Hotshot: Australia Women’s centre Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea

first_img Debut time: Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea on the attack against Japan (Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Australia Women’s centre Alysia Lefau-FakaosileaDate of birth 5 November 2000 Born Auckland Club Queensland Country Australia Position CentreWhen did you first play rugby? At 14. There was a team at school and I was encouraged by some friends to start playing. Before that I played netball and OzTag (non-contact rugby league).What do you enjoy most? Defence and tackling! I love the physicality and working hard to outdo whoever is running at you. I think defensively I’m sound. We’re told that defence is 90% attitude and I’m pretty good with my mindset.Who were your childhood heroes? My parents. They have always been there for me and my family. They’re so supportive.How much does it help having Will Skelton as your uncle? Uncle Will is awesome. He sent me a good-luck video message before the Super W final against NSW, so it’s great to know I have his support.Who has been the biggest influence on your career? Big things are expected of this teenager who recently made her Wallaroos debutcenter_img My coaching mentors – Lachlan Parkinson, the Reds high performance and Aussie Youth Sevens coach, and Moana Virtue, my Queensland Reds Super W and Sunnybank coach. They have helped me develop my game mentally and physically, and encourage me to push beyond my limits.How do you find playing senior rugby for the Reds Super W team? We were disappointed we couldn’t defeat NSW but have really closed the gap on them. The standard of the competition is really strong and makes me hungrier for more.Do you prefer sevens or 15s? Can I say both? I love playing in both comps and love them for different reasons.What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months? I’m just enjoying it at the moment and not trying to get too ahead of myself. This is a big year for the Wallaroos with the most home Tests for the team ever, plus there is an Olympics next year and I’m keeping my eye on that.RW VERDICT: The teenager put her aspirations of being a police officer on hold to focus on rugby. And it’s paying off as she’s making waves Down Under. She made her Wallaroos debut against Japan and expect her to push for a place in the sevens squad for Tokyo 2020 too. This article originally appeared in the August 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.last_img read more

Rare Fossils: Dead Animals Decay Rapidly

first_imgWhy do some fossils leave soft tissue remains? It takes guts, some scientists propose.Given that bacteria are the enemies of fossilization, could they actually play a role in preserving them? A new study thinks so. Science Magazine says,The overwhelming majority of organisms will never fossilize. Preservation of an animal’s anatomy in rocks is a rare event requiring a strict set of geologic and chemical conditions. Fossilized soft tissues like skin or muscle are even rarer, as they decay very quickly beyond recognition before mineralization occurs. It would be tempting to assume that microbes—the great mediators of rot and recycling—would be a natural enemy to high-quality fossils, but [Philip] Donoghue’s time spent watching shrimp waste away seems to hint at exactly the opposite.Donoghue’s team at University of Bristol, with others from Uppsala University, tested the rapidity of decay with brine shrimp. As expected, microbes quickly rendered them unrecognizable. If deprived of oxygen, though, the microbes could act as preservatives, the team thinks. PhysOrg explains:In watching the process of decomposition, the team noted that bacteria in the gut set to work right away, multiplying massively as they engaged in eating the dead tissue around them, so much so that they completely filled the cavity and eventually caused it to burst, which gave them access to other internal organs. If the shrimp was in a low oxygen environment when it died, such as being buried in sand, then most of the decomposition occurred from the inside, and then stopped as the bacteria ran out of air. But, because gut bacteria carry a lot of calcium and/or phosphates and because they form biofilms, after they died, they left behind a mold of sorts that showed the form of the gut organs of their dead host.This explanation predicts that exceptional fossils form in low-oxygen environments. It also predicts that the best preservation will be in the gut. For this reason, Donoghue’s team thinks that the evolution of a through-gut (mouth and anus) made exceptional preservation possible. Science Magazine explains:The researchers also point out that animals with true “through-guts”—ones that contain both a mouth and an anus—are much more likely to leave behind high-quality fossils than animals like corals and jellyfish, which eat and excrete through the same hole and are home to far fewer bacteria. The evolution of the anus appears to have given rise to a more complex microbiome and, thus, that “definitely increases your chances” of leaving behind an exceptional fossil, Donoghue says.And yet jellyfish fossils have been found in mass graveyards. Other soft-tissue remains, like the famous dinosaur red blood cells and osteocytes, were found in bone. The ink-sac of a squid still contained the carbon remains, enough to write words with it. Original material from feathers has been seen in Archaeopteryx fossils. These have nothing to do with gut bacteria. The explanation, therefore, seems inadequate:For many years scientists have debated whether the “Cambrian Explosion” was the result of more species suddenly developing or whether it was just the result of more remains being fossilized and found. In this new effort, the researchers suggest it might have had to do with the development of the anus and a through-gut.This cannot be true, since Ediacaran fauna have no guts, but are found around the world. These precede the Cambrian animals in the fossil record.The original paper on the Proceedings of the Royal Society B is open access. Here’s its gutsy explanation for the Cambrian explosion:The key role of gut-derived microbes in decay and, by inference, preservation means that the evolution of a through gut is likely to have important implications for preservation potential. Organisms that have blind guts, such as cnidarians, evert their guts such that they cannot maintain a gut flora. As a result, one might expect that such organisms would have little chance of preserving internal anatomy. Preservation must depend on the formation of favourable external biofilms that invade inwards, similar to the process observed in embryos, to stabilize their internal anatomical structure post-mortem, allowing a much longer window for internal autolytic processes to take effect and thus resulting in a much lower preservation potential for internal anatomy. This prediction is largely borne out by the fossil record. The overall quality of preservation is also often of a lower fidelity in described soft-bodied diploblast grade and blind-gut bearing organisms relative to groups possessing through-guts. For example, arthropods, annelids, priapulids and hyoliths can in many cases preserve aspects of gut, musculature and, in rare cases, neural tissues. On the other hand, diploblastic organisms, such as cnidarians, are typically found as impressions or outlines only (with the notable exception of very rare specimens of the probable cnidarian Olivooides [37,38]). This may go some way to explain the mismatch between phylogenetic and molecular clock expectations that diploblasts existed long before diploblast bilaterians, yet the fossil records of diploblast and triploblast eumetazoans is approximately coincident [39,40].Under almost all circumstances, pseudomorphing of biological anatomy by biofilm-forming microbes [5,13] may be limited to small structures. This process can provide a good explanation for the preservation of microfossils such as fossilized embryos as well as internal microenvironments, such as guts, within larger fossils. However, it is only in the most exceptional examples of exceptional fossil preservation that microbes replicate and preserve internal anatomy more generally. Bacterial biofilm pseudomorphing of anatomical structure may not be an important mechanism in preserving macroscale animal remains, even though endogenous microbes are important vectors of the decay of visceral tissues that leaves cuticle articulated and intact in Burgess Shale-type preservation. Thus, endogenous microbes exert a fundamental control on the amount of soft tissue morphology, and therefore the amount of anatomical information, that is preserved in Konservat-Lagerstätten [exceptionally preserved fossils]. Hence, the evolution of a through gut is an important factor in both the ecology of metazoan diversification and its fossil record. This finding also suggests the bauplan of an animal may act as a strong control on the processes of subsequent taphonomic transformation into an exceptionally preserved fossil, when the basic conditions required for the genesis of Konservat-Lagerstätten are met.The authors provide almost no reference to actual fossils when they state that “this prediction is largely borne out by the fossil record.” Brian Thomas at ICR has a list of 42 documented cases of soft tissue preservation (original tissue, not biofilms) found in fossils dating as far back as 360 million years in the evolutionary timescale. Most of them are not related to gut bacteria. They mention cnidarians (jellyfish) as unlikely to be preserved, but what about ctenophores (comb jellies) that are found in Cambrian strata? Soft tissue preservation is rampant in Burgess Shale fossils. Evolution News & Views reported fossils of modern-looking jellyfish dated by evolutionists at 580 million years old.So either Donoghue’s team did not do a thorough literature search, or is ignoring this evidence. Having made a prediction, though, that animals with anuses are the most likely to preserve biofilms that create “pseudomorphs” of soft tissues in low-oxygen conditions, they have opened the door to falsification in future studies. On the face of it, their lab work on shrimp is unlikely to capture the variety of circumstances that preserve animal tissues.Someone should call this the anal-retention theory of taphonomy.Why is nobody asking hard questions of the Donoghue team? Aren’t they aware that many exceptional fossils have nothing to do with gut bacteria? Aren’t they concerned that soft-tissue fossilization raises serious questions about the dating of fossils into millions of years?What is being ignored in this paper is far more important than what is being stated. Maybe they can’t stomach the notion that soft tissue challenges long ages. See Real Science Radio’s list of published papers on dinosaur soft tissue remains. (Visited 41 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Bedi rues Parthiv’s absence in World Cup squad

first_imgThe Indian team has the potential to make it to the final of the World Cup, says former captain Bishan Singh Bedi. But he has serious doubts about most players’ ability to field brilliantly.While terming fielding as the weakest link in the team, the illustrious left-arm spinner said the strong batting line-up will have make up for this weakness by scoring up to 40 more runs in each game. “I see India playing in the final. They have the potential go all the way,” Bedi told MAIL TODAY.The tournament begins with an India-Bangladesh game on February 19. But Bedi, who was part of the selection committee that picked the World Cup-winning team in 1983, agreed that the home team will have to cope with the pressure. “Indians will be under a lot of pressure at home. But Dhoni gave a lovely statement, saying that ‘we have converted pressure into extra responsibility’. If you feel the responsibility, you will have to live up to it. Indians will have to live up to the tag of favourites,” he said.”It’s better if India were not called the favourites. When they are called favourites, they may have a cautious approach.” Comparing the fielding ability of the players in Kapil Dev’s team in 1983 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side, Bedi said the difference is quite big.”That team was an outstanding fielding side, something that cannot be matched by this team. Fielding is the weakest link in this team.There is only outstanding fielder – Virat Kohli. Yuvraj is not what he was some years ago and Raina, another good fielder, may not get to play all the games,” he averred. “Batsmen will have to score all the time. No excuse there. Indians will have to score 30 to 40 runs more to cover up for (the weak) fielding.”advertisementOn India’s 15-member squad, Bedi said that he would have preferred a second wicketkeeper in place of the third spinner. “It would have been better had there been one more wicket-keeper.Never mind now. But three spinners, in my opinion, are one too many. When and where will they play Piyush (in the XI)? Even if they play two spinners, it is more likely to be Harbhajan and R Ashwin,” he felt.”I would have preferred a second wicket-keeper, somebody like Parthiv Patel. Interestingly, when Parthiv was not so good, they used to pick him. But now when he has improved, they are not selecting him. I would have gone with two wicketkeepers and one spinner less. In my opinion, Piyush would have been the one (to go).”The Delhi-based Bedi said the team will have to peak at the right time. “Peaking does exist in cricket too. And it is very much visible. Pakistanis are peaking at the right time, and so are the Australians. They will come to the World Cup with all the confidence in the world,” he felt. “Indians have got a gap.They will recover from the fatigue. They will have to gain the momentum that has come to a halt with this gap. They should recover and come back to the reality of cricket.”On the several days’ gap between matches for all 14 teams, Bedi said it could be used to one’s advantage. “The gap is good to recoup because it’s going to be hectic and taxing on the mind and body. It’s not 1975 and 1979, when we were only participating; now we are competing – and competing for the championship. That’s the difference,” he said.Bedi specifically said that momentum will play a crucial role in the long-drawn tournament. “Consistency and keeping your momentum going will be the keys to success. And focus will come with consistency. There is no way a team that is aspiring to win the World Cup can afford to relax even for a moment,” he maintained.last_img read more