Volkswagen to Release Electric Version of Its Iconic Hippie Van
Volkswagen has been having a rough go of it lately. Last month, it came to light that the car company had installed software in some 11 million of its diesel vehicles in order to cheat diesel emissions figures. And yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Toyota had knocked Volkswagen out of the top spot for global auto sales.
Banking on 60's nostalgia, micro bus returns! Maybe this will offset VW's environmentally destructive image http://t.co/UegYUcB9WZ— Homegrown Trailers (@Homegrown Trailers)1444411890.0
But here's some exciting news from Volkswagen. The company is releasing an electric version of the Microbus, its iconic "hippie van." As Autocar first reported, Development Chief Hans-Jakob Neusser revealed at an event earlier this year that "VW engineers and designers were working on a new Camper van concept." The company plans to reveal the updated version of its Microbus camper van at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
The bus was first produced in Germany in the 1950s. Production was moved to Brazil after Germany changed a number of its safety regulations. Then, when Brazil changed its safety regulations in 2013 to require anti-lock brakes and multiple airbags (pretty crucial), production stopped altogether.
There have been two attempted re-releases already: the 2001 Retro Microbus Concept Van and the 2011 Bulli Concept. Neither of them ever went into production. "Volkswagen’s plans to resurrect the Microbus form part of a broader commercial vehicle strategy aimed at significantly bolstering its sales performance in the U.S. market," says Autocar.
#TBT to the Volkswagen Microbus. It's making a comeback, folks. Coming Jan 2016. #itselectric http://t.co/yrdGRcJlSy http://t.co/hiVvdI4TDp— Schaefer Autobody Centers (@Schaefer Autobody Centers)1442526393.0
Here's hoping this version sticks around.
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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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