science

Dr. Christian Sidor, Burke Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology, right, holds Washington’s first dinosaur fossil to compare it with the cast of a femur of another theropod dinosaur held by  Brandon Peecook, University of Washington graduate student.
Burke Museum

A large bone from a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur has been discovered in the San Juan Islands – the first dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington state.

Researchers found the fossil by accident. In 2012, they were in Sucia Island State Park collecting sea creature fossils when they stumbled on a bone that looked unusual for that area.

A month later they returned to the site with paleontologists. Initially, Professor Christian Sidor of the Burke Museum didn’t believe it belonged to a dinosaur.  

But one feature of the bone convinced Sidor, a professor of biology at the University of Washington and vertebrate curator at the Burke Museum: “The muscles that actually attach to the back of the leg and retract the femur attach here. So this structure, the shape of it, and how close it is to the head of the femur tell us that this is a carnivorous dinosaur. All dinosaurs have this feature.”  

The scientists don’t know what kind of dinosaur the bone comes from, however, because there’s only a third of the bone. Sidor said it’s likely a therapod, which includes Tyrannosaurus rex, birds and Velociraptors. And they are pretty sure it is from the Late Cretaceous period and is about 80 million years old.

During a commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy today, President Obama will cast climate change as posing an "immediate risk to our national security."

NPR's Scott Horsley reports Obama is expected to tell graduates that the Coast Guard itself will have to adjust to the effects of rising sea levels. Scott filed this report for our Newscast unit:

If you were to catch a salmon in Puget Sound, chances are you won’t be able to say exactly where that fish came from. That’s because salmon spawn in rivers and streams and then swim hundreds or even thousands of miles to the ocean to mature.

Some new research could help fisheries managers better protect salmon by studying their ear bones - that’s right, ear bones.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 as seen from the east.
Flickr Photo/Washington DNR (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Carolyn Driedger, a hydrologist and outreach coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, about what volcanologists have learned since Mount St. Helen's erupted 35 years ago and what other risks we face from Northwest volcanos.

Dan Miller was driving north along Interstate 5 through Southwest Washington when Mount St. Helens blew its top 35 years ago.

“As I passed the Richfield exit on I-5, it just happens that there’s a beautiful clear view off to the northeast to Mount St. Helens,” he said. “I looked over there and it was a beautiful, bright sunny morning.”

Miller is a retired geologist who studied volcanoes with the U.S. Geological Survey. He was on his way up Mount St. Helens on the morning of May 18, 1980. He planned to work on the volcano that day.

Flickr Photo/Seattle.roamer (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Mycologist Paul Stamets calls fungi “the soil magicians of nature.” He says they were the first organisms to come to land 1.3 billion years ago.

Stamets has spent his career searching for ways to learn from nature’s secrets to heal humans and the planet. One focus of his research is Northwest mycelium. 

The lion's mane jelly taken by KUOW reporter and diver Ann Dornfeld in 2010.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Little fish are disappearing from much of Puget Sound, according to a new study.

These are the fish that orcas and salmon depend on, and they’re being replaced by ballooning populations of jellyfish, which most fish and seabirds don't eat.

A magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck Nepal on Tuesday, just over two weeks after a massive magnitude-7.8 quake killed more than 8,000 people.

The United States Geological Survey puts today's quake as close to the capital, Kathmandu, as the one two weeks ago.

Christian Cultee, a student at the Northwest Indian College, with a rocket that broke the sound barrier.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It started out as a joke. 

The students at Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham were launching little rockets made from recycled water bottles as a way to do some hands-on science.

While the Carolinas brace for Tropical Storm Ana — the first named storm this year in the Atlantic — the Plains states are keeping a vigil for a possible repeat of powerful tornadoes that swept through the region earlier in the week.

A new glimpse of what the universe looked like in its youth has been captured, thanks to researchers who determined that light from the galaxy known as EGS-zs8-1 has spent more than 13 billion years traveling to reach us here on Earth.

The blue galaxy, which was named for its coloration after its initial discovery by the Hubble telescope, was studied by a team of astronomers based at Yale University and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Heroin drugs seized by the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan.
Flickr Photo/UK Ministry of Defence

Marcie Sillman talks to journalist Sam Quinones about his book "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic." 

An Acousitic Doppler Current Profiler (four blue-red cyllinders with yellow housing) is installed at the base of Axial Seamount.
University of Washington/Interactive Oceans (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with University of Washington oceanographer John Delaney about Axial Seamount, the underwater volcano that just erupted off the Oregon coast.

"When the volcano erupts it releases a gigantic plume, just like any volcano, except that all that plume is caught within the ocean itself," Delaney said. 

A thousand people have already signed up to go to Nepal on the website for All Hands – a U.S. group that sends volunteers to help out after a disaster. Indeed, people around the world are eager to assist on the ground.

But will your presence hinder more than it will help?

We asked officials at several organizations working in Nepal. Their answer: It depends. On when you go; Whether you're part of an organized group or on your own; And if your skills and experience match what's needed.

There hasn't been much to cheer about in Nepal this week as it copes with a devastating earthquake — but cheers and applause broke out in Kathmandu Thursday after a teenager was pulled alive from a collapsed building.

For five days, the teenager was covered in the rubble of a seven-story building hit by Saturday's powerful quake. Rescue workers who got him out included an American disaster response team that arrived in Nepal this week.

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