Like New: Locals and Experts Re-Chalk a ‘Rude’ Giant on a Hill

Like New: Locals and Experts Re-Chalk a ‘Rude’ Giant on a Hill

A gigantic chalk figure that dominates the countryside in England is being restored. The Cerne Abbas Giant is an enigmatic figure in the rolling hills of Dorset. Moreover, it is infamous because of its phallus. At present volunteers are re-chalking the figure, which is at constant risk of erosion and weathering.

The Cerne Abbas Giant

The Cerne Abbas giant is named after a local village and is 180 ft. (60 meter) high chalk figure on a hillside. It was made by digging trenches into the hill and depicts a naked man with an erection which measures 36 feet long (11m). The manhood of the giant has made the figure notorious. The figure is wielding a 120 ft. (40 meter) club in his hand. The origins of the chalk figure are a mystery that has perplexed experts since the 17th century.

Diana Kimber, a local, believes that ‘‘he has been there in one form or another for thousands of years,’’ according to The Guardian . There are some who believe the figure represents a Celtic deity while others claim that he represents the god Hercules and dates from Roman times. Some have speculated the giant is a fertility god because of his exposed manhood. Another theory holds that he was created by monks in the Middle Ages.

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According to the Cerne Valley website, some believe that the giant was made ‘‘by a local nobleman to lampoon Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century’’. The giant was first mentioned in 1604. The figure has been restored many times down the years. Many believe that in the 1950s and 1960s maintenance workers may have made the giant’s manhood even larger as a joke.

Hill-Side Chalk Figures

The Cerne Abbas giant is only one of many mysterious gigantic chalk figures cut into chalk grasslands in uplands. These include the famous Uffington White Horse , in Oxfordshire. The Smithsonian reports that “It’s a 3,000 year-old pictogram the size of a football field and visible from 20 miles away,’’ and was restored in 2017.

In a beautiful Dorset valley, several dozen volunteers are working alongside rangers and archaeologists from the National Trust to maintain the enigmatic figure. They are restoring the chalk giant which has become somewhat overgrown and weather-beaten since it was last re-chalked, in 2008. The Guardian reports that “he and his impressive nether region were beginning to look a little faded’’.

The Cerne Giant. ( Cerne Valley )

Restoring a Local Symbol

Most of those who are working on the restoration project are locals. The work involves clearing away any vegetation that is covering the outline of the figure. Then the discolored chalk will be dug out by the volunteers using mattocks. The old chalk is placed in a plastic bag and is dumped into a ‘‘waiting trailer which, when full, will be tipped into the ruts of a neighboring farm track’’ reports The Telegraph.

Once the old chalk has been removed the second phase of restoration work begins. The Metro reports that chalk from a local quarry will be ‘‘tightly packed in by hand to the existing 1,509 ft outline’’. Mattocks will be used to press the chalk into the outline. The BBC reports that ‘‘17 tonnes of new chalk’’ will be carefully beaten into the giant’s outline.

Cerne Abbas Giant Renovation. (Nigel Mykura/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

The BBC quotes Natalie Holt of the National as stating that the ‘‘work was challenging because of the giant's 55 m (180 ft) height and the steepness of the slope’’. In 2008 it took 60 days to complete and to ensure that the giant can be seen for miles around.

However, the local volunteers are happy to do this heavy work. They view it as a symbol of the area and Kimber is quoted as stating “It’s right that we honor him by maintaining him.” Moreover, they see the giant as important for the local economy.

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The Battle to Preserve the Giant

The cooperation and support of the locals are critical for the future of the chalk giant. This is because the outline needs to be re-chalked every 10 years or so. Holt told The Guardian that climate change, leading to heavy rainfall ‘‘may mean it requires more frequent chalking”. It seems likely that more regular work will be needed to maintain the outline of the giant in the coming years.

The Cerne Giant in 2010 . (Dun.can/ CC BY 2.0 )

The enormous figure lies in chalk grasslands that are of great environmental importance. The land was donated to the National Trust by the local Pitt-Rivers family in 1920. The Trust is planning a number of events to celebrate the centenary of this event.


13 Mysterious Ancient Monuments And Runis That Baffle Experts

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You just gotta love history and archaeology and all excitement that come with them. In this article, we take a look at some of the most incredible ancient monuments and ruins left behind by people thousands of years ago. From the Pyramids to underwater monuments, we take a look at the most incredible, breathtaking and mysterious monuments ever erected by mankind in the distant past.

The ancient ruins of Sayhuite and the Sayhuite Monolith

The Mysterious Sayhuite Monolith. Credit: www.weblogtheworld.com

This archaeological site is located in Peru and is significant because it is the place where researchers believe, the ancient Inca worshipped water. Mostly unknown to all of us, the most important monument found at the Sayhuite site is the Sayhuite monolith, a fascinating sculpture featuring over 200 mysterious geometric figures, with zoomorphic depictions of reptiles, frogs, and felines among others. The true origin and purpose of this incredible monument are still widely debated among researchers around the world. Most archaeologists suggest that this ancient monument was sculpted and intended to represent a topographical hydraulic model, continuing terraces, ponds, rivers, irrigation channels hills, and tunnels. Located near the Sayhuite archaeological site are many incredible stone features that could predate the Inca themselves, and made from Andesite stone, meaning that they simply couldn’t be shaped with tools the Ancient Inca possessed at that time, casting doubt on the origins of the entire Sayhuite archaeological site and the Sayhuite monolith.

Goseck Circle

The Goseck circle is surely one of the lesser known monuments found in Europe. Resembling Stonehenge in England, the odd circular formations were actually spotted recently, in 1991, during an aerial survey near the small town of Goseck in Germany. The mysterious monuments are believed to date back to 4,900 BC and are believed to have been created by Europe’s first and most mysterious early civilization, which existed even before the Minoan Civilizations and Ancient Egyptian Pyramids. In 2002, archaeologists performed excavations and found the remains of an extremely ancient structure that were reconstructed in the past. According to studies, the monument stretching 75 meters in width was composed of a set of concentric ditches and two palisade rings and a set of gates that were accurately aligned with the sunrise and sunset on solstice days. This has led researchers to theorize that ancient man might have sued the ancient monument as a solar or lunar calendar. Many researchers consider the Goseck Circle as the oldest known solar observatory in the world. The Nebra Sky Disk – one of the most important finds if the 20 th century according to many— was discovered near the Goseck circles. The Nebra sky disk is believed to be the oldest known realistic representation of the cosmos found on our planet.

Göbekli Tepe

Located near the border with Syria in southern Turkey are the ruins of one of the most incredible monuments created my our ancestors. The megalithic stone circles are believed to be the oldest temple ever created on our planet and predate Stonehenge in England by several thousand years. Researchers believe that t these ancient megalithic ruins were created by a hunter-gatherer society, something that is being ruled out by more archaeologists lately. The mysterious temple, which consists of three huge stone circles was deliberately buried for an unknown reason in the distant past. After 13 years of digging, archaeologists investigating the ancient site have failed to recover a single stone-cutting tool. They found any agricultural implements. So how can you create this 19-foot-tall, perfectly sculpted columns that are 11,000 to 12,000 years old, and not find any evidence what so ever of tools used to accomplish this?

It seems that Puma Punku is everywhere, or at least on Ancient Code. We cannot help and include Puma Punku on our list of most incredible ancient monuments. The temple complex of Puma Punku is found near Tiwanaku Bolivia, and the two are a pair of the most mysterious structures ever erected on Earth. It is considered by many people as having an otherworldly origin, while many other attribute its ingenuity to advanced ancient societies that inhabited Earth in the distant past. But what we can say for sure is that these monuments are, without a doubt, the most incredible ancient ruins found in South America. The incredible megalithic stones that have been found both at Tiwanaku and Puma Punku display incredible precision cuts and are believed to be evidence of advanced ancient engineering, which in turn resulted in some of the most incredible structures discovered in the Americas, structures that incorporate a high level of geometry and mathematics, even though the people who are believed to be the builders did not know about the wheel, nor did they possess a writing system.

Machu Picchu

Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu. Image credit: http://stock-free-images.net/

We don’t need to travel to far from Bolivia to reach our next destination. Located in Peru, at an elevation of 2,430 meters above sea level we find Machu Picchu, a 15-century Inca City situated on a mountain ridge above the so-called Sacred Valley. This ancient site extends over an fantastic 5-mile separation, emphasizing more than 3,000 stone steps that connect the different levels of this mysterious ancient site. Archaeologists have been baffled by the fact that most of the junctions in the central city are so perfect that not even a blade of grass can fit between the stones. The most significant mystery at Machu Picchu is without a doubt the “Intihuatana.” This giant rock situated on a raised platform that towers above the main plaza were believed to be a sundial. However, recent studies have disproved this theory shedding more mystery on this incredible ancient site. Some believe that “the Intihuatana” may have been used for astronomical observations, or even might have been connected with the mountains that shelter Machu Picchu. But the “Intihuatana” isn’t the only mystery at Machu Picchu. Located in the southwestern part of the main plaza is the Temple of the Three Windows, one of Machu Picchu best-known features. The stone hall which spreads 35 feet in length and 14 feet in width contains three trapezoidal windows along one of its walls, something considered as a rare feature in Inca masonry. However, this feature can be found in numerous monuments around the world, and many hints towards a mysterious connection pointing towards what we like to call “Sacred Architecture.”

The Ancient Egyptian Underground Library

It can be easily considered as one of the most significant discoveries of Ancient Egypt, yet only a few know about the existence of the incredible underground Labyrinth of Egypt, believed to hold countless answers to history itself. Located less than 100 kilometers from Cairo, the ancient underground temple consists of over 3000 rooms that are believed to be carved with intricate hieroglyphs and paintings. Herodotus described this incredible ancient site: It has twelve courts covered in, with gates facing one another, six upon the North side and six upon the South, joining on one to another, and the same wall surrounds them all outside and there are in it two kinds of chambers, the one kind below the ground and the other above upon these, three thousand in number, of each kind fifteen hundred. The upper set of chambers we ourselves saw […]

Teotihuacan and the Pyramid of the Sun

The ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan was established around 100 BC and was considered as one of the most important ancient centers in the New World until its fall somewhere around the seventh or eighth centuries. According to archaeologists the advanced design of Teotihuacan suggests that ancient builders had knowledge, not only of architecture but complex mathematical and astronomical sciences, and one of the things that are just incredibly amazing and different from all other ancient sites is the fact that from the air, Teotihuacan‘s city layout strangely resembles a computer circuit board with two large processor chips— the Sun Pyramid and the Moon Pyramid.

Researchers have also found numerous and remarkable similarities to the Great Pyramids of Egypt. The Pyramid of the Sun is precisely half as tall as the Pyramid of Giza and the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon, and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl are in the same layout as Orion’s Belt.

The most impressive monuments and pyramids ever built in the New World are located in Teotihuacan. The name “Teotihuacan” is translated into “Birthplace of the Gods” or “Where Gods Were Born,” and no one knows built one of the most advanced ancient cities in Pre-Colombian America. The city was found in ruins by the Ancient Aztecs who gave it its present name.

Georgia Guidestones

Ok, so the Georgia Guidestones aren’t that ancient, but still, they are fascinating. Referred to by many as an “American Stonehenge,” the Georgia Guidestones is a granite monument in Elbert County, Georgia with carved inscriptions in four ancient languages: cuneiform Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit and Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The author of these plates is so far unknown, and the significance of the inscriptions is a matter of debate among experts and amateurs who cannot agree on the topic. The four outer stones are oriented to mark the limits of the18.6-year lunar declination cycle. The center column features a hole drilled at an angle from one side to the other, through which can be seen the North Star, a star whose position changes only very gradually over time. The most widely agreed-upon interpretation of the stones is that they describe the basic concepts required to rebuild a devastated civilization.

Easter Island and the Moai Statues

Moai facing inland at Ahu Tongariki, restored by Chilean archaeologist Claudio Cristino in the 1990s. Image credit Wikipedia

Easter Island is located in the southern Pacific Ocean and features some of the most mysterious statues ever created by mankind. The famous statues were created by the local Rapanui people and are believed to have been part of an ancestral worship of the island’s settlers and were carved between 1250 and 1500 AD. According to researchers, the heaviest of the statues weighs a staggering 86 tons. While most of the statues are located in the vicinity of their quarries, some of them were moved and put into place at different locations on the island. The Moai statues remain as an enigma for both historians and archaeologists who have little information about them.

Stonehenge is without a doubt one of the most famous ancient monuments on Earth. Archaeologists estimate it was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Radiocarbon dating in 2008 suggested that the first stones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC. New studies suggest that Stonehenge was located 225 kilometers from its current position, or better said, the stones used for its construction. According to a new study by archaeologists and geologists from the University College London (UCL), the stones of Stonehenge originated in the Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire. Ancient people quarried the stones sometime between 3400 BC and 3200 BC, while the monument was constructed, according to mainstream scholars around 2900 BC, this means that the ancient monument could be in fact 500 years older than previously thought. Researchers agree that the long-distance transport of the bluestones from Wales to Stonehenge is without a doubt, one of the most remarkable accomplishments of society thousands of years ago. The biggest of Stonehenge’s stones, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weigh 25 tons (22.6 metric tons) on average. It is widely believed that they were brought from Marlborough Downs, a distance of 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the north.

The Submerged City of Heraklion

Many believed that Heraklion was just a myth as Atlantis. Heraklion was the Greek name of this ancient city, but for ancient Egyptians, the city was called Thonis. It was known to many ancient Greek philosophers, among them Herodotus, who referred to this ancient city in numerous of his writings, although the existence of this city wasn’t proven until the nineteenth century. Among the items found there were giant statues of the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, Hapi and figures of a mysterious and unknown Egyptian Pharaoh, all of them were found in a surprisingly good condition. Hundreds of smaller statues were also discovered that once belonged to Cleopatra. Dozens of religious artifacts ere found that belonged to supreme gods of ancient Egypt such as Isis, Osiris and Horus. Underwater archaeologists also came across several sarcophagi with the mummified remains of animals sacrificed to Amun-Gereb, the supreme god of the Egyptians.

Masuda-no-Iwafune

The Ancient Rock Ship of Asuka, Japan or the Masuda-no-Iwafune is another incredible ancient monument that has raised more questions than answers in recent years. The Rock ship of Masuda sits atop the steep incline of a hill located near the town of Asuka and its origin, purpose and meaning remain a mystery. It is the largest of the rock mounds found in the area with dimensions of 11 meters (36 feet) by 8 meters (26 feet), by 4.5 meters high (15 feet) and created out of SOLID GRANITE, meaning that this ancient Rock Ship weighs around one hundred tons. The mysterious monument has two holes each about a meters square in the center that continue through the ground. The truth is that so far, no one has been able to fully understand how ancient mankind created this monument and what its original purpose was. Experts note that the linear protrusion located at the top of the structure runs parallel to the top of the hill and strangely aligns with the sun on a day known as ‘spring doyou entry’ a date extremely important in the calendar for ancient Japanese agriculture as it marked the beginning of the agricultural season.

The giant Stone Head of Guatemala

Many researchers would agree that the Jungles of Guatemala and surrounding countries hide great secrets of mighty ancient civilizations that ruled the lands in the distant past. From ancient temples and mysterious civilizations, anything can be discovered in these mysterious jungles. One of the most mysterious findings is surely the Giant Stone Head of Guatemala. First reports about the mysterious stone head came in 1987 when Dr. Rafel Padilla received a photograph of the mysterious monument in the Guatemalan jungle. The image was taken sometime in 1950 by the owner of the land where the state had been found. To make things even more mysterious, we take a look at the features of the Giant Stone Head like thin lips, long nose, a face directed to the sky and a gigantic body suspected to hide underground. Researchers suggest that the facial features of the giant stone statue represent Caucasian features which are inconsistent with all of the known pre-Hispanic races of America. Regrettably before researchers managed to investigate this incredible statue, it was destroyed by rebel forces and militia, used as target practice.


Contents

Gavin McInnes co-founded Vice magazine in 1994, but he was pushed out in 2008 due to "creative differences". After leaving, he began "doggedly hacking a jagged but unrelenting path to the far-right fringes of American culture", according to a 2017 profile in the Canadian Globe and Mail. [25] The Proud Boys organization was launched in September 2016, on the website of Taki's Magazine, a far-right publication for which white nationalist Richard B. Spencer had once served as executive editor. [26] It existed informally before then as a group centered around McInnes, and the first gathering of the Brooklyn chapter in July 2016 resulted in a brawl in the bar where they met. [27] The name is derived from the song "Proud of Your Boy" originally created for Disney's 1992 film Aladdin but left out following story changes in production, and later featured in the 2011 musical adaptation. In the song, the character Aladdin apologizes to his mother for being a bad son and promises to make her proud. McInnes interprets it as Aladdin apologizing for being a boy. He first heard it while attending his daughter's school music recital. The song's "fake, humble, and self-serving" lyrics became a running theme on his podcast. McInnes said it was the most annoying song in the world but that he could not get enough of it. [27]

The organization has been described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) [28] and NPR's The Takeaway. [29] Spencer, McInnes and the Proud Boys have been described as hipster racists by Vox [30] and Media Matters for America. [31] [32] McInnes says victim mentality of women and other historically oppressed groups is unhealthy, arguing that "[t]here is an incentive to be a victim. It is cool to be a victim." He sees white men and Western culture as "under siege" and described criticism of his ideas as "victim blaming". [25] According to the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, their views have elements of the white genocide conspiracy theory. [33] [34] According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the group is part of the alt-lite and is "overtly Islamophobic". [35] The ADL reports that "[i]deologically, members subscribe to a scattershot array of libertarian and nationalist tropes, referring to themselves as anti-communist and anti-political correctness, but in favor of free speech and free markets." [35] In October 2019, members of the Denver chapter of the Proud Boys marched with members of the Patriot Front and former members of the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party. [35] According to the ADL, "[t]hese relationships show the Proud Boys to be less a pro-western drinking club and more an extreme, right-wing gang." [35] In early 2017, McInnes began to distance himself from the alt-right, saying their focus is race and his focus is what he calls "Western values". This rebranding effort intensified after the Unite the Right Rally. [3] [4] [36] In 2018, McInnes was saying that the Proud Boys were part of the "new right". [37]

The organization glorifies political violence against antifa [26] and leftists, re-enacting political assassinations, wearing shirts that praise Augusto Pinochet's murders of leftists and participating directly in political violence. [11] [12] In April 2016, McInnes, who believes violence is "a really effective way to solve problems", has said: "I want violence, I want punching in the face. I'm disappointed in Trump supporters for not punching enough." [11] [26] In August 2017, he further stated that "[w]e don't start fights [. ] but we will finish them." [38] Heidi Beirich, the Intelligence Project director for the SPLC, said that this form of intentional aggression was not common among far-right groups in the past. She further said the far-right's claim that "[w]e're going to show up and we're intending to get in fights" was new. [39] In late November 2018, it was reported, based on an internal memo of the Sheriff's Office in Clark County, Washington, that the FBI had classified the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalism. [40] Two weeks later, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Oregon office clarified that the FBI did not mean to designate the entire group, only a number of members of the group, ascribing the error to miscommunication. [41] [42] [43] During the conference, the FBI recommended referring to classifications about the group by the SPLC and other outside agencies. [41]

The organization is opposed to feminism and promotes gender stereotypes in which women are subservient to men. [25] [26] The organization has a female-member-only auxiliary wing named "Proud Boys' Girls" that supports the same ideology. [44] The ADL states that the Proud Boys are an "extremist conservative group". [45] According to the ADL, McInnes and the Proud Boys are misogynistic who call women "lazy" and "less ambitious" than men and "venerat[e] the housewife". [46] McInnes has called for "enforced monogamy" and criticized feminism as "a cancer". [46] Some men who are not white, including Enrique Tarrio, the group's chairman and the Florida State Director of Latinos for Trump, [47] have joined the Proud Boys, drawn by the organization's advocacy for men, anti-immigrant stance, and embrace of violence. [48] The Proud Boys claim to condemn racism, with Tarrio stating that the group has "longstanding regulations prohibiting racist, white supremacist or violent activity". However, the ADL has deemed the group as having antisemitic, Islamophobic and racist views, with the group known to threaten, intimidate or violently assault anti-racism protesters. [49] The group has claimed there is an "inherent superiority of the West", going to great lengths to mask members' connections to white supremacy. [50] The ADL states that the Proud Boys' "extreme, provocative tactics—coupled with overt or implicit racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and misogyny and the fact that the group is so decentralized, inconsistent, and spread out—suggest the group should be a significant cause for concern". [45]

The Proud Boys have been banned by social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. [18] In August 2018, Twitter terminated the official account for the group along with McInnes' account under its policy prohibiting violent extremist groups. At the time, the group's profile photo showed a member punching a counter-protester. [51] Facebook and Instagram banned the group and McInnes in October 2018. [52] That same year, YouTube banned the Proud Boys founder for copyright violation in December 2018. [53] On June 16, 2020, Facebook announced it had removed 358 accounts from its platform and 172 from Instagram that held ties to the organization. [54]

Membership and doctrine

According to David Neiwert, the Proud Boys recruit with emphasis on right-wing 15-/30-year-old white males who come primarily from suburbs and exurbs. [55] The Proud Boys say they have an initiation process that has four stages and includes hazing. The first stage is a loyalty oath, on the order of "I'm a proud Western chauvinist, I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world" the second is getting punched until the person recites pop culture trivia, such as the names of five breakfast cereals the third is getting a tattoo and agreeing to not masturbate and the fourth is getting into a major fight "for the cause". [12] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60]

The Daily Beast reported in November 2018 that the Proud Boys have amended their rules to prohibit cargo shorts and the use of opioids and crystal meth. However, the same article mentioned that no restrictions were placed on cocaine. [61]

The total number of Proud Boys members is unknown. Reports estimate membership between several hundred up to 6,000. [62] [63] [64] In July 2018, the Proud Boys L.A. branch had 160 members and up to 300 pending applicants, according to the unidentified Proud Boys L.A. president. [65]

Gender and sexuality

Women and trans men are not allowed to join the Proud Boys, [26] and the unnamed president of Proud Boys L.A. told the Los Angeles Times the group admits only "biological men". [65]

According to the organization, their loyalty oath includes a statement along the lines of "I'm a proud Western chauvinist, I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world" and a pledge not to masturbate. [12] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60] The masturbation policy was later modified to read: "no heterosexual brother of the Fraternity shall masturbate more than one time in any calendar month" and "all members shall abstain from pornography". [61]

Leadership

Gavin McInnes founded the group and served as its leader. [66] [67] After the designation of a number of Proud Boys members as extremists with ties to white nationalism, [43] McInnes said that his lawyers had advised him that quitting might help the nine Proud Boys members being prosecuted for the incidents in October. [ clarification needed ] During the announcement he defended the group, attacked the reporting about it, said white nationalists don't exist, and at times he said things that made it appear he was not quitting, such as "this is 100% a legal gesture, and it is 100% about alleviating sentencing, [it was a] stepping down gesture, in quotation marks." [68] [69]

As of November 2018 [update] , the group named its leaders as Enrique Tarrio, designated as chairman, and the "Elder Chapter", which consists of Harry Fox, Heath Hair, Patrick William Roberts, Joshua Hall, Timothy Kelly, Luke Rofhling and Rufio Panman (real name Ethan Nordean). [70] [71] Jason Lee Van Dyke, who was the organization's lawyer at the time, had been briefly named as chairman to replace McInnes when he left, but the organization announced on November 30 that Van Dyke was no longer associated with the group in any capacity, although his law firm still holds Proud Boys trademarks and is the registered agent for two of the group's chapters. [72]

Although McInnes had earlier said that any Proud Boy member who was known to have attended the Unite the Right rally was kicked out of the organization, the new chairman Tarrio admitted to having attended the event, but "he had misgivings about the torchlight march and did not participate in it." [60]

In November 2020, Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman said he would "reassume [his] post as President of the Proud Boys", though it is not evident that Chapman has ever been president of the group. [73] He also announced that the group, which denies being a racist or white supremacist organization, [74] [75] would take on an explicitly white supremacist direction, [75] and that he intended to refocus the organization on the issues of "white genocide" and the "failures of multiculturalism". [74] He also announced that he would change the logo and rename the group to the "Proud Goys", a term used among the far-right to signal antisemitism. [73] [74] [75] The attempted coup is not believed to have been successful, [75] and the Proud Goys name has not been adopted outside of Chapman's social media. [74] [75] [76]

Evidence of further disarray within the leadership of the Proud Boys emerged in February 2021, in the aftermath of the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol and the many arrests of Proud Boys that followed. The Alabama state chapter issued a statement saying, "We do not recognize the assumed authority of any national Proud Boy leadership including the Chairman, the Elders, or any subsequent governing body that is formed to replace them until such a time we may choose to consent to join those bodies of government." The state chapters of Indiana and Oklahoma endorsed the Alabama statement. [77]

Connection with Roger Stone

In early 2018, ahead of an appearance at the annual Republican Dorchester Conference in Salem, Oregon, Roger Stone sought out the Proud Boys to act as his "security" for the event photos posted online showed Stone drinking with several Proud Boys. [78] [79] [80]

In February 2018, the Proud Boys posted a video on Facebook which they described as Stone undergoing a "low-level initiation" into the group. As part of the initiation, Stone says, "Hi, I'm Roger Stone. I'm a Western chauvinist. I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world," making him a "first-degree" member, which Kutner characterizes as being a "sympathizer." Stone denies being a member of the group. In July 2020, Facebook announced it had shut down the accounts and pages linked to Stone and Proud Boys. This network of more than a hundred Facebook and Instagram accounts spent over $300,000 on ads to promote their posts and included false personas. [81]

In late January 2019, when Stone was arrested by the FBI on seven criminal counts in connection with the Mueller investigation, Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the Proud Boys, met Stone as he left the courthouse in Florida. Tarrio, who wore a "Roger Stone Did Nothing Wrong" T-shirt, sold by a company owned by Tarrio, told a local TV reporter that the indictment was nothing but "trumped-up charges" and was later seen visiting Stone's house. The next day, in Washington D.C., a small number of Proud Boys demonstrated outside the courthouse where Stone pleaded not guilty to the charges, carrying "Roger Stone did nothing wrong" signs and others that promoted the InfoWars conspiracy website. The Proud Boys got into an argument with anti-Stone hecklers. [82] [83] [84] Tarrio was later filmed behind President Donald Trump in February 2019, during a televised speech in Miami, where he was seen wearing the same message on a T-shirt. [85]

Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes said Stone was "one of the three approved media figures allowed to speak" about the group. [86] When Stone was asked by a local reporter about the Proud Boys' claim that he had been initiated as a member of the group, he responded by calling the reporter a member of the Communist party. [80] He is particularly close to the group's current leader Enrique Tarrio, who has commercially monetized his position. [80]

The Washington Post reported in February 2021 that the FBI was investigating any role Stone might have had in influencing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in their participation in the storming of the Capitol. [87]

2017–2018

At the 2017 March 4 Trump rally in Berkeley, California, Kyle Chapman was recorded hitting a counter-protester over the head with a wooden dowel. Images of Chapman went viral, and the Proud Boys organized a crowdfunding campaign for Chapman's bail after his arrest. After this, McInnes invited Chapman to become involved with the Proud Boys, through which he formed the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights. [39] On April 15, 2017, an alt-right rally was organized in Berkeley by the Liberty Revival Alliance, which did not seek or receive a permit, and was attended by members of the Proud Boys, Identity Evropa (an American neo-Nazi group) [88] [89] [90] and Oath Keepers. [91] [92] [93] [94] [95] Many of these people traveled to Berkeley from other parts of the country. The rally was counter-protested and violence broke out, resulting in 21 people being arrested. [96] [97]

In June 2017, McInnes disavowed the planned Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. [25] However, Proud Boys were at the August 2017 alt-right event, which was organized by white supremacist Jason Kessler. [98] Kessler had joined the Proud Boys some time before organizing the event. [99] [100] [101] McInnes said he had kicked Kessler out after his views on race had become clear. [25] After the rally, Kessler accused McInnes of using him as a "patsy" and said: "You're trying to cuck and save your own ass." [4] Alex Michael Ramos, one of the men convicted for the assault of DeAndre Harris which took place at the rally, was associated with the Proud Boys and Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights. [102]

The Proud Boys have been active for several years in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. [103] Starting in September 2017 and continuing into 2018, the Proud Boys participated in several rallies organized by Patriot Prayer in Portland, Oregon, and nearby Vancouver, Washington. [104] [105] [106] Scenes of violence from one of these rallies was turned into a sizzle reel for the Proud Boys and was circulated on social media. [107] [108] Violence erupted at two events in June 2018, leaving five people hospitalized after the far-right march on June 30 devolved into a riot in downtown Portland. [109]

2018–2019

Metropolitan Republican Club

In October 2018, McInnes gave a talk at the Metropolitan Republican Club on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. [110] [111] He stepped out of his car wearing glasses with Asian eyes drawn on the front and pulled a samurai sword out of its sheath. Police forced him inside. Later, inside the event, McInnes and an Asian member of the Proud Boys re-enacted the 1960 murder of Inejiro Asanuma, the leader of the Japanese Socialist Party a captioned photograph of the actual murder had become a meme in alt-right social media. [26] The audience for the event was described by The New York Times as "a cross-section of New York’s far-right subculture: libertarians, conspiracy theorists and nationalists who have coalesced around their opposition to Islam, feminism and liberal politics." [112]

Anti-fascist activists had started protesting outside the club before the event and had reportedly engaged in vandalism. Following cross-provocations between the opposing sides, the Proud Boys charged towards the protesters, who threw a bottle in response, resulting in a fight. [112] [113] NYC police present at the protest reportedly did not respond. [26] [114]

The fallout from the incident left the group in internal disarray. [112] After McInnes nominally left the group, the "Elder Chapter" of the group reportedly assumed control. Jason Lee Van Dyke, the group's lawyer, was appointed as the chapter's chairman. [70] [115] Van Dyke was previously known for suing news media and anti-fascist activists for reporting on the group, and for making violent online threats with racist language. [116] [117] The group then publicly released its new bylaw online, with the names of its "Elder Chapter" members listed and redacted. The redaction was later discovered to be botched, as the list of names can be accessed by selecting over the black bar of the released document. [70] A day later, the chapter announced that Van Dyke was no longer leader of the group, and Enrique Tarrio is the group's new chairman. [71]

Video evidence from three separate videos showed conclusively that the Proud Boys had instigated the fight after the Metropolitan Republican Club event. [118] [119] John Miller, New York City's deputy police commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, said that "incidents like [the post-MRC fight] make it more likely" that the Proud Boys would be "higher on the radar" of authorities. [112]

Ten men connected to the Proud Boys were arrested in connection with the October 2018 incident. [120] Seven Proud Boys pleaded guilty to various charges including riot, disorderly conduct and attempted assault. [120] [121] Two of the men who accepted plea deals were sentenced to five days of community service and did not receive jail time. [122] In August 2019, two of the Proud Boys, Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman, were convicted following a jury trial of attempted gang assault, attempted assault and riot the jury deliberated a day and a half of deliberations before rejecting their claims of self-defense. [120] Hare and Kinsman were each sentenced to four years in prison. [123] The final defendant is awaiting trial. [120] [121]

The four anti-fascist victims of the beating are not cooperating with prosecutors, even to the extent of revealing their identities, and are known only as "Shaved Head", "Ponytail", "Khaki" and "Spiky Belt". Because of that non-cooperation, the Proud Boys were not charged with assault—which requires evidence of injury—but with riot and attempted assault. The bulk of the evidence in the trial came from videos. [120] [121]

Demand Free Speech rally

A Proud Boys rally called Demand Free Speech [124] took place on July 6, 2019, in Washington, D.C.'s Freedom Plaza and Pershing Park, drawing about 250 people. [125] [126] [127] McInnes, Laura Loomer and Milo Yiannopoulos appeared, while former Trump advisor Roger Stone and Jacob Wohl did not. A counter-protest and dance party across the street drew more people than the main rally. Police said there were only minor skirmishes between the far-right and antifa, and no arrests were made. [125] [126] [127] Republican candidate Omar Navarro, a perennial challenger for Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters' congressional seat, withdrew from speaking at the event, tweeting that his ex-girlfriend DeAnna Lorraine, a self-described "MAGA relationship expert", had threatened him, using cocaine and having sex with members of the Proud Boys. [124] In response to Navarro's tweets, the Proud Boys issued a video featuring former InfoWars staff member Joe Biggs and Ethan Nordean—the star of a viral video showing him beating up an antifa protester—in which they "banished" Navarro from the Proud Boys. The Proud Boys' chairman Enrique Tarrio described the group as "pro-drugs". Other speakers who had been scheduled for the rally, including Pizzagate promoters Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, had already cancelled their appearances for reasons not apparently related to Navarro's charges. [124]

2019–2020

The Proud Boys and Joe Biggs organized an August 17, 2019 demonstration in Portland attended by members of several far-right groups. [128] [129] [130] The End Domestic Terrorism rally, [130] which was sometimes subtitled "Better Dead than Red", [131] was intended to promote the idea that antifa should be classified as "domestic terrorism". It received national attention, including a tweet from President Trump. [132] [133] One day prior to the rally, Patriot Prayer's Joey Gibson, who had organized similar events in 2017 and 2018, was taken into custody on charges of felony rioting during a May 1, 2019 incident. [134] The Proud Boys organized the August event in response to a video that went viral of masked demonstrators assaulting conservative blogger Andy Ngo at a Portland rally on June 29, 2019. [134] The End Domestic Terrorism event drew more counter-demonstrators than participants (at least one group urged its members in advance to not attend) and ended with the Proud Boys' requesting a police escort to leave. [129]

COVID-19 misinformation

On May 1, 2020, the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism (CTEC) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey compiled a report examining the influence of the Proud Boys on anti-lockdown protests and COVID-19 misinformation. Members of the group shared conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, a "plandemic", and COVID-19 vaccines on social media, especially Telegram. [135]

On May 10, 2020, a bulletin on COVID-19 protest disinformation campaigns by the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC) described how "the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, has been active in spreading conspiracy theories regarding Covid-19 on Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram," suggesting that "a faction of elites are weaponizing the virus, and a vaccine would likely be a tool for population control and mind control." [136] The CIAC bulletin also warned that "spread of disinformation has the potential to cause civil unrest and mass panic". [136]

On October 1, 2020, The Guardian reported several United States agencies variously described the Proud Boys as "a dangerous 'white supremacist' group", "white supremacists", "extremists" and as "a gang", with law enforcement showing concern "about the group's menace to minority groups and police officers, and its conspiracy theories", including COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories. [136]

Anti-BLM protests

In January 2020, the Proud Boys attended a large Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Virginia. They are opposed to Black Lives Matter protests and see attempts to remove statues of Confederate leaders and other historical figures as a "left-wing plot to destroy American history". [137]

On May 30, 2020, Facebook officials reported that internal systems flagged activity from Proud Boys-related accounts encouraging "armed agitators" to attend protests following the murder of George Floyd. [54]

The group remained active in the Pacific Northwest and had a dozen chapters in Idaho, Oregon and Washington by 2020. [138] In June 2020, members of the Proud Boys rallied at the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Washington, in an effort to confront protesters. [137]

Washington resident and Proud Boys member Tusitala "Tiny" Toese, known for brawling in the streets of Portland and Seattle during political protests, [139] was arrested in Washington on August 28, 2020. [140] He was wanted for multiple probation violations related to his 2018 misdemeanor assault conviction that left a protester with stitches and a concussion in June 2018. [140] [141] Toese, previously affiliated with Patriot Prayer, had been observed participating in other assaults with members of the Proud Boys, including an assault at a Clark County, Washington mall in May 2018 [142] and an assault in Seattle in June 2020. [141]

Texas-based Proud Boys member Alan Swinney was arrested on September 30, 2020 and held in Oregon on "multiple assault charges, pointing a firearm at another, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of tear gas, stun gun or mace." [143] Swinney had been recorded firing airsoft pellets at protesters and journalists, and at one point brandished a revolver at his opponents during a Portland, Oregon protest in August 2020. [144]

2020 presidential debates

In the first 2020 presidential debate on September 29, 2020, President Donald Trump was asked by moderator Chris Wallace: "Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha, and as we have seen in Portland?" Trump replied: "Sure. Sure, I am willing to do that." He then asked for clarification, saying: "Who would you like me to condemn?" Wallace mentioned "white supremacists and right wing militia". During the exchange, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden replied "Proud Boys" and Trump replied: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem." [145] Shortly after, Joe Biggs, one of the Proud Boys organizers, shared through his Parler social media account a logo with the president's words "Stand back" and "Stand by". [146]

One researcher said that Proud Boys memberships on Telegram channels grew nearly ten percent after the debate. The Washington Post reported that Trump's comments were quickly "enshrined in memes, including one depicting Trump in one of the Proud Boys' signature polo shirts. Another meme showed Trump's quote alongside an image of bearded men carrying American flags and appearing to prepare for a fight." [147]

On September 30, President Trump clarified his statement, stating that he "doesn't know what the Proud Boys are" and that "they should stand down. Let law enforcement do their work." [148] [149] On October 1, Trump said on Sean Hannity's show: "I've said it many times, and let me be clear again: I condemn the KKK. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys. I don't know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing. But I condemn that." [150] [151] [152]

During the second and final presidential debate on October 22, Democratic candidate Joe Biden mistakenly referred to the Proud Boys as "poor boys", a slip that went viral on social media. [153]

Foreign disinformation during the 2020 presidential campaign

During the 2020 presidential campaign in October, threatening emails claiming to be from the Proud Boys were sent to Democratic voters in Alaska, Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania, the last three of which were swing states in the upcoming election. The emails warned: "You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you." Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio denied the group's involvement and said he had spoken to the FBI about it. Tarrio told The Washington Post that "[t]wo weeks ago I believe we had Google Cloud services drop us from their platform, so then we initiated a url transfer, which is still in process. We kind of just never used it." [154] Miami New Times reported that the emails came from [email protected], one of two websites belonging to the Proud Boys, and which Tarrio said had not been updated in a year and a half. Tarrio added that an authentic email from the Proud Boys would come from proudboysusa.com. [155] The FBI announced that Iranian intelligence was responsible for the spoofed emails sent to intimidate Florida voters, and added that Russia was also working to influence the election. Officials from each country denied the accusations. [156]

D.C. black church incident and criminal charges against Tarrio

On December 12, 2020, members of the Proud Boys targeted Ashbury United Methodist Church, the oldest historically black church in Washington, D.C., after pro-Trump protests earlier that day. [157] They flashed white supremacist hand signs and tore down and burned a Black Lives Matter sign that had been raised by the church. [158] Reverend Ianther M. Mills, the church's pastor, described the acts as "reminiscent of cross burnings" and expressed sadness that local police had failed to intervene. [159] Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio attempted to claim responsibility for the incident, which police have designated a hate crime. [160] He was arrested on January 4, 2021 and charged with one count of destruction of property (a misdemeanor) and two counts of possession of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices (a felony) local authorities indicated the U.S. Attorney's Office would be the authority to decide whether or not to file hate-crime charges. [161] The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, which also targeted by vandalism during the December 12, 2020 protest, sued the Proud Boys and Tarrio. [162] [163] The judge in the case also issued an injunction banning Tarrio from entering the District of Columbia, save for limited exceptions related to court matters. [164]

Storming of the Capitol Building

On January 6, 2021, many members of the Proud Boys participated in the storming of the United States Capitol building, [165] where some members of the group appeared wearing orange hats. [166] Some members wore all black clothing, rather than their usual black and yellow attire, as Tarrio had suggested in a Parler post days earlier, which prosecutors said was an apparent reference to mimicking the appearance of antifa members. [167] Analysis by CNN found at least eleven individuals with ties to Proud Boys had been charged by February 3. [23] The Justice Department announced on February 3, 2021 that two members had been indicted for conspiracy. [22] Five individuals affiliated with Proud Boys were charged with conspiracy on February 11, followed by six more on February 26. [168] [169] Federal grand jury conspiracy indictments of others followed. [170] Federal prosecutors were considering whether to pursue charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which is typically used to prosecute organized crime syndicates. [171]

A review by the Wall Street Journal of social media posts from Proud Boys members showed that the group repeatedly invoked Trump's messages as a call to action, [172] and were disheartened by the arrests and what they perceived to be Trump's lack of action in the days leading up to Joe Biden's inauguration. [173]

On February 16, 2021, Representative Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the United States House Homeland Security Committee, filed a federal lawsuit against Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, and Proud Boys International LLC. The lawsuit alleges that the events at the Capitol on January 6 violated the Third Enforcement Act of 1871. [174] The chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, called the lawsuit "frivolous". [174]

The New York Times reported in March 2021 that the incident had caused Proud Boys and other far-right groups to splinter amid disagreements on whether the storming had gone too far or was a success, and doubts about the leadership of their organizations, raising concerns of increasing numbers of lone wolf actors who would be more difficult to monitor and might pursue more extreme actions. [175] [176] [177]

The New York Times reported in March 2021 that the FBI was investigating communications between an unnamed associate of the White House and an unnamed member of Proud Boys during the days prior to the incursion. The communications had been detected by examining cellphone metadata and were separate from previously known contacts between Roger Stone and Proud Boys. [178]

Citing private Facebook messages, prosecutors alleged in a March 2021 court filing that during the weeks preceding the attack, Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs had contacted Proud Boys who he said could serve as a "force multiplier" and that he had "organized an alliance" among the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and the Florida chapter of the Three Percenters. [179] A US district court in Portland also charged two Oregon brothers who are members of the group with the federal crimes of violence and terrorism for actions related to the storming of the capitol. [180] [24]

In June 2021, federal judge Royce Lamberth declined to release Proud Boys member Christopher Worrell prior to his trial, citing Facebook posts he had made threatening retribution against who he believed "ratted" him out to the FBI. [181]

Government

United States

In late November 2018, an internal memo from the Clark County Sheriff's Office showed that the FBI had designated the Proud Boys an extremist group, but it later clarified that only certain members were extremist threats with ties to white nationalism. [40] [41]

In 2019, the 22-page Violent Extremism in Colorado: a Reference Guide for Law Enforcement from the Colorado Information Analysis Center (the state's version of the DHS) and the Colorado Department of Public Safety was released, with the organizations discussing the Proud Boys under the "White Supremacist Extremism" heading. In coverage from The Guardian, it was reported that member organizations of the national network of counter-terrorist centers had issued warnings about the Proud Boys. [136] Calling Proud Boys a "threat to Colorado", the guide related them to neo-Nazi terrorist group Atomwaffen Division and how violent clashes in 2018 with the Rocky Mountain Antifa ended in the arrest of two members of the Proud Boys. Guidance about the Proud Boys in the report involved describing them as "a dangerous white supremacist group", as a white supremacist extremist threat, and with a "concern that white supremacist extremists will continue attacking members of the community who threaten their belief of Caucasian superiority". [136]

Also in 2019, the Austin Regional Intelligence Center (ARIC) compiled a Special Event Threat Assessment of potential dangers to the Austin Pride Parade. The ARIC identified the Proud Boys as being associated with a "growing backlash against Pride Month" which has emerged in the form of the straight pride movement, noting that a June 2019 transgender pride event in Seattle, Washington was disrupted by the "alt-right Proud Boys organization". [136]

Canada

Bill Blair, Canada's minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, announced in January 2021 that Canada was considering designating the Proud Boys a terrorist organization. [182]

On January 25, 2021, the House of Commons of Canada unanimously passed a motion calling on the government "to use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacist and hate groups, starting with immediately designating the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity." [183] [184]

On February 3, 2021, the Proud Boys were officially designated as a terrorist entity in Canada. [19] [185] Bill Blair, the Minister of Public Safety added 13 new groups (including four ideologically motivated violent extremist groups, Atomwaffen Division, the Base, the Russian Imperial Movement, and the Proud Boys) to the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities. [183] [186]

Section 83.01() of the Canadian criminal code defines a terrorist entity as "a) an entity that has as one of its purposes or activities facilitating or carrying out any terrorist activity, or b) a listed entity, and includes an association of such entities." [187] A listed entity means an entity on a list established by the Governor in Council under section 83.05. [187] The Cabinet of Canada can list an entity on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness if the Governor in Council is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that (a) the entity has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity or (b) the entity has knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with an entity referred to in paragraph (a). [187]

Under section 83 of the Criminal Code, it is an indictable offence to provide use or possess property for terrorist purposes. [188] [189] As a result of the listing, no person in Canada or Canadian outside Canada can knowingly deal with the property, provide financial services or facilitate any transaction for the group. [187] Financial institutions cannot process payments or offer loans to known members, and are required to report property or transactions to regulators. [183] The listing does not mean the group is banned or that membership is a crime. [190] Membership of the Proud Boys is not criminalized. Providing property or financial services to a listed entity is a crime, which makes paying membership dues to the group a terrorism offence in Canada. Purchasing Proud Boys merchandise could be a criminal act, and travel restrictions may apply to people associated with the group. [191] Additionally, participation and contribution where the purpose of this participation is to enhance the latter's ability to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity is also criminalized. Such behavior includes recruitment of trainees, crossing an international border, and providing or offering to provide skill or expertise. [183]

Proud Boys Canada announced that it was dissolving on May 2, 2021 and denied that it was a terrorist or white supremacy group. [192] Analysts cautioned that the group may opt to rebrand within Canada and noted that one Proud Boys chapter based in Hamilton, Ontario started to use the name "Canada First". [193] [194]

Southern Poverty Law Center

Although he had supposedly cut his ties with the Proud Boys by November 2018, stepping down as chairman, [68] [69] McInnes filed a defamation lawsuit in February 2019 against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in federal court in Alabama over the SPLC's designation of the Proud Boys as a "general hate" group. [195] [196] The SPLC took the lawsuit "as a compliment" and an indication that "we're doing our job." [197] On its website, the SPLC said that "McInnes plays a duplicitous rhetorical game: rejecting white nationalism and, in particular, the term 'alt-right' while espousing some of its central tenets" and that the group's "rank-and-file [members] and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville." [28] [196] McInnes is represented by Ronald Coleman. In addition to defamation, McInnes claimed tortious interference with economic advantage, "false light invasion of privacy" and "aiding and abetting employment discrimination." [198] The day after filing the suit, McInnes announced that he had been re-hired by the Canadian far-right media group The Rebel Media. [199] The SPLC filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in April 2019. [200]

Lawsuits

On May 17, 2019, Bill Burke of Ohio filed a $3 million lawsuit against the Proud Boys, Kessler, and multiple other people and groups associated with the Unite the Right rally. Burke was seriously injured in the August 2017 Charlottesville car attack which followed the event. [201] [202] The 64-page initial complaint alleges that the named parties "conspired to plan, promote and carry out the violent events in Charlottesville". According to Burke, his physical and mental injuries have led to "severe psychological and emotional suffering". [203] [204]

Social media bans

The Proud Boys organization has been banned by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. [18]

Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights

In 2017, Kyle Chapman, nicknamed "Based Stickman" after the 2017 Berkeley protests, formed a self-proclaimed [205] paramilitary wing of the Proud Boys called the Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights (FOAK). [39] Alt-right figure Augustus Sol Invictus acted as FOAK's second-in-command until he left the group. [28]

Canadian chapters

Following the storming of the United States Capitol, the Ottawa and Manitoba chapters shut down. [206] On May 2, 2021, Proud Boys Canada announced on the Proud Boys USA channel on Telegram that it has "officially dissolved". [207]

Members of the Proud Boys can be identified by their use of black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts, American flags, MAGA hats, and military armor. Members often carry guns. [208]

During the 2021 Storming of the United States Capitol, the Proud Boys shifted to wearing blaze orange hats [209] and all-black attire. [210]

Association with Fred Perry clothing

Since the early days of the group, Proud Boys have worn black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts on McInnes' suggestion. [211] [212] [213] The brand, having previously been negatively associated with skinheads and the British National Front in the 1970s, [213] issued several public statements distancing themselves from the beliefs of the Proud Boys, and calling on members to stop wearing their clothing. [214] [215]

In 2017, Fred Perry's CEO John Flynn denounced the affiliation with the Proud Boys in a statement to CBC Radio, saying: "We don't support the ideals or the group that you speak of. It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with." [216] The shirts have not been sold in the United States since September 2019. In September 2020, the retailer announced that it will not sell them in the United States until association with Proud Boys has ended. [217]

MAGA hats

Proud Boys commonly wear red MAGA hats to rallies, often alongside Fred Perry black and yellow polo shirts. [218]

"6MWE" is an antisemitic slogan that appears on some apparel associated with the Proud Boys. It is an acronym that means "6 million wasn't enough", referring to the number of Jewish Holocaust victims. The slogan may appear together with symbols of the Italian Social Republic, the Fascist government of Italy supported by Nazi Germany. [219] [220]

On a January 7, 2021 episode of MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, the anchor condemned the rioters who stormed the Capitol while wearing antisemitic clothing, including one rioter who supposedly participated in the storming while wearing a shirt with the 6MWE slogan on it. [221] However, a fact check done by The Forward found that the photo of the rioter with the slogan on his shirt had been taken at an earlier Proud Boys gathering at the Capitol in December 2020. [221]


The Neighbor’s Dog Barks Constantly! What Can I Do?

Even the most ardent dog lovers among us become aggravated if a neighbor’s dog barks incessantly. The constant yapping can disrupt sleep, ruin your time in the yard, and generally become an ongoing nuisance. But there are some steps you can take with effort and a little luck, you and the neighbor’s dog can peacefully coexist.

For starters, don’t blame the dog he’s being a dog. Several things could cause the barking:

  • Some breeds are more territorial than others. Whether the dog is in the house or out in the yard, he may be “protecting” his home from passing cars, someone walking near his property, or just the mailman approaching the door.
  • Dogs don’t handle boredom well. If the dog is alone all day in the house or left alone in the yard for long periods of time, he may develop unwelcome compulsive habits, such as barking.
  • If the dog sees or hears lots of activity outside, he may become excited enough to bark. This isn’t necessarily a warning it may be a way to express frustration at being left out of the fun or a stress reaction to the noise and activity.

You get it, but you’re being driven to distraction by your neighbor’s barking dog. So what can you do?

1. The first step is to talk to your neighbors. If they’re away from the house all day, they may not even know about the barking. Or they may be aware of it and are already working on the problem.

While it might be tempting to just drop a note in their mailbox, meet your neighbors face-to-face. Leave the attitude at home and communicate in a friendly, neighborly way that the barking is becoming a problem for you and your family. Don’t assume, don’t accuse just explain the problem and give them a chance to respond. It’s possible they’re inexperienced dog owners. In that case you might want to suggest some resources that will help them manage the barking.

2. You can be proactive, as well. If the dog barks every time you step into your yard or venture near his property, try blocking his vision by planting a hedge or erecting a fence or privacy screen. If the dog’s barking is territorial, blocking his view of your property may remove the threat.

3. Of course, dogs don’t just sense your presence visually. Mr. Barks-A-Lot next door can also hear or smell you. If blocking his view doesn’t help, and he still perceives you as a threat, maybe it’s time to make friends with him.

Ask your neighbors if you and your family can meet their dog and let him get to know you. You might even suggest that the neighbors bring the dog over to your yard to play a bit. If your trips to the yard are rare, your occasional presence may startle or frighten the dog. Try making time outside an ordinary occurrence. Once he’s used to the sight, sounds, and smells of his human neighbors, they may not be such a big deal to him, and he won’t feel the need to bark.

4. So, you’ve done all the polite neighborly things you can to stop the annoying barking, and nothing’s changed. You may have to resort to filing a formal noise complaint. Most municipalities, landlords, and homeowners’ associations have noise regulations.

You may have to do some detective work to locate the appropriate authority in some cases, the local animal control authorities are responsible for noise complaints about barking dogs. It might be helpful to check with other neighbors to see if they’re also affected by the barking. If so, ask them if they’ll file similar complaints.

You may have to resort to contacting the police. Barking dogs are probably not high on their priority list, and you’ll have to provide them with a written record of everything you’ve done so far. But they may issue a warning or citation to your neighbor.

Last, you can take more drastic steps when all else fails, including taking legal action by going to small claims court. Keep a record of the dates and duration of the barking, take video or audio clips on your mobile phone, and keep a record of all the steps you’ve taken so far. You might even consider hiring a lawyer to help you through the system.

Are you seeing a theme here? You cannot expect the dog to respect your wish for peace and quiet. But if you’re willing to make some effort, and if you understand why the dog is barking so incessantly, you may be able to resolve all this with a friendly visit, some time spent with the dog, and at most, a few alterations to your yard.


SF Railway Museum

This compact and free museum is located right on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, and really, there is only one proper way to get there: hop aboard any of the historic F Market streetcars (they pick up all along Market Street or along the Embarcadero). The antique street cars, which have been collected from various cities around the world and restored, will drop you literally at the museum doors when you exit at the Steuart St. stop. Inside, visitors can get a real feel for what it was like to drive a streetcar, by taking controls of a 1911 San Francisco streetcar. You’ll also find historic artifacts, illustrative and informative displays and rarely seen archival photography. This is a great place to stock up on a variety of railroad-themed gifts and souvenirs. Good to know: the museum is closed on Mondays.

77 Steuart St.
San Francisco, CA
Online: streetcar.org/museum


Politics and protest

While running for office in December 2015, Donald Trump suggested banning citizens from majority Muslim countries entering the US. There was outrage in Scotland.

Scotland’s new first minister Nicola Sturgeon removed his status as a “Global Scot” - a business ambassador who acts for Scotland on the world stage.

It was a symbolic gesture soon followed by another, as Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University took back the honorary degree they had bestowed upon the businessman in 2010.

As the Scottish Parliament election approached in 2016, Scottish party leaders across the political spectrum became bolder in their opposition.

Donald Trump receiving an honorary degree from Robert Gordon University in 2010 (it was later revoked)

Labour’s Kezia Dugdale described Candidate Trump as “an arse” and travelled to the United States to campaign for Hillary Clinton. And Ruth Davidson of the Scottish Conservatives told a TV debate she had “too much faith in the people of the US to ever let that man anywhere near the White House”.

At that same debate Ms Sturgeon said “we should all rejoice” when the American people “send Donald Trump packing”. When asked how she’d handle a phone call from President Trump if he did win the election, she imagined herself saying: “I’m on the other line, sorry.”

She imagined incorrectly. A few months later she took that call. Mr Trump phoned to thank her for the letter which she wrote congratulating him on his victory. It probably wasn’t the easiest letter she’s had to write.

At the same time protesters took to the streets of Scotland’s cities, when the newly inaugurated president enacted his controversial travel ban in January 2017.

Nicola Sturgeon had not anticipated a Trump victory

Ms Sturgeon has continued to speak out against some of Mr Trump’s policies, such as the detention of child migrants separated from their parents.

On visits to the US she has prioritised business links over engagement with the Trump administration and met some of his high-profile critics, including Hillary Clinton.

The first minister has said she would be prepared to meet the president when he visits Scotland, but no plans were made for her to see him during his latest trip.

There are those who think it was a mistake for Scotland’s politicians to take sides in a foreign election against the man who now occupies the highest political office on the planet.

Trump’s travel ban brought protests to Edinburgh in 2017

“It was very unseemly. It’s not what you do,” says Sebastian Gorka, a former adviser to the Trump administration. He warns that there could be repercussions for Scotland.

“You’d have to ask the president but he has a very, very long memory. He doesn’t forget stuff.”

American-Scot Jack Perry takes the view that ignoring any president is not an option. Mr Perry was head of the development agency Scottish Enterprise when Mr Trump first mooted building his golf course.

“You can dislike the man, you can dislike his politics, you can dislike his public pronouncements,” he says. “But there still has to be some respect for the office. I don’t think you have any choice but to deal with him.”

It is especially difficult to ignore a US president who now owns two major golf resorts in your country.


Contents

Early finds Edit

The first known illustrations of ichthyosaur bones, vertebrae, and limb elements were published by the Welshman Edward Lhuyd in his Lithophylacii Brittannici Ichnographia of 1699. Lhuyd thought that they represented fish remains. [3] In 1708, the Swiss naturalist Johann Jakob Scheuchzer described two ichthyosaur vertebrae assuming they belonged to a man drowned in the Universal Deluge. [4] In 1766, an ichthyosaur jaw with teeth was found at Weston near Bath. In 1783, this piece was exhibited by the Society for Promoting Natural History as those of a crocodilian. In 1779, ichthyosaur bones were illustrated in John Walcott's Descriptions and Figures of Petrifications. [5] Towards the end of the eighteenth century, British fossil collections quickly increased in size. Those of the naturalists Ashton Lever and John Hunter were acquired in their totality by museums later, it was established that they contained dozens of ichthyosaur bones and teeth. The bones had typically been labelled as belonging to fish, dolphins, or crocodiles the teeth had been seen as those of sea lions. [6]

The demand by collectors led to more intense commercial digging activities. In the early nineteenth century, this resulted in the discovery of more complete skeletons. In 1804, Edward Donovan at St Donats uncovered a four-metre-long (13 ft) ichthyosaur specimen containing a jaw, vertebrae, ribs, and a shoulder girdle. It was considered to be a giant lizard. In October 1805, a newspaper article reported the find of two additional skeletons, one discovered at Weston by Jacob Wilkinson, the other, at the same village, by Reverend Peter Hawker. In 1807, the last specimen was described by the latter's cousin, Joseph Hawker. [7] This specimen thus gained some fame among geologists as 'Hawker's Crocodile'. In 1810, near Stratford-upon-Avon, an ichthyosaur jaw was found that was combined with plesiosaur bones to obtain a more complete specimen, indicating that the distinctive nature of ichthyosaurs was not yet understood, awaiting the discovery of far better fossils.

The first complete skeletons Edit

In 1811, in Lyme Regis, along what is now called the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, the first complete ichthyosaur skull was found by Joseph Anning, the brother of Mary Anning, who in 1812 while still a young girl, secured the torso of the same specimen. Their mother, Molly Anning, sold the combined piece to squire Henry Henley for £23. Henley lent the fossil to the London Museum of Natural History of William Bullock. When this museum was closed, the British Museum bought the fossil for a price of £47.5s it still belongs to the collection of the now independent Natural History Museum and has the inventory number BMNH R.1158. It has been identified as a specimen of Temnodontosaurus platyodon.

In 1814, the Annings' specimen was described by Professor Everard Home, in the first scientific publication dedicated to an ichthyosaur. [8] Intrigued by the strange animal, Home tried to locate additional specimens in existing collections. In 1816, he described ichthyosaur fossils owned by William Buckland and James Johnson. [9] In 1818, Home published data obtained by corresponding with naturalists all over Britain. [10] In 1819, he wrote two articles about specimens found by Henry Thomas De la Beche and Thomas James Birch. A last publication of 1820 was dedicated to a discovery by Birch at Lyme Regis. [11] The series of articles by Home covered the entire anatomy of ichthyosaurs, but highlighted details only a systematic description was still lacking.

Home felt very uncertain how the animal should be classified. Though most individual skeletal elements looked very reptilian, the anatomy as a whole resembled that of a fish, so he initially assigned the creature to the fishes, as seemed to be confirmed by the flat shape of the vertebrae. At the same time, he considered it a transitional form in-between fishes and crocodiles, not in an evolutionary sense, but as regarded its place in the scala naturae, the "Chain of Being" hierarchically connecting all living creatures. In 1818, Home noted some coincidental similarities between the coracoid of ichthyosaurians and the sternum of the platypus. This induced him to emphasize its status as a transitional form, combining, like the platypus, traits of several larger groups. In 1819, he considered it a form between newts, like Olm, and lizards he now gave a formal generic name: Proteo-Saurus. [12] [13] However, in 1817, Karl Dietrich Eberhard Koenig had already referred to the animal as Ichthyosaurus, "fish saurian" from Greek ἰχθύς, ichthys, "fish". This name at the time was an invalid nomen nudum and was only published by Koenig in 1825, [14] but was adopted by De la Beche in 1819 in a lecture where he named three Ichthyosaurus species. This text would only be published in 1822, just after De la Beche's friend William Conybeare published a description of these species, together with a fourth one. [15] The type species was Ichthyosaurus communis, based on a now lost skeleton. Conybeare considered that Ichthyosaurus had priority relative to Proteosaurus. Although this is incorrect by present standards, the latter name became a "forgotten" nomen oblitum. In 1821, De la Beche and Conybeare provided the first systematic description of ichthyosaurs, comparing them to another newly identified marine reptile group, the Plesiosauria. [16] Much of this description reflected the insights of their friend, the anatomist Joseph Pentland.

In 1835, the order Ichthyosauria was named by Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville. [17] In 1840, Richard Owen named an order Ichthyopterygia as an alternative concept. [18]

Popularisation during the 19th century Edit

The discovery of a hitherto unsuspected extinct group of large marine reptiles generated much publicity, capturing the imagination of both scientists and the public at large. People were fascinated by the strange build of the animals, especially the large scleral rings in the eye sockets, [19] of which it was sometimes erroneously assumed these would have been visible on the living animal. Their bizarre form induced a feeling of alienation, allowing people to realise the immense span of time passed since the era in which the ichthyosaur swam the oceans. [20] Not all were convinced that ichthyosaurs had gone extinct: Reverend George Young found a skeleton in 1819 at Whitby in his 1821 description, he expressed the hope that living specimens could still be found. [21] Geologist Charles Lyell to the contrary, assumed that the Earth was eternal so that in the course of time the ichthyosaur might likely reappear, a possibility lampooned in a famous caricature by De la Beche.

Public awareness was increased by the works of the eccentric collector Thomas Hawkins, a pre-Adamite believing that ichthyosaurs were monstrous creations by the devil: Memoirs of Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri of 1834 [22] and The Book of the Great Sea-Dragons of 1840. [23] The first work was illustrated by mezzotints by John Samuelson Templeton. These publications also contained scientific descriptions and represented the first textbooks of the subject. In the summer of 1834, Hawkins, after a taxation by William Buckland and Gideon Mantell, sold his extensive collection, then the largest of its kind in the world, to the British Museum. However, curator Koenig quickly discovered that the fossils had been heavily restored with plaster, applied by an Italian artist from Lucca of the most attractive piece, an Ichthyosaurus specimen, almost the entire tail was fake. It turned out that Professor Buckland had been aware of this beforehand, and the museum was forced to reach a settlement with Hawkins, and gave the fake parts a lighter colour to differentiate them from the authentic skeletal elements. [24]

Ichthyosaurs became even more popular in 1854 by the rebuilding at Sydenham Hill of the Crystal Palace, originally erected at the world exhibition of 1851. In the surrounding park, life-sized, painted, concrete statues of extinct animals were placed, which were designed by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins under the direction of Richard Owen. Among them were three models of an ichthyosaur. Although it was known that ichthyosaurs had been animals of the open seas, they were shown basking on the shore, a convention followed by many nineteenth century illustrations with the aim, as Conybeare once explained, of better exposing their build. This led to the misunderstanding that they really had an amphibious lifestyle. The pools in the park were at the time subjected to tidal changes, so that fluctuations in the water level at intervals submerged the ichthyosaur statues, adding a certain realism. Remarkably, internal skeletal structures, such as the scleral rings and the many phalanges of the flippers, were shown at the outside.

Later 19th-century finds Edit

During the nineteenth century, the number of described ichthyosaur genera gradually increased. New finds allowed for a better understanding of their anatomy. Owen had noted that many fossils showed a downward bend in the rear tail. At first, he explained this as a post mortem effect, a tendon pulling the tail end downwards after death. However, after an article on the subject by Philip Grey Egerton, [25] Owen considered the possibility that the oblique section could have supported the lower lobe of a tail fin. [26] This hypothesis was confirmed by new finds from Germany. In the Posidonia Shale at Holzmaden, dating from the early Jurassic, already in the early nineteenth century, the first ichthyosaur skeletons had been found. [27] [28] [29] During the latter half of the century, the rate of discovery quickly increased to a few hundred each year. Ultimately, over four thousand were uncovered, forming the bulk of ichthyosaur specimens displayed today. The sites were also a Konservat-Lagerstätte, meaning not only the quantity, but also the quality was exceptional. The skeletons were very complete and often preserved soft tissues, including tail and dorsal fins. Additionally, female individuals were discovered with embryos. [30]

Twentieth century Edit

In the early 20th century, ichthyosaur research was dominated by the German paleontologist Friedrich von Huene, who wrote an extensive series of articles, taking advantage of an easy access to the many specimens found in his country. The amount of anatomical data was hereby vastly increased. [31] Von Huene also travelled widely abroad, describing many fossils from locations outside of Europe. During the 20th century, North America became an important source of new fossils. In 1905, the Saurian Expedition led by John Campbell Merriam and financed by Annie Montague Alexander, found 25 specimens in central Nevada, which were under a shallow ocean during the Triassic. Several of these are now in the collection of the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

After a slack during the middle of the century, with no new genera being named between the 1930s and the 1970s, the rate of discoveries picked up towards its end. Other specimens are embedded in the rock and visible at Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park in Nye County. In 1977 the 17-metre-long (56 ft) Triassic ichthyosaur Shonisaurus became the state fossil of Nevada. About half of the ichthyosaur genera today seen as valid were described after 1990. In 1992 Canadian ichthyologist Elizabeth Nicholls uncovered the largest known specimen, a 23-metre-long (75 ft) Shastasaurus. The new finds have allowed a gradual improvement in knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of what had already been seen as rather advanced "Mesozoic dolphins". Christopher McGowan published a larger number of articles and also brought the group to the attention of the general public. [32] The new method of cladistics provided a means to exactly calculate the relationships between groups of animals, and in 1999, Ryosuke Motani published the first extensive study on ichthyosaur phylogenetics. [33] In 2003, McGowan and Motani published the first modern textbook on the Ichthyosauria and their closest relatives. [34]

A 2020 article was accepted about a new genus, Hauffiopteryx from the southwest German basin, defined by a set of synapomorphies from both the skull and postcranium. [35]

Origin Edit

The origin of the ichthyosaurs is contentious. Until recently, clear transitional forms with land-dwelling vertebrate groups had not yet been found, the earliest known species of the ichthyosaur lineage being already fully aquatic. In 2014, a small basal ichthyosauriform from the upper Lower Triassic was described that had been discovered in China with characteristics suggesting an amphibian lifestyle. [36] In 1937, Friedrich von Huene even hypothesised that ichthyosaurs were not reptiles, but instead represented a lineage separately developed from amphibians. [37] Today, this notion has been discarded and a consensus exists that ichthyosaurs are amniote tetrapods, having descended from terrestrial egg-laying amniotes during the late Permian or the earliest Triassic. [38] However, establishing their position within the amniote evolutionary tree has proven difficult. Several conflicting hypotheses have been posited on the subject. In the second half of the 20th century, ichthyosaurs were usually assumed to be of the Anapsida, seen as an early branch of "primitive" reptiles. [39] This would explain the early appearance of ichthyosaurs in the fossil record, and also their lack of clear affinities with other reptile groups, as anapsids were supposed to be little specialised. [38] This hypothesis has become unpopular for being inherently vague because Anapsida is an unnatural, paraphyletic group. Modern exact quantitative cladistic analyses consistently indicate that ichthyosaurs are of the Diapsida. Some studies showed a basal, or low, position in the diapsid tree. [40] More analyses result in their being Neodiapsida, a derived diapsid subgroup. [41] Of these, the majority show them as basal lepidosauromorphs a minority show them as basal archosauromorphs.

Until the 1980s, a close relationship was assumed between the Ichthyosauria and the Sauropterygia, another marine reptile group, within an overarching Euryapsida. Today, however, this is usually rejected, with the Euryapsida being seen as an unnatural polyphyletic assemblage of reptiles that happen to share some adaptations to a swimming lifestyle. An exception is a study in 1997 by John Merck, which showed monophyletic archosauromorph euryapsids. [42]

Affinity with the Hupehsuchia Edit

Since 1959, a second enigmatic group of ancient sea reptiles is known, the Hupehsuchia. Like the Ichthyopterygia, the Hupehsuchia have pointed snouts and show polydactyly, the possession of more than five fingers or toes. Their limbs more resemble those of land animals, making them appear as a transitional form between these and ichthyosaurs. Initially, this possibility was largely neglected because the Hupehsuchia have a fundamentally different form of propulsion, with an extremely stiffened trunk. The similarities were explained as a case of convergent evolution. Furthermore, the descent of the Hupehsuchia is no less obscure, meaning a possible close relationship would hardly clarify the general evolutionary position of the ichthyosaurs.

In 2014, Cartorhynchus was announced, a small species with a short snout, large flippers, and a stiff trunk. Its lifestyle might have been amphibious. Motani found it to be more basal than the Ichthyopterygia and named an encompassing clade Ichthyosauriformes. The latter group was combined with the Hupesuchia into the Ichthyosauromorpha. The ichthyosauromorphs were found to be diapsids. [43]

The proposed relationships are shown by this cladogram:

Early Ichthyopterygia Edit

The earliest ichthyosaurs are known from the Early and Early-Middle (Olenekian and Anisian) Triassic strata of Canada, China, Japan, and Spitsbergen in Norway, being up to 246 million years old. These first forms included the genera Chaohusaurus, Grippia, and Utatsusaurus. This diversity suggests an even earlier origin. They more resembled finned lizards than the fishes or dolphins to which the later, more familiar species were similar. Their bodies were elongated and they probably used an anguilliform locomotion, swimming by undulations of the entire trunk. Like land animals, their pectoral girdles and pelves were robustly built, and their vertebrae still possessed the usual interlocking processes to support the body against the force of gravity. However, they were already rather advanced in having limbs that had been completely transformed into flippers. They also were probably warm-blooded and viviparous.

These very early "proto-ichthyosaurs" had such a distinctive build compared to "ichthyosaurs proper" that Motani excluded them from the Ichthyosauria and placed them in a basal position in a larger clade, the Ichthyopterygia. [41] However, this solution was not adopted by all researchers.

Later Triassic forms Edit

The basal forms quickly gave rise to ichthyosaurs in the narrow sense sometime around the boundary between the Early Triassic and Middle Triassic the earliest Ichthyosauria in the sense Motani gave to the concept, appear about 245 million years ago. These later diversified into a variety of forms, including the still sea serpent-like Cymbospondylus, a problematic form which reached ten metres in length, and smaller, more typical forms like Mixosaurus. The Mixosauria were already very fish-like with a pointed skull, a shorter trunk, a more vertical tail fin, a dorsal fin, and short flippers containing many phalanges. The sister group of the Mixosauria were the more advanced Merriamosauria. By the Late Triassic, merriamosaurs consisted of both the large, classic Shastasauria and more advanced, "dolphin-like" Euichthyosauria. Experts disagree over whether these represent an evolutionary continuum, with the less specialised shastosaurs a paraphyletic grade that was evolving into the more advanced forms, [44] or whether the two were separate clades that evolved from a common ancestor earlier on. [45] Euichthyosauria possessed more narrow front flippers, with a reduced number of fingers. Basal euichthyosaurs were Californosaurus and Toretocnemus. A more derived branch were the Parvipelvia, with a reduced pelvis, basal forms of which are Hudsonelpidia and Macgowania.

During the Carnian and Norian, Shastosauria reached huge sizes. Shonisaurus popularis, known from a number of specimens from the Carnian of Nevada, was 15 m (49 ft) long. Norian Shonisauridae are known from both sides of the Pacific. Himalayasaurus tibetensis and Tibetosaurus (probably a synonym) have been found in Tibet. These large (10- to 15-m-long) ichthyosaurs have by some been placed into the genus Shonisaurus. [46] The gigantic Shastasaurus sikanniensis (sometimes considered to be a Shonisaurus sikanniensis) whose remains were found in the Pardonet Formation of British Columbia by Elizabeth Nicholls, has been estimated to be as much as 21 m (69 ft) in length—if correct, the largest marine reptile known to date.

In the Late Triassic, ichthyosaurs attained the peak of their diversity. They occupied many ecological niches. Some were apex predators others were hunters of small prey. Several species perhaps specialised in suction feeding or were ram feeders also, durophagous forms are known. Towards the end of the Late Triassic, a decline of variability seems to have occurred. The giant species seemed to have disappeared at the end of the Norian. Rhaetian (latest Triassic) ichthyosaurs are known from England, and these are very similar to those of the Early Jurassic. A possible explanation is an increased competition by sharks, Teleostei, and the first Plesiosauria. Like the dinosaurs, the ichthyosaurs and their contemporaries, the plesiosaurs, survived the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, and quickly diversified again to fill the vacant ecological niches of the early Jurassic.

Jurassic Edit

During the Early Jurassic, the ichthyosaurs still showed a large variety of species, ranging from 1 to 10 m (3 to 33 ft) in length. From this epoch, the original British discoveries were made, so that among ichthyosaurs, their names are the ones most familiar to the general public. Genera include Eurhinosaurus, Ichthyosaurus, Leptonectes, Stenopterygius, and the large predator Temnodontosaurus, along with the basal parvipelvian Suevoleviathan, which was little changed from its Norian ancestors. The general morphological variability had been strongly reduced, however. [47] Giant forms, suction feeders and durophagous species were absent. [48] All of these animals were streamlined, dolphin-like forms, although the more basal animals were perhaps more elongated than the advanced and compact Stenopterygius and Ichthyosaurus. The latter belonged to a parvipelvian subgroup, the Thunnosauria. These were fully adapted to an efficient thunniform locomotion, propelling themselves with the end of the tail only, equipped with a vertical tail fin. Their front flippers had more than five fingers. Another parvipelvian branch was the Eurhinosauria such as Leptonectes and Eurhinosaurus, which were specialised forms having very elongated and pointy snouts.

Few ichthyosaur fossils are known from the Middle Jurassic. This might be a result of the poor fossil record in general of this epoch. The strata of the Late Jurassic seem to indicate that a further decrease in diversity had taken place. From the Middle Jurassic onwards, almost all ichthyosaurs belonged to the thunnosaurian clade Ophthalmosauridae. Represented by the 4 m-long (13 ft) Ophthalmosaurus and related genera, they were very similar in general build to Ichthyosaurus. The eyes of Ophthalmosaurus were huge, and these animals likely hunted in dim and deep water. [49] However, new finds from the Cretaceous indicate that ichthyosaur diversity in the Late Jurassic must have been underestimated.

Cretaceous Edit

Traditionally, ichthyosaurs were seen as decreasing in diversity even further with the Cretaceous, though they had a worldwide distribution. All fossils from this period were referred to a single genus: Platypterygius. This last ichthyosaur genus was thought to have become extinct early in the late Cretaceous, during the Cenomanian about 95 million years ago. [50] The ichthyosaurs thus would have disappeared much earlier than other large Mesozoic reptile groups that generally survived until the end of the Cretaceous. Two major explanations were given for this. Firstly, it could have been a matter of chance. The second explanation had the extinction as caused by competition. Less hydrodynamically efficient animals, such as the Mosasauridae and long-necked plesiosaurs, flourished. The ichthyosaurian overspecialisation could be a contributing factor to their extinction, possibly being unable to 'keep up' with the fast-swimming and highly evasive new teleost fish, which had become dominant at this time, against which the sit-and-wait ambush strategies of the mosasaurids proved superior. [51] This model thus emphasised evolutionary stagnation, the only innovation shown by Platypterygius being its 10 fingers. [52]

Recent studies, however, show that ichthyosaurs were actually far more diverse in the Cretaceous than previously thought. Fragments referred to Platypterygius in fact represented diverse species. In 2012, at least eight lineages spanned the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary, among them Acamptonectes, Sveltonectes, Caypullisaurus, and Maiaspondylus. [53] In 2013, a Cretaceous basal thunnosaurian was revealed: Malawania. [54] Indeed, likely a radiation during the Early Cretaceous occurred due to an increase of coastlines when the continents further broke up. [55]

The demise of the ichthyosaurs has recently been described as a two-step process. [56] A first extinction event in the beginning of the Cenomanian eliminated two of the three ichthyosaur feeding guilds then present, the 'soft-prey specialists' and the 'generalists', leaving only an apex predator group, which probably was not particularly specialized. [56] The second major ichthyosaur extinction took place during the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary event, an 'anoxic event', eliminating the apex predators, [56] after which just a single lineage survived, Platypterygius hercynicus, which disappeared shortly afterwards, about 93 million years ago. [57] Ichthyosaur extinction was thus a pair of abrupt events rather than a long decline, probably related to the environmental upheavals and climatic changes in the Cenomanian and Turonian. [56] [58] If so, it was not caused by mosasaurid competition large mosasaurs did not appear until 3 million years after the ichthyosaur extinction, likely to fill the resulting ecological void. [56] Plesiosaurian polycoltylids perhaps also filled some of the niches previously occupied by ichthyosaurs, although they had coexisted for 19 million years. The extinction was most likely the result of ecological change and volatility that caused changes in migration, food availability, and birthing grounds. This part of the Cretaceous was one in which many other marine extinctions occurred, including those of some types of microplankton, ammonites, belemnites, and reef-building bivalves. [56]

Traditionally, animal groups are classified within a Linnaean rank-based system. Such a taxonomy was presented by Michael Werner Maisch in his 2010 review of ichthyosaur classification. [59]

  • Clade Ichthyopterygia (sensu Motani (1999))
    • Genus Chaohusaurus
    • Family Grippiidae
    • Family Parvinatatoridae
    • Family Thaisauridae
    • Family Utatsusauridae
    • ? Family Omphalosauridae
    • ? Genus Isfjordosaurus
    • Order Ichthyosauria (sensu Motani (1999))
      • Family Quasianosteosauridae
      • Parvorder Hueneosauria
        • Nanorder Mixosauria
          • Family Wimaniidae
          • Family Mixosauridae
          • Family Toretocnemidae
          • Family Cymbospondylidae
          • Hyporder Merriamosauria
            • Family Merriamosauridae
            • Family Besanosauridae
            • Family Shastasauridae
            • Family Shonisauridae
            • Family Californosauridae
            • Minorder Parvipelvia
              • Family Hudsonelpidiidae
              • Family Macgowaniidae
              • Suborder Neoichthyosauria
                • Family Temnodontosauridae
                • Family Leptonectidae
                • Family Suevoleviathanidae
                • Infraorder Thunnosauria
                  • Family Ichthyosauridae
                  • Family Stenopterygiidae
                  • Family Ophthalmosauridae

                  In modern phylogeny, clades are defined that contain all species forming a certain branch of the evolutionary tree. This also allows one to clearly indicate all relationships between the several subgroups in a cladogram. In 1999, a node clade Ichthyopterygia was defined by Motani as the group consisting of the last common ancestor of Ichthyosaurus communis, Utatsusaurus hataii and Parvinatator wapitiensis and all its descendants. Within Motani's phylogeny, the Ichthyopterygia were the larger parent clade of a smaller stem clade Ichthyosauria that was defined as the group consisting of Ichthyosaurus communis and all species more closely related to Ichthyosaurus than to Grippia longirostris. [33] Motani's concept of the Ichthyosauria was thus more limited than the traditional one that also contained basal forms, such as Grippia, Utatsusaurus, and Parvinatator.

                  The following cladogram is based on Motani (1999): [33]

                  An alternative terminology was proposed by Maisch & Matzke in 2000, trying to preserve the traditional, more encompassing content of the concept Ichthyosauria. They defined a node clade Ichthyosauria as the group consisting of the last common ancestor of Thaisaurus chonglakmanii, Utatsusaurus hataii, and Ophthalmosaurus icenicus, and all its descendants. [60] Ichthyosauria sensu Motani might materially be identical to a clade that Maisch & Matzke in 2000 called Hueneosauria, depending on the actual relationships.

                  Cladogram based on Maisch and Matzke (2000) [60] and Maisch and Matzke (2003) [61] with clade names following Maisch (2010): [38]

                  Pessopteryx (=Merriamosaurus)

                  Size Edit

                  Ichthyosaurs averaged about 2–4 m (6.6–13.1 ft) in length. Some individual specimens were as short as 0.3 m (1 ft) some species were much larger: the Triassic Shonisaurus popularis was about 15 m (49 ft) long and in 2004 Shastasaurus sikanniensis (sometimes classified as a Shonisaurus sikanniensis) was estimated to have been 21 m (69 ft) in length. [62] Fragmentary finds suggest the presence of a 15 m-long (49 ft) form in the early Jurassic. [63] In 2018, lower jaw fragments from England were reported indicating a length of between 20 and 25 m (66 to 82 ft). [64] According to weight estimates by Ryosuke Motani a 2.4 m (8 ft) Stenopterygius weighed around 163–168 kg (359–370 lb), whilst a 4 m (13 ft) Ophthalmosaurus icenicus weighed 930–950 kg (2,050–2,090 lb). [65]

                  General build Edit

                  While the earliest known members of the ichthyosaur lineage were more eel-like in build, later ichthyosaurs resembled more typical fishes or dolphins, having a porpoise-like head with a short neck and a long snout. Ichthyosaur fore and hind limbs had been fully transformed into flippers. Some species had a fin on their backs and a more or less vertical fin at the rear of a rather short tail. Although ichthyosaurs looked like fish, they were not.

                  Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould said that the ichthyosaur was his favourite example of convergent evolution, where similarities of structure are analogous, not homologous, thus not caused by a common descent, but by a similar adaptation to an identical environment:

                  "This sea-going reptile with terrestrial ancestors converged so strongly on fishes that it actually evolved a dorsal fin and tail in just the right place and with just the right hydrological design. These structures are all the more remarkable because they evolved from nothing—the ancestral terrestrial reptile had no hump on its back or blade on its tail to serve as a precursor." [66]

                  Diagnostic traits Edit

                  Derived ichthyosaurs in the narrow sense, as defined by Motani in 1999, differ from their closest basal ichthyopterygian relatives in certain traits. Motani listed a number of these. The external nostril is located on the side of the skull, and is hardly visible from above. The upper rim of the eye socket consists of a bone bar formed by the prefrontal and the postfrontal bones. The postorbital in side view is excluded from the supratemporal fenestra. The opening for the parietal eye is located on the border of the parietal and the frontal bone. The lateral wing of the pterygoid is incompletely and variably ossified. The ulna lacks the part behind the original shaft axis. The rear dorsal vertebrae are disc-shaped. [33]

                  Skeleton Edit

                  Skull Edit

                  Basal Ichthyopterygia already had elongated, triangular skulls. With ichthyosaurs in the narrow sense, their snouts became very pointy. The snout is formed by the premaxilla. The maxilla behind it is usually shorter and sometimes excluded from the external nostril by the rear branch of the premaxilla. Accordingly, the number of premaxillary teeth is high, while the maxillary teeth are fewer in number or even completely absent. The rear top of the snout is formed by the nasal bones. Derived species have a foramen internasale, a midline opening separating the rear of the nasal bones. The nasal bone usually forms the top and front rim of the bony nostril, itself often placed just in front of the eye socket. However, with some Triassic species, the premaxilla is so strongly extended at its back that it even excludes the nasal from the nostril. [67]

                  The rear of the skull is dominated by a large eye socket, often covering the major part of the rear side surface. In the socket, a large scleral ring is present this is a circular structure of small, overlapping bone segments protecting the eye against the water pressure. Both in the relative and absolute senses, ichthyosaurs have the largest eye sockets of all known vertebrates. The other rear skull elements are typically so compressed and fused that they are difficult to identify. The top rear element of the skull was usually assumed to be the supratemporal bone, while the squamosal and quadratojugal were sometimes fused. However, in 1968, Alfred Sherwood Romer stated that the presumed supratemporal was in fact the squamosal, [68] which was in 1973 confirmed by McGowan. [69] In 1990, though, John Steve Massare convinced most researchers that the original identification had been the correct one after all. [70] The supratemporal forms the rear rim of the supratemporal opening a lower temporal opening at the side is lacking. The front rim of the supratemporal opening is typically formed by the postfrontal only with the very basal Utatsusaurus the postorbital and the squamosal still reach the edge. Between the paired supratemporal openings, the skull roof is narrow some species have a longitudinal crest on it as an attachment for the jaw muscles. Basal Ichthyopterygia have a parietal eye opening between the paired parietal bones. With ichthyosaurs proper, this opening moves to the front, first to the border between the parietals and the frontals and ultimately between the frontals, a condition shown by derived species. Postparietal and tabular bones are lacking. Often, the bones of the back of the skull and the palate are incompletely ossified, apparently having partly remained cartilage. The occipital condyle is typically very convex. The stapes, the bone transmitting sound waves from the eardrum to the middle ear, is elongated and not pierced by a foramen. Pterygoid teeth are typically lacking. [67]

                  Lower jaws Edit

                  Like the snout, the lower jaws are elongated. However, in some species, such as Eurhinosaurus and Excalibosaurus, the front of the snout far protrudes beyond the lower jaws. While the front of the lower jaw is typically low, its rear depth is very variable. The greater part of the lower jaw is formed by the front dentary, the tooth-bearing bone. At its inner side the dentary is covered by a splenial that extends forwards until the symphysis, the common contact surface where both lower jaws are grown together. [67] The jaw joints do not allow a horizontal chewing movement: they function as simple hinges to vertically open or close the jaws. [71]

                  Teeth Edit

                  Ichthyosaur teeth are typically conical. Fish-eating species have long and slender tooth crowns that are slightly recurved. Forms specialised in catching larger prey have shorter, broader, and straighter teeth sometimes, cutting edges are present. Thalattoarchon, an apex predator, had larger teeth formed like flattened blades. Durophagous species that ate shellfish have low, convex teeth that are closely packed. Many ichthyosaur dentitions are heterodont, combining several tooth shapes, e.g. small teeth in the front and larger teeth at the rear. The teeth are usually placed in tooth sockets derived species possess a common tooth groove. In the latter case, adult individuals sometimes become toothless. Teeth in tooth sockets sometimes fuse with the jawbone. With ichthyosaur teeth, the dentine shows prominent vertical wrinkles. Durophagous forms have teeth with deep vertical grooves and wrinkles in the enamel. [67]

                  Postcrania Edit

                  Vertebral column Edit

                  Basal Ichthyopterygia, like their land-dwelling ancestors, still had vertebrae that possessed a full set of processes that allowed them to interlock and articulate, forming a vertebral column supporting the weight of the body. As ichthyosaurs were fully aquatic, their bodies were supported by the Archimedes force exerted by the water in other words, they were buoyant. Therefore, the vertebral processes had lost much of their function. Early ichthyosaurs proper had rear dorsal vertebrae that had become disc-shaped, like those of typical fishes. With more derived species, the front dorsals also became discs. Gradually, most processes were lost, including those for rib attachment. The vertebral bodies became much shorter. The front and rear sides of the discs were hollowed out, resulting in a so-called amphicoelous condition. A transverse cross-section of such a vertebra has an hourglass shape. This morphology is unique within the Amniota and makes discerning ichthyosaur vertebrae from those of other marine reptiles easy. The only process that kept its function was the spine at the top, serving as an attachment for the dorsal muscles. However, even the spine became a simple structure. The neural arch, of which it was an outgrowth, typically no longer fused to the vertebral centre. [67]

                  The neck is short, and derived species show a reduction in the number of cervical vertebrae. The short neck positions the skull close to the trunk, usually in a slight oblique elevation to it. Derived species usually also have a reduced number of dorsals, the total of presacral vertebrae totalling about forty to fifty. The vertebral column is little differentiated. Basal Ichthyopterygia still have two sacral vertebrae, but these are not fused. Early Triassic forms have a transversely flattened tail base with high spines for an undulating tail movement. Derived forms have a shorter tail with the characteristic kink at the end a section of wedge-shaped vertebrae, itself supporting the fleshy upper tail fin lobe, forced the tail end into the lower fin lobe. [67]

                  As derived species no longer have transversal processes on their vertebrae—again a condition unique in the Amniota—the parapophyseal and diapophysael rib joints have been reduced to flat facets, at least one of which is located on the vertebral body. The number of facets can be one or two their profile can be circular or oval. Their shape often differs according to the position of the vertebra within the column. The presence of two facets per side does not imply that the rib itself is double-headed: often, even in that case, it has a single head. The ribs typically are very thin and possess a longitudinal groove on both the inner and the outer sides. The lower side of the chest is formed by gastralia. These belly ribs have a single centre segment and one or two outer segments per side. They are not fused into a real plastron. Usually two gastralia are present per dorsal rib. [67]

                  Appendicular skeleton Edit

                  The shoulder girdle of ichthyosaurs is not much modified from its original condition. Some basal forms show a hatchet- or crescent-shaped shoulder blade or scapula derived forms have an elongated blade positioned on a broader base. The scapula is not fused with the coracoid into a scapulocoracoid, indicating that the forces exerted on the shoulder girdle were moderate. The shoulder joint is positioned on the border between the scapula and the coracoid. Both coracoids are fused on their common midline. The coracoid shape is very variable, but usually it is rather low. The upper part of the shoulder girdle is formed by two long and slender clavicles, crowned by a central interclavicular bone that is large and triangular with basal forms, small and T-shaped in Jurassic species. Breast bones or sterna are absent. [67]

                  Basal forms have a fore limb that is still functionally differentiated, in some details resembling the arm of their land-dwelling forebears the ulna and radius are elongated and somewhat separated the carpals are rounded, allowing the wrist to rotate the number of phalanges is within the range shown by land animals. Ichthyosaurs proper, to the contrary, have a fore limb that is fully adapted to its function as a flipper. However, the adaptations are very variable. Triassic species typically have a very derived humerus, changed into a disc. Jurassic species tend to have a more elongated humeral form with a rounded head, narrow shaft, and expanded lower end. The radius and ulna are always strongly flattened, but can be circular, with or without notch, or have a waist. Notches can be homologous to the original shafts, but also be newly formed. [72] Jurassic forms no longer have a space, the spatium interosseum, between the radius and ulna. Often, the latter bones gradually merge into lower, disc-shaped elements - the up to four carpals which again differ little in form from the up to five metacarpals. [67]

                  A strongly derived condition show the phalanges, small, disc-shaped elements positioned in long rows. Sometimes, the number of fingers is reduced, to as low as two. This is a rather common phenomenon within the Tetrapoda. Unique, however, for derived tetrapods, is the fact that some species show nonpathological polydactyly, the number of fingers being higher than five. Some species have 10 fingers per hand. These fingers, again, can have an increased number of phalanges, up to 30, a phenomenon called hyperphalangy, also known from the Plesiosauria, mosasaurs, and the Cetacea. The high number of elements allows the flipper to be shaped as a hydrofoil. When a high number of fingers is present, their identity is difficult to determine. It is usually assumed that fingers were added at both the front and at the rear, perhaps to a core of four original fingers. If fingers are added, often the number of metacarpals and carpals is also increased sometimes even an extra lower arm element is present. Earlier, ichthyosaurs were commonly divided into "longipinnate" and "latipinnate" forms, according to the long or wide shape of the front flippers, but recent research has shown that these are not natural groups ichthyosaur clades often contain species with and without elongated fore limbs. [67]

                  The ichthyosaur pelvis is typically rather reduced. The three pelvic bones: the ilium, the ischium, and the pubic bone, are not fused and often do not even touch each other. Also, the left and right pelvic sides no longer touch only basal forms still have sacral ribs connecting the ilia to the vertebral column. The hip joint is not closed on the inside. The pubic bone typically does not connect to the ischium behind it the space in between is by some workers identified as the fenestra thyreoidea [67] other researchers deny that the term is applicable given the general loose structure of the pelvis. [38] Some later species have a connected pubic bone and ischium, but in this case, the femoral head no longer articulates with the hip joint. Triassic species have plate-like pubic bones and ischia in later species these elements become elongated with a narrow shaft and can form a single rod. [67]

                  Typically, the hind limbs are shorter than the fore limbs, possessing a lesser number of elements. Often, the rear flipper is only half the length of the front flipper. The thighbone is short and broad, often with a narrow waist and an expanded lower end. The tibia, fibula and metatarsals are merged into a mosaic of bone discs supporting the hydrofoil. Three to six toes are present. The toe phalanges also show hyperphalangy exceptionally, Ophthalmosaurus shows a reduced number of phalanges. [67]

                  Soft tissue Edit

                  The earliest reconstructions of ichthyosaurs all omitted dorsal fins and caudal (tail) flukes, which were not supported by any hard skeletal structure, so were not preserved in many fossils. Only the lower tail lobe is supported by the vertebral column. In the early 1880s, the first body outlines of ichthyosaurs were discovered. In 1881, Richard Owen reported ichthyosaur body outlines showing tail flukes from Lower Jurassic rocks in Barrow-upon-Soar, England. [73] Other well-preserved specimens have since shown that in some more primitive ichthyosaurs, like a specimen of Chaohusaurus geishanensis, the tail fluke was weakly developed and only had a dorsal tail lobe, making the tail more paddle-like. [74] Over the years, the visibility of the tail lobe has faded away in this specimen. [75]

                  The presence of dorsal fins in ichthyosaurs has been controversial. Finely preserved specimens from the Holzmaden Lagerstätten in Germany found in the late 19th century revealed additional traces, usually preserved in black, of the outline of the entire body, including the first evidence of dorsal fins in ichthyosaurs. Unique conditions permitted the preservation of these outlines, which probably consist of bacterial mats, not the remains of the original tissues themselves. [76] In 1987, David Martill argued that, given the indirect method of conservation by bacteria, these outlines were unlikely to have been reliably preserved in any fine detail. He concluded that no authentic dorsal fins had been discovered. After displaced skins flaps from the body would have initially been misinterpreted as fins, fossil preparers later came to expect such fins to be present, and would have identified any discolouration in the appropriate position as a dorsal fin or even have falsified such structures. The lack of a dorsal fin would also explain why ichthyosaurs, contrary to porpoises, retained hind flippers, as these were needed for stability. [77] Other researchers noted that, while the outlines might have been sharpened and smoothed by preparers because fossil bacterial mats usually have indistinct edges, many of the preserved dorsal fins were probably authentic and at least somewhat close to the true body outline. At least one specimen, R158 (in the collections of the Paleontologiska Museet, Uppsala University), shows the expected faded edges of a bacterial mat, so it has not been altered by preparers, yet still preserves a generally tuna-like body outline including a dorsal fin. [75] In 1993, Martill admitted that at least some dorsal fin specimens are authentic. [76]

                  The fossil specimens that preserved dorsal fins also showed that the flippers were pointy and often far wider than the underlying bones would suggest. The fins were supported by fibrous tissue. In some specimens, four layers of collagen are visible, the fibres of the covering layers crossing those of the collagen below. [78]

                  In 2017, from the German Posidonia Shale the discovery was reported of 182.7-million-year-old vertebrae of Stenopterygius in a carbonate nodule, still containing collagen fibers, cholesterol, platelets, and red and white blood cells. The structures would not have been petrified, but represent the original organic tissues of which the biomolecules could be identified. The exceptional preservation was explained by the protective environment offered by the nodule. The red blood cells found, were one-fourth to one fifth the size of those of modern mammals. This would have been an adaptation for an improved oxygen absorption, also in view of the low oxygen levels during the Toarcian. The cholesterol had a high-carbon-13 isotope component which might indicate a higher position in the food chain and a diet of fish and cephalopods. [79]

                  In 2018, evidence of blubber was discovered with Stenopterygius. [80]

                  Skin and colouration Edit

                  Typically, fossils that preserve it suggest that the skin of ichthyosaurs was smooth and elastic, lacking scales. [81] However, these remains are not impressions per se, but outlines formed from bacterial growth. In one case, a true impression of the skin was reported from a specimen of Aegirosaurus found in the Solnhofen Plattenkalk, rocks which were capable of preserving even the finest detail. Minuscule scales seemed to be visible in this specimen. [82]

                  The colouration of ichthyosaurs is difficult to determine. In 1956, Mary Whitear reported finding melanocytes, pigment cells in which reddish-brown pigment granules would still be present, in a skin specimen of a British fossil, R 509. [83] Ichthyosaurs are traditionally assumed to have employed countershading (dark on top, light at the bottom) like sharks, penguins, and other modern animals, serving as camouflage during hunting. [71] This was contradicted in 2014 by the discovery of melanosomes, black melanin-bearing structures, in the skin of ichthyosaur specimen YORYM 1993.338 by Johan Lindgren of Lund University. It was concluded that ichthyosaurs were likely uniformly dark coloured for thermoregulation and to camouflage them in deep water while hunting. This is in contrast to mosasaurids and prehistoric leatherback turtles, which were found to be countershaded. [84] [85] However, a 2015 study doubted Lindgren's interpretation. This study noted that a basal layer of melanosomes in the skin is ubiquitous in reptile coloration, but does not necessarily correspond to a dark appearance. Other chromatophore structures (such as iridiophores, xanthophores, and erythrophores) affect coloration in extant reptiles but are rarely preserved or identified in fossils. Thus, due to the unknown presence of these chromatophores, YORYM 1993.338, could have been countershaded, green, or various other colors or patterns. [86]

                  Gastroliths Edit

                  Gastroliths, stomach stones that might have assisted digestion or regulated buoyancy, have only on a few occasions been found associated with ichthyosaur skeletons, once with a specimen of Nannopterygius and a second time in a Panjiangsaurus fossil. [87] Ichthyosaur coproliths, petrified faeces, are very common, though, already being sold by Mary Anning.

                  Ecology Edit

                  Apart from the obvious similarities to fish, ichthyosaurs also shared parallel developmental features with dolphins, lamnid sharks, and tuna. This gave them a broadly similar appearance, possibly implied similar activity levels (including thermoregulation), and presumably placed them broadly in a similar ecological niche. Ichthyosaurs were not primarily coastal animals they also inhabited the open ocean, making identification of a certain area as their place of origin impossible. [88]

                  Feeding Edit

                  Ichthyosaurs were carnivorous they ranged so widely in size, and survived for so long, that they are likely to have had a wide range of prey. Species with pointed snouts were adapted to grab smaller animals. McGowan speculated that forms with protruding upper jaws, in the Eurhinosauria, would have used their pointy snouts to slash prey, as has been assumed for swordfish. The most commonly preserved gut contents in ichthyosaurs are the remains of cephalopods. [89] [90] Less commonly, they fed on fish [91] and other vertebrates, including smaller ichthyosaurs. [92] [93] The large Triassic form Thalattoarchon had large, bladed teeth and was probably a macropredator, capable of killing prey its own size, [94] and Himalayasaurus and several species of Temnodontosaurus also shared adaptations for killing very large prey. [95] These food preferences have been confirmed by coproliths which indeed contain the remains of fishes and cephalopods. Another confirmation is provided by fossilised stomach contents. Buckland in 1835 described the presence in a specimen of a large mass of partly digested fishes, recognisable by their scales. [96] Subsequent research in 1968 determined that these belonged to the fish genus Pholidophorus, but also that cephalopod beaks and sucker hooks were present. Such hard food particles apparently were retained by the stomach and regularly regurgitated. [97] Carcasses of drowned animals were eaten as well: in 2003 a specimen of Platypterygius longmani was reported having besides fishes and a turtle the bones of a land bird in its stomach. [98]

                  Some early ichthyosaurs were durophagous and had flat convex teeth adapted for crushing shellfish. They thus ate benthos from the floor of shallow seas. Other species were perhaps suction feeders, sucking animals into their mouths by quickly opening their relatively short jaws. This was first assumed for Shonisaurus, which giant by this means might have secured a constant food supply for its huge body, and in 2011 for the short-snouted Guanlingsaurus liangae. [99] However, in 2013 a study concluded that the hyoid bone of ichthyosaurs, at the tongue base, was insufficiently ossified to support a suction feeding movement and suggested the alternative that such species were ram feeders, gathering food by constantly swimming forwards with a wide-open mouth. [100]

                  Typical ichthyosaurs had very large eyes, protected within a bony ring, suggesting that they may have hunted at night or at great depths the only extant animals with similarly large eyes are the giant and colossal squids. [101] Sight thus seems to have been one of the main senses employed while hunting. Hearing might have been poor, given the very robust form of the stapes. Grooves in the palate however, suggest that smell might have been acute or even that electro-sensory organs might have been present. [102]

                  Ichthyosaurs themselves served as food for other animals. During the Triassic their natural predators mainly consisted of sharks and other ichthyosaurs [103] in the Jurassic these were joined by large Plesiosauria and marine Crocodylomorpha. This is again confirmed by stomach contents: in 2009 e.g., a plesiosaur specimen was reported with an ichthyosaur embryo in its gut. [104]

                  Locomotion Edit

                  In ichthyosaurs, the main propulsion was provided by a lateral movement of the body. Early forms employed an anguilliform or eel-like movement, with undulations of the entire trunk and tail. [74] This is usually considered rather inefficient. Later forms, like the Parvipelvia, has a shorter trunk and tail and probably used a more efficient carangiform or even thunniform movement, in which the last third of the body, respectively, the tail end, is flexed only. The trunk in such species is rather stiff.

                  The tail was bi-lobed, with the lower lobe being supported by the caudal vertebral column, which was "kinked" ventrally to follow the contours of the ventral lobe. Basal species had a rather asymmetric or "heterocercal" tail fin. The asymmetry differed from that of sharks in that the lower lobe was largest, instead of the upper lobe. More derived forms had a nearly vertical symmetric tail fin. Sharks use their asymmetric tail fin to compensate for the fact that they are negatively buoyant, heavier than water, by making the downward pressure exerted by the tail force the body as a whole in an ascending angle. This way, swimming forwards will generate enough lift to equal the sinking force caused by their weight. In 1973, McGowan concluded that, because ichthyosaurs have a reversed tail fin asymmetry compared to sharks, they were apparently positively buoyant, lighter than water, which would be confirmed by their lack of gastroliths and of pachyostosis or dense bone. The tail would have served to keep the body in a descending angle. The front flippers would be used to push the front of the body further downwards and control pitch. [105] In 1987 however, Michael A. Taylor suggested an alternative hypothesis: as ichthyosaurs could vary their lung content, contrary to sharks (which lack a swimming bladder), they could also regulate their buoyancy. The tail thus mainly served for a neutral propulsion, while small variations in buoyancy were stabilised by slight changes in the flipper angles. [106] In 1992, McGowan accepted this view, pointing out that shark tails are not a good analogy of derived ichthyosaur tails that have more narrow lobes, and are more vertical and symmetric. Derived ichthyosaur tail fins are more like those of tuna fish and indicate a comparable capacity to sustain a high cruising speed. [107] A comparative study by Motani in 2002 concluded that, in extant animals, small tail fin lobes positively correlate with a high beat frequency. [108] Modern researchers generally concur that ichthyosaurs were negatively buoyant. [109]

                  In 1994, Judy Massare concluded that ichthyosaurs had been the fastest marine reptiles. Their length/depth ratio was between three and five, the optimal number to minimise water resistance or drag. Their smooth skin and streamlined bodies prevented excessive turbulence. Their hydrodynamic efficiency, the degree to which energy is converted into a forward movement, would approach that of dolphins and measure about 0.8. Ichthyosaurs would be a fifth faster than plesiosaurs, though half of the difference was explained by assuming a 30% higher metabolism for ichthyosaurs. Together, within Massare's model these effects resulted in a cruising speed of slightly less than five kilometres per hour. [110] However, in 2002, Motani corrected certain mistakes in Massare's formulae and revised the estimated cruising speed to less than two kilometres per hour, somewhat below that of modern Cetacea. [111] However, as the speeds estimated for plesiosaurs and mosasaurids were also revised downwards, ichthyosaurs maintained their relative position.

                  Ichthyosaurs had fin-like limbs of varying relative length. The standard interpretation is that these, together with the dorsal fin and tail fin, were used as control surfaces for directional stability, controlling yaw, and for stabilising pitch and roll, rather than propulsion. However, during the 1980s the German paleontologist Jürgen Riess proposed an alternative model. [112] After having studied the flying movement made by the forelimbs of plesiosaurs, he suggested that at least those ichthyosaurs that had long flippers used them for a powerful propulsive stroke, moving them up and down. This would explain the non-degenerated shoulder girdle and the evolution of the hand bones, whose perfect hydrofoil profile would have been useless if it was not functionally employed. He thought to have discovered modern analogues in the Queensland lungfish and the Amazon river dolphin, which he presumed also used their long fins for propulsion. Riess expounded upon this hypothesis in a series of articles. [113] [114] [115] This alternative interpretation was generally not adopted by other workers. In 1998, Darren Naish pointed out that the lungfish and the river dolphin actually do not use their fins in this way and that e.g. the modern humpback whale has very long front flippers, supported by a mosaic of bones, but that these nevertheless mainly serve as rudders. [116] In 2013, a study concluded that broad ichthyosaur flippers, like those of Platyptergygius, were not used for propulsion but as a control surface. [117]

                  Diving Edit

                  Many extant lung-breathing marine vertebrates are capable of deep diving. There are some indications about the diving capacity of ichthyosaurs. Quickly ascending from a greater depth can cause decompression sickness. The resulting bone necrosis has been well documented with Jurassic and Cretaceous ichthyosaurs, where it is present in 15% and 18% of specimens, respectively, but is rare in Triassic species. This could be a sign that basal forms did not dive as deeply, but might also be explained by a greater predation pressure during the later epochs, more often necessitating a fast flight to the surface. [118] However, this last possibility is contradicted by the fact that, with modern animals, damage is not caused by a limited number of rapid ascension incidents, but by a gradual accumulation of non-invalidating degeneration during normal diving behaviour. [119]

                  Additional evidence is provided by the eyes of ichthyosaurs that among vertebrates are both relatively and absolutely the largest known. Modern leopard seals can dive to up to 1 km (0.62 mi) hunting on sight. Motani suggested that ichthyosaurs, with their relatively much larger eye sockets, should have been able to reach even greater depths. [120] Temnodontosaurus, with eyes that had a diameter of twenty-five centimetres, could probably still see at a depth of 1,600 metres. [121] At these depths, such eyes would have been especially useful to see large objects. [101] Later species, such as Ophthalmosaurus, had relatively larger eyes, again an indication that diving capacity was better in late Jurassic and Cretaceous forms.

                  Metabolism Edit

                  Similar to modern cetaceans, such as whales and dolphins, ichthyosaurs were air-breathing. Whales and dolphins are mammals and warm-blooded. Of ichthyosaurs it was traditionally assumed that they were cold-blooded, being reptiles. However, since the 1970s many dominant reptile groups of the Mesozoic, such as theropod dinosaurs, pterosaurs and plesiosaurs, have been considered warm-blooded, as this offers an elegant explanation of their dominance. Some direct evidence is available that ichthyosaurs too might have been endothermic. In 1990, Vivian de Buffrénil published a histological study, indicating that ichthyosaurs possessed a fibrolamellar bone structure, as with warm-blooded animals in general, typified by fast growth and a strong vascularisation. [122] Early Triassic species already show these traits. [123] [124] In 2012, it was reported that even the very basal form Utatsusaurus had this bone type, indicating that the ancestors of ichthyosaurs were already warm-blooded. [125] Additional direct proof for a high metabolism is the isotopes of oxygen ratio in the teeth, which indicates a body temperature of between 35 and 39 °C, about 20° higher than the surrounding seawater. [126] [127] Blubber is consistent with warm-bloodedness as the insulating qualities require the animal to generate its own heat. [80]

                  Indirect evidence for endothermy is provided by the body shape of derived ichthyosaurs, which with its short tail and vertical tail fin seems optimised for a high cruising speed that can only be sustained by a high metabolism: all extant animals swimming this way are either fully warm-blooded or, like sharks and tuna, maintain a high temperature in their body core. [128] This argument does not cover basal forms with a more eel-like body and undulating swimming movement. In 1996, Richard Cowen, while accepting endothermy for the group, presumed that ichthyosaurs would have been subject to Carrier's constraint, a limitation to reptilian respiration pointed out in 1987 by David Carrier: their undulated locomotion forces the air out of the lungs and thus prevents them from taking breath while moving. [129] Cowen hypothesised that ichthyosaurs would have overcome this problem by porpoising: constantly jumping out of the water would have allowed them to take a gulp of fresh air during each jump. [130] Other researchers have tended to assume that for at least derived ichthyosaurs Carrier's constraint did not apply, because of their stiff bodies, which seems to be confirmed by their good diving capacity, implying an effective respiration and oxygen storage system. For these species porpoising was not a necessity. Nevertheless, ichthyosaurs would have often surfaced to breathe, probably tilting their heads slightly to take in air, because of the lower position of the nostrils compared to that of dolphins. [131]

                  Reproduction Edit

                  Ichthyosaurs were viviparous, i.e. bore live young instead of laying eggs. Although they were reptiles and descended from egg-laying, oviparous, ancestors, viviparity is not as unexpected as it first appears. Air-breathing marine creatures must either come ashore to lay eggs, like turtles and some sea snakes, or else give birth to live young in surface waters, like whales and dolphins. Given their streamlined and transversely flattened bodies, heavily adapted for fast swimming, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for ichthyosaurs to move far enough on land to lay eggs. This was confirmed as early as 9 December 1845 when naturalist Joseph Chaning Pearce reported a small embryo in a fossil of Ichthyosaurus communis. The embryo, with a length of eleven centimetres, was positioned in the birth canal of its two-and-a-half metre long mother, with its head pointed to the rear. Pearce concluded from the fossil that ichthyosaurs had to have been viviparous. [132]

                  Later, from the Holzmaden deposits numerous adult fossils were found containing fetuses. In 1880, Harry Govier Seeley, heading a special British paleontological committee studying the problem of ichthyosaur reproduction, concluded that birth was given in the water and that fossils containing fetuses in the birth canal probably represented cases of premature death of the juvenile, causing the demise of the mother animal as well. [133] A comparison has been made with dolphins and whales, whose young need to be born tail-first to prevent drowning if the juvenile is born head-first, it dies and the mother with it if the corpse gets stuck in the birth canal. [134] However, an alternative explanation is that such fossils actually represent females that had died for other reasons while pregnant, after which the decomposition gasses drove out the fetuses head-first. In 2014, a study reported the find of a fossilized Chaohusaurus female that had died while giving birth to three neonates. Two had already been expelled while a third was present in the birth canal. The fossil also documented that early ichthyosaurs were also born head first, perhaps opposed to later genera. As Chaohusaurus is a very basal ichthypterygian—previously, the most basal genus of which fetuses were known, had been Mixosaurus—this discovery suggests that the earliest land-dwelling ancestors of ichthyosaurs had already been viviparous. [135] [136]

                  Compared with placental mammals or plesiosaurs, ichthyosaur fetuses tend to be very small and their number per litter is often high. In one female of Stenopterygius seven have been identified, in another eleven. The fetuses have at most a quarter of the length of the mother animal. [137] The juveniles have about the same body proportions as adult individuals. The main ontogenetical changes during growth consist in the fusion and greater robustness of the skeletal elements. [138]

                  Crocodiles, most sea turtles and some lizards control offspring gender by manipulating the temperature of the developing eggs' environment i.e. they do not have distinct sex chromosomes. Live-bearing reptiles do not regulate sex through incubation temperature. A study in 2009, which examined 94 living species of reptiles, birds and mammals, found that the genetic control of sex appears to be crucial to live birth. It was concluded that with marine reptiles such control predated viviparity and was an adaptation to the stable sea-climate in coastal regions. [139] Genetics likely controlled sex in ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs and plesiosaurs. [140]

                  Social behaviour and intelligence Edit

                  Ichthyosaurs are often assumed to have lived in herds or hunting groups. [67] Little evidence is available about the nature of ichthyosaur social behaviour. Some indications exist that a level of sexual dimorphism was present. Skeletons of Eurhinosaurus and Shastasaurus show two morphotypes. Individuals with a longer snout, larger eyes, a longer trunk, a shorter tail, and longer flippers with additional phalanges, could have represented the females the longer trunk may have provided room for the embryos. [141]

                  Generally, the brain shows the limited size and elongated shape of that of modern cold-blooded reptiles. However, in 1973, McGowan, while studying the natural endocast of a well-preserved specimen, pointed out that the telencephalon was not very small. The visual lobes were large, as could be expected from the eye size. The olfactory lobes were, though not especially large, well-differentiated the same was true of the cerebellum. [69]

                  Pathologies Edit

                  Though fossils revealing ichthyosaur behavior remain rare, one ichthyosaur fossil is known to have sustained bites to the snout region. Discovered in Australia, and analyzed by Benjamin Kear et alii in 2011, measurements of the wounds reveal that the bite marks were inflicted by another ichthyosaur, likely of the same species, a probable case of face biting during a conflict. The wounds show signs of healing in the form of bone growth, meaning that the victim survived the attack. [142] [143] Another, very large ichthyosaur close to nine metres in length was found in Svalbard it was nearly complete save for its tail. Scrutiny of the find revealed that while hunting ammonites (as evidenced by an ammonite shell in the throat region), the ichthyosaur was ambushed and attacked, likely by a pliosaurid (known from the same habitat), which severed its tail. The ichthyosaur then sank to the depths, drowning and eventually becoming fossilized in the deep water. The find was revealed to the public in the National Geographic special Death of a Sea Monster. [144]

                  The following is a list of geological formations in which ichthyosaur fossils have been found:


                  Golden State of paranoia: Internet conspiracies link wildfires to takeover schemes

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                  Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

                  PULGA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 12: Fire burns around PG&E transmission towers, Monday, November 12, 2018, east of Pulga,Calif. The first report of the deadly Camp Fire was made near here. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  PARADISE, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Smoke rises beyond PG&E's Poe Dam off I-70, in Pulga, Calif., November 9, 2018, near the reported start of the Camp Fire blaze that destroyed the town of Paradise and killed at least six people. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  BUTTE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: Through a shower of embers, a vehicle drives on Highway 70 west of Pulga, Calif. as the Camp Fire burns into its fourth day, at 4 AM Sunday, November 11, 2018. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  BUTTE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: The Camp Fire burns up a mountainside off Highway 70 west of Pulga, Calif. early Sunday morning, November 11, 2018. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  PULGA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 12: Betsy Ann Cowley, owner of the Town of Pulga, walks in the ashes of her home on Monday, November 12, 2018. It was destroyed in the Camp Fire last Thursday. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  PULGA, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 12: Betsy Ann Cowley, owner of the Town of Pulga, walks in the ashes of her home on Monday, November 12, 2018. It was destroyed in the Camp Fire last Thursday. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  PULGA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 12: Contractors from Capstone Fire Management survey PG&E's Poe Power Dam in Pulga, Calif. Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, as the Camp Fire continues to burn in the Feather River canyon.(Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  The sun peeks through the smoky skies from the Camp Fire and a PG&E transmission line, Monday, November 12, 2018, three miles west of Pulga, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  Noah Berger/Associated Press

                  FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 file photo, flames burn inside a van as the Camp Fire tears through Paradise, Calif. Authorities say the fire is 95 percent contained Thursday, Nov. 22. Paradise is about 140 miles north of San Francisco. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

                  PARADISE, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 21: Firefighters search for human remains in the ashes of the Black Bear Diner in Paradise, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, nearly two weeks after the Camp Fire started. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  Marin Humane Officer Sarah Leathers puts food into a trap hoping to catch lost pets in the burn zone of the Camp Fire in Butte County. (Marin Humane photo)

                  PARADISE, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 21: Rain falling on a hot spot kicks up steam in Paradise, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, nearly two weeks after the start of the deadly Camp Fire. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  A home burns during the Camp fire in Paradise, California on November 8, 2018. - More than 18,000 acres have been scorched in a matter of hours burning with it a hospital, a gas station and dozens of homes. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

                  PARADISE, CA - NOVEMBER 08: A CalFire aircraft flies above a ridge line west of Paradise, Calif., as the Camp Fire burns, Thursday, November 8, 2018. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  A damaged power pole is photographed in Paradise, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Crews are busy working to repair damaged power lines and restore power to the town, after the deadly Camp Fire. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

                  Utility workers repair power lines along Clark Road in Paradise, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Crews are busy working to repair damaged power lines and restore power to the town, after the deadly Camp Fire. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

                  PARADISE, CA - NOVEMBER 15: An aerial view shows homes destroyed by the Camp Fire near the Paradise Plaza shopping center off Clark Road in Paradise, California, on Thursday, November 15, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

                  Mayor Jody Jones sits on a bench in the front yard of her home in Paradise, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. Her house was burned during the Camp Fire last week. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group)

                  Charred vegetation and damaged homes in Butte Creek Canyon are visible from Lookout Point past padlocks attached to the fencing, commonly known as "Locks of Love", along Skyway in Paradise, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. The deadly Camp Fire, which ranks as the most destructive wildfire in California history, is now 100 percent contained according to fire officials. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

                  Charred vegetation and damaged homes in Butte Creek Canyon are visible from Lookout Point along Skyway in Paradise, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. The deadly Camp Fire, which ranks as the most destructive wildfire in California history, is now 100 percent contained according to fire officials. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

                  Charred vegetation and a lingering morning fog are visible from Lookout Point along Skyway in Paradise, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. The deadly Camp Fire, which ranks as the most destructive wildfire in California history, is now 100 percent contained according to fire officials. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

                  (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  YANKEE HILL, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 10: Pushed by winds late Saturday evening, November 10, 2018, the Camp Fire heats up east of Highway 70 near Yankee Hill, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

                  Part of the Paradise Medical Group facility, that was destroyed in the Camp Fire, is photographed in Paradise, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

                  CLICK HERE if you are having trouble viewing the photos on your mobile device.

                  As investigators conduct a painstaking probe for the causes of California’s devastating wildfires, conspiracists have spawned their own theory: ignition by a secret cabal of nefarious “internationalists,” including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sergey Brin, who seek to run the world.

                  “There are hidden powers behind these calculated strikes in California,” warns one YouTube video, titled “An Open Letter To the People of California.”

                  In Facebook forums, YouTube videos and Reddit threads amassing tens of thousands of views, believers swap manipulated images of “light pillars” from the sky — proof, they say, that rural homes were targeted to burn, forcing residents into cities, where they can be more easily controlled by shadowy forces scheming at oppression.

                  People have long reached for far-flung theories to explain shocking calamities, such as the mysterious “grassy knoll” assassin of President John F. Kennedy and the U.S. government’s complicity in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

                  Psychologists say these theories gain traction during times of trauma because they ease uncertainty, provide a platform for personal grievances and focus blame on an outside group — usually a network of “elites.” Suspicions are cradled by the internet, which allows people who share those thoughts to more easily connect.

                  “Whether it’s wildfires, contamination of water supply or some ‘deep state’ takeover — all these beliefs satisfy the need to make sense of a threatening and anxious world,” said psychologist Joseph A. Vitriol, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University.

                  There’s a new high-tech twist to the perceived plots behind California’s recent Paradise, Woolsey and Wine Country fires. Asserting that nature could never incite a fire so fast or hot, some conspiracists say images of the light pillars reveal “directed energy weaponry” that emits highly focused heat. Others say fires were ignited by drones or satellite-based lasers.

                  While believers are split over the precise contours of the conspiracy, they agree that “geoengineering” is behind California’s parched and flammable landscape. The state’s weather is being deliberately altered, they allege. Then aircraft dump “chemtrails” of drying agents, which are easily ignited.

                  Who’s behind this complex scheme? Conspiracy websites such as Infowars, run by the right-wing provocateur Alex Jones, claim it is a secret plot by the moneyed elite to make certain parts of the country off-limits to human use and impose control.

                  Widely shared maps titled “Wildfires line up EXACTLY in the same path as the California High Speed Rail System” offer evidence, the conspiracists claim, that the fires are a plot to move people out of the way for construction of the transit system, key to eventual state takeover.

                  (The made-up fire maps’ geography is off, showing that San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento were consumed by flames. Nor does the map line up with the train’s proposed route.)

                  Critics say social media companies have not stopped conspiracy theories from blossoming on their platforms. YouTube says it is committed to tackling misinformation, Facebook removed accounts that engage in “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” and Reddit banned a subreddit devoted to conspiracy theories, but sites continue to host false narratives about the fires in California.

                  Meanwhile, teams of highly skilled Cal Fire investigators are scouring the rugged terrain of Butte and Los Angeles counties for scientific clues to the fires — evidence that could someday aid prevention. The truth is climate change and poor forest management set the stage for these disasters, say scientists.

                  But that hasn’t stopped the theorists.

                  Former Petaluma fire Captain John Lord, who now lives in Lakeport, called the fires an “unnatural phenomenon.”

                  “The rate of spread is abnormally fast. … In a normal structural fire, there will always be things that are left — porcelain toilets, tiles, washers and dryers. In these fires, everything is gone,” he said.

                  “Planes released nanoparticles of metals, such as aluminum, into the atmosphere,” he said. “That is a drying agent, and highly combustible.”

                  On YouTube, a Paradise resident identified only as Cheryl described seeing “a huge corporate helicopter circling over my house … surveying the town, getting ready to grasp it.”

                  “The abundance of photographic and video evidence of so-called fire damage to both vehicles and structures in clear and conclusive. These November 2018 wildfires were not responsible for some of
                  the most catastrophic destruction,” wrote Michael Thomas, editor of State of the Nation: Alternative News, Analysis and Commentary.

                  To be sure, some conspiracies turned out to be real. Watergate happened. So did the Iran-Contra affair. Unbelievably, the Russian government meddled in our 2016 U.S. presidential election.

                  But the creatively conspiratorial, if crazy, theories hold special appeal because fires can be mysterious, said psychology professor David Ludden of Georgia Gwinnett College, who studies conspiracies.

                  “And they fit in with an existing world view that we can’t trust the government, that all these nefarious agencies are out there trying to get us,” he said. Internet sharing “creates a sense of security and superiority, of having inside knowledge that others don’t.”

                  Such thinking can distract the public from learning the objective reality of wildfires, making it more difficult to reduce risk, said Harvard’s Vitriol.

                  “It’s not just your crazy uncle in a tin foil hat, ruminating about the government,” he said. If the internet gives these ideas traction, “they spread and gain legitimacy, so they’re harder to combat.”


                  Axios Homepage

                  President Biden said he warned Vladimir Putin in their meeting in Geneva on Wednesday that Russia will face stiff consequences if it conducts cyberattacks on critical U.S. infrastructure or allows opposition leader Alexei Navalny to die.

                  What he's saying: "Where we have differences, I want President Putin to understand why I say what I say, and why I do what I do. And how we will respond to different actions that harm America's interests," Biden said at a press conference following the summit, which was shorter than expected.

                  Putin calls Biden summit "constructive," but blames U.S. for tensions

                  Photo: Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty Images

                  Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his summit with President Biden was "constructive," and that the countries had agreed their ambassadors would imminently return to their posts in Moscow and Washington.

                  What he's saying: "Many of our joint positions are divergent but nevertheless I think both sides manifested a determination to try and understand each other and try and converge our positions," Putin told reporters at a press conference following the meetings, according to a translator.

                  1 ⏩ thing

                  DOJ drops criminal probe, civil lawsuit against John Bolton over Trump book

                  Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

                  The Justice Department has closed its criminal investigation into whether President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton disclosed classified information with his tell-all memoir, “The Room Where it Happened," according to a source with direct knowledge.

                  Why it matters: The move comes a year after the Trump administration tried to silence Bolton by suing him in federal court, claiming he breached his contract by failing to complete a pre-publication review for classified information. Prosecutors indicated they had reached a settlement with Bolton to drop the lawsuit in a filing on Wednesday.


                  Transcript of remarks between Boxer and Rice

                  1 of 3 Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice is sworn in on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 prior to testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her nomination. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook) DENNIS COOK Show More Show Less

                  2 of 3 Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice testifies on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her nomination. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook) DENNIS COOK Show More Show Less

                  Following is a transcript of Sen. Barbara Boxer's remarks and Condoleezza Rice's response at Rice's confirmation hearing as provided by Federal News Service.

                  SEN. BOXER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Rice, for agreeing to stay as long as it takes, because some of us do have a lot of questions.

                  And, Senator Lugar, you are a very fair chairman, and I wanted to say to the new members also welcome -- and you'll enjoy this committee, because we have such a great chairman and such a terrific ranking member, and we really do a lot of things in a bipartisan way, unlike other committees. And I think you're going to enjoy your time here.

                  Dr. Rice, before I get to my formal remarks, you no doubt will be confirmed -- that's at least what we think. And if you're going to become the voice of diplomacy -- this is just a helpful point -- when Senator Voinovich mentioned the issue of tsunami relief, you said -- your first words were, "The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us." Now, the tsunami was one of the worst tragedies of our lifetime -- one of the worst -- and it's going to have a 10-year impact on rebuilding that area. I was very disappointed in your statement. I think you blew the opportunity. You mention it as part of one sentence. And I would hope to work with you on this, because children are suffering, we're worried they're going to get in the sex trade. This thing is a disaster, a true natural disaster and a human disaster of great proportions, and I hope that the State Department will take a huge lead under your leadership in helping those folks in the long range.

                  Well, Mr. Chairman, again I thank you. I am -- Dr. Rice, I was glad you mentioned Martin Luther King -- it was very appropriate, given everything. And he also said, Martin Luther King, quote, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." And one of the things that matters most to my people in California and the people in America is this war in Iraq.

                  Now, it took you to page three of your testimony to mention the word "Iraq." You said very little really about it, and only in the questioning have we been able to get into some areas. Perhaps you agree with President Bush, who said all that's been resolved. I'm quoting today's Post: "Bush said in an interview last week with the Washington Post that the '04 election was a moment of accountability for the decisions he made in Iraq." But today's Washington Post/ABC poll found that 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the situation, to 40 percent who approve -- and only 44 percent said the war was worth fighting.

                  So in your statement it takes you to page three to mention the word "Iraq." Then you mention it in the context of elections -- which is fine -- but you never even mention indirectly the 1,366 American troops that have died, or the 10,372 who have been wounded -- many mentally, as a report that I read over the weekend that maybe a third will come home and need help because of what they saw -- it's been so traumatic to them. And 25 percent of those dead are from my home state. And this from a war that was based on what everyone now says, including your own administration, were falsehoods about WMDs, weapons of mass destruction. And I've had tens of thousands of people from all over the country say that they disagree -- although they respect the president -- they disagree that this administration and the people in it shouldn't be held accountable. I don't know if you saw the movie, "The Fog of War" -- war is a nightmare, you know that. Colin Powell I think was the most eloquent I've heard on it, because he's seen it himself -- he's been there and done it. And I don't want to have you in a circumstance where you're writing something years later about the fog of war. And I'm fearful if we don't see some changes here we're going to have trouble.

                  And I think the way we should start is by trying to set the record straight on some of the things you said going into this war. Now, since 9/11 we've been engaged in a just fight against terror. And I, like Senator Feingold and everyone here who was in the Senate at the time, voted to go after Osama bin Laden and to go after the Taliban, and to defeat al Qaeda. And you say they have left territory -- that's not true. Your own documents show that al Qaeda has expanded from 45 countries in '01 to more than 60 countries today.

                  Well, with you in the lead role, Dr. Rice, we went into Iraq. I want to read you a paragraph that best expresses my views, and ask my staff if they would hold this up -- and I believe the views of millions of Californians and Americans. It was written by one of the world's experts on terrorism, Peter Bergen, five months ago. He wrote: "What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure bin Laden has long predicted was the U.S.'s long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shi'a fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a defensive jihad that has galvanized jihad- minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terror." This conclusion was reiterated last Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank, which released a report saying that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of professionalized terrorists.

                  That's your own administration's CIA. NIC chairman Robert Hutchings said Iraq is, quote, "a magnet for international terrorist activity."

                  And this was not the case in '01. And I have great proof of it, including a State Department document that lists every country -- could you hold that up? -- in which al Qaeda operated prior to 9/11. And you can see the countries no mention of Iraq. And this booklet was signed off on by the president of the United States, George W. Bush. It was put out by George Bush's State Department, and he signed it. There was no al Qaeda activity there -- no cells.

                  Now, the war was sold to the American people, as Chief of Staff to President Bush Andy Card said, like a "new product." Those were his words. Remember, he said, "You don't roll out a new product in the summer." Now, you rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, as you made your case with the president.

                  And I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly, and I'm going to go into the documents that show your statements and the facts at the time.

                  Now, I don't want the families of those 1,366 troops that were killed or the 10,372 that were wounded to believe for a minute that their lives and their bodies were given in vain, because when your commander-in-chief asks you to sacrifice yourself for your country, it is the most noble thing you can do to answer that call.

                  I am giving their families, as we all are here, all the support they want and need. But I also will not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on the truth.

                  Now, perhaps the most well-known statement you've made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America with the image of, quote, quoting you, "a mushroom cloud." That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped. And I will be placing into the record a number of such statements you made which have not been consistent with the facts.

                  As the nominee for secretary of State, you must answer to the American people, and you are doing that now through this confirmation process. And I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately those of us in the highest positions of our government must be held accountable to the people we serve.

                  So I want to show you some statements that you made regarding the nuclear threat and the ability of Saddam to attack us. Now, September 5th -- let me get to the right package here. On July 30th, 2003, you were asked by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill if you continued to stand by the claims you made about Saddam's nuclear program in the days and months leading up to the war.

                  In what appears to be an effort to downplay the nuclear-weapons scare tactics you used before the war, your answer was, and I quote, "It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year." So that's what you said to the American people on television -- "Nobody ever said it was going to be the next year."

                  Well, that wasn't true, because nine months before you said this to the American people, what had George Bush said, President Bush, at his speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center? "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly-enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."

                  So the president tells the people there could be a weapon. Nine months later you said no one ever said he could have a weapon in a year, when in fact the president said it.

                  And here's the real kicker. On October 10th, '04, on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, three months ago, you were asked about CIA Director Tenet's remark that prior to the war he had, quote, "made it clear to the White House that he thought the nuclear-weapons program was much weaker than the program to develop other WMDs. Your response was this: "The intelligence assessment was that he was reconstituting his nuclear program that, left unchecked, he would have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year."

                  So here you are, first contradicting the president and then contradicting yourself. So it's hard to even ask you a question about this, because you are on the record basically taking two sides of an issue. And this does not serve the American people.

                  If it served your purpose to downplay the threat of nuclear weapons, you said, "No one said he's going to have it in a year." But then later, when you thought that perhaps you were on more solid ground with the American people because at the time the war was probably popular, or more popular, you'd say, "We thought he was going to have a weapon within a year."

                  And this is -- the question is, this is a pattern here of what I see from you on this issue, on the issue of the aluminum tubes, on the issue of whether al Qaeda was actually involved in Iraq, which you've said many times. And in my rounds -- I don't have any questions on this round, because I'm just laying this out I do have questions on further rounds about similar contradictions. It's very troubling.

                  You know, if you were rolling out a new product like a can opener, who would care about what we said? But this product is a war, and people are dead and dying, and people are now saying they're not going to go back because of what they experienced there. And it's very serious.

                  And as much as I want to look ahead -- and we will work together on a myriad of issues -- it's hard for me to let go of this war, because people are still dying. And you have not laid out an exit strategy. You've not set up a timetable.

                  And you don't seem to be willing to, A, admit a mistake, or give any indication of what you're going to do to forcefully involve others. As a matter of fact, you've said more misstatements that the territory of the terrorists has been shrinking when your own administration says it's now expanded to 60 countries. So I am deeply troubled.

                  MS. RICE: Senator, may I respond?

                  SEN. LUGAR: Yes, let me just say that I appreciate the importance of Senator Boxer's statement. That's why we allowed the statement to continue for several more minutes of time.

                  SEN. BOXER: I'm sorry, I lost track of time.

                  SEN. LUGAR: But clearly you ought to have the right to respond. Then, at that point, we're going to have a recess. But will you please give your response?

                  MS. RICE: Yes. Senator, I am more than aware of the stakes that we face in Iraq, and I was more than aware of the stakes of going to war in Iraq. I mourn and honor -- I mourn the dead and honor their service, because we have asked American men and women in uniform to do the hardest thing, which is to go and defend freedom and give others an opportunity to build a free society, which will make us safer.

                  Senator, I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity.

                  The fact is that we did face a very difficult intelligence challenge in trying to understand what Saddam Hussein had in terms of weapons of mass destruction. We knew something about him. We knew that he had -- we had gone to war with him twice in the past, in 1991 and in 1998.

                  We knew that he continued to shoot at American aircraft in the no-fly zone as we tried to enforce the resolutions of U.N. Security -- that the U.N. Security Council had passed. We knew that he continued to threaten his neighbors. We knew that he was an implacable enemy of the United States who did cavort with terrorists.

                  We knew that he was the world's most dangerous man in the world's most dangerous region. And we knew that in terms of weapons of mass destruction, he had sought them before, tried to build them before, that he had an undetected biological weapons program that we didn't learn of until 1995, that he was closer to a nuclear weapon in 1991 than anybody thought. And we knew, most importantly, that he had used weapons of mass destruction.

                  That was the context that frankly made us awfully suspicious when he refused to account for his weapons-of-mass-destruction programs despite repeated Security Council resolutions and despite the fact that he was given one last chance to comply with Resolution 1441.

                  Now, there were lots of data points about his weapons-of-mass- destruction progra MS. Some were right and some were not. But what was right was that there was an unbreakable link between Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. That is something that Charlie Duelfer, in his report of the Iraq survey group, has made very clear, that Saddam Hussein intended to continue his weapons-of-mass- destruction activities, that he had laboratories that were run by his security services. I could go on and on.

                  But Senator Boxer, we went to war not because of aluminum tubes. We went to war because this was the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a man against whom we had gone to war before, who threatened his neighbors, who threatened our interests, who was one of the world's most brutal dictators. And it was high time to get rid of him, and I'm glad that we're rid of him.

                  Now, as to the statement about territory and the terrorist groups, I was referring to the fact that the al Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden, which once trained openly in Afghanistan, which once ran with impunity in places like Pakistan, can no longer count on hospitable territory from which to carry out their activities.