Asian fossil birds, new research


This video says about itself:

Two of Papua New Guinea‘s many birds of paradise – the Magificent and the King – put on an show of dancing and hanging upside down in spectacular courtship display.

By Hanneke J.M. Meijer:

The avian fossil record in Insular Southeast Asia and its implications for avian biogeography and palaeoecology

Abstract

Excavations and studies of existing collections during the last decades have significantly increased the abundance as well as the diversity of the avian fossil record for Insular Southeast Asia. The avian fossil record covers the Eocene through the Holocene, with the majority of bird fossils Pleistocene in age. Fossil bird skeletal remains represent at least 63 species in 54 genera and 27 families, and two ichnospecies are represented by fossil footprints. Birds of prey, owls and swiftlets are common elements.

Extinctions seem to have been few, suggesting continuity of avian lineages since at least the Late Pleistocene, although some shifts in species ranges have occurred in response to climatic change. Similarities between the Late Pleistocene avifaunas of Flores and Java suggest a dispersal route across southern Sundaland. Late Pleistocene assemblages of Niah Cave (Borneo) and Liang Bua (Flores) support the rainforest refugium hypothesis in Southeast Asia as they indicate the persistence of forest cover, at least locally, throughout the Late Pleistocene and Holocene.

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Orchids and axolotls in the botanical garden


This is a Dutch video about botanist Ed de Vogel, who discovered many orchids on New Guinea island.

9 December 2013. To the botanical garden orchid collection.

We met Ed de Vogel at the recently restored hothouse complex of the botanical garden. The banana plants were flowering.

Eleven plant species are named after De Vogel. also two species of seashells; which he studied before specializing in botany.

He said that now, about 3000 New Guinea orchid species are known. Maybe still a thousand species there are unknown yet.

De Vogel estimates that, all over the world, there are about 30,000 orchid species; a higher estimate than Wikipedia, which estimates, at least today, “between 21,950 and 26,049″ species. De Vogel’s estimate makes orchids the biggest flowering plant family; more numerous than Asteraceae.

Most orchids are epiphytes, growing on shrubs, or high in trees. A minority, including all species native to the Netherlands, grow on ground level.

One of the species in the hothouses is Grammatophyllum speciosum, the biggest orchid species in the world.

Other species here: Arundina graminifolia. And Dendrobium chrysopterum. Discovered only ten years ago; described then by De Vogel.

A bit further, a related species: Dendrobium spectabile.

In all the botanical garden hothouses together, there are about 3000 orchid species; some not yet described. Mainly from South East Asia; making Leiden botanical garden the garden with most South East Asian orchids in the world.

Bulbophyllum medusae is flowering. Various orchids flower in the hothouses throughout the year; never all at once.

In the hothouse, only accessible for scientific research, there are not only orchids, but pitcher plants as well: Nepenthes vogelii.

Dendrobium victoria-reginae is originally from the Philippines. It was named after Queen Victoria of England.

Chelonistele maximae-reginae is named after Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. Recently, De Vogel described that new species.

In a small aquarium in the non-accessible part of the building, many small fish. And three axolotl salamanders: two whitish, one brownish. Will they be exhibited in a bigger aquarium, visible for the public, again, like before the reconstruction of the hothouses. Yes, says Ed de Vogel.

This video says about itself:

Axolotl salamanders continue to intrigue researchers

15 June 2011

Students and professors at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois are studying axolotl salamanders. They are trying to discover why some of the salamanders appear to hold air in their lungs while continuing to get oxygen through their gills. The lungs full of air make the salamanders float to the surface, and the students call them “Floaters.”

New frog species discovery in Papua New Guinea


This video is called Feet in the Mud: Calling Frogs in Papua New GuineaConservation International (CI).

From Wildlife Extra:

Three tiny new frog species discovered in Papua New Guinea

3 new species of tiny frogs from the remarkable region of Papua New Guinea

September 2013. Three tiny new species of frogs have been discovered in Papua New Guinea. Dr Fred Kraus, of the University of Michigan, who in 2011 in Zookeys described the world’s smallest frogs Paedophryne dekot and Paedophryne verrucosa, now adds another 3 species from the genus Oreophryne to the remarkable diversity of this region.

The three new species Oreophryne cameroni, Oreophryne parkopanorum and Oreophryne gagneorum are all rather minute, with total body lengths of around 20 mm. These tiny frogs are still substantially larger than the species that claimed the smallest frog prize in 2011. Paedophryne dekot and Paedophryne verrucosa are only half of the length of the three new additions to the frog diversity of Papua New Guinea, with an astonishingly small body size ranging between 8-9 mm.

The subfamily to which the new species belong is largely restricted to New Guinea and its satellite islands. Of the constituent genera, Oreophryne is presently one of the largest within the Papuan Region.

More discoveries due

“Although the description of these new species now brings to seven the number of Oreophryne species reported from the north-coast region of New Guinea, the presence from these areas of additional specimens of uncertain identity suggests that additional species likely await description,” explains Dr Kraus about the diversity of the genus within the region. “I have at least a dozen more new Oreophryne species remaining to be described from this region, and large portions of this terrain system remain unsurveyed.”

The frogs are described in the latest issue of Zookeys.

New sea slug, feather star species discoveries in Papua New Guinea


This video is called Tab Island, Madang, Papua New Guinea, 18 August 2009.

From Wildlife Extra:

New species of sea slugs, feather stars and amphipods discovered in Papua New Guinea lagoon

Expedition led by Nova Southeastern University‘s National Coral Reef Institute discovers wealth of wildlife

March 2013. When Jim Thomas and his global team of researchers returned to the Madang Lagoon in Papua New Guinea, they discovered a treasure trove of new species unknown to science. This is especially relevant as the research team consisted of scientists who had conducted a previous survey in the 1990s.

“In the Madang Lagoon, we went a half mile out off the leading edge of the active Australian Plate and were in 6,000 metres of water,” said Thomas, Ph.D., a researcher at Nova Southeastern University’s National Coral Reef Institute in Hollywood, Fla. “It was once believed there were no reefs on the north coast of Papua New Guinea since there were no shallow bays and lagoons typical of most coral reef environments. But there was lots of biodiversity to be found.”

New species

Thomas and his team discovered new species of sea slugs (nudibranchs), feather stars (crinoids) and amphipods (genus Leucothoe). There was more variety of these indicator species found than there is in the entire length of Australia’s 1,600-mile Great Barrier Reef.

“This was an astonishing discovery,” Thomas said. “We returned to our labs and began to formally assess our collections. We had no idea this lagoon’s bounty was so profound.”

The international team Thomas led included researchers from and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, the California Academy of Sciences and the National Botanical Gardens of Ireland. Their 3-week expedition ended late last year. While in Madang, they joined a large French contingent of scientists from the Paris Museum of Natural History. The NSU-led research team’s findings will be shared with the local villagers, as well as regional and federal governments. It will also be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Environmental threats

The Madang Lagoon faces many environmental threats by land-based pollution from a recently opened tuna cannery whose outfall is very close to the lagoon’s reefs. “Hopefully, our discoveries will strongly encourage governing bodies to recognize the environmental importance of the lagoon and work to stop the pollution,” Thomas said.

New birds-of-paradise website


This video is called Birds-of-Paradise Project.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Cornell Lab eNews

February 2013

Explore new multimedia website about the Birds-of-Paradise Project

The new website helps explain the Red Bird-of-Paradise‘s lovely display, and much more. Photo by Tim Laman.

Science and Beauty Converge on New Birds-of-Paradise Website

Come along with us in the next phase of the Birds-of-Paradise Project: a new website that uses high-definition video to explore the science of these exquisite birds. The site features 35 videos, expert narration by the project scientists, plus sounds, slideshows, and downloadable lessons for educators. We’ll show you how the males create their jaw-dropping colors, shapes, and dances. And we’ll show you why it’s the subdued females that end up in the most powerful roles. Explore the site.

Looking for recommendations? Here are a few of our favorites to start with:

Bird-of-paradise videos


These videos are part of the Birds-of-paradise project.

This video is about that project.

This video about birds-of paradise on the Aru islands in Indonesia says about itself:

Nov 12, 2012 by LabofOrnithology

See what it took for National Geographic photographer Tim Laman, to capture the shot of a lifetime.

This video is called Greater Bird-of-Paradise.

This video is called King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise. Filmed by Tim Laman near Tari Gap in November of 2010.

This video says about itself:

Visit a King Bird-of-Paradise‘s perch in the lowland forests of the Bird’s Head Peninsula in western New Guinea. Watch as a diminutive male practices his courtship display. He aims to impress females with a combination of velvety red plumage, two emerald-green feather disks that bobble on wiry shafts—plus fan-shaped side feathers and abrupt about-face dance moves. Filmed by Tim Laman in August 2009.

More about the birds-of-paradise project is here.