Sub-Antarctic wildlife of South Georgia


This is a video about South Georgia.

From Wildlife Extra:

Invasive species threatening wildlife of South Georgia

28/12/2008 23:17:59

Survey of invasive species of South Georgia

December 2008. A team of scientists are spending a no-frills Christmas and New Year aboard a small boat off the rocky coast of South Georgia in the Antarctic, one of the most remote and inhospitable of the UK’s Overseas Territories.

The six researchers from Buglife and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew will be braving some of the roughest seas in the South Atlantic to hunt for invasive invertebrates and plants on the island.

Mid summer -5oC

It is mid-summer on South Georgia yet temperatures can drop to -5oC with 100kph winds straight off the glaciers and snow falls regularly. The other wildlife of the island will add to the challenges of the six-week expedition. Fur seals are particularly aggressive as the bulls defend their breeding territories, while gulls and skuas have been known to try to steal scientific equipment. …

About the survey

The researchers will be conducting a survey of introduced plant and insect life on the island in order to better understand its effect on South Georgia’s native species, which include 25 plants and over 100 invertebrates. The team will be sampling sites around the island, recording and mapping the introduced species – including the dandelion species Taraxacum officinale and a predatory beetle – so that their populations can be monitored in the future. They are also aiming to collect seed from all 25 native plant species for banking and safe keeping in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.

Birds A Threat To Antarctic Airstrips: here.

Scientists solve enigma of Antarctic ‘cooling’: here.

Skeletal morphology and the phylogeny of skuas (Aves: Charadriiformes, Stercorariidae): here.

January 2011. Sue Edwards sent us the following via email: “Here are a couple of images I took of a ‘blond’ fur seal at Grytviken in South Georgia, with a ‘normal’ fur seal in the background. I am working down here in the South Georgia Museum for the Antarctic summer and we have been surrounded by fur seals, elephant seals and king penguins since I arrived in November 2010.”

Cheetah fossil discovered in China


This is a video about cheetahs and other African animals.

From British daily The Guardian:

Fossilised skull suggests cheetahs evolved in Asia not Americas

The most primitive cheetah ever found throws into doubt the theory that the fleet-footed feline shared a common ancestor with pumas

The fossilised skull of a big cat unearthed in north-west China has been identified as the most primitive cheetah ever found. The skull, which is between 2.16m and 2.55m years old, is superbly preserved and its location has cast doubt on ideas that cheetahs evolved in the Americas.

One theory is that modern cheetahs shared a common ancestor with pumas in the Americas, but the fossil record of the puma goes back only around 400,000 years in the US. Because the current find is so much older, it is strong evidence for an evolutionary origin for cheetahs in Asia.

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal, using short bursts of speed in excess of 70mph to capture prey. They are now found almost exclusively in Africa and are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species as vulnerable to extinction.

One sub-species called the Asiatic cheetah still exists in Iran. Numbering between 60 and 100 individuals and critically endangered, according to the Red List, it represents the remnants of a much larger population that was once widespread across Asia but was devastated by human-induced habitat destruction and hunting.

The new find, from the Linxia basin in China’s Gansu province, suggests that Asia was the evolutionary cradle for the fleet felines. The nearly complete skull is among the oldest cheetah fossils yet found. It is around the same age as a 2.5m year-old related species discovered in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1997.

But according to its discoverers, Dr Per Christiansen at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, and Dr Ji Mazák of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in China, the new find – dubbed Acinonyx Kurteni – has a unique set of characteristics. “We present a new discovery from the late Pliocene of China of a new species of primitive cheetah, whose skull shows a unique combination of primitive and derived characters,” they wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The big cat’s evolutionary history is poorly understood because few fossils have been found.

The skull is around the same size as living cheetahs, but it has a very wide braincase relative to the skull’s length. It also has enlarged frontal sinuses and its teeth are “surprisingly primitive”, according to the researchers.

They suggest that other cheetah specimens that are known only from fossilised teeth may have been misidentified by other scientists. “The dentition is far more primitive than in all other cheetah-like cats, raising doubts on the identification of isolated dental finds of large cats from the Pliocene-Pleistocene of Eurasia and Africa, which are often attributed to leopards,” they wrote.

See also here. And here.

First cheetah birth in Nairobi National Park for many years: here.