New bat species discovered in Madagascar


Myzopoda aurita

From LiveScience:

Newfound Bats are Real Suckers

By Sara Goudarzi

LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 05 January 2007

In the world of bats, there was only one known sucker-foot. Now there are two.

Scientists have discovered a second species of bat with adhesive organs, or suckers, attached to its thumbs and hind feet, allowing the creatures to climb and cling upright to smooth tree leaves.

The new species, Myzopoda schliemanni, discovered in the dry western forests of Madagascar, belongs to a family of bats, Myzopoda, found in Madagascar and nowhere else in the world.

Previously, scientists knew only of a sister species, Myzopoda aurita, which lives only in the humid eastern forests of Madagascar.

Both species are spotted where broad-leafed plants, especially the Travelers’ Palm, are plentiful. The bats often roost in the slick greens during the day.

Up to now, sucker-footed bats were considered endangered because there was only one known species in the family and because of their limited distribution worldwide.

But the finding of the second sucker-footed species means their range is broader than previously thought.

And given the discovery of the new bat in a dry forest, members of the sucker-footed bat family could survive even if tropical forests are lost to deforestation, a huge issue in Madagascar where less than 10 percent of the country’s original forest cover remains.

See also here.

And here.

‘Monastic’ bat mystifies experts – As yet no female sucker-footed bats of Madagascar have been discovered: here.

Fossa in Madagascar: here.

Teyler’s museum in Haarlem


From the Google cache.

Teyler’s museum in Haarlem

Date: 8/28/05 at 11:16PM

Mood: Looking Playing: I’m a little dinosaur, by Jonathan Richman

Teyler’s museum in Haarlem is the oldest museum in The Netherlands accessible to the public; and one of the oldest in the world.

For instance, the Louvre in Paris became a museum later, on 8 november 1793.

Though the Louvre building has an earlier history as a royal palace.

The first museum in China is from 1905.

The Peshawar museum in Pakistan is from 1906.

Many exhibits at Teyler’s museum are still as they were originally in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; so giving visitors an idea not just of fossils or ancient Dutch, Italian, etc. paintings; but of how in the history of museums these used to be exhibited as well.

It was founded in the eighteenth century by Pieter Teyler van der Hulst.

He was a rich textile merchant. Originally, his family name had been Taylor: he was of Scottish ancestry.

Teyler and people around him belonged to a minority Protestant church: the Doopsgezinden (Anabaptist, Mennonite, or Baptist); which meant they were excluded from political office.

They were part of the Dutch Enlightenment movement of the eighteenth century.

They thought religious truth should not be based on the authority of the pope of Rome; or of the synod of the Dutch Calvinist Reformed established church; but on research in science and artists’ work.

Today still, there are statues of figures representing both Science and Art on the museum’s roof; and both art and science are represented in its collections.

The museum was expanded in the nineteenth century by an Austrian classicist architect; so it looks somewhat like museums in Vienna.

Fossils and creationists

As one enters, the theme of the first halls is fossils.

They include plants; a plesiosaur; an ichthyosaur; a mesosaur; and a mammoth.

Andrias scheuchzeri, salamander fossil

Perhaps the most famous fossil of Teyler’s museum is Andrias scheuchzeri.

It was first described in the early eighteenth century by Swiss physician Johann Jacob Scheuchzer.

Scheuchzer believed in the literal truth of the Bible.

He presumed he had found the skeleton of a human, drowned by God for his sins in the Great Flood described in the Bible; thus disproving beginning skepticism on the historical truth of that Flood.

Scheuchzer’s supporters were called Diluvians.

The fossil inspired a poem, in a 1731 book by Scheuchzer:

Sad bony remains of an old sinner;
Melt rock, and hearts of the new children of evil!

However, the paradox of Scheuchzer and the Diluvians was that they ultimately inspired skepticism.

More and more people doubted whether the Andrias scheuchzeri fossil skeleton in Teyler’s museum was really human.

In 1811, the leading palaeontologist of that time, Georges Cuvier, dug deeper at Teyler’s exhibit, proving it was a salamander. Also about Cuvier: here.

A some millions year old giant salamander, related to present giant salamanders of East Asia, and more distantly, to the hellbender of North America.

Andrias scheuchzeri lived in Germany till about three million years ago.

This way, Cuvier dealt a death-blow to the Diluvians’ belief in the literal truth of the Bible (Cuvier, however, opposed pre Darwin evolution theories with a not very tenable “catastrophe theory”).

One may compare Scheuchzer’s Diluvians to the creationists of today.

However, eighteenth century Diluvians can at least be said to have stimulated the study of the then new subject of fossils; while today’s creationists are anti science.

More fossils

Among the fossil collection at Teyler’s is a copy of the infamous Piltdown man falsification.

It was made, and believed to be authentic, in an England jealous of Neanderthal and other fossil human finds of Germany and elsewhere, while not having found human fossils of its own.

Another fossil in Teyler’s is the earliest find of Archaeopteryx, world’s earliest fossil bird from the Jurassic.

Only in 1970 the museum found out that their exhibit, misidentified earlier as a flying reptile, was an Archaeopteryx; as its feathers were not imprinted clearly and somewhat difficult to see.

Crystals, volcanoes, and art

The museum also has the biggest antimonite crystal in the world: 72 cm high, originally from Japan.

Right now, there is an exhibition on volcanoes. In Teyler’s style, they have not only scientists on volcanoes. Also artists, like Japanese Hokusai’s works on Fuji-san volcano.

On 6 October, a new exhibition will start: drawings by Michelangelo.

The museum today also contributes to international conservation of old masters’ works.

Many old drawings, from the eighth to the twentieth century, were made with gaul nut ink, or iron-gallus ink.

These ultimately destroy paper and the drawings on it.

The museum is working at a method to fight this.

An eminent 18th century physician in Germany was embarrassed by colleagues who sought to discredit him through a hoax. Read more at Suite101: Professional Jealousy Leads to Fake Fossils: here.

Dinosaurs in the museum


Dinosaurs in the museum

Date: 4/9/05 at 12:32PM

Mood: Thinking Playing: I’m a little dinosaur, by Jonathan Richman

Edmontosaurus annectens

Today, a lecture about dinosaurs in the museum.

They have an Edmontosaurus annectens there. Almost all of its original skeleton.

This species, a hadrosaur or “duckbill dinosaur”, lived in what is now the USA and Canada, not very long before all dinosaurs became extinct.

Its size was about 13 m.

It is often referred to as the cow of the Cretaceous.

Some skulls measure nearly 2 feet long with almost 2000 teeth within the jaws.

Fossils, more common than for many other dinosaur species, were found in Alberta, Colorado, Montana, Saskatchewan, South Dakota, Wyoming.
Camarasaurus supremus
It is named after Edmonton city in Canada.

Also in this museum, also from the United States, also plant eating, but much bigger (in reality, not in this picture) and older: Camarasaurus supremus.

60% of the skeleton are original fossil bones; the rest is reconstruction.

New UK moth discovered at Wicken Fen


Emmelina argotelesFrom Wildlife Extra:

New UK moth record at Wicken Fen

December 2006. A moth has been found for the first time in the UK at the National Trust’s Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire.

Moth expert Jeff Higgott discovered the small plume moth, known as Emmelina argoteles, with its tiny 18mm wingspan in 2005 and proved it to be breeding on the nature reserve in 2006.

This newly discovered moth is a member of the ‘plume’ moth family and is usually found in mainland Europe.

Plume moths have wings consisting of five or more parts each and the moths put the parts over one another, so creating a very small wing.

Stuart Warrington, the National Trust’s Regional Nature Conservation Adviser for the East of England, says, ‘The circumstances of the moth’s presence at Wicken Fen remain unknown but it could have been blown across to Wicken Fen from mainland Europe, moved northwards because of climate change or it might even have been living at Wicken Fen for many years.’

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire is one of the most important nature reserves in Britain, as it is one of just four surviving fragments of the once extensive fenland that stretched from Cambridge to the Wash.

The National Trust has been looking after Wicken Fen since 1899, when it bought its first 2 acres. …

The reserve is known to support a staggering 7,000 species, which includes 1,800 flies and 1,400 beetles and 1,000 species of moths.

Wildlife in Wicken Fen photos: here.

Bamby broad in Suffolk: here.

Broadlands wildlife here.

Nunnery Lakes Nature Reserve: here.

Moth count in Britain: here.

Hawaii: Lead Paint Poisoning Thousands of Midway Albatrosses


This is a Laysan albatross video.

From Wildlife Extra:

LAYSAN ALBATROSSES BEING POISONNED BY LEAD PAINT

Lead Paint Poisoning Thousands of Albatrosses

Government Funds Not Available for Cleanup on Midway Atoll

December 2006. Lead poisoning is killing thousands of Laysan Albatrosses every year on Midway Atoll, part of the recently created North-western Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.

The Laysan albatross, thousands of which are now nesting on Midway, is globally listed as vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union.

‘Laysan chicks raised in nests close to buildings left behind by the Navy are ingesting lead-based paint chips.

This is causing very high lead concentrations in their blood, leading to severe neurological disorders, and eventual death,’ said George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

‘Federal funds are urgently needed to cleanup this toxic mess to protect the Laysan Albatross as well as future visitors to the new Marine National Monument.’

Scientific studies have shown that Laysan Albatross chicks are eating lead-based paint chips peeling off of 95 aging buildings on the island, and that as many as 10,000 chicks (5% of hatched chicks) may die from exposure to lead-based paint.

So, as bad as on Vieques island near Puerto Rico.

But … well, according to the Bush administration, lead is supposed to be not poisonous

And there is no climate change

And the Iraq war is a cakewalk

And pigs fly …

And Midway albatrosses do not fly …

Well, if Bush ‘stays the course‘ on them, they may soon stop flying.

2009 update: here.

Hawaii bird habitats threatened: here.

Pollution harms North Pacific albatrosses: here.

London: Bush cartoons exhibition


From the Google cache.

Cartoon by Steve Bell of Bush playing guitar during Katrina disaster

London: Bush cartoons exhibition

Date: 1/28/06 at 1:03AM

From Associated Press:

Cartoonists’ visions of Bush revealed

By Jill Lawless

LONDON: Pictures in a new exhibition depict US President George W. Bush as a crocodile, a spider and a dimwitted cowboy.

And those are the polite ones.

Misunderestimating the President Through Cartoons” looks back on the years since Bush’s 2000 election victory through political caricature — and highlights the gap between the relative restraint of US cartoonists and a far more savage British style.

The show, which opened on Thursday at London’s Political Cartoon Gallery, features artists from Europe and the United States, including Martyn Turner of the Irish Times and longtime Baltimore Sun cartoonist Kevin Kallaugher.

But most of the work comes from British cartoonists, who revel in the grotesque and in bawdy, toilet humour.

Steve Bell, the Guardian newspaper’s veteran cartoonist, said US colleagues “are not as visually visceral as we are.”

The trans-Atlantic contrast is striking.

Kallaugher shows Bush as a pusher plying Uncle Sam with cheap oil, or getting Willy Wonka to sugarcoat the Iraq war.

Bell, Britain’s highest-profile editorial cartoonist, usually depicts the president as a chimpanzee, with simian features and hairy limbs — often accompanied by lapdog Tony Blair.

“He has got chimp-like features,” said Bell. “There’s no getting away from it.”

Martin Rowson, who works for the Guardian and other publications, is equally grotesque. …

The exhibition also contains a veritable menagerie of animal images.

Bell pictures Bush as a crocodile in the toxic waters of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.

Another cartoon, entitled ‘Iraqnophobia’, depicts him as a spider. …

His satire is robustly nonpartisan.

Bell portrays Prime Minister Tony Blair – when not a lapdog or a turkey – as a crazed zealot with a mad, staring left eye.

He usually drew Conservative former Prime Minister John Major clad in giant underpants.

Editorial cartoonists face an uncertain future.

An increasing number of newspapers in the United States have decided to do without in-house cartoonists.

Kallaugher left the Baltimore Sun this month after 17 years.

The Los Angeles Times laid off Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ramirez late last year and said it would not replace him.

But Bell says political cartoonists fulfill as essential a role as reporters.

“We’re all in the truth game, I hope,” he said.

“Politics is so much about image.

Politicians like to control every aspect of their image.

What we do is get underneath the imagery.”

“Misunderestimating the President Through Cartoons” runs through March 18 at the Political Cartoon Gallery in London, its only stop.

Bush and De Tocqueville: here.