SCIENCE IN THE NEWS #2130 - Digest

By StaffThis is Sarah Long.And this is Bob Doughty with SCIENCE IN THE NEWS, a VOA Special English program about recent developments in science. Today, we tell about the discovery of remains of the second largest dinosaur ever found. We tell about developments that are influencing the world's future. We tell about ways to delay the disease diabetes. And we tell about the intelligence of dolphins.

Scientists working in the Sahara Desert of Egypt have found remains of a huge ancient creature never before discovered. They say the creature appears to be the second largest dinosaur ever found. The scientists believe the dinosaur lived ninety-four-million years ago. They say it was up to thirty meters long. And they believe it weighed up to sixty-three tons.

Joshua Smith of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia led the team of scientists. Science magazine reported their discovery.

The scientists found the remains near the Bahariya Oasis, about three-hundred kilometers southwest of Cairo, Egypt. The scientists named the creature Paralititan stromeri. The name Paralititan means "tidal giant."The name stromeri honors the famous German scientist Ernst Stromer.Mr. Stromer discovered a large number of dinosaur remains in Bahariya in the early Nineteen-Hundreds. He sent the fossils to a museum in Munich, Germany. However, most of the bones were destroyed by the Allied bombing during World War Two.

The University of Pennsylvania team began working in the Bahariya area two years ago. The scientists say Paralititan represents a new kind of titanosaurid. This was a group of dinosaurs that had long necks and long tails. They ate plants. The scientists estimated the size of Paralititan from several bones of the upper arm, shoulder and back. They say Paralititan appears to be similar to Argentinosaurus, the biggest dinosaur ever found. Argentinosaurus was a titanosaurid from South America. Mr. Smith said a common ancestor might have moved from one continent to another when South America and Africa were united in a single land mass.The scientists say their discovery will help to answer questions about Africa during what is known as the late Cretaceous period in Earth's history.

Ninety-million years ago, the Sahara Desert was very different than it is today. Scientists say the area was a large wetland with many plants. Along with Paralititan, the scientists found the remains of many other ancient creatures. These include other dinosaurs, fish and crabs. Some of these creatures were huge. The scientists say the area had to produce a huge amount of plants to support such creatures.

In the past two years at Bahariya, the scientists have discovered remains of about fifty kinds of animals. They have collected more than seven-hundred plant fossils. Scientists in the American city of Philadelphia are now studying and cleaning the fossils before returning them to Egypt.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))A new study has found that people around the world are getting fatter, using more medicines, and driving their cars farther. The Worldwatch Institute published the report last month. It is called "Vital Signs Two-Thousand-One." The study measures developments that are influencing the future of the world.

Michael Renner is the director of the study. He says many people in the world today are still too poor to make choices about how to live. However, people in developing countries who are gaining wealth act much like people in industrial countries. He says they are eating more meat, drinking more coffee, getting fatter and smoking more cigarettes.The researchers also found that more people depend on cars for transportation. This is producing more pollution. People also are getting less exercise because they are driving more. The report says ninety percent of the energy used in industry around the world comes from fossil fuels, such as coal. When they are burned, fossil fuels produce pollution. The Worldwatch Institute says clean energy supplies, like wind, need to be used more. However, the study says that wind power is only one percent of the energy used in the world.

The report says the demand for meat is also increasing around the world. It says the growing number of farm animals has created a threat to soil, air and water quality. Also, farmers are now giving antibiotic medicines to farm animals. This may be reducing the effectiveness of these drugs in humans.Mr. Renner says that making medicines is one of the most profitable and fastest-growing industries in the world. However, he says drug companies are failing to improve the health of much of the world's population.

For example, the top selling drugs treat conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and weight problems. These diseases mostly affect people in industrial countries. He says the drug companies should be creating better treatments to fight diseases in developing countries, such as malaria.

Mr. Renner says the report shows that the choices people make can either sicken or save the Earth. He says these choices will decide the quality of our lives and our children's lives in the new century.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Medical researchers say people can make changes in their lives that can delay the development of the disease diabetes. People with diabetes have high levels of the sugar called glucose in their blood. Glucose levels increase when the body lacks or cannot use the hormone insulin. Diabetes damages blood vessels. It injures the kidneys, eyes and nerves. It stops blood flow to the feet and legs. And it increases the chances of heart disease and strokes.

There are two kinds of diabetes. Type One develops in children or young adults. Type Two develops in older adults. The new study involved Type Two diabetes. Medical researchers say more people are developing Type Two diabetes because of a lack of physical activity and an increase in weight.Researchers at the Diabetes Prevention Study Group in Finland wanted to see if changes in people's lives could affect their development of the disease.

Their study involved more than five-hundred men and women in Finland. Their average age was fifty-five. They had a higher than normal chance of developing diabetes. About half the people met with a medical expert who helped them eat healthier foods and increase their physical activity. The other half received only general information about such changes.

The researchers tested the people each year for diabetes. The researchers said the risk of developing diabetes was fifty-eight percent lower in the group that ate healthier foods and exercised more.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Many people believe that dolphins are among the smartest animals on Earth. Dolphins are warm-blooded sea animals. Recently, scientists discovered that dolphins could do something that humans can do. They say dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror, a shiny piece of glass.

Scientists Diana Reiss and Lori Marino discovered this special skill. They did separate studies with two bottlenose dolphins at the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, New York. Mizz Reiss and Mizz Marino say that dolphins have a level of self-knowledge because they are able to recognize themselves in mirrors. This level of self-knowledge has been identified only in humans and one other kind of animal - the great apes.The two researchers discovered this by using a test created thirty years ago by scientist Gordon Gallop. Mr. Gallop placed a mark on animals. He found that when animals study the mark in a mirror, they show signs of self-recognition.

Mizz Reiss and Mizz Marino tested the two dolphins many times. Each dolphin repeatedly swam to the mirror to inspect the place where it had been marked. Mizz Reiss says that most animals either refuse to look at a mirror. Or they react aggressively as if the image were another animal.

This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS program was written by George Grow, Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach. It was produced by Caty Weaver. This is Sarah Long.And this is Bob Doughty. Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.

Voice of America Special English