Published24 minutes agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, BBC/Tony JolliffeBy Jonathan Amos and Alison FrancisBBC News, ScienceThe skull of a colossal sea monster has been extracted from the cliffs of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.It belongs to a pliosaur, a ferocious marine reptile that terrorised the oceans about 150 million years ago.The 2m-long fossil is one of the most complete specimens of its type ever discovered and is giving new insights into this ancient predator.The skull will be featured in a special David Attenborough programme on BBC One on New Year’s Day. Was this the heaviest ever animal on Earth?’Jurassic Pompeii’ yields astounding fossil haulAncient fossil is earliest known animal predatorImage source, BBC StudiosOh, wow!” There are gasps as the sheet covering the fossil is pulled back and the skull head is revealed for the first time.It’s immediately obvious that this pliosaur is huge and beautifully preserved.There isn’t a specimen anywhere else to match it, believes local palaeontologist Steve Etches.”It’s one of the best fossils I’ve ever worked on. What makes it unique is it’s complete,” he tells BBC News. “The lower jaw and the upper skull are meshed together, as they would be in life. Worldwide, there’s hardly any specimens ever found to that level of detail. And if they are, a lot of the bits are missing, whereas this, although it’s slightly distorted – it’s got every bone present.Image source, BBC StudiosThe skull is longer than most humans are tall, which gives you a sense of how big the creature must have been overall.You can’t help but focus on its 130 teeth, especially those at the front.Long and razor sharp, they could kill with a single bite. But look a little closer – if you dare – and the back of each tooth is marked with fine ridges. These would have helped the beast to pierce the flesh and then quickly extract its dagger-like fangs, ready for a rapid second attack. Image source, BBC/Tony JolliffeThe pliosaur was the ultimate killing machine and at 10-12m long, with four powerful flipper-like limbs to propel itself at high speed, it was the apex predator in the ocean. “The animal would have been so massive that I think it would have been able to prey effectively on anything that was unfortunate enough to be in its space,” says Dr Andre Rowe from Bristol University. “I have no doubt that this was sort of like an underwater T. Rex.”Meals would have included other reptiles such as its long-necked cousin, the plesiosaur, and the dolphin-like ichthyosaur – and fossil evidence reveals that it would have even feasted on other passing pliosaurs.How this fossil skull was recovered is extraordinary. It started with a chance find during a stroll along a beach near Kimmeridge Bay on southern England’s famous World Heritage Jurassic Coast.Steve Etches’ friend and fellow fossil enthusiast Phil Jacobs came across the tip of the snout of the pliosaur lying in the shingle. Too heavy to carry, he went to fetch Steve and the pair rigged a makeshift stretcher to take the fossil fragment to safety.Image source, BBC StudiosBut where was the rest of the animal? A drone survey of the towering cliff face pinpointed a likely location. The problem was the only way to excavate it was to abseil down from the top. Removing fossils from rock is always painstaking, delicate work. But to do this while dangling on ropes from a crumbling cliff, 15m above a beach, requires another order of skill.The courage, dedication, and the months spent cleaning up the skull, have certainly been worth it. Scientists from across the globe will be clamouring to visit the Dorset fossil to gain fresh insights into how these amazing reptiles lived and dominated their ecosystem.Palaeobiologist Prof Emily Rayfield has already examined the large circular openings at the rear of the head. They tell her about the size of the muscles operating the jaws of the pliosaur, and the forces generated as its mouth snapped shut and crushed its prey.At the top end, this comes out at about 33,000 newtons. For context, the most powerful jaws in living animals are found on saltwater crocodiles, at 16,000 newtons.”If you can generate a really powerful bite, you can incapacitate your prey; it’s less likely to get away. A powerful bite means you’re also able to crunch through tissue and bone quite effectively,” the Bristol researcher explained.”As for feeding strategies: crocodiles clamp their jaw shut around something and then twist, to maybe twist a limb off their prey. This is characteristic of animals that have expanded heads at the back, and we see this in the pliosaur.”Image source, BBC/Tony JolliffeThis newly discovered specimen has features that suggest it had some particularly acute, and very useful, senses. Its snout is dotted with small pits that may have been the site of glands to help it detect changes in water pressure made by prospective prey. And on its head is a hole that would have housed a parietal, or third, eye. Lizards, frogs and some fish alive today have one of these. It’s light-sensitive and might have helped in locating other animals, especially when the pliosaur was surfacing from deep, murky waters.Steve Etches will put the skull on display next year at his museum in Kimmeridge – the Etches Collection.It has some vertebrae poking out at the back of the head but trailing off after just a few bones. They are a tantalising clue that more of the fossil might still be in the cliff. Steve is keen to finish what he started. Image source, BBC/Tony Jolliffe”I stake my life the rest of the animal is there,” he tells BBC News. “And it really should come out because it’s in a very rapidly eroding environment. This part of the cliff line is going back by feet a year. And it won’t be very long before the rest of the pliosaur drops out and gets lost. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”Additional reporting by Rebecca Morelle and Tony JolliffeAttenborough and the Giant Sea Monster will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 20:00 on 1 January – a BBC Studios Natural History Unit production for the BBC and PBS with The WNET Group.
“Properties on this mews are always in high demand and this pastel green exterior epitomises the colourful aesthetic charm of St Luke’s Mews, now world renowned due to its cameo in the Christmas film Love Actually,” said Jack Thomas, sales manager in Knight Frank’s Notting Hill office.
So, what does 2024 have in store for Harry and Meghan? Firstly, we can expect to see the duke back on home turf in January. His claim against News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Sun, for alleged unlawful information gathering, is due to be heard at the High Court. He is also suing Associated Newspapers, the publishers of the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, along with Sir Elton John, Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost.
“As well as impacting the policing of the city, the demand on our police officers is impacting their welfare. The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has cancelled nearly 4,000 rest days and for each public order event, the same officers are being deployed.
Published37 minutes agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersBy Sean SeddonBBC NewsConspiracy theorist Alex Jones is set to have his account on X – formerly Twitter – reinstated by Elon Musk.Musk asked users to vote in a poll whether or not to lift a Jones ban pre-dating his ownership of the platform, signalling he would honour the result.Around 70% of roughly two million respondents voted to lift the ban.Jones is most notorious for falsely claiming the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, in which 20 children and six adults died, was “staged”.He was ordered to pay $1.5bn (£1.32bn) in damages to family members of the victims, after courts found he had caused them to be subjected to harassment and death threats with his false claims.Jones, who founded the conspiracy theory website Infowars, has been removed from other major platforms, including YouTube and Facebook.He was banned from Twitter in 2018 for breaching the site’s rules on abusive behaviour.After buying the platform in October 2022, tech billionaire Musk rejected calls from some of Jones’s supporters to reinstate his account.In one post, he cited the death of his 10-week old baby in 2002 as motivation for not reversing the ban, writing: “I have no mercy for anyone who would use the death of children for gain, politics or fame.”But on Saturday Musk asked users to vote on whether or not Jones should be allowed to return – a repeat of the move which saw former US President Donald Trump’s account reinstated a month after Musk took over the firm.After Musk posted the poll, Jones shared a video online in which he called on his supporters to vote in favour of his ban being overturned.As of 05:00 GMT, Jones’s old account was still suspended.Responding to one user on Saturday, Musk said he “vehemently” disagreed with Jones’s statements about Sandy Hook, adding: “but are we a platform that believes in freedom of speech or are we not?”He said the move would be “bad for X financially” but “principles matter more than money”.Musk has taken an increasingly bullish line on free speech online during his time at the top of X.Last month he accused major advertisers of trying to “blackmail” him when they boycotted X over concerns about antisemitic content shared on the site – including a post by Musk himself, which he later apologised for.More on this storyCould X go bankrupt under Elon Musk?Published2 DecemberBankrupt Alex Jones spends nearly $100,000 a monthPublished16 FebruaryElon Musk tells Rishi Sunak AI will put an end to workPublished3 November
Gregory Golodoff spent most of his years on a quiet Alaska island, living an ordinary life, managing a co-op store, fishing for crab and serving as the village council president. But Golodoff’s recent death at the age of 84 has reopened a chapter of American history and stirred up memories of a long-forgotten Japanese invasion that prompted the only World War II battle on North American soil.
Golodoff was the last survivor among 41 residents imprisoned in Japan after Japanese troops captured remote Attu Island during World War II. He was 3 when the island was taken. He died Nov. 17 in Anchorage, his family said. His sister, Elizabeth “Liz” Golodoff Kudrin, the second-to-last surviving Attuan, died in February at 82. Three of their siblings died in captivity.
“The eldest generation has passed away to the other side,” said Helena Schmitz, the great-granddaughter of the last Attu chief, who died in Japan along with his son.
Attu is a desolate, mountainous slab of tundra, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) wide by 35 miles (56 kilometers) long, and sits between the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea on the volcanic Ring of Fire. It’s the most westerly island in the Aleutian chain — closer to Russia than mainland Alaska — and was one of just a few U.S. territories, along with Guam, the Philippines and the nearby island of Kiska, taken by enemy forces during the war.
The American effort to reclaim Attu in 1943 amid frigid rain, dense fog and hurricane-force winds became known as World War II’s “forgotten battle.” About 2,500 Japanese soldiers perished, many in hand-to-hand combat or by suicide; 28 survived. Roughly 550 U.S. soldiers died. Initially trained and equipped to fight in the North African desert, many suffered from frostbite and exposure due to inadequate gear.
Even after the surviving captives were freed at the close of the war, they were not allowed to return to Attu because the U.S. military decided it would be too expensive to rebuild the community. Most were sent to the island of Atka, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) away.
With the loss of their homeland, the Attuans’ language, Sakinam Tunuu, is now all but gone, spoken only by members of Schmitz’s immediate family. The distinctive basket-weaving style of the island is practiced by just three or four weavers, and not all are of Attuan descent. Schmitz runs a nonprofit named Atux Forever to revive the cultural heritage.
Much of what is known about the Alaska Natives’ time in Japan is chronicled in the book “ Attu Boy,” written by Golodoff’s older brother, Nick, with assistance from his editor, Rachel Mason, a cultural anthropologist with the National Park Service in Anchorage.
Mason knew the three siblings. Gregory and Liz had little memory of Attu or Japan, and neither liked to talk about it, she said.
Nick Golodoff, who was 6 when he was captured, had a childlike innocence about his time as a prisoner, Mason noted. The cover of his book featured a photograph of him riding on the back of a Japanese soldier, both smiling.
That experience was far from typical. Of the Attu residents interned in Japan, 22 died from malnutrition, starvation or tuberculosis. Schmitz’s great-grandfather, Mike Hodikoff, died with his son of food poisoning from eating rotten garbage while in Japanese captivity, the book noted.
Japanese soldiers landed on Attu Island on June 7, 1942, when residents were attending services at the Russian Orthodox church. Some ran for their rifles, but Hodikoff told them, “Do not shoot, maybe the Americans can save us yet,” according to the book.
Instead, the village radio operator, Charles Foster Jones, was shot and killed before he could alert authorities, becoming the only U.S. civilian killed by the invading forces in North America, according to a tribute to Jones by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The other residents — all Alaska Natives except for Jones’ wife, a white teacher from New Jersey named Etta Jones — were kept captive in their homes for three months before being told to pack up and bring what food they could for the journey to Japan.
They first went to Kiska, another Alaska island; one Attu resident died on the way. Stuffed in the cargo hold of a ship, the others embarked on a two-week voyage to Sapporo, the largest city on Japan’s Hokkaido Island, where they were kept in four rooms in an abandoned dormitory. Only Etta Jones was separated from them and taken in a different boat to an internment facility in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.
One Japanese guard complained the Attuans ate better than the Japanese, but conditions worsened when the Alaskans ran out of the food they brought.
The Golodoffs’ mother, Olean, and others were forced to work long hours in a clay mine. As their numbers dwindled, she also became the cook for the surviving POWs, though there was little to make. She was reduced to gathering orange peels off the street and cooking them on top of a heater, said George Kudrin, who married Olean’s daughter Liz in Atka after he returned from the Vietnam War.
“I fed them to my children, and only then would they stop crying for a while,” Olean once told an interviewer.
Her husband, Lawrence, and three of their seven children died in Japan. Nick Golodoff lived until 2013. Another son who survived captivity, John, died in 2009.
Kudrin said Olean didn’t speak of her experiences in Japan, and his wife, Liz, was too young to remember anything.
“She always knew that she was part of the history of World War II and she always said, ‘I am a survivor with my mama,’” he said.
American forces reclaimed Attu on May 30, 1943, after a brutal 19-day campaign. Much of the fighting was waged in dense fog amid winds of up to 120 mph (193 kph). Attu Island today is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and known more for being one of the top destinations in North America for groups dedicated to viewing birds, especially those from Asia.
Greg Golodoff’s wife of 50 years, Pauline, said he never spoke with her about his experience in Japan or about being the last living resident of Attu.
“I tried to ask him, but he didn’t want to talk about it,” she said.
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Published47 minutes agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesA judge has strongly criticised the BBC for failing to release a large number of emails relating to the scandal over Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess Diana on Panorama. The documents had been requested by a journalist, who was investigating what managers at the corporation knew and what had been done about the reporter. Mr Bashir officially stepped down from his job at the BBC in 2021.It emerged he had secured the interview through deception and faking documents.Princess Diana interview: Why was it controversial?Timeline: Martin Bashir’s actions from Diana interview to Dyson reportInquiry criticises BBC over ‘deceitful’ Diana interviewThe court ruling relates to a freedom of information request made by journalist Andy Webb.He wants to see the emails BBC managers sent each other about Mr Bashir over a two month period in 2020.The BBC disclosed a small number of messages to Mr Webb, but it has now emerged there were more than 3,000 emails.The corporate has said these contain “irrelevant” or “legally privileged” information.Judge Brian Kennedy KC ordered the BBC to release more emails – saying the corporation had been “inconsistent, erroneous and unreliable” in the way it dealt with the initial request.The judge added the BBC’s response had been a “cause for serious concern”.In a statement the BBC accepted mistakes had been made but says it is considering the judgement.The corporation says it has also apologised to Andy Webb and the tribunal.Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Webb welcomed the judgement. Mr Bashir’s departure from the BBC came after questions were raised about how he secured the interview with Princess Diana. Watched by more than 20 million people, the interview was considered a huge scoop for the BBC at the time.But questions about the manner in which interview was secured started to be asked within a short time of its airing.In 2021, an independent inquiry by Lord Dyson, a former senior judge, found that Mr Bashir used deception to secure the interview and then lied to BBC managers.A graphic artist working for the BBC said he had been asked by Martin Bashir to produce fake bank statements.These appeared to show payments by a newspaper group to a former member of staff of Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother.The Dyson report said this was to gain Earl Spencer’s confidence, so he would introduce Mr Bashir to Diana.When questioned by BBC bosses, Mr Bashir admitted having the statements mocked up, but repeatedly denied showing these documents to Earl Spencer.The report said Mr Bashir “lied and maintained the lie until he realised that it was no longer sustainable. This was most reprehensible behaviour which casts considerable doubt on his credibility generally”.Mr Bashir has previously said mocking up the documents “was a stupid thing to do” and he regretted it, but said they had had no bearing on Diana’s decision to be interviewed.More on this story’Dark cloud over BBC journalism’ says Lord GradePublished9 November 2020Designer ‘angry’ at treatment over Diana interviewPublished10 November 2020Key dates in the Martin Bashir interview controversyPublished21 May 2021
A funnel cloud moving over Madison, a suburb in Tennessee, caused electrical flashes and a small explosion seen in a video shared on social media. Parts of Tennessee were hit by tornadoes and severe storms on Saturday, and at least six people died as a result. Buildings were reduced to rubble and communities were plunged into blackouts in the southern US state.A funnel cloud differs from a tornado in that it doesn’t touch the ground. The weather phenomenon has also been described as a “baby tornado beginning to form but never quite getting there”, according to BBC meteorologist David Braine.Read more details of the storm impact here.
A senior Chinese military officer said in a recent interview with Kyodo News that Beijing does not want a war over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands claimed by China in the East China Sea, but it is also “not fearful” of armed conflict either.Lt. Gen. He Lei, a former vice president of the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences, also indicated the possibility that China will target the Senkakus, which it calls Diaoyu, as well if it attempts to capture Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island, through the use of force.The rare reference by a senior Chinese military officer to a possible war over the Senkaku Islands suggests Beijing’s determination to gain control of the territory that Japan brought under state control in 2012.