Home' Greymouth Star : September 13th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, September 13, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1586 - Anthony Babington and fellow
conspirators go on trial for attempting to seize
the throne of England for Mary Queen of
Scots by plot to murder Elizabeth I.
1598 - King Philip II of Spain dies, having
led Spain through wars with the
Ottoman Empire (1571-78) and
1922 - The world’s highest
recorded shade temperature, 58
degrees celsius, is recorded at Al
1955 - West Germany and Soviet
Union establish diplomatic relations,
their first since World War Two.
1959 - Bonanza, starring Lorne Greene,
Michael Landon, Dan Blocker and Parnell
Roberts, is shown for the first time on US
1982 - Lindy and Michael Chamberlain go
on trial for allegedly murdering their baby
Azaria, who they say was killed by a dingo at
1997 - Mother Teresa buried in Calcutta.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Clara Schumann, German pianist (1819-
1896); John Joseph Pershing, US general
(1860-1948); Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian-
born composer (1874-1951); Claudette Colbert,
US actress (1903-1996); Roald
Dahl, Welsh-born author (1916-
1990); Jacqueline Bisset, English
born actress (1944-); Anne Geddes,
Australian photographer (1956-
); Michael Johnson, US Olympic
champion athlete (1967-); Shane
Warne, Australian cricketer (1969-); Stella
McCartney, British fashion designer (1971-);
Goran Ivanisevic, Croatian tennis player (1971-
); Fiona Apple, US singer-songwriter (1977-) .
“ We do not attach ourselves lastingly to
anything that has not cost us care, labor
or longing.” — Honore de Balzac, French
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the
glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
— Isaiah 60:1
A Hokitika resident
has been receiving
pictures and sound
transmissions from Christchurch for the past
three weeks. But the signal he is on is no
stronger than two found in the Greymouth
area. In fact, one local one has been determined
as stronger. And both signals here are no more
than two miles from the centre of town.
But Greymouth residents should not rush
out and buy sets anticipating the same results
as the southern man. They will be disappointed
if they expect to pick up good programmes
beamed from Christchurch. The reason is there
are a lot of technical ifs and buts attached to
the local signals.
A local group of television enthusiasts has
been unable to determine the direction the
signals are coming from. Nor has it been able
to establish if the signals are consistent enough
to give regular reception.
Progress on the Haast Pass road has been
retarded by incessant rain and a shortage of
men in recent weeks. It may now be a year
before the two-mile gap is closed and the route
opened to traffic. This is heavy bush country
and it would take another year to clear it.
Progress on bridging was also slower than
authorities would like, both on Ministry of
Works and contract jobs.
The main cause was the lack of skilled labour
and tradesmen, particularly carpenters.
Barnes-Kendrick. — On September 12, 1914,
in England, Lilly Mary Kendrick and Danny
Barnes. Residents of Runanga for the past 45
years. Present address: 5 Mill Street, Runanga.
uFood for thought
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here once was a dinosaur,
bigger than a T rex, that
swam with the sharks —
and ate them for dinner.
The first evidence that
a fierce and well-known meat-eating
dinosaur, spinosaurus aegyptiacus, was
adapted for both land and water was
described in the US journal Science on
Picture a giant hybrid of a duck and a
crocodile that lived 95 million years ago,
sloshing through rivers and feasting on
prehistoric sharks, sawfish and lungfish.
The 20-metric-tonne beast boasted a
tall crest on its back, akin to a boat ’s sail,
held aloft with spines as tall as an average
Its long tail, narrow hips and paddle-
shaped feet likely helped the 15m
dinosaur move through the water with
ease, experts said.
Spinosaurus also had dense bones to
help control its buoyancy in water, and
a long snout with high-set nostrils that
could allow easy breathing while partially
“ Taken together these features strongly
suggest that spinosaurus was the first
dinosaur that spent a significant amount
of time in the water,” lead author Nizar
Ibrahim, a paleontologist at the University
of Chicago said.
The 2001 movie Jurassic Park III
features a scene in which a Spinosaurus
attacks a tyrannosaurus rex and snaps the
legendary carnivore’s neck.
Scientists have long known the scene
was not accurate. T Rex lived in North
America some 30 million years after
spinosaurus disappeared, and spinosaurus
bones have been unearthed only in
Paul Sereno, a palaeontologist and co-
author of the study from the University
of Chicago, said the latest research casts
even more doubt on that Hollywood
Spinosaurus might have made nests for
its young on land but the front-heavy
creature would not have been particularly
agile on solid ground, he said.
“I think that we have to face the
fact that the Jurassic Park folks have
to go back to the drawing board on
spinosaurus,” Sereno told reporters on a
conference call to discuss the research.
“The evidence suggests it could not
balance for a long period of time on its
Sereno said the spinosaurus appeared
to have “bodily adaptions showing
transitions from a land-based predator to
a semi-aquatic predator.”
Bones from the predator’s skull, vertebra,
pelvis and limbs were found along an
old riverbank in the Sahara desert, in the
Kem Kem beds of eastern Morocco.
The discovery was a boon to
palaeontologists, who have had little to
study when it came to spinosaurus, even
though it was first identified from bones
found in Egypt in 1912 by German
palaeontologist Ernst Freiherr Stromer
That collection was destroyed during
World War Two when in 1944 British
airplanes bombed the Munich museum
where they were kept.
However, not all experts are convinced
that the latest findings show a swimming
Ken Carpenter, director and curator of
Palaeontology at the Prehistoric Museum
in Price, Utah, said the waters in the
region might not have been deep enough
for it to truly swim.
“The rivers in the land of spinosaurus
were small and undoubtedly shallow (hip
deep at most),” Carpenter said.
“As for the anatomical evidence, there
are lots of alternative hypotheses to
explain the oddities,” he added.
“The high placement of the nostrils
occurs in other dinosaurs. Such an
occurrence was once used as evidence that
diplodocus was aquatic.”
Diplodocus was a massive, long-necked
plant-eating dinosaur that lived about 150
million years ago.
“That idea has since been dropped
in part because evidence of large, deep
bodies of water are missing from the
formation diplodocus is found in,”
Researchers who worked on the paper
said it is still unclear exactly how the
dinosaur swam, or what its motion looked
like in the water.
“It ’s a half-duck, half-crocodile. We
don’t have anything alive that looks like
this animal that we can use alone as a
model,” Sereno said.
“It makes it particularly interesting
to figure out in the future what it was
doing.” — AFP
Vote for God
It is nearly that time when we will know who will govern
this very special country in which we live for the next three
We are among some of the luckiest people on earth to live
in such a wonderful country, which has so much to offer.
Its future should be important to ever y one of us, no matter
what our views on how it came to be. There is so much
about this country that is so amazing and there is still a lot
more we don’t know.
What I do know as a Christian is that it could not have
come into being just out of a coincidental explosion that
happened somewhere out in space. To believe that is a
much harder proposition to take in than the understanding
I have, that behind it all is a person whom we deem to
call God. While the explosion may have something to do
with His creating power, the natural life and our own lives
as human beings, could not possibly have resulted simply
from an explosion of matter. I believe as a Christian that
God sent His Son in Jesus Christ and as such made it
possible for me and anyone who would believe the same,
to have a relationship with the Creator of this world in our
lives. I know from my own experiences in life that there
are too many things that happen that cannot be shrugged
off as coincidence.
I also believe that God has given to me a responsibility,
something we all have in our democratic country, to make
sure I play my part in trying to make sense of what our
politicians and would-be politicians are saying. While
my electorate vote may or may not make a great deal of
difference, my party vote can. When one looks at the
vast array of policies there are on offer, I would like to
think that if a minor party ends up with a key role in
government, that it has been put there because they were
fairly voted in by the number of votes received and not
because a lot of potential voters, and critics often of the
government, could not be bothered taking an interest.
Rev David Hastings
Greymouth and Kumara Anglican Parish
You must not expect
politicians in a democratic
system to come up
with ideologically pure,
Their job is to put
together a winning
coalition of voters who have
different and even conflicting
interests, and if that requires
compromises and even
contradictions, so be it. But they
must appear to be consistent, and
Marina Silva has mastered the art.
Until last month Silva was the
vice-presidential candidate of the
smallest of Brazil’s three main
parties, a woman with a national
reputation as an environmental
activist but little prospect of high
President Dilma Rousseff
was cruising serenely towards re-
election in the first round of the
elections on October 5, despite
the fact the Brazil’s once-booming
economy is in a recession. Then a
small plane crashed.
Marina Silva was supposed to
be on that plane, but changed
her plans at the last moment.
All seven people who were
on board died, including the
presidential candidate of the
Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB),
Eduardo Campos. With the
election campaign already under
way, the PSB had no choice but
to promote Silva in his place, and
suddenly the election became a
A woman as president is no
longer an innovation in Brazil.
Dilma Rousseff broke through
that barrier four years ago. A
dramatic back story — Marina
Silva is the daughter of illiterate
rubber tappers in the Amazon,
and learned to read only when she
was 16 — is also not unusual in a
Brazilian president: Rousseff was
tortured and jailed by the military
dictators who ruled Brazil in the
1970s. But Silva really is different.
She is bright Green: her own
party, which she took into
coalition with the PSB, is called
the Sustainability Network.
Even more importantly in a
country where half the population
is non-white, Silva is a ‘caboclo’,
the mixed-race combination of
native Indian, black and white
that is common in the Amazon.
On census returns, she calls
herself ‘black’. There has never
been a serious presidential
contender who was black before.
Only two weeks after Silva was
chosen to replace the late Eduardo
Campos, she has tripled the
PSB’s support in the opinion
There is now almost no chance
that Dilma Rousseff will win
outright in the first round of the
The polls predict that Silva will
come second to Rousseff in that
round — then beat the incumbent
by 47% to 43% of the votes in the
run-off three weeks later.
All very well, but what would
Marina Silva actually do as the
president of Brazil? It is an
important question, because
Brazil, the world’s fifth largest
country (200 million people),
is going through difficult times.
Over the past twelve years the
governing Workers’ Party has
lifted 40 million Brazilians out
of poverty, but economic growth
has now stalled. Many people
blame the government ’s highly
Silva is a plain-speaking woman
with no allegations of corruption
trailing her around (as they do so
many other Brazilian politicians),
but she has been remarkably
unforthcoming on what she would
do about the economy. This is
because she now heads a political
coalition whose major member,
the PSB, is actually ‘business-
friendly’, as they say.
No political party in Brazil ever
calls itself ‘right-wing ’.
After the brutal reign of the
generals in 1964-85, the phrase
went out of use, and all three
major parties sound as if they are
on the left: the Workers’ Party,
the Brazilian Socialist Party, and
the Brazilian Social Democracy
Party. But only the Workers’ Party
is even moderately socialist; the
other two are centre-left and
Silva’s plans for the environment
are equally obscure, beyond
the well-known fact that she
disapproves of giant hydro-
electric dams in the Amazon
(and she has not even cancelled
any of them). She still talks like a
Green, but her vice-presidential
running mate, Beto Albuquerque,
was responsible for pushing a law
legalising the use of genetically
modified soybeans through
She is, in other words, a “typical
politician” who is trimming her
sails to the prevailing wind.
She accepted Albuquerque as a
running mate because she needs
to appeal to the agribusiness
sector, which accounts for almost
half of Brazil’s exports and a
quarter of the economy.
Indeed, Silva’s economic
platform is practically identical to
that of the centre-right candidate,
Aecio Neves: she would end price
controls and energy subsidies,
strengthen the autonomy of the
central banks, and “streamline”
(i.e. cut) the federal budget.
On the other hand, despite her
pursuit of business support she
is still strong on environmental
issues in general and an end to the
deforestation of the Amazon in
This is not consistent, and
ideologically pure Brazilian
environmentalists are already
disappointed in her, but she has
nothing to apologise for.
She has put together a set
of policies and a coalition of
supporters that are inconsistent
and sometimes downright
contradictory, but they may
deliver her into the presidency.
And that is the point of the
exercise; after all, without power,
policies are irrelevant.
Gwynne Dyer is an
independent journalist whose
articles are published in 45
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
It may not have been the
friendliest place for furry little
creatures, but three newly identified
squirrel-like mammals thrived in
the trees of the Jurassic Period,
with dinosaurs walking below and
flying reptiles soaring above.
Scientists announced this week
the discovery in China of fossils
belonging to three critters in a
find that sheds light on a poorly
understood collection of ancient
mammals, and indicates that
mammals as a group appeared
earlier than some experts thought.
The three species come from
a group called haramiyids that
previously had been known only
from isolated teeth and fragmented
jaws. Scientists had not even been
sure they were mammals at all.
The nicely preser ved fossils from
Liaoning Province in north-eastern
China proved definitively they
were mammals, in part because
of the presence of three bones of
the middle ear characteristic of all
mammals from shrews to whales to
The three species — whose
scientific names are Shenshou lui,
Xianshou linglong and Xianshou
songae — date from about 160
million years ago, a time when
dinosaurs ruled the land. But a
number of recent fossil discoveries
have shown that mammals were
far more diverse during that period
than previously recognized.
The three species likely looked
like small squirrels, with slim
bodies and elongated fingers in
the hands and feet, indicating they
were dedicated tree dwellers. They
had long and probably prehensile,
or grasping, tails, another feature
that helped them stay in the tree
“I would predict that they spent
even more time in the trees than
squirrels,” Jin Meng, a vertebrate
palaeontologist at the American
Museum of Natural History in
New York, who led the study
published in the journal Nature,
Based on the shape of their teeth,
they probably were omnivorous,
eating insects, nuts and fruit, Meng
said. The remains were so well
preser ved that they showed more
than just the hard parts such as
teeth and bones that commonly
fossilise, but also soft parts such as
fur and the animal’s guts, he added.
The three species had an
estimated weight ranging from
about that of a mouse, 28g, to that
of a small squirrel, about 280g.
While they may have looked and
acted like today ’s squirrels, they
were only very distantly related to
The researchers said these fossils,
along with other evidence, suggests
that the first true mammals
that evolved from mammal-like
ancestors appeared perhaps 208
million years ago during the
Triassic Period. Some scientists
have contended that mammals
entered the picture millions of years
later than that.
An illustrated reconstruction shows the new mammal species,
Xianshou songae. This mouse-sized animal was a tree dweller in the
Jurassic forests and belonged to an extinct group of Mesozoic
mammals called Euharamiyida.
Squirrel-like mammals thrived in Jurassic period
A 16m life-size model of a Spinosaurus dinosaur.
Brazil’s presidential candidates Marina Silva, left, of the Brazilian
Socialist Party (PSB) in Sao Paulo, and Dilma Rousseff of the
Workers’ Party (PT) in Brasilia.
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