New research using the most comprehensive study of feathered dinosaurs and early birds has revised the evolutionary relationships of dinosaurs at the origin of birds. An international team of researchers, led by Professors Michael Pittman and Rui Pei, at Hong Kong University, from five different countries, including McGill University Professor Hans Larsson published their findings in the journal Current Biology. The team pored over fossils, developed a novel analytical pipeline to search for evolutionary trees, and estimated how each species may have crossed the stringent thresholds for powered flight.
“Our revised evolutionary tree supports the traditional relationship of dromaeosaurid (‘raptors’) and troodontid theropods as the closest relatives of birds. It also supports the status of the controversial anchiornithine theropods as the earliest birds”, said Pei. With this improved evolutionary tree, the team reconstructed the potential of bird-like theropods for powered flight, using proxies borrowed from the study flight in living birds.
The team found that the potential for powered flight evolved at least three times in theropods: once in birds and twicein dromaeosaurids. “The capability for gliding flight in some dromaeosaurids is well established so us finding at least two origins of powered flight potential among dromaeosaurids is really exciting,” said Pittman.
“This was a fun collaboration over several years”, commented Larsson. “For the first time, we have a well resolved evolutionary tree of these small, feathered dinosaurs to ask questions about how birds originated. We were able to map biomechanical limits to all these species and propose a picture of experimentation within a spectrum of near-flight to fully-flighted capabilities in these wonderful little carnivores. This goes against the simple, linear stepping forward through evolution model of bird origins and instead presents one were an explosive radiation of feathered dinosaurs were experimenting with many kinds of wing-assisted locomotion. I think this is the most realistic view of bird origins to date.”
Source: McGill University
iPhone 12 mini Could Be a Part of 2020 iPhone Family, Rumours Suggest
While Apple is busy preparing for the 2020 iPhone family, the rumour mill has now suggested that the smallest in the new series would be called none other than the iPhone 12 mini. This could be the fourth model in the iPhone 12 range that is likely to debut as soon as next month. The iPhone 12 mini title makes some sense if we look at Apple’s product line that includes the iPad mini and Mac mini; there was also an iPod mini in the past. The Cupertino company has so far avoided the “mini” moniker for its iPhone series, though.
Tipster who uses a Twitter handle L0vetodream initially suggested the existence of the iPhone 12 mini earlier this week. A tweet was posted by the tipster calling four new iPhone models the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
On Friday, another tipster, who last month shared photos of an iPad Air brochure that turned out to be true, posted an image allegedly showing stickers from unreleased silicone iPhone cases. One of those stickers carry the name of the iPhone 12 mini — alongside the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The tipster suggested that the iPhone 12 mini would come in a 5.4-inch size, while the iPhone 12/ iPhone 12 Pro would be the 6.1-inch model and the iPhone 12 Pro Max be the model. As noted by MacRumors, the image also suggested that the cases appear to be made for the iPhone carrying model numbers “MHL732M/A” and “MHLG32M/A” that both are not yet used by Apple.
Apple may bring the iPhone 12 mini in a design size similar to that of the iPhone SE 2020. However, you can expect some price difference that would help consumers pick an appropriate option in their budget.
Rumours around four new iPhone models in the 2020 lineup aren’t new as various reliable sources suggested the development in the past. Nevertheless, the iPhone 12 mini being a part of the lineup is something quite new and interesting as the company has so far managed to avoid using the word “mini” in its iPhone lineup, though it did go with the “XR” and “SE” titles to bring some distinction.
That said, Apple is speculated to host a virtual event for the iPhone 12 family next month where it would ultimately announce the number and names of the new models.
Are Apple Watch SE, iPad 8th Gen the Perfect ‘Affordable’ Products for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Why SaaS vendors like Snowflake love open source
Commentary: For those who look at the success of SaaS services as portending bad things for open source, the opposite may be true.
From the earliest days of MongoDB, co-founder Eliot Horowitz planned to build a managed database service. As he stressed in an interview, Horowitz knew that developers wouldn’t want to manage the database themselves if they could get someone to do it for them, provided they wouldn’t sacrifice safety and reliability in the process. The natural complement to open source, in other words, was cloud.
This isn’t to suggest cloud will kill open source. Though Redmonk analyst James Governor is correct to suggest that where developers are concerned, “Convenience is the killer app,” he’s also right to remind us that open source “is a great way to build software, build trust, and foster community,” factors that cloud services don’t necessarily deliver. Even as enterprise customers embrace more Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors like Snowflake or Datadog, open source software will matter more than ever.
Cloudy with a chance of open source
This fact can be overlooked in our rush to cloudify everything. Donald Fischer, CEO and co-founder of Tidelift, said, “Ten years from now much of the complexity around managing open source will be invisible to developers in much the same ways that cloud computing has made people forget about server blades and routers.” Responding to this sentiment, Hacker One CEO Marten Mickos stressed, “We simply MUST automate and package away the current complexities, because we are already busy creating new ones.”
While this sounds great, not everyone is enthusiastic about the trend.
SEE: Special report: Prepare for serverless computing (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
For one thing, as analyst Lawrence Hecht pointed out, it’s not clear we “want [open source] to be invisible” to the user. Sure, we might want to eliminate the bother of managing the code, he continued, “but having an auditable trail is valuable.” Even for those who don’t want to inspect or compile source code (and, let’s face it, that’s most of us), it’s useful to have that access, even if we outsource the work of digging into it.
In addition, there’s another risk, highlighted by Duane O’Brien: Eliminating user visibility into the open source software that powers managed cloud services “will also have the effect of adding an insulating layer between users and contributors. That insulating layer will further propagate the notion that open source is something done by other people, with several additional side effects.” One of the most deleterious of effects? It potentially exacerbates the sustainability of open source projects, as Alberto Ruiz noted. It may also reduce some of the enthusiasm developers feel for getting involved, Jason Baker argued.
But, really, this isn’t about cloud versus open source. It’s really a matter of shifting the focus for end users of that software, as Fischer went on to stress: “The analogy of cloud computing vs private data centers illustrates the opportunity: specialists doing the generic work upstream, freeing up time and brainpower to focus on new organization-specific capabilities further up the stack.”
Even for companies that offer proprietary services, open source is essential. Snowflake just went public with its proprietary data warehousing service, but underneath it’s open source software like FoundationDB. Datadog is similar, with Elasticsearch under the hood. And so on.
We can be grateful for these SaaS companies that make it easier to consume open source software even as we recognize that they simply couldn’t exist without open source.
Or, as Randy Shoup put it, it comes down to a convenience calculus: “If we have to operate infrastructure, we strongly prefer open source. If we can buy it as a service, we don’t really care what’s inside.” But the reason end users needn’t care is because builders continue to care a great deal about open source. That isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the views herein are mine and don’t reflect those of my employer.
Sea Level Rise by 2.5 Metres Now Inevitable Even if Paris Climate Goals are Met, Study Shows
According to a new paper published in the journal Nature, thanks to a host of self-reinforcing, destabilising mechanisms, the slow melting of the Antarctic ice sheet will cause the sea level to rise by about 2.5 metres even if Paris climate goals are met and temperatures start to fall after reaching 2°C over pre-industrial levels.
“The more we learn about Antarctica, the direr the predictions become,” said co-author on the paper Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “We get enormous sea level rise even if we keep to the Paris agreement and catastrophic amounts if we don’t.”
According to Jonathan Bamber from the University of Bristol, who was not involved in the research, the study provides compelling evidence for the potentially devastating consequences of even moderate climate warming, which could lead to the removal of entire nations from the world map.
One of the key reasons why the ice sheet is unlikely to re-grow is hysteresis – an effect whereby the value of a physical property lags behind the effect which modulates it. As the ice melts, its surface drops and sits in warmer air, requiring lower temperatures to reform than to remain stable.
The study indicates that the ice sheet will “not regrow to its modern extent until temperatures are at least one degree Celsius lower than pre-industrial levels” – a feat that would be incredibly difficult to achieve at this point.
Given that the Antarctic ice sheet contains about half of the Earth’s fresh water, substantial global warming would lead to massive sea level rise, and that’s not even including the rise caused by melting ice in the Arctic Ocean and Greenland.
“Our results show that if the Paris Agreement is not met, Antarctica’s long-term sea-level contribution will dramatically increase and exceed that of all other sources,” conclude the researchers.
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