Wild-captive eagle love in the USA?


From newslite.tv in the USA:

Wild bald eagle perches above bald eagle at zoo

February 1, 2011 4:00 PM

Zoo keepers in the US say they’ve been shocked to see a wild bald eagle repeatedly visit and make friends with one of their captive birds.

Bosses at Orange County Zoo say the bird has started spending every morning and evening perched nearby the enclosure of a female bald eagle.

They say the rare visitor, believed to be a male, can spend hours squawking with their 6-year-old who cannot be released due to an eye injury.

While many visitors insist his constant presence is a sign of true love, others claim it’s simply because he’s worked out there’s an abundant food supply at the zoo.

In other words what they are trying to say it that he’s a typical bloke.

Africans on Tunisian, Egyptian, revolutions


This video from England is called Waseem Wagdi, Egyptian protester. Egyptian Embassy, London. 29.1.11.

By James Nkuubi in Uganda:

1 February 2011

Going by the current trend of ‘raps’, Africa and in particular, its youth, has just witnessed ‘Another Rap’ from Tunisia.

The demonstrations by the people of Tunisia made up of mainly youth have sent chills over African dictators! Indeed wherever they are with their cliques of loyal gangs in the name of military Generals, these good-for-nothing politicians must be planning greater restrictions of peoples’ civil liberties.

Also from Uganda:

Egypt: Why African Dictators Will Forever Curse Mubarak

Nicholas Sengoba

1 February 2011

As you read this, Hosni Mubarak, the hitherto unshakable octogenarian leader of a stable Egypt, will be making a week of precariously holding onto the presidency by the seat of his pants.

The situation is so bad that the Police have gone into hiding, leaving the army to humbly patrol the streets avoiding the traditional high handedness and the use of excessive force on a people so determined to see the back of Mubarak.

The South African National Editors’ Forum is deeply shocked at the manner in which the Egyptian Government which professes to be intent on reform to meet the protests of thousands of its citizens against authoritarian rule has closed down the operations in the country of the highly respected Middle Eastern broadcaster, Al Jazeera, and harassed its journalists by detaining and then releasing them: here.

This video from Egypt says about itself:

Khalid Nasser supports the protesters in Egypt

The son of the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser joins the protesters in Tahrir Square.

Egypt national train services have been cancelled and main access roads to Cairo are closed: here.

Protesters called 25 January a “day of rage” – but the anger extended much further than 24 hours. Follow the dramatic development of Egypt’s protests in this timeline: here.

Demonstrations, nationwide strike rock Egypt, world labor voices solidarity: here.

Police ban Egypt solidarity rally in Ramallah [Palestinian West Bank]: here.

Some 200 people gathered on the Dam square in central Amsterdam on Tuesday afternoon to show their support for anti-government protesters in Egypt, the Parool reports: here.

World’s largest bear discovered


This video from the USA says about itself:

The Mammoth Site – Hot Springs, S. Dakota

The fossil bones of Columbian and woolly mammoths are found scattered throughout the sinkhole displayed in the now dry pond sediments for an “in-situ” exhibit. Walkways allow the visitor a close-up perspective of the fossils. To date, 53 mammoths have been identified, along with the remains of a giant short-faced bear, camel, llama, prairie dog, wolf, fish, and numerous invertebrates.

From Discovery News:

World’s Largest Known Bear Identified

This giant was larger than the average bear, easily dwarfing the polar bear, the largest species living today.

By Jennifer Viegas

Tue Feb 1, 2011 07:00 AM ET

THE GIST

* The world’s largest known bear was a male South American giant bear that was 11 feet tall.
* The bear likely evolved such a large body size due to the absence of other large carnivores.
* The elderly male bear sustained numerous serious injuries during its lifetime, possibly due to fighting with other males or saber-toothed cats.

A male South American giant short-faced bear has just broken the record for world’s largest bear, according to a paper in this month’s Journal of Paleontology.

Standing 11 feet tall and weighing in at about 3,500 pounds, the bear, which lived in Argentina during the Pleistocene Ice Age, would have towered over the world’s largest individual bear from an existing species. That distinction belongs to a male polar bear that weighed in at 2,200 pounds.

Huge body size benefited the South American giant short-faced bear (Arctotherium angustidens) during the species’ existence from two to half a million years ago.

“During its time, this bear was the largest and most powerful land predator in the world, so we think it lived free of fear of being eaten,” co-author Leopoldo Soibelzon told Discovery News.

Soibelzon, a researcher in the Vertebrate Paleontology Division at the La Plata Museum, and colleague Blaine Schubert of East Tennessee State University made the determinations after analyzing fossilized remains of the bear. The fossils were unearthed during a La Plata City construction project. They were donated in 1935 to the museum there, where the bones have been ever since.

Extensive prior work conducted by the authors looked at other extinct and living bear species. The research found that the most reliable predictor of body size in bears is based on seven particular bone measurements. Soibelzon and Schubert calculated the giant bear’s size using these measurements of leg bones, along with equations for estimating body mass.

The scientists think the bear evolved to become so huge due to the absence of other large carnivores in its habitat. The saber-toothed cat was also high up on the Argentina food chain at the time, but it was still much smaller than the South American giant short-faced bear.

A variety of big herbivores additionally lived in the region at the time, providing plenty of dinner options for the enormous bear.

“A. angustidens probably had an omnivorous diet composed of a great variety of components, but with a predominance of animal remains,” said Soibelzon. “Among them, probably the bones and flesh of large mammals were very important in its diet.”

The particular male bear individual that the scientists studied reached old age despite sustaining serious injuries during its life. The fossilized remains still retain signs of those injuries.

The researchers aren’t certain what caused the physical damage, but Soibelzon said that “certainly male-to-male fighting would be a possibility.”

“Other possibilities include hunting megafauna, like giant ground sloths,” he added, “and disputes with other carnivores, such as a saber-toothed cat, over a carcass.”

Schubert said the bear was part of a group of bears known as the tremarctines that has only one living representative: the spectacled bear. This modern bear is a relatively small species, reflecting selection pressures that have occurred over the years. During the Pleistocene, however, huge bears lived in both South America and North America. Europe was also home to a gigantic cave bear.

American Pleistocene lion: here.

Triceratops ancestor discovery


Titanoceratops, previously identified as Pentaceratops

From ScienceDaily:

(Jan. 31, 2011) — Triceratops and Torosaurus have long been considered the kings of the horned dinosaurs. But a new discovery traces the giants’ family tree further back in time, when a newly discovered species appears to have reigned long before its more well-known descendants, making it the earliest known member of its family.

The new species, called Titanoceratops after the Greek myth of the Titans, rivaled Triceratops in size, with an estimated weight of nearly 15,000 pounds and a massive eight-foot-long skull.

Titanoceratops, which lived in the American southwest during the late Cretaceous period around 74 million years ago, is the earliest known triceratopsin, suggesting the group evolved its large size more than five million years earlier than previously thought, according to Nicholas Longrich, the paleontologist at Yale who made the discovery. The finding, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Cretaceous Research, helps shed light on the poorly understood origins of these giant horned dinosaurs.

Longrich was searching through scientific papers when he came across a description of a partial skeleton of a dinosaur discovered in New Mexico in 1941. The skeleton went untouched until 1995, when it was finally prepared and identified incorrectly as Pentaceratops, a species common to the area. When the missing part of its frill — the signature feature of the horned dinosaurs — was reconstructed for display in the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, it was modeled after Pentaceratops.

“When I looked at the skeleton more closely, I realized it was just too different from the other known Pentaceratops to be a member of the species,” Longrich said, adding that the specimen’s size indicated that it likely weighed about twice as much as adult Pentaceratops. The new species is very similar to Triceratops, but with a thinner frill, longer nose and slightly bigger horns, Longrich said.

Instead, Longrich believes that Titanoceratops is the ancestor of both Triceratops and Torosaurus, and that the latter two split several millions years after Titanoceratops evolved. “This skeleton is exactly what you would expect their ancestor to look like,” he said.

Titanoceratops was probably only around for about a million years, according to Longrich, while the triceratopsian family existed for a total of about 10 million years and roamed beyond the American southwest into other parts of the country and as far north as Canada.

In order to confirm the discovery beyond any trace of a doubt, Longrich hopes paleontologists will find other fossil skeletons that include intact frills, which would help confirm the differences between Titanoceratops and Pentaceratops.

“There have got to be more of them out there,” Longrich said.

See also here.

Hailing from a family of Alaskan fishermen, Nick Longrich still comes home each year to catch halibut. More often, though, he casts his line into the distant past. As a paleontologist at Yale, he has had dramatic success scouring dusty museum archives for relics of ancient creatures. The 34-year-old Longrich has discovered five new dinosaur species—most recently Mojoceratops, an outlandish 75-million-year-old beast with elaborate frills atop its giant head: here.

Did some dinosaurs survive the mass extinction? Here.

Egypt demonstration videos


This is a video about Egyptian anti-dictatorship demonstrators.

Another video is here.

U.N human rights chief says she has unconfirmed reports that 300 people have been killed in Egypt unrest – Reuters: here.

Egypt LiveBlog: Annoucement by loudspeaker “1 million in Tahrir Square” in Cairo: here.

Tahrir daily on the Internet: here.

Egypt LiveBlog: Crowd gathering to march in Alexandria: here.

Sudanese Egyptian Style Protests Start: here.

In Jordan the current government led by Samir Al Rifai has just resigned, new government to be formed by Maarouf Al Bakhit: here.