Alpine salamanders mating, video


Christ Grootzwagers made this video of Alpine salamanders mating.

An Overview of Why Salamander Conservation is Needed: here.

Jurassic fly larva, parasite on salamanders, discovered


This video says about itself:

The fossil of two froghopper insects in the act of mating has been uncovered by archaeologists in northeastern China after being buried for around 165 million years.

From World Science:

Bizarre parasite from Jurassic found

June 25, 2014

Courtesy of the University of Bonn and World Science staff

Re­search­ers from the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn and from Chi­na have dis­cov­ered a fos­sil fly lar­va with such a spec­tac­u­lar suck­ing ap­pa­rat­us, they have named it by the Chin­ese word for “bizarre.”

Around 165 mil­lion years ago, a spec­tac­u­lar par­a­site was at home in the fresh­wa­ter lakes of pre­s­ent-day In­ner Mon­go­lia in Chi­na, re­search­ers say. It was a ju­ve­nile fly with a thor­ax, or “ch­est,” formed en­tirely like a suck­ing plate.

With it, the an­i­mal could stick to sala­man­ders and suck their blood with its mouth­parts formed like a sting, ac­cord­ing to sci­en­tists. To date no in­sect is known with a si­m­i­lar de­sign. The in­terna­t­ional sci­en­tif­ic team is now pre­sent­ing its find­ings in the jour­nal eLIFE.

The par­a­site, a long fly lar­va around two cen­time­ters (a bit un­der an inch) long, had un­der­gone ex­treme changes over the course of ev­o­lu­tion, the re­search­ers said. The head is ti­ny in com­par­i­son to the body, tube-shaped with piercer-like mouth­parts at the front. The mid-body, or thor­ax, has been com­pletely trans­formed un­derneath in­to a gi­gantic suck­ing plate; the hind-body, or ab­do­men, has caterpillar-like legs.

The re­search team be­lieves that this un­usu­al an­i­mal lived in a land­scape with vol­ca­noes and lakes what is now north­east­ern Chi­na around 165 mil­lion years ago. In this fresh wa­ter hab­i­tat, they say, the par­a­site crawled on­to pass­ing sala­man­ders, at­tached it­self with its suck­ing plate, and pen­e­trated the thin skin of the am­phib­ians in or­der to suck blood from them.

“The par­a­site lived the life of Reil­ly,” said paleon­tologist Jes Rust from the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn. This is be­cause there were many sala­man­ders in the lakes, as fos­sil finds at the same loca­t­ion near Ningcheng in In­ner Mon­go­lia (Chi­na) have shown. “There sci­en­tists had al­so found around 300,000 di­verse and ex­cep­tion­ally pre­served fos­sil in­sects,” said the Chin­ese sci­ent­ist Bo Wang, a post­doc­tor­al re­searcher in paleon­tology at the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn.

The lar­va, which has re­ceived the sci­en­tif­ic name of Qiyia juras­si­ca, how­ev­er, was a quite un­ex­pected find. “Qiyia” in Chin­ese means “bizarre”; “jur­as­si­ca” refers to the Ju­ras­sic pe­ri­od to which the fos­sils be­long. A fine-grained mud­stone en­sured the good state of pre­serva­t­ion of the fos­sil.

Smooth newt looking for leaves, video


This is a video about a smooth newt, looking for water plant leaves to deposit eggs.

While a chiffchaff sings.

Henk Lammers Hupsel in the Netherlands made the video.

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Baby salamanders, baby fish, flatworm and beetles


Flatworm on egg spoon, 31 May 2014

After the birds and flowers on the biodiversity day on 31 May 2014, to small animals living in water. Like the flatworm on this photo. This worm was photographed on a small egg spoon with water on it. A macro lens was really necessary to photograph a tiny animal like this. Research still has to find out which flatworm species this is.

Many small animals were caught with a landing net in the ditch near the allotment gardens. Water is rather clean there, so much biodiversity.

There were various leech species. Like Erpobdella octoculata, which was named in 1758 by Linnaeus. And Theromyzon tessulatum; which lives in ducks’ bills. One female Theromyzon tessulatum had eggs.

Bugs included specimens of water boatman; a species which may survive in polluted water. There was also the lesser water boatman. And a much smaller related species: Plea minutissima.

And a saucer bug as well.

There were nymphs of various damselfly species.

Crustaceans were represented by an aquatic sowbug.

Common bladder snail, 31 May 2014

And mollusks by a common bladder snail.

Meanwhile, a reed warbler sang.

There were various, still small, common newt larvae.

Among the very smallest animals were Cyclops and Daphnia crustaceans.

Not in the ditch, but in reed beds along the ditch: a beetle species, Donacia vulgaris.

Edible frog sound.

One very small fish is caught. Too young still to say which species. Among fish species living in this ditch are: northern pike, perch, ninespine stickleback and spined loach.

A water mite. One of scores of species in this ditch.

Finally, a great silver water beetle larva.

After the research, all animals went back into the ditch.

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Newt eating frog’s eggs, video


In this video, common frogs in the water try to protect their eggs.

Still, a common newt manages to feed on the eggs.

Renée Sips from the Netherlands made the video.

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2014, international Year of the Salamander


This video from North America says about itself:

The barred tiger salamander may look cute, but to any insects passing by, it’s a deadly predator.

2014 will be the international Year of the Salamander.

In this year 2013, the fire salamander was, and is till New Year, the Amphibian of the Year in the Netherlands.

In line with other countries, in 2014 all salamander species will be Dutch Amphibians of the Year.

Dutch 2014 various wildlife species of the year: here.

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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.”