At Least 373 Dead as Surprise Tsunami Strikes Indonesia
A tsunami struck Indonesia without warning Saturday night, killing at least 373 people and injuring more than 1,400, The Associated Press reported Monday. With 128 still missing, the death toll is expected to rise further in the second deadliest tsunami to inundate the country this year.
The first deadliest killed at least 2,100 on Sulawesi Island in September. Saturday's tsunami adds another natural disaster to a devastating year for Indonesia in which at least 4,500 died in tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, flooding and an airplane crash, the highest disaster death toll in more than 10 years, The New York Times reported.
"I heard people shouting to run away and I saw the water had gone up to the mainland and the hotel had been flooded by water," witness Feri Ardian told The Associated Press of Saturday's tsunami. "About 200 people were dragged away by the waves."
At least 611 homes, 69 hotels and villas, 60 small shops and 420 boats have been destroyed or damaged by the wave, Indonesia's disaster response agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, according to The New York Times.
In one incident posted on social media, the wave crashed into a performance by the band Seventeen at a beach-front party for employees of the state electricity company, The Associated Press reported. The band's bass player, guitarist, drummer, road manager and technician all died.
Indonesia tsunami: Wave crashes into concert by local pop band Seventeen www.youtube.com
The tsunami occurred in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, Indonesia's first and second most populous islands, on a weekend when many were flocking to the beaches ahead of Christmas, The New York Times reported. It occurred without warning, officials said, because it was likely triggered by a landslide following volcanic activity on Anak Krakatau.
"[W]e do not have a tsunami early-warning system that's triggered by underwater landslides and volcanic eruptions," Nugroho told The New York Times. "What we have is early warning based on earthquake as a trigger."
Nugroho showed a video on Twitter of the volcano continuing to erupt on Sunday.
Erupsi Gunung Anak Krakatau yang terpantau dari pesawat Grand Caravan Susi Air pada 23/12/2018. Hampir setiap hari… https://t.co/awUnkc4WDz— Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo Purwo Nugroho)1545622674.0
The leader of Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency Dwikorita Karnawati warned people on Monday to avoid the coast for a few days as the volcano continues to erupt, The Associated Press reported.
However, even if the tsunami had been caused by an earthquake, the country's warning system of buoys might not have detected it. That is because six of its detection buoys have not been operational since 2012 due to vandalism and a limited budget, Nugroho explained on Twitter.
6) Jaringan buoy tsunami di perairan Indonesia sudah tidak beroperasi sejak 2012. Vandalisme, terbatasnya anggaran,… https://t.co/p7lm7dSnpL— Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo Purwo Nugroho)1545612531.0
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is up for re-election next year, announced Monday he would work to have all detection equipment fixed or replaced, The Associated Press reported.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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