis said.
It was about as long as a large alligator and stood at a height that would have been about waist-high for a tall human. It likely used its distinctive clubbed tail and armor for protection, though they could also have been used for display.
The fossil unveiled Thursday at the Natural History Museum of Utah was first discovered in 2008 in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a rich dinosaur repository in southern Utah.
The fossil was discovered on the Kaiparowits Formation, a thick layer of sandstone that also has vast coal reserves inside a sprawling national monument that was one of two President Donald Trump ordered downsized last year. The spot where the fossil was found remains within Grand Staircase-Escalante boundaries, though areas that are now outside the boundaries also have fossil potential, Irmis said.
Researchers were expecting it to have smooth bony armor on its skull like other North American ankylosaurs, but were surprised to find evidence that it instead had spiky armor on its head and snout, similar to fossils found in Asia.
Paleontologists believe the animals migrated to North America several times over the eons when lowered sea levels allowed them to cross a land bridge.
The species was dubbed Akainacephalus johnsoni to recognize Randy Johnson, a retired chemist and museum volunteer who spent hundreds of hours painstakingly freeing the skull from rock and debris.
Along with a complete skull, the fossil also includes the distinctive tail club, large parts of its spinal vertebral column and parts of its body armor, including two neck rings and spiked armor plates, the museum said in a statement.


Woman refuses flood rescue unless her 25 dogs go too

An aerial view shows partially submerged houses at a flooded area in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 17, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Woman refuses flood rescue unless her 25 dogs go too

  • Dozens of military and coast guard helicopters took troops to high risk areas seeking people trapped on the roofs of submerged buildings
  • One a heavily pregnant woman Sajita Jabeel, 25, gave birth just after her rescue

KOCHI, India: A woman refused to leave her flooded house in India’s Kerala state without her 25 dogs, a rescuer said Saturday, as the death toll continued to rise.
The dogs were found cowering on beds in the flooded house with water rising when an animal welfare group arrived for a last-gasp rescue, said Sally Varma of Humane Society International.
The woman, who uses only one name Sunitha, was found by rescuers in Thrissur, one of the districts worst hit by floods in Kerala that have left at least 324 dead.
But she refused to leave her house unless her dogs, all strays or abandoned pets, were taken too, Varma told AFP.
“She sent back volunteers and rescue officials because they said they could not evacuate her dogs.
“She was just not willing to leave her dogs behind. She then managed to get in touch with us,” Varma added.
“When the rescue team reached her house, it was completely flooded and the dogs were huddled on beds.”
Sunitha, her husband and the dogs are now staying at a special shelter as the relief camps set up for the disaster refused animals.
Varma said she has started a fundraiser for Sunitha and her pets so a kennel could be built at her home after the floods recede.