One Dead, 25 Injured as Gas Explosions Rock Massachusetts Towns
A series of gas explosions Thursday in three towns north of Boston killed one and injured 25, CNN reported Friday.
More than 60 suspected gas fires ignited in the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover Thursday evening, causing multiple houses to explode.
"This has been an overwhelming event," Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael B. Mansfield told reporters, according to CNN. "I have been in the fire service for almost 39 years and I have never seen anything like this in my entire career. ... It looked like Armageddon, it really did."
Fires broke out in at least 39 homes.
There was heavy traffic as Massachusetts State Police urged all Columbia Gas customers in the three towns to evacuate.
In total, 8,000 people were unable to return home Thursday night, CNN reported. A middle school in North Andover and a senior center in Andover were set up as temporary shelters.
Columbia Gas estimated that 8,600 meters were impacted and said they would send out technicians to shut off each meter and conduct a safety inspection.
"We expect this will be an extended restoration effort, and we will work tirelessly to restore service to the affected customers," Columbia Gas said in a statement reported by CBS.
The process could take several days or longer, CBS Boston reported.
"Utility technicians must do their jobs in order to make sure everyone has a safe place to return to," Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters Friday, according to CNN. "This will not be an easy process and we ask for continued patience."
Baker said that a thorough investigation would take place once the area was secure.
"Once the utilities secure the affected areas we'll work with the federal government to investigate how this occurred and who should be held accountable for the results and actions," Baker said, as CNN reported.
The Department of Pipeline Safety and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be involved with the federal investigation, CBS Boston reported. NTSB will be involved because pipelines are considered a mode of transportation.
Leonel Rondon, age 18, was killed when a house in Lawrence exploded and its chimney collided with the car he and two friends were sitting in, CNN reported.
He had just gotten his driver's license earlier that day, MassLive reported.
"You didn't deserve this. You are in a better place now. Rest in Peace my Love. You will always be on our hearts," his girlfriend Luisanna Rooselee wrote on Facebook, according to MassLive.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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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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