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.

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.

Whale and dolphin news


This video from Australia says about itself:

3 July 2013

Five killer whales that were stranded near Fraser Island, off the southern Queensland coast, are now swimming free but despite the best efforts of rescue workers, two others have died.

See also here.

From Wildlife Extra, about Ireland:

July 2013. A bottlenose dolphin that live-stranded in North Kerry and was refloated in June 2012, and was subsequently photographed from dolphin tour boats in the Shannon Estuary, has now been sighted at least three times this year, and each time with a calf. Remarkably, this means that the dolphin was about 9 months pregnant when she stranded last year.

Rare Australian night parrot rediscovered


This video from Australia says about itself:

The Night Parrot – Flying back from the brink

May 6, 2009

The Night Parrot (Pezoporos occidentalis) is one of Australia’s ‘lost’ species. It was first discovered in 1845, and named in 1861. But since that time numbers have dwindled and sightings have been so rare that the bird was at one stage thought to be extinct. We hope you enjoy this short presentation. CFZ Australia

From Wildlife Extra:

Night parrot, the Holy Grail of Australian birding, has been found

Night Parrot emerges from the shadows

July 2013. Legendary Australian naturalist John Young has apparently found the holy grail of Australian bird watching, the elusive and long-sought after Night parrot. Young has, he claims, several photos and even a short video of the bird. He has not yet revealed the location of the sightings as it would no doubt create a great rush to see the bird.

Night parrot

In September 2006, Robert ‘Shorty’ Cupitt, the ranger-on-duty of Diamantina National Park in south-west Queensland, was grading an interior road of the reserve when the blade of his vehicle exposed the yellow underbelly of a bird he didn’t recognise. It was a deceased Night Parrot – only the second specimen to be found in nearly 100 years, coming after the celebrated discovery of a road killed bird south of nearby Boulia in 1990.

There has always been some controversy over the bird’s existence, and it has been thought on at least one occasion that the Night parrot might have become extinct (If it had ever existed). It is thought to live in some extremely remote locations in Queensland, and for the population to number no more than 250 birds.

BirdLife Australia congratulates John Young for obtaining the first ever photographs of the elusive Night Parrot. Long regarded as the ghost bird of the outback, there has been no definitive evidence of live Night Parrots since the 1880s.

Critically Endangered

“The Night Parrot is one of 12 Australian parrots listed as endangered or critically endangered, meaning that without action they are at high risk of extinction”, said Samantha Vine, Head of Conservation at BirdLife Australia.

Threats

“Once this sighting is confirmed, it is vital that swift action be taken to ensure the conservation of this unique species”, Vine added. “The known threats to the Night Parrot of predation by cats and degradation of habitat by land clearing, fire and feral animals now need to be managed through the implementation of a species Recovery Plan.”

The Night Parrot is the holy grail of bird watching and while every bird watcher will want to see this bird, BirdLife Australia respects the decision to not publicly divulge the location as welfare of the birds is paramount.

For further information on the Night Parrot see the Birdlife fact sheet.

A LIVE NIGHT PARROT has reportedly been photographed in western Queensland for the first time since the species was discovered more than 150 years ago: here.

This video from Australia says about itself:

Jan 6, 2013

Trailer for the forthcoming film Glimpses And Specimens From The Land Of The Night Parrot.

Here is another night parrot video.

Night parrot: tantalising clues revealed: here.

See also here.

The Night Parrot Saga Continues: here.