Pre-Cambrian sponges, world’s oldest animals discovered

This July 2013 video says about itself:

A number of sponge-like fossils occur in the fossil record, many of which were originally described as sponges. A few of these are presented here. Charles D. Walcott was one of the first paleontologists to get involved with many of these, some of which are found in very ancient strata of the Precambrian.

Walcott’s Atikokania was one of these, it’s now considered to be a pseudofossil (false fossil) much like the previously described Eozoon canadense (the so called “Dawn Animal of Canada”).

Sponges are an ancient group of animals; however, their presence before the Cambrian Period is questionable.

That was then. However, now …

From the University of California – Riverside in the USA:

Sponges on ancient ocean floors 100 million years before Cambrian period

Molecular fossil evidence

October 15, 2018

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have found the oldest clue yet of animal life, dating back at least 100 million years before the famous Cambrian explosion of animal fossils.

The study, led by Gordon Love, a professor in UCR’s Department of Earth Sciences, was published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. The first author is Alex Zumberge, a doctoral student working in Love’s research group.

Rather than searching for conventional body fossils, the researchers have been tracking molecular signs of animal life, called biomarkers, as far back as 660-635 million years ago during the Neoproterozoic Era. In ancient rocks and oils from Oman, Siberia, and India, they found a steroid compound produced only by sponges, which are among the earliest forms of animal life.

“Molecular fossils are important for tracking early animals since the first sponges were probably very small, did not contain a skeleton, and did not leave a well-preserved or easily recognizable body fossil record”, Zumberge said. “We have been looking for distinctive and stable biomarkers that indicate the existence of sponges and other early animals, rather than single-celled organisms that dominated the earth for billions of years before the dawn of complex, multicellular life.”

The biomarker they identified, a steroid compound named 26-methylstigmastane (26-mes), has a unique structure that is currently only known to be synthesized by certain species of modern sponges called demosponges.

“This steroid biomarker is the first evidence that demosponges, and hence multicellular animals, were thriving in ancient seas at least as far back as 635 million years ago,” Zumberge said.

The work builds from a 2009 study by Love’s team, which reported the first compelling biomarker evidence for Neoproterozoic animals from a different steroid biomarker, called 24-isopropylcholestane (24-ipc), from rocks in South Oman. However, the 24-ipc biomarker evidence proved controversial since 24-ipc steroids are not exclusively made by demosponges and can be found in a few modern algae. The finding of the additional and novel 26-mes ancient biomarker, which is unique to demosponges, adds extra confidence that both compounds are fossil biomolecules produced by demosponges on an ancient seafloor.

The study also provides important new constraints on the groups of modern demosponges capable of producing unique steroid structures, which leave a distinctive biomarker record. The researchers found that within modern demosponges, certain taxonomic groups preferentially produce 26-mes steroids while others produce 24-ipc steroids.

“The combined Neoproterozoic demosponge sterane record, showing 24-ipc and 26-mes steranes co-occurring in ancient rocks, is unlikely attributed to an isolated branch or extinct stem-group of demosponges”, Love said. “Rather, the ability to make such unconventional steroids likely arose deep within the demosponge phylogenetic tree but now encompasses a wide coverage of modern demosponge groups.”


Saudi journalist murdered, official cover-up?

This video from the USA says about itself:

Can Trump’s Saudi Alliance Survive #Khashoggi?

TYT Contributor Ryan Grim reports from a protest outside the Saudi embassy in Washington DC. U.S. and Turkish officials say that Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident, was reportedly killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month. Read Ryan’s report for The Intercept here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, October 15, 2018

The demand for sanctions on Riyadh is unanswerable

WESTERN allies of the despotic Saudi monarchy talk loudly of possible consequences if Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was indeed murdered in Riyadh’s Istanbul consulate.

Turkish officials were due to carry out a joint inspection of the consulate last night alongside Saudi officials, but is any evidence likely to survive a fortnight after Khashoggi’s disappearance?

Ankara claimed earlier to have evidence that the journalist, who has angered the House of Saud for reporting honestly on many issues, not least the barbaric war in Yemen, was murdered in the consulate by a specially dispatched hit squad before being dismembered and removed from the building.

If it has such evidence, what point is there in agreeing to a joint “inspection?”

Have the economic threats delivered by the Saudi monarchy hit home and persuaded Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — no slouch in the state terrorism stakes himself — to engage in a charade before concluding it’s all a mystery, so let’s move on.

It doesn’t require an internal consulate inspection to conclude that something very unpleasant happened there on October 2.

No-one disputes that Khashoggi went into the consulate to obtain documents needed for his marriage. The Saudi regime insists he left later, but his Turkish fiancée, waiting for him outside, denies this.

Saudi Arabia, like a number of oil-rich states, has amassed huge foreign investment funds over decades, investing substantial sums in Turkey and it clearly has the potential to cause problems for the Erdogan regime.

It is quite possible that, in their telephone conversation on Sunday, Saudi King Salman left the Turkish leader in no doubt that agreeing to a “joint working group” to probe the mystery of Khashoggi’s disappearance would be much less troublesome for Ankara than making a fuss about a hit squad and dismemberment of a body.

That Turkey can be intimidated by economic blackmail from Saudi Arabia and possibly its Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) allies is unsurprising, but what is the excuse for the US, Britain and the European Union?

US President Donald Trump has given one of the Grand Old Duke of York performances, declaring at the weekend that the Khashoggi case was “being looked at very, very strongly.”

He threatened “severe punishment” if Khashoggi was found to have been killed in the consulate, but, when asked about economic/military sanctions against Riyadh, the US president stressed that a potential $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia takes precedence over retribution against a close US ally murdering one its own citizens, chopping up his body and disposing of it.

Who could be surprised when both Washington and London have prioritised trade deals over strong action to persuade Saudi Arabia and its regional allies to end their murderous bombing of Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world?

Their avowed intent is to starve Houthi forces and the civilian population from which their fighters come in order to restore Riyadh’s ally

rather: puppet. Confined to house arrest in Riyadh.

Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to the presidency. And the result is impending mass famine.

Theresa May’s government is up to its neck in Yemeni blood, sending the planes, missiles and expert RAF personnel to better prosecute the Saudi monarchy’s war.

Had the US and Britain not encouraged Riyadh in previous illegal adventures such as arming, training and financing jihadist extremists in Syria, this medieval gang of head-choppers would not feel able to threaten critics now.

The demand for sanctions on Riyadh is unanswerable, underlining the pressing need for election of a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government to operate a less venal foreign policy.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Such a statement could be acceptable to all parties, says correspondent Lucas Waagmeester in Turkey. For Turkey, it is important to recognize that Khashoggi was killed, for the US it would be acceptable if his death was a mistake, and the Saudis would like to have mentioned that Khashoggi was not killed by order of the Saudi king.

If not by order of the king, then by order of the crown prince. It is hardly credible that in the Saudi absolute monarchy fifteen subjects just suddenly decide to take a trip to Turkey just for fun because they feel like it as individuals, bringing a bone saw with them.

Maybe this cover-up compromise statement is acceptable to the Saudi absolute monarchy, the Erdogan regime in Turkey and the Trump regime in the USA. But: acceptable to the millions of people all over the world who oppose torture and murder?

This Lucas Waagmeester tweet asks itself (translated):

Will this really be the end of the storm? Is “sorry, we tortured a bit too roughly, shit happens you know, just a little industrial accident” just okay? And: where’s the body?

If the intention of the Saudi death squad flown into Turkey was to torture Khashoggi, but not torture him to death, then it is hardly credible that killing him was an ‘accident’. Oh yeah, and why did the death squad bring a bone saw with them to cut up Khashoggi (still alive, or dead)?

The NOS article continues:

The Saudi king has told President Trump that he knows nothing about this issue and that the crown prince has nothing to do with it either.

“The denial could not have been stronger”, Trump said after the interview. That comment got him a lot of criticism from, among others, the Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. He said that Trump did public relations work for the Saudis with his statements.

36 beautiful birds, video

This 14 October 2018 video says about itself:


10. WREN
30. JAY
33. ROOK

These are bird species from Europe.

British Conservative May’s Dolly Parton parody song

This 11 October 2018 music video from Britain says about itself:

Theresa May (aka Folly Partin’) pleads with DUP leader Arlene Foster not to collapse her premiership with this haunting take on “Jolene“.


Arlene, Arlene, Arlene, Arlene
I’m begging of you, don’t collapse my premiership
Arlene, Arlene, Arlene, Arlene
Please don’t, because I’ll never hear the end of it

I bribed you guys a billion quid to prop up us Conservatives
Is this how you repay me, Arlene Foster?

Yes, I blew my majority and came to you, the DUP
Remember how you said, “Eh, it’ll cost ya”
Your aims are contradictory: no border in the Irish Sea
And none on land either, that doesn’t work!

You don’t believe in dinosaurs and rights of women to abort
Some unionist you are, you utter berk

Arlene, Arlene, Arlene, Arlene
Don’t f**k this up, for absolute f**k’s sake
Arlene, Arlene, Arlene, Arlene
I’ll give the money tree another shake

‘Gay’ penguin couple breeds egg

This 11 October 2018 video from Australia says about itself:

“Sphengic” on the ice – Sphen and Magic

Same-Sex [gentoo] penguin couple at Sea Life Aquarium Sydney

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The gay couple were first given a fake egg in their nest, so they could practice breeding. That went so well that they got a real egg. That egg came from the nest of another penguin couple that had two eggs.

‘Natural talents’

In the wild, gentoo penguins can usually only raise one youngster. So, the chick from the second egg will die. The biological parents did not even realize that an egg had been taken away by the caretakers, says [keeper] Hannan.

According to Hannan, Sphen and Magic are “real natural talents” as future parents. “They change jobs on a daily basis”, says Hannan. “One of the two is sitting on the egg and the other bird makes sure nobody can get around to steal stones from the nest.”

This 11 October 2018 video from Australia says about itself:

#LoveWins Sphen and Magic Penguin Couple

Penguins Breeding at Sea Life Sydney 2018