Rare Natterer’s bat in the Netherlands


This is a video of Natterer’s bats leaving the tree where they had been sleeping.

Recently, in the Rapenhaupt area of the Dutch city of Groningen, two wintering specimens of the rare Natterer’s bat were discovered. This is only the second time that this species has been observed in Groningen province, the Dutch Mammal Society says.

Other bat species in this area include long-eared bat, common noctule bat, and whiskered bat. Total: nine bat species, which is a lot for a city environment.

A Brown University-led team strapped microphones onto heads of big brown bats and recorded the sounds they emitted and the echoes that returned to learn how bats detect objects in space and successfully maneuver around them: here.

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Shell-eating shark from the dinosaur age


Ptychodus mortoni fossils

By Jennifer Viegas:

‘Shell Crusher’ Shark Swam Cretaceous Kansas

With 1,000 teeth in its jaw, the 88.7 million-year-old shark could pulverize its prey

THE GIST:

* Paleontologists have found the remains of a 33-foot-long shark from the Cretaceous.
* The shark, nicknamed the “shell crusher,” had 1,000 “pavement-like” teeth built for pulverizing the shells of marine animals.
* This animal lived at a time when many other species — reptiles, fish and others — grew to very large sizes.

Paleontologists have just identified the remains of a gigantic, 88.7-million-year-old shark nicknamed the “shell crusher.” The Cretaceous species could pulverize large, shelled animals with its 1,000 teeth, suggests a new study.

A handful of other fossils for the shark, Ptychodus mortoni, had been previously found and hinted that the species was extremely big. The new discoveries support that contention and reveal the shark likely grew to at least 33 feet in length and chomped on its prey with its 3-foot-long jaw.

Its specialized teeth were just as impressive as its body size.

“Unlike ‘conventional sharks,’ Ptychodus mortoni possessed pavement-like upper and lower dental plates consisting of juxtaposed rows of massive teeth suited for crushing,” lead author Kenshu Shimada, a research associate in paleontology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, told Discovery News.

“The shark could have practiced suction feeding, but larger prey, such as giant clams, would have required the shark to pick them up directly with its mouth from the bottom of the ocean floor,” added Shimada, who is also an associate professor in the Environmental Science Program and Department of Biological Sciences at DePaul University.

His team identified a portion of a right upper jaw, 19 teeth and multiple oral and dermal scales for the shark, now housed at the Sternberg Museum. The scientists originally found the remains embedded in a vertical rock cliff in Kansas called the Fort Hays Limestone. …

The known remains, described in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Cretaceous Research, along with prior finds suggest “Ptychodus possibly resembled the modern nurse shark, which has a broad, rounded head with a stout body.”

The two sharks, however, were not closely related to each other.

During the Late Cretaceous, this shark was probably a “sluggish bottom dweller” in a seaway covering today’s Kansas and other parts of North America. Based on additional remains excavated before at the site, the shark shared its marine habitat with carnivorous reptiles, such as mosasaurs and plesiosaurs, as well as fish and other sharks. At least one shark, Squalicorax, probably fed on Ptychodus.

Most of these animals had one thing in common: They were big.

Whale shark butchered for its fins in the Philippines: here.

A pampering session at the beauty salon always works wonders for morale – not just for humans, but also for sharks and manta ray fish. Australian scientists have discovered that these large marine creatures regularly congregate at certain spots on the Great Barrier Reef to be groomed by smaller fish: here.

It might sound like a mashup of monster movies, but palaeontologists have discovered evidence of how an extinct shark attacked its prey, reconstructing a killing that took place 4 million years ago: here.

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Saving New Zealand’s rare takahe


This video from New Zealand is called Takahe at TiriTiri Matangi. One of the world’s rarest birds.

From Wildlife Extra:

Record number of critically endangered Takahe chicks born

22/02/2010 22:16:55

Burwood takahe breeding facility bursting at the seams

February 2010. The road to recovery for the critically endangered takahe just got a little easier with a record number of chicks born on the islands this summer. At least 21 chicks hatched on predator free island sanctuaries and, for the first time, the small mainland population on Maungatautari Ecological Island, Waikato, produced a chick.

Burwood Bush Takahe Rearing Unit

To prevent over crowding on the islands, eight chicks will soon be winging their way to the Department of Conservation’s Burwood Bush Takahe Rearing Unit, near Te Anau, Southland, to be matched with the unit’s breeding pairs. Their March arrival, combined with the 12 chicks already at Burwood, will be the largest number of young takahe the unit has cared for during a breeding season.

Mr Tisch says the transfer of the chicks from the islands to the rearing unit is an important step towards releasing them into wild. He added that the islands’ breeding pairs are a vital part of the recovery programme as they act as insurance populations in case something goes wrong in the wild.

“Their time here allows them to be trained by the other birds to feed from tussock and get used to the colder temperatures down here.”

Once the chicks are nearly a year-old they will be released into an extensively trapped area in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland National Park. It’s estimated that there are about 100 birds in the Murchison Mountains with the remainder on Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds, Mana and Kapiti Island Nature Reserve north of Wellington off the Wairarapa Coast, Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf northeast of Auckland, and on Maungatautari Ecological Island, Waikato.

Takahe facts

* Takahe transfers are used to manage to the genetics on the islands and try and prevent in-breeding and over-crowding.
* Keeping numbers at the optimal level on the islands helps breeding. If a bird can’t get a territory, it can’t breed, and it will fight for a territory.

May 2010: Rare and endangered birds are returning to the islands of Ipipiri, or Eastern Bay of Islands, in New Zealand, after a project to clear them of pests: here.

January 2011. Two rare takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) have been reintroduced into Wellington’s world-first wildlife sanctuary, ZEALANDIA. This is only the second such translocation of this species into the wild on the North Island. The flightless takahē are a real New Zealand oddity; once thought to be extinct, takahē were rediscovered in 1948 in a remote Fiordland valley. Thanks to an intensive programme of captive breeding, translocations, stoat control and deer culling spearheaded by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), the takahē population has seen a gradual increase from a low of 112 birds in 1981 to the current population of 225 birds: here.

The tiny island of Kapiti, located five miles off the coast of Wellington, New Zealand, is one of the last refuges for a menagerie of wildlife driven to near-extinction elsewhere by invasive species. Since the late 1980s, when all non-native animals were meticulously cleared from the island, it has been designated as a sanctuary, an important safe-haven for a host of birds species unaccustomed to predatory mammals. Late last year, however, a single stoat was spotted on the pristine island — prompting an intensive, three month long search for the rogue “killing machine”: here.

Pukeko: here. And here.

Ground parrot discovery in Australia


Ground parrot

From Wildlife Extra:

Ground parrots spotted in New South Wales park for first time in 20 years

23/02/2010 11:09:51

Eastern ground parrots found in Limeburners Creek

February 2010. While the exact location remains secret, there has been some excitement after the announcement of the first solid evidence of Ground parrots in more than two decades in Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve, north of Port Macquarie, New South Wales.

Local wildlife consultant Bernard Whitehead and National Park Ranger James Baldwin sighted two of the normally elusive birds during a visit to Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve.

“We were even able to photograph one the birds before it disappeared into the heath,” Ranger Baldwin said.

“This is exciting news as it fills a major gap in the species’ distribution in NSW,” said James.

“Previously known populations were clustered between Evans Head and Corindi in Broadwater, Bundjalung and Yuraygir national parks,” he said. “Then there was a huge gap south to the next known populations in Barren Grounds and Budderoo National Park, near Wollongong, and other populations even further south around Jervis Bay. Although there was suitable habitat in this gap and strong indications that the birds were found in Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve, there was dated and limited evidence before now.”

One of just 3-4 ground parrots in the world

James added “The Ground parrot, one of only three ground-dwelling parrots in the world, rarely flies and mostly calls before sunrise and after sunset. As it is very unusual to see one we were both very excited to see two birds within a space of couple of kilometres.”

Vulnerable species

The Ground parrot is listed as a Vulnerable species under the Threatened Species Conservation Act in NSW, and has declined in abundance and extent throughout its range.

It is now restricted to isolated populations in coastal and near-coastal heathland and swamps and there is still only patchy knowledge of its current distribution and numbers.

Cat baits are being trialled in the latest bid to save Australia’s critically endangered Western ground parrot. Cats are thought to be the major factor in the parrot’s dramatic decline in numbers. The Western ground parrot is now only found in populations in the Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) and Cape Arid National Park on the south coast, with less than 140 of the parrots known to be alive, making it one of Australia’s most critically endangered species: here.

Highly endangered Western ground parrot to benefit from removal of feral cats: here.

American Bird Conservancy’s Mexican partner Pronatura Noreste is reporting another successful year for the Thick-billed Parrot nest box program: here.

Kaka: here. And here.