Australian marsupial species discovered, killing itself by sex


This video from Australia is called Queensland: The suicidal mating routine of the male marsupial antechinus.

From Reuters:

Scientists Discover New Marsupial That Has Sex Until It Dies

02/21/2014 10:59 am EST

SYDNEY, Feb 20 – Australian scientists have discovered a new species of marsupial, about the size of a mouse, which conduct marathon mating sessions that often prove fatal for the male.

The Black-Tailed Antechinus has been found in the high-altitude, wet areas of far southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales.

It is identifiable by a very shaggy coat and an orangey-brown coloured rump which ends with a black tail.

But it’s their strenuous mating sessions, which can last for to 14 hours, with both the males and females romping from mate to mate, that is most striking about the animals.

“It’s frenetic, there’s no courtship, the males will just grab the females and both will mate promiscuously,” Andrew Baker, head of the research team from the Queensland University of Technology who made the discovery, told Reuters.

The mating season lasts for several weeks and the males will typically die from their exertions.

Excessive stress hormones in the males that build up during the mating season degrade their body tissue, leading to death. Females have the ability to block the production of the hormone.

The species was found at the highest peak of the World-Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests, in Springbrook National Park in Queensland, about 900 km (560 miles) north east of Sydney.

The findings about the new species have been published in the science journal Zootaxa. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Racism in Australia


This video from Australia says about itself:

Apr 17, 2012

A CONTROVERSIAL neo-Nazi music festival will be held in Brisbane this year, drawing white supremacists from around the world.

The yearly Hammered Music Festival, already being advertised through white pride websites, will take place in a secret Brisbane location and feature race hate music from international and local bands, reported The Courier-Mail.

Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke this week labelled the event as “abhorrent to our community”.

The event is being organised by the Southern Cross Hammerskins, the Australian arm of a worldwide group whose members have been convicted of race-based assault and murder.

The Queensland Police Service and the Brisbane City Council have said the groups can legally hold the festival.

A website promoting the festival held on the Gold Coast features links to various white supremacist groups and an embedded YouTube video which praises the “achievements” of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich before and during World War II.

The flyer for the event gives no location for the event, instead asking those interested in attending to email the organisers.

It also makes reference to the infamous Australian National Socialist party which was involved in violent racist attacks in the 1980s.

By Peter Boyle in Australia:

Two-sided racism grows in Australia

Saturday, July 6, 2013

After days of non-stop rain, blue sky peeked out for a moment in Sydney. My partner and I grabbed the lead and took our dog for a much-needed walk in the park. But we hadn’t gone two blocks down the road when to our shock we saw the front door of a long-time resident of our street covered with foul anti-Semitic graffiti.

“Fuck Jews,” it read, “Heil Hitler“. It featured three Nazi swastikas.

We were standing there in shock — even more so when we saw other people walking past without as much as batting an eyelid.

If we were shocked, imagine what the Jewish family living there felt.

This is just a small glimpse of the ugly price of the increasingly strident bipartisan racist scapegoating by politicians in the major parties. Imagine incidents like this multiplied thousands of times aimed at people of various non-Anglo backgrounds throughout the suburbs, in playgrounds and workplaces.

Foreign minister Bob Carr and new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd may casually stigmatise “economic migrants” in their speeches and press statements and imagine they are just having a civil debate. But the full consequence of those two words is far from civil out there in the street.

I know some people say we can’t call Carr and Rudd racist. After all, they’ve both got Asian members of their family. Kevin even speaks Mandarin, for god’s sake. But their families have got bodyguards, drivers in Commonwealth cars to ferry them safely about, secure homes in secure suburbs, and are not likely to face the racist insults that others face on every day.

With the release of the latest opinion polls showing a swing back to Labor, progressive people all around the country are now breathing a sigh of relief that Tony Abbott’s Coalition are no longer looking at a landslide victory.

I know about lesser evils and greater evils. This was clear when I watched the Coalition’s “US-style” campaign rally on TV on June 29, where both former prime minister John Howard and Abbott whipped up an ugly atmosphere when they spoke about “turning back the boats“.

So, is the price we have to pay to keep Abbott at bay a further shift to the right by Labor on its already racist and grossly inhumane refugee policy? And with that, are we to accept as collateral damage the predictable Coalition response of shifting their policy even further to the right?

The lies promoted by the Liberal and Labor parties dupe some progressive people into going along with them. A Greens member I know suggested his party should “smash the people-smuggler rings” in Indonesia to prevent people from getting on leaky boats.

People who buy this lie that it is about people smugglers should stop and think. Imagine proposing such a joint task force against people smugglers to the government of a country bordering Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.

There is another way, but the ugly surprise my partner and I had while taking the dog for a walk today leaves me with no confidence that we can expect any better from the new Rudd Labor government. However, I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

This day in Jewish history / 1555: Pope Paul IV orders Jews to live in a ghetto: here.

Ancient Australian fish discovery


Reconstruction of Edenopteron, photo Melissa Adams

From the Australian National University:

Ancient fish species discovered

FRIDAY, 08 MARCH 2013

Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) working on the New South Wales south coast have discovered a new species of ancient fish, after unearthing the largest fossilised lobe-finned fish skull ever found in rocks of Devonian age. The descendants of these ancient fish evolved into the first land animals.

Dr Gavin Young from the Research School of Earth Sciences and his research team were excavating the skeleton of an extinct armoured fish from 360 million-year-old rock near Eden, NSW, when the bones they uncovered suggested there was more in the site than met the eye.

“As we lifted out the block, we noticed a very large fang, at least 4 cm long,” said Dr Young. “Armoured fish don’t have teeth, so we knew there must be a much larger predator also preserved at the site.

“We uncovered an almost complete skull and shoulder girdle of an enormous lobe-finned fish, with jaws about 48 cm long.”

Preparing the fossil in the ANU laboratory took several years.

“We used traditional methods of acid etching and casting, but also experimented with the latest surface scanning techniques to reconstruct the bones, and used the ANU high resolution CT scanner to investigate the internal structure of the teeth.

“We compared the shape and structure of the preserved bones with about 100 fossil fish species from elsewhere in the world. It turns out that we have not only found a species new to science, but also a new genus of lobe-finned fish, which we have named Edenopteron after the town of Eden,” said Dr Young.

The species name Edenopteron keithcrooki acknowledges Professor Keith Crook of the former ANU Geology Department, who supervised student geological mapping on the NSW south coast over several decades, when many of the important fossil fish sites were discovered. The new species is described today in the international journal PLOS ONE.

The discovery of this new species has implications for the classification of other Devonian lobe-finned fish, says Dr Young.

“This animal had some unusual features compared to Devonian fish fossils from the Northern Hemisphere, including extra bones in its palate, and strange ornamentation on the scales,” said Dr Young.

“These features were first identified in fish fossils from the well-known Canowindra fossil site in central NSW, and we have now found the strange scales at the Jemalong Range near Forbes, and in similar-aged rocks in Australian Antarctic Territory. The Eden site is only the fourth place in the world where Devonian fish show these unusual features,” explained Dr Young.

When Edenopteron was alive, Australia and Antarctica were joined in the great southern supercontinent of Gondwana.

“It’s pretty clear that we had an endemic lobe-finned fish group in this part of the world, and that has very interesting consequences for hypotheses of where the first land animals evolved,” said Dr Young.

The next step for the research team is to continue excavating the site to see if the body of Edenopteron might be preserved deeper in the rock.

“That would be a massive excavation because it would be 2 to 3m long, but would most definitely be an absolutely spectacular find,” said Dr Young.

This work was completed under an ARC Discovery Grant. The article can be accessed here.