Good whale news from Chile


This video is called BBC Planet Earth (Blue whale).

Not only news about extinct whale species from Chile, also about living species …

From Wildlife Extra:

Blue whales get a boost in Chile

February 2014: Blue whale and dolphin conservation gets a boost with the decision by Chile Government to make Tic Toc, situated on Chile’s southern coast, the largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in continental Chile. With an area of around 90,000 ha (equal to the urban area of Chile’s capital), Tic-Toc is one of the most biodiverse areas of Chilean coast.

“This marine park is a gift and a great inheritance for our children,” said Dr Francisco Viddi, Marine Conservation Program coordinator at WWF Chile. “Tic-Toc will finally be protected; its rich waters, innumerable species and fragile ecosystem will be conserved and the blue whales will continue to have a home here every summer.”

The new MPA is an important feeding and nursing ground for the blue whale, the world’s largest mammal. The area is also home to unique species of dolphins such as the Chilean dolphin and Peale’s dolphin, as well as two endangered species of otter.

“This is the beginning of a path to achieve conservation of at least 10 per cent of Chilean seascapes,” said Dr Viddi. “Still there is much left to do, but we are convinced that the declaration of these new protected areas will be a significant contribution and will be managed seriously and efficiently.”

Along with Tic-Toc, the government also approved the designation of a Marine Coastal Protected Area further south in Aysén. Both efforts will help to consolidate an important pole of conservation in the area.

“Chile urgently needs a network of marine protected areas along the coast and the Tic-Toc Marine Park and the Aysén protected area opens the door,” said Carlos Cuevas, Founder and Director of the Melimoyu Foundation. “We hope that they serve as a model to be replicated in the rest of the country.”

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Did Chilean prehistoric whales die from algae?


This video says about itself:

Smithsonian 3D Digi Landscape – Chilean Fossil Whales – Time Lapse

26 November 2011

9 exposure HDR time lapse shot overnight. Newly discovered fossil whales in foreground with the Pan-american Highway leading towards the port of Caldera, Chile.

From Wildlife Extra:

Ancient marine graveyard mystery solved

February 2014: The 40 marine mammals that washed up on the Chilean coast millions of years ago died at sea probably from being poisoned by toxic algal blooms say scientists.

The marine graveyard was discovered in 2011 when builders working to extend the Pan-American Highway discovered a 250 metre wide quarry site filled with the skeletons of more than 40 marine mammals including 31 large baleen whales, seals, a walrus-like toothed whale, an aquatic sloth and an extinct species of sperm whale, suggesting that they died from the same cause.

The wide array of animals buried at the site over four levels indicated that the cause of death didn’t differentiate between the young and old or between species, and occurred repeatedly over thousands of years. This suggests that harmful algae blooms, which cause organ failure, could be the most common cause of mass strandings.

Other causes, like tsunamis, were ruled out by the team of Chilean and Smithsonian paleontologists because they would have produced a range of skeletons including much smaller species, rather than the primarily large mammals found at Cerro Ballena. A mass stranding while alive was ruled out as a cause of death due to the way all the marine mammals were were found at right angles to the direction that the current would have flowed.

Humans have been using echolocation in the form of sonar since the early part of the 20th century, but whales have made use of the ability to use sound to pinpoint locations for tens of millions of years. As evidenced in the fossils – which belong to a new species of ancient whale named Cotylocara macei – cetaceans have been using echolocation for at least 30 million years: here.

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Plesiosaur discovery in Chile


This video says about itself:

This animation shows how the juvenile plesiosaur, discovered in Antarctica by an American-Argentine research team, might have appeared.

From I Love Chile News:

Chile’s Loch Ness Monster: New Marine Reptile Fossil Found

February 10 15:28 2014

by Josh King

Paleontologists working in Chile’s Bío Bío region have discovered the fossilized remains of a previously unknown species of marine reptile.

Bío Bío — The fossilized remains of a species of plesiosaur has been discovered by a group of Chilean paleontologists working in the country’s Bío Bío region. The Aristonectes quiriquinensis specimen is over 60 million years old and lived in the seas of the Southern hemisphere as long ago as 251 million years.

That is a confusing sentence. 60 million and 251 million is quite a difference. Aristonectes is said to be from the Late Cretaceous, 100-66 million years ago. So, this species did not exist yet 251 million years ago. And 60 million years ago, all plesiosaurs, like all dinosaurs, had become extinct.

The plesiosaur was a large marine reptile that inhabited all of the world’s oceans. They appeared during the late Cretaceous period,

No, the origin of plesiosaurs is earlier. During the Triassic.

and since being found and named in 1821, over a hundred species have been found. They are probably most well-known in modern popular culture as the template for the Loch Ness Monster, which has the benefit of making this species quite famous and generating interest for the study of ancient creatures, but also often makes people mistake the plesiosaur for a made-up fantasy creature. Much to the dismay of any paleontologist.

This new species was first found in 2001, when only its skull was discovered. In 2009, however, parts of its neck were found and it was seen to have a slightly shorter neck than those found in the Northern Hemisphere. This meant that there was a notable difference between Northern and Southern species.

Having published their findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the paleontologists are now studying the remains to find out why these differences have occurred.

With evidence of new extinct creatures being discovered all the time, such as the large meat-eating dinosaur found last year in Utah, it’s just as exciting as ever to hear about new findings of these ancient giants and beginning to sort out the fantasy from the reality.

The scientific description of the species newly discovered in Chile is here.

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Poisoning Chilean prisoners during Pinochet regime


This video says about itself:

Inside Pinochet‘s Prisons – Trailer

16 March 2012

In September 1973 Augusto Pinochet, backed by the United States of America, overthrew Chile‘s Marxist but democratically elected government. Under his direct orders the Chilean secret police erected vast prison camps to detain left wing sympathisers. No-one was safe – doctors, lawyers, trade unionists and communists were all rounded up in the night. Held without trial in Pinochet‘s prisons they were brutally tortured and many executed; an attempt by Pinochet to stamp his ideological mark on the consciousness of a nation. Dressed in his pristine white military jacket Pinochet chillingly told the camera, “Marxism is like a ghost, it’s very difficult to catch – even impossible to trap.”

From the BBC:

24 January 2014 Last updated at 20:42 GMT

Chile accuses four men of poisoning prisoners during Pinochet regime

The authorities in Chile have arrested four ex-army officers for allegedly poisoning prisoners during the military government of Augusto Pinochet.

The men are accused of murdering two inmates and attempting to murder five more by adding a deadly poison, botulinum toxin, to their prison food.

They were allegedly testing a method of killing opponents of Mr Pinochet.

The four suspects are already being investigated in the death of ex-Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva.

He died in 1982 after going into hospital for what should have been a routine operation.

Recent investigations however suggested he might have been poisoned.

‘Nausea and vomiting’

Two of the accused in the latest case – retired general Eduardo Arriagada, a doctor, and retired colonel Sergio Rosende, a veterinarian – worked in a laboratory run by the National Intelligence Directorate, or DINA, Mr Pinochet‘s secret police force.

Retired colonel Joaquin Larrain and retired army commander Jaime Fuenzalida were charged as accomplices.

The seven prisoners fell ill in December 1981 in a jail in the Chilean capital, Santiago.

They were diagnosed at the time as having acute gastritis.

But they showed the effects of serious poisoning from botulinum toxin, according to a statement released by the judicial authorities on Friday, such as “nausea and vomiting, acute mydriasis, difficulty in speaking… and a dry mouth”.

Two of the men died while the other five survived.

More than 3,000 opponents of the Pinochet government were killed or disappeared during his 17 years in power from 1973 to 1990, and about 40,000 were tortured, some of them with poison.

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New national park in Chile


This video is called Wildlife of Tierra del Fuego Park, Argentina.

From Chile:

New National Park to be created in Chile

By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 15/01/2014 – 14:49

Tierra del Fuego, Chile will gain a spectacular new national park through a landmark public-private collaboration between President Sebastian Piñera and Fundación Yendegaia, a branch of Douglas and Kristine Tompkins’ conservation projects. Fundación Yendegaia will donate the former Estancia Yendegaia (94,000 acres) toward the creation of the new national park, while the Chilean government will annex 276,000 acres of adjacent government land, to be upgraded to national park status. The new park will be among Chile’s largest, only slightly smaller than the iconic and nearby Torres del Paine National Park.

The Tompkins were recently awarded a BirdLife Conservation Achievement Award at BirdLife’s World Congress in Ottawa, Canada.

Protecting 370,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, rare sub-Antarctic forest, lakes, and rivers, the park stretches from the Darwin Range to the Argentine border, and from the Beagle Channel to Fagnago Lake. Yendegaia creates a contiguous biological corridor between Chile’s Alberto D’Agostini National Park and Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego National Park. The new park protects the last frontier of pristine sub-Antarctic beech forest, one of Earth’s largest remnants of Gondwana, the last supercontinent from 180 million years ago. Long declared a “Priority Site for Conservation,” the area provides key habitat for three species in danger of extinction (red fox, river otter, and ruddy-headed geese), and a broad range of native flora and fauna, included 128 vascular plant species and 49 bird species.

Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 104 – Darwin’s Fox: here.

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Chilean environmentalist dies


This video from Chile, in Spanish, is about Nicolesa Quintreman and her fight for the environment and the Mapuche native Americans.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Mapuche leader found dead

Thursday 26th December 2013

The face of Chile‘s environmental movement has been found dead in a reservoir

Mapuche Indian leader Nicolesa Quintreman who became the face of Chile’s environmental movement has been found dead in a reservoir she spent a decade trying to prevent.

The authorities said on Wednesday that they were awaiting autopsy results but the death appeared accidental.

While there was no official cause of death yet for 73-year-old Ms Quintreman, who was nearly blind, prosecutor Carlos Diaz said that “she apparently slipped, fell into the lake and died.”

Police found that “the cadaver showed no signs of injury attributable to third persons,” said Mr Diaz.

Forensic pathologists returned the body to her family on Wednesday in preparation for a funeral today.

A day of mourning was declared in the Mapuche community of Alto Biobio.

With her sister Berta, Ms Quintreman became a national figure during protests against a new hydroelectric dam on tribal land in the forested mountains of southern Chile.

They led a public fight against the European power company Endesa at a time when Chile’s environmental enforcement was lax and its indigenous protection law wasn’t closely followed.

“I’m going to tell it like it is. My sister fell into the lake, she won’t ever come back,” Berta Quintreman said.

“This company should leave, and pull everything out.

“I want to emphasise this point – things have to keep progressing because my sister was a tireless fighter, and now my sister has left me all alone.”

Mapuche Resistance Defies the State of Siege: here.

New lizard species discovery in Peru


This video, in Spanish, is about a relative of the recently discovered lizard species. It says about itself:

Here we report about what appears to be a Wreath Tree Iguana or Elegant Tree Iguana (Liolaemus lesmniscatus), a lizard which lives in different parts of Argentina and Chile.

From Wildlife Extra:

New lizards discovered in Peru

Three previously unrecognised species names after cultural icons

December 2013: Three new lizards have been discovered in the Andes by Peruvian and American biologists from San Marcos and Brigham Young universities respectively. These lizards have been ‘hidden’ and confused with other lizards of the same group because of their overall similar appearance.

However this study, which includes molecular, ecological and more detailed morphological analyses, has identified them as new species. The new study shows that with few resources, multiple different lines of evidence can be integrated to discover new species and provide a basis for more stable scientific names. Species with scientific names tend to become more ‘visible’ to national and international governments and organisations devoted to biodiversity conservation.

Species that are not formally described and without scientific names will often not enjoy the protection of conservation programmes – an issue of pivotal importance in the Andean, Patagonian, and Neotropical regions of South America. The new species are named after and dedicated to two different old Andean civilizations, Chavín and Wari, and an Inca ruler, Pachacutec. Liolaemus pachacutec was found above Písac, an Inca ruin built by Pachacutec. Liolaemus chavin was found in an area close to the center of the Chavín culture, where reptiles and other animals were represented in some remarkable artistic expressions. Liolaemus wari was found close to the center of Wari culture, in Ayacucho department, southeastern Peru. The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

Rare mollusc rediscovery in Chile


This video says about itself:

18 July 2012

Take a look at this Mossy Chiton, a member of the phylum Mollusca! Other members of this group include the slugs and snails that you find in your garden. Both chitons and snails have a strong muscular foot that they use for movement; where a snail has a single hard shell to protect its soft body a chiton has eight hard interlocking plates that allow them to curl up into a ball when disturbed.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare tiny mollusc found after 72 year hiatus

A tiny mollusc called a chiton has been recorded for the first time for 72 years in Chile.

November 2013: The discovery of the tiny mollusc was made by Dr Moisés Aguilera from the Intertidal Ecology at the Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA), during a field trip to launch The Open University’s global iSpot website in Chile.

Dr Aguilera said: “It was exciting because this is a very rare species, the only ovoviviparous chiton in the world and it seems to have a constrained distributional range which is not yet determined. The finding could be of global significance since populations of this species are expected to be very sensitive to local extinction. This finding will stimulate future scientific studies on these populations.”

OU Professor of Ecology and Director of iSpot, Jonathan Silvertown led the field trip on which a group of biodiversity students and scientists recorded local flora and fauna and shared this with the iSpot community.

He said: ““What an amazing start to our presence in Chile; it was wonderful to share this early observation with the iSpot community. So much was achieved on the field trip – in just a few days two students recorded 86 species on the university campus and over 400 observations were made during the week. Highlights included dolphins, sea otters, sealions, seabirds and endemic cacti and most of these now have names validated through iSpot’s unique identification system.”

iSpot is a crowd-learning website that helps people identify flora and fauna, and it already has over 30,000 expert and amateur wildlife enthusiasts as part of its community. It was launched in June 2009 and aims to help anyone identify anything in nature. Earlier this year it captured its 300,000th observation. Previous significant identifications on iSpot include a six year-old girl who discovered the Euonymus leaf notcher moth, which was quickly identified by iSpot experts as the first of its kind ever seen in Europe. Another amateur naturalist discovered a species of bee-fly not seen in Britain before.

That chiton species in Chile is called Calloplax vivipara.