Polar bears older than biologists used to think

This video is called other Polar Bear and Cubs Emerging from Den – BBC Planet Earth.

From Science:

Nuclear Genomic Sequences Reveal that Polar Bears Are an Old and Distinct Bear Lineage

Frank Hailer1,
Verena E. Kutschera1,
Björn M. Hallström,
Denise Klassert,
Steven R. Fain,
Jennifer A. Leonard,
Ulfur Arnason,
Axel Janke


Recent studies have shown that the polar bear matriline (mitochondrial DNA) evolved from a brown bear lineage since the late Pleistocene, potentially indicating rapid speciation and adaption to arctic conditions.

Here, we present a high-resolution data set from multiple independent loci across the nuclear genomes of a broad sample of polar, brown, and black bears.

Bayesian coalescent analyses place polar bears outside the brown bear clade and date the divergence much earlier, in the middle Pleistocene, about 600 (338 to 934) thousand years ago. This provides more time for polar bear evolution and confirms previous suggestions that polar bears carry introgressed brown bear mitochondrial DNA due to past hybridization. Our results highlight that multilocus genomic analyses are crucial for an accurate understanding of evolutionary history.

See also here.

July 2012. An analysis of newly sequenced polar bear genomes is providing important clues about the species’ evolution, suggesting that climate change and genetic exchange with brown bears helped create the polar bear as we know it today. The international study found evidence that the size of the polar bear population fluctuated with key climatic events over the past million years, growing during periods of cooling and shrinking in warmer times: here.

Will more climate change mean more pizzlies (polar bear-grizzly bear hybrids)? Here.

As climate changes, polar bears switch to polluted food: here.

Thanks to global warming polar bears now risk starvation during their wait for ice to form: here.

Shrinking Arctic sea ice has left polar bears scrambling to find food, and they’ve taken to eggs in a big way, which is bad news for many seabirds. A polar bear in the Northern Hudson Bay region can eat hundreds of seabird eggs at a sitting: here.


German religious dance bans under fire

This video is called Baby Dancing to Beyoncé – ORIGINAL!

From Der Spiegel weekly in Germany:


Protecting Tradition

German Dance Bans Under Fire

Dancing can get you in trouble in Germany. Laws on the books prohibit the practice on certain religious holidays — and the bans are taken seriously. But this week Bavaria moved to weaken its law and a Cologne dance-in was allowed to go ahead on Good Friday. Religious leaders are concerned.

Some would argue that Bavaria is as backward as it gets. The German state is famous for its ongoing love affair with lederhosen and dirndls and even old grannies yell at pedestrians that dare to cross the street at a red light. In the rest of the country, Bavarians are looked down upon in much the same way that New Yorkers view the Deep South.

This week, however, the state took a step which seems tantamount to admitting that times just might have changed. Laws prohibiting dancing on certain Christian holidays are to be relaxed. Slightly. Instead of criminalizing dance club gyrations as of midnight on the eve of religious celebrations, the state said party-goers will now be allowed to boogie until 2 a.m.

Of course, many might be left wondering why Bavaria doesn’t just ditch the dance rules entirely. But far from being forgotten relicts of centuries past, dance bans reflect the state’s deep ties to tradition and, though weakening, the Catholic Church. Indeed, Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx expressed his dissent on Wednesday, saying that easing laws protecting the sanctity of religious holidays is unacceptable.

Protest Events Banned

There are currently nine days on the Bavarian calendar when dancing is outlawed, including the four days from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter. The state’s neighbor to the west, Baden-Württemberg, is even more restrictive, banning bop during parts of 18 days — including from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Every other state in the country, including the famously debaucherous city-state of Berlin, has dance bans on their books too.

Germany’s upstart Pirate Party discovered this year just how serious those prohibitions are taken. The group chose this year’s Good Friday, a day on which dancing is forbidden in every single German state, to stage a series of dance-ins to protest the laws. One of the protests went ahead as planned, with scores of people gyrating to music coming out of their headphones in front of the Cologne Cathedral. But two other events — in Frankfurt and Giessen — were forbidden by the authorities. A legal complaint the Pirates filed with Germany’s high court was rejected.

cgh — with wire reports

Racing team won’t race in dictatorial Bahrain

This video is called Bahrain – Nurse Got Shot By Bahrain Dictator Government and Saudi Military.

From F1technical.net today:

Porsche team withdraws from Bahrain race

A team from the Porsche Supercup, a supporting series during the upcoming Grand Prix of Bahrain this weekend has cancelled its participation in the race, outing its doubts about the safety at the middle-east country.

The MRS team has decided not to travel to Bahrain and therefore skip the first race of the Porsche Supercup.

“It is the first time in our team history that we have to cancel a race of the Porsche MOBIL1 Supercup,” team boss Karsten Molitor said. “In the end we have the responsibility for our employees.

“The race in Bahrain is for us one of the seasons highlights, therefore it was not easy to come to a decision. According to our drivers and partners we have reached the conclusion to start only at the second race in Barcelona on 13th of May.”

See also here.