Marine life off Somerset, England, new research


This video is called British Sea Life.

From Wildlife Extra:

Deep sea survey reveals thriving marine life off Somerset coast

An underwater sea survey off the Somerset coast has revealed populations of sea hares, sun starfish and the rare stalked jellyfish.

Commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts the survey is the first in more than 30 years that explores the waters off Porlock Weir.

The dive is part of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas initiative to raise awareness of Somerset’s marine environment through public surveys and events.

Discoveries by the four professional divers and marine ecologists included two different and very diverse sea bed habitats; a boulder reef north of Gore Point and a sand and shell plain in the centre of Porlock Bay in the Bristol Channel.

They recorded rare stalked jellyfish, bunches of cuttlefish and squid eggs, squat lobsters hiding in crevices, many crab and fish species, brittle and sunstar starfish plus many sea hares, which are large and exotic looking marine molluscs.

The stalked jellyfish is a UKBAP Priority Species; a species of principal importance for the purpose of conservation of biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.

Dominic Flint, marine scientist and leader of the dive team, said: “This survey complements the extensive intertidal, seashore, marine mammal and birdlife records collected by the Somerset Wildlife Trust members, volunteers and staff. This now provides a more complete picture of the fantastically diverse marine environment of the Somerset coast, which has been somewhat underappreciated in the past.

“The wealth of evidence provided by exploratory dive surveys like this, in areas where there is little or no habitat or seabed data, will ensure we have the evidence to secure their conservation and can be included in future discussions over marine protection and conservation measures.”

Nigel Phillips, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s marine ambassador, said: “Our beach survey work has shown that this coast is far richer in wildlife than many would expect despite murky water and fast-moving tidal currents, which made this a very frustrating place to survey.”

Red Cross accuses Ukrainian government of stopping humanitarian aid


Luhansk near Russian-Ukrainian border

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Red Cross: Kiev slows down transport

Update: Thursday August 21 2014, 12:09

According to the Red Cross, Ukraine slows down the relief transport of Russian supplies to the inhabitants of the besieged city Luhansk. The inspection of the cargo of the trucks by the Red Cross, about which agreements are made with Ukraine, still has not been possible.

The Red Cross hopes that the inspection will take place later today. According to a spokesperson the delay is caused by “Ukrainian decisions adopted at the last minute.”

The safety of the convoy is now guaranteed. On that condition, the Red Cross wanted to accompany the trucks.

Barnacles found on Texel island


This video from South Africa is called Learn about Barnacles and Crabs with marine biologist Judy Mann.

Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands reports about barnacles.

After storm from the south-west on 17 and 18 August 2014, many barnacles beached on Texel.

Not only Lepas anatifera, smooth gooseneck barnacle, a common species, but also two less common species: Lepas pectinata and buoy barnacle.

Michael Brown killed, Kajieme Powell killed, police telling the truth?


This video about the killing of Kajieme Powell was released by police in St. Louis, Missouri, USA on Wednesday.

Warning: The video includes graphic content.

From Huffington Post in the USA:

St. Louis Police Release Video Of Kajieme Powell Killing That Appears At Odds With Their Story

08/20/2014 8:08 pm EDT

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released cell phone footage Wednesday of the police shooting of Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old black man killed on Tuesday in St. Louis, according to St. Louis Public Radio.

A convenience store owner called 911 on Tuesday when he suspected Powell stole drinks and donuts from his shop, according to a recording of the call. …

Two officers in a police SUV responded to the calls, the cell phone video shows. When the officers got out of their vehicle, Powell walked in their direction, yelling and telling them to shoot him already.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said Tuesday that both of the officers opened fire on Powell when he came within a three or four feet of them holding a knife “in an overhand grip.”

But the newly released cell phone footage undermines the statement, showing Powell approaching the cops, but not coming as close as was reported, with his hands at his side. The officers began shooting within 15 seconds of their arrival, hitting Powell with a barrage of bullets.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released the video and 911 calls, telling St. Louis Public Radio that it plans to act transparently.

The shooting death occurred less than four miles from where Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in the suburb of Ferguson on Aug. 9.

The St. Louis Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

Federal judge refuses to halt “keep moving” order in Ferguson

21 August 2014

On Monday, a federal judge refused to order a halt to the arbitrary “keep moving” rule imposed by the police on residents and journalists on public sidewalks in Ferguson, Missouri.

As part of the police-military crackdown on protests in Ferguson over the police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the police have adopted the tactic of patrolling the sidewalks in groups and shouting “keep moving” at those standing in their way. Anyone who does not move quickly enough is tackled and arrested.

Standing still for as little as five seconds is sufficient to be taken to the ground and handcuffed by a swarm of police. Hundreds of arrests, including of journalists, have been carried out for “failure to disperse.”

The purpose of this tactic is to menace and intimidate the population and obstruct the exercise of basic constitutional rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. It goes hand-in-hand with a de facto state of martial law that has been imposed on the largely working-class suburb of St. Louis.

Over the past week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) initiated a number of emergency legal proceedings against municipalities involved in the Ferguson repression as well as their leading personnel, challenging the police activities as unconstitutional.

Ferguson: Protests last night were much calmer. The cop who threatened to kill protesters on Tuesday has been put on indefinite leave. And while the name of Darren Wilson has been released, the lack of public information about the officer leaves him “an enigma.” [HuffPost]

Injustice in Ferguson, Long Before Michael Brown: here.

Cleveland, Ohio residents denounce repression in Ferguson: here.

Ferguson solidarity protests spread to dozens of cities nationwide. Demonstrations from Los Angeles to New York protest killing of Michael Brown and other recent cases of police shootings: here.

Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it’s about class warfare and how America’s poor are held back, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: here.

Germany: Workers and youth in Berlin: “What is taking place in Ferguson is war”: here.

Rare butterflies wintering in the Netherlands


This is a scarce tortoiseshell video from Finland.

In July 2014, there was an invasion in the Netherlands of scarce tortoiseshell butterflies; a species, new for the Netherlands.

Soon, people did not see these rare, usually east European, butterflies any more. Did they fly on to England, or to Belgium? A few scarce tortoiseshells were seen there indeed; but how about all the others?

On 2 August 2014, warden Luc Knijnsberg was in Dutch nature reserve Bergen Zuid. Then, a thunderstorm started. Luc entered an old World War II bunker, now used by bats for wintering. In that bunker, he found thirteen wintering peacock butterflies (yes, August is a summer month, but for some butterflies, winter then starts already). Luc found not only peacocks, a common species, but to his surprise also two scarce tortoiseshells. So, this solved the riddle why so many of them arrived in the Netherlands; and so few in Belgium or England.

So, people counting wintering bats should look out for scarce tortoiseshells as well.

Welsh Jurassic mammals feeding, new study


This video says about itself:

There Are No Transitional Fossils?

19 April 2011

Long-sought fossil mammal with transitional middle ear found in China.

Palaeontologists have announced the discovery of Liaoconodon hui, a complete fossil mammal from the Mesozoic found in China that includes the long-sought transitional middle ear.

The specimen was found by palaeontologists from the American Museum of Natural History and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

It shows the bones associated with hearing in mammals, the malleus, incus, and ectotympanic, decoupled from the lower jaw, as had been predicted, but were held in place by an ossified cartilage that rested in a groove on the lower jaw.

People have been looking for this specimen for over 150 years since noticing a puzzling groove on the lower jaw of some early mammals,” Jin Meng, curator in the Division of Palaeontology at the Museum and first author of the paper, said.

“Now we have cartilage with ear bones attached, the first clear paleontological evidence showing relationships between the lower jaw and middle ear,” Meng revealed

The transition from reptiles to mammals has long been an open question, although studies of developing embryos have linked reptilian bones of the lower jaw joint to mammalian middle ear bones.

The new fossil, Liaoconodon hui, fills the gap in knowledge between the basal, early mammaliaforms like Morganucodon, where the middle ear bones are part of the mandible and the definitive middle ear of living and fossil mammals.

Liaoconodon hui is a medium-sized mammal for the Mesozioc (35.7 cm long from nose to tip of tail, or about 14 inches) and dates from 125 to 122 million years.

It is named in part for the bountiful fossil beds in Liaoning, China, where it was found.

The species name, hui, honours palaeontologist Yaoming Hu who graduated from the American Museum of Natural History-supported doctoral program and recently passed away.

The fossil is particularly complete, and its skull was prepared from both dorsal and ventral sides, allowing Meng and colleagues to see that the incus and malleus have detached from the lower jaw to form part of the middle ear.

These bones remain linked to the jaw by the ossified Meckels cartilage that rests in the groove on the lower jaw. The team hypothesizes that in this early mammal, the eardrum was stabilized with the ossified cartilage as a supporting structure.

“Before we did not know the detailed morphology of how the bones of the middle ear detached, or the purpose of the ossified cartilage,” Meng said.

“Liaoconodon hui changes previous interpretations because we now know the detailed morphology of the transitional mammal and can propose that the ossified cartilage is a stabilizer.

“I”ve always dreamed of a fossil with a good ear ossicle. Now, we have had this once in a lifetime discovery,” Meng added.

From the University of Southampton in England:

Jurassic mammals were picky eaters, new study finds

August 20, 2014

Summary:

New analyses of tiny fossil mammals from Glamorgan, South Wales are shedding light on the function and diets of our earliest ancestors, a team reports. Mammals and their immediate ancestors from the Jurassic period (201-145 million years ago) developed new characteristics – such as better hearing and teeth capable of precise chewing.

New analyses of tiny fossil mammals from Glamorgan, South Wales are shedding light on the function and diets of our earliest ancestors, a team including researchers from the University of Southampton report today in the journal Nature. Mammals and their immediate ancestors from the Jurassic period (201-145 million years ago) developed new characteristics — such as better hearing and teeth capable of precise chewing.

By analysing jaw mechanics and fossil teeth, the team were able to determine that two of the earliest shrew-sized mammals, Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium, were not generalised insectivores but had already evolved specialised diets, feeding on distinct types of insects.

Lead author, Dr Pamela Gill of the University of Bristol, said: “None of the fossils of the earliest mammals have the sort of exceptional preservation that includes stomach contents to infer diet, so instead we used a range of new techniques which we applied to our fossil finds of broken jaws and isolated teeth. Our results confirm that the diversification of mammalian species at the time was linked with differences in diet and ecology.”

The team used synchrotron X-rays and CT scanning to reveal in unprecedented detail the internal anatomy of these tiny jaws, which are only 2cm in length. As the jaws are in many pieces, the scans were ‘stitched together’ to make a complete digital reconstruction. Finite element modelling, the same technique used to design hip joints and bridges, was used to perform a computational analysis of the strength of the jaws. This showed that Kuehneotherium and Morganucodon had very different abilities for catching and chewing prey.

Study co-author, Dr Neil Gostling from the University of Southampton, said: “The improvement in CT scanning, both in the instrumentation, at Light Source at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland where we scanned or even the µ-VIS Centre at Southampton, along with access for research of this kind, allows us to make inroads into understanding the biology and the ecology of animals long dead. The questions asked of the technology do not produce ‘speculation’, rather the results show a clearly defined answer based on direct comparison to living mammals. This would not be possible without the computational techniques we have used here.”

Using an analysis previously carried out on the teeth of present-day, insect-eating bats, the researchers found that the teeth of Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium had very different patterns of microscopic pits and scratches, known as ‘microwear’. This indicated they were eating different things with Morganucodon favouring harder, crunchier food items such as beetles while Kuehneotherium selected softer foods such as scorpion flies which were common at the time.

Team leader, Professor Emily Rayfield from the University of Bristol, added: “This study is important as it shows for the first time that the features that make us unique as mammals, such as having only one set of replacement teeth and a specialised jaw joint and hearing apparatus, were associated with the very earliest mammals beginning to specialise their teeth and jaws to eat different things.”