Elephant ancestors Moeritherium and Barytherium


This video says about itself:

Finding A Fossil Gompotherium [sic; Gomphotherium] Elephant Tooth Scuba Diving

Here I find a small gompotherium tooth. It was an ancient elephant from the early Miocene.

From Discovery News:

Ancient Mammals Fill Elephant Family Tree

Jennifer Viegas

April 15, 2008 — Fossils of two ancient, extinct mammals are helping piece together the elephant family tree.

Modern elephants and their relatives, which fall into the order Proboscidea, form a diverse clan that includes hyraxes, manatees and dugongs. That group can now be linked to two extinct beasts, known as Barytherium and Moeritherium, which emerged around 50 million years ago.

Surprisingly, they didn’t look much like elephants or their living relatives either.

According to Alexander Liu, lead researcher on a new study of the fossils, Moeritherium was much smaller than today’s elephants and was instead “similar in size and stature to a modern tapir, having a prehensile upper lip rather than a trunk and weighing roughly 250 to 300 kg (551 to 661 pounds).”

Modern elephants, by contrast, can weigh up to 24,000 pounds.

Barytherium, on the other hand, was a little more elephant-like, given its trunk, but was still much smaller than today’s elephants, Liu told Discovery News.

Liu, a researcher in the University of Oxford’s Department of Earth Sciences, along with colleagues Erik Seiffert and Elwyn Simons, reconstructed the habitats and behaviors of the two extinct animals just by analyzing 11 of the beasts’ teeth.

Their findings are published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Their detective work involved studying carbon and oxygen isotopes found in the teeth, which date to 37 million years ago and were excavated at the Birket Qarun Formation in northern Egypt. …

Despite these reservations, Sanders believes the new research “sets a good framework” for additional studies on the elephant family tree. He hopes Liu and his team will study remains from other elephant relatives, such as Phosphatherium and Numidotherium, in the future.

See also here.

New Proboscideans (Mammalia) from the middle Miocene of Thailand: here.

Miocene Mammals of Oregon: here.

Scientists have found evidence that cavemen near the U.S.-Mexico border were butchering gomphotheres, elephant-like beasts from the Ice Age, that were believed to be nearly extinct in North America by the time humans appeared there: here.

Scientists at the University of Leicester are using an unusual resource to investigate ancient climates – prehistoric animal urine. The animal in question is the rock hyrax, a common species in countries such as Namibia and Botswana. They look like large guinea pigs but are actually related to the elephant. Hyraxes use specific locations as communal toilets, some of which have been used by generations of animals for thousands of years. The urine crystallises and builds up in stratified accumulations known as ‘middens,’ providing a previously untapped resource for studying long-term climate change: here.

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New snout beetle species discovered in Thailand


This video is called Butterfly garden & Insect World Phuket Thailand.

From the Bangkok Post in Thailand:

New species of snout beetle discovered

APINYA WIPATAYOTIN

A team of Thai entomologists has discovered the world’s three newest species of snout beetle in the eastern forest complex, which is indicative of the region’s plentiful biodiversity.

The newly found species were named Articerodes thailandicus, Articerodes omomoi and Articerodes jariyae. They belong to the Pselaphinae subfamily which groups more than 10,000 species of beetle widely found in many parts of the world.

Watana Sukchoowong, an entomologist at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said that before the discovery of the three new species Thailand recorded only 40 species of snout beetle in the Pselaphinae subfamily.

Specimens of the three new species were found at Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary in Chachoengsao province, Khao Soi Dao wildlife sanctuary and Khao Khitchakut national park in Chanthaburi province, the entomologist said.

A century of conservation in the Netherlands


This is a video about Dutch national park Dwingelderveld.

According to the Dutch conservation organization Natuurmonumenten, it recently increased the land surface which it owns to over 100,000 hectare.

It reached this milestone by acquiring land for the Grensmaas nature reserve in the southern Netherlands, along the Meuse river.

In 1906, Natuurmonumenten acquired its first property: the Naardermeer.

Protecting birds in Bermuda


Phaethon lepturus, White-tailed tropicbird, nesting

From BirdLife:

Bermuda’s new National Park extends IBA protection

15-04-2008

The largest island in Bermuda’s Castle Harbour, part of Bermuda’s only Important Bird Area (IBA), is to become the Cooper’s Island National Nature Reserve, classed as a National Park.

The entire world population of Endangered Bermuda Petrel or Cahow Pterodroma cahow nests within 1 km of Cooper’s Island, and the southern promontory of the island is the only area from which the Cahow can be easily observed from land. Cooper’s Island is close to the Nonsuch Island Nature Reserve, site of a five-year translocation project to re-establish a breeding population of Cahows beyond the reach of hurricane damage.

The 77 acre (32.2 hectare) Cooper’s Island is also home to a large number of nesting White-tailed Tropicbirds Phaethon lepturus, and with the other Castle Harbour islands plays host to the largest colonies of this species on Bermuda, at over 600 nesting pairs.

“Almost all of the area designated as an IBA is now protected to some extent,” said Jeremy Madeiros of Bermuda’s Department of Conservation Services.

Parts of the island are still used for purposes not strictly compatible with a Nature Reserve, including a radar tower, marine communications antenna and police firing range, but the Department of Conservation is talking to all parties to minimise light levels, guy wires and similar threats to Cahows and other night-flying birds. …

Cooper’s Island is one of the most important sites on Bermuda for neotropical migrants, both passage migrants and overwintering birds. “It is especially important for shorebirds, including the listed Piping Plover Charadrius melodus, Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola and Killdeer Charadrius vociferus, which use the large beach areas, and raptors, especially Osprey Pandion haliaetus and Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus,” said Madeiros. …

The Critically Endangered Bermuda Skink Eumeces longirostris, a ground lizard which lives in Cahow nest burrows, eating insects and parasites and helping to keep the burrows clean, will be re-introduced to Cooper’s Island.

From Wikipedia:

The [Cooper's] island has been used by many United States Government agencies, having been the property of the US Army, US Air Force and US Navy (which relinquished the island in 1995), as well as previously being occupied by a NASA space tracking station.

Neotropical migratory bird grants link sites and people along the Americas flyway: here.