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.