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Paleontologists discover 520 million-year-old fossilized brains in remains of ancient predator



Finding intact fossils of hardened bone and teeth can be difficult on its own, but the real challenge for paleontologists is often locating the ancient remains of soft tissue. For a long time, the only known fossils of the pint-sized aquatic predator Kerygmachela kierkegaardi that existed were highly deteriorated and revealed very little, but a new discovery is changing that in a big way. Over a dozen new fossils of the creature were discovered in Greenland, and they’re so well-preserved that researchers are actually able to peer inside its brain for the first time.

The animal, which hunted small marine organisms, was just shy of a foot long at its largest. It was equipped with large fin-like appendages that allowed it to swim, and it used spiny limbs near its head to attack and grab its prey. This new crop of fossils suggests that it also had a simple brain structure compared to modern-day arthropods, which flies in the face of previous theories.

In today’s arthropods, a one-part brain develops into a three-part structure, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case with the 520-million-year-old Kerygmachela kierkegaardi. Instead, the researchers argue, the creatures utilized a single-segment brain for the entirety of their lives, much like what the scientists believe are used by the tiny micro-animals called Tardigrades.

The research, which was published in Nature Communications, is bold in its declarations, but as National Geographic point outs, not everyone in the scientific community is on board with the findings.

“If they’re going to say that the brain of Kerygmachela is like that of a tardigrade, you have to be really, really careful,” Nicholas Strausfeld of the University of Arizona told the site. “Because it might not be.” His warning is hedged in the fact that very little is known about the brain structure of Tardigrades, and it’s possible they might not even have a one-segment brain at all, but rather a unique nerve structure that works much differently.

Regardless, the research offers a first-ever look inside the ancient arthropod’s head, and provides important insights into the evolution of primitive brains.

Fashion and music obsessed wanderlust. Resale clothing appreciator who fancies herself a well-crafted cocktail. Occasional photographer. Amateur sneaker head.

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Latest Google Maps update brings a brand new feature I’ve wanted forever



Like everyone else, I’m a pretty busy person. I’m also surprisingly impatient for someone who is otherwise very laid back. Combine those two things with the fact that I live in the most populous county in the most densely populated state in America, and you’ll understand why I have grown to hate going to dinner. Even with a reservation, you often still have to wait to be seated at popular restaurants in my area. What’s more, there’s a trend at some of the most popular places where they take limited reservations, leaving most of the restaurant’s seating reserved for walk-ins. At these places, wait times for a table can be as long as 2 hours.

For these reasons, I feel like the latest update to Google’s wildly popular Google Maps app was made just for me, because it has a feature I’ve been dreaming about for as long as I can remember. At more than 1 million restaurants worldwide, the newly updated Google Maps app for iOS and Android will display average wait times.

Anyone who lives in or around a major metropolitan area where congestion is a part of life is going to appreciate this new feature. Here’s a peek at what the new restaurant wait times feature looks like in action on the iPhone X:

As you can see in the image on the left, the restaurant page in the Google Maps app still shows a graph representing how busy the establishment is on average from open to close. But now you can tap on the bar at any time during the day to see how long the wait will be, based on average wait times. I tested it for a few popular restaurants in my area, and results were mixed — it was accurate for a few places, but way off for other restaurants. It’s a brand new feature though, so I expect accuracy to improve over time as Google collects more data.

Restaurant wait times are great, but that’s not the only new feature Google added in its most recent update for iOS and Android. Here’s the full change log:

Thanks for using Google Maps! This release brings bug fixes and awesome new features to help you discover new places and navigate to them:
– See average wait times at over a million restaurants worldwide.
– Search and sort through reviews of a place.
– Get transit directions that tell you exactly which entrance you need to go into. This feature is available now in New York, Hong Kong, Taipei, Paris, Los Angeles, Delhi, Moscow, Singapore, Madrid, Barcelona, Kiev, and Budapest, with more on the way!

If for some reason you don’t already have Google Maps installed on your phone, here are the download links: iOS, Android

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Latest Apple Pay promotion promises free delivery on restaurant orders from Grubhub, Seamless and Eat24 apps



Sticking to the same as the previous giveaway, Apple has partnered with restaurant delivery apps to offer free delivery on meals ordered through Grubhub, Seamless and Eat24. Orders must be made through the website or the apps using promo code ‘HOOPS’ at checkout, and paid using Apple Pay of course. There are some strings attached though …

The March Mardness themed promotion of course has some terms and conditions. The free delivery offer lasts from March 19 through April 2, or until $100,000 of delivery redemptions have been used. The promotion is also limited to 3 deliveries per diner and cannot be combined with other discounts.

Apple is advertising the offer in a newsletter sent out to Apple Pay users in the United States. As well as the free delivery promotion, the email directed users to checkout with Apple Pay at food chains like Pizza Hut and Subway, or buy some sneakers from the Nike and GOAT apps.  You may be noticing a bit of a trend here, as GOAT previously partnered with Apple Pay on a 30% off deal in January.

Down the line, it would be nice if these kind of promotions were closely integrated into the operating system rather than being disseminated in an email newsletter. For instance, you can imagine checking out with one of these apps and it simply saying ‘use Apple Pay for 5% off’. Or looking for a restaurant in Apple Maps and the detail card including a notice that a discount is available for Apple Pay transactions.

For now, though, you have to remember to use a special promo code (in this case, ‘HOOPS’) at checkout as well as use Apple Pay to pay for the transaction.

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The Walking Dead mobile game developer using iPhone X TrueDepth camera as motion capture tool



The developers behind the upcoming mobile game for The Walking Dead, Our World, are using the iPhone X’s TrueDepth’s camera system as a motion capture tool for facial expressions for characters in the game. The developers record actors in front of the iPhone X, using a specially-built app to export the facial motion into their 3D character modelling apps.

Going beyond simple cartoon figures like Animoji, the developers feel the iPhone X sensors are good enough that they can use them to animate realistic face rigs of human characters.

The workflow starts on a desktop Mac, where the artists create a 3D model of a character. They hook up the skeleton to outlets for the 50 blend shapes that the iPhone X TrueDepth camera can track.

A special app that runs on an iPhone X loads up the face model, and the game makes have an actor record the desired human expressions. The iPhone X can detect these movements at 60 frames per seconds, and the data is saved by the custom app.

The animator can shoot multiple takes and review in realtime how the tracking will be applied to the 3D model. The data can then be exported back to the Mac for final tweaking in the 3D rendering software. You can see a video demo of how this all works in The Verge’s coverage.

By using this iPhone X centric workflow, the creation of assets can be achieved much more quickly and much more cheaply compared to setting up a full motion capture recording suite.

The Walking Dead: Our World combines cinematic cut scenes with augmented reality battles, powered by ARKit.

When the game launches, the company plans to package up this feature as a way for players to animate their own characters. It’s pretty novel for them to also use the same domestic technology for the animations of the scripted sequences.

The final game should be available to play in the next few months.

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