‘Tight-rope walking’ crocodile may have stood on two legs: study

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Above, an artist’s impression of the crocodile’s ancestor after fossilized footprints of the crocodile were unearthed by researchers in South Korea. (University of Colorado Denver/AFP)
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Above, an artist’s impression of the crocodile’s ancestor after fossilized footprints of the crocodile were unearthed by researchers in South Korea. (University of Colorado Denver/AFP)
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Updated 12 June 2020

‘Tight-rope walking’ crocodile may have stood on two legs: study

  • Footprints found at the Jinju Formation in modern day South Korea were analyzed

PARIS: Ancient crocodiles — long thought to have walked on all fours like their modern-day cousins — may have got around on two legs, according to new research published Thursday.
A team of researchers from China, Australia and the US analyzed footprints found at the Jinju Formation in modern day South Korea, a rich archaeological dig site that has led to the discovery of ancient species of lizards, spiders and tiny raptors dating back 120 million years.
They believe the footprints may have been made by a three-meter (10-foot) long crocodile ancestor — called Batrachopus grandis — that walked around “like a crocodile balancing on a tight-rope,” according to Kyung Soo Kim from the Chinju National University of Education.
“They were moving in the same way as many dinosaurs, but the footprints were not made by dinosaurs,” Kim said.
While the researchers initially thought the tracks were those of an ancient pterosaur — a winged dinosaur that roamed Earth until 66 million years ago — they more likely belonged to a particularly large and previously undiscovered member of the crocodylomorph family.
The 24-centimeter-long (10-inch) track prints give a sense of the size of these croc relatives.
Their legs, according to Anthony Romilio, a paleontologist at the University of Queensland and one of the study’s authors, would have been about the same size as those of an adult human. But their bodies were “over three meters in length.”
This would have made them about twice as large as relatives from the same time period.
The ancient crocodiles most likely would have walked flat on their feet, digging their heels into the earth much like humans do — leaving deep, narrow impressions.
Reconstructions of the crocodiles show they had a low center of gravity.
The lack of handprints and tail-drag marks found at the dig site, as well as the animal’s narrow gait, also indicated bipedal movement, Romilio added.
The finding could shed light on how other creatures from the Cretaceous period — such as pterosaurs — would have moved about, the authors added.
They noted that footprints from other fossil sites — such as the Haman Formation, also in South Korea — may have to be re-examined in light of the new discovery.
The study was published in Nature Scientific Reports.


Bad week for Mexico tourism capped by mis-translations

Updated 08 August 2020

Bad week for Mexico tourism capped by mis-translations

  • The snafu has prompted former president Felipe Calderón to write in his Twitter account: “Stop making Mexico look ridiculous!”
  • Local media reports say the errors may have been introduced by a web services supplier angry about not being paid

MEXICO CITY: It has been a bad week for Mexican tourism promotion, and it got worse Friday when the English language version of the country’s tourism website appeared with hilarious mis-translations.
Entire states like Hidalgo and Guerrero apparently got machine translated as “Noble” and “Warrior.”
Worse for the VisitMexico.com site, there was systematic and inexplicable re-invention of the names of some fairly well-known tourist towns. The Caribbean resort of Tulum somehow became “Jumpsuit.” The nearby lagoon of Bacalar, on the Caribbean coast, was switched to the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.
The snafu came one day after the US State Department cited the high number of COVID-19 cases in Mexico for issuing a “do not travel” advisory for the country, its highest level of warning. Hours earlier, the resort of Acapulco was forced to pull “anything goes” tourism ads that showed people partying without masks and the words “there are no rules.”
But the problems at VisitMexico.com drew howls of hilarity — and anger. The Pacific coast resort of Puerto Escondido became “Hidden Port,” a literal translation, and the northern city of Torreon became “Turret,” which is kind of close.
Some name changes were just inexplicable and appeared to have as much to do with invention as simple translation. The central Mexican town of Aculco somehow became “I Blame,” and the northern Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero became “Log.”
“Stop making Mexico look ridiculous!” former President Felipe Calderón wrote in his Twitter account.
Mexico’s Tourism Department issued a statement apologizing for the apparently out-sourced errors, but then made it sound like something sinister had been involved.
“The Tourism Department expresses its most sincere apologies to the public and users for the effects that have occurred on the website VisitMexico,” the statement said. “Moreover, we make it known that these acts aim to damage the image of the website and the department, and so therefore a criminal complaint has been filed and appropriate legal actions will be taken against those responsible.”
The department did not explain that claim, but local media reported the dispute might involve a web services supplier angry about not being paid.
On Thursday, officials took down a pair of Acapulco video ads touting the faded resort’s reputation as a nightclubbing spot — despite the fact nightclubs are currently closed to enforce social distancing. They said the ads weren’t appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have stopped being a postcard from the past, today we have changed the rules,” says a narration in one of the videos. “In fact, there are no rules,” says another voice, as people can be seen eating bizarre meals and going out to night clubs. “Eat whatever you want, have fun day and night and into the early morning hours ... find new friends and new loves.”