Winter hunting ban in the Netherlands


This is a Dutch video about pheasants.

From Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands:

January 11, 2010 16:06

Hunting was temporarily banned because of the continuing cold in the province of Utrecht. The ban starts this Monday, the province said.

Until the end of the month pheasants, wood pigeons, mallards and rabbits cannot be hunted, because the animals are particularly vulnerable to cold. The killing of animals which cause damage to agricultural land, such as the Egyptian goose, is temporarily not allowed as well. The killing of foxes and roe deer is not prohibited.

Ponds, rivers and even commercial fishery operations in Florida are full of dead or dying fish, victims of this month’s unusually long cold spell, according to MSNBC, The New York Times, and many other media reports coming out of the “sunshine state.” While no species is completely immune to the cold, tropical fish populations appear to be suffering the most: here.

10 Extraordinary Animal Tactics for Surviving the Cold: here.

Fox hunting in England: here.

‘Iraqi woman tortured to death by British troops’


This video is called Why was this Iraqi woman raped more than 17 times a day?

From British daily The Morning Star:

Investigation call over death of Iraqi woman

Monday 11 January 2010

by Paddy McGuffin

Lawyers representing the family of Sabiha Khudur Talib, the 62-year-old Basra woman allegedly tortured and executed by British forces in 2006, have called for a full independent investigation.

She was killed during a house raid in Basra in November 2006 by British troops, but the MoD claims that Ms Talib was killed “in crossfire” and later died at a military hospital.

But her son Raad Gatii Karim said that his mother was uninjured as she was led outside by troops.

“I then saw a soldier hit her on her back with the butt of a rifle. The soldiers pulled the blanket off her legs, wrapped this around her and shoved her into the APC (armoured personnel carrier),” he said.

Later that day, the Iraqi police said, they received a telephone call from British forces informing them that the body of a woman had been found “dumped” on Basra’s al-Zubayr highway.

The body, contained in a British body bag, was that of Ms Talib.

The police reports document “traces of torture” and a bullet entry wound to her abdomen.

Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers said: “Our clients and the Iraqi police are absolutely clear that Sabiha was taken away alive and later found dead, having been tortured and dumped in a British body bag on the al-Zubayr highway.

“The MoD cannot dismiss these allegations with the claim, unsubstantiated by any investigation, that she was injured in crossfire and later died in a military hospital.

“The evidence points to a brutal murder and not to a tragic accident.”

Britain: Secret Army squad ‘abused Iraqis': here.

World’s oldest amphibian discovered in Poland?


This video is about the Zachelmie tracks and Tiktaalik.

From Science Centric:

Fossil footprints give land vertebrates a much longer history

11 January 2010

The discovery of fossil footprints from early backboned land animals in Poland leads to the sensational conclusion that our ancestors left the water at least 18 million years earlier than previously thought. The results of the Polish-Swedish collaboration are published online this week in Nature.

- These results force us to reconsider our whole picture of the transition from fish to land animals, says Per Ahlberg of Uppsala University, one of the two leaders of the study.

For nearly eighty years, palaeontologists have been scouring the planet for fossil bones and skeletons of the earliest land vertebrates or ‘tetrapods‘ – the ultimate progenitors of all later amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals including ourselves. Their discoveries have suggested that the first tetrapods evolved relatively rapidly from lobe-finned fishes, through a short-lived intermediate stage represented by ‘elpistostegids‘ such as Tiktaalik, about 380 million years ago. But there is another potential source of information about the earliest tetrapods: the fossilised footprints they left behind. In the new study a Polish-Swedish team describe a rich and securely dated footprint locality from Zachelmie Quarry in Poland that pushes back the origin of tetrapods a full 18 million years beyond the earliest skeletal evidence and forces a dramatic reassessment of the transition from water to land.

The trackways show that large tetrapods, up to three metres in length, inhabited the marine intertidal zone during the early Middle Devonian some 395 million years ago.

- This means not that not only tetrapods but also elpistostegids originated much earlier than we thought, because the position of elpistostegids as evolutionary precursors of tetrapods is not in doubt, and so they must have existed at least as long, says Per Ahlberg.

The elpistostegids, it seems, were not at all a short-lived transitional stage but must have existed alongside their descendants the tetrapods for at least 10 million years. The environment is also a major surprise: almost all previous scenarios for the origin of tetrapods have placed this event in a freshwater setting and have associated it with the development of land vegetation and a terrestrial ecosystem.

- Instead, our distant ancestors may first have left the water in order to feed on stranded marine life left behind by the receding tide, says Per Ahlberg.

See also here.

Devonian-Carboniferous mass extinction: here.