Tits and magpie


This video from England is called Great tit mother on feeder.

A few days ago, a bird feeder was fastened at the back balcony of the flat.

A combination of the feeder and balcony plants attracts great tits (and a blue tit? It was too fast to be sure).

On the other side, a magpie eating crumbs outside the window.

New insect species discovered on Easter Island


A new insect species was discovered in a cave on Easter Island. The bug is about 1 mm long, or smaller than a grain of rice. Credit: Jut Wynne, Northern Arizona University

From LiveScience:

New Species Discovered on Damaged Easter Island

By Clara Moskowitz, Senior Writer

posted: 14 October 2010 11:57 am ET

Scientists recently uncovered a new species of tiny insect in a cave on Easter Island. The find is exciting because most of the island’s native life has gone extinct, researchers said.

The still-unnamed insect was discovered in a cave within the Roiho lava flow in west-central Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui) in the South Pacific Ocean. The species – roughly the size of a grain of rice – is a type of book louse, in the order Psocoptera, the family Lepidopsocidae and the genus Cyptophania.

“This could be very important for piecing the natural history of the island together,” said research leader Jut Wynne, ecologist with the Colorado Plateau Research Station at Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. candidate in biology at Northern Arizona University.

The Polynesian island is famous for its hundreds of huge statues called moai, and for its tumultuous history.

In the 19th century, the slave trade and introduced European diseases decimated much of the indigenous human population.

The environment, too, has suffered from large-scale farming and the introduction of non-native species such as rats that flourished and devoured indigenous creatures. …

“This was once a tropical island with tropical vegetation,” Wynne told OurAmazingPlanet. “Now it basically looks like Scotland. We’re talking about an environment that has been completely transformed” from forest to grassland.

Where once tropical plants flourished, now the land is covered by grass and non-native forest. Today, livestock grazing, human tourism, climate change and the introduction of new non-native species threaten the indigenous ecosystem further.

Almost all of the organisms currently living on Easter Island are invasive species that have been introduced, Wynne said.

Hiding out in caves

But the scientists think some native creatures may have had better luck in the relatively protected environments of caves, which preserve some elements of the native ecosystem of the island.

The researchers embarked on a quest to search through these caves, “scrambling around on our hands and knees,” Wynne said. After a while he began to notice promising signs.

“Once you’re trained to look for these types of critters, they tend to jump out at you,” Wynne said.
The new book louse species was the first such example discovered, but the researchers think there’s a good chance their work will find more.

“That’s why this is really interesting from a scientific standpoint,” Wynne said. “Maybe we can find more organisms that are residual fauna that have been able to weather the environmental degradation on the island by retreating to caves.”

However, the scientists cannot yet be sure that the new species is actually native to Easter Island. It may also be an introduced species from somewhere else in Polynesia, perhaps, that has just not been catalogued elsewhere before.

Check out ten amazing extinct animals — ancient and more modern: here.

“Early Americans colonized Easter Island”: here.

Trouble in paradise for Chile’s Easter Island: here.

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New deepsea snailfish species discovered


The new snailfish speciesFrom the BBC:

Thursday, 14 October 2010 16:20 UK

Deep void yields new fish species

By Victoria Gill
Science and nature reporter, BBC News

Biologists have discovered a new species of fish in one of the world’s deepest ocean trenches, previously thought to be entirely devoid of fish.

They captured images of the creature, a type of snailfish, in the Peru-Chile trench in the south-east Pacific Ocean.

The trench is more than 8,000m deep; the fish were found at 7,000m.

This is the fifth deep trench the team has investigated and they found it to harbour the greatest diversity of species of any they have explored.

Dr Alan Jamieson, the University of Aberdeen marine biologist who led the study, said that he and his team also captured images of a group of cusk-eels in what he described as a “feeding frenzy”.

“The eels were at 6,000m and we’ve never seen anything at that particular depth before,” he told the BBC.

“I’d put money on [the cusk-eels] being a new species too, but that’s difficult to confirm from a few photographs. We really need to bring a specimen to the surface.”

During a three-week expedition, the team used a lander containing a deep-sea camera. This took 6,000 images inside the trench, between 4,500m and 8,000m (15,000 – 26,000 feet).

As well as the snailfish and cusk-eels, the team also captured images of several crustaceans – scavengers that feed on the remains of larger animals.

See also here.

See also here.

Researchers from The University of Western Australia undertaking deepwater ocean trawls of the Peru-Chile trench off South America are believed to have discovered three new fish species: here.

Why do fish gills only work in water? Here.

US American women’s history


WeNews Interviews People About Women’s History from Women's eNews on Vimeo.

From Women’s eNews in the USA, about New York City:

To get jazzed up for the launch of “Opening the Way,” our new women’s history walk of downtown Manhattan, we hit the streets to talk to some people about women’s history. How much did they know about Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Elizabeth Jennings, and others? And did they know that these pioneers for change worked right in downtown Manhattan?

Opening the Way launches on October 23rd. Learn more about the walk and get tickets here: womensenews.org/​openingtheway

UK coalition government abolishes women’s advisory body: here.

Cancer, a human-made disease


This video is called Medicine Through Time – Egypt.

From The University of Manchester in England:

Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made

14 Oct 2010

Cancer is a modern, man-made disease caused by environmental factors such as pollution and diet, a study by University of Manchester scientists has strongly suggested.

The study of remains and literature from ancient Egypt and Greece and earlier periods – carried out at Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology and published in Nature – includes the first histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy.

Finding only one case of the disease in the investigation of hundreds of Egyptian mummies, with few references to cancer in literary evidence, proves that cancer was extremely rare in antiquity. The disease rate has risen massively since the Industrial Revolution, in particular childhood cancer – proving that the rise is not simply due to people living longer.

Professor Rosalie David, at the Faculty of Life Sciences, said: “In industrialised societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.”

She added: “The important thing about our study is that it gives a historical perspective to this disease. We can make very clear statements on the cancer rates in societies because we have a full overview. We have looked at millennia, not one hundred years, and have masses of data.”

The data includes the first ever histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy by Professor Michael Zimmerman, a visiting Professor at the KNH Centre, who is based at the Villanova University in the US. He diagnosed rectal cancer in an unnamed mummy, an ‘ordinary’ person who had lived in the Dakhleh Oasis during the Ptolemaic period … .

Professor Zimmerman said: “In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization”.

The team studied both mummified remains and literary evidence for ancient Egypt but only literary evidence for ancient Greece as there are no remains for this period, as well as medical studies of human and animal remains from earlier periods, going back to the age of the dinosaurs.

Evidence of cancer in animal fossils, non-human primates and early humans is scarce – a few dozen, mostly disputed, examples in animal fossils, although a metastatic cancer of unknown primary origin has been reported in an Edmontosaurus fossil while another study lists a number of possible neoplasms in fossil remains. Various malignancies have been reported in non-human primates but do not include many of the cancers most commonly identified in modern adult humans.

It has been suggested that the short life span of individuals in antiquity precluded the development of cancer. Although this statistical construct is true, individuals in ancient Egypt and Greece did live long enough to develop such diseases as atherosclerosis, Paget’s disease of bone, and osteoporosis, and, in modern populations, bone tumours primarily affect the young.

Another explanation for the lack of tumours in ancient remains is that tumours might not be well preserved. Dr. Zimmerman has performed experimental studies indicating that mummification preserves the features of malignancy and that tumours should actually be better preserved than normal tissues. In spite of this finding, hundreds of mummies from all areas of the world have been examined and there are still only two publications showing microscopic confirmation of cancer. Radiological surveys of mummies from the Cairo Museum and museums in Europe have also failed to reveal evidence of cancer.

As the team moved through the ages, it was not until the 17th century that they found descriptions of operations for breast and other cancers and the first reports in scientific literature of distinctive tumours have only occurred in the past 200 years, such as scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps in 1775, nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761 and Hodgkin’s disease in 1832.

Professor David – who was invited to present her paper to UK Cancer Czar Professor Mike Richards and other oncologists at this year’s UK Association of Cancer Registries and National Cancer Intelligence Network conference – said: “Where there are cases of cancer in ancient Egyptian remains, we are not sure what caused them. They did heat their homes with fires, which gave off smoke, and temples burned incense, but sometimes illnesses are just thrown up.”

She added: “The ancient Egyptian data offers both physical and literary evidence, giving a unique opportunity to look at the diseases they had and the treatments they tried. They were the fathers of pharmacology so some treatments did work.

“They were very inventive and some treatments thought of as magical were genuine therapeutic remedies. For example, celery was used to treat rheumatism back then and is being investigated today. Their surgery and the binding of fractures were excellent because they knew their anatomy: there was no taboo on working with human bodies because of mummification. They were very hands on and it gave them a different mindset to working with bodies than the Greeks, who had to come to Alexandria to study medicine.”

She concluded: “Yet again extensive ancient Egyptian data, along with other data from across the millennia, has given modern society a clear message – cancer is man-made and something that we can and should address.”

Breast cancer is not pretty, nor is it pink: here.

Scientists surprised to find Egyptian princess had heart disease: here.

Cancer in Fallujah, Iraq: here.

Why humans are far more susceptible to cancer than chimps: here.

ScienceDaily (May 23, 2011) — Mummies from along the Nile are revealing how age-old irrigation techniques may have boosted the plague of schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasitic disease that infects an estimated 200 million people today: here.

US government panel calls for halt to prostate cancer screening: here.