New Dinosaur makes Nine from Thailand’s North-East

Fossil bones found by farmers digging a new pond in north-east Thailand have been identified as a new species of dinosaur – the ninth dinosaur species found in this part of Thailand and the sixth found nowhere else.

New-to-science Sirindhorna khoratensis was a plant-eating iguanodontid, about 6 metres long, which lived around 120 million years ago.

The new dinosaur takes it genus name from the daughter of Thailand’s King Bhumibol, Princess Sirindhorn, an enthusiastic patron of dinosaur research. Its species name comes from Khorat, the informal name for the city of Nakhon Ratchasima about 400 kilometres north-east of Bangkok.

The fossils were uncovered in 2005 on the outskirts of the city by farmers digging a small reservoir to water their crops of corn and tapioca.

They reported the find to scientists at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University (NRRU), but the location meant that the dig teams could only collect the fossils when there were no crops in the ground, for a few months each year between 2006 and 2012.

Sirindhorna khoratensis replica at Fukui Prefectural University/Kyodo News
Sirindhorna khoratensis replica at Fukui Prefectural University/Kyodo News

Although the fossils are fragmented, most of the skull and jawbone are complete and Sirindhorna is now one of the best-known iguanodon species in Asia, say the researchers from Japan’s Fukui Prefectural University and NRRU.

Iguanodon-like dinosaurs lived in the early Cretaceous Period between 145 million and 100 million years ago, when most of Southeast Asia was covered by jungles, swamps and shallow seas.  They may have traveled in herds for protection against predators, like wild elephants today.

Masateru Shibata, a paleontologist at Fukui Prefectural University and the lead author of the research, told Kyodo News that iguanodons are thought to have colonised Asia from North America and Europe and the new find helped establish their range. Iguanodons from the early Cretaceous Period had also been found in Japan and the latest find from Thailand was “valuable as it shows iguanodons lived in a wide area of Asia,” he said.

Masateru Shibata/Kyodo News
Masateru Shibata/Kyodo News

The research has been published in the online science journal PLOS-One, and a replica of the full skeleton of the new dinosaur goes on display at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in central Japan on 30th January.

Sirindhorna is the ninth new species of dinosaur identified from fossils found in Thailand, all in the north-east Isan region of farmland, mountains and forests that extends from Khorat to Thailand’s Mekong River border with Laos and Cambodia.

It is the second Thai dinosaur named after Princess Sirindhorn — Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae, a 20-metre long suaropod, was named in her honour in 1994.

North-east Thailand has emerged as a rich source of dinosaur fossils and other archaeological discoveries since the 1970s, when the first fossilized bones were found by prospectors looking for uranium in the broken scarps of Phu Wiang district, 85 kilometres west of the city of Khon Kaen and now a national park.

In 1994, the lucky find of a dinosaur bone by a monk in Kalasin province led to the discovery of a “dinosaur’s graveyard” and five new species. The discovery site has been developed into a renowned dinosaur museum and paleontology institute. Footprints from tyrannosaurs and other species have been found at several sites.

Ban Non Wat
Ban Non Wat/2korat.com

Archaeologists have also discovered important remains of the human occupation of the Middle Mekong Basin, including elaborate pottery and metalwork from grave sites at Ban Chiang and Ban Non Wat in north-east Thailand  — relics of Bronze-Age peoples who lived in the region between 3000 and 4000 years ago.

But they have warned that the region’s archaeological heritage is threatened by land development and looting that takes place before scientists can learn what’s there.

Dr Joyce White, an American archaeologist who worked on the Ban Chiang discoveries, said at a public lecture in Bangkok last year that the destruction of archaeological sites across the region would have a lasting impact on future prospects for tourism, education and the rural societies involved.

Dr White was an expert witness for the US Justice Department in a successful prosecution of a US museum that had purchased smuggled artifacts from Ban Chiang and other Thai archaeological sites. The artifacts were returned to Thailand in 2014.

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Northeasterners Mark 50th Anniversary of the Communist Armed Struggle | The Isaan Record

From: Northeasterners Mark 50th Anniversary of the Communist Armed Struggle | The Isaan Record

quote12015 AUGUST 13 NAKHON PHANOM – Fifty years ago, Comrade Tang fought for communism in the first violent clash between communist fighters and Thai security forces. Last week, at 88 years old, he marked the anniversary with a call for democracy.

quote1In the early morning on August 7, villagers and local politicians flocked through the gate of Nabua’s village temple to commemorate the incident that came to be known as the “Day the First Gunshot Rang Out.” Against the military’s demands, the crowd of 250 not only celebrated the former communists, but also rallied for freedom from the current military rule in Thailand.

quote1On August 7, 1965 Nabua, an ethnic Phu Thai village, made headlines all across Indochina when Thailand’s first-ever physical confrontation between communist fighters and Thai security forces occurred. According to eyewitnesses, eight communist villagers were involved, one of whom was shot dead during the incident after the town was surrounded by state forces.

100-Year-Old Pilot Returns to Myanmar With War Stories and a Sense of Humor | The Irrawaddy Magazine

Indeed, Moon’s finest hour was when he flew his C-53 plane, a converted cargo version of a DC-3, over the Hump, the nickname for a huge mountain range of the eastern Himalayas, with Doolittle as passenger. The Hump was a crucial route for the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) and the Allied Forces to bring war supplies and equipment into China during the war, but the route was often dangerous, with Japanese fighter planes, high mountain peaks and unpredictably bad weather.

After the surprise air raid on Tokyo, Doolittle crash-landed in China but was in need of a rescue. He was saved by the Chinese and put on the CNAC plane that Moon captained, for a trip from Chongqing to Kunming and over the Hump, with a last stop in India’s Calcutta.

On the morning of the flight, the US Embassy informed Doolittle that Myitkyina in northern Burma would fall to the Japanese by 12 pm. When Moon reached northern Burma that afternoon, he was preparing to let down on the runway of the Kachin State capital when Doolittle passed him a note in the cockpit to warn him that the Japanese had taken the town. But as Moon approached he saw another C-47 plane taking off on the runway, on its way to India, so he ignored the general’s warning and landed.

Many refugees were walking off the airfield, thinking they had just missed the final plane, when Moon and his crew came roaring in. They stampeded toward him, and when the plane door opened they scrambled inside. As soon as the door closed, Moon put his engines into full throttle and took off.

Doolittle turned to him with grave doubt and reportedly asked, “Do you know how many people you are carrying?” There were only 28 converted seats on board. Moon answered with confidence, “Don’t worry, refugees don’t weigh very much!” The plane barely lifted into the sky as they reached the end of the runway, but Moon managed to land safely in Calcutta, where immigration officials counted 70 passengers getting off­, more than twice the carrying capacity. When the luggage compartment opened, eight more refugees fell out of it.

via 100-Year-Old Pilot Returns to Myanmar With War Stories and a Sense of Humor | The Irrawaddy Magazine.

Preah Vihear: A tense wait and a school in the firing line

BAN PHUM SAROL school in eastern Thailand has an unusual display of pieces of broken metal in the foyer. At first glance they look a bit like machine parts and water pipes. But a closer look reveals what they are: melted and twisted fragments of shrapnel, the fins from mortar bombs, and the casings of rockets fired from Katyusha launchers.

In 2011, this primary school a few kilometers north of the disputed Preah Vihear temple was on the front line of an escalating border conflict between Thai and Cambodian troops that claimed dozens of lives.

The first warning came when a mortar round struck the playground in the late afternoon. Fortunately the children had already gone home, although some teachers were still at work. Over the next few hours, the school, nearby homes, and streets of the village came under heavier fire from Cambodian artillery.

via Preah Vihear: A tense wait and a school in the firing line

Khon Kaen welcomes the International Silk Festival

Khon Kaen welcomes the International Silk Festival

KHON KAEN – The International Silk Festival, “Pook Xiao” Tradition and Red Cross Fair 2013 is set to become the hub of silk cultural exchange and trading in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

Highlights of the show will include the double-bill international seminar and business matching event entitled “Mekong Silk Road in the GMS”, sericulture and silk weaving exhibitions, silk fashion show and cultural performances from six GMS countries – Vietnam, Lao PDR., Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and China’s Guangxi and Yunnan provinces.

Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Mekong Institute, will address the opening of the “Mekong Silk Road in the GMS”, which will be held from 27 to 28 November, 2013, while His Excellency Shigekazu Sato, Japan’s Ambassador to Thailand, will deliver a keynote speech.

Sericulture and silk experts from the GMS countries will discuss on various topics including the Importance and Productivity of Silk to the Global Market, Silk Trends and Prospects in the ASEAN Market and Silk Trading in the GMS during the international seminar day to be held at Rachawadee Resort and Hotel in Khon Kaen City on 27 November. Delegates will inspect three sericulture and silk production centres, discuss business, and convene on the establishment of a Mekong Silk Road in the GMS network during the business matching day, which follows on 28 November.

The International Silk Festival, “Pook Xiao” Tradition and Red Cross Fair 2013 will take place in front of Khon Kaen City Hall from 29 November to 10 December, 2013. The 12-day show has been scheduled to be filled with educational and recreational activities as well as shopping opportunities.

via Khon Kaen welcomes the International Silk Festival.

Slice of the City: Vientiane – a walk through old Indochina – Asia – Travel – The Independent

On the corner of the old Mekong River road in Vientiane, and the site of a now vanished river, slumps the tiled, tumbledown ruins of a French colonial building – the erstwhile home of Laos royal prince-turned-Communist revolutionary, Prince Souphanouvong.

The disintegrating ochre-hued 1909-1925 home of the “Red Prince”, who later became Laos’ first president under Communist rule in 1975, is set to be saved by an aid agency. But its decrepit condition is a metaphor for many other French colonial buildings in Laos’s riverside capital.

Vientiane became the smallest capital of France’s parcel of land in Indochina. The French arrived in 1893, having forced Siam to cede the Lao territory to them through gunboat diplomacy. They set up shop in a backwater.

Viang Chan (City of Sandalwood), as it was, had been razed to the ground by the marauding Siamese in 1827, and the decapitated temples and Buddha statues had sunk beneath arboreal anarchy. Slowly, the spiritual structures resprouted on the land that hugged the middle Mekong. The French realigned the city with broad tree-lined avenues and planted elegant shuttered villas. This month marks 60 years since Laos’s independence from its French colonial masters.

Just to the south of Prince  Souphanouvong’s house is the gold and crimson shrine to the spirits of the vanished river, Nam Pasak, dedicated to Inthachakkhunag, one of the nine naga (dragon-serpent totems) of Vientiane.

via Slice of the City: Vientiane – a walk through old Indochina – Asia – Travel – The Independent.

‘Winning beyond boat racing’ | MindaNews

VIENTIANE, Laos (MindaNews/19 October)–In Ban Sai Fong Neua, 17 kilometers south from the city center, at least 40 women, each holding a wooden oar, trekked down a steep slope into the Mekong River barely an hour before sunset on Tuesday. Children and husbands of the village women lingered at the cliff and watched a long traditional boat advancing as the river flows slowly.

The Lao-International Women’s Boat Racing Team prepares for its 20th year of joining the race in Vientiane. MindaNews photo by Lorie Ann Cascaro

They composed the Lao-International Women’s Boat Racing Team, a mixture of the village women and falang (expatriate) women from different countries who are living in Vientiane. Even before the race could begin, the team has already “won” this year’s Dragon Boat Racing Festival Women’s Category.

That is simply because the team has remained intact for 20 years now.

Starting today (Saturday) until tomorrow, they will paddle in unison along the Mekong River near the Vientiane Capital not just to compete with the other teams but most importantly to celebrate the sisterhood that they have strengthened for two decades now.

The boat racing has tightened the connection of the international women to the village people through the years.

“We have never won a race but the women continue to participate,” Ruth Foster, an international teacher in her 50s, told MindaNews during the team’s regular practice at the river bank near the village.

Although they trained hard, the women give more value to their friendship and experience, she added.

Foster had been rowing for the team since she arrived in Vientiane almost a decade ago and years later became the coach for English instructions, while a primary school headmaster, Mr Kibou, who has been training the women for 16 years, commands in Lao language.

Lao Women’s Union members, particularly Khamphao Phimasone and Amphone, are key people who have kept the team going through the seasons, Foster said.

The veteran Khamphao recalled the Lao-International Women’s Boat Racing Team first joined in 1993 with already non-villagers and foreigners as members.

via ‘Winning beyond boat racing’ | MindaNews.