New South American tapir species discovery

This video is called New Tapir Species Discovered In Amazon, Indigenous Tribes Were ‘Essential’ To Identify.

From Wildlife Extra:

Dramatic discovery of new tapir species in south-west Amazon

Tapirus kabomani is the largest land mammal to be discovered in decades

December 2013: In one of the most important zoological discoveries of the 21st century, scientists have announced they have found a new species of tapir in Brazil and Columbia. The new mammal, hidden from science but known to local indigenous tribes, is actually one of the biggest animals on the continent, although it’s still the smallest living tapir. Described in the Journal of Mammology, the scientists have named the new tapir Tapirus kabomani after the name for ‘tapir’ in the local Paumari language: ‘Arabo kabomani’.

Tapirus kabomani, or the Kobomani tapir, is the fifth tapir found in the world and the first to be discovered since 1865. It is also the first mammal in the order Perissodactyla (which includes tapirs, rhinos, and horses) found in over a hundred years. Moreover, this is the largest land mammal to be discovered in decades: in 1992 scientists discovered the saola in Vietnam and Cambodia, a rainforest bovine that is about the same size as the new tapir.

Found inhabiting open grasslands and forests in the Brazilian states of Rondônia and Amazonas, as well as the Colombian department of Amazonas, the new species is regularly hunted by the Karitiana tribe who call it the ‘little black tapir’. The new species is most similar to the Brazilian tapir (Tapirus terrestris), but sports darker hair and is significantly smaller: while a Brazilian tapir can weigh up to 320 kilograms (710 pounds), the Kabomani weighs just 110 kilograms (240 pounds). It also has shorter legs, a distinctly-shaped skull, and a less prominent crest.

Lead author and paleontologist Mario Cozzuol first found evidence of the new species a decade ago while looking at tapir skulls, which were markedly different than any other. Researchers then collected genetic material and tapir specimens from local hunters and the Karitiana Indians and extensive research into both the tapir’s physical appearance and genetics proved that the researchers were indeed dealing with an as-yet-undescribed species.

See also here.

Colombia, world’s most bird species

This video is called Colombia birds and wildlife.

From Wildlife Extra:

Almost 2,000 bird species and a world record for Colombia

December 2013: For the first time the official numbers of bird species registered in Colombia has exceeded 1,900, according to the scientific publication Conservación Colombiana.

This represents a new world record and firmly establishes Colombia as the world’s most biodiverse country.

This year, a sixth annual review was published through a collaboration of ornithological experts from Colombia, the USA and Europe, verifying the number of species registered within Colombia. A total of 1,903 species have now been recorded inside Colombia.

After 15 years of compilation, fieldwork and detailed revisions by the authors, these publications reveal Colombia host almost one fifth (18 per cent) of the 10,507 birds known on earth in just 0.8 per cent of its land surface. In an area the size of Texas and California, Colombia has registered almost twice as many bird species as the entire continental United States and Canada (with 976 species)

Colombia leads Peru in second place with 1838 species and Brazil in third place with 1798 species.

“Significant improvements in the security situation in large parts of Colombia in recent years have led to a wave of tours by birdwatchers experiencing Colombia’s stunning bird diversity” said checklist coauthor, Alonso Quevedo. “With this increase in ecotourism and continuing explorations of remote regions by Colombian and other ornithologists, the Colombian bird list will doubtless grow further, highlighting the region as key area for bird conservation.”

Although the Colombian list has increased, largely through ornithological study and findings of rare vagrant species, the situation for the best habitats for birds in Colombia – its primary forests – is less secure. With the return of security to many parts of rural Colombia and economic development, threats to bird life in Colombia have been mounting, forests are being cleared at accelerating rates and bird populations have been reduced. The greatest threats involve clearance of lowland tropical forest for African oil palm plantations for ethanol production (biofuels) in the western lowland forests of Chocó and Amazonian regions, as well as deforestation of Andean forests for agriculture.

“Worryingly, 206 bird species in Colombia are at risk of extinction, including 59 endemic bird species restricted to the country” noted Dr. Paul Salaman, director of Rainforest Trust and another coauthor of the Checklist since 2001. “Fortunately, the Colombian bird conservation group, Fundación ProAves, has been working towards the protection of the most critically endangered birds in recent years with a network of 24 bird reserves established across the country to protect over 1,300 bird species.”

Hellbender salamander rock music video

This video from the Center for Biological Diversity in the USA says about itself:

Hellbenders Rock

20 nov 2013

We love hellbenders. But they’re not the cuddliest of species, with their slimy bodies that look like the 2-foot-long lovechild of phlegm and a rock. Actually these critters — also called (by people not on the Center’s staff) “devil dogs” and “snot otters” — are pretty much a PR nightmare for anyone trying to fight off their extinction due to water pollution and dams. The rallying cry “Save the Snot Otter” doesn’t always go over well.

Happily for the hellbender, a band from St. Louis is now doing this salamander justice through song. They may yet make a rock ‘n’ roll legend out of North America’s largest amphibian.

We think there are few things more rockin’ than raising a little hellbender.


HELLBENDER: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
FAMILY: Cryptobranchidae

DESCRIPTION: Hellbenders are considered to be living fossils because they have changed so little over time. They are large, stout-bodied, fully-aquatic salamanders that grow to be two feet long with brown, grey or black skin with lighter markings. Hellbenders have flattened bodies and heads that allow them to cling to the river bottom, as well as a rough pad on their toes for traction on slick rocks. They have paddle-like tails for swimming, and numerous folds of fleshy skin for oxygen absorption. Their eyes are small, without lids, and their skin secretes toxic slime to ward off predators.

HABITAT: This salamander occurs in rocky, clear creeks and rivers, usually where there are large shelter rocks. It generally avoids water warmer than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Males prepare nests and attend eggs beneath large, flat rocks or submerged logs.

RANGE: This species is found in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The Ozark subspecies is found only in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.

MIGRATION: The hellbender does not migrate.

BREEDING: Hellbender breeding is aquatic. Males may move short distances within their home ranges to brooding sites. The breeding season is variable but occurs mainly in September and October; a male prepares a nest by moving gravel to create a saucer-shaped depression, then depositing 200-400 eggs in the depression. The male fertilizes the eggs and guards the nests until the young are about three weeks old.

LIFE CYCLE: Newly hatched larvae are approximately 1.2 inches long. Development is rapid, and hatchlings double their size in the first year. Larvae normally lose their external gills in the second summer after hatching. Hellbenders reach sexual maturity at five to six years and may live as long as 30 years.

FEEDING: Crayfish are the most important food items for hellbenders, but the salamanders’ diet also includes fish, insects, earthworms, snails, tadpoles, fish eggs, other hellbenders and other hellbenders’ eggs.

THREATS: This species is mainly threatened by poor water quality, unsustainable collection for the pet trade and scientific purposes, persecution by anglers, disease caused by chytrid fungus, stocking of predatory fish and loss of genetic diversity.

POPULATION TREND: The hellbender is declining throughout its range. The Ozark hellbender in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas is in especially alarming decline.

Action timeline

May 4, 2004 — The Center petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list 225 candidate species, including the Ozark hellbender.

April 20, 2010 — The Center petitioned to list 404 aquatic, riparian and wetland species in the southeastern United States as threatened or endangered, including the hellbender.

September 8, 2010 — The Service issued a proposed rule to list the Ozark hellbender as endangered but refused to designate critical habitat.

November 8, 2010 — The Center filed comments with the Fish and Wildlife Service urging the Service to designate critical habitat for the Ozark hellbender.

July 12, 2011 — The Center reached a landmark agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service compelling the agency to move forward in the protection process for 757 species, including the Ozark and eastern hellbenders.

October 5, 2011 — The Service issued a final rule listing the Ozark hellbender as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act as part of our 757 species agreement.

January 31, 2013 — The Center and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agencies’ failure to protect the Ozark hellbender, Hine’s emerald dragonfly, Tumbling Creek cavesnail and two endangered mussels on Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest, where logging, road use and other activities are polluting waterways.

Two new species of mini-salamander discovered in Colombia: here.

New South American mammal discovery

This video is called Olinguito: Smithsonian announces discovery of new species in the raccoon family, called olinguito.

From Wildlife Extra:

First new species of carnivore in western hemisphere discovered for 35 years

Has appeared unrecognised in museums and even zoos!

August 2013. Observed in the wild, tucked away in museum collections, and even exhibited in zoos around the world-there is one mysterious creature that has been a victim of mistaken identity for more than 100 years. A team of Smithsonian scientists, however, uncovered overlooked museum specimens of this remarkable animal, which took them on a journey from museum cabinets in Chicago to cloud forests in South America to genetics labs in Washington, D.C. The result: the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) – the first carnivore species to be discovered in the American continents in 35 years.

Related to raccoons and coatis

The olinguito is the latest scientifically documented member of the family Procyonidae, which it shares with raccoons, coatis, kinkajous and olingos. The 2-pound olinguito, with its large eyes and woolly orange-brown fur, is native to the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador, as its scientific name, “neblina” (Spanish for “fog”), hints. In addition to being the latest described member of its family, another distinction the olinguito holds is that it is the newest species in the order Carnivora-an incredibly rare discovery in the 21st century.

“The discovery of the olinguito shows us that the world is not yet completely explored, its most basic secrets not yet revealed,” said Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and leader of the team reporting the new discovery. “If new carnivores can still be found, what other surprises await us? So many of the world’s species are not yet known to science. Documenting them is the first step toward understanding the full richness and diversity of life on Earth.”

Olingo research turned up a surprise

Discovering a new species of carnivore, however, does not happen overnight. This one took a decade, and was not the project’s original goal-completing the first comprehensive study of olingos, several species of tree-living carnivores in the genus Bassaricyon, was. Helgen’s team wanted to understand how many olingo species should be recognized and how these species are distributed-issues that had long been unclear to scientists. Unexpectedly, the team’s close examination of more than 95 percent of the world’s olingo specimens in museums, along with DNA testing and the review of historic field data, revealed existence of the olinguito, a previously undescribed species.

Lives in the Andes

The first clue came to Helgen from the olinguito’s teeth and skull, which were smaller and differently shaped than those of olingos. Examining museum skins revealed that this new species was also smaller overall with a longer and denser coat; field records showed that it occurred in a unique area of the northern Andes Mountains at 5,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level-elevations much higher than the known species of olingo. This information, however, was coming from overlooked olinguito specimens collected in the early 20th century. The question Helgen and his team wanted to answer next was: Does the olinguito still exist in the wild?

To answer that question, Helgen called on Roland Kays, director of the Biodiversity and Earth Observation Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, to help organize a field expedition.

Nocturnal fruitarian

The team had a lucky break that started with a camcorder video. With confirmation of the olinguito’s existence via a few seconds of grainy video shot by their colleague Miguel Pinto, a zoologist in Ecuador, Helgen and Kays set off on a three-week expedition to find the animal themselves. Working with Pinto, they found olinguitos in a forest on the western slopes of the Andes, and spent their days documenting what they could about the animal-its characteristics and its forest home. Because the olinguito was new to science, it was imperative for the scientists to record every aspect of the animal. They learned that the olinguito is mostly active at night, is mainly a fruit eater, rarely comes out of the trees and has one baby at a time.

Cloud forest

In addition to body features and behaviour, the team made special note of the olinguito’s cloud forest Andean habitat, which is under heavy pressure of human development. The team estimated that 42 percent of historic olinguito habitat has already been converted to agriculture or urban areas.

“The cloud forests of the Andes are a world unto themselves, filled with many species found nowhere else, many of them threatened or endangered,” Helgen said. “We hope that the olinguito can serve as an ambassador species for the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia, to bring the world’s attention to these critical habitats.”

Has appeared in museums and zoos

While the olinguito is new to science, it is not a stranger to people. People have been living in or near the olinguito’s cloud forest world for thousands of years. And while misidentified, specimens have been in museums for more than 100 years, and at least one olinguito from Colombia was exhibited in several zoos in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. There were even several occasions during the past century when the olinguito came close to being discovered but was not. In 1920, a zoologist in New York thought an olinguito museum specimen was so unusual that it might be a new species, but he never followed through in publishing the discovery.

Giving the olinguito its scientific name is just the beginning. “This is the first step,” Helgen said. “Proving that a species exists and giving it a name is where everything starts. This is a beautiful animal, but we know so little about it. How many countries does it live in? What else can we learn about its behaviour? What do we need to do to ensure its conservation?” Helgen is already planning his next mission into the clouds.

The team’s discovery is published in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal ZooKeys.

Cute Pictures: Baby Olinguito Found in Colombia: here.

If you’re like most of the internet, you’ll love this feline photo. Behold: the first camera trap image of an Andean cat in the Argentine province of Neuquen, courtesy of the WCS Patagonian and Andean Steppe program. This is the farthest south and lowest elevation at which the species has been photographed: here.

A catalog of mammalian type specimens in the collections of Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Norway, is presented. All type specimens in the Museum’s mammal collection were revisited and the respective label information was compared with the data provided in the original descriptions. Most taxa were described from type series with no specimen particularly assigned to holotype. The compiled catalog of the type specimens is not intended as a taxonomic revision of the respective taxa, which is why we have not designated lectotypes from the collection’s type series. Specimens that were clearly marked as “the type” in the original description were considered holotypes. The catalog consists of 19 taxa, with the year of authority corrected for three taxa: here.

Rare Orinoco crocodiles satellite tracking

This is a video from Venezuela about Orinoco crocodile conservation.

From Wildlife Extra:

Orinoco crocodiles to be tracked by satellite

Four of these reptiles will be released and monitored with satellite transmitters

August 2013. Two of the world’s twelve species of crocodiles live in Colombia, the spectacled caiman (Severely threatened locally) and the Critically Endangered Orinoco crocodile.

The Orinoco crocodile can reach seven feet long and is the only crocodile species whose distribution is contained in a single watershed. Although they originally lived throughout the entire area of the Orinoco, it has been endangered by indiscriminate hunting, especially 1930-1950.

“Today there are only two relic populations of these animals in the wild, in Arauca region (At the confluence of the Ele, Lipa and Cravo Rivers) and the Meta region (In the Guayabero, Duda and Losada Rivers),” says the environmental scientist Willington Martinez, of the UN’s Roberto Franco Tropical Biology Station.

The Franco station has been working on plans to protect the species by developing a project to reintroduce Orinoco crocodiles into the wild; the project is being run with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS). The project plans to release and monitor four Orinoco crocodiles, which have been fitted with satellite transmitters in the department of Meta.

Crocodile release

Experts have chosen pre-juvenile specimens that retain their hunting instinct, have been isolated from the public, and are used to capturing live prey. They have undergone blood tests and physical examinations to establish that they are in good health.

The transmitters will be attached externally, and every time one of the animals removes its head from the water, the data will be sent to a satellite. The information can be accessed from a web page (which can be accessed by any user) and even be sent to mobile phones of the experts.

The researchers hope to obtain data that allow them to determine patterns of habitat use and movement.

Read more at the website of the National University of Colombia; also here.