Carboniferous fossil discoveries in England


This video is called The Carboniferous Period.

From Wildlife Extra:

Yorkshire‘s hidden fossil haven reveals an exotic past

A derelict mining tip in Doncaster has given up its 310-million-year-old secrets after a host of new fossils – including some fossilised plants and creatures that may even be new to science – were found. One of the most exciting finds was that of a fossilised shark egg case, hinting at Yorkshire’s more exotic history.

Also among the fossils were some horseshoe crabs and previously unrecorded seed pods, all of which were found in preserved rocks that formed within the coal and shale deposits in what is one of the few fossil locations of its kind left in the UK.

The tip, located in Edlington, southwest of Doncaster, has been identified as being the only tip in the borough where fossils could still potentially be collected. All others in the area have been landscaped, or turned into parks, leaving any fossils that may be lying beneath inaccessible.

Palaeontologist Dean Lomax, a visiting scientist at the University of Manchester’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, described what the fossils indicate Yorkshire might have been like hundreds of millions of years ago: “The fossils unlock a window into a long distant past, buried deep beneath residents’ feet. They are proof that parts of Yorkshire were once a tropical water-logged forest, teeming with life that may have looked something similar to today’s Amazon delta, a mix of dense forest, lakes, swamps and lagoons.

“The shark egg case is particularly rare and significant, because it’s soft bodied and an unusual object to find fossilised. We hope that future organised collecting of the site may reveal further rare discoveries, such as dragonflies, beetles, spiders and further evidence of vertebrates. And who knows, maybe we will even find the actual shark.”

It is hoped that further fossil specimens unearthed at the site will continue to be found. Speaking from Doncaster Heritage Services, Peter Robinson said: “We hope this important discovery will encourage ex-miners from the borough to bring forward and donate fossil specimens from the now defunct collieries, which were collected whilst extracting coal from the pit face. We have heard many stories of some of the wonderful fossils that have been found.”

The fossils are being safely stored at Doncaster Museum and have been integrated into the museum’s fossil collection.

British Big Butterfly Count results


This video from Britain is called Big Butterfly Count with Sir David Attenborough.

From Wildlife Extra:

Results of the 2014 Big Butterfly Count

The results are in for the 2014 Big Butterfly Count, held over three weeks in July and August and involving nearly 45,000 people spotting almost 560,000 butterflies.

The big winners were the Common Blue (up 55 per cent), Red Admiral (up 43 per cent), Speckled Wood (up 28 per cent) and Small Tortoiseshell (up 22 per cent). The summer was also good for Peacock, which was the most abundant butterfly in this year’s count.

The Small Tortoiseshell, one of the UK’s favourite butterflies, continued its fight back this summer after years of decline, despite enduring the coldest August since 1993.

This is the highest-ever ranking for the Small Tortoiseshell in the Big Butterfly Count and represents an amazing comeback for a species that had become scarce in parts of southern England.

This little butterfly, the populations of which have declined by 78 per cent since the 1970s, saw numbers rise by almost a quarter compared to last summer.

The drop in temperature in August had a knock-on effect on the majority of the UK’s common summer butterflies, curtailing the flight period of some species and hastening others into early hibernation.

It wasn’t all good news, in that the average number of individual butterflies seen per-count dropped from 23 in 2013 to 15 in 2014.

And, in all, 15 out of 21 of the target species decreased compared with 2013, only six species increased year-on-year.

The common white butterflies all recorded a disappointing summer. The Large White was down by 65 per cent, the Small White by 60 per cent and the Green-veined White by 47 per cent. The count’s two migrant species – the Painted Lady and the Silver Y moth – also had a lacklustre year.

Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager Richard Fox says: “After a good summer in 2013, the big question this year was whether butterflies would continue to recover and build up even greater numbers or slip back again.

“Thanks to another amazing turnout from the public, we know that the answer is a real mixture. The Small Tortoiseshell had a good year in 2013 and this seems to have acted as a springboard for the species, enabling it to increase massively again this summer.

“It’s fantastic news for a species that has lost three-quarters of its population since the 1970s.

“Others such as the Gatekeeper held their ground this year, but sadly, many common butterflies appear to have sunk back from last year’s peak in numbers.”

Results can be found here.

British spiders, new free app


This video says about itself:

Spider in da House

12 August 2013

Trailer video for our house spider survey app ‘Spider in da House’ – identify your 8-legged house mates and let us know you have seen one: here.

From Wildlife Extra:

New free app helps you learn about spiders

If you are curious about finding out more about the spiders you share your house with, you’ll probably be interested in Spider in da House; a new app available from Android and Apple app stores that helps people to identify 12 of the most common spiders found in our homes, using identification tools, photos, and facts.

Autumn is the best time to get to know spiders, as males venture indoors to hunt for a mate. Until autumn, both males and females remain in their webs, commonly in sheds, garages, and wood piles. Males then become nomadic in order to seek out females, when we often encounter them in our homes. Females will generally stay in their webs to await a suitor.

The app was built in collaboration between Society of Biology and University of Gloucestershire, with the goal of helping the public learn more about spiders.

Professor Adam Hart from the University of Gloucestershire explains: “By eating flies and other insects, spiders are not only providing us with a pest control service, but are important in ecosystems. They often feed on the most common species, preventing a few species from becoming dominant. We want to encourage people to respect and learn more about their little house guests.”

There are around 660 species of spider in the UK, and according to preliminary results of Society of Biology’s House Spider Survey, people struggle to tell the difference between them, which has prompted the creation of the app.

Baby clownfish swim up to 400km to find a home


This video says about itself:

Clownfish aka anemonefish e.g. Nemo (Finding Nemo film) fish / fishes Amphiprioninae Pomacentridae

27 March 2014

The most famous clownfish in popular culture is Nemo the main character in the the 2003 animated film Finding Nemo. Nemo’s species is A. ocellaris. Clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic, mutualistic relationship, wherein each benefits the other.

Taxonomy – Genus Amphiprion:

Amphiprion akallopisos — Skunk clownfish
Amphiprion akindynos — Barrier Reef Anemonefish
Amphiprion allardi — Twobar anemonefish
Amphiprion barberi
Amphiprion bicinctus — Twoband anemonefish
Amphiprion chagosensis — Chagos anemonefish
Amphiprion chrysogaster — Mauritian anemonefish
Amphiprion chrysopterus — Orange-fin anemonefish
Amphiprion clarkii — Yellowtail clownfish
Amphiprion ephippium — Saddle anemonefish
Amphiprion frenatus — Tomato clownfish
Amphiprion fuscocaudatus — Seychelles anemonefish
Amphiprion latezonatus — Wide-band anemonefish
Amphiprion latifasciatus — Madagascar anemonefish
Amphiprion leucokranos — Whitebonnet anemonefish
Amphiprion mccullochi — Whitesnout anemonefish
Amphiprion melanopus — Fire clownfish
Amphiprion nigripes — Maldive anemonefish
Amphiprion ocellaris — Clown anemonefish
Amphiprion omanensis — Oman anemonefish
Amphiprion pacificus — Pacific anemonefish
Amphiprion percula — Orange clownfish
Amphiprion perideraion — Pink skunk clownfish
Amphiprion polymnus — Saddleback clownfish
Amphiprion rubacinctus — Red anemonefish
Amphiprion sandaracinos — Yellow clownfish
Amphiprion sebae — Sebae anemonefish
Amphiprion thiellei — Thielle’s anemonefish
Amphiprion tricinctus — Three-band anemonefish

Genus Premnas:
Premnas biaculeatus — Maroon clownfish

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Young ‘Nemo’ clownfish roam further than thought, study shows

Australian and British scientists reveal why it was so hard to find Nemo – baby clownfish can swim up to 400km to find a home

Thursday 18 September 2014 02.10 BST

Scientists have revealed why it may be so difficult to find Nemo – baby clownfish can swim up to 400km in search of a new home.

A study, co-authored by James Cook University (JCU) researchers, shows the larvae cross large tracts of ocean to find new coral to settle on, making them better able to cope with environmental change.

“Knowing how far larvae disperse helps us understand how fish populations can adapt,” said Hugo Harrison from JCU’s centre of excellence for coral reef studies. “The further they can swim, the better they can cope.”

He said the results of the study, released in September, offer insight into the long distances travelled by baby clownfish, which feature in the animated film Finding Nemo.

“In the past we haven’t known where they go, but now we’ve been given a rare glimpse into how far they can swim, crossing large tracts of ocean to find new homes,” Harrison said.

He said the larvae moved about but fully grown clownfish spent their entire adult lives under the protection of one anemone.

As part of the international study, researchers collected 400 tissue samples from the only two known populations of Omani clownfish found on two reefs off southern Oman.

By analysing DNA fingerprinting – which reveals which of the two reefs the fish originated from – they found larvae were regularly travelling the 400km distance between the reefs.

Study co-author Stephen Simpson from the University of Exeter in England said it was the longest distance scientists had been able to track the dispersal of any coral reef fish.

“The findings change our understanding of marine populations,” he said. “They’re not small and separate as we often assume, rather this research shows they’re often vast and interconnected.”

The study was published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

Antarctic colossal squid examined in New Zealand


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Scientists latch on to colossal squid

Huge specimen caught in Antarctic waters by New Zealand fishing crew is one of few ever examined

16 September 2014

The live stream begins at 06:57: here.

Te Papa has a new colossal squid!

Watch live online as specialists in squid biology from Te Papa and Auckland University of Technology undertake research on this rare find. This colossal squid and the specimen already on display at Te Papa are the only two of their kind caught intact – ever! Large colossal squid specimens in good condition are rarely available to scientists, so this latest example has caused great excitement.

Ask our squid scientists:

Email sciencelive@tepapa.govt.nz with your questions for our squid scientists, or add them in the comments area below. We’ll answer them during the live show.

For regular updates and the latest on the colossal squid, follow:

Colossal squid blogs: www.blog.tepapa.govt.nz/category/colossa­l-squid

See also here.

North Sea coral discovery


This video from Britain says about itself:

26 May 2014

Join us on a simulated journey through the undersea landscapes of the south west of England from Ilfracombe to delicate pink sea fans in Lyme Bay via Chesil Beach and Berry Head. Common cuttlefish, hermit crab, bootlace seaweed and long snouted sea horse can be found here. Watch plaice send a hermit crab packing before approaching The Lizard’s thick carpets of jewel anenomes, dead man’s fingers and Devonshire cup coral. As we reach the Atlantic we come across sun fish, lion’s mane jellyfish, basking sharks and bottle-nosed dolphins before surfacing at Ilfracombe in Devon. Grey seals swim along corkwing wrasse, ballan wrasse and swimming crabs all searching for food amongst sponges.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands, 16 September 2014:

During a 10-day diving expedition in the North Sea there were a number of discoveries in ancient sunken ships. The rare polychaete worm Sabellaria [spinulosa] was found for example. But the most remarkable find was a piece of Devonshire cup-coral. Although this species lives occasionally near the English east coast, it was the first time that hard coral was found in the middle of the North Sea.

Great Barrier Reef let down by Australian government


This video is called BBC Great Barrier Reef II 2012 HD.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Campaigners dismiss inadequate Australian Great Barrier Reef protection plan

Tuesday 16th September 2014

Environmental activists lashed out at a new Australian government plan purporting to protect the Great Barrier Reef yesterday.

The plan had been released to allay UN concerns but the activists said that it was inadequate to halt the reef’s decline.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt claimed that the draft “Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan” was an effort to balance important priorities.

“Maintaining and protecting this iconic World Heritage area, while considering the needs for long-term sustainable development, is a critical priority,” Mr Hunt alleged.

But WWF Australia head Dermot O’Gorman said the draft did not set high enough targets for cutting agricultural pollution or provide “the billions of dollars required to restore the health of the reef.”

“At this stage, Reef 2050 lacks the bold new actions needed in order to halt the reef’s decline,” Mr O’Gorman said.

The draft plan bans future port development in the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay and North Curtis Island near Rockhampton in Queensland state — areas of the reef described by environmentalists as key incubators of marine life — but it exempts priority port development areas from the ban.

Australian Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Felicity Wishart said it should have recommended laws to minimise dredging as well as ban dumping in reef waters.

“From our point of view the reef is in dire straits,” she said, adding that the plan should have been a “lifeline” to turn the reef around over the next 35 years.