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Comment Re: Nothing surprising here (Score 1) 224

And the aftermath of a massive asteroid crash that eradicated almost all plantlife definitely is not an ordinary situation. Its entirely feasible that in many regions only one plant would have survived.
Keep in mind also that plants themselves were different. Shrubs and ferns mostly. Large landcoverers didnt exist. Hell grass only evolved about 15 to 20 million years ago.

Comment Re:90% of dinosaurs survived? (Score 1) 224

It is, also, an official dictionary meaning.
If you're going to get pedantic about what words can and cannot mean then you have to have some sort of neutal way to arbitrate or anybody could pedantically insist on any meaning as the only meaning and we would be left with all the pedants arranging a deathmatch among themselves to select the wordmaster - whoever is still standing at the end.
Alternatively we can use the dictionary, a work compiled by expert lexicographers as the measure by which we can arbitrate such disputes.

The choice is yours. I rather hope you choose the deathmatch. I'll buy a ticket to see that.

Comment Re:90% of dinosaurs survived? (Score 2) 224

It took me all of 5 seconds on dictionary.com to confirm that both meanings are valid and, in fact, the meaning as used in the summary is the primary definition - and thus the MORE correct one.

Words change meanings over time, and get new meanings added. It is not WRONG to use these new meanings - by that logic we all need to go back to whatever proto-language homo erectus spoke - because pretty much every language on earth exists because of new words that were invented and old words that had their meanings altered and expanded over time.

It's really rather annoying when grammar and vocabulary nazis don't actually know grammar and vocabulary.

Comment Re:Nothing surprising here (Score 2) 224

Omnivores often have an advantage in that they can survive in more habitats and handle habitat changes more readily. The price they pay for it is the jack-of-all-trades price. Omnivores generally aren't as good as specialists at getting any particular kind of food. So if a change leaves only one good food source available, and a specialist is available then the omnivores lose out.

So to say they had the advantage would be an excessive generalization. They probably had an advantage in many places - and were the first to go in others.

Comment Re:Nothing surprising here (Score 5, Informative) 224

>What about creatures like crocodiles, alligators, and the Komodo dragon which all could pass for dinosaurs?

Could pass for - but aren't. They are different families in the reptile kingdom entirely. Many of whom predated the dinosaurs. Even when dinosaurs were around they were not the *only* large reptilian family - they were in fact just one of four (that we know off). They were, however, the largest LANDLIVING reptiles at the time. The number two spot goes to the Pterosaurs, even though most people only know Pterodactyl who wasn't even the most impressive of that family, and which are constantly filed in with dinosaurs (in every dino movie for one) even though they were not dinosaurs (and very, very distant relatives). There were hardly any aquatic dinosaurs - the oceans then belonged to the Mosasaurs and Icthyosaurs -two families that were both just as diverse as dinosaurs. The ichthyosaurs were essentially reptilian dolphins and whales but they eventually went extinct after being outcompeted by the plesiosaurs - the third major aquatic reptile family.
And all this is still just the highlights package - I mean in the late triassic there were already turtles in the oceans - among them two whale-sized giants that could swallow a modern leatherback without chewing. Imagine a two-tonne turtle. And their descendents are also still with us.

Horse-shoe crabs are the last surviving member of a family that ruled the the oceans some 350-million years ago - long before any of these reptiles. The rise of the reptile predators probably helped along the extinction of every single species in that family - but the horse-shoes survived (and are not crabs), then outlived the great reptiles and continued right into present day - where they now hold the record as the animal that has directly saved more human lives than any other.

Comment Re:Nothing surprising here (Score 4, Informative) 224

>I would be quite interested in finding out if there are any fossil remains of mammals and how they fit into the ecosystem with dinosaurs before the big one hit

There are, plenty. The oldest mammal fossils are between 150 and 200 millions years old. Mammals and Dinosaurs coexisted for a very long time. We identify early mammals by their teeth. Mammals alone have precisely interlocking teeth. This came at a price. Sharks and crocodiles can replace lost teeth indefinitely - but when you have precisely interlocking teeth every tooth is a snowflake, and so you can't just sausage-factory out infinite replacements. Mammals therefore only have two sets of teeth - one smaller set that sees them through childhood and a larger set through adulthood. All our dental issues and root cannals began with that.

But it has a catch - to make the first set last through childhood, it had to be bigger than what can fit infancy - so for the first part of their lives mammal babies have no teeth at all. So they needed a new food source for babies. Thus was evolved: milk.

So the teeth are a key clue to whether or not a creature was milk-producing, and it's how we differentiate early mammals from their reptilian contemporaries and close ancestors. The reason the date-span is so long (150-200 million) is that the oldest likely mammal fossil we have is 200-million years old, but many paleontologists believe it should be considered a reptile ancestor of mammals and not a true mammal yet. By 150-milliion years ago though, there were plenty of mammals and they were definitely mammals. These first definite mammals were morganucodontids which were tiny creatures that looked rather like shrews. They probably at seeds and the occasional dinosaur egg and were likely eaten by the smaller predatory dinosaurs in turn. They were however, brainy little guys. Their skull cavity for body mass ratio was far higher than any known dinosaur. They were our ancestors - and the mammalian trait of intelligence was already established.

  By the time of the K/T event they had diversified significantly into a number of species. What the study now actually says is that most of those species did not survive K/T - only a small number here and there made it through. And then, as plantlife recovered, there were these massive ecosystem niches ready to be taken advantage off - and no big creatures in the way, and those mammals were perfectly poised to take advantage. You often find the greatest diversity right after mass extinctions. With so many creatures gone, for a while almost any body plan can offer a workable survival advantage - and then as they start to compet with each other, it narrows down again into the winning categories.

Comment Re: If no one goes to jail, it means nothing... (Score 1) 140

>"I'm greedy, so I'll look the other way and give hints that this bad thing should be done, and wave money to get greedy people to do bad things" is malice.

No it isn't. Malice has a rather specific definition. Malice is causing pain or damage for the pleasure of doing so. It's doing harm because you enjoy the harm itself. Greed is not malice, it's no less bad - but it is very different. A greedy person won't harm you unless there is profit for them in it. A malicious person will harm you if they think they can get away with it.

>I suggest the executives didn't know what was going on,
Well at this stage we don't have conclusive evidence either way, but I suspect differently. Hopefully over the course of these court cases we'll get a definitive answer. History suggests you're wrong though - it's ALWAYS argued that the executives didn't know and it almost never turns out to be true.

> and the engineers didn't think it was a big deal because the car actually has emissions like other cars
Actually the difference was significant - but even if you believe it's small (I'm not disputing your numbers I dissagree with your claim that they represent a small difference but that's a subjective thing) - the car was marketted based on the test figures. VW ran massive ads about how clean their diesel cars were - even one with the cast from Mythbusters. It was a key selling point, so they were flagrantly deceiving consumers. That alone is a crime worthy of this punishment. Selling things to people by flat out lying about what they are buying is the very definition of fraud.

Comment Re: If no one goes to jail, it means nothing... (Score 1) 140

Which is only a problem if the meat packer does not wash the place every other day. Thats why meat inspectors show up unannounced.
So its more like somebody who bribed the meat inspector's secretary to warn him if the ibspector is coming and never bothers to clean otherwise.

That said. I never assumed mallice. In fact I rejected mallice as extremely unlikely. I suspect greed and even then only indirectly. I suspect that greedy executives promissed a nice bonus to the engineers if they ensure the car will pass the test regardless of how it actually runs. Executives who saw that warning from Bosch and new exactly what they wanted to happen even if they were likely too smart to ever say it outright. Nlt doing the dirty work yourself may keep mob bosses from convictions but it does not make them any less guilty.

Comment Re: If no one goes to jail, it means nothing... (Score 1) 140

Nice theory but its disproven by the known evidence. Specifically that we know the origin of the code and its original purpose. It was written by Bosch as a debugging tool and there is documentation proving that Bosch had specifically warned VW not to enable it for anything else.
So the engineers who did this did it despite being fully aware of the risks. It wasnt an oversight. It was deliberaty ignoring the warning that the code would be fraudulent to use in production.

Every programmer has written code like that. Code which feeds something preset values so you can check that codes which consumes those values give the known right answers. Its the way unit testing works. But an accountant who sends unit test results to the IRS instead of using customer's actual books to their tax returns will go to jail for fraud. That is about the same levelof fraud as this - provided the real tax return would have had a billion dollar bill and the one he filed got a 500 million dollar rebate.

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