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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South African sharks and sardines


This video says about itself:

20 Dec 2013

Traveltherenext.tv: http://www.youtube.com/ChristinaPfeiffer features The Sardine Run, Wild Coast, South Africa with Tony Isaacson, diver, marine scientist and underwater explorer. Tony’s goal is to spend the rest of his life diving in the most amazing places on the planet.To get in touch with Tony, go here.

From the Queensland Times in Australia about this:

Coast diver to contend with sharks in South African waters

Christina Pfeiffer

20th Dec 2013 2:46 PM

SUNSHINE Coast teacher of marine sciences, PADI Scuba Diving Instructor and AWARE shark specialist, Tony Isaacson has dived in some of the most amazing diving locations on the planet.

He has logged over 3000 dives in more than 20 countries around the world and has explored the depths of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

Isaacson has documented the marine diversity in exotic locations like Komodo, Fiji, Tahiti, Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands.

He was a diver on the 60 Minutes team that filmed a documentary to re-introduce navy clearance diver Paul de Gelder, who lost his arm and leg in a bull shark attack in Sydney Harbour, to bull sharks in Fiji.

His next adventure is a diving trip to South Africa’s Wild Coast, which is known as one of the most sensational natural predatory shows on earth.

Find out why Tony Isaacson is excited about South Africa’s Sardine Run.

The Sunshine Coast’s Point Cartwright starred as South Africa’s Wild Coast in this video.

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Giant platypus fossil discovery in Australia


This is an artist’s reconstruction of Obdurodon tharalkooschild. The inset shows its first lower molar. Image credit: Peter Schouten

From Wildlife Extra:

Giant extinct toothed platypus discovered

A fossil of a prehistoric giant toothed platypus discovered in Australia

November 2013: A giant carnivorous platypus with razor sharp teeth once roamed the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in Queensland, Australia, researchers from the University of New South Wales have discovered. Named Obdurodon tharalkooschild it is believed to have lived around 15 million years ago and was about one metre in length, twice the size of its modern day relative the peculiar looking, egg-laying, otter footed, beaver tailed duck-billed platypus. And unlike today’s relation it had functional, sharp teeth, which were used to slice and chew crayfish, frogs and small turtles.

The discovery of the new species’ tooth in a limestone deposit was made by Rebecca Pian, a PhD candidate at Columbia University and former UNSW Honours student, and Professor Mike Archer and Associate Professor Suzanne Hand, of the UNSW School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences.

“A new platypus species, even one that is highly incomplete, is a very important aid in developing understanding about these fascinating mammals,” says Rebecca Pian.

It is believed that, like other platypuses, it was probably a mostly aquatic mammal, and would have lived in and around the freshwater pools in the forests that covered the Riversleigh area millions of years ago.

“Discovery of this new species was a shock to us because prior to this, the fossil record suggested that the evolutionary tree of platypuses was a relatively linear one,” says Mike Archer. “Now we realize that there were unanticipated side branches on this tree, some of which became gigantic.”

The name Obdurodon tharalkooschild derives from the Greek for “lasting tooth” and an Australian folk story about the genus’ origin that features a strong-willed female duck who ignored her parents’ warnings and was set upon by Bigoon, a water-rat, leading to unusual-looking offspring.

See also here. And here.

The scientific description of this new species is here.

Australian lizards, frog new species discoveries


This video from Queensland, Australia says about itself:

Unique biodiversity of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve

2 July 2013

Sign the petition to help us Save Steve’s Place here.

This amazing footage features some of the unique biodiversity on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula.

The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve is a conservation property and a tribute to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

The 135,000 ha property, in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, is home to a set of important spring fed wetlands which provide a critical water source to threatened habitat, provide permanent flow of water to the Wenlock River, and is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife.

Currently the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve is being threatened by strip mining.

UPDATE: Campbell Newman, the Premier of Queensland, Australia, has promised the Steve Irwin Reserve on Cape York will be protected forever from mining under new legislation: here.

From RT:

Australia’s ‘lost world’ dazzles with new species

October 28, 2013 12:57

A remote mountain range in northern Australia just gave the world three new species after sitting in isolation for millions of years – including a ‘primitive-looking’ gecko. The scientists are excited for a return, hopeful of uncovering more new species.

We now know of a peculiar leaf-tailed gecko, a golden skink lizard and a brown-spotted yellow frog – none of them previously seen.

The expedition carried out by Conrad Hoskin from James Cook University and a film crew from National Geographic was to a difficult-to-reach and previously unexplored part of the Cape York Peninsula, which previously had only been subjected to lowland studies of impassable boulder fields.

The area is covered with tons of giant black granite boulders extending vertically for hundreds of meters and the result of nature’s furious prehistoric natural processes. But atop the mountain range, recently captured by satellites, sits a rainforest previously only explored by satellites.

Mere days upon arrival, Hoskin and his crew stumbled upon not one – but three new species at the same time. “The top of Cape Melville is a lost world. Finding these new species up there is the discovery of a lifetime — I’m still amazed and buzzing from it,” Hoskin, a tropical biologist by trade, told AFP.

“Finding three new, obviously distinct vertebrates would be surprising enough in somewhere poorly explored like New Guinea, let alone in Australia, a country we think we’ve explored pretty well,” he continued, adding that a few other interesting things were uncovered that may be new to science – but declined to comment further.

Of the three new species the gecko fascinated the team the most. It was described as a “primitive-looking”, 20cm creature that is a nod to an era when rainforests were far more widespread in Australia. The pre-historic reptile also has huge eyes, with a long slender body, but all in all a very different animal to its relatives.

“The second I saw the gecko I knew it was a new species. Everything about it was obviously distinct,” he said.

The newfound Leaf-tailed Gecko names Saltuarius eximius by Hoskin as the findings were publicized in the international journal Zootoxa.

As far as differences with close relatives go, the skink is also very notable, as it displays very distinct characteristics from its geographical neighbor in the rainforests to the south.

The newly-discovered frog is creative in its use of the surrounding terrain. Because frogs require water for eggs to develop, the frog leaves them in between the moist areas of the giant boulders, far from ideal – but it works: in the absence of water, the tadpole develops fully within the egg, before hatching.

Also on the research team was a National Geographic photographer and Harvard University researcher Tim Laman, who relayed his amazement at how such discoveries are still taking place.

“What’s really exciting about this expedition is that in a place like Australia, which people think is fairly well explored, there are still places like Cape Melville where there are all these species to discover,” Laman said, adding that “there’s still a big world out there to explore.”

The team is happy at the prospect of discovering even more new species as they plan to return in a matter of months. They mentioned the possibility of new species of snails, spiders and, surprisingly enough – small mammals.

“All the animals from Cape Melville are incredible just for their ability to persist for millions of years in the same area and not go extinct. It’s just mind-blowing,” Hoskin concluded.

Rare Horned Lizards of Sri Lanka Revealed: here.

For those who discover new species, the prospect of their science being used to poach the species is a strange one: here.

A gecko that fades into the background, a 12 metre tree and an appealing carnivorous mammal have made the top ten new species of 2014: here.

US bombs on Australian Great Barrier Reef


This video is called Great Barrier Reef – Nature’s Miracles.

From Big News Network:

US pilots drop bombs onto Australian tourist spot

Sunday 21st July, 2013

Two US fighter jets have dropped four unarmed bombs on Australia’s top tourist destination, the Great Barrier Reef.

US military officials said the bombs had been let go due to an emergency situation which had befallen both aircraft.

It is believed the pilots of the two AV-8B Harrier jets jettisoned four unarmed bombs as a result of running low on fuel.

They were unable to land with the bomb load onto their aircraft carrier, the USS Bonhomme Richard, from which they had been launched.

The bombs were to have been dropped onto a nearby bombing range as part of a training exercise which was being held in conjunction with the Australian military.

More than 28,000 US and Australian military forces have taken part in a three-week amphibious, airborne and special operations training exercise which is being observed by officials from Australia, the United States, Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia, Canada and the UK.

The Australian government recently welcomed permanent members of the US military forces.

The government announced in June that 1,150 US Marines would be deployed in rotating tours of duty in Australia.

Following its disastrous results in recent foreign wars the US has switched to softer targets, bombing the Great Barrier Reef in what the military claimed on Saturday was a training exercise mishap: here.

Central Australia’s Pine Gap spy base played an important role in the United States’ controversial drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan: here.

Australian spy base “critical” to Obama’s drone assassinations: here.

The Australian newspaper yesterday published a comment by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sam Bateman and Anthony Bergin, urging the Labor government to rebuild a World War II-era military base on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island: here.

US Navy to reinforce Marine taskforce in Australia: here.

VIDEO: Coral spawning on Great Barrier Reef: here.