Wednesday, 13 April 2011

T. Rex Has a New Relative!

If, like me, you have to huddle under a blanket when the T. Rex is rampaging during Jurassic Park, you may be horrified to learn that scientists have just identified a new species of tyrannosaur may have been even bigger! This new, mighty theropod dinosaur has been named Zuchengtyrannus magnus, which means 'Tyrant of Zucheng' and so far a fossil skull and jaw bones have been excavated in China.

Scientists have estimated that this new member of the tyrannosaur family stood around four metres tall, was around eleven metres long and could have weighed as much as six tonnes. The tyrannosaurines were a group of large theropod dinosaurs who lived in eastern Asia and North America during the Cretaceous Period 99 million to 65 million years ago. So far the famous T. Rex is the most illustrious member of the family, although there have been debates as to whether T Rex was a mighty predator or a scavenger.

But although Zuchengtyrannus magnus might not have such a catchy name as T. Rex, just give him his own movies, and he might just become the new dinosaur to stalk our nightmares!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Mona Lisa's Remains To Be Exhumed

The Mona Lisa is possibly the most famous portrait in the world. There has been endless speculation over the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile and what the lady really looked like when she was alive. Well now archaeologists have decided to try and exhume the remains of the Mona Lisa, extract some DNA and recreate her famous face.

The Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Louvre in Paris, is believed to be a depiction of a noblewomen who lived in renaissance Florence called Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo. This lady died in 1542 and is thought to be buried in the Saint Orsola convent in Florence, and an Italian team led by Professor Silvano Vinceti is aiming to find and excavate her bones, extract the DNA and then compare this DNA against that of two of her children that are buried in other churches in Florence. This DNA comparison should prove the identity of the remains, but there are obstacles in the way of the excavation.

A survey has revealed a 500 year old crypt beneath the convent, but there are fears that the ancient crypt may have shifted over the years and it is thought that the remains of the convent were bulldozed over thirty years ago.

The team will start digging at the end of April 2011, and will locate the crypt using radar. So maybe we will soon be looking at the true smile and face of the Mona Lisa?