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Ancient Bird from age of Dinosaurs probably Sounded like Duck, say Scientists

The team of scientists says the “Vegavis Iaai” bird that lived in Antarctica's Vega Island more than 70 million years ago probably sounded like a modern-day duck

A recently discovered fossil of the “Vegavis Iaai” bird that lived in Antarctica’s Vega Island more than 70 million years ago is placed on silhouette and a model of the bird, on a desk before a conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct. 12, 2016. VOA

Scientists for years have known what birds living at the end of the age of dinosaurs looked like. Now, they say they might know what one sounded like: quack!

The team of scientists says the “Vegavis Iaai” bird that lived in Antarctica’s Vega Island more than 70 million years ago probably sounded like a modern-day duck. They based their findings on unearthed fossils of the bird’s sound-producing vocal organ known as the syrinx.

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“We can now say that it’s most probable that this bird… imitated a sound that can be compared to its living relatives, ducks and geese,” Argentine paleontologist Fernando Novas said at a news conference in Buenos Aires on Wednesday after the team published their conclusions in the journal Nature.

“The importance of this discovery is that it lets us ascertain how the dinosaurs, including birds, evolved in the way they communicated with each other and how this organ that was capable of emitting sound, permitted brain development.”

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The fossils of the bird from the Cretaceus-age were first found in 1992 by members of Argentina’s Antarctic institute and were detailed as a new species in a 2005 study that linked them to modern ducks and geese. The study was also published in Nature and led by Julia Clarke, a professor of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Texas at Austin. But it wasn’t until 2013 that Clarke noticed the rings of the syrinx through a micro-computed tomography of the fossil.

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“The most exciting aspects of the study to me are – that the voice box of a bird can fossilize in 3-dimensional detail. This opens a whole new field of inquiry in the sounds of dinosaurs, Clarke said.

“Imagining oneself in the Late Cretaceous forests of Antarctica and elsewhere and thinking it is at this time that for the first time there are familiar sounds – not the trills of song birds but honks, quacks, whistles.” (VOA)

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Toxicity in Air Affects Children’s Brain Development: UNICEF

UNICEF has warned that air pollution affects a child's brain development

Brain Development
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, air pollution toxicity can affect children's brain development. Pixabay

Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has warned that air pollution toxicity can affect children’s brain development and called for urgent action to deal with the crisis gripping India and South Asia.

“I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution,” Fore, who recently visited India, said on Wednesday.

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask,” she added.

Air pollution affects children most severely and its effects continue all their lives because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults and lack immunities, Fore said.

Brain Development
Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines brain development in babies and young children. Pixabay

She added that it “damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems”.

“Unicef is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis,” affecting 620 million children in South Asia.

Also Read- Snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir to Help Bring Pollution Down in Neighbouring States

Schools were closed in Delhi till Tuesday because of the severe environmental situation caused by post-harvest burning of stubble in neighbouring states.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday touched 625, considered “severe plus” level. (IANS)