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China Earth Science

Giant Dinosaurs Were Fastest Growing Animals Ever 64

sciencehabit writes "Lufengosaurus, a long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur that lived in China during the Jurassic period, were the biggest animals of their age, measuring 30 feet long. Now, fossilized embryos reveal that they were also the fastest growing animals on record — 'faster than anything we have ever seen,' according to one researcher. What's more, researchers have found traces of organic matter in their bones, which may belong to the oldest fossil proteins ever found."
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Giant Dinosaurs Were Fastest Growing Animals Ever

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  • by ericloewe ( 2129490 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @06:50AM (#43420857)

    Yeah, because the limiting factor in cellular division is copying DNA.

    Protip: It's not.

  • by game kid ( 805301 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:23AM (#43421191) Homepage

    Maybe the scientists currently on the DNA-decode job should bring in some reverse-engineers, or e.g. the MAME team, to figure out just how the decoding truly goes, since the "junk" seems to be used less as copyable data and more like arcane utility code. Interdisciplinary study and all that.

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @09:12AM (#43421467)

    The article doesn't mention much about how fast they really grew.

    How long did it take them to reach adult size, for example?

    And related: what was the approx. lifespan of such animals?

    How could they manage the food intake for that growth? This are plant eaters, and plants are not the most efficient sources of energy - leaves are pretty hard to digest, especially compared to meat. So they must eat a lot of it (probably pretty much constantly), and have a rather efficient digestive system that can handle the huge quantities of food.

  • by LanMan04 ( 790429 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @10:16AM (#43422039)

    That repertoire turns out to be more intriguing than Thompson could
    have imagined. Although the configuration program specified tasks for
    all 100 cells, it transpired that only 32 were essential to the
    circuit's operation. Thompson could bypass the other cells without
    affecting it. A further five cells appeared to serve no logical
    purpose at all--there was no route of connections by which they could
    influence the output. And yet if he disconnected them, the circuit
    stopped working.

    It appears that evolution made use of some physical property of these
    cells--possibly a capacitive effect or electromagnetic inductance--to
    influence a signal passing nearby. Somehow, it seized on this subtle
    effect and incorporated it into the solution.


    Another challenge is to make the circuit work over a wide temperature
    range. On this score, the human digital scheme proves its
    worth. Conventional microprocessors typically work between -20 0C and
    80 0C. Human designers set the clock so that chip components have
    enough time to settle into a digital value. As many computer hackers
    know, they can turn up the clock speed if they keep the temperature of
    the microprocessor low because the transistors settle into their on or
    off states more quickly when cold.

    Thompson's evolved circuit only works over a 10 0C range--the
    temperature range in the laboratory during the experiment. This is
    probably because the temperature changes the capacitance, resistance
    or some other property of the circuit's components. Whatever the
    cause, this is a serious drawback. If the circuit needs a temperature
    controller to enable it to operate, then it is no longer a cheap,
    low-power device. But evolution could come to the rescue here as well.
    In a future genetic algorithm, Thompson plans to score circuits not
    only on how well they perform an electronic task, but also on how well
    they cope with temperature variation. Evolution might, for example,
    create a design that includes a set of subcircuits each of which
    operates over a different temperature range. If this fails to solve
    the problem, Thompson will try giving the FPGA a clock. But he won't
    tell the circuit what to do with it. "It will be a resource--we'll see
    what use evolution makes of it," he says.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"