Vulture fossil discovery in Nebraska, USA


This video is called Vulture restaurant.

From PLOS ONE:

A Late Miocene Accipitrid (Aves: Accipitriformes) from Nebraska and Its Implications for the Divergence of Old World Vultures

Abstract

Background

Old World vultures are likely polyphyletic, representing two subfamilies, the Aegypiinae and Gypaetinae, and some genera of the latter may be of independent origin. Evidence concerning the origin, as well as the timing of the divergence of each subfamily and even genera of the Gypaetinae has been elusive.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Compared with the Old World, the New World has an unexpectedly diverse and rich fossil component of Old World vultures. Here we describe a new accipitriform bird, Anchigyps voorhiesi gen. et sp. nov., from the Ash Hollow Formation (Upper Clarendonian, Late Miocene) of Nebraska. It represents a form close in morphology to the Old World vultures. Characteristics of its wing bones suggest it was less specialized for soaring than modern vultures. It was likely an opportunistic predator or scavenger having a grasping foot and a mandible morphologically similar to modern carrion-feeding birds.

Conclusions/Significance

The new fossil reported here is intermediate in morphology between the bulk of accipitrids and the Old World gypaetine vultures, representing a basal lineage of Accipitridae trending towards the vulturine habit, and of its Late Miocene age suggests the divergence of true gypaetine vultures, may have occurred during or slightly before the Miocene.

Fishes saving coral


This video says about itself:

BBC ‘Blue Planet – Deep Trouble’ team explain the environmental dangers facing the world’s shallow waters. With high demands for rare species of fish, coral reefs are in danger of being fished out and deserted.

From Discover Magazine:

Coral Call for Help and Fish Swim to the Rescue

When coral are threatened by encroaching toxic algae, they do not have the luxury of running from their enemy. That is not to say these stationary creatures are defenseless, though. Acropora coral has evolved to emit a chemical call for help, and within minutes, a goby fish will show up on the scene, ready to nibble off the algae. Researchers recently discovered this underwater partnership in the waters near Fiji. They say this symbiotic relationship is the first known example of a species chemically signaling another in order to remove a competitor species.

The fish’s response time is short because the goby fish are never far away from the coral. Nestled in the crevices of the reef, protected from predators, goby fish feast on a smörgåsbord of local fares: coral mucus, algae and zooplankton. In return, the goby is available for minor coral maintenance issues like mowing the toxic algae lawn. This task is pretty simple for the fish—one species of goby observed in this study ate the stuff and another just trimmed it off—and important for the coral.

For a tenant-landlord-style relationship, this one’s pretty amicable.

See also here.

Canadian bird-killing buildings on trial


This video is called Canada Warbler.

From the American Bird Conservancy:

Decisions Imminent in Landmark Trials Over Toronto’s Worst Bird Killing Buildings

(Washington, D.C., November 9, 2012) Many of the 48 million Americans who enjoy bird watching will have a strong interest in the pending verdicts in two unprecedented lawsuits in Toronto, Canada. One of the deadliest threats to birds worldwide – building collisions – has, in a sense, been put on trial.

A verdict in the first trial, which began in April, 2011, is expected from Justice of the Peace William Turtle on November 14.  It pits the owners of three adjoining glass office buildings – Consilium Place Towers – against two environmental groups – Ecojustice and Ontario Nature.

Those groups claim that the buildings, whose exterior faces are almost entirely glass, are responsible the deaths of about 7,000 birds in the last decade, making them likely the most deadly in the entire Greater Toronto area.

Menkes Consilium Inc., Menkes Developments Ltd., and Menkes Property Management Services Ltd., along with three other companies, have been charged under Canada’s Environmental Protection Act with discharging a contaminant – light reflected from the glass – that causes harm to animals. In addition to possible fines under that law, the companies also face a maximum fine of $60,000 under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for causing birds to be in distress. The lawsuit followed lengthy, failed attempts to negotiate a settlement between the parties.

The verdict in the second trial, which began in April  2012, is expected from Judge Melvyn Green on December 4, 2012. Cadillac Fairview Corporation, the owner of three office buildings in the city, has been charged with violating Canada’s Species at Risk Act. The charges are being brought in a private prosecution by Ecojustice.

The Toronto-based non-profit Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), which works to document and prevent bird collisions with buildings and rescue birds that survive, estimates that the complex is among the most lethal in the city. The charges allege that at least 800 birds were killed at the complex in 2010 including ten birds listed as Threatened under the Canadian Species at Risk Registry. Those ten birds were from two species, the Canada Warbler and Olive-sided Flycatcher.

FLAP estimates that between 1 and 9 million birds are killed in such collisions annually in Toronto – the majority during spring and fall migrations. Toronto is located in a major migratory bird corridor, and as of January, 2010, designs for new construction and significant renovation in Toronto must be bird-friendly.

Six months ago, Consilium Place was sold to a real estate investment company who has been installing window treatments on untreated elevations of 100 and 200 Consilium with a film designed to reduce bird collisions. Yonge Corporate Centre has also installed the same film to the north elevation of their 4120 Yonge Street building  — the most deadly to birds — as a test for effectiveness.  In both cases, volunteers have observed a significant reduction in the overall collision rate for both structures.

Concern over bird collision deaths and the need for mitigation measures is gaining in importance in the United States as well.

“Builders and architects in the U.S. are showing increasing interest in bird friendly construction. Cost-effective technology now exists to greatly reduce these unnecessary bird deaths. San Francisco has passed a law mandating bird-friendly construction for certain buildings; so has Minnesota, and other local governments are considering them as well,” said Dr. Christine Sheppard, Bird Collisions Program Manager at American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a leading bird conservation organization in the United States and the only U.S. organization with a national bird collisions program.

A study from 2006 estimated that 100 million to a billion birds were killed by collisions annually, in the United States alone. However, the amount of glass in the built environment has been rapidly increasing, as new technologies make huge sheets of glass available for applications from home picture windows to skyscrapers, meaning that it now seems likely the one billion figure may now be an underestimate.

Birds are killed when they try to fly to apparent sky, trees or structures reflected in the glass’ mirror-like surface, to plants or food seen through glass or when they try to fly through what they perceive to be a tunnel through a building. Even small areas of glass, such as those in home windows, can cause bird fatalities. Light emanating from a building or its landscaping at night attracts birds, further exacerbating the problem.

“Many of us have, at one time or another, walked into a glass door, so we know how jarring that is to our bodies just at walking speed. Try to imagine hitting that same pane at 30 miles per hour, thirty or more feet off the ground. It’s not surprising that so many bird collisions prove fatal,” Sheppard said.

As part of a national-level program to reduce the massive and growing number of bird deaths resulting from building collisions in the United States, ABC has released American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Friendly Building Designs. The 58-page guide, downloadable at collisions.abcbirds.org,is especially helpful to architects, planners, building owners, and regulators, and contains over 100 photographs and illustrations. It focuses on both the causes of collisions and the solutions, with a comprehensive appendix on the biological science behind the issue.

In cooperation with Carnegie Museum’s Powdermill Avian Research Center in Pa., ABC operates a research program  which tests glass or glass treatments to determine what products demonstrate a lower incidence of bird collisions.  ABC has also helped establish classes eligible for American Institute of Architects’ sustainable design continuing education credit, to instruct architects on how to design beautiful buildings that are also safe for birds.

Dec. 19, 2012 — Although climate change may alter the distributions of many species, changes in land use may compound these effects. Now, a new study by PRBO Conservation Science (PRBO) researcher Dennis Jongsomjit and colleagues suggests that the effects of future housing development may be as great or greater than those of climate change for many bird species. In fact, some species projected to expand their distributions with climate change may actually lose ground when future development is brought into the picture: here.

February 2014: A recent American study has found that up to 988 million birds are killed in the US each year as a result of collisions with buildings. It provides quantitative evidence to support the conclusion that building collisions are second only to cats as the greatest source of direct human-caused mortality for US birds. (estimated to kill as many as 3 billion birds each year): here.

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Shelley poems about war


This video is about Percy Bysshe Shelley – his poem The Mask of Anarchy.

The Stop NATO blog in the USA has a section Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts.

In it, there is a link to a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley about war (certainly not Shelley’s only poem on this).

And an excerpt from Shelley’s 1813 poem, Queen Mab, about war:

There an inhuman and uncultured race
Howled hideous praises to their Demon-God;
They rushed to war, tore from the mother’s womb
The unborn child – old age and infancy
Promiscuous perished; their victorious arms
Left not a soul to breathe. Oh! they were fiends!
But what was he who taught them that the God
Of Nature and benevolence had given
A special sanction to the trade of blood
?
His name and theirs are fading, and the tales
Of this barbarian nation, which imposture
Recites till terror credits, are pursuing
Itself into forgetfulness.

Whence, thinkest thou, kings and parasites arose?
Whence that unnatural line of drones who heap
Toil and unvanquishable penury
On those who build their palaces and bring
Their daily bread? – From vice, black loathsome vice;
From rapine, madness, treachery, and wrong;
From all that genders misery, and makes
Of earth this thorny wilderness; from lust,
Revenge, and murder. – And when reason’s voice,
Loud as the voice of Nature, shall have waked
The nations; and mankind perceive that vice
Is discord, war and misery; that virtue
Is peace and happiness and harmony;
When man’s maturer nature shall disdain
The playthings of its childhood; – kingly glare
Will lose its power to dazzle
, its authority
Will silently pass by; the gorgeous throne
Shall stand unnoticed in the regal hall,
Fast falling to decay; whilst falsehood’s trade
Shall be as hateful and unprofitable
As that of truth is now.

Where is the fame
Which the vain-glorious mighty of the earth
Seek to eternize? Oh! the faintest sound
From time’s light footfall, the minutest wave
That swells the flood of ages, whelms in nothing
The unsubstantial bubble. Ay! to-day
Stern is the tyrant’s mandate, red the gaze
That flashes desolation, strong the arm
That scatters multitudes. To-morrow comes!
That mandate is a thunder-peal that died
In ages past; that gaze, a transient flash
On which the midnight closed; and on that arm
The worm has made his meal.

Look on yonder earth:
The golden harvests spring; the unfailing sun
Sheds light and life; the fruits, the flowers, the trees,
Arise in due succession; all things speak
Peace, harmony and love. The universe,
In Nature’s silent eloquence, declares
That all fulfil the works of love and joy, -
All but the outcast, Man. He fabricates
The sword which stabs his peace
; he cherisheth
The snakes that gnaw his heart; he raiseth up
The tyrant whose delight is in his woe,
Whose sport is in his agony.

Now swells the intermingling din; the jar
Frequent and frightful of the bursting bomb;
The falling beam, the shriek, the groan, the shout,
The ceaseless clangor, and the rush of men
Inebriate with rage: – loud and more loud
The discord grows; till pale Death shuts the scene
And o’er the conqueror and the conquered draws
His cold and bloody shroud. – Of all the men
Whom day’s departing beam saw blooming there
In proud and vigorous health; of all the hearts
That beat with anxious life at sunset there;
How few survive, how few are beating now!
All is deep silence, like the fearful calm
That slumbers in the storm’s portentous pause;
Save when the frantic wail of widowed love
Comes shuddering on the blast, or the faint moan
With which some soul bursts from the frame of clay
Wrapt round its struggling powers.

The gray morn
Dawns on the mournful scene; the sulphurous smoke
Before the icy wind slow rolls away,
And the bright beams of frosty morning dance
Along the spangling snow. There tracks of blood
Even to the forest’s depth, and scattered arms,
And lifeless warriors, whose hard lineaments
Death’s self could change not, mark the dreadful path
Of the outsallying victors; far behind
Black ashes note where their proud city stood.
Within yon forest is a gloomy glen -
Each tree which guards its darkness from the day,
Waves o’er a warrior’s tomb.

From kings and priests and statesmen war arose,
Whose safety is man’s deep unbettered woe,
Whose grandeur his debasement. Let the axe
Strike at the root, the poison-tree will fall;
And where its venomed exhalations spread
Ruin, and death, and woe, where millions lay
Quenching the serpent’s famine, and their bones
Bleaching unburied in the putrid blast,
A garden shall arise, in loveliness
Surpassing fabled Eden.

Felicity Arbuthnot comments on this blog post:

David Cameron should be made to read this at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day, 11.11.2012, as Obama and leaders across all Western countries taking part in their murderous, illegal assassinations, slaughters and ram raids. Thank you.

Reaction from Richard Rozoff to this comment:

Splendid idea.

School children in Britain, here in the U.S. and throughout the English-speaking world are given poems of Shelley’s like “Ode to the West Wind” (without having its true purport explained) or “Adonais” to read while passing over completely his major works like “Queen Mab,” “The Cenci,” “The Revolt of Islam,” “Hellas” and “Prometheus Unbound” as unfit for, politically speaking, virginibus puerisque.

Dutch harvest mouse nests, video


This is video is about harvest mice in the Netherlands, building their nests in marshy areas.

New ladybug discovery in the USA


This video from the USA is called Ladybug plays with sprinkles.

From Wildlife Extra:

Tiny new species of beetle discovered that keeps it head inside its body

New ladybug is just 1 millimetre long

October 2012. A former Montana State University student discovered the rarest ladybug in the United States, according to MSU entomologist Michael Ivie. The new ladybug was crawling across a sand dune in southwest Montana when it dropped into a trap set by entomology grad student Ross Winton.

The ladybug was so small that Winton said he originally thought he had found the body part of an ant. Then he thought the insect was missing its head. He wasn’t even sure at first that he had found a ladybug because the insect was tan instead of red and didn’t have the spots normally associated with ladybugs.

Closer inspection proved the insect was a male Ladybird Beetle, and its head was attached after all, Winton said. It was just tucked inside a tube in its thorax, much like a turtle pulls its head back into its shell.

Since Winton didn’t recognize the ladybug, he took it to Ivie who realized he had once seen a female of that type from Idaho, about 90 miles away from Winton’s discovery. Ivie also knew that one of his Australian colleagues was revising the group, so he mailed Winton’s ladybug to Canberra.

Winton soon learned that his ladybug — now in pieces and still in Australia — belongs to a group of beetles that’s both familiar and well-known in this country. Known as Ladybird Beetles, the group contains some of the most bizarre, smallest and least recognizable ladybugs in existence, according to Hermes Escalona and Adam Slipinski who published the Systemic Entomology article.

Winton said, “This species and some of its sister species are some of the rarest mostly due to their size, collection frequency, techniques required to collect them and the fact that we know almost nothing about their biology (life cycle, where it lives, what it eats, etc).”

New species

Ivie said Winton’s discovery turned out to be the only male of a new species, otherwise known from a single female from just south of the Centennial Valley in Idaho. Since, in an interesting twist, males are required for the description of a new species of Ladybird Beetles, Ross’ specimen became the unique single specimen upon which a species is based.

“Without that male specimen, the species could not have been described. The tiny species is known from only two individuals, one male and one female, making it qualify for the rarest species in the USA,” Ivie said.

New genus of ladybird discovered in USA

“The species is very unusual not only because of its small size, unique habitat and rarity, but the fact that its head is pulled back into a tube in its thorax makes its biology quite a mystery,” Ivie said. “It was so unique that it was placed, along with another new species known from Baja California, in a new genus. While discovery of a new species of beetle in the USA is not an everyday event, a completely new genus is quite rare.”

Ivie said he requested that his colleagues name the new ladybug “wintoni” after Winton, but Escalona and Slipinski eventually named it Allenius iviei. Ivie, who was Winton’s adviser when Winton was studying for his master’s degree, proposes that the common name be “Winton’s Ladybird Beetle.” He said Winton deserved the honour and noted that the find was a “stunning example of the contributions and discoveries made by student researchers at MSU.

Size of a grain of sand – Just 1 millimetre long

“This was totally Ross’ discovery,” Ivie said. “He is the one who designed the study, placed the traps, sorted the materials and recognized that it was not sand – no small accomplishment when you consider the animal is the size and colour of a grain of sand.

“Further, he is the one who recognized it as something unusual,” Ivie said.

As so often happens in science, Winton said his discovery was “totally random.” He came across the ladybug in 2009 while researching the role of grazing and fire on the community dynamics of insects that live in the sand dunes on the north shore of Red Rocks Lake in Montana’s Centennial Valley. Winton believes the one millimetre-long ladybug normally lived in plants, but happened to fall on the sand where it was caught.

Winton earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from MSU in 2005 and his master’s degree in entomology in 2010. Now a senior wildlife technician with Idaho Fish and Game, Winton said he mostly works with big game and wildlife habitat these days, but he still remembers what it took to trap the rare ladybug.

He started by diving into recycling bins around Bozeman and visiting Lehrkind’s Coca-Cola Bottling Company to collect enough two-litre plastic bottles for his study. He then cut the bottles off at the shoulder and placed the resulting funnel into the bottom piece, creating traps that would funnel insects into preservative at the bottom. Ross then hauled the traps to Beaverhead County where he buried them up to their edge in the sand dunes, creating a pitfall that trapped insects as they crawled across the sand.

The traps worked well, but animals and fire sometimes interfered, Winton said. Coyote pups would dig up the bottles and play with them like chew toys. An unexpected controlled burn to remove unwanted vegetation from the sand dunes once caused half the bottles to curl in on themselves. Fortunately, the bottles became like plastic balloons around the insects.

“It was pretty handy,” Winton said.

The bug was described in the journal Systemic Entomology.

See also here.

Harlequin ladybirds carry disease fatal to other ladybirds: here.

CIA boss Petraeus resigns over infidelity


This video says about itself:

Nov 9, 2012

One of America’s best known military leaders, and CIA head, David Petraeus, has abruptly announced his resignation. Stepping down, Petraeus admitted to an extramarital affair, saying he was guilty of “unacceptable” behavior. Ex-military intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tony Shaffer told RT there’s more behind the resignation than just moral issues.

General David Petraeus, boss of the CIA in the USA, has resigned.

Why? Because of war crimes committed while he was commander in Iraq?

Because of war crimes committed while he was commander in Afghanistan?

Because of CIA torture scandals?

No, because of a woman.

Did General Petraeus rape that woman, like quite some US women soldiers were raped by colleagues?

No.

General David Petraeus loses his job because of a consensual sexual relationship.

It reminds me of 1999, when the US Republican party tried to impeach President Bill Clinton.

Why? Because of Clinton’s 1999 NATO war against Yugoslavia?

No. The top Republican politicians then, candidates for the 2000 presidential election George W Bush and John McCain, and 1996 presidential candidate Bob Dole, agreed with that war.

The Republicans tried to impeach Clinton because of a consensual sexual relationship.

Back to Petraeus. From the BBC:

10 November 2012

CIA director David Petraeus resigns over affair

CIA director David Petraeus has resigned from his post, admitting he had an extra-marital affair.

In a statement, Mr Petraeus described his behaviour as “unacceptable” for the leader of the nation’s main intelligence agency.

Unnamed officials said Mr Petraeus conducted the affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Mr Petraeus became CIA boss in 2011 after heading international forces in Iraq and later in Afghanistan.

David Petraeus: From Extrajudicial to Extramarital: here.