Anti-war classical music


From the Stop the War Coalition site in Britain:

Anti-war Song of the Week

Elgar‘s Cello Concerto played by Jacqueline Du Pre

Composer Edward Elgar wrote this concerto as a reaction to the 1914-18 World War, in which close to a million British soldiers were killed. From his home in Sussex, Elgar could hear across the Channel the rumble of artillery firing. He was so depressed by the war that he composed very little during those years, until this concerto in 1919.

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New Vietnamese gecko species discovered


This video is called Newly identified self cloning lizard found in Vietnam.

From Viet Nam Net:

New gecko discovered in nature reserve

16:55′ 04/02/2010 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Researchers have found out a new species of gecko in the Ta Cu Nature Reserve in Binh Thuan province.

The new endemic gecko is named Gekko takouensis sp. nov. Ngo & Gamble since it was discovered by Ngo Van Tri, an expert from the HCM City Institute of Tropical Biology and Dr. Tony Gamble from the Minnesota University, USA.

This is the second endemic gecko species found on Ta Cu mountain. The other is bent-toe gecko named Cyrtodactylus takouensis Ngo & Bauer.

Recently, many rare species of animals have been discovered in the Ta Cu Nature Reserve, including francolin, mountain hawk, Truong Son silver douc and black-legged monkey (Pygathrix nigripes).

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Ta Cu Nature Reserve has 751 floral species and at least 15 species are very rare. It is also the home to around 178 species of terrestrial spinal [vertebrate] animals.

Dr. Vu Ngoc Long, Director of the HCM City Institute of Tropical Biology‘s Bio-diversity and Development Centre, there are at least 25 species of endangered animals at the Ta Cu Nature Reserve.

To protect the important nature reserve, a project has been launched to improve management capacity of local authorities and raise people’s awareness of protecting environment.

Can the Saint Croix Ground Lizard be saved?

Panamanian sloth killed by owl


This video says about itself:

A Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth walking on the ground with her baby on her back. Taken in an animal sanctuary near Iquitos, Peru, in the Amazon rainforest.

This video is about a three toed sloth baby in Panama.

Another baby sloth video is here.

From the BBC:

Wild sloth killed by small spectacled owl in Panama

By Jody Bourton
Earth News reporter

Researchers in Panama have found the first evidence of a sloth that has been killed by an owl.

They found the body of a radio-collared three-toed sloth with lethal wounds that suggest it was hunted by a spectacled owl, which ate its organs.

Three-toed sloths are much larger than spectacled owls, a bird of prey standing around 45cm tall.

That adds to the impression that sloths are helpless on the ground, and camouflage is their main defence.

Details of the extraordinary kill are published in the journal Edentata.

A team of researchers from the US and Germany study sloths that live on Barro Colorado Island in Panama, investigating aspects of sloth behaviour including how they sleep in the wild.

Part of this process involves capturing sloths and radio-tracking their movements, including how sloths move up and down trees.

During this research one of their radio-tracked brown throated three-toed sloths climbed down a trunk, then suddenly stopped moving.

When the researchers investigated, they discovered the remains of their study subject at the foot of the tree.

An analysis of the sloth’s corpse in the laboratory revealed a series of puncture wounds that correspond to the talon markings of the spectacled owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata).

The sloth’s internal organs were also missing, as if pecked out by a bird of prey. Other predators such as ocelots usually take their prey and hide it, say the scientists.

Spectacled owls are much smaller and lighter than sloths, standing 45cm tall and weighing up to 1.25kg, compared to a sloth which has a body length twice as long and may weigh four times as much.

The identity of the sloth hunter surprised the scientists who discovered it.

“These animals are relatively large, so one would expect their predators to be limited to harpy eagles and ocelots,” says Mr Bryson Voirin of the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, Radolfzell, Germany, who undertook the study.

They are also surprisingly adapted to life in the canopy.

But this slow motion helps it avoid detection by predators.

Sloths also have fur that has green algae growing amongst it, providing camouflage against the canopy.

But “the problem with sloths is that when they do move, and are detected, they are an easy kill,” Mr Voirin explains.

Sloths are particularly vulnerable as every eight days or so, they make a perilous journey to the foot of the tree in which they reside.

They venture there to go to toilet, though no one knows why.

But out of the branches, they are much more exposed, and their slow movements become a liability.

The scientists believe that it was during one of the trips that the sloth was killed.

“In this case, the prey was a defenceless three-toed sloth, an animal that has evolved this strange slow behaviour so they can remain undetected in the canopy,” says Mr Voirin.

Why sloths behave this way remains a mystery.

But their lifestyle appears even more risky than previously thought.

“We think the evolutionary strategy of this cryptic lifestyle has opened them up to a wider range of predators.”

Brown throated three-toed sloths (Bradypus variegatus) are among the world’s slowest mammals, occurring in many forested habitats in Central and South America.

Brown-throated sloths are the most common of the three-toed sloths.

The sloth’s lazy image is an exaggeration, as they actually sleep for fewer than 10 hours a day.

Arboreal animals are those that are particularly well adapted to spending most or all of their time in trees.

Scansorial describes animals that spend much of their life climbing such as squirrels and sloths.

Why some owls, toads and other animals find that it makes sense to make peace with their natural enemies: here.

Forgotten species: the marooned pygmy three-toed sloth: here.

Baby orphaned sloths are rescued at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica (VIDEO): here.

Sloths are slow by nature, taking a month to digest their food. They spend a lot of time hanging around. And, it seems, they can be slow to mate, too. Prince, a two-toed sloth, has yet to mate with blonde bombshell Marilyn even though the two have been zoomates since Easter, ZSL London Zoo officials said Thursday: here.

The Pygmy Three-toed Sloth: here.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has an exceptionally sleepy and exceptionally adorable new addition – a 6-week-old baby Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth: here.

WWF in the Mesoamerican Reef from Lilian Marquez on Vimeo.

Mammals have seven neck vertebrae – even giraffes, who you would think could do with a couple more. The pattern seems to have been set in stone early in the evolution of mammals. An exception is the brown-throated sloth, which has eight or even nine vertebrae in its neck (see a CT scan here). Found in the jungles of Central and South America, this beast is odd even by Zoologger standards: here.

Cassini’s Saturn research continues


This video from the USA says about itself:

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco shows images from the Cassini voyage to Saturn, focusing on its largest moon, Titan, and on frozen Enceladus, which seems to shoot jets of ice.

From New Scientist today:

The Cassini probe will become the first spacecraft to get a detailed look at summer in Saturn‘s northern hemisphere, now that NASA has extended its mission until 2017.

Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004, shortly after the height of winter in the northern hemisphere. But since the Ringed Planet‘s year lasts 29 Earth years, it has never been able to witness the hemisphere’s more temperate months.

Now its current mission, which was set to end in September 2010, will be extended for a further seven years, taking it a few months past the northern summer solstice. The announcement comes after the White House revealed its proposed 2011 budget for the agency, which provides $60 million per year for Cassini’s extended mission.

Cassini spacecraft peers beneath Titan’s seas: here.

Cassini fits four Saturnian satellites in one frame: here.

Cassini detection adds to Enceladus liquid water story: here.

Evidence Mounts for Liquid Water on Enceladus: here.

Saturn moon Enceladus is snowy, forms perfect skiing powder, scientists report: here.

See photos from the Cassini probe’s summer trip: here.

400 years of Saturn’s rings: here.

Saturn moon loses its ring, gains a mystery: here.

Saturn’s rings may owe their existence to the chaotic death of an ancient moon: here.

Saturn’s been diagnosed with an irregular auroral heartbeat: here.

Glowing auroras ring Saturn: New movie documents lights over nearly two days on the planet: here.

Plumes from Saturn’s Enceladus may be carbonated: here.

Saturn’s Largest Moon Has Ingredients for Life? Here.

Titan’s Atmosphere Spawned by Impacts? Here.

Pictures: New Views of Saturn’s “Sponge” Moon Hyperion: here.

Saturn’s rings may be pulverized moon pieces: here.

A humbling view of the inner solar system from Saturn via Cassini: here.

Saturn’s rings explained: A shattered moon could have sprayed ice particles around the planet: here.

Water from a Saturnian Moon Rains Down on the Ringed Planet: here.