This video from the USA is called The [Pleistocene] Fossils of Inner Space Caverns, Texas.
From the Queensland University of Technology in Australia:
A central eastern Queensland mine has turned up bat fossils which show climate change has had a negative impact on the state’s bat population.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) PhD student Sandrine Martinez is currently sifting through what is the largest and best record of the state’s southern most bat population from the late Pleistocene Epoch (beginning two million years ago and ending approximately 10,000 years ago).
The fossil deposits were uncovered by mining operations at Mt Etna, near Rockhampton. They contain a succession of bat remains ranging from the late Pleistocene Epoch to the present and span the transition from full tropical rainforest habitats to the more arid environment that currently characterises the Mt Etna region.
Ms Martinez will compare information obtained from fossil data to the bat communities that still occur in the Mt Etna caves.
“What I’ve found so far is an overall decrease in species richness – today the Mt Etna caves are inhabited by five species of bat (excluding fruit bats) while in the late Pleistocene there were at least eight,” Ms Martinez said.
“These bats are insectivores and their decline could be due to a reduction in their food sources in response to climate change – that’s something I’ll be investigating further.
“It’s important to understand what has happened to bats in the past to more accurately predict what could happen in the future and perhaps prevent any more loss of diversity.
“Bats play an important ecological role as natural insect control agents. They account for almost a quarter of all mammal species and are the only flying mammals.
“Bats are declining worldwide and any information about their ecology is crucial to their future management
“Bats are often excluded from palaeoecological analyses due to their rarity in the fossil record and the difficulty in identifying them to species level, so we know very little about them. We don’t want to let this lack of knowledge lead to extinction.”
Batmobiles in Transylvania: here.
Eocene bats in India: here.
Ancient [Eocene] Bats Could Not Echolocate: here.
Indiana bats in the USA: here.
Fossils of animals that may be 50 million years old have been uncovered during roadworks in Queensland: here.
Australian savannah: here.
Wildlife in Australian rain forest is pretty wild
In the ancient Daintree rain forest of Queensland, Australia, everything seems oversized: birds as tall as men, frogs that bark like dogs…
By Malcolm Scott
Bloomberg News Service
MALCOLM SCOTT / BLOOMBERG NEWS
A sign urges caution against the Cassowary bird, which can grow to more than 6 feet tall, weigh 130 pounds and has a daggerlike claw. Caution indeed.
Some rooms of the 15-villa Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa are perched high in the trees, others are on the rain-forest floor; all are surrounded by the never-ending croaks, chirps, hums and calls of the critters who dwell here.
If you go
Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa, http://www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au/. The luxury rain-forest lodge is not cheap: a three-day stay can cost a couple about $1,000. Less expensive accommodations are available around the town of Cairns.
Daintree National Park
The Cape Tribulation area of the park (which the Daintree Eco Lodge is near) is one of the more popular areas and is about 70 miles north of Cairns. Get park information at http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/projects/park/index.cgi?parkid=166
For general information
on visiting, contact
Tourism Australia, http://www.australia.comor 877-793-2507.
• For more information on Queensland, including Cairns and the Daintree rain forest, see http://www.experiencequeensland.comkj
Seattle Times Travel
and Bloomberg News
In the ancient Daintree rain forest of Queensland, Australia, everything seems oversized: birds as tall as men, frogs that bark like dogs, hand-sized spiders dangling above a fellow diner at my resort.
By an accident of geology, as continents elsewhere drifted though different climatic zones, this area stayed tropical, preserving some of the earliest plant species and flowers. The primitive and deadly Idiot Fruit is found here; microscopic needles cover the leaves of the Stinging Tree; and the Wait-a-while vine has small, skin-ripping spikes.
This is also home to crocodiles and the Giant Tree Frog, the world’s biggest, with its canine mating call. The Golden Orb Spider that was poised over my fellow guests is one of the creatures here that is actually harmless.
The forbidding jungle has been causing trouble for visitors since Captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour ran onto the reef off the coast nearby, prompting him to name the headland Cape Tribulation and put into a local estuary for repairs. (As an afterthought before sailing away, he stuck a flag in the ground and claimed the continent for Britain.)
Today, the area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and luxury resorts have sprung up, led by the 15-villa Daintree Eco Lodge.
Some rooms are perched high in the trees, others are on the forest floor; all are surrounded by the never-ending croaks, chirps, hums and calls of the critters who dwell here. But such eco-luxury is not cheap; a three-day stay for my wife and me cost about $1,000.
We stayed in the Kurranji room — that means Cassowary in the local aboriginal dialect — after the native bird that can grow more than 6 feet tall, weigh up to 130 pounds, run 30 mph, and is armed with a 5-inch, daggerlike middle claw capable of disemboweling a human with a single kick. We didn’t spot one on our visit.
The room had understated furnishings, a Jacuzzi on its screened balcony, and draped cloth around its bed that failed to deter a palm-sized huntsman spider from sleeping with us.
The resort’s Julaymba restaurant uses berries and herbs plucked from the surrounding rain forest. It served up dishes such as Daintree tea-smoked trout and crocodile dumplings against a background of croaking rocket frogs.
We dined on a private, pond-side deck with mosquito coils burning at our feet and a citronella lamp blazing overhead. Wild boars, introduced by Europeans soon after settlement, are a pest to native flora and fauna here, so I thought I’d do my bit for the ecosystem and eat one. The fat-free beast was a little dry from overcooking, though its meat remained flavorful, sweetened by native berries instead of the traditional apple.
Down the creek
Later, in search of wildlife, I met with Ian “Sauce” Worcester, who’s been plying the Daintree River the past 15 years. We walked through mangroves to the bank and motored down Barratt Creek in his flat-bottomed open small boat. Five minutes into the cruise, Sauce spotted something. A crocodile.
I followed his nicotine-stained finger to a crocodile more than 12 feet long, its eyes watching us from the creek bank 30 feet away.
“Not far from your room,” said Sauce. No kidding.
Minutes later, Sauce stopped the boat to point out a green tree snake.
“Where?” said I, eyes searching in futility.
Then I saw it, slithering around a branch, inches from my face.
Seeking to redeem my bush-cred, I excitedly pointed out a crocodile 60 feet ahead to the right.
“Afraid that’s a Log-a-dile,” Sauce replied, as we motored past the fallen tree branch.
After pursuing beasts, we headed out of the claustrophobic creek and into the wider Daintree River. Minutes later, Sauce spotted a Sacred Kingfisher on the river’s edge. He killed the engine and we drifted toward the bird.
Hushed, we squatted, cameras cocked, hoping for a close-up. Downriver, we shot (with cameras) azure kingfishers, great egrets, royal spoonbills and Papuan frog mouths.
Against a setting sun, thousands of snow-white cattle egret swooped overhead on their way downriver.
“It never gets boring,” said Sauce, who conducts two tours daily, as we chugged back to shore.
Back at the lodge I met my wife, who was in a state of Nirvana after two hours at the spa, where she was caressed by eight streams of water in a “Vichy Shower,” rubbed and scrubbed, given a facial and more.
For a look at how the local aborigines used the forest’s flora and fauna, we met Juan, a member of the Kuku Yalanji tribe that spans Port Douglas to Cook Town, who recounted the days when aboriginal children were taken from their families to be raised by the state. His grandmother escaped after being hidden; his grandfather was less fortunate, taken at age 7 from his tribe and never saw his parents again.
He described how his people, believed to have lived here for 9,000 years, used black palms to make spears, bags and shelter; cyanide-rich black bean pods to stun fish; ate the bottoms of green ants to ease cold symptoms; and salved sap from milky-pine trees to relieve headaches, wounds and mosquito bites. We applied the sap to our well-bitten legs. It worked.
The Daintree rain forest is a magical place, especially when seen through the eyes of locals like Juan and Sauce. There aren’t many places where you can spy plants and beasts little changed since the age of dinosaurs by day, then gobble five-star food and wine by night.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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