328 hoverfly species in the Netherlands


This is a video about hoverflies.

From Natuurmonumenten in the Netherlands:

Natuurmonumenten works for hoverflies, a group of insects with 328 species in the Netherlands. In the Nieuwkoopse Plassen (Zuid-Holland province), for example. …

Recently, species #328 was discovered, the “verborgen sapzwever”. The book ‘De Nederlandse zweefvliegen’ [The Dutch hoverflies] will be published in the summer of 2008 by Naturalis and Stichting EIS-Nederland.

Chile, Argentina, to protect ruddy-headed geese


Ruddy-headed goose

From BirdLife:

Ruddy-headed Goose: less than 1,000 remain in mainland South America

31-08-2007

The first ever Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) agreement for an American migratory bird species has been announced. The new agreement calls for both Argentina and Chile to coordinate conservation measures that will halt recent declines in the mainland South American population of Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps.

Indians of Argentina: here.

Seven new butterfly species in English nature reserve


This video was filmed at the butterfly garden in Waalre, the Netherlands: the Comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album).

From Wildlife Extra:

Seven new butterflies recorded at National Trust site in ten years

August 2007. The limestone hills around the National Trust’s Arnside Knott and Silverdale properties on the Lancashire/Cumbria border have been witnessing a remarkable butterfly ‘invasion’.

In less than a decade, no less than seven species of butterfly new to the area have begun colonising the sites, as climate change and changing habitat affect their traditional distribution.

One of the best known areas for butterflies in the country, more than half of all the species of butterfly in the UK can now be found in this area. There are now 34 species of butterfly found at Arnside Knott and Silverdale.

The seven butterflies that have arrived in Arnside and Silverdale in the last decade include:

* The Speckled Wood, which is now widespread and locally common throughout, both sides of the estuary;
* The Gatekeeper, has just arrived and present in small colonies all over Arnside Knott and Silverdale;
* The Ringlet arrived at Gait Barrows and other places around Silverdale this summer in numbers;
* The Comma is now diffuse throughout the region.
* The Silver-washed Fritillary exploded in the Witherslack woods, north of the estuary, in the early 1990s and is now appearing south of the river;
* The White-letter Hairstreak was first seen at Silverdale in 1983, then vanished, and is now back again properly at a number of sites;
* The Small Skipper is colonising lots of grassy places around Arnside Knott and Silverdale.

Management of calcareous grasslands for Nickerl’s fritillary (Melitaea aurelia) in Germany: here.

August 2011. A survey of ash trees in east Worcestershire organised by West Midlands Butterfly Conservation has so far confirmed four new trees used by the nationally rare brown hairstreak butterfly: here.

Brown hairstreak butterflies found on 6 Worcestershire reserves: here.

Huge increase in butterfly numbers on Worcestershire reserve: here.

New frog and crab species discovered in Madagascar


This video is called Conservation in Madagascar.

From Wildlife Extra:

Frogs in the Masoala’s wet forests [in Madagascar] exploit a variety of microhabitats ranging from the ground to the upper canopy. These microhabitats also include plant-held waters, referred to collectively as phytotelmata. While surveying the herpetofauna at various canopy levels and studying phytotelm community structure, we found a species of frog that could not be classified as a currently recognized species.

The new species, Anodonthyla hutchisoni, is named in honour of a lifetime of dedication to excellence in herpetology by V. H. Hutchison.

Two more frogs

The team also discovered two new, very small, frogs, Platypelis tetra which measures just 20mm) and the much larger (30 mm) Platypelis mavomavo. Both these frogs were collected within a day of each other on another expedition in 2002 by Dr. F. Andreone.

Crabs

The team also made an interesting discovery of two species of tree-climbing crabs belonging to two families (Potamonautidae and Sesarmidae) that were collected from container microhabitats (phytotelmata) in rainforest in the Masoala Peninsula. This isolated peninsula supports one of the last undisturbed intact primary humid tropical forests in Madagascar, and is free from much of the human encroachment that has caused the environmental problems seen elsewhere on that island.

Molecular systematics of mantelline frogs from Madagascar and the evolution of their femoral glands: here.

Amphibians in decline: here.

Japanese brown frogs and labs: here.

Rare Chinese mountain cat photographed for the first time


Chinese mountain cat, Felis bietiFrom National Geographic:

August 30, 2007—Triggered by body heat, a remote camera recently captured this image of the elusive Chinese mountain cat at about 12,300 feet (3,750 meters) on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in China’s Sichuan Province.

A total of eight images of the feline represent the first time the mountain cat has been photographed in the wild, said Jim Sanderson, a cat specialist with the Wildlife Conservation Network who led the team that snapped the rare shots. A paper about the cat will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Science.

Sanderson is hoping that the new images will reveal some of the secretive habits that have kept the creature a mystery to scientists for nearly a century.

Pandas go for a million [U.S.] dollars a year to rent and are very well protected by Chinese law, but there is virtually no protection for this cat,” he told National Geographic News.

“There’s no interest in its conservation because it’s poorly known, but now perhaps this will change.”

The fossil crocodile Sarcosuchus


Sarcosuchus and Suchomimus, picture by Raul Martin

From The Independent in South Africa:

Ancient crocodile was longer than tourist bus

August 31 2007 at 02:17AM

Pierrelatte, France – As long as a tourist bus and with jaws big enough to pick up a cow, “Sarcosuchus imperator” lived 110 million years ago and was surely the biggest, meanest crocodile to ever roam the Earth.

This week its scales-and-blood likeness was unveiled by the man who first identified and named the amphibious predator based on fossil remains found in Niger more than 40 years ago.

“It is impressive to finally see this animal in the flesh – excuse me, I mean in resin,” said a smiling Philippe Taquet, a paleontologist at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.

Measuring 12m from snout to tail, and weighing in at 10 tons, Sarco – as the beast is known among dinosaur buffs – undoubtedly chomped on big fish and small dinosaurs, dragging them into the tropical rivers that once criss-crossed what is today the Sahara.

The reconstruction of the animal by the French company Ophys required 1 800 hours of work and 750kg of resin, and was undertaken under the watchful eye of paleontologist France de Lapparent de Broin, who co-authored with Taquet the first scientific article on Sarco in 1966.

Sarco’s new home will be the Crocodile Farm, an wildlife park with 400 of the pre-historic reptile’s modern cousins, along with an assortment of giant turtles. – Sapa-AFP

Nigersaurus taqueti, a contemporary of Sarcosuchus: here.

This video is called Giant [Saltwater] Crocodile Caught in Philippines.

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Norway won’t send soldiers to southern Afghanistan


This is a video of an anti Iraq war demonstration in Oslo in Norway, 18 march 2006.

From the Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant daily in the Netherlands:

Norwegians refuse to help the Dutch in Uruzgan

by our correspondent Windy Kester

OSLO – Norway refuses to help the Netherlands with its military mission in Afghanistan. Both countries talked about that at ministerial level, after a Dutch request.

The Norwegian secretary of Defence, Espen Barth Eide, has confirmed that the Netherlands has contacted Norway and other countries, wanting them to take over military tasks in the Afghan province of Uruzgan. …

Norway is in the north of Afghanistan. Six hundred Norwegian soldiers are in Mazar-a-Sharif city and at the airport of the capital Kabul.

The Norwegian coalition government are very divided about the mission.

The biggest party, the social democratic ‘Arbeiderpartiet’, has no objections against moving Norwegian troops to the dangerous south. Their Leftist coalition partner, SV [Socialist Left] is strongly against the war in the south and sees them as part of the [so called] US American war against international terrorism. The party also has internal divisions about Norwegian participation in the Isaf mission [in the north].

Dutch General Dick Berlijn: here.

Australian soldier dies in Afghanistan: here.

Remains of great auk found at English south coast


Great auks

From The Independent daily in Britain:

Remains of ‘first penguin’ unearthed on south coast

By Lesley Richardson

Published: 31 August 2007

Rare remains of an extinct flightless bird, once called the original penguin, have been unearthed at an archaeological dig on Britain’s south coast.

The great auk was killed for food and eggs and later for its feathers when they became fashion accessories. Large breeding colonies used to gather on rocky islands off eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Ireland and Great Britain until they were hunted to extinction.

The last known breeding pair of great auks was killed by hunters on Eldey island, off Iceland in 1844. It was the first bird to be given the name penguin, and when British sailors saw similar flightless birds in the Southern Oceans they called them by the same name.

Fragments of the 75cm-tall bird were uncovered during excavation of a Roman and medieval site in Portland, Dorset, between 2005 and 2006.

Dr Mark Maltby of Bournemouth University confirmed the rare find after analysing 13,600 bone fragments which were unearthed in the dig.

Susann Palmer, director of The Association for Portland Archaeology which supervised the dig, said: “It’s a wonderful discovery and Dr Maltby said it was of international importance because records of it in earlier periods are extremely rare.”

Remains have been discovered in other parts of the United Kingdom, including Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Isles of Scilly but Mrs Palmer added: “This is the first time it has been found on the south coast.”

The birds, which lived on a diet of fish, laid just one egg each year, which was incubated on land and hatched in June.

But while they were strong swimmers, their flightlessness, clumsiness on land and lack of innate fear of humans made them an easy target for hunters.

Fossils in Peru of giant penguins: here.

Past human exploitation of birds on the Isle of Man: here.

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Why Egyptians, not aliens, built the pyramids


This video is called Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: Great Pyramid of Giza.

From Egyptology News:

Margaret Maitland has updated her Egyptology blog with an argument in favour of pyramid construction theories that exclude the need for explanations that require alien intervention. It is an excellent summary, complete with diagrams and a short bibliography – and has attracted 17 comments so far. Here’s a short extract from her introduction to the post:

“Once I was actually asked in all seriousness for my professional opinion on whether alien[s] build the pyramids. The man said: ‘There’s so much discussion of the alien theory that there must be something to it, right?’. Well, my short answer would be, ‘No. There isn’t anything to it at all.’ My longer answer will follow, with a thorough dissection of the central arguments of the alien theory and why they are wrong. I think the main reason the theory is so popular is that people like to believe in things, things that are much bigger than themselves, whether it’s god or aliens. But often people also want proof and they seek to find it in the pyramids and other ancient monuments. It’s no wonder that the pyramids are incredible enough that they inspire people to believe the unbelievable. I myself don’t think there’s anything wrong with postulating that there might be other life out there in the universe, but I also don’t believe in robbing humanity of pride in its achievements.”

See this page for the complete post.

Fox News Reports that Aliens May Have Built the Pyramids of Egypt! Here.

Pyramid of Menkaure: here.

Napoleon’s Scientists and the Pyramids: here.

Egyptian influence in ancient Palestine: here.