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.

Abu Dhabi dolphins research


This video says about itself:

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins at Tin Can Bay, Queensland, Australia

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, also known as Chinese white dolphins, are a common sight around the northern parts of Australia. In Australia, you can interact with these cool cetaceans at Tin Can Bay, and if you want, you can even feed them for $5.

In Abu Dhabi, like in Bahrain, there are human rights violations.

However, like beautiful dolphins swim off Bahrain, dolphins swim off Abu Dhabi as well.

From Wildlife Extra:

Results from Abu Dhabi dolphin survey revealed

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) recently undertook the first vessel-based survey of dolphins in coastal waters of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as part of its new Dolphin Conservation Programme, which has the goal of monitoring the Emirate’s dolphin population and supporting their long-term conservation.

The survey identified two species; the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin, and the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin. In total, 77 bottlenose were recorded, of which 19 were calves, and 61 humpback, of which 10 were calves. The team also sighted two new born calves, which could indicate that dolphin calving season might occur late spring to early summer in Abu Dhabi.

The 15-day survey – which was conducted in partnership with the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute in Spain – was carried out using a custom-made 45-foot boat fitted with an observation platform, and covered 2,000km of Abu Dhabi’s coastal waters, extending from Sila Peninsula in the west to the border of Dubai in east.

The team used photo-identification, taking high-definition images from cameras mounted on drones, in order to identify and track individual dolphins by looking at the unique markings on their dorsal fins. From this they were able to determine the population size.

Results revealed that there were regional differences in which species of dolphin was most dominant: around EAD’s Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins were more prevalent, while bottlenose were the most common from Al Dhabbaiya to Ras Ghanadah, and between Al Sila and Sir Bani Yas Island.

Commenting on the survey, Director of Marine Biodiversity at EAD Ayesha Yousef Al Blooshi said: “The data collected from the survey will support us in further developing our conservation initiatives for our marine biodiversity, as well as helping us conserve the natural heritage of Abu Dhabi for future generations.”

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.

New nature reserve in London


This video from England is called DIY Wildlife: Oasis in the Desert, London Wetland Center.

From Wildlife Extra:

New nature reserve to open in London

East Reservoir in London will be transformed into Woodberry Wetlands in 2015

London Wildlife trust will be transforming what was formerly Stoke Newington Reserve into Woodberry Wetlands, a new nature reserve in north east London set to open to the public in 2015.

The Wildlife trust has secured a total of £1.5 million in order to complete the reserve, on which will be built a bridge, boardwalk, café and visitor centre, designed to provide public access while minimising disturbance to wildlife.

The site – which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and owned by Thames Water, Hackney Council, and Berkley Homes – will give people the chance to enjoy nature in the heart of north east London. Visiting school and community groups will learn about urban wildlife, and volunteers will gain skills in practical nature conservation.

Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust Carlo Laurenzi said: “The creation of Woodberry Wetlands shows that we can bring nature back into people’s lives, even in the heart of north east London. A new visitor centre and walkways will give free access to large parts of the site and we will significantly increase areas of reed bed and wildflower meadow to enhance the wildlife habitat.”

Previously, the site was Stoke Newington Reserve, which has been closed to the public for nearly 200 years. The new reserve will be based at East Reservoir, which was constructed in 1833 and has since developed into an important haven for wildlife. The reservoir is today an important habitat for birds such as reed bunting, song thrush, kingfisher, and the occasional bittern, while also providing valuable foraging and roosting for bats. It is also an important location for large numbers of migratory birds, and a shelter for wildfowl during the winter.

For an early glimpse of the wetlands, head to East Reservoir Community Garden at 1pm or 3pm of Sunday 21st September, as the London Wildlife Trust will be running guided Woodberry Wetlands tours. For more information visit their site.

‘Bear bile on the way out in China’


This video is called Asiatic Black Bears.

From Wildlife Extra:

Bear bile products soon to be a thing of the past?

News from Animals Asia appears to indicate that demand for bear bile products is on the decline in China. Their initiative, Healing Without Harm, has gained the support of over 1,900 Chinese pharmacies who have now joined the programme, pledging not to sell products that contain bear bile.

We reported in July earlier this year that China’s largest pharmaceutical company KaiBao Pharmaceutical had begun to research synthetic alternatives to bear bile, and this latest announcement marks another step toward reduced market demand for bear bile products.

Animals Asia founder and CEO Jill Robinson commented on the news: “We’re delighted that people are pushing to be a part of this campaign now. Healing Without Harm is a key part of our efforts to end bear bile farming and this initiative has seen an unprecedented rise in traditional medicine doctors and pharmacies supporting alternatives to the use and prescription of bile. It’s fundamentally important to reduce the market and the availability if more bears are going to be helped, and this is just what we are seeing here.”

In the past year alone the programme has increased the number of bear bile free shops and pharmacies from around 260 in August 2013, to an impressive 1,945 today.

Key new chain pharmacies signed up to Healing Without Harm, including; Hunan Yang Tan He Pharmacy Group, consisting of 870 stores; Hunan Qian Jin Pharmacy, consisting of 372 stores; and pharmaceutical manufacturers Hunan Fang Sheng Pharmaceuticals and Changsha Qing Er Kang Biological Technology. Changsha Maria Hospital also joined campaign.

“We thank all those people who are joining the campaign,” said Jill Robinson. “What was a trickle has become a flood. So many people in China recognise that bear bile farming has had its day.”

Although the news is positive, there is still clearly a lot of work to do before bear bile farms are a thing of the past. The charity report that there are still more than 10,000 bears kept on bile farm in small cages in China, suffering painful and invasive bile extractions which can cause infection for the bears. Although there are a large number of effective and affordable herbal and synthetic alternatives to bile, there is still a substantial demand in Asia for bear bile products.

So far Animals Asia has rescued over 500 bears, which are currently being cared for in sanctuaries in China and Vietnam.

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.