Moroccan fossil find could make ‘plausible’ case for existence of Loch Ness Monster

Photo/Shutterstock via britannica
Photo/Shutterstock via britannica
Short Url
Updated 26 July 2022

Moroccan fossil find could make ‘plausible’ case for existence of Loch Ness Monster

Photo/Shutterstock via britannica
  • First known plesiosaur was excavated in England in 1823

LONDON: Dinosaur fossils discovered in Morocco have fueled speculation that the existence of Scotland’s famed Loch Ness Monster could be “plausible.”

Experts at the University of Bath in England recently discovered the fossilized remains of plesiosaurs in a 100-million-year-old river system in Morocco’s Sahara Desert, suggesting that the long-necked creatures, previously thought to be marine-based, could live in freshwater.

Enthusiasts have long speculated that the mythical creature, nicknamed “Nessie,” might be related to the plesiosaur, given that tales and grainy images of it suggest it has flippers, a long neck, and a small head. But, until now, the tentative theory had been dismissed through the belief that plesiosaurs only lived in saltwater.

Dr. Nick Longrich, who co-authored the paper on the discovery, told The Telegraph: “We don’t really know why the plesiosaurs are in freshwater. It’s a bit controversial, but who’s to say that because we paleontologists have always called them ‘marine reptiles,’ they had to live in the sea? Lots of marine lineages invaded freshwater.”

Longrich’s co-author Dave Martill, professor of palaeobiology at the university, said: “What amazes me is that the ancient Moroccan river contained so many carnivores all living alongside each other.”

The find, including the remains of adults and juveniles, suggest that the creatures lived alongside frogs, fish, turtles, and other large predators including crocodiles and the dinosaur Spinosaurus, known to frequent aquatic habitats.

The paper suggests that heavy wearing of the plesiosaurs’ teeth similar to that found on Spinosaurus’ teeth in the area implied they fed on the same diet, reinforcing the theory that they lived at least semi-permanently in the same ecosystem.

The university said the Moroccan fossils showed “Nessie” was “on one level, plausible,” though also asserting that fossil records showed the species had been extinct for 66 million years.

The first known plesiosaur was excavated in Dorset, England, in 1823, and given its name, meaning “near lizard” as it was thought to be closer on the evolutionary scale to present-day lizards than other prehistoric reptiles found in the area.

The creatures swam by flapping four fins like a turtle and roamed the waters of the Earth from the late Triassic Period 215 million years ago to the end of the Cretaceous Period when many dinosaurs and other species also went extinct.

The mystery of Loch Ness and its monster gained popularity in the late 1800s based on ancient Celtic myths. But links to the plesiosaur went mainstream after a veterinary student named Arthur Grant claimed to have nearly hit the beast while riding past the loch on his motorcycle in 1934, saying it looked like a seal but with a long neck and small head.

That same year, the Daily Mail newspaper was tricked into publishing a photo purporting to be the monster, again with a long neck and a small head, bobbing in the waters of Loch Ness, which later transpired to have been a hoax sent to the paper by a former Mail employee.


Fighter jets scramble after Beirut-bound commercial plane fails to respond to radio messages

Fighter jets scramble after Beirut-bound commercial plane fails to respond to radio messages
Updated 16 August 2022

Fighter jets scramble after Beirut-bound commercial plane fails to respond to radio messages

Fighter jets scramble after Beirut-bound commercial plane fails to respond to radio messages
  • Two Greek F-16s were sent to intercept and check on the Middle East Airlines flight from Madrid to Beirut with 145 passengers on board, according to aircraft-tracking site IntelSky
  • The fighter pilots found there was nothing to be concerned about; IntelSky said it is thought the airline pilot simply failed to tune his instruments to the correct frequency

DUBAI: Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled after a Middle East Airlines flight from Madrid to Beirut with 145 passengers on board failed to respond to radio messages, aircraft-tracking site IntelSky said on Monday.

“There were reportedly several attempts to contact the aircraft but no response had been received over the radio, something that was particularly worrying,” IntelSky said in a series of tweets about the incident, which happened on Aug. 10.

As a result, the NATO air traffic control center in Spain sent an alert to Greek authorities. A “Code Renegade” was issued, which is a distress signal usually used to signify that a plane has been hijacked, according to media reports.

Greek authorities sent two F-16 fighters to intercept and check on the aircraft. They did so and determined there was no problem to be concerned about. A video clip posted by IntelSky appeared to show one of the fighter jets flying alongside the passenger jet.

IntelSky said it is thought that the pilot, Abed Al-Hout, the son of the chairman of Middle East Airlines, Mohammed Al-Hout, forgot to tune cockpit instruments to the correct frequency and this was why he failed to respond to hails. The incident did not go unnoticed by residents in the Argos area of Greece, IntelSky said, some of whom reported to the fire department strange noises that sounded like explosions.

In a message posted on Twitter, one of the passengers on the flight, Maria Sfeir, said that after the fighters departed, the “cabin crew reassured us from the captain that these were regular trainings that were notified in advance by the airline.”

However, when other users pointed out that such training activity was unlikely with passengers on board, she said she had not believed the crew’s explanation.

Other Twitter users also commented on the incident. “Why would NATO send armed F-16s on a civilian aircraft unless it’s kind of a political” message, one person asked. Several accused the pilot of negligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Russian tourists to Finland greeted with Ukrainian anthem

A man and a woman believed to be Russian tourists walk inside a shopping center in Lappeenranta, Finland on August 12, 2022.
A man and a woman believed to be Russian tourists walk inside a shopping center in Lappeenranta, Finland on August 12, 2022.
Updated 15 August 2022

Russian tourists to Finland greeted with Ukrainian anthem

A man and a woman believed to be Russian tourists walk inside a shopping center in Lappeenranta, Finland on August 12, 2022.
  • Many Russians visit Lappeenranta to shop for clothes and cosmetics, for example, and Russian number plates can be seen on numerous cars

LAPPEENRANTA, Finland: A crowd of people gathers in the Eastern Finnish city of Imatra on a bridge overlooking Imatrankoski rapids, one of the Nordic country’s most well-known natural attractions.
At the same time every day, the river’s almost century-old dam is opened and water rushes under the bridge, to the sound of music by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
It is a popular attraction especially for Russian tourists. Even Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, visited Imatrankoski in 1772.
But since the end of July, the city of Imatra has started the show by playing the Ukrainian national anthem, to protest the Russian invasion.

Tourists takes photo from the bridge over the Vuoksi river near the dam at The Imatra Rapids in Imatra, Finland, on August 12, 2022. (AFP)

Finland, which shares 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) eastern border with Russia, is also preparing to limit tourist visas issued for Russians.
“This is bad for the Russians who love Finland,” says Mark Kosykh, a 44-year-old Russian tourist who has come to see the rapids with his family.
“But we understand the government of Finland,” he says.
Kosykh emphasises that there are Russians who do not like the war.
“Not all Russians are for Putin. The government and all people must understand this.”

Also in the nearby city of Lappeenranta, the Ukrainian national anthem is played every evening above its city hall, overlooking shopping centers popular with Russian tourists.
“The aim is to express strong support for Ukraine and to condemn the war of aggression,” Lappeenranta’s Mayor Kimmo Jarva told AFP.
Many Russians visit Lappeenranta to shop for clothes and cosmetics, for example, and Russian number plates can be seen on numerous cars.
But tourism from its eastern neighbor has caused discontent in Finland due to the war in Ukraine.
A poll published last week by Finnish public broadcaster Yle showed 58 percent of Finns in favor of restricting Russian tourist visas.
“In my opinion, they should be restricted very strongly. I don’t see any other way to make Russian politicians think,” Lappeenranta local Antero Ahtiainen, 57, says.
Although he has nothing against individual tourists, Ahtiainen says his relationship with Russians has changed.

Spurred by the rising discontent, Finland’s Foreign Minister presented a plan last week to limit tourist visas issued to Russians.
The Nordic country remains Russia’s only EU neighbor without restrictions on tourist visas to Russian citizens.
As flights from Russia to the EU have been halted, Finland has become a transit country for many Russians seeking to travel further into Europe.
“Many saw this as a circumvention of the sanctions regime,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told AFP.
Although the Schengen regime and Finnish law do not allow for an outright ban on visas based on nationality, Finland can reduce visa numbers issued based on category, Haavisto noted.
“Tourism category can be restricted in the terms of how many visas can be applied for in a day,” Haavisto said.
Haavisto said he believed the final decision to adopt the plan could be taken by the end of the month.

Although many Finns are unhappy with Russian visitors now, traditionally people on both sides of the border region have lived in close contact with each other.
“In Saint Petersburg, many people have grandpapas and grandmamas from Finland, like my wife,” Kosykh says and adds that he visits Finland every year.
Russian tourists are also an essential source of income for many Finnish border towns.
After Russia lifted Covid travel restrictions on July 15, the number of Russian tourists heading to Finland has steadily increased.
While the numbers are still well below pre-Covid levels, there were more than 230,000 border crossings in July — up on the 125,000 seen in June.
“Of course, if Russian tourists do not come here, there will be a loss of income for businesses, which is unfortunate,” Jarva says.
But Jarva believes that there is strong support for limiting Russian tourist visas.
“We have to make a choice. We are strongly behind Ukraine.”

 


Suspected Rome bank robber foiled by tunnel collapse

Suspected Rome bank robber foiled by tunnel collapse
Updated 15 August 2022

Suspected Rome bank robber foiled by tunnel collapse

Suspected Rome bank robber foiled by tunnel collapse

ROME: An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank ahead of the August 15 long weekend, police had said.
Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed and taken to hospital.
“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.
The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.
“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.
For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15 long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome becomes empty.
“The hole gang,” headlined the Corriere della Sera daily, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”
The man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers on Thursday.
The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.
“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So, we had no suspicion and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.


Actor Anne Heche legally dead after crash

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2011 actress Anne Heche arrives at the Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California. (AFP)
In this file photo taken on February 26, 2011 actress Anne Heche arrives at the Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2022

Actor Anne Heche legally dead after crash

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2011 actress Anne Heche arrives at the Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California. (AFP)
  • “Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood actor Anne Heche has been declared legally dead, one week after she crashed her car into a Los Angeles building, a spokeswoman said Friday.
Heche, 53, had been comatose in hospital with a severe brain injury since the fiery collision on August 5.
Having lost all brain function, she is “legally dead according to California law,” though her heart is still beating as her family keeps her body on life support while exploring organ donations, spokeswoman Holly Baird told AFP.
“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend,” the family said in a joint statement.
“Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy.
“Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact.”
Heche, best known for 1990s movies “Donnie Brasco” and “Six Days, Seven Nights” as well as a high-profile relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, crashed her car into a two-story house in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The violent collision resulted in “structural compromise and... heavy fire” at the scene, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The ensuing blaze took 59 firefighters more than an hour to contain and fully extinguish, the department said.
Local media reported Thursday that preliminary tests of Heche’s blood had come back positive for narcotics, though more were needed to ensure the drugs had not been administered in the course of her treatment.
Celebrity gossip outlet TMZ, citing unnamed police sources, said Heche had tested positive for cocaine and fentanyl, with the latter sometimes used for pain relief in clinical settings.
Heche rose to fame with her role on the soap opera “Another World,” for which she won a Daytime Emmy in 1991.
She was nominated for a Tony award for her appearance in “Twentieth Century” on Broadway in 2004.
“My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” Heche’s son Homer Laffoon said in a separate statement.
“Hopefully my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom,” he wrote.


Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan meets delivery rider after act of goodness goes viral

Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan meets delivery rider after act of goodness goes viral
Updated 11 August 2022

Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan meets delivery rider after act of goodness goes viral

Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan meets delivery rider after act of goodness goes viral
  • Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed earlier posted viral video as an Instagram story, inviting the public to help him identify the rider

DUBAI: Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has met with delivery rider who went viral on social media after removing two concrete blocks from a busy intersection while on duty.
Abdul Ghafoor Abdul Hakeem gained widespread admiration on social media after a video captured the delivery rider waiting for trucks and vehicles to pass before rushing to remove two concrete blocks dangerously laying in middle of the road.
“An honor to meet you Abdul Ghafoor, a true example to be followed,” tweeted Sheikh Hamdan.


Sheikh Hamdan had earlier posted the video as an Instagram story, inviting the public to help him identify the rider.
“An act of goodness in Dubai to be praised. Can someone point me to this man?” he captioned his story.