Fossil primate discovery in Libya

This video is called The Primate Fossil Ida – Science Review.

From The Great Beyond blog:

New primate fossils point to great African migration – October 27, 2010

Long before human ancestors began leaving Africa, their primate forebears may have arrived there en masse from Asia, some 40 million years ago.

An international team of palaeontologists excavating a rock formation in southern Libya have uncovered the fossil remains of several species of anthropoid primates, the group that gave rise to today’s monkeys, apes and, of course, humans. Their find is published online today in Nature.

A number of previous fossils have pointed to an Asian origin for these primates, but when and how they got to Africa has been in question.

The new fossils are about 38 to 39 million years old, and none of the animals would have weighed more than 500 grams, conclude a team led by Jean-Jacques Jaeger, a palaeontologist at the University of Poiters, France. Their diminutive size fits in with previous research suggesting that early anthropoids started small and eventually evolved ever bigger bodies.

Jaeger’s team was surprised to find so many different kinds of anthropoids at the Libyan site, including one species, Afrotarsius libycus, which they say resembles early anthropoids from Asia. Afrotarsius had previously been considered a member of another primate group called tarsiers, but Jaeger’s team say its teeth look more like those of an anthropoid.

The anthropoids uncovered by Jaeger’s team also suggest that an eclectic group of the animals trekked from Asia to Africa, and not a single lineage that diversified after it made it to the continent. “We think there is a strong wave of migration from Asia to Africa shortly before 40 million years ago,” he says. “Now we have to unravel the details of the migration.”

Erik Seiffert, a palaeontologist who studies early primate evolution at Stony Brook University in New York, calls the find “interesting and important.” But he thinks the fossils are about 3 million years younger than Jaeger’s team claim, and he questions whether Afrotarsius libycus is really an anthropoid and not a tarsier.

“I agree that evidence seems to support a dispersal of anthropoids from Asia to Africa at some point in the middle Eocene,” the period between 37-48 million years ago, “but we still don’t know exactly when because there is a big gap in Africa’s middle Eocene record,” Seiffert says.

See also here. And here. And here.

An international team of researchers has announced the discovery of Afrasia djijidae, a new fossil primate from Myanmar that illuminates a critical step in the evolution of early anthropoids—the group that includes humans, apes, and monkeys. The 37-million-year-old Afrasia closely resembles another early anthropoid, Afrotarsius libycus, recently discovered at a site of similar age in the Sahara Desert of Libya. The close similarity between Afrasia and Afrotarsius indicates that early anthropoids colonized Africa only shortly before the time when these animals lived. The colonization of Africa by early anthropoids was a pivotal step in primate and human evolution, because it set the stage for the later evolution of more advanced apes and humans there. The scientific paper describing the discovery appears today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: here.

On the 20th February 2009, eight days after Darwin’s 200th birthday, a conference about Attitude and Knowledge regarding Evolution and Science in Europe (EWEWE – Einstellung und Wissen zu Evolution und Wissenschaft in Europa) took place which had been organized by the occupational group Biology of TU Dortmund. The conference turned out to be a surprising success. Due to the big and wide interest, Springer Press documented the conference contributions, so that they are available to the public: here.

Although it wasn’t directly ancestral to the modern rhinoceros, Arsinoitherium cut a very rhino-like profile, with its stumpy legs, squat trunk and plant-heavy diet: here.

‘Vatican helped nazis rob Jews’

This video says about itself:

Jasenovac, the largest concentration and extermination camp in Croatia; seven hundred thousand people were murdered at Jasenovac, mostly Serbs but Jews and Gypsies as well, and opponents of the Croatian Ustasa regime.

From AMERICAblog in the USA:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Holocaust survivors ask EU to help with Vatican looting claims

by Chris in Paris on 10/27/2010 02:05:00 AM

This explains why a Vatican bank account was frozen last month. It’s disgusting to even imagine the Vatican would be involved with such a scandal but thanks to their elaborate schemes to protect criminals, nothing would be a shock.

““We are requesting the commission open an inquiry into allegations of money laundering of Holocaust victim assets by financial organs associated with or which are agencies of the Vatican City State,” Jonathan Levy, a Washington-based attorney for the survivors and their heirs, wrote in a letter dated Oct. 20 to Olli Rehn, the European Union’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner. Levy provided the letter to Bloomberg.

The request follows a decade-long lawsuit in U.S. courts on behalf of Holocaust survivors and their heirs from the former Yugoslavia and Ukraine. That case, basing its claims on a U.S. State Department report on the fate of Nazi plunder, alleged that the Vatican Bank laundered assets stolen from thousands of Jews, gypsies and Serbs killed or captured by the Ustasha, the Nazi-backed regime of wartime Croatia. The Vatican repeatedly denied the charges and the findings of the 1998 U.S. report.”

South European grasshopper in the Netherlands

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This is a Dutch TV video about grasshoppers, especially the southern oak bush cricket.

The southern oak bush cricket is a south European species. However, since 1993, it sometimes shows up in the Netherlands.

The animals are good at holding on to cars. Sometimes, they have lifts of hundreds of kilometers to the north.

Rare fish in Cornwall sea

Streaked gurnard

From Practical Fishkeeping:

Colourful visitor is the first seen this century<

A group of divers exploring off the coast of The Lizard peninsula in Cornwall have photographed a rare species of gurnard.

Des Glover and business partner David Roberts of Kennack Diving photographed and videoed the fish in September, but were not certain just what they’d seen until after returning to shore.

Having checked through their books they made a tentative identification that the fish was a Streaked gurnard, Trigloporus lastoviza but having never seen anything similar in many years diving they sought confirmation elsewhere.

The ID was eventually confirmed by Cornish marine life expert Dr Paul Gainey and the British Marine Life Study Society, making the fish only the fifth positive sighting in British waters in the last 40 years – and the first this century.

The Streaked gurnard is generally considered an occasional late summer migrant to UK waters from the warmer, more southerly waters of the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, but is sometimes found as far north as the coast of Norway.

They grow to around 40cm/16″ and feed on crustaceans. They find this food with the aid of specially adapted pectoral fin rays with which they appear to ‘walk’ across the seabed./blockquote>

Mexican cavefish develop resistance to toxin: here.

New snub-nosed monkey species discovered in Burma

This video says about itself:

The World Conservation Union (IUCN), widely considered to be the most objective and authoritative system for classifying species in terms of the risk of extinction, lists 3071 species (1528 animals, 1541 plants, 2 fungi) of the world as being critically endangered in their 2006 Red List. Additionally 254 subspecies or varieties are considered critically endangered, and 30 subpopulations or stocks have been assessed with a critical risk of (local) extinction.

The snub-nosed monkeys (shown on this video) are a group of Old World monkeys and make up the entirety of the genus Rhinopithecus. The genus occurs rarely, and needs much more research. Some taxonomists group snub-nosed monkeys together with the Pygathrix genus. Snub-nosed monkeys live in Asia, with a range covering southern China (especially Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou) as well as the northern part of Vietnam.

From the BBC:

New species of snub-nosed monkey discovered in Myanmar

By Ella Davies
Earth News reporter

A new species of monkey with unusual upturned nostrils has been discovered in north eastern Myanmar.

Scientists surveying in the area initially identified the so-called snub-nosed monkey from skin and skulls obtained from local hunters.

A small population was found separated from the habitat of other species of snub-nosed monkeys by the Mekong and Salween rivers.

The total population has been estimated at just 260-330 individuals.

A team of Burmese and international primatologists identified the new species of snub-nosed monkey during this year’s Myanmar Primate Conservation Program.

Local hunters reported the presence of a monkey which did not match any description of species previously identified in the area.

After further investigation in the north eastern state of Kachin, experts found a small population of previously undiscovered black monkeys with white ear tufts and chin beards, prominent lips and wide upturned nostrils.

Asia-Pacific Development Director for Fauna & Flora International (FFI) Frank Momberg attended the expedition that discovered the species.

“It is absolutely exceptional to discover a new species of primate, and especially discovering a new species of snub-nosed monkey is very rare indeed,” he told the BBC.

“With the new snub-nosed monkey Myanmar has now 15 species of primates, which underlines the importance of Myanmar for biodiversity conservation,” said Mr Momberg.

The new species has been named the Burmese snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri).

In research published in the American Journal of Primatology, scientists also describe the monkey as having a relatively long tail at 140% of its body size.

Until now snub-nosed monkeys were thought to live only in China and Vietnam, not Myanmar.

The species discovered this year was separated from the habitats of its nearest neighbours, the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (R. bieti), by the Mekong and Salween rivers.

Researchers pointed to this isolation as evidence that the monkeys are a separate species rather than simply an existing species with a different colouration.

Although new to science, interviews with local people in the area revealed that they knew the Burmese species as mey nwoah, “monkey with an upturned face.”

Evidence from hunters also suggested that the monkeys were particularly easy to find in the rain. The monkeys allegedly sneeze audibly when rainwater gets in their noses and local people said they could be found with their heads tucked between their knees on rainy days.

Based on direct observations and evidence from local people, researchers estimated the total population of R. strykeri to be 260-330 individuals.

All species of snub-nosed monkey are considered critically endangered, including the striking blue-faced R. roxellana or golden snub-nosed monkey.

Hunting and habitat destruction are the key threats facing global populations.

The global charity Fauna & Flora International has committed to taking immediate conservation action to protect the newly discovered species.

Community action and appeals to the logging industry to protect the monkey’s habitat have been intitiated.

“If we can convince local people to stop hunting the snub-nosed monkey through creating local pride, develop community-based patrolling and monitoring, and provide alternative sources of livelihoods for forest dependent communities we can save [it] from extinction,” said Mr Momberg.

See also here. And here. And here.

We describe a snub-nosed monkey that is new to science from the high altitudes of northeastern Kachin state, northeastern Myanmar, the Burmese snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus strykeri sp. nov.: here.

The Nagoya biodiversity summit, a cynical fraud in global politics: here.