Nature's Nightmares
March 20, 2014
Mark Klingler / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Picture a raptor. Okay, now give it some feathers. Slap a bony protrusion atop its head, stick some talons on those skinny toes, elongate the tail and give it a few more feathers, and tada: You have the "chicken from hell," a new species of dinosaur paleontologists unveiled Wednesday.

Technically dubbed Anzu wyliei, the new species is a 10-foot-tall, 11-foot-long, 500-pound beast from the oviraptorosaur family, a group of bipedal, birdlike dinosaurs. And the chicken from hell — which Matt Lamanna, the lead scientist who discovered the creature, said was "as close as you can get to a bird without being a bird" — is one of the largest such dinosaurs ever found. Lamanna and his colleagues, who reported their findings in the journal PLOS One, pieced together the new find from bones dug up in the Dakotas in the 1990s. It wasn't until recently that they realized seemingly random fossils actually fit together to make a near-complete skeleton of Anzu wyliei.

So what does a terrifying monster chicken eat? Apparently, its diet may have included plants, eggs, animals — basically anything it felt like consuming. "It was the Swiss Army knife of the Cretaceous," Lamanna told National Geographic.

In other words: The chicken from hell don't care. Jon Terbush

wedding bells
1:33 a.m. ET

On Monday, Sen. Thad Cochran's office announced, in one terse sentence, that the 77-year-old Mississippi Republican had married longtime aide Kay Webber at a private ceremony on Saturday. The marriage comes five months after the death of Cochran's wife and a year after Cochran's re-election campaign denied rumors that the senator and his executive assistant were having an affair, during a heated GOP primary battle.

Webber "is a member of the staff and a trusted aide, and any other suggestion is silly gossip," spokesman Jordan Russell told Jackson, Mississippi's The Clarion-Ledger at the time. She is also Cochran's landlady, renting him the basement of her $1.6 million Washington townhouse, and accompanied him on at least 30 overseas trips between 2002 and 2014, for no apparent official reason, with her expenses costing taxpayers at least $150,000, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Webber, 76, started working in Cochran's office in 1981, and earns about $140,000 to help arrange travel and constituent events, The Washington Post reports. A Cochran spokesman said Webber will continue working at her husband's office. Peter Weber

finding fault
12:56 a.m. ET

The trailer for disaster movie San Andreas is enough to make anyone living in California shake with fear: An enormous earthquake causes unimaginable damage across the state, but an even worse trembler follows it that causes the earth to split open, a tsunami to hit San Francisco, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to yell a lot. A feel-good movie, this is not.

Although San Andreas might make you want to hide under your bed for the rest of your life, U.S. Geological Services geophysicist Morgan Page says the movie's creators were playing fast and loose with the facts when they put the flick together. For instance, a scientist (played by Paul Giamatti) says a quake is going to hit that's strong enough to be felt on the East Coast, but Page tells KRON that this is impossible (phew!). Also, a huge earthquake on the San Andreas fault would not cause the Earth to crack open, due to the way the fault slides (double phew!). Finally, there's no chance of a tsunami being triggered that would take out the Golden Gate Bridge. "The San Andreas has slip motion," Page explains. "This isn't the type of motion that would generate a tsunami wave. You need something like subduction where you're lifting large volumes of water, so it didn't appear to be realistic."

Page does see the movie as a helpful wakeup call to people that emergency kits are definite necessities, though. “My hope is that the movie just reminds everyone that California is earthquake country and we all need to be prepared," she said.—Catherine Garcia

May 25, 2015
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

On Monday, anonymous threats were made against six international flights, resulting in U.S. military jets escorting an Air France plane into New York City.

Air France Flight 22 was headed to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport when someone claimed a chemical weapon was on the plane, the FBI said; the plane was cleared after it landed. While an American Airlines flight from Birmingham, England, to JFK was in the air, authorities received a threatening call regarding that flight, and the pilot was instructed to land and taxi away from the terminal, The Guardian reports. The threat was later deemed not credible and the plane was allowed to go to the terminal.

Threats were also made against a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane going to New York, a United Airlines flight from Madrid to Newark, New Jersey, and Delta planes headed to Boston from Paris and to Newark from London. At 6:30 a.m. Monday, Maryland State Police said, they received an anonymous call at the McHenry barracks threatening commercial airlines, and notified the FBI. It's possible that the calls that came later targeting the planes all came from the same source, authorities said. Catherine Garcia

wild weather
May 25, 2015

Four people are confirmed dead after heavy rains hit Texas and Oklahoma over the weekend.

In Oklahoma, three people died, including a firefighter who was swept into a storm drain in Claremore during a high-water rescue on Sunday, CNN reports. In Texas, one person died in San Marcos and 12 are missing in Hays County, where 400 homes have washed away in flooding. The National Weather Service says that river and creek banks can't contain all of the rain that has fallen, and the ground is so saturated that "only an inch or two of rainfall could quickly lead to more flash flooding concerns." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) added 24 counties to the 13 already under an emergency disaster declaration, which lets the state use resources "reasonably necessary to cope with this disaster." This week's forecast predicts more thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and tornadoes. Catherine Garcia

May 25, 2015

For the first time in 33 years, the 1.1-mile-high Wolf volcano in the Galapagos Islands erupted early Monday.

Located on Isabela Island, the volcano, the highest point in the Galapagos, is not near a populated area, Galapagos National Park said on Twitter. While the island is home to the world's only species of pink iguanas, Reuters reports, the lava is flowing down the southern face of the volcano, and the endangered iguanas live on the opposite side and are expected to be safe. The lava will likely make its way to the sea and could harm marine life, Ecuador's Geophysics Institute said, and it's possible ash will travel to populated areas of the island. Catherine Garcia

May 25, 2015
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Two of B.B. King's daughters say that their father was poisoned by his business manager and personal assistant in order to hasten his death, allegations that the attorney for King's estate calls "defamatory and libelous."

The lawyer, Brent Bryson, told The Associated Press that King received 24-hour care and was monitored by medical professionals "up until the time that he peacefully passed away in his sleep" earlier this month at the age of 89. King's daughters, Karen Williams and Patty King, say that manager and estate executor LaVerne Toney and personal assistant Myron Johnson prevented family members from visiting King, and Patty King says she witnessed Johnson putting drops of an unknown substance on her father's tongue over the course of several months. The sisters had previously told a court that large sums of money were missing from King's bank accounts and that Toney hired her own relatives to work for King.

An autopsy on the late musician was performed on Sunday, and it will take up to eight weeks for the rest results to come back. "This is extremely disrespectful to B.B. King," Bryson said. "He did not want invasive medical procedures. He made the decision to return home for hospice care instead of staying in a hospital. These unfounded allegations have caused Mr. King to undergo an autopsy, which is exactly what he didn't want." Catherine Garcia

natural disasters
May 25, 2015

A tornado that hit the Mexican town of Ciudad Acuna on Monday morning killed at least 13 people, while across the border in Texas, 12 people are reported missing after severe flooding.

The tornado in Ciudad Acuna, a town of 125,000 people across from Del Rio, Texas, struck as children were headed to their school buses, CBS News reports. A baby in its carrier was ripped from its mother's arms and 400 homes were destroyed, authorities said. At least 300 people are hospitalized for injuries. "There's nothing standing, not walls, not roofs," said Edgar Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Acuna city government.

In Texas, 2,000 people had to evacuate their homes during heavy rains, which hit towns along the Blanco River in the central part of the state especially hard. One man, Jonathan McComb, was hospitalized after the house where he was staying with his family and friends came off its foundation and struck a bridge as the water carried it down the river. His wife and two children are among the dozen people missing after the flooding. Catherine Garcia

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