World (13472)

New turkey-sized plant-eating dinosaur identified

    The Diluvicursor pickeringi, which scientists identified from fossils found in Victoria 12 years ago. More than 10 years after finding foot and tail fossils in Victoria's south-west, scientists have identified a new dinosaur that roamed what has been described as Australia's "lost world".

    The fossils were found in 113-million-year-old rocks that form a sea platform near Cape Otway in 2005 by a volunteer prospector.

    University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences alumnus Dr Matt Herne said scientists have now figured out the bones belonged to a turkey-sized herbivore, which lived in the Australian-Antarctic rift valley.

    It's taken quite a while to … work out exactly what the skeleton is, and what the skeleton's evolutionary relationships are," he said.

    It takes time and very careful and detailed examination, so that's partly why it's taken so long to get out to now.

    The dinosaur has been named Diluvicursor pickeringi, meaning Pickering's flood-running dinosaur, after the late David Pickering, who was Museums Victoria's collection manager for vertebrate palaeontology.

    Dr Herne said it took a team of people doing field trips to work out what the dinosaur was like and the kind of environment it lived in.

    From what we can tell, even though it's only preserved a tail and a foot, from those bones, we can talk from similarly related things, that it was a biped, so it ran around on its two strong hind legs," he said.

    This particular dinosaur probably weighed between 3 or 4 kilograms, but its species have grown to a size of 2. 3 metres in length, and up to 17kg.

    Unlike the turkey, it was probably scaled, rather than feathered, with a beak and grinding teeth for eating vegetation.

    The team's research also involved a detailed analysis of what the Australian-Antarctic rift would have been like when it was inhabited by dinosaurs.

    The environment that the lived in is really exciting, because it was in fact a big rift valley that existed between Australia and Antarctica," Dr Herne said.

    And on the eastern margin of it was a massive volcanic mountain range, possibly akin to the Andes, and of course this all gone now.

    So what we're looking at is a lost world, basically Australia's lost world … the only rocks that we can actually visit and look at this lost world are on the south coast of Victoria.

    Japanese tycoon loans Basquiat masterpiece to Brooklyn

      A Basquiat masterpiece, bought by a Japanese billionaire for a record $110. 5 million, will make its museum debut this month, going on display in the artist's home borough of Brooklyn. Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 "Untitled" has been virtually unseen in public and never previously been exhibited in a museum. It depicts a skull-like head in oil-stick, acrylic and spray paint, and was bought at Sotheby's last May by Yusaku Maezawa. The $110. 5 million price tag set a new auction record for Basquiat and a record for the work of any US artist at auction. My wish to share this masterpiece with as many people as possible begins in Basquiat's home town of Brooklyn," Maezawa wrote on his Instagram account Thursday. Basquiat was born in Brooklyn to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents. He died 30 years ago, in 1988, of an overdose aged just 27 after a fleeting eight-year career. He enjoys a stratospheric following, his work snapped up by celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Jay-Z, but experts say his legacy has been largely confined to popular culture while museums have been accused of downplaying his stature. The subject of much of Basquiat's work, ordeals endured by blacks in America, has found renewed resonance in the wake of nationwide US protests since 2014 about the shootings of unarmed black men by police. The Brooklyn Museum said "Untitled" would be on view from January 26 to March 11. It will then go on a world tour, before being housed eventually in a museum that Maezawa is building in his home town of Chiba, Japan, the museum added. I am thrilled to be sending Basquiat's masterpiece home to Brooklyn," said the 42-year-old Japanese entrepreneur in a statement released by the museum. It is my hope that through the exhibition and extensive programming accompanying it, the young people of the borough will be inspired by their local hero, just as he has inspired so many of us around the world. An aspiring rock star as a teen, Maezawa founded Start Today in 1998, which operates Japan's largest online fashion mall, ZOZOTOWN. Today, he is the 14th richest person in Japan with a fortune of $3 billion, according to Forbes. Leonardo da Vinci's reputed "Salvator Mundi" sold for $450. 3 million at Christie's last November, becoming the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction.

      Japan sewers clean up their act with manhole art

        Japan's sewerage industry has found a way to clean up its dirty and smelly image: elaborately designed and colourful manhole covers with 12,000 local varieties nationwide -- including, of course, a Hello Kitty design.

        Appealing to a Japanese love of detail and "kawaii" ("cute"), bespoke manhole covers adorn the streets of 1,700 towns, cities and villages across Japan and have spawned a collection craze among so-called "manholers.

        The designs represent an instant guide to a place as they feature its history, folklore, or speciality goods: a castle design for an ancient town, a bay bridge for a port and Mt Fuji for a city at the foot of Japan's iconic mountain.

        As for Tama City, located in the western sprawl of greater Tokyo, locals are pinning their hopes on a more modern Japanese icon -- Hello Kitty -- to attract tourists, alongside the town's theme park showcasing much-loved children's character from the Sanrio company.

        We'd be happy if people come and take some time for a stroll in our town while looking for the Hello Kitty manholes," said Mikio Narashima, who heads the city's sewage system division, after the city installed the first of the 10 designed covers.

        Veteran spotter Shoji Morimoto said his passion for covers was fuelled after noticing that the central city of Fukui sported two phoenixes on its manholes.

        He later learned the imaginary birds were a symbol of the town's rise from a 1945 devastating US air raid and a deadly earthquake three years later.

        I sometimes do research on why the town has that particular design. I'm impressed whenever I find out it represents the town's history and culture," said Morimoto, who coined the word "manholer" for like-minded people.

        Designed manholes cost more but appeal to a Japanese sense of detail, the 48-year-old Morimoto told AFP.

        He has already visited all the designed manholes in his local area. Now I have to travel far," he admits.

        It's treasure hunting for adults.

        Manholers" take pictures of the covers they visit, with the more obsessive taking rubbings.

        For others, the interest lies more in "cover bonsai", plants growing on soil accumulated on and around covers.

        More than 3,000 people attended a "manhole summit" in western Japan in November.

        And manhole covers are not simply there to hide away dirty sewers, enthuses Tetsuro Sasabe, who is interested in covers for telecoms infrastructure.

        I'm interested in why the manhole is there, where it leads to -- I'd say I'm interested in what's under the manhole covers," he said.

        He noted that there is a story even to plain covers -- such as finding the logos of now-defunct companies.

        Given their size, the covers cannot easily be collected in the same way people hoard stamps and coins.

        But to satisfy collectors' desire, the private-public GKP network designed to promote awareness on the importance of sewerage in society, has released 1. 4 million cards of 293 different covers.

        The cards are free but they can only be obtained through local offices, thus working as a tourist magnet.

        They are numbered in chronological order and come with the manhole's exact GPS information for the convenience of manholers.

        We believe Japanese manholes are cultural products we can boast to the world," said Hideto Yamada, a GKP planning official.

        And when a real cover does become available, demand is brisk.

        The eastern city of Maebashi held a highly competitive lottery in October as its offer to sell 10 used manhole covers -- 40 kilogrammes of iron -- at 3,000 yen ($28) each was swamped with more than 190 bids.

        The history of decorating manhole covers in Japan dates back 40 years to a bid to improve the image of the sewerage system, according to GKP's Yamada.

        Cover designs must have the same friction level no matter which direction humans or cars come from so that people do not slip over them.

        This need for friction resulted in placing extra streaks of clouds, sea waves or tiny stars in the background, giving birth to "condensed designs," Yamada said.

        Overall, there are some 15 million manholes in Japan, of which only a fraction have colourful designed covers, carefully hand-painted.

        A plain cover costs some $600 but a colourful, designed one can be double that depending on the number of colours used and the level of detail used.

        The craze has since spread online with abundant information on where to find the best manholes via the hashtag #manhotalk.

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