Young great crested grebes fed


This 18 August 2017 video is about young great crested grebes fed.

Joop Krassenburg made this video is Wassenaar town in the Netherlands.

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After Grenfell Tower disaster, more fire unsafety in England


Ths video from Britain says about itself:

25 August 2017

Cladding on more than 200 buildings found to be unsafe

A series of fire safety tests designed to probe cladding systems on high-rise towers have concluded, finding 228 buildings at risk across the UK, the government said.

In the final raft of assessments, ordered in the wake of the Grenfell Tower inferno, a combination of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding with a limited flammability filling and stone-wool insulation was deemed safe.

No buildings in the UK are known to have this mixture of materials, but the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said it could act as a solution for structures with dangerous cladding.

By Steve James in Britain:

UK: 228 high-rise buildings fail mock-up fire tests post-Grenfell

29 August 2017

Tests on the fire resistance of aluminium cladding systems in England currently suggest that at least 228 high-rise buildings, over 18 metres in height, are potential death traps.

The tests, carried out on behalf of the British government by the British Research Establishment (BRE), are the latest in a hastily arranged series following the catastrophic June 14 fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London, which killed at least 80 people.

The tests involved a large-scale test fire on an aluminium composite material (ACM) filled with retardant polyethylene installed with phenolic foam board insulation. Twenty-two buildings are known to use this specific type of cladding, adding to the 206 buildings clad with ACM using differing types of filler and insulation. So far, of systems installed, only those with fire retardant ACM and mineral wool insulation have passed the tests.

No complete list of the buildings involved has been publicly provided, but all are likely residential tower blocks, each housing hundreds of working people and run either by housing associations or local authorities. The government is reported as having informed the buildings’ owners and recommended remedial measures. If the experience of evacuated residents in London’s Chalcots Estate is a guide, emergency measures amounted to improving fire doors and installing fire stopping measures between flats and floors, and unblocking stairwell ventilation. An unknown number of low-rise and private sector buildings may use the same dangerous combinations of materials.

The current set of tests is the second conducted on ACM cladding. In the days following the disaster, Conservative Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid offered free testing of ACM samples to landlords. Initially as many as 530 buildings were thought to have ACM cladding, but early investigations reduced the number to 259, including 240 public sector residential blocks. Landlords were encouraged to submit two 250 x 250 mm ACM samples for testing by the BRE. Of samples eventually submitted, all failed. The test that generated the extraordinary 100 percent failure rate was authenticated as sound by the Sweden Research Institute.

In July, Javid told Parliament that thus far only the core of the ACM panel was being tested. In response, housing authorities and fire safety commentators demanded supposedly more representative test methods in which a mock-up of a full cladding installation, including the ACM panel, the insulation and fire stopping, should be used. Concerns were raised that potentially safe systems were in danger of being removed from buildings.

Hoping, no doubt, for a meaningful reduction in the number of dangerous buildings, Javid called for the new tests, of which six of seven have now been completed by the BRE. But only 13 of 241 buildings covered by the more realistic test have passed, arguably a more devastating outcome than the initial tests, and exposing a regulatory collapse of unprecedented proportions.

Every single one of the cladding systems now being exposed as deadly had previously been signed off as safe. How can this be?

Responsibility lies with all the major political parties, and successive governments, who over the last three decades have embraced deregulation and privatisation and the subordination of public health and safety to private profit. There are many aspects of this revealed by Grenfell.

In England now, following years of erosion, there is no unified regime of building inspection run by local authorities retaining any degree of independence from the building companies. Nor is there an arm of government tasked with overseeing building standards.

Rather, building contractors themselves can hire an “Approved Inspector,” whose job is not to ensure adherence to a strict set of “prescriptive” standards but to follow looser “functional” guidelines assumed to be needed for building safety. A host of private and semi-private organisations, such as the Building Control Alliance (BCA), have sprung up to exploit the regulatory vagueness and loopholes regarding the materials that can be used in any given set of circumstances.

The BCA advised on three mechanisms whereby a cladding system could be approved, in line with building regulations which stated that external insulation should be of “limited combustibility,” defined as “A2.” Option 1 stipulated that all the component materials could simply be of A2 combustibility resistance or better. Option 2 proposed a fire test be set up, that could include inferior products, but if the fire test was deemed safe all was well. Option 3, clearly the easiest, involved a “desktop” study where cladding materials could be deemed safe without any tests and without any specified combustibility standards merely on the basis of considering similar scenarios. No records of these studies were required to be kept.

Even more reckless were guidelines issued, now withdrawn, by the National House Building Council (NHBC), another private body, closely tied to the building industry, which issues insurance to house builders and offers building inspection advice. According to the BBC, the NHBC simply decided that sub-A2 materials were acceptable based on a review of a “significant quantity of data from a range of tests and desktop assessments.”

Perhaps most seriously, the BRE, the organisation most directly responsible for fire testing and providing fire safety advice, has itself been compromised. The BRE was established in 1921 as an arm of the civil service tasked with improving house quality. Over the years, the organisation established itself as a reputable, state-funded source of building and fire safety advice, with a degree of independence from the building materials and construction companies. Privatised in 1997, the BRE has subsequently sought to establish itself as a global brand for sale of fire safety advice, drawing in revenue from the very organisations whose products and operations it should be policing.

In 2016, the BRE issued a report, “External Fire Spread,” following studies commissioned by Javid’s Department of Communities and Local Government into the dangers of cladding fires.

The report, clearly intended to silence growing alarm, is cynical and complacent. The authors complained that high-rise flat fires are “visually impressive, high-profile and attract media attention.” To avoid the fuss, unsuitable cladding materials should be dealt with “as part of the fire safety risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [12] …”

This order, passed under the Labour government of Tony Blair, removed fire safety responsibly from the Fire Service and allowed anyone to set themselves up as a fire risk assessor, regardless of skills, experience or qualifications. In 2010, fire assessor Carl Stokes won the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chealsea fire assessment contract, including Grenfell Tower, by undercutting rivals Salvus Consulting. Stokes was praised at the time for his willingness to “challenge the Fire Brigade … if he considered their requirements to be excessive.”

Part one of the BRE report concludes with the assertion: “With the exception of one or two unfortunate but rare cases, there is currently no evidence from these investigations to suggest that the current recommendations, to limit vertical fire spread up the exterior of high-rise buildings, are failing in their purpose.”

UK: Salford residents challenge Labour Council over fire risks revealed by Grenfell Tower: here.

Hazel dormouse on video


This 29 August 2017 video about a hazel dormouse is by Luuk Punt from the Netherlands.

European Union anti-refugees conference


This video says about itself:

26 September 2016

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán has called for the European Union to create a “giant refugee city” on the Libyan coastline. He proposes the city could be used to house refugees and migrants coming from across Africa who are attempting to board boats in north Africa headed for Europe. Our Europe correspondent Jack Parrock reports.

Far right Viktor Orbán hates refugees. So, this ‘giant city’ would in practice be a ‘giant concentration camp‘. Where food for refugees, if any, would be thrown at them like at farm pigs; like happens in Orbán’s Hungary; and happened during World War II nazi concentration camps for Soviet prisoners of war, whom Hitler considered to be ‘Asian subhumans’. Or Orban’s ‘city’ might resemble the ‘tent city’ in Arizona, USA where racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio (convicted, but now pardoned by President Trump) used to have Latinos tortured for being Latinos.

Even not that progressive other European Union countries’ politicians sometimes criticize Orbán. However, now it looks like they are copying his anti-refugee ideas.

By Alex Lantier in France:

EU holds Paris conference to set up detention camps for migrants in Libya

29 August 2017

Yesterday, heads of state of Germany, France, Italy, and Spain and of the African states of Niger and Chad, together with UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of Libya attended a summit on immigration hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

The purpose of the summit stamped it with a politically criminal character. It discussed how to deny the right of asylum to hundreds of thousands of refugees and block their travel through Africa north to Libya and across the Mediterranean to Europe. The conference, attended by European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, discussed using the armed forces of the African regimes to detain refugees and send them back toward the countries they had fled, thus keeping them in Africa and deterring further migration.

The conference was an attempt above all to deal with the disastrous consequences of the 2011 NATO war in Libya, which destroyed the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and unleashed a bloody civil war that rages to this day. The summit also tried to contain escalating tensions among the European powers over which armed factions to support inside Libya.

Last week, the UN released a devastating report highlighting the horrific fate of vast numbers of refugees trapped in the civil war conditions of post-2011 Libya and exposing the forces that the EU is proposing to rely on to police refugees.

The UN reported, “Migrants continued to be subjected by smugglers, traffickers, members of armed groups and security forces to extreme violence; torture and other ill-treatment; forced labour; arbitrary deprivation of liberty; rape; and other sexual violence and exploitation. On 11 April 2017, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) denounced the presence of slave markets in Libya, where sub-Saharan migrants were bought and sold and women were traded as sex slaves.”

Based on reports from the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the UN painted a portrait of conditions in detention camps set up for migrants in Libya to halt and deter migration. The UN found that victims of brutal conduct from the various warring militias that rule post-Gaddafi Libya “had little avenue for redress, due to a general state of lawlessness and the weakness of judicial institutions.”

It wrote, “UNSMIL visited detention centres under the control of the Department for Combatting Illegal Migration in Gharyan, Tripoli, Misrata and Surman, where thousands of migrants have been held arbitrarily for prolonged periods of time with no possibility to challenge the legality of their detention. UNSMIL had documented cases of torture, ill-treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence. Detention centres remained overcrowded, and detainees were often malnourished, living in poor hygienic conditions and with limited or no access to medical care.”

The UN also documented the brutal conduct of EU-backed armed forces in Libya, who try to catch refugees to return them to these detention camps. Its report noted, “UNSMIL received numerous reports of dangerous, life-threatening interceptions by armed men believed to be from the Libyan Coast Guard. UNSMIL has been reviewing its support to the Libyan Coast Guard in line with the United Nations human rights due diligence policy.”

The conference issued a brief resolution late last night, calling for the EU to bring “particularly vulnerable” migrants from Libya to Europe, while relying on the armed forces of Niger and Chad and the various militias in Libya to keep refugees from reaching the Mediterranean. The conference also proposed to provide more equipment to the Libyan Coast Guard for its anti-refugee missions.

Macron said he wanted to “identify” which migrants are true refugees in Niger and Chad, before they could reach Libya on their journey north, so that others could be turned back. He blamed the terrible conditions that exist for refugees in Africa on people smugglers, declaring: “Certain trafficking groups that traffic in weapons, in human lives, and in drugs, and groups linked to terrorism have turned the desert in Africa and the Mediterranean into a graveyard. These same people are profoundly linked to terrorism.”

These are political lies, designed to falsely present a brutal EU policy of denying asylum rights to refugees based on outright armed repression as respecting human rights. It is not people smugglers or refugees that are responsible for civil war conditions in Libya, but the NATO powers, which bombed Libya and armed various Islamist militias in a war for regime change. As in imperialist wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, Libyan society rapidly disintegrated.

Wars across the Middle East and Africa have now produced the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, with over 60 million people displaced from their homes. The reaction of the imperialist powers is not to halt the war drive or to seek to address the military conflicts and the poverty that is driving tens of millions to abandon their homes. Rather, they aim to work more closely with military dictatorships and irregular militias to prevent this unprecedented wave of migrants from reaching Europe.

Despite the European powers’ criticisms of US President Donald Trump, including his call to build a wall to block Mexican immigration north into the United States, their own policy towards African refugees is equally ruthless and brutal. As thousands of refugees crossed in the Mediterranean, EU officials sought to limit rescue operations, hoping news of refugees drowning at sea would deter migrants from trying to reach Europe.

Rescue operations encourage migration, one British diplomat explained, and “create an unintended ‘pull factor’ thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.” The solution was to eliminate the “pull factor” created by rescue measures and discourage migration by allowing refugees to drown. Since then, thousands of innocent refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean—2,400 in the first eight months of 2017 alone.

Under these conditions, the EU’s claim that it will bring “particularly vulnerable” migrants to Europe is another utterly cynical gesture. Any refugee in Libya is vulnerable due to the civil war conditions in the country, and promises to bring those that are “particularly vulnerable” only amounts to giving EU authorities the right to cherry-pick which refugees they will grant asylum.

According to initial reports, European officials at the conference summarily dismissed arguments by African heads of state that migration would continue so long as large parts of Africa are very poor. “The problem is poverty,” Mogherini said, but she ruled out launching “a new Marshall Plan” to devote substantial funding to create jobs in Africa. European officials are reportedly thinking of spending €6 million initially on poverty programmes, or up to €50 million in the long term—a drop in the bucket in a poverty-stricken region inhabited by hundreds of millions of people.

The summit not only reflected the EU’s militaristic and anti-refugee policy, but featured growing rivalries among the European powers over who would set the agenda and announce more ambitious plans to limit immigration to Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking re-election and trying to burnish her anti-immigrant credentials, announced yesterday a deal with the bloody Egyptian military dictatorship of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to limit migration to Europe.

Macron was compelled to abandon his plan to build French “hot spot” detention centres in Libya, presented in July amid sharp tensions with Italy, the former colonial power in Libya, as Paris and Rome backed rival armed forces inside Libya, led by General Khalifa Haftar and the Misrata militias, respectively.

Horned Triassic reptile discovery in India


This video says about itself:

23 August 2017

Line art and coloration, for Shringasaurus by the time this uploads it will be 3 days since its discovery! I mean, look at it! It’s awesome!

Also having revised the dates- I accidentally mixed up the years as it is 252 ma, not 240 ma. I do apologize for that mistake.

By Pete Buchholz, 28 August 2017:

India’s bull-headed reptile adds to Triassic menagerie

A large plant-eating reptile fossil from the Middle Triassic of India shows that some adults had brow horns and some didn’t. Researchers have suggested that the horned individuals were males who used their horns in combat trying to woo females.

When exploring the Middle Triassic Denwa Formation of Central India, paleontologists unearthed seven skeletons of one of the most remarkable fossil reptiles ever discovered.

Shringasaurus indicus was a barrel-chested reptile like a long-necked pig, with two curved horns over its eyes.

The horns emerge from the top of the skull and are forward-curving cones; remarkably similar to the brow horns of Triceratops. They are the most conspicuous features of Shringasaurus, which led paleontologists Saradee Sengupta and colleagues to use the Sanskrit word for horn, “śṛṅga,” in its name. Its teeth show that it was an herbivore, and at nearly four meters (13 feet) long, it was one of the largest herbivores alive at the time.

The neck was long and muscular, nearly as long as the torso. The round torso, muscular limbs, and relatively short tail give Shringasaurus the distinct look of a bruiser.

The horns also gave Sengupta and colleagues unique insights into the life of Shringasaurus and may explain why it grew so large. They found at least seven individuals of different ages in a small bone bed. Six of them have horns, but one nearly fully grown specimen lacked horns completely but was otherwise identical to the others. What’s more, those individuals with horns show a great deal of individual variation.

Sengupta and colleagues proposed that Shringasaurus was sexually dimorphic, with the horned individuals being males and the unhorned individual being a female. They imagined that the horns were used in combat between males, making a comparison to modern mammals like deer and sheep, whose males engage in combat using horns or antlers, and whose females have smaller or no horns. The large adult size, strong build, and horns are all thought to be the result of sexual selection where larger stronger males with more prominent horns were selected as mates by females.

Shringasaurus was an allokotosaur, a lineage of weird plant-eating reptiles from the Triassic including some iguana-like forms as well as long-necked barrel-chested animals like Shringasaurus. Allokotosaurs are part of a larger lineage called the archosauromorphs, which includes living birds and crocodilians, as well as a huge number of distinctive extinct groups of animals.

Archosauromorphs like Shringasaurus diversified rapidly in the Early Triassic in the aftermath of the Permian-Triassic extinction, the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history. Shringasaurus lived a mere five to ten million years after the extinction and is one of the several strange Triassic archosauromorphs like the long-necked fishing Tanystropheus, leg-winged gliding Sharovipteryx, and the thick-skulled Triopticus.

The Triassic was a unique time in Earth’s history, documenting a rapid biological recovery after the extinction event. New fossil discoveries like Shringasaurus show that the Triassic still has much to offer. The period ended with another mass extinction wiping out many archosauromorphs, including the allokotosaurs, leaving just crocodilians, pterosaurs, and dinosaurs, which gave rise to birds.

Read the original research in Scientific Reports.

Trump militarises United States police


This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump To End Ban On Military Weapons Going To Police Forces

28 August 2017

A leaked draft of a rule from the Trump administration shows that Donald wants to lift an Obama-era ban on giving surplus military weaponry to U.S. police departments. This is a dangerous move – one that could end up creating a police-state here in the United States with over-powered wannabe commandos calling the shots. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.

Link here.

A few years ago when we were experiencing the epidemic among police departments in the US of them killing minorities for no other reason than to just kill them, one of the big stories that emerged was the fact that many police stations are actually getting hand-me-downs from the US military, militarized weapons, vehicles, up-armored Humvees as if police departments need these, and they’re using these to go out there and act as these wannabe commando types and they’re killing minorities.

Well, Obama decided to put an end to that. He ended that program that sent police departments across the United States those surplus military goods and Donald Trump, again because it’s something Obama did, is already working on undoing that. According to a leaked draft of a rule by the Trump administration, they are trying to erase Obama’s ban on military gear going to US police forces and so that Donald Trump can sign this order and send even more military-grade weapons, military-grade vehicles, to police officers all across this country.

This story is exceptionally important right now for one distinct reason. As we have discussed, as anyone who’s turned on the news in the last few weeks understands, race relations in this country are pretty abysmal. Bad things are happening, and it’s the result of white supremacists feeling energized under Donald Trump. Police officers are doing virtually nothing to protect the anti-white supremacist protesters. As we all know, somebody was killed in Charlottesville by one of these white supremacists. Black men were beaten down. Finally this past weekend we actually got an arrest, even though the whole thing was videoed and we knew who the guy was. We also had reports this weekend that apparently video has surfaced, there were shots fired by the supremacists into the counter-protestors, and the police didn’t do a damned thing.

What do you think those police officers are gonna do with military-grade weapons in these situations? Do you think they’re gonna use them to keep the peace? Or do you think they’re gonna use them to scare people? Do you think they’re gonna use them against people? Because that’s my bet, you know why? Because that’s what they’ve done in the past with it. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now, especially not with what we’re seeing in the United States today. A new report came out this past weekend that white supremacist groups are trying to infiltrate police departments across this country. The sheriff, I believe, Oklahoma, maybe, I could be wrong on that,

Indeed, it is Texas.

who came out as the owner and director of a white supremacist website. And we want to give these people military-grade weapons and armor and vehicles? That is insane, but that is what Donald Trump wants.

We are on the verge of becoming a full-blown police state in this country if this rule goes through, goes back into effect. Yes, it was bad under Obama, it was bad under Bush, and everybody else before that, but things are so much worse now and they are so much different. Giving these people access to these kinds of weapons, this kind of authority, and we’ve already seen how Donald Trump treats people or law enforcement officers who discriminate against minorities. He gives them a pardon. This is a bad idea that’s gonna end very badly and most likely will end in the loss of life for American citizens because our police departments have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted with military-grade weapons. Furthermore, under very few circumstances, would they ever even need this kind of equipment. But don’t tell that to Donald Trump, because all he knows is that Obama put the ban in place, so he has to be the one to repeal it.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Trump orders resumption of military supplies to local police

29 August 2017

President Trump signed an executive order Monday morning reinstituting a federal program to supply military-grade weaponry and equipment to state and local police forces. The program had been suspended since May 2015 under an executive order signed by Barack Obama that Trump has now rescinded.

The Obama administration was compelled to restrict, at least temporarily, the distribution of “surplus” military equipment after widespread public outrage following the deployment of armored vehicles and other military weaponry in Ferguson, Missouri, after mass protests that followed the August 2014 police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr.

When thousands took to the streets in anger over the police killing of the unarmed youth, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, mobilized the National Guard, backing the local authorities, who employed armored cars, armed helicopters and police equipped with assault rifles pointed at demonstrators.

Trump signed the executive order without ceremony, leaving it to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce the policy change formally in an address to the convention of the Fraternal Order of Police held in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I am here to announce that President Trump is issuing an executive order that will make it easier to protect yourselves and your communities,” Sessions declared, to loud applause from the assembled police. “He is rescinding restrictions from the prior administration that limited your agencies’ ability to get equipment through federal programs…”

The program to supply military gear to local police, known as the 1033 program, after the section in the National Defense Authorization Act which first established it in 1990, allows the Pentagon to transfer equipment ranging from body armor and bullets to aircraft, armored cars and tanks, at no cost to the local or state government.

Obama’s executive order did not halt the entire program, but restricted distribution of the most flagrant offensive weapons, including grenade launchers, armored cars and armored helicopters. Last year there was a limited recall of equipment that had been placed on a “prohibited” list, including armored cars, aircraft and explosives.

Sessions boasted that the latest executive order was only one part of a wide range of measures taken by the Trump administration to boost local police, including the reinstatement of civil asset forfeiture, which allows local police to confiscate cash and property from people based only on suspicion of crimes, without a warrant or court hearing.

Local police officials interviewed by the press in Nashville said their departments had become increasingly dependent on the free hand-me-down equipment from the Pentagon, under conditions of mounting budgetary pressures on state and local government.

The program was created under the first Bush administration, initially limited to drug enforcement units, but in 1997, under the administration of Democrat Bill Clinton, it was expanded to include all local law enforcement units. More than $5.4 billion has been transferred to local police, a huge subsidy from the Pentagon for building up a police-state apparatus in America.

A White House background paper rejected claims that military-style equipment made the police look like “an occupying force,” saying that the decision “sends the message that we care more about public safety than about how a piece of equipment looks, especially when that equipment has been shown to reduce crime, reduce complaints against and assaults on police, and makes officers more effective.”

The document characterized the equipment as “entirely defensive in nature,” although it includes helicopters, armored cars, battering rams, explosives and .50 caliber machine guns, as well as assault rifles.

The White House cited mass casualty shootings in San Bernardino, California and Orlando, Florida, as well as the current flood rescue operations related to Hurricane Harvey, as instances in which such equipment had been put to use. There was no mention of the far more frequent use of such materiel in protests over police violence, or its likely future use in the event of more widespread civil disorder provoked by the economic and social crisis of American capitalism.

Trump’s action seemed deliberately timed to mark the third anniversary of the police violence in Ferguson—Michael Brown was shot to death on August 9, 2014, and his funeral, attended by thousands, took place on August 25, 2014.

The policeman who shot the 18-year-old to death, Darren Wilson, was never tried for the killing, after a grand jury refused to bring charges against him, in a rigged proceeding stage-managed by St. Louis County prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch, a Democrat.

Both Trump and Sessions have been vehement defenders of killer cops, opposing all efforts to hold police accountable for killing more than 1,000 Americans every year, nearly all of them poor and working class, black, white, Hispanic and immigrant.

Trump’s executive order came barely 48 hours after his issuance of a full pardon to Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix), who was convicted of contempt of court for defying injunctions against racial profiling in the arrest and detention of Hispanics under “suspicion” of being undocumented immigrants.

Imploring President Trump to Reconsider Reinstating Program Offering Military Surplus to Police: here.

Sending an ominous signal to student protest movements nationwide, universities across the US are once again able to equip their police forces with castoff military gear, tying them ever more intimately into the military-industrial complex: here.

The [Trump] White House will shut down an Obama-era rule that would have required businesses to track how much they pay workers of varying genders, races and ethnicities according to a new report: here.

Purple frog new species discovery in India


External morphology of tadpoles of the Bhupathy’s purple frog (Nasikabatrachus bhupathi). Image credit: S. Jegath Janani et al.

By Natali Anderson:

Bizarre New Species of Frog Discovered in India: Nasikabatrachus bhupathi

Aug 28, 2017

Herpetologists are claiming they have discovered a new species of purple frog living in the Western Ghats, India.

In a paper published in the Alytes, the International Journal of Batrachology, the researchers describe the new frog species that they call Nasikabatrachus bhupathi.

The proposed English name is the Bhupathy’s purple frog.

The new species was described by Dr. S. Jegath Janani from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) in Hyderabad, India, and his colleagues from the American Museum of Natural History the CSIR-CCMB, and the Nature Environment and Wildlife Society.

“The name of this species, bhupathi, commemorates Dr. S. Bhupathy, a noted scientist and a field herpetologist,” the authors explain.

They say Nasikabatrachus bhupathi is just the second member of the genus Nasikabatrachus.

The frog is morphologically, acoustically and genetically distinct from the only previously known species, Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis (common names: purple frog, Indian purple frog, pignose frog).

Nasikabatrachus bhupathi measures between 1.8 and 2 inches (4.5-5 cm) in length.

“The abdominal skin of the species is smooth, grayish-white with faint marbling in coloration. The skin on dorsum is smooth, thick, and dark brown from vent to shoulder. The head is lighter brown; no dorso-lateral or transverse skin folds,” Dr. Janani and co-authors say.

“The body is globular; the head is not externally distinct from body, the snout is acutely pointed with a lighter colored fleshy protuberance and a hard knob-like projection at the tip.”

“The mouth is small, subterminal, ventral, and posterior to snout tip; the tongue is small with entire rounded tip.”

According to the team, Nasikabatrachus bhupathi lives on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.

“The currently known distribution of Nasikabatrachus bhupathi is restricted to three highly seasonal second order streams,” they say.

“The type locality is on the leeward side of the Western Ghats, which receives less rainfall than the western slopes of these mountains during southwest monsoon.”

Both Nasikabatrachus bhupathi and N. sahyadrensis are highly adapted for fossoriality (burrowing).

Nasikabatrachus frogs live and feed underground, therefore hard, dry soil and rock (from mountain uplift) is expected to present an insurmountable barrier to burrowing and feeding, preventing them from dispersing far,” the researchers say.