Triassic crocodile discovered


This video says about itself:

Jan. 31 [2008] – Brazilian paleontologists discover fossil of prehistoric crocodile that roamed in what is now the state of Sao Paulo about 80 million years ago.

The well-preserved fossil of Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi, a medium-sized lizard-like predator measuring about 5 1/2 feet (1.7 meters) from head to tail, dates back about 80 million years to the Late Cretaceous period. The fossil was found near the town of Monte Alto in Sao Paulo state and is named after the place and the local scientist who dug up the fossil in 2004 — Arruda Campos.

By Jennifer Viegas:

‘Great grandmother of crocodiles’ unearthed

Prehistoric relative may be world’s oldest croc ancestor

Paleontologists have just discovered what may be the world’s oldest known crocodile ancestor, according to a Texas Tech University press release.

The toothy animal, which hasn’t been officially named yet, lived in what is now West Texas 225 million years ago. That timing is significant, because some of the world’s first known dinosaurs emerged at around the same time period down in Argentina. …

This large section of what was then called Pangaea

It was not called Pangaea then, only since 1915.

may have then been the birthing ground for some of Earth’s largest and most famous reptiles. Pangaea was a supercontinent that existed before the component continents separated into their current configuration.

Perhaps because there was so much land to run on, the early crocodile ancestor was built more for land speed than aquatic surprise.

“This is a brand new animal and possibly the great-grandmother of all crocodiles,” Doug Cunningham who worked on the project, was quoted as saying in the TTU press release. He helped to performed a CT scan of the reptile’s fossil.

“These early crocodiles look like your typical terrestrial animals,” according to Cunningham. “An intact skull is very rare to find. One of the exciting things is we were able to see inside its brain case with the CT scan. We can see the brain evolved very slowly.”

It was this braincase, and also an ankle joint, that linked the early reptile to crocodiles.

“It has lots of sinuses in the braincase like those of modern crocs,” said Sankar Chatterjee, curator of paleontology at the Museum of Texas Tech, who also worked on the project. “These sinuses may be linked to their vocalization. Unlike most reptiles, crocs are very vocal and hear well. We described a similar animal from China that gives us some idea about the way this animal lived.

The prehistoric croc relative’s West Texas home looked more like Costa Rica 225 million years ago. Lush tropical rainforests then dominated the landscape.

Chatterjee said the newly discovered reptile had hind limbs, a hip girdle and tail that all suggest this animal walked, and probably also ran, throughout its tropical habitat. In contrast, modern crocodiles possess small legs and a different type of tail that creates a forward thrust by undulation, helpful for moving quickly in water.

Chatterjee concluded, “Leaving land for the water was probably the smartest thing crocodiles and alligators did. That way, they didn’t encounter the dinosaurs like other animals did.”

A recently discovered fossil trove in south-west China has thrown new light on an ecosystem recovery after the severest mass extinction of life on Earth that wiped out 96 per cent of marine species and 70 per cent of land life: here.

Relict populations of Crocodylus niloticus persist in Chad, Egypt and Mauritania. Although crocodiles were widespread throughout the Sahara until the early 20th century, increased aridity combined with human persecution led to local extinction. Knowledge on distribution, occupied habitats, population size and prey availability is scarce in most populations. This study evaluates the status of Saharan crocodiles and provides new data for Mauritania to assist conservation planning: here.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Crocodile And An Alligator: here.

Crocodilian behaviour: a window to dinosaur behaviour? Here.

Pictures: New Dinosaur, [Cretaceous] Crocodile Cousin Found in Brazil: here.

Bats in Dutch nature reserve


Bats in old bunkers from Andris Krastiņš on Vimeo.

This video from Latvia says about itself:

On the 14th of February 2009 we searched for bats in winter-sleep inside old bunkers in Mangaļsala, Rīga, Latvija.

The task was to assess the population, classify individuals by species and disturb them as little as possible.

In total 5 people in 2 teams we found 78 bats from 5 species – considered not bad for that place.

Translated from Rogier Lange, Vleermuiswerkgroep AWD in the Netherlands:

The Vleermuiswerkgroep AWD [Bat Working Group] has been counting bats for 25 years in the [World War II German] bunkers of the nature reserve Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. And successfully so, because every year they find more bats. With some minor adjustments the bunkers prove to be ideal hibernation places. …

The numbers in the course of the years increased from 76 to over 260, an average increase of over 5% per year!

The most numerous species is the Daubenton’s bat, with a maximum of 221 individuals. In the early years more than 90% of the bats counted belonged to this species, in recent years this is below 80% due to the emergence of other species. Second is the brown long-eared bat (up to 35 individuals, 8 to 15% of the total number), followed by the Natterer’s bat (up to 14 individuals, last year 5% of the total).

The pond bat is emerging. In the early years it was a rarity, last winter 18 specimens of this species exceeded the 5% limit for the first time. Finally, in the early years occasionally a single whiskered bat was observed.

Galapagos birds’ disease


This video is called BBC footage of the Galapagos Islands. Original music composed and produced by Music Works.

A research team from across the United States and Ecuador has pinpointed 1898 as the year the avipoxvirus, or avian pox, hit the Galapagos Islands and started infecting its birds. This estimation is vital to understanding avian diseases that affect today’s Galapagos birds. The scientists’ paper on the subject, “110 Years of Avipoxvirus on the Galapagos Islands,” will be published on January 13 in PLoS ONE: here.

See also here. And here.

Avian malaria threatens Galapagos bird species: here.

The Galapagos National Park hopes to completely eradicate rats and has succeeded in doing so on several islands by using poisoned bait. This week the work continues, with helicopters releasing rat bait across Rabida Island and others. There are limitations to this method on islands home to the Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis), however. This native bird currently resides on four of the islands being treated, and counts rats among its prey. If poison entered this endangered species’ food chain, it could be catastrophic. So a new project is under way to take the hawks into temporary captivity while the poisoned bait does its job: here.

Scientists Launch Invasive Rat Eradication Project In Galapagos Islands: here. And here.

The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (CDF) and the International Community Foundation received news this week that a $600,000 grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust will allow CDF and collaborating institutions to move ahead with research designed to save Galapagos bird species on the brink of extinction: here.

Galapagos bird photos: here.

Plastic-lined nests keep rivals at bay: Spanish birds protect homes by lining them with shopping bag scraps: here.