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Alberta

Dr. Hinshaw: AstraZeneca-linked death confirmed in Alberta

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Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw issued the following statement on a confirmed death linked to vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) in a patient after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine:

“As chief medical officer of health, I am sad to report that tonight we have confirmed the death of an Alberta woman in her 50’s from VITT following vaccination from the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Out of respect for patient confidentiality and the privacy of the grieving family, we will not be providing additional case information.

“While any death is tragic, it is important to remember that the risks of dying or suffering other severe outcomes from COVID-19 remain far greater than the risk following AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The Alberta case marks the second VITT case and only death related to VITT out of more than 253,000 doses of AstraZeneca or CoviSHIELD/AstraZeneca that have been administered in Alberta to date.

“The global frequency of VITT has been estimated at approximately one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses of vaccine. In comparison, Albertans 50 to 59 who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are 350 times more likely to die from that infection than to experience VITT after an AstraZeneca vaccine. They are also at least 1,500 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than experiencing VITT after getting AstraZeneca.”

Alberta

Alberta paleontologists find dramatic change in bite force as tyrannosaurs matured

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Tyrannosaurs are well known as having been ferocious predators at the top of the food chain millions of years ago, but a study led by an Alberta-based researcher shows the reptiles didn’t start out life that way.

François Therrien, curator of dinosaur paleoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta., said the study focused on tyrannosaur teeth and their dramatic change as they matured. 

He collaborated with Darla Zelenitsky and Jared Voris of the University of Calgary, as well as Kohei Tanaka of the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

For the study, published this week in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, the researchers examined the lower jaws from the Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus, types of tyrannosaurs commonly found in Canada that predated the T. rex by millions of years.

“Our fossil records for those two species of tyrannosaurs is excellent,” Therrien said about the collection at the museum.

“We have so many specimens of those … that represent a full growth series from very young individuals that were probably three or four years of age all the way to fully grown adults that were over 20 years of age.”

By examining a wide range of fossils, the researchers were able to see a significant change in tooth size and jaw force once the tyrannosaurs reached about 11 years of age.

Feeding behaviour did not appear to change during the lifespan of the tyrannosaurs, because their jaws were adapted to capturing and seizing prey with their mouths, probably because the forelimbs were too short to grasp food, Therrien said. 

“Tyrannosaurs were truly unique when you look at all the theropods,” he said. “They were atypical … because their bite and their skulls were their main weapon for killing prey.”

But what did change, he said, is the size of their teeth and their bite force.

A tyrannosaur at about three years of age was still a deadly predator, but it had smaller blade-like teeth that could only slice through flesh. The bite force, Therrien added, was about 10 per cent that of a fully grown alligator.  

That means younger tyrannosaurs ate smaller prey and had to compete with other like-sized predators such as the Velociraptor. 

Once tyrannosaurs turned 11, Therrien explained, they went through a growth spurt in which their teeth became larger and wider. By the time the reptiles were fully grown, their bite force was eight times more than that of an alligator. 

And that meant their diets also changed. 

“These teeth were better adapted for resisting twisting stresses either associated with biting of big prey or even crushing bone.”

Therrien said his study shows that young tyrannosaurs were distinct predators that occupied different ecological niches.

“Young tyrannosaurs were not just scaled-down versions of the mature parents,” he said. “They were creatures that actually had their own lifestyles.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021. 

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Construction begins on new Alberta solar farm, Amazon to purchase power

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CALGARY — Amazon announced Wednesday it will purchase power from a massive new solar farm in Alberta, marking the e-commerce giant’s second renewable energy investment in Canada.

Construction began Wednesday on Travers Solar, a $700-million, 465-MW project southeast of Calgary, which its developers say will be the largest solar photovoltaic project in Canada and one of the largest in the world.

Privately held Greengate Power Corp. of Calgary says the solar farm will consist of 1.3 million solar panels and will provide enough electricity to power more than 100,000 homes by 2022.

Amazon, which has signed a deal to buy up to 400 MW of electricity from the project, previously announced plans to purchase power from an 80-MW solar farm in southern Alberta as part of its commitment to being fully powered by renewables by 2030.

Renewable electricity companies have credited Alberta’s unregulated electricity market for a recent boom in solar projects in the province.

Other projects include the 300-MW Blackspring Ridge Wind Project, which is now owned by French firm EDF EN and Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, and the proposed 130-MW Claresholm Solar project, a joint venture between Capstone Infrastructure and Obton, a Danish investment company.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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