Mammals and the extinction of dinosaurs


This video says about itself:

May 4, 2011

The “Last Day of the Dinosaurs” is a documentary about the extinction of the greatest animal species that ever lived. It portrays an asteroid hitting the Yucatan Peninsula as the cause of their demise.

From Reuters:

Mammals burst on the scene after dinosaurs’ exit

June 20, 2007

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO – The discovery of a primitive, shrew-like mammal fossil in Mongolia has revived the view that its modern mammal cousins arrived just as the dinosaurs made their dramatic exit about 65 million years ago, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

Recent studies have placed the arrival of modern mammals at anywhere from 140 million to 80 million years ago, long before an asteroid crashed into Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs.

“The fossil itself is the least interesting part of the story scientifically,” said John Wible of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, whose research appears in the journal Nature.

He said the discovery of a new shrew-like mammal in 1997 — Maelestes gobiensis — led to an exhaustive analysis of the fossil record that dates the emergence of modern mammals at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.

Recent molecular studies have held that modern mammals may have lived long before the dinosaurs died out at the end of the Cretaceous period, which began 145 million years ago and ended with a bang 65 million years ago.

Placental mammals — like dogs, cats, mice, whales, elephants, horses and humans — give birth to live young after a long gestational period. Of the 5,416 species of living mammals, 5,080 are placentals.

The rest are marsupials like kangaroos, which nourish their offspring in a pouch, and the very rare monotremes, such as the egg-laying duck-billed platypus.

‘OKLAHOMA LAND RUSH’

“We wanted to test whether there were any Cretaceous placentals,” Wible said in a telephone interview.

“If the molecular dates are correct, we should be finding things that look like modern placentals in this time period and we are not.”

They found that none of these Cretaceous forms of early mammals are related to any living placental mammals. “They are just extinct dead ends,” he said.

Wible said his work reinforced the idea that the death of the dinosaurs created an opportunity for explosive growth of modern mammals.

“You’ve got all of these ecological niches that were occupied by the dinosaurs. They go extinct, and you’ve got wide open spaces. It’s like the Oklahoma land rush,” he said.

The analysis all began with the discovery of Maelestes, an unusually complete fossil discovered in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia during a joint expedition of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the American Museum of Natural History.

The rodent-like creature — one of those evolutionary dead-ends — lived 75 million years ago, about the time of the Velociraptor, Oviraptor [see also here] and Protoceratops.

“It looks like road kill. It is very well preserved,” Wible said.

He and colleagues classified the toothsome creature as a new eutherian mammal, a broader group that includes placentals and their extinct relatives.

“He would have been a voracious little predator,” he said, but it was not a modern placental mammal.

“The beauty of this fossil it that it forced us to do the analysis.”

See also here.

Cancer and the extinction of dinosaurs: here.

A series of monumental volcanic eruptions in India may have killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, not a meteor impact in the Gulf of Mexico: here.

Cretaceous stagodont marsupials: here.

Did some dinosaurs survive into the Cenozoic? See here.

In Blair’s Britain, 80 year old war veteran arrested for opposing Iraq war


This video from the USA is of a song/rap by MC Hammer, “Bring Our Brothers Home“, on the Iraq war.

From British weekly Socialist Worker:

War veteran arrested at anti-war protest

In an outrageous move, an 80 year old peace activist, George Mather, was arrested while lobbying Labour’s deputy leadership hustings in Newcastle.

But an unrepentant George says he has no plans to give up campaigning.

“I’ve always been against injustice. I’ll be on the coach to Manchester on Sunday,” he told Socialist Worker.

“And if I see Gordon Brown I’ll tell him to bring the troops home, even if they try to arrest me again.”

George says, “I’ve been political since I was seven, when I first heard old soldiers from the First War complaining about how they’d been cannon fodder, though at the time I didn’t get how men could be fodder.”

George served with the Merchant Navy in the Second World War. He has four campaign medals, having been on Russian, Atlantic, Mediterranean and African convoys.

He was among about 35 people who formed a protest against the Iraq war outside the hustings.

“I decided to walk around the building but a constable stopped me. I said I had a right to walk where I wanted.

“Before I knew it, I was handcuffed. The policeman probably told me why I was being arrested, but I’m a bit deaf, so I didn’t hear.

“I was being driven off in a van towards the police station when the inspector in charge radioed. He was quite excited, saying, ‘Why have you got an 89 year old war hero handcuffed in your van?’ I remembered that because, you know, I’m not 89. Not long after that I was released.”

Interview with Falklands war veteran: here.

Warmer seas bring whales, dolphins to Scottish waters


This is a video of common dolphins bowriding near a ship off the coast of La Gomera (Canary Islands).

Dolphins of the Bay of Biscay: here.

Common dolphins in Ireland: here.

From The Times in Britain:

Melanie Reid, London

June 21, 2007

WHALES and dolphins from the Mediterranean are for the first time being regularly seen in northern Scottish waters.

Scientists say that the phenomenon may be the result of rising sea temperatures off the west coast of Scotland.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has also recorded changes in the habits of minke whales. Until 2005, minkes arrived in the (northern) spring and stayed until October and November, but they are now leaving in July and August. The trust monitors whale and dolphin populations around the Argyll Islands, which are regarded as an important European cetacean habitat.

Nearly a third of the world’s population of whales, dolphins and porpoises have been recorded there.

Cally Fleming, the chief executive of the trust, said warm-water species such as the striped dolphin and common dolphin, both of which are from the Mediterranean, were regularly sighted in Argyll.

Sightings of basking sharks and beaked whales, a warm-water species rarely seen in the Hebrides, were also becoming increasingly common. There has been a corresponding decline in sightings of colder-water cetaceans such as the white-sided dolphin and the white-beaked dolphin.

Whales and dolphins are regarded as signal species for research into oceanic change because they are at the top of the food chain. Their distribution and wellbeing provide a good indication of the health of the entire ecosystem.

Minke whale in Amazon river: here.

Global warming and tropical reef fishes: here.

Whale sharks: here.

3 White beaked dolphins rescued in the Hebrides: here.

London aquarium videos


This is a video of seahorses swimming in the aquarium in London Zoo in England.

From the Zoological Society of London:

Aquarium video

Take a tour though our amazing aquarium with Brian Zimmerman, our aquarium team leader.

Find out about the three main halls in the aquarium and the conservation and breeding programmes we are currently running. As well as viewing some magnificent shots of the fish you can see there.

Cheetah images from Africa


This is a video about cheetahs and other African animals.

From the Zoological Society of London:

E-news exclusive: Stunning cheetah pictures from our Tanzania conservation programme.

ZSL scientists, studying cheetah in the Serengeti, Tanzania, found that almost half of all litters were made up of cubs with different fathers. This means sperm from several male cheetahs had been used to fertilise multiple eggs.

Cheetah vs. gemsbok video: here.

African carnivores: here.

Dragonflies and shelducks


This is a video of a shelduck during what to some people may seem like a thunderstorm, but wasn’t (see comment here below), in the Netherlands. Fortunately, today the thunderstorm happened when I was already home.

On 14 June 2007, I passed the two white storks on their nest on my way to the nature reserve.

Just outside the nature reserve, the tree trunk with Chicken of the Woods fungus.

On the pebbles of the footpath, a male Orthetrum cancellatum dragonfly sitting down.

Later, I would see a female here.

A jay.

Like the dragonfly, sitting on footpath pebbles (to drink from the puddles, as it rained this morning?): a common blue butterfly.

In the meadow: shelducks, oystercatchers.

USA: 9/11 families against Republican Presidential candidate Giuliani


From the YouTube text of this video:

Yes, it’s former N[ew] Y[ork] C[ity] mayor Rudy Giuliani in drag having his “breasts” shamelessly violated by “Apprentice” tycoon Donald Trump. Clip from new doc GIULIANI TIME, by Kevin Keating, opens May 12 at Landmark Theatres’ Sunshine Cinema in NYC. More at www.giulianitime.com.

From PEEK blog in the USA:

Taylor Marsh: First [US Republican Presidential candidate] Rudy [Giuliani] quits the Iraq Study Group to raise money for himself, now victims’ family members say “He did nothing” on Sept. 11th. That “9/11 armor” is thinner than he thought.

This post, written by Taylor Marsh, originally appeared on Taylor Marsh.com

This is a follow up, because no one is following up. Seriously, is anyone covering this story? It broke this morning, but so far it’s been **crickets**. Rudy Giuliani ducked out of his Iraq Study Group responsibilities. You’d think that would be news, even big news. MSNBC covered it. Anyone else? Rudy Giuliani is asked to be on the Iraq Study Group, but he fails to show up because he’s too busy raising money?

Presidential Campaign Staffs Dominated By Men: Giuliani The Worst Offender: here.

Robert Fisk about 9/11 conspiracy theories: here.

9/11 and the CIA: here.

Iraq, Afghanistan wars harm mental health of US diplomats


This video is called Veterans of PTSD PBS NOW.

From AFP news agency:

US concerned about mental health of diplomats in Iraq, Afghanistan

Published: Tuesday June 19, 2007

The State Department is conducting an internal survey to better help diplomats cope with the stress of assignments in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, a Department official said in testimony to Congress on Tuesday.

Laurence Brown, the head of the State Department’s Office of Medical Services, told a House of Representatives subcommittee that his office posted the anonymous survey on the Department’s intranet system on June 1, and will collect results for a month.

“The war in Afghanistan and in Iraq represent another level of stress due to the high levels and widespread incidence of violence that involve greater numbers of serving Foreign Service employees than past incidents,” Brown said.

This has resulted “in larger number of acute anxiety reactions and we might well expect an increase un numbers of those with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) as well,” he said. …

Diplomats assigned to the US embassy in Baghdad “experience frequent incoming fire in the Green Zone and sleep in vulnerable aluminum trailers,” Kashkett said, while diplomats working in other parts of Iraq often live with the US military “in combat areas and work entirely in a ‘red zone’ environment.

“Not surprisingly, some of our members who have returned from these postings have complained of symptoms that are clearly associated with post-traumatic stress disorder,” Kashkett said.

Although numbers are still sketchy, “preliminary results from the State Department survey suggest that it may affect some 40 percent or more, similar to what has been reported for the US military.”

Many US diplomats returning from Iraq “have commented that they had little opportunity for proper counseling before, during, or after their assignments,” Kashkett said.

Some even felt they were penalized for mentioning concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder “by having their medical or security clearances suspended,” Kashkett added.

US occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan is rather different from diplomacy as seen traditionally.

As for the lower level US diplomats in the Green Zone in Baghdad: the Bush-Rice administration lets them sleep in unsafe containers.

What a contrast to when a bigwig like Dick Cheney or John McCain visits Iraq …

The horrors of the Iraq war in figures: here.

France: Sarkozy receives extreme Rightist Le Pen


This video from the European Parliament is called Le Pen honour forestalled.

From Dutch NOS TV:

Le Pen at the President’s for the first time ever

In France, the extreme Rightist leader Le Pen has been received by the President for the first time ever. President Sarkozy in this breaks with the policies of his predecessors Chirac and Mitterrand.

The conservative Chirac and the socialist Mitterrand both refused to receive Le Pen at the Elysee palace. Why Sarkozy, also a conservative, does it now, is unclear. The Front National of Le Pen at this month’s elections disappeared from parliament.

Sarkozy consulted Le Pen about the coming European union summit. The socialists and Greens have much criticism of this meeting.

The German blogosphere are not happy about this meeting.

Contrary to the excuse which Miterrand and Chirac might have used, but didn’t: Sarkozy does not even have the excuse that Le Pen’s party is represented in Parliament.

Maybe Sarkozy thought: if I am friends with Italian neo-fascist Fini, I can be friends with his French colleague Le Pen as well.

Cécilia Sarkozy: here.

Sarkozy and Brigitte Bardot: here.

Le Pen and Dutch far Right politician Wilders: here.

German neo-nazis: here.

USA: Geronimo Great-Grandson Wants Bones Back


This video is a short explanation of the Apache Native American Indian resistance that happened in the Southwestern United States around the 1860s.

From Associated Press in the USA:

Geronimo Great-Grandson Wants Bones Back

June 19, 2007, 9:41 AM EDT

SANTA FE, N.M. — Legend has it that Yale University’s ultrasecret Skull and Bones society swiped the remains of American Indian leader Geronimo nearly a century ago from an army outpost in Oklahoma, and now Geronimo’s great-grandson wants the remains returned.

Harlyn Geronimo, of Mescalero, N.M., wants to prove the skull and bones that were purported spirited from the Indian leader’s burial plot in Fort Sill, Okla., to a stone tomb that serves as the club’s headquarters are in fact those of his great-grandfather.

If so, he wants to bury them near Geronimo’s birthplace in southern New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness.

“He died as a prisoner of war, and he is still a prisoner of war because his remains were not returned to his homeland,” said Harlyn Geronimo, 59. “Presently, we are looking for a proper consecrated burial.”

If the bones aren’t those of Geronimo, Harlyn Geronimo is certain they belonged to one of the Apache prisoners who died at Fort Sill. He said they should still be returned.

Harlyn Geronimo sent a letter last year to President Bush, asking for his help in recovering the bones. He figures since the president’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was allegedly one of those who helped steal the bones in 1918, the president would want to help return them to their rightful place.

But Harlyn Geronimo said: “I haven’t heard a word.”

The White House did not respond to messages asking for comment.

Both President Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, attended Yale and joined the elite club. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, is also a Bonesman, as are many other men in powerful government and industry positions.

Members are sworn to secrecy, one reason they won’t say whether the club has Geronimo’s bones.

“The reason there’s all these conspiracy theories around Skull and Bones is because their loyalty to one another goes beyond their public differences,” said historian and former Yale Alumni Magazine editor Marc Wortman.

Skull and Bones is one of a dozen secret Yale societies, according to Yale spokeswoman Gila Reinstein.

“If it’s true about the bones, that’s disrespectful and disturbing,” she said.

John Fryar, a retired Bureau of Indian Affairs special agent in antiquities recovery and a member of Acoma Pueblo, said if the secret society does have remains, they should be returned to Fort Sill.

“To ignore a request like this for the return of human remains is totally uncalled for. Look at our guys going to Vietnam to recover remains. It’s the same thing,” he said.

For Harlyn Geronimo, this is the beginning of what he assumes will be a long fight and he’s preparing in a traditional way.