Endangered and invasive animals and plants of Scotland


From The Scotsman:

Wildlife hangs by a whisker

JEREMY WATSON (jwatson@scotlandonsunday.com)

SOME are among Scotland’s rarest animals and plants, their existence at risk because of loss of habitat, human intervention and pollution. Others have not been seen for many years.

A third group are alien invaders posing a serious threat to the country’s native wildlife.

Scottish Natural Heritage is about to publish a £1m action plan aimed at conserving and re-introducing rare and extinct species, and controlling those that risk damaging the environment.

Among the species to be given special attention to prevent further decline are the black grouse, great crested newt, red squirrel, Scottish wildcat, freshwater pearl mussel, great yellow bumblebee, slender Scotch burnet moth and the hazel gloves fungus.

The hen harrier, a moorland bird of prey, is also singled out in what will be interpreted as a message to landowners that persecution, to allow red grouse to thrive, will not be tolerated.

The only fish on the list is the freshwater vendace, that lives in deep lochs, but the freshwater pearl mussel and the native oyster are also included because of the threat from illegal poaching.

The European beaver, extinct in Scotland for centuries, is highlighted even though the Scottish Executive rejected plans for its reintroduction from Norway less than two years ago.

Species that should be controlled include foreign invaders such as the American mink, North American signal crayfish [see also here] and the grey squirrel – but also native deer.

Despite increased culls in recent years, giant herds – red and roe – are continuing to cause environmental damage in some parts of the Highlands.

The action plan, entitled ‘Making A Difference For Scotland’s Species’ will be launched by ministers next week following a consultation exercise in which the number of species covered rose by eight to 31.

It says: “Scotland has some of the best wild areas and iconic species in the whole of Europe and we have a clear responsibility to look after them.” …

Among the alien species in need of control, the grey squirrel is the most controversial but SNH stresses that it will only be culled to preserve the native red.

But plants such as New Zealand pygmy weed, the Rhododendron Ponticum, introduced from China, and wireweed, a Pacific native that arrived aboard ships, are also on the hit list.

Pollution of lakes in Britain: here.

Stegosaurus discovered in Portugal


This video is called Stegosaurus Plate & T-Rex Jaw.

From The Independent in South Africa:

Stegosaurus fossil found in Portugal

January 11 2007

By Elizabeth Nash

Madrid – Scientists have found the fossilised remains of a 150 million-year-old stegosaurus in central Portugal.

The discovery of the prehistoric creature, which has gigantic armoured plates zigzagging down its back, is further evidence that Europe and America were once joined.

“Stegosaurus is a species typical of America, one of the iconic dinosaurs that appear in the movies, and this is the first time it’s been found in Europe,” said Fernando Escaso, from Madrid University, who led a team of Spanish and Portuguese scientists.

The specimen found at Casal Novo, near Batalha, north of Lisbon, in a region rich in dinosaur fossils, belong to the species Stegosaurus ungulatus, and “constitute the first incontrovertible evidence that a member of the genus stegosaurus lived outside North America,” Mr Escaso told Wednesday’s El Pais newspaper.

Writing in the online edition of the scientific journal Naturwissenschaften, geophysicists confirmed “a very high probability that an episodic corridor once existed between the Newfoundland and Iberian land masses.

“The discovery of the Portuguese stegosaurus, together with geotechtonic evidence, favour a scenario that includes contacts among fauna between the land masses of the north Atlantic,” they say.

Scientists have in the past found related – but never identical – species on both sides of the Atlantic.

The stegosaurus, a herbivore, roamed the earth between 148 million and 153 million years ago during the Upper Jurassic period.

The dinosaurs averaged nine metres long and four metres tall, but the fossilised partial skeleton recovered from Casal Novo, found during excavations to build a motorway, was just five metres long.

The remains, some of which have still to be excavated, include part of the spinal column, dorsal plates, bones, including the thigh bone, and a tooth.

Dr Escaso said: “We don’t have much to go on, but what we have is fundamental to identify the species.”