News Article | June 11, 2015
In-house researchers for Atlantic Information Services, Inc. (AIS) have found that Anthem, Inc. was the country’s top Medicaid insurer as of first quarter 2015. With nearly 4.8 million lives representing 10.27% of the national market, Anthem edges out UnitedHealthcare, which had 4.47 million enrollees and 9.59% market share as of early 2015. Centene Corporation, Molina Healthcare, Inc. and WellCare Health Plans, Inc. round out the top five. Complete findings will be published in the forthcoming AIS's Medicare and Medicaid Market Data: 2015, shipping later this month. Health Net, Inc.’s California Medicaid plan had the highest enrollment of any Medicaid plan in the United States, with 1.63 million, according to AIS researchers; its closest competitor is also a California plan, L.A. Care, which had 1.61 million enrollees as of the first quarter of 2015. California — the most populous state — has the most Medicaid enrollees at 10.2 million. This represents an increase of 52% from the end of 2013, reflecting the state’s managed Medicaid expansion efforts. Researchers also found that Medicaid enrollment in the U.S. as of the first quarter of 2015 grew by almost 11 million from the fourth quarter of 2013, representing the impact of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion initiatives. Enrollment grew by more than two million since AIS’s 2014 mid-year Medicaid update. A valuable resource with information on rates, benefit designs, enrollment, contacts, trends and strategies on the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and managed Medicaid programs, AIS's Medicare and Medicaid Market Data: 2015 tracks the enrollment trends, plan design information and market share statistics required for an effective strategic planning process. Visit http://aishealth.com/marketplace/managed-medicare-and-medicaid-market-data for more information, including sample pages and a table of contents. About Atlantic Information Services Atlantic Information Services, Inc. (AIS) is a publishing and information company that has been serving the health care industry for more than 25 years. It develops highly targeted news, data and strategic information for managers in hospitals, health plans, medical group practices, pharmaceutical companies and other health care organizations. AIS products include print and electronic newsletters, websites, looseleafs, books, strategic reports, databases, webinars, and conferences. Learn more at http://AISHealth.com.
News Article | April 15, 2016
The ear bone fossil of an ancient toothed whale that lived 26 million years ago has revealed that its ability to echolocate is quite similar to the present day dolphins' sensory capabilities. By leveraging revolutionary CT scanning technology, an international team of researchers were able to examine the insides of a fossilized ear bone that belonged to a xenorophid whale, one of the earliest ancestors of modern toothed whales that existed around 26 million years ago. Examination of the ear revealed that the ancient whale had a 'cochlea' specialized for sensing high-frequency sound. "When I first looked at the inner ear of the xenorophid, I was blown away by just how similar this incredibly old toothed whale was to a modern echolocating dolphin," said Travis Park, a PhD student at Museum Victoria and Monash University in Australia and lead author of the new study. The fossil was particularly borrowed for investigation from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Echolocation refers to a unique ability that certain marine mammals possess which enables them to produce high-frequency sound waves. By listening to the echoes that bounce back from the sound waves reflecting off objects (animate or inanimate), they are able to garner a better understanding of their surroundings in the deep blue seas. This aids them in communicating with each other, navigating the waters, hunting for food and also helps them stay wary of dangerous predators around. The odontocetes species that includes dolphins, toothed whales, beaked whales, killer whales, sperm whales and porpoises, encompass the ability to echolocate. Dolphins are undoubtedly one of the most intelligent and social animals alive on earth today. The development of this extraordinary biosonar system played a pivotal role in the evolution of the odontocetes. It is this evolutionary advantage that presumably helped them diversify and spread bountifully across the oceans of the earth. Non-marine mammals such as the blind bats are also super-sonic like the dolphins, and possess the ability to echolocate and sense their way around the deep, dark caves. Precisely when this echolocation skill developed among these marine mammals has been a mystery for ages. The solution to this mystery has been addressed by the study, by asserting that the skill to echolocate dates back to millions of years ago and was present in ancient whales. However with the groundbreaking finding, scientists now wonder: what were the ancestors of ancient whales like? Did they possess this skill, too? "Our paper shows even the earliest known fossil odontocetes [toothed whales] have all the tools for echolocation seen in living dolphins. They must have evolved from something that didn't quite have all the tricks of the odontocete trade." said Dr Erich Fitzgerald, Museum Victoria's Senior Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and co-author of the study. "What were those animals like and how did they start down the path to sonic supersenses? The quest for odontocete origins continues." added Fitzgerald. The finding of the research was published in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | February 24, 2016
The first in a family that would breed the world’s biggest bird ever known has been found by Australian scientists – and it also appears to be a distant kin of ducks. Researchers from Flinders University and the University of New South Wales revealed their new discoveries on the Dromornis murrayi, a 551-pound flightless bird that now emerges as the earliest ancestor of the Dromornis giant birds, which stood up to 10 feet in height and weighed more than half a ton. At such heavy weight, the D. murrayi was even the baby in the genus Dromornis, the smallest at a relatively heavy 551 pounds. By 8 million years ago, however, it evolved into D. stirtoni, which was at 992 pounds on average and even reached 1,433 pounds in some cases. “[They’re] the largest birds the world has known,” reports lead researcher Trevor Worthy. The D. murrayi existed in the late Oligocene to the early Miocene period, and emerged in research as the first in the lineage of this astounding bird species. Its genus was part of the Dromornithidae family of giant birds called “Mihirungs.” Mihirungs were huge flightless birds found only in Australia and studied only via fossil species. The largest among them was about 6.6 feet at its back and reached well more than 9.8 feet at its head, added Worthy. The giant birds lived until the Pleistocene era when the last species, Genyornis newtoni, died out likely about 50,000 years ago. Researchers have proposed that the Genyornis newtoni became extinct when humans – probably the earliest settlement in Australia – cooked their eggs, as attested to by the birds’ burnt eggshell remains. The D. murrayi is the newest species recognized after 37 years, and it brings the total number of known mihirungs to eight. The team arrived at these conclusions after analyzing the skull, breastbone, and leg and foot bones of the fossil. They even examined some tiny bones of the wing, which already demonstrated the fact that by 26 million years ago, the giant bird has practically lost its wings. Their skull is the weirdest, recalled Worthy. He described it as the bird having had to “run into a brick wall and compressed everything from front to back, so that the bill joined on half way through the eye.” The findings were published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
News Article | February 24, 2016
Two new and extinct kangaroo species were named recently. Scientists said these modern-day kangaroo ancestors didn't hop but instead, moved on all fours. These extinct kangaroo species - Cookeroo bulwidarri and Cookeroo hortusensis - lived between 18 to 23 million years ago. The researchers named the new genus Cookero in honor of Dr. Bernard Cooke, a Queensland Museum researcher who spearheaded a research program on Riversleigh's ancient kangaroos' evolution. In the Aboriginal Waanyi language, bulwidarri means "white." The Cookeroo bulwidarri was named after the Riversleigh White Hunter Site where it was discovered. In Latin, Hortusensis means "belonging to the garden." The Cookeroo hortusensis is named after the Neville's Garden Site. Dr. Kenny Travouillon, Western Australian Museum's mammal curator, became interested in an unidentified skull at the Queensland Museum. The skull, along with other fossils, was unearthed in north-west Queensland at a Riversleigh World Heritage during the past 30 years. Due to the lack of scientific papers on kangaroos in recent years, Travouillon found the skull belonged to a new kangaroo species. Kaylene Butler, one of Travouillon's PH.D. students at the University of Queensland (UQ), analyzed and named the new species. During her analysis, she discovered another unnamed kangaroo species among the University of New South Wales' collections. Butler said the new species walked on all four legs and scurried across a thick, forested habitat that is far from the dry outback in today's modern Queensland. Travouillon said that the new and extinct kangaroo species looked similar to modern-day ones. However, they were smaller, about the size of a wallaby. But unlike modern-day kangaroos, these extinct ancestors didn't hop, instead, they walked on all four legs. An analysis of the leg bones found no evidence that could support hopping. "Hopping actually occurred much later in the evolution," said Travouillon, who is a former Robert Day Fellow at UQ. Gilbert Price from UQ and Riversleigh researchers Professor Suzanne Hand and Professor Michael Archer from the University of New South Wales were part of the research team. The discovery was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology on Feb. 17.
Around 85 million years ago, North America was halved by 1,000 mi of ocean, which connected the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Sea. The continent was divided into two landmasses: Laramidia and Appalachia. Appalachia stretched from around Alabama up into Canada. Traversing Appalachia was Eotrachodon orientalis, a new duck-billed dinosaur described by researchers in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Found in marine sediment by a team of amateur fossil hunters in Alabama’s Montgomery County, the skeleton is roughly 40 to 45% complete, consisting of a complete skull, backbones, a partial hip bone, and some bones from the dinosaur’s limbs. According to the researchers, the dinosaur most likely grew to between 20 and 30 ft, and had a scaly exterior. It walked on its hind legs, save for when it was grazing for plants. Based on its teeth, scientists believe the dinosaur ground its food up like cows or horses. But unlike other Hadrosaurids, this species had a unique feature. “This thing had a big ugly nose,” said Gregory Erickson, a professor of biological science at Florida State Univ. After the fossil hunters found the bones, a team from the McWane Science Center finished the excavation. A subsequent study was performed by science center staff, Erickson, and former Florida State Univ. doctoral student Albert Prieto-Marquez. Erickson determined the dinosaur’s adult length by studying the bone samples in his Florida State Univ. lab. Apparently no growth lines appeared in the samples. But highly vascularized bones proved the dinosaur was in a state of rapid growth when it perished. “For roughly 100 million years, the dinosaurs were not able to cross the barrier,” said Jun Ebersole, the McWane Science Center’s director. “The discovery of Eotrachodon suggests that duck-billed dinosaurs originated in Appalachia and dispersed to other parts of the world at some point after the seaway lowered, opening a land corridor to western North America.” The dinosaur’s name means “dawn rough tooth from the east.” “This is a really important animal in telling us how they came to be and how they spread all over the world,” said Erickson.