Rare Vietnamese mammal seen


This video from Vietnam is called Working Together to Save the Saola.

From AAP news agency:

13 Nov 2013 – 2:00pm

Rare mammal sighted in Vietnam

Conservationists are excited by the sighting of one of the rarest mammals on earth which has been photographed in Vietnam for the first time in 15 years.

An international conservation group says one of the rarest and most threatened mammals on earth has been caught on camera in Vietnam for the first time in 15 years, renewing hope for the recovery of the spices [sic; species].

The Saola, a long-horned ox, was photographed by a camera in a forest in central Vietnam in September, the WWF said in a statement on Wednesday.

The animal was discovered in the remote areas of high mountains near the border with Laos in 1992 and proved to be the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years and one of the only seven types of large mammal to be discovered in 20th century.

In Vietnam, the last sighting of a Saola in the wild was in 1998.

In the area where the Saola was photographed, WWF has recruited forest guards from local communities to remove snares and battle illegal hunting, the greatest threat to Saola’s survival, the statement said.

The snares were set to largely catch other animals, such as deer and civets, which are a delicacy in Vietnam.

Twenty years after its discovery, little is known about Saola and the difficulty in detecting the elusive animal has prevented scientists from making a precise population estimate.

At best, no more than few hundreds, and maybe only a few dozen, survive the remote, dense forests along the border with Laos, WWF said.

New Vietnamese lizard discovery


This video is called Sticky gecko feet – Space Age Reptiles – BBC.

From Zootaxa:

A new species of Hemiphyllodactylus (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from northern Vietnam

Abstract

We describe a new species of the genus Hemiphyllodactylus on the basis of four specimens from Cao Bang Province, northern Vietnam.

Hemiphyllodactylus zugi sp. nov. is distinguished from the remaining congeners by a combination of the following characters: a bisexual taxon; average SVL of adult males 41 mm, of adult female 46.6 mm; chin scales bordering mental and first infralabial distinctly enlarged; digital lamellae formulae 3-4-4-4 (forefoot) and 4-5-5-5 (hindfoot); femoral and precloacal pore series continuous, 18–21 in total in males, absent in female; cloacal spur single in males; dorsal trunk pattern of dark brown irregular transverse bands; dark lateral head stripe indistinct; upper zone of flank with a series of large light spots, edged above and below in dark grey; caecum and gonadal ducts unpigmented.

Key words:

Slender Gecko, karst forest, phylogeny, taxonomy, Cao Bang Province, Ha Lang District

Introduction

The genus Hemiphyllodactylus contains nine species worldwide but only H. yunnanensis Boulenger, 1903 is currently known from Vietnam (Zug 2010).

Martin Luther King, spied upon by US secret police


This video from the USA says about itself:

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – April 4, 1967 – Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence [Full Speech]

Many folk have heard that the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. made the comment that the U.S. government [was/is] “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. This was in context to a speech delivered on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City – exactly one year before his untimely death. Though not as well-known as his other speeches, this is one of the ones that speak deeply to my soul. Because of a few “blips” in the audio, I tried to include include the entire speech to be read along with the speech. It was, however, longer that what is allowed here [on YouTube].

SO.. you can see this embedded video AND read the speech on my blog here.

By David Ferguson in the USA:

FBI called MLK ‘most dangerous Negro’ in the U.S. after ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

Thursday, August 29, 2013 7:51 EDT

Wednesday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the fact that not everyone in the U.S. government was happy about the March on Washington in 1963. The Federal Bureau of Investigation — under the leadership of ultra-conservative cross-dresser and closeted gay man J. Edgar Hoover — considered the civil rights marchers to be instruments of the global communist threat within U.S. borders.

The FBI kept extensive records on Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in particular, recording his phone conversations and keeping agents on a constant surveillance beat. In the days after his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, Hoover circulated an FBI memo that said, “In light of King’s powerful, demagogic speech yesterday, we must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of Communism, the Negro and national security.”

Hoover sent that memo around Washington, the the White House and the Pentagon. By October of 1963, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy authorized unlimited wiretapping and bugging of the civil rights leader.

“Eight wire taps, 16 bugs,” Maddow said, “his phones, his hotel rooms, his bedrooms. And they used the sound that they collected, the used the information they collected in those wiretaps to try to destroy Dr. King, both professionally and personally.”

“When he was awarded the Nobel Peach Prize,” she continued, “J. Edgar Hoover personally convened a press conference in his office in which he personally called Martin Luther King a ‘notorious liar.’”

FBI intelligence chief Bill Sullivan reportedly assembled a compilation of recorded sounds of King having sex with women who were not his wife, wrote a threatening letter and sent the package to King at home.

“King,” Sullivan wrote, “look into your heart. There is only one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

“Your FBI at work,” said Maddow. “That what the FBI sent to King’s house with a package of tapes they said were made from the bugs they put in his bedrooms, a letter threatening him and essentially telling him to kill himself. Dr. King’s wife was the person who reportedly opened that package when it arrived at their home.”

“It is inspiring to see echoes of civil rights era heroism in our country today,” she said. “It is unsettling to see echoes in our country today of what they fought against.”

Watch the video, embedded below via MSNBC.

Vietnamese napalm girl Kim Phuc speaking for peace in Belgium


Kim Phuc just after the bombing, photo by Nick Ut

Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws wrote in February 2007 (translated):

The scars of the napalm girl of Vietnam still hurt

Kim Phuc, who, during the Vietnam war, became known as the “napalm girl”, still hurts at the scars she got from the US American air attack with napalm bombs on 8 June 1972.

“It hurts especially when the weather changes”, Kim, today a 43-year-old woman, says.

Kim Phuc with baby in 2005

Now that Ms Phan Thị Kim Phúc is an adult woman, as the second photo shows, her body still bears the terrible scars of the napalm war crime. However, that does not stop her from campaigning for peace everywhere in the world; so that other children won’t have to suffer what she suffered.

As the site of the Belgian peace movement reports, on 30 August she will be in Brussels, at a meeting of the Belgian Women’s Council. Ms Magda De Meyer, Women’s Council chair, will interview her there.

Vietnamese jumping caterpillar discovery


This video says about itself:

Aug 20, 2013

Other caterpillar species are known to jump, but Cydia deshaisiana is the only one known to create a leaf shelter and hop around in it for three days, trying to escape the sun before settling for metamorphosis.

By Laura Poppick:

Jumping Caterpillar Hops Around In Leafy Cocoon For Protection From Sunlight (VIDEO)

08/21/2013 1:29 pm EDT

Hop over, Mexican jumping beans: Scientists have discovered another fascinating caterpillar species with impressive jumping skills.

During its larval stage, the moth Calindoea trifascialis crawls the dry forest floors of southern Vietnam amongst elephants and flying insects, spending most of its time chewing away at a protective, tent-like structure it makes out of leaf parts.

Eventually, when the caterpillar prepares to pupate and metamorphose into a moth, it rolls itself into a new type of protective leaf structure the thickness of a pinky finger, and then quivers itself onto the forest floor. It proceeds to hop around the forest floor within its leaf-roll for up to three days, directing itself away from sunlight.

Researchers with the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum discovered this behavior by chance during an undergraduate field course in Yok Don National Park in southern Vietnam. The finding surprised the researchers, as only a few other caterpillar species are known to hop, none within this type of leaf structure. The team reports their finding today (Aug. 20) in the journal Biology Letters. [Caterpillars Morph into Butterflies in Amazing 3D Images]

“The mechanics of it are pretty remarkable,” said Chris Darling, a biologist at the University of Toronto and an author of the paper, pointing out that the caterpillar’s movement resembles trying to hop inside a sleeping bag.

The team did not initially realize that the caterpillars were able to hop after collecting them from the forest floor. Instead, the researchers were simply interested in studying the caterpillars’ rolled structures, which they called “retreats”. The team stored several of these so-called caterpillar “retreaters” underneath their beds for further analysis, awaking later to the sound of rustling.

“We heard them in the middle of the night and wondered if it was a rat,” said Darling. “Lo and behold, it was the retreaters running around in the petri dish.”

The researchers collected more of these retreaters to try to figure out the purpose behind the behavior, and filmed 16 of them to observe the activity in detail. The scientists found that the caterpillars tended to direct themselves away from the sunlight, presumably to avoid drying up under the hot sun.

To determine how the caterpillars managed these impressive hops, the team created transparent, artificial retreats out of cellophane plastic, placed caterpillars inside and then sealed the containers shut to simulate a natural retreat.

The caterpillars took to the synthetic retreats as if they were their own, spinning silken mats on either end. The team, easily able to see through the clear structure, observed the caterpillars using the silken mats as springboards for their jumps, hooking their prolegs — protrusions that are not truly legs — to the mats, and then propelling themselves across to the other side of the retreat like a piston.

By laying mats on both sides of the retreat, the caterpillars were able to switch directions and maintain more control over their final resting places, where they would sit for up to 12 days until they emerged as moths.

Forty years after fleeing US bombs, Vietnamese rediscovered in jungle


From the International Business Times in Britain:

The Real Tarzan? Father and Son Found Living in Vietnam Jungle Treehouse 40 Years After Fleeing US Bombs

By

August 8, 2013 3:07 PM GMT

Ho Van Thanh had lived in the jungle since 1971

Ho Van Thanh had lived in the jungle since 1971 (Thanh Nien News)

A father and son have been found living in the jungle 40 years after they fled their home to escape US bombs.

Ho Van Thanh, 82, took his then-infant son Ho Van Lang into the jungle after American troops bombed his home, killing his wife and two other children.

Lang, now 41, has lived in a tree house with his father in the jungle since 1971, 16 years into the 20-year war. They were discovered around 40km into the jungle by people from a nearby village.

Thanh struggled to walk and could speak a little of their Cor ethnic minority language. His son was in good health, but could speak just a few words.

Local media showed Lang dishevelled and wearing just a loin cloth after being collected by authorities.

The treehouse they lived in was around six metres from the ground and was located near a stream. The pair used bark to make pants and made their own tools, including knives, axes and arrows.

According to reports, they ate corn, wild leaves and had farmed a one-hectare field to grow sugarcane. They also kept a small fire in the treehouse to keep warm and smoked tobacco they had planted themselves.

Wants to escape to forest

Unbeknownst to Thanh at the time of the attack, his youngest son Ho Van Tri, who was born the day his home was bombed, survived – his uncle had come to the house and rescued him, reports thanhniennews.com.

He tracked down his father and brother 20 years ago, but could not convince them to come home, local news website VnExpress said.

Thanh is currently receiving treatment in hospital and photos show that doctors tied him to the bed with thin wires to prevent him from escaping. Doctors said neither father nor son is suffering from any diseases.

Speaking to Australia’s Associated Press, Tri said: “My father is very weak and the doctors are taking care of him, but my brother’s health is fine even though he looks very thin.”

Ho Ven Bien, Thanh’s nephew, added: “My uncle doesn’t understand much of what is said to him, and he doesn’t want to eat or even drink water.

“He’s very sad. He doesn’t say anything now. We know he wants to escape my house to go back to the forest so we have to keep an eye on him now.”

A local villager said he could not believe the pair had survived for so long, with most people believing them to be dead: “No one could imagine Thanh and his son could live 40 years in isolation in the hard conditions of the jungle.”

New shrew species discovered in Vietnam


This image shows the new white-toothed shrew species Crocidura sapaensis. Credit: Alexei V. ABRAMOV, Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Universitetskaya nab., 1, Saint-Petersburg, 199034, RUSSIA, e-mail: a.abramov@mail.ru

From EurekAlert!:

Don’t judge by the looks: Molecular analysis reveals a new species of white toothed shrew

The white toothed shrew genus Crocidura is known as the largest mammal genus, with more than 180 species distributed around the world. A recent genetic analysis of the white toothed shrew fauna of Vietnam revealed the misinterpretations of previous morphological studies of the species, including the description of a new species of these very small mammals. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Describing new mammal species is an unusual event nowadays when mammal fauna has been by and large already thoroughly studied by zoologists during the previous centuries. Molecular analysis, however, presents an additional tool for the complex cases of morphological analysis, thus helping scientists to uncover previous mistakes, and even to find previously overlooked separate species.

The new species Crocidura sapaensis is a dark-grey and relatively small white toothed shrew, named after the Sa Pa District in Vietnam, where it was collected. During the study, the animals were found dwelling in a variety of the beautiful habitats in the vicinity of Tram Ton Station of Hoang Lien National Park, including mixed evergreen forest, banks of small streams and open grassy glades.

Previously confused with another species featured in this study (C. wuchihensis), the new species remained long unrecognized due to the great extent of morphological resemblance between the two. Judging solely by the looks, however, proved to be insufficient for the accurate recognition of species, with molecular analysis now offering scientists an opportunity to look under the surface.

“Our study concerns three species of Crocidura occurring in Vietnam, namely C. attenuata, C. tanakae and C. wuchihensis, and we came across an undescribed fourth species revealed by molecular analysis. While the molecular studies of Vietnamese material confirmed some of the results of the contemporaneous morphological studies, a number of anomalies were equally revealed, indicating the presence of several morphologically similar but molecularly distinct taxa.”, explains Paulina Jenkins, a zoologist at London’s Natural History Museum, about the horizons of the molecular analysis.

###

Original Source:

Jenkins PD, Abramov AV, Bannikova AA, Rozhnov VV (2013) Bones and genes: resolution problems in three Vietnamese species of Crocidura (Mammalia, Soricomorpha, Soricidae) and the description of an additional new species. ZooKeys 313: 61-79. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.313.4823

See also here.