New Prehistoric Shark Species Discovered Alongside Sue the T. Rex | Science | Smithsonian

The teeth of Galagadon nordquistae were discovered in the rock that once surrounded the famous T. rex skeleton.

Source: New Prehistoric Shark Species Discovered Alongside Sue the T. Rex | Science | Smithsonian

Dinosaurs tend to dominate our vision of the past. As large and imposing as they were in life, they loom even larger in our imaginations. But much more than just the “terrible lizards” lived and thrived during the Mesozoic era, and some of the creatures that lived alongside the dinosaurs actually bear a striking resemblance to the animals of today.

Sharks, for example, are some of the most successful creatures to ever live. Their fossil record stretches back about 400 million years and includes ancient species both strange and familiar. A new finding adds to the long-lived legacy of these marine predators. Fossil shark teeth were recently discovered alongside the bones of the most famous and complete T. rex skeleton ever found, helping to fill out a more detailed picture of life during the last days of the dinosaurian reign.

The tiny teeth, petrified tidbits about the size of a pinhead, look straight out of an 1980s videogame. They took a circuitous route to discovery, which started with the excavation of the nearly complete Tyrannosaurus known as “Sue” back in 1990. As the tyrannosaur’s bones were removed from the ground, the encasing rock, called matrix, was left around the bones to keep them safe until more detailed prep work could be carried out. Chicago’s Field Museum, where Sue resides today, saved the matrix for future sifting and study. Almost three decades later, those efforts yielded the tiny teeth of a shark that swam upstream in rivers to live in Sue’s neck of the woods.

“This shark lived at the same time as Sue the T. rex, it was part of the same world,” said Pete Makovicky, the Field Museum’s curator of dinosaurs and one of the authors of a study describing the new species, in a press release. “Most of its body wasn’t preserved, because sharks’ skeletons are made of cartilage, but we were able to find its tiny fossilized teeth.”


North Carolina University paleontologist Terry Gates led the work to characterize the new shark species in the Journal of Paleontology. An appropriate name for the ancient shark was immediately apparent to the researchers. Each of the small, triangular teeth look like the persistent space invaders in the 1981 arcade classic Galaga. Thus, Gates and colleagues named the shark Galagadon nordquistae, with the species name also honoring museum volunteer Karen Nordquist for finding the first fossilized tooth.

“It was so tiny, you could miss it if you weren’t looking really carefully,” Nordquist said in a press release. “To the naked eye, it just looks like a little bump, you have to have a microscope to get a good view of it.”

Based on comparisons with other fossil shark teeth, the team proposes that Galagadon belonged to a major shark family called orectolobiformes, or carpet sharks. DePaul University paleobiologist Kenshu Shimada agrees with this identification. Galagadon, he says, “serves as another example of the diversification of this shark group not only in oceans worldwide, but also in the freshwater systems in the terrestrial environments near the end of the so-called ‘Age of Reptiles.’” While only the teeth of Galagadon are known so far, their shape suggests that the living animal would have looked something like today’s bamboo sharks, a subset of carpet sharks found in the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific.

What has intrigued paleontologists about Galagadon, though, is what the shark can reveal about the world that Sue stomped around in. “The new study, including the recognition of the new species, sheds light on the complex evolutionary history of the freshwater system that existed in North America when T. rex roamed the Earth,” Shimada says.

Even though dinosaurs often dominate the spotlight, it’s often the meeker species that help paleontologists reconstruct what ancient environments were really like. Smaller animals such as frogs, turtles and fish can help narrow down the details of ancient habitats like climate and systems of waterways.

Until now, it seemed that the body of Sue was deposited in a lake that had been created by a nearly-dried-up river. It was thought to be a relatively self-contained habitat. But the presence of a shark species only known in ocean environments indicates that the river was likely connected to the sea, allowing Galagadon and other species to swim inland. Without the shark teeth, paleontologists would have missed this watery connection. Whether Galagadon moved in formation like its video game namesakes, though, will have to wait for future finds.

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Edgar Martinez, legendary Mariners DH, overcomes odds to make Baseball Hall of Fame in final attempt | The Seattle Times

In his 10th and final year on the ballot, Edgar Martinez joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the second player to wear a Mariners cap in the Baseball Hall of Fame, completing his climb from 25.2 percent of the vote to easily eclipsing the 75 percent needed for election.

Source: Edgar Martinez, legendary Mariners DH, overcomes odds to make Baseball Hall of Fame in final attempt | The Seattle Times

A Long Lesson | Plausibly Live

Source: A Long Lesson | Plausibly Live

On a day where there is much conversational buffalo to consume, the US Army released its 1300 page two-volume report on the lessons it has learned in the Iraq War.

Many of them are repeats of lessons long ago learned in other conflicts but then forgotten because that’s what we do. Then we fight another war and release another set of lessons learned that get put on the shelf and covered with dust.

We never learn and we repeat them again. And again. And again.

Army’s long-awaited Iraq war study finds Iran was the only winner in a conflict that holds many lessons for future wars

Authors hope to avoid the re-learning of lessons of Vietnam, as was a factor in the early years of the Iraq war.



Source: Army’s long-awaited Iraq war study finds Iran was the only winner in a conflict that holds many lessons for future wars

A two-volume Army study of the Iraq war is a deep examination of the mistakes and success of the war effort that also takes aim at critics who would slough off the conflict as they shift to near-peer threats.

The study, commissioned by former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in 2013 and continued under current chief Gen. Mark Milley, was delayed for release since 2016, when it was completed. Some said it was due to concerns over airing “dirty laundry” about decisions made by some leaders during the conflict.

The 1,300-page, two volume history, complete with more than 1,000 declassified documents, spans the 2003 invasion through the U.S. withdrawal, the rise of ISIS, and the influence of Syria and Iran.

“At the time of this project’s completion in 2018, an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor,” authors wrote in the concluding chapter.

Col. Joe Rayburn and Col. Frank Sobchak, both retired, authored the study.

They note the damage to the political-military relationship that the war has caused, even to the American public.

“The Iraq War has the potential to be one of the most consequential conflicts in American history. It shattered a long-standing political tradition against preemptive wars,” authors wrote. “In the conflict’s immediate aftermath, the pendulum of American politics swung to the opposite pole with deep skepticism about foreign interventions.”

They also bluntly address naysayers who see the war as an aberration, and look only for the Army to move back to its traditional large-scale warfighting role, as a quick path to losing the hard-earned lessons of counterinsurgency warfare, portions of which will no doubt be part of future conflicts whether with terrorist groups or with nation state near-peers.

“The character of warfare is changing, but even if we face peer or near-peer competitors in future conflicts, they are likely to employ a blend of conventional and irregular warfare — what is often called ‘hybrid warfare’ or ‘operations in the gray zone,’ ” authors wrote.

In his foreword to the work, Odierno wrote that “those who rejected the idea that there is an operational level of war in counterinsurgency were wrong.”

He notes that following the war, the United States has entered “another historical cycle” like wars past, where civilian and military leaders debate the utility of land power. And he points directly to an overtaxed Army at even higher troop levels than they are now.

One issue raised repeatedly in the study is the lack of troops — within the deployed brigade combat teams, available for other operations such as the war in Afghanistan, and lack of an operational reserve in theater for responses to major events.

However, the study doesn’t just focus on the military’s failures in seeing the changing nature of the war.

Odierno calls the work an “astonishing story of an Army that reached within itself to learn and adapt in the midst of a war the United States was well on its way to losing.”

Milley’s foreward calls the study a “waypoint” on the Army’s “quest to comprehend the OIF experience.”

He sees the analysis as a start of what will be a lengthy analysis of the conflict.

“OIF is а sober reminder that technological advantages and standoff weapons alone cannot render a decision; that the promise of short wars is often elusive; that the ends, ways, and means must be in balance; that our Army must understand the type of war we are engaged with in order to adapt as necessary; that decisions in war occur on the ground, in the mud and dirt; and that timeless factors such as human agency, chance and an enemy’s conviction, all shape а war’s outcome,” he wrote.

Highlights of the study include validations of criticisms made at the time the war was being fought, and others that were not foreseen and only understood in the years that followed.

Study authors note that technology could not always make up for manpower shortages, that coalition warfare was “largely unsuccessful” for several reasons, that failing to account for a lack of understanding of the inner workings of Iraqi politics and group struggles meant some military unit actions did exacerbate problems.

And those battlefield commanders who did find innovative solutions to ground-level problems were not only often not commended or heeded in their innovations, they were often penalized for their work that inverted policy to adapt to real time needs of the battlefield.

The “short war assumption” and overly optimistic thinking drew out problems by pushing funding and manning to future projects because victory was always 18 months away.

The transformation of the Army to create more BCTs resulted in fewer units available for deployment, stretching the active units thin and requiring National Guard units to deploy in a large-scale conflict for the first time since the Korean War.

Half of all brigades in Iraq at the time of the 2005 election were Guard units. While the authors commended the Guard units for their service, they noted that, at the time, they were less experienced soldiers thrust into a critical time of the war without proper resourcing.

And how leaders assessed their own performance during the war suffered from a lack of clear understanding of what mattered.

They leaned too much on “inputs” rather than “outputs,” for example, money spent, Iraqis trained or insurgents killed or captured — rather than whether there was more cooperation with locals or reduced attacks.

“Army leaders have become too enamored with the ‘fetishization’ of statistics and metrics, when they only provide a snapshot in time of a portion of the situation,” authors wrote.

Additional highlights include the following, as highlighted in previous reporting:

  • The  need for more troops: At no point during the Iraq war did commanders have  enough troops to simultaneously defeat the Sunni insurgency and  Iranian-backed Shiite militias.
  • The  failure to deter Iran and Syria: Iran and Syria gave sanctuary and support to Shiite and Sunni militants, respectively, and the U.S. never developed  an effective strategy to stop this.
  • Coalition warfare wasn’t successful: The deployment of allied troops had political value but was “largely unsuccessful” because the allies didn’t send enough  troops and limited the scope of their operations.
  • The  National Guard needs more training: While many National Guard units  performed well, some brigades had so much difficulty dealing with insurgents that U.S. commanders stopped assigning them their own battlespace to control. The study found that Guard units need more funding and training.
  • The failure to develop self-reliant Iraqi forces: The U.S.-led effort to train and equip Iraqi forces was under-resourced for most of the war. A premature decision to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqis made it harder to blunt political pressure by Iraqi officials on Iraqi commanders.
  • An ineffective detainee policy: The U.S. decided at the outset not to treat captured insurgents or militia fighters as prisoners of war and then never developed an effective way to handle detainees. Many Sunni insurgents were returned to the battlefield.
  • Democracy doesn’t necessarily bring stability: U.S. commanders believed the 2005 Iraqi elections would have a “calming effect,” but those elections instead exacerbated ethnic and sectarian tensions.

The report praises the 2007 surge and other COIN efforts, many of which have been attributed to leaders such as Odierno, retired Gen. David Petraeus and retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who most recently served as President Trump’s national security adviser.

At the same time, some of its critiques can be levied at specific decisions of past Army leaders, including former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker’s decision to move ahead with the BCT restructuring as part of the Army transformation. Also, the consolidation of U.S. forces on large bases, leading to a security vacuum around Baghdad, can be attributed to then-Gen. George Casey.

50 years of unbroken patrols | laststandonzombieisland

In 1962, with the “Skybolt crisis,” which arrived when the promised GAM-87 Skybolt cruise missile tanked, leaving British Vulcan bombers hamstrung, the Royal Navy announced they would add a ballistic missile program to HMs Submarines and moved to produce five Resolution-class SSBNs, a 8,400-ton vessels each armed with 16 U.S.-made UGM-27 Polaris A-3 ballistic missiles, each able to deliver three British-made 200 k ET.317 warheads in the general area of a single metropolitan-sized target. This enabled a single British Polaris boomer (they actually call them bombers) on patrol to plaster the 16 most strategic targets in the CCCP.

Source: 50 years of unbroken patrols | laststandonzombieisland

With all of the moving parts and ominous tasking, the Resolutions, a modified Valiant-class design, were given traditional battleship/battlecruiser names (Resolution, Repulse, Renown, Revenge, and Ramillies) although just four were ultimately completed.

On 15 February 1968, HMS Resolution fired the first British Polaris on a test range off Florida and on 15 June began her first deterrent patrol.

By the next April, with Repulse and Renown accepted and ready for action, the Brits had enough bombers to keep a boat at sea at all times.

Now, fast forward 50 years and the British are celebrating an unbroken chain of deterrent patrols, of which they have completed nearly 400, having long ago switched to Trident-based SSBNs.

“The Continuous At-Sea Deterrence is the longest sustained military operation ever undertaken by the UK and this 50th anniversary year presents a valuable opportunity to recognize and thank those from the Naval Service and their families, the wider Ministry of Defence and our many industrial partners who have contributed to this vital national endeavor,” said First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones in an RN presser this week.

To celebrate the feat, the RN will issue special patrol pins to bomber submariners this year.

As noted by the service, “Up to now, submariners who complete a single patrol have been awarded a pewter pin and those achieving 20 or more patrols presented with a gold deterrent pin. The new silver award bridges the gap between the two, being awarded after ten patrols.”

Tony Romo brilliantly saw several key Patriots plays coming down the stretch in AFC Championship win over Chiefs

For what its worth, I have enjoyed Romo in the booth from the get- go. His energy and ‘realness’ outweighed his broadcasting “skills.”

And yesterday he was on fire!

Source: Tony Romo brilliantly saw several key Patriots plays coming down the stretch in AFC Championship win over Chiefs


Lessons Not Learned | Plausibly Live

Everything that is wrong with the NFL – and therefore the nation – was on display yesterday during the Conference Championships and the aftermath.

We old-timers remember a day when what happened yesterday would not have happened. People talk about how “great” Quarterbacks are today. Pish. I guarantee you that there is no way in hell that Staubach, Namath, Starr, Hart, Tarkington, Tittle, Stabler, Griese or even Bradshaw would have allowed what happened yesterday to happen. The reason that it did happen was because of what a fellow by the name of Joe Pisarcik, derisively nicknamed “Not-Broadway Joe” by his own Offensive Coordinator did on November 19, 1978.

And because of what happened to him that day in the Meadowlands of New Jersey, Quarterbacks quit being Quarterbacks and became automatons. Which is why Drew Brees should have said, “Are you insane?” yesterday, but instead threw the ball into the ground, killing the clock and saving the Rams season.

Source: Lessons Not Learned | Plausibly Live