Dinosaur with big nose discovery


This video is about hadrosaurs.

From North Carolina State University in the USA:

Hadrosaur with huge nose discovered: Function of dinosaur’s unusual trait a mystery

September 19, 2014

Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs — a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University, lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

Rhinorex, which translates roughly into “King Nose,” was a plant-eater and a close relative of other Cretaceous hadrosaurs like Parasaurolophus and Edmontosaurus. Hadrosaurs are usually identified by bony crests that extended from the skull, although Edmontosaurus doesn’t have such a hard crest (paleontologists have discovered that it had a fleshy crest). Rhinorex also lacks a crest on the top of its head; instead, this new dinosaur has a huge nose.

Terry Gates, a joint postdoctoral researcher with NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and colleague Rodney Sheetz from the Brigham Young Museum of Paleontology, came across the fossil in storage at BYU. First excavated in the 1990s from Utah’s Neslen formation, Rhinorex had been studied primarily for its well-preserved skin impressions. When Gates and Sheetz reconstructed the skull, they realized that they had a new species.

“We had almost the entire skull, which was wonderful,” Gates says, “but the preparation was very difficult. It took two years to dig the fossil out of the sandstone it was embedded in — it was like digging a dinosaur skull out of a concrete driveway.”

Based on the recovered bones, Gates estimates that Rhinorex was about 30 feet long and weighed over 8,500 lbs. It lived in a swampy estuarial environment, about 50 miles from the coast. Rhinorex is the only complete hadrosaur fossil from the Neslen site, and it helps fill in some gaps about habitat segregation during the Late Cretaceous.

“We’ve found other hadrosaurs from the same time period but located about 200 miles farther south that are adapted to a different environment,” Gates says. “This discovery gives us a geographic snapshot of the Cretaceous, and helps us place contemporary species in their correct time and place. Rhinorex also helps us further fill in the hadrosaur family tree.”

When asked how Rhinorex may have benefitted from a large nose Gates said, “The purpose of such a big nose is still a mystery. If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell; but maybe the nose was used as a means of attracting mates, recognizing members of its species, or even as a large attachment for a plant-smashing beak. We are already sniffing out answers to these questions.”

The scientific dewscription of this new species is here.

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.

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.

Good dunlin news from England


This video from Britain is called BTO Bird ID – Knot and Dunlin.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare British bird on the rise

A new study on birds in Dartmoor has revealed that the number of dunlin have increased in response to efforts to restore the moor’s mires.

Dunlins are small wading birds that breed across northern Europe, Russia, and North America, choosing Dartmoor as their most southerly breeding location. Their population in the UK is currently recorded at 9,600 pairs.

As they rely exclusively on good quality blanket bog to breed, Dartmoor provides an important location for them in the UK. The Dartmoor Mires Project is a pilot scheme that has been set up to assess the feasibility and impact of restoring the degraded blanket bog.

The RSPB was contracted by the Dartmoor Mires Project to conduct a bird survey of blanket bogs on the north moor in 2014, following a similar survey undertaken in 2010, and two smaller ones in 2007 and 2013.

The results of the survey were positive, and revealed a 37 per cent increase in dunlin between 2010 and 2014, with 22 territorial pairs compared with 16 in 2010.

Commenting on the finding, Helen Booker, Conservation Officer for the RSPB in the South West said: “It would genuinely seem that the restoration works have had an important positive effect on the dunlin breeding population. This is great news, and it’s to be hoped that continuing efforts to restore the mires will continue to pay off and secure the future of this wonderful bird here at its most southerly site in the world.

“Across the West Country there’s a lot of good work being done to put the life back into these unique wetlands. It’d be great to see this work continue and to see it replicated on other uplands in the UK. Currently a large proportion are in very poor condition, and given the services then can provide when they are in good condition, such as slowing river flows in times of flood and carbon storage, we need to restore them.”

The full bird survey report for this year will not be completed until November, but the Interim Report which shows the Dunlin data is available on the DNPA website.