From today's featured article
Plesiorycteropus was a mammal from Madagascar that became extinct sometime after 200 BCE, as evidenced by radiocarbon dating. Upon its description in 1895 by French naturalist Henri Filhol, Plesiorycteropus was classified with the aardvark, but more recent studies have found little evidence for that linkage. Molecular evidence instead suggests that it is related to the tenrecs, in the order Afrosoricida. Two species are recognized, the larger P. madagascariensis and the smaller P. germainepetterae; subfossil remains of both species have been found in the same site. Only limb and partial pelvis and skull bones have been recovered to date. Plesiorycteropus was probably a digging animal that fed on insects such as termites and ants. It also shows adaptations for climbing and sitting. Estimates of its mass range from 6 to 18 kilograms (13 to 40 lb). Forest destruction by humans may have contributed to its extinction. (Full article...)
Did you know...
- ... that after sailors from HMS Sickle (pictured) boarded a small enemy ship, they brought 1,000 oranges and lemons from the ship's cargo back to their submarine?
- ... that Madame A. C. Bilbrew directed the choir that appeared as cotton pickers singing spirituals in Hearts in Dixie, one of the first all-black talkies?
- ... that ... sofferte onde serene ... ("serene waves suffered") is a composition for piano and tape written by Luigi Nono in collaboration with pianist Maurizio Pollini?
- ... that actor Carl Au shaved the back and sides of his head for the final arc of his Waterloo Road character Barry Barry, in a style he dubbed "The Ferret"?
- ... that John Buddle Blyth and August Wilhelm von Hofmann were the first to report photopolymerisation?
- ... that the voice of the Erckel's francolin has been described as "an insane cackled laughter"?
- ... that Gaspar Jiménez, who was indicted in 1981 for a bombing attack on radio newscaster Emilio Milián, was later convicted for plotting to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro?
- ... that the rare, much sought after record in Deadwax has killer sound?
In the news
- Scientists synthesize Hachimoji DNA using four new nucleobases not found in natural DNA (structure pictured).
- A fire in a historic district of Dhaka, Bangladesh, kills at least 80 people.
- German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, best known for his creative work at Chanel, dies at the age of 85.
- A suicide bombing attack near Pulwama, in Indian-administered Kashmir, kills 40 security personnel.
- NASA concludes the 15-year Opportunity Mars rover mission after being unable to wake the rover from hibernation.
On this day
- 1525 – A Spanish-Imperial army defeated a French force in the Battle of Pavia, the decisive engagement of the Italian War of 1521–1526.
- 1711 – George Frideric Handel's Rinaldo, the first Italian language opera written specifically for the London stage, premiered.
- 1803 – The U.S. Supreme Court, in Marbury v. Madison, declared an act of Congress unconstitutional for the first time, forming the basis of judicial review.
- 1943 – World War II: The Battle of Kasserine Pass, the first major engagement between American and Axis forces in Africa, ended with the Allied forces suffering heavy losses.
- 1989 – United Airlines Flight 811 experienced an uncontrolled decompression after leaving Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii, killing nine passengers when their seats were sucked out of the aircraft.