Tapeworm discovery in prehistoric domestic dog


Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm

From the Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 50, October 2014, Pages 51–62:

Multicomponent analyses of a hydatid cyst from an Early Neolithic hunter–fisher–gatherer from Lake Baikal, Siberia

Highlights:

Echinococcus granulosus infection in an 8000-year-old forager from Siberia.

Differential diagnosis of egg-like, multi-chambered ovoid calcifications.

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes of a parasitic hydatid cyst.

Abstract:

Calcified biological objects are occasionally found at archaeological sites and can be challenging to identify. This paper undertakes the differential diagnosis of what we suggest is an Echinococcus granulosus hydatid cyst from an 8000-year-old mortuary site called Shamanka II in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia. Echinococcus is a parasitic tapeworm that needs two hosts to complete its life cycle: herbivores and humans are intermediate hosts, and carnivores such as dogs, wolves, and foxes are definitive hosts.

In the intermediate host the Echinococcus egg hatches in the digestive system, penetrates the intestine, and is carried via the bloodstream to an organ, where it settles and turns into an ovoid calcified structure called a hydatid cyst. For this object, identification was based on macroscopic, radiographic, and stable isotope analysis. High-resolution computed tomography scanning was used to visualize the interior structure of the object, which is morphologically consistent with the E. granulosus species (called cystic Echinococcus).

Stable isotope analysis of the extracted mineral and protein components of the object narrowed down the range of species from which it could come. The stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of the object’s protein, and stable carbon isotope ratio of the mineral, closely match those of the likely human host. Additionally, the δ13C protein-to-mineral spacing is very low, which fits expectations for a parasitic organism. To our knowledge this is the first isotopic characterization of a hydatid cyst and this method may be useful for future studies. The hydatid cyst most likely came from a probable female adult. Two additional hydatid cysts were found in a young adult female from a contemporaneous mortuary site in the same region, Lokomotiv. This manuscript ends with a brief discussion [of] the importance of domesticated dogs in the disease’s occurrence and the health implication of echinococcal infection for these Early Neolithic hunter–fisher–gatherers.

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper breeding in the wild


This video says about itself:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Courtship

Within days of arriving on the breeding grounds, Spoon-billed Sandpiper courtship begins. Males perform display flights over favored areas to attract females and establish territories and females select a mate. Once together, a pair becomes inseparable. They forage within earshot of each other, copulate frequently, and prospect for potential locations to nest. This video, shot during the first few days of a pair’s seasonal courtship, captures some of these rarely witnessed behaviors including an attempted copulation and a nest scrape display.

Video includes commentary by The Cornell Lab [of Ornithology]’s Gerrit Vyn.

Filmed June 6, 2011 near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia.

From Wildlife Extra:

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper returns home to breed

An extensive hand-rearing programme, aimed at saving the highly endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, is celebrating the news that for the first time one has returned to its Russian ancestral grounds to breed, two years after she was released.

This is a major milestone for the programme, which is a collaboration between WWT, Birds Russia, Moscow Zoo and the RSPB working with colleagues from the BTO, BirdLife International, ArcCona and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force.

It aims to give the chicks a head start to ensure they survive their crucial first days of life, and stabilise the species’ population, which is estimated at 100 breeding pairs in the wild.

The team carefully removed eggs from breeding grounds on the tundra of the Chukotka region in eastern Russia to be monitored, hatched and nourished in the nearby village of Meinypil’gyno before being released.

Rearing and releasing birds on the breeding grounds increases the number of young birds in the wild in autumn by about 25 per cent.

But this is only the start as, once released, the birds embark on a 5,000 miles migration to South Asia, facing exhaustion, starvation, illegal hunting and getting caught in fishing nets in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Pavel Tomkovich of Birds Russia said: “Two years ago I attached a tiny plastic leg flag to this bird, so that we’d recognise it if it was ever seen again.

“The odds were severely stacked against that happening, but amazingly she was spotted, first by birdwatchers in Taiwan in April and now we see her here at her birthplace ready to have young of her own.”

Norbert Schäffer, the RSPB’s head of international species recovery, said: “It’s great to see parts of the plan to protect this precious species coming together, but it’s a long road and there is still a lot more to do in terms of tackling the problems on the flyway.

“This is a huge international effort involving many different partners and with everyone doing their bit.”

Siberian Dutch yellow-browed warbler in Cornwall


This video is called Yellow-browed Warbler – Phylloscopus inornatus.

According to the RSPB in Britain, about the yellow-browed warbler:

A small, green warbler similar in size to a goldcrest. The yellow ‘eyebrow’ is distinctive, as is the coal tit-like call. Yellow-browed warblers breed in Siberia and occur in the UK every year as they migrate south-westwards.

From the BTO Bird Ringing ‘Demog Blog’ in Britain:

10 April 2013

Dutch-ringed Yellow-browed Warbler

Way back in April 2008 we received details of a ‘Willow Warbler‘ found dead outside Richard Lander School in Truro, Cornwall. This is perhaps a slightly early date for a returning migrant, but the interesting bit was that it was wearing a ring from the Dutch Ringing Scheme.

Following issues tracing the ring in The Netherlands, we have only just received the ringing details and these were rather surprising. Ring Y11467 was actually just the second foreign-ringed Yellow-browed Warbler to be found in the UK! It had been originally ringed on 3rd October 2007 on Schiermonnikoog (in red on the map here), an island off the north coast of the country, and had possibly spent the winter at one of Cornwall’s many sewage works.

These works regularly attract wintering Yellow-broweds, especially so in recent years, with no fewer than five seen on one day at Carnon Downs Sewage Works in February 2012. Below is one of two birds present at Gwennap Sewage Works, Cornwall, in January 2013.

Yellow-browed warbler, Gwennap

The only previous record of a foreign-ringed Yellow-browed was a Norwegian bird ringed in September 1990 and recaught on Fair Isle five days later (blue on the map). The only British-ringed bird to be found abroad was one ringed at Portland Bird Observatory in October 1988 and recaught the next day on Guernsey (green on the map).

Spoon-billed sandpiper nest video


This video says about itself:

Spoon-billed Sandpipers lay 4 eggs in a simple tundra nest comprised of a shallow depression, most often in mosses, lined with a few dwarf willow leaves. The nest is incubated by both adults on half-day shifts — the male most often during the day and the female at night.

After 21 days of incubation the eggs begin to hatch in a process that takes a day or more to complete. When the young finally emerge from the nest they stumble about on well-developed legs and feet and begin to feed themselves. After the last chick emerges, the male begins his job of leading the chicks as they grow towards independence about 20 days later; the female soon departs and begins moving south. This piece captures the first moments of life at a wind swept Spoon-billed Sandpiper nest.

Video includes commentary by The Cornell Lab’s Gerrit Vyn.

Filmed July 7, 2011 near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia.

Read more about this here.

Orphaned Amur tiger cubs in Siberia


Wildlife Extra writes about the subject of this video:

Three orphaned Amur tigers cubs found in Russia – Video

Orphan Amur tiger cub video 

December 2012. On November 27, three young tigers appeared near a military unit located 8 km away from Yakovlevka village, Primorsky Krai, in the Russian Far East. The cubs tried to kill a domestic dog on a leash, but a guard scared the animals back into the woods.

A group of tiger specialists went to the scene immediately and tried to find out why the cubs were alone in the woods. Unfortunately, no tracks of any mother tiger were found. The specialists decided to catch the cubs and take them to the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre in Alekseevka village where the animals will be provided with food and medical treatment.

Please help David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation to support these orphans and their work for tigers in Russia through their projects TigerTime and their Russia Project.

It is hoped that the three cubs will be released back into the wild to play a vital role in the future survival of these magnificent big cats.

Anti-Siberian tiger poaching camera traps


This video from India is called Tiger Queen ~ National Geographic.

From Wildlife Extra:

Camera traps deployed to catch tiger poachers in Russia

First time camera traps are used to catch illegal activity

November 2012. Conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) will be the first to use camera traps specifically for catching trespassers. Camera traps are typically used to capture images of endangered species for conservation purposes. But in a bid to increase anti-poaching efforts, special camera traps will be camouflaged and hidden in Russian forests to record illegal entry by would-be poachers.

Lazovsky Nature Reserve and Zov Tigra National Park

As part of ZSL’s ‘Forest Eyes’ project, a total of 30 camera traps will be set up in Lazovsky Nature Reserve and Zov Tigra National Park in the Russian Far East, equivalent to a total area a little larger than London. The two protected areas are 15 to 20 kilometres apart and separated by public land used mostly for hunting and logging. This results in people taking advantage of the area between the nature reserve and the national park to trespass onto nearby protected areas.

ZSL tiger conservationist Linda Kerley says: “The images from camera traps set up for humans will better inform us of any illegal activity in protected areas, so inspectors can be notified and patrols changed accordingly. We will be able to monitor the area more effectively and ensure we are doing all we can to try and change people’s attitudes and behaviours towards poaching,” Linda added.

7 tigers disappeared

Around five years ago, seven tigers disappeared from the protected areas and conservationists believe it was very likely they were poached. In the past year alone there were three seizures in the area, so it is critical that anti-poaching projects are effective. There are now 14 to 20 tigers that roam the national park and the nature reserve, and numbers remain stable.

ZSL’s conservation manager Sarah Christie added: “We hope the awareness of extra camera traps targeting people who encroach on protected areas will deter poachers from trying to kill tigers and their prey animals.”

ZSL has been involved in Amur tiger conservation in the Russian Far East for nearly 20 years. With the launch of ‘Forest Eyes’ conservationists will work with the support of the local Government to raise awareness of conservation efforts to protect the remaining Amur tiger population.