The fossilised skull of a colossal whale with a killer bite has been uncovered by a team who reckon the monster shared the Miocene oceans with a giant shark.
The bones, dated to 12 to 13 million years ago, were spotted by Klaas Post of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in Peru's Ica desert. In homage to Herman Melville's Moby Dick, the beast has been named Leviathan melvillei.
The skull is a huge 3 metres long, says team member Olivier Lambert at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. The team estimates the whale would have been between 13 and 18 metres long, like a modern sperm whale.
What really surprised the researchers was the size of the whale's teeth. "Some of the biggest ones are 36 centimetres long and 12 centimetres wide, and are probably the biggest predatory teeth ever discovered," Lambert says.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Reusable shopping bags harbour potentially deadly bugs and could threaten public health, say scientists.
Tests on shoppers' bags revealed that half contained traces of the lethal toxin E.coli, which killed 26 people in Scotland in 1996 in one of the world's worst food-poisoning outbreaks.
The scientists also found many bags were contaminated with salmonella.
They say reusable bags must be washed regularly at high temperature to kill bugs left by the packaging from raw meat.
The level of bacteria they found was high enough to 'cause a wide range of serious health problems and even death', particularly to children.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says food dyes pose a number of risks to the American public and is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban three of the most commonly used dyes: Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. A new CSPI report says those dyes contain known carcinogens and contaminants that unnecessarily increase the risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children and allergic reactions.
"These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behavior problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody," said CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson, co-author of the report. "The Food and Drug Administration should ban dyes, which would force industry to color foods with real food ingredients, not toxic petrochemicals."
The FDA has not read the report yet an agency spokesperson said. "We appreciate the report from CSPI and look forward to reviewing it. We take our commitment to protecting children seriously".
According to the report, tests done on lab animals found contaminants that raised health concerns about several of the nine dyes currently approved for market. The approved dyes are Blue 1 & 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3 & 40 and Yellow 5 & 6. And every year, about 15 million pounds of these dyes wind up in our food, with alot of it ending up in things like candy, fruit drinks and cereals.