International News Desk – At Home: Word Play – Around the World: Mama Plessy

At Home: Word Play

Playing a few rounds of Scrabble during family game night?or carrying on a slower-paced game with strangers via Facebook or a smart phone app?is usually a casual activity. But for serious Scrabble players, It’s all about the game. In fact, they’re so well-practiced in the art of Scrabble play that It’s actually changed the way they read.

As the CBC reports, a recent study at the University of Calgary indicates that ?[competitive] Scrabble players process words differently than the rest of us.?

We look at ?sound, spelling, and meaning? when we’re processing and reading words, one of the professors involved told reporters. On the other hand, she pointed out, the Scrabble players use ?significant flexibility in the tools they use to read words . . . [including] orientation [vertical or horizontal] of the word as well.? Researchers believe It’s the ?intense training techniques? that cause this shift.

It’s not clear why the difference exists, but Siri Tillekeratne, who leads the Calgary Scrabble Club, has an idea. He told reporters that he ?believes the competitive way the game combines word meanings and mathematics makes it special.?

Around the World: Mama Plessy

Reptiles lay eggs and mammals give birth to their young, and scientists believed that the same rules applied to the prehistoric ancestors of today’s animals. Previous paleontological research has uncovered nests of dinosaur eggs, suggesting that the giant reptiles were in line with the ?norm.? But what of plesiosaurs, the giant reptilian sea creatures who shared the earth with the dinos?

A recent discovery is rocking the paleontological world. As the CBC reports, a fossil of a pregnant plesiosaur?a plesiosaur ?with the remains of a fetus inside her??was uncovered, ?providing the first proof that these prehistoric reptiles gave birth to their young rather than laying eggs.?

The fossil had been unearthed for nearly 25 years, but only recently were funds available to fully excavate it. It’s been dated at between 72 million and 78 million years old.

Previously, scientists were unsure whether plesiosaurs would have ventured ?onto land [to] lay eggs like other reptiles or [given] birth in the water like whales.?

Scientists speculate that plesiosaurs may also have had other practices similar to those of modern whales, like ?[forming] social groups and [tending] their young.?

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