Dungeons & Dragons cookbook lets you cook like a wizard, eat like an orc – CNET

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Eat like a warrior with the new Heroes' Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook.

Ten Speed Press

The Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game isn't just about battling orcs and surviving a dragon's fiery wrath. The popular fantasy game also has plenty of moments where heroes need to relax and have a tasty meal. 

D&D gamers can make many fantasy-based dishes in real life thanks to author Kyle Newman's new cookbook Heroes' Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook (co-written by Michael Witwer and Jon Peterson). Newman knows a thing or two about the D&D world. He previously co-wrote D&D history book Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana.

Heroes' Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook has plenty of dishes that would satisfy even the most ravenous elves. Choose from dishes like Drow Mushroom Steaks, Elven Bread, and Arkhan the Cruel's Flame-Roasted Halfling Chili, to name a few.

There's even a section dedicated completely to elixirs and ales. Thirsty for a Chultan Zombie? Or maybe take your chances with the absinthe-based cocktail called Rollrum?

I chatted with co-author Kyle Newman about the inspiration behind his cookbook, his favorite recipes and why food is so important in D&D adventures. 

Q: What inspired you to write a cookbook inspired by Dungeons & Dragons?
A: My fellow co-authors -- Michael Witwer and Jon Peterson -- and I were wrapping up my other book Dungeons & Dragons: Art & Arcana and our publisher approached us about the idea. We started going back and forth about all of the things this book could be and ultimately all of the ways that food can enhance the D&D experience -- after all, they're both tabletop activities; both communal and social and promote connection. The challenge of exploring the details and delicacies of the massive D&D multiverse was right up our alley.

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Elven cuisine looks downright magical in the Heroes' Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook.

Ten Speed Press

What kind of research did you do to write the cookbook?
We scoured 45 years of D&D product (source books, modules, novels, comics) to find every notable dish and then evaluated and curated each for viability. We also conducted an extensive study of each D&D fantasy culture, such as elves, dwarves, and halflings, and worked to define details such as common ingredients, palate, etiquette, and so on. 

We had to look at this from both an in-universe perspective as well from our own point of view to ensure that we were presenting a robust, balanced, forward-thinking selection of dishes that are both tasty as well as narratively and historically accurate, representing the varied tastes and traditions of the major cultures -- human, elven, dwarven and halfling.

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Sembian Honey-Glazed Rothe Ribs

Ten Speed Press

What was your favorite food recipe from your cookbook?
The Pan-Fried Knucklehead Trout recipe is quite delicious, the Stuffed Egg-Battered Toast is an indulgent French toast-style dish that's perfectly suited for a halfling's breakfast nook. The Sembian Honey-Glazed Rothe Ribs, the Moonshae Seafood Rice, the Meal's End (a fantasy interpretation of an Eton Mess with chocolate meringue) all make me hungry just thinking about them. 

Does an elf have different tastes than an elf or an orc?
We spent a great deal of time exploring the palates of the varied fantasy cultures. With elves, presentation and etiquette are paramount, and their food is every bit as elegant and graceful as its preparers and consumers. Hand-carved tables adorned with bowls made of marble, gold, and silver set the stage for a visual (and literal) feast of fruits, vegetables, bread, cheeses, and occasional meats -- a dream-like display. The foods they favor are usually light, fresh, and wholesome. 

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Elven Bread

Ten Speed Press

Elves generally avoid preservatives and prefer fiber to fat; citrus to salt; and sweet to spicy. Even their iron rations, known as "quith-pa," are made up entirely of dried fruits. Because they put such a strong value on life, a high percentage of elves stringently exercise food restrictions, and a great many would fall into the category of vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian. We apply this level of detail across the board, touching upon regional differences as well as holidays and ceremonies.

Why is it that food is just as important to quests as weapons in Dungeons & Dragons?
As a player, I remember the epic battles as much as the bread breaking. Rests are when dining and memorable role-play occur in the game, so they work very well together. D&D is all about detail and immersion and cuisine provides another vital layer of immersion. I can't wait to see how fans incorporate these dishes into their tabletop games. True to the home-brew spirit of D&D itself, we encourage you to customize these recipes for the occasion or the campaign.

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Trailblazing actress Cicely Tyson dies at 96 – CNET

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Actress Cicely Tyson blazed the trail for many Black actresses who followed after her in TV and film.

Cicely Tyson/Twitter

Award-winning actress Cicely Tyson died on Thursday afternoon at the age of 96, her manager Larry Thompson confirmed.

"I have managed Miss Tyson's career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing," Thompson said in a statement on Thursday. "Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree."

Tyson's memoir, "Just As I Am," was published on Tuesday. When journalist Gayle King interviewed the actress about her memoir and asked how she wanted her fans to remember her, Tyson replied,  "I done my best. That's all."

Tyson's first appeared in 1957's Twelve Angry Men, but she is best known for her roles in the films Odds Against Tomorrow, The Comedians, The Last Angry Man, A Man Called Adam, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, and Fried Green Tomatoes. More recently, Tyson appeared in the films The Help and A Fall from Grace. 

Tyson was also praised for her work on various TV shows and TV movies including Miss Jane Pittman, Roots, The Wilma Rudolph Story, King: The Martin Luther King Story, When No One Would Listen, A Woman Called Moses, The Marva Collins Story, The Women of Brewster Place, The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and Trip to Bountiful.

Tyson refused to star in blaxploitation movies and TV shows that were popular during the 1970s, but also declined roles depicting Black women as sex workers, maids or drug addicts. Tyson received an Oscar nomination in 1973 for Martin Ritt's drama Sounder and earned an Honorary Oscar in 2018. 

Tyson's fellow actors took to social media to share their memories and adoration for the iconic actress. 

Oprah Winfrey tweeted, "Cicely decided early on that her work as an actor would be more than a job. She used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to greatness."

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted, "Your hugs I'll remember. How your petite arms wrapped around me like mighty branches of a sunlit tree, strong and warm. Your love I'll remember. You loved me for some reason and told me often. Thank you, Your Majesty. And bless you as you journey ahead. Until we meet again."

"I'm devastated," actress Viola Davis tweeted. "My heart is just broken. I loved you so much!! You were everything to me! You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls. You gave me permission to dream."

Former US President Barack Obama tweeted, "In her extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson was one of the rare award-winning actors whose work on the screen was surpassed only by what she was able to accomplish off of it. She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match."

"Cicely Tyson opened doors, broke through ceilings, and made pathways," comedian and actress Wanda Sykes tweeted. "We will be forever grateful."

As expected, many of Tyson's fans honored the legendary actress on social media. 

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Incredible new deepfake recasts Luke Skywalker in Star Wars – CNET

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Side by side, Star Wars character Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill and Sebastian Stan.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Marvel actor Sebastian Stan, who will be reprising his role as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier in an upcoming Disney Plus series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, has previously expressed interest in playing a younger version of Star Wars character Luke Skywalker (originally played by Mark Hamill). 

And now thanks to a talented Star Wars fan, we can get a better idea of what that might actually look like. In the deepfake video posted on Monday by YouTuber Shamook, Sebastian Stan replaces Hamill as Luke Skywalker in iconic scenes such as the Han Solo rescue from Jabba and the climactic lightsaber duel at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Deepfakes are fake videos that convincingly show people appearing to be doing or saying things they never did. This Star Wars video was created using DeepFaceLabs.

"Ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm, fans have speculated about who could play Luke in a project set between the original and sequel trilogies," Shamook wrote. "A popular choice is Marvel Cinematic Universe actor Sebastian Stan, due to his uncanny resemblance to a young Mark Hamill."

The deepfake footage is so seamless that it's easy to think of Stan stepping into the role of Luke Skywalker for any future Lucasfilm movies or streaming Disney Plus TV shows.

Be sure to also check out these other impressive Star Wars deepfake videos of Luke in the Mandalorian season 2 finale, Tobey Maguire replacing Darth Maul and Kylo Ren and Rey in Pride and Prejudice.

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Watch a Star Wars Jawa honor Eddie Van Halen by shredding on electric guitar – CNET

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Animator Thomas J. Yagodinski crafted the clever Star Wars-themed homage to the late guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Jawas in the Star Wars universe are best known for scavenging wrecks for robots, vehicle parts and any kind of metal they can scrap and sell. But what would happen if a Jawa came across an electric guitar and got to show off his shredding skills?

YouTuber and animator Thomas J. Yagodinski crafted an impressive Star Wars-themed homage to the late, great guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who passed away in 2020. 

In the stop-motion animated video, a Jawa named Edward Lodewijk Van Halen re-creates Van Halen's song Eruption painstakingly, note for note.

"Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was a virtuoso, innovator, intergalactic legend," the Jawa says before rocking out on his 1:4 scale miniature guitar.

The music video was created via stop-motion -- think Robot Chicken style -- by stringing together numerous photos of the Jawa puppet playing guitar. Yagodinski posted a behind-the-scenes video of his process on Instagram

"This was insanely fun to make, especially taking the solo apart, frame by frame, to replicate as closely as possible to the actual shredding," Yagodinski wrote. "Plus, I flippin' love Jawas!! RIP to the maestro, may his music live throughout the galaxy."

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AI helps this Koda social robot dog sense human emotions – CNET

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If you can't adopt a real dog, why not opt for this robot dog from Koda that uses artificial intelligence?

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Man's best friend has always been the domesticated dog, but mutts around the world could end up with some serious competition in the form of Koda's AI-powered robot dog

Unlike other robot dogs on the market, the Koda artificial intelligence dog is meant to interact socially with its human owners. The robot's AI helps it sense when its owner is sad, happy or excited so it can, over time, respond in an appropriate manner to human emotions.

This robot dog can be a companion, seeing-eye dog or guard dog, accomplishing tasks thanks to Koda's "blockchain-enabled decentralized AI infrastructure" that enables it to process complex problems and even learn new skills, according to an official promo video.

Decentralized artificial intelligence, also often called distributed artificial intelligence, is a subfield of artificial intelligence research that focuses on the development of distributed solutions for problems. 

Blockchain is a way of recording and storing information that makes it hard to change or hack a system. Blockchain doesn't store any of its information in a central location. 

Instead, the blockchain is copied and spread across a network of computers, which ensures that all the robot's data is secure, unlike the usual internet of things devices that are connected to a home network.

So in the most basic terms, Koda's decentralized AI social robot dog can react to its human owners' behavior by using AI to learn and adapt along the way while keeping its data private and impossible to hack. 

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The Koda robot dog can also double as a supercomputer.

Koda

The Koda robot dog is equipped with 3D depth cameras located on the front, back and each side of the robot's body. There's even a 13-megapixel camera on the front of the robot to take high-quality photos.

The robot has a fully functional head and tail-piece and uses 14 high-torque motors with two motors on the neck for animal-like mobility. The pooch also has a high-resolution display and multiple sensors including a force foot sensor. The robot's microphone array has 97% accuracy for voiceprint recognition, Koda said.

"It is a functional piece of home technology, a family pet and a piece of art, all at once," Koda CEO Emma Russell said in a statement. "Those who take this opportunity to be an original owner of a Koda will be able to watch its decentralized AI in action as it evolves from a puppy-like state to a robotic dog with the intelligence of a supercomputer." 

Not only does Koda's AI robot dog sound like a cool companion, but it's also a bit cheaper than the Boston Dynamics Spot Mini, which sells for around $75,000Koda's AI robot dog has a lower price range between $45,000 and $55,000. 

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First look at epic monster mayhem in new Godzilla vs. Kong trailer – CNET

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Kaiju monster madness unfolds in the first trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong. 

Legendary Pictures

The ultimate movie monster battle is going to be epic if there's anything to go by the first Godzilla vs. Kong movie trailer, which dropped on Sunday.  

Fans will be able to cheer for their favorite kaiju monster when Godzilla vs. Kong is released in theaters and on HBO Max on March 26. But in the meantime, check out some exciting battle scenes between Godzilla and King Kong in the new movie trailer from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. 

The trailer gives more clues about what will happen in the upcoming movie, including more on how Kong and his protectors, who are on a quest to find Kong his real home. Kong makes friends with an orphan child named Jia, who is the only one who can really communicate with him. She even makes him his own Kong doll.  

But their quest gets extra complicated when they cross paths with the king of angry movie monsters -- Godzilla. Apparently, something is provoking Godzilla into hurting humans and demolishing cities. 

In the trailer, the two monsters immediately start fighting when Kong delivers a mean right hook. This fight already looks amazing from the get-go. 

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The Godzilla vs. Kong movie trailer also a stunning shot of Godzilla invading a neon-saturated city that probably isn't insured against giant monster attacks. 

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Godzilla vs. Kong is directed by Adam Wingard (Netflix's Death Note), and stars actors Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall and Kyle Chandler.

There are many Godzilla and King Kong movies already out there, but Godzilla vs. Kong is actually a shared universe of films that follow Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).

Fans of both Godzilla and King Kong took to Twitter with their initial reactions about the trailer.

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Rock formation that looks like Cookie Monster could fetch $10,000 – CNET

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When this blue agate rock is broken in half, two smiling Cookie Monster faces greet you. 

Mike Bowers/Facebook

Unusual rocks and minerals are fun to collect, but when you stumble upon a rock formation that looks like a Muppet, that's extra special. Check out this blue agate. When split in half, it looks a lot like Sesame Street Muppet Cookie Monster.

Lucas Fassari found the unusual rock in November in the Brazil region of Rio Grande do Sul, according to American geologist Mike Bowers, current owner of the rock. Bowers posted information on the unusual find to his Facebook page this week. 

"I think this is probably the most perfect Cookie Monster out there," Bowers said in an interview with the Daily Mail on Tuesday. "I have seen others, but here you have it complete (both sides)." 

Before the non-descript rock was split, it looked a lot like a gray egg. But once broken in half, the rock is revealed to contain blue quartz crystals that look a lot like a very happy Cookie Monster. 

To celebrate the rock's uncanny resemblance to the Cookie Monster,  Bowers uploaded a video to Facebook featuring the blue rock along with a song from Sesame Street where Cookie Monster sings about the letter C.

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Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.

Sesame Street

Already, Bowers is being hounded by excited stone and mineral collectors who want to own the unusual agate for themselves.

"This is very unusual. There are a few famous agates out there: the owl, the scared face... there are many approximate ones but rare to find clear well defined like that," Bowers said. "Prices can be very high. I was proposed over $10,000 by five different buyers."

No word yet whether Bowers plans to actually sell the whimsical rock.

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Broadcasting legend Larry King dies at 87 – CNET

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King interviewed everyone from the Dalai Lama to the Muppets.

Ora Media

Broadcast legend Larry King, best known for his long-running TV interview show Larry King Live, has died at age 87. His son Chance Armstrong, as well as his production company, Ora Media, confirmed that the talk show host died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Saturday morning. Three weeks ago King was hospitalized with COVID-19, but his official cause of death hasn't been confirmed.

"The world knew Larry King as a great broadcaster and interviewer, but to us he was 'dad.' He was the man who lovingly obsessed over our daily schedules and our well-being, and who took immense pride in our accomplishments -- large, small, and imagined," King's family said in an official statement on Saturday. 

Larry King Live aired on CNN for more than 25 years. On the program, King interviewed numerous celebrities, athletes, movie stars, politicians and business icons, as well as nonfamous folks. King retired from hosting his TV show in 2010.

"For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry's many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster," Ora Media said in a statement posted via King's Twitter account.

King had a series of severe health problems over the course of his life, including several heart attacks. He underwent quintuple bypass surgery in 1987, inspiring him to create the Larry King Cardiac Foundation to help those without insurance. In 2017, King was diagnosed with lung cancer but appeared to have beaten it.

In a statement Saturday, CNN President Jeff Zucker spoke of "the scrappy young man from Brooklyn."

"His curiosity about the world propelled his award-winning career in broadcasting," Zucker said, "but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him."

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. His casual approach to interviewing guests made him a sought-after journalist. Celebrities promoting their latest movies, TV shows and books would appear on his show, but so would various world leaders, business tycoons, politicians, activists and others. His show also included thousands of phone calls from viewers watching at home.

Fellow journalists and celebs paid their respects online.

TV journalist Keith Olbermann tweeted, "My friend Larry King has died ... While he was easily caricatured, I've never known anybody who made a bigger deal out of the slightest kindness afforded him."

CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour tweeted, "Larry King was a giant of broadcasting and a master of the TV celebrity/statesman-woman interview. His name is synonymous with CNN and he was vital to the network's ascent. Everyone wanted to be on Larry King Live. May he Rest in Peace."

Filmmaker Kevin Smith tweeted, "RIP to radio/TV/digital news legend Larry King. It was an honor to watch you do your thing, both on CNN and in person. My Dad always asked me 'Did you see who Larry King talked to last night?' Would've blown his mind to know that, one day, it would be his son. Thanks for that."

Others took to social media to celebrate King's long legacy as well.

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Paleontologists finally have their first good look at a dinosaur butthole – CNET

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Here's a digital reconstruction of a Psittacosaurus dinosaur illustrating how the cloacal vent may have been used for signaling during courtship.

Bob Nicholls/Paleocreations.com 2020

Paleontologists spend their entire academic careers studying the anatomy of dinosaurs. Now a team of scientists from the University of Bristol has finally described in detail a dinosaur's cloacal or vent, which is used for everything from defecation and urination to attracting a mate to breed with (or, less scientifically, a jack-of-all-trades butthole).

In a new study, published in the journal Current Biology on Tuesday, Scientists revealed a range of theories about the cloacal vent on a dog-sized dinosaur called Psittacosaurus, a relative of Triceratops from the early Cretaceous era, which lived about 120 million years ago.

"I noticed the cloaca several years ago after we had reconstructed the color patterns of this dinosaur using a remarkable fossil on display at the Senckenberg Museum in Germany which clearly preserves its skin and color patterns," Dr. Jakob Vinther from the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences said in a statement on Tuesday. 

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A closer look at the preserved cloacal vent in Psittacosaurus.

Dr Jakob Vinthe

"It took a long while before we got around to finish it off because no one has ever cared about comparing the exterior of cloacal openings of living animals, so it was largely unchartered territory," Vinther added.

The researchers reveal the dinosaur's cloaca has similar features as cloacas on alligators and crocodiles. The dino's outer cloaca areas were also likely highly pigmented. This pigmentation may have been used to attract a mate, much like baboons use theirs.

"We found the vent does look different in many different groups of tetrapods, but in most cases, it doesn't tell you much about an animal's sex." Dr. Diane Kelly from the University of Massachusetts Amherst said. "Those distinguishing features are tucked inside the cloaca, and unfortunately, they're not preserved in this fossil."

It's not just the appearance of the dino's vent that got the attention of mates, but also its smell. The large, pigmented lobes on either side of the cloacas could have also included musky scent glands to get the attention of a mate.

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A Psittacosaurus specimen from Senckenberg Museum of Natural History --  preserving skin and pigmentation patterns and the first, and only known, cloacal vent.

Jakob Vinther, University of Bristol and Bob Nicholls/Paleocreations.com 2020

"Knowing that at least some dinosaurs were signaling to each other gives palaeo-artists exciting freedom to speculate on a whole variety of now plausible interactions during dinosaur courtship," palaeo-artist and study artist Robert Nicholls said in a statement. 

"It is a game-changer!" 

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100-million-year old beetle fossil sheds light on family of ancient bugs – CNET

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A close-up view of the well-preserved Cretophengodes azari, a fossil light-producing beetle encased in amber.

Chenyang Cai

A beetle trapped in amber for over 100 million years is offering scientists clues to why the bioluminescent insects may have glowed way back during the Cretaceous period, about 145 to 66 million years ago. 

In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists reveal that a Cretophengodes beetle found "preserved with life-like fidelity in amber" has a direct connection to its firefly cousins. 

It's been a bit of a mystery to scientists why ancient beetles could glow. But based on their distant relatives like fireflies, scientists believe the function could likely have been used as a defense against predators, as well as a way to attract mates -- much like the modern-day beetle larvae in the same family have used light.

"The discovery of a new extinct Elateroid beetle family is significant," study co-author Erik Tihelka from the School of Earth Sciences said in a statement, "because it helps shed light on the evolution of these fascinating beetles." 

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Here's an artistic reconstruction of a Cretophengodes azari male and female in the undergrowth of a Cretaceous rainforest.

Dinghua Yang

Because this particular beetle fossil was well-preserved in amber, scientists were able to see the light organ on the abdomen of the male beetle. That provides proof adult Cretophengodes were able to produce light, some 100 million years ago.

The majority of light-producing beetles belong to the Elateroidea family, which has over 24,000 known species. The discovery of this beetle provides the missing fossil link between living families, and in doing so helps scientists understand how these beetles evolved and how they should be classified.

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