Jamaica extinct ibis discoveries

This is video of a white ibis flying.

By Jennifer Viegas:

Extinct Bird Swung Wings Like a Club

Before humans wiped them out, these fighting birds would clobber each other over territory.

Tue Dec 28, 2010 07:01 PM ET


* A flightless Jamaican ibis bird evolved wings that functioned like a club or flail.
* The birds swung their club-like “weapons” during fights over territory, researchers suggest.
* Humans probably caused the the bird, Xenicibis xympithecus, to go extinct around 10,000 years ago.

Some dinosaurs had club-like tails that they smacked into foes, and now researchers have discovered that the wings of an extinct Jamaican bird evolved into similar structures that the bird would use to clobber rivals during fights.

The bird, Xenicibis xympithecus, is the first known animal that had limbs modified to serve as a club/flail, according to the authors of the study. The paper is published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Before the flightless bird went extinct around 10,000 years ago, it must have engaged in some fierce fighting at its island nation home. Unearthed fossilized remains retain signs of traumatic injuries sustained from delivering or receiving blows.

“I would guess that they would try to grab each other using the beak and then just proceed to pound each other using the wings,” lead author Nicholas Longrich told Discovery News.

Longrich, a post doctoral associate in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University, and colleague Storrs Olson made the determination after analyzing the remains of the bird, which was a relatively large long-billed, long-legged wading ibis. They immediately noticed the bird’s “bizarre” wings.

“The arm is long and spindly, and the hand bones are enlarged, curved and expanded so that the hand looks like a banana,” Longrich said, adding that both females and males had these unusually modified wings.

He and Olson believe the wings functioned like handled clubs and flails, with the arms being the “handles” of the weapons, increasing the angular velocity of the weighted “club” at the end. The bird could then swing its wings, delivering sharp blows whenever the enlarged hand bones struck an opponent.

Since ibises are monogamous and there probably weren’t a lot of animal predators going after the bird, the researchers suspect most fights had to do with staking out home turf.

“There were a lot of birds fighting over the same territories,” Longrich explained. “The best fighters — the ones with the best weapons — were able to secure a good territory and reproduce.”

A number of birds use their wings as weapons. The scientists note that some birds, including screamers, certain jacanas, the spur-winged goose, the torrent duck and nine species of lapwing, employ sharp spurs. Other birds, such as steamer ducks, sheathbills, stone curlews and swans, bear a bony knob on their wings. Two jacanas, Actophilornis and Irediparra, even have triangular blades on their wings.

But no bird — and no other vertebrate living or extinct — possessed limbs modified to serve as a jointed club or flail that could be swung, according to the scientists.

The unique method of defense was likely no match for humans, however, since the extinction of Xenicibis likely happened after people colonized Jamaica.

“Humans wiped out flightless birds like the dodo and the moa wherever they went, so my guess is that Xenicibis shared their fate,” Longrich said.

Richard Prum, chair of Yale’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, told Discovery News that Longrich and Olson make “a good argument for a novel combat function for the flightless forelimbs of this weaponized ibis. Clearly there is much more to learn about avian diversity.”

Helen James, curator of birds at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, believes “the authors are correct that the wing had evolved to serve as a specialized weapon.”

“I can just imagine the rapid-fire blows that these ibises could deliver with their flail-like wings,” she added.

Flying High: Birds and Coffee in Jamaica: here.

What colors were the first birds? Our avian friends appeared about 150 million years ago, and some prehistoric bird fossils have been found with their feathers nearly intact. But the colors faded away long ago, leaving paleontologists in the dark about the original hues. Now a research team employing state-of-the-art chemical imaging has found traces of the plumes’ ancient pigments. The new techniques might eventually tell scientists not only what colors prehistoric birds sported but also why they evolved highly pigmented plumage in the first place: here.

Jimmy Cliff against British Conservatives using his song

This is a music video of “The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff.

From British daily The Independent:

‘I always support the lower classes’: Jimmy Cliff‘s response to his adoption by Cameron

By Emily Dugan

Published: 06 October 2007

As David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, stepped off the conference podium at Blackpool on Wednesday to the strains of “You Can Get It If You Really Want” and the applause of the party faithful, their status as the first couple of the Conservative party was secure.

Even those who had doubted their leader now seem convinced that he is the man to lead them back to power. The Tories are so excited that they have even posted a film of the party leader’s moment of glory on their website, citing the song as part of the success of his closing speech.

But the reggae classic has roots that would drain the blue rinse from those who chanted along so chirpily; roots more associated with drugs and violence than the values that Conservatives hold so dear.

Jimmy Cliff‘s song was the main score of the soundtrack to his film The Harder They Come; a Jamaican exploration of marijuana, gun crime and gang violence. …

And no one is more bemused by Cameron’s song choice than Jimmy Cliff himself – or Dr Cliff, as he now likes to be known. “I’ve never voted in my life”, he said by telephone from the Jamaican capital, Kingston, yesterday. “But I’m from the lower class of society and I tend to support them rather than the upper class. It’s not that I don’t have friends or family in the upper classes – I do – but I always prefer to support the lower classes.”

The singer had just been told of his song’s political use, and made it clear he was no Cameronian. “One of my band mates called me this morning to tell me the news. I can’t stop them using the song, but I’m not a supporter of politics. I have heard of Cameron, but I’m not a supporter. …

But, when confronted with some of the Conservatives’ policies – in particular their hardline stance on drugs – the singer said: “I’m not for hard drugs, but I don’t think marijuana should be against the law.” …

But from across the Atlantic comes a warning that campaign songs can be as embarrassing as they are rousing.

In 1996 Bob Dole had to stop using his version of the Sam & Dave classic “Soul Man” (which he had adapted as “Dole Man”) after the copyright owner sent him a threatening letter.

Toots interview: here.

Ms Dynamite on 18th century Jamaican anti slavery fighter Nanny Maroon

From British weekly The Observer:

My journey in footsteps of anti-slavery heroine

Ms Dynamite, who has made a TV film for the anti-slavery law bicentenary, reveals her pride in Jamaica‘s first freedom fighter to David Smith

Sunday March 18, 2007

Niomi McLean-Daley first heard of the legend of Nanny of the Maroons at Winnie Mandela School near her home in north London.

The daughter of a British mother and a Jamaican father, Niomi was has always been fascinated by her family’s Caribbean past and wider questions of black identity.

In Nanny she found a black icon who also happened to be a woman.

Niomi is now 25 and better known as Ms Dynamite, who burst on to the hip hop music scene five years ago with her debut album, A Little Deeper.

The singer, who has taken time out from recording to look after her three-year-old son, Shavaar, went to Jamaica for a BBC2 documentary, Ms Dynamite in Search of Nanny Maroon, to be shown next Sunday at 8pm, marking the bicentenary of the parliamentary act to end the slave trade.

She is passionate about Nanny and has some highly provocative opinions about the legacy of slavery among black Britons today.

Jamaican Richard Hart, a Marxist historian, trade unionist, lawyer and teacher, died in the UK on Saturday at the age of 96: here.

Seashell fossil from age of dinosaurs found in Turkey

This video is called Giant rudist fossils in Rudist Rock Cave, Jamaica.

From Turkish Daily News:

78-million-year-old sea fossil puts Malatya under water

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

Two academics have found a 78-million-year-old fossil in the southeastern province of Malatya.

Mehmet Önal and Hasan Kavruk, both from Malatya’s İnönü University, told the Anatolia news agency that they have found a rudist fossil, termed an “index fossil” because the type of organism it preserves became extinct at a reasonably well-defined date; thus the absence or presence of the fossil can be used to help date marine sedimentary rocks.

Kavruk said the fossil indicated that the region had at some point in the past been below sea level and been home to numerous such rudist fossils, adding: “The 78-million-year-old rudist fossil purchased by Istanbul University for millions of pounds during the university’s foundation years was also unearthed in Malatya.”

The paleontologist added: “The fossil we found is a rudist, which went extinct 70 million years ago”…

Kavruk also explained: “The fossil is an important piece of scientific evidence confirming that the region was [covered by] a sea in the past.

It is estimated that around 18 million years have passed since the sea receded in Malatya, which has an almost 400-million-year-old marine past. That is why extremely old fossils are found in the area.

Rudists are a group of fossil asymmetric bivalve seashells, which became extinct in the last period of the age of dinosaurs, the Cretaceous.

Umbonal musculature and relationships of the Late Triassic filibranch unionoid bivalves: here.

Bivalve evolution: here.

A present day bivalve is Pinna nobilis.

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