Otter back in Dutch Twente region


Dutch conservation organization Landschap Overijssel reports that a male otter has been recorded in the Regge river in the Twente region.

Otters had become extinct in Twente in 1952.

In 2002, otters were released into the Weerrribben and Wieden nature reserves, to the north west of Twente. Probably this animal in the Regge came from there.

Loosdrechtse Plassen otter: here.

Doesburg otter: here.

Dutch literature and nationalist politics


This video is called Literature as Resistance: A Lecture by Dutch-Iranian Author Kader Abdolah.

From Dutch Daily News:

Patriotism and not quality ensures a position in the Dutch literary canon

Posted on Jan 6, 2012

The Dutch literary canon, which contains such great names as Hooft, Vondel and Cats, is not the result of an assessment based on quality but rather a selection that matched the ideals of the first literary reviewers. This is the conclusion of NWO-funded researcher Francien Petiet based on her analysis of journals and literary histories from the first half of the nineteenth century. Literary historians considered patriotism to be more important than the ability to write well. Petiet defended her PhD thesis on 15 December at the University of Amsterdam.

The roots of the modern Dutch literary canon were established at the start of the nineteenth century, when the first historical literary anthologies and guides to literature were published. Literary scholar Francien Petiet investigated how the literary past was converted into a literary heritage. Literary historians chiefly had an ideological objective: the restoration of a nation that in their eyes had fallen into decline.

The selection criteria used to distinguish masters from the lesser gods were very much a product of the time (the Kingdom of the Netherlands was just being established following French occupation). There was a longing to restore the glory of the Golden Age and a restoration of the national identity was deemed vital for the country’s recovery. According to Petiet, a considerable emphasis was therefore placed on the national character of the literature and the writers, far more so than on the aesthetic qualities of the texts. One of the first professors of Dutch, Cornelis Fransen van Eck, said in 1817: ‘A real Dutch head and a real Dutch heart are best obtained by reading the writings of real Dutch men.’

In view of this national objective, considerable efforts were made to ensure that everybody could become familiar with early Dutch literature. Dozens of works were published aimed at a diverse public of young and old, academics and non-academics, men and women and even soldiers.

Literary historians expected the authors to be virtuous, tolerant, homely and pious (read: protestant). Men and women who did not fit this ideal image of the ‘patriot’ were literarily renounced. Initially medieval literature was not valued either. At the start of the nineteenth century, Karel ende Elegast was still described as ‘nauseous’. In the 1830s and 1840s the regard for medieval works increased. In this period people started to appreciate the beauty of these old texts.

Francien Petiet reveals that the works we nowadays still regard as the most important literary accomplishments of our early writers obtained this status in the nineteenth century. The ‘canon’ as it was compiled then has scarcely changed since.

Literary scholar Petiet studied various sources from the period 1797-1845, such as journals, forewords of new editions of older works, competitions held by societies, and guides. Her research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Saudi Arabian torture


This video says about itself:

Saudi people rallied for the releasing of innocent cleric who has demanded for constitutional monarchy. Alhassa, Saudi Arabia.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Saudi Arabia slammed for torture and executions

Friday 06 January 2012

The UN human rights office today highlighted Saudi Arabia‘s “rampant” use of torture to obtain confessions and an almost threefold increase in executions in the kingdom last year.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville said: “We are alarmed at the significant increase in the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia in 2011.”

Mr Colville said the number of executions jumped from 29 in 2010 to at least 70 last year, while rights group Amnesty puts the 2011 figure at 79 executions.

“What is even more worrying is that court proceedings often reportedly fall far short of international fair trial standards and the use of torture as a means to obtain confessions appears to be rampant,” he said.

Apostasy, murder, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Cretaceous ichthyosaur discovery


From the BBC:

5 January 2012 Last updated at 17:53 GMT

German marine reptile find rewrites fossil record

German experts have found a new species of prehistoric marine giant from a time when most of that family of reptiles were thought to have died out.

The rare ichthyosaur find from the Braunschweig area, northern Germany, is 130 million years old, dating from the Lower Cretaceous era.

Most ichthyosaur fossils date from the Jurassic era, millions of years before.

The Braunschweig fossil revelations were reported in the science journal Plos One on Tuesday.

The new type of ichthyosaur, discovered during roadworks in 2005, has been called Acamptonectes densus – “Stiff Swimmer”.

The neck vertebrae were so tightly packed that “it couldn’t move its neck, so it must have shot through the water like a dart”, said palaeontologist Ulrich Joger of the Braunschweig Natural History Museum.

“It’s a spectacular find. It raises new questions about the [Jurassic] extinction theory,” he said.

The specimen is similar to the Speeton Clay ichthyosaur found in the north of England in 1958.

The experts say the predator fed on fish and squid and looked like a dolphin, though the species are not related.

The main dinosaur extinction event was at the end of the Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago. It is widely believed a meteorite impact caused it.

See also here.

Ancient Ichthyosaur Carcass Did Not Explode, According to Study of 100 Bloated Human Corpses: here.

The dolphins of their day, ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles that breathed air and swam at high speeds. But if they moved from deep to shallow water too fast, dissolved gases in their blood formed bubbles, impeding circulation and causing damage – evident in their scarred bones: here.

Rare oysters found on Texel island


Wing-oyster

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island, the Netherlands:

Rare oysters found – 12/01/06

Seven wing-oysters on the inside of a blue barrel cut open. That was an extraordinary discovery by researcher Rob Witbaard of the Dutch Institute for Sea Research during a walk on the Hors, the most southern point of Texel. The shellfish have probably traveled on the barrel from southern England or perhaps they even came all the way from the Iberian Peninsula. These are the nearest places where wing-oysters live.

Special barrel

Because the shells had attached themselves to the inside of the barrel, they beached intactly, despite the violence of the recent storm. Some bay mussels and barnacles were also attached to the barrel.

Oyster with wings

Wing-oysters are delicate thin-walled shells with a particular shape, it looks like they have wings. The exterior of the shell is greenish brown, but that’s often difficult to see because of the many small animals growing there. Bryozoans, sea squirts and polyps find a solid surface on the wing-oyster shell and like to attach themselves to it. The wing-oyster itself also likes a solid surface, they usually attach themselves to a rock, a piece of gorgonian or …. to a floating barrel.

Extraordinary discovery

It seems that this species has only once before been found on Dutch soil. Then a piece of shell was discovered on a rope on the beach of Egmond. The specimens found on the Hors did not die long ago, there was still dried meat in the shells.