Eurasian bullfinches in Sweden

This February 2011 video shows Eurasian bullfinches, first male, later also female, in Sweden.


Cambrian animal discovery in Utah, USA

This video says about itself:

20 June 2014

In this episode of Palaeo After Dark, the group talks about an interesting and enigmatic fossil species from the Burgess Shale called Siphusauctum gregarium, which looks somewhat like a crinoid but is possibly completely unrelated. The group also gets sidetracked into conversations about echinoderms, the importance of the Burgess Shale, and shipping grandfather clocks on the Oregon Trail.

From the University of Kansas in the USA:

Obscure’ stalked filter feeder lived in Utah some 500 million years ago

October 11, 2017

Summary: The only fossilized specimen of a species previously unknown to science — an ‘obscure’ stalked filter feeder — has just been detailed for the first time.

To the untrained eye, it looks like a flower crudely etched into rock — as if a child had scratched a picture of a bloom. But to the late fossil hunter Lloyd Gunther, the tulip shape he unearthed at Antimony Canyon in northern Utah looked like the remnant of an ancient marine animal.

Years ago, Gunther collected the rock and later gave it to researchers at the University of Kansas’ Biodiversity Institute — just one among thousands of such fossils he donated to the institute over the years.

But this find was the only fossilized specimen of a species previously unknown to science — an “obscure” stalked filter feeder. It has just been detailed for the first time in a paper appearing in the Journal of Paleontology.

“This was the earliest specimen of a stalked filter feeder that has been found in North America,” said lead author Julien Kimmig, collections manager for Invertebrate Paleontology at the Biodiversity Institute. “This animal lived in soft sediment and anchored into the sediment. The upper part of the tulip was the organism itself. It had a stem attached to the ground and an upper part, called the calyx, that had everything from the digestive tract to the feeding mechanism. It was fairly primitive and weird.”

Kimmig researches the taxonomy, stratigraphy and paleoecology of the Cambrian Spence Shale found in Utah and Idaho, where Gunther found the obscure filter feeder.

“The Spence Shale gives us soft-tissue preservation, so we get a much more complete biota in these environments,” he said. “This gives us a better idea of what the early world was like in the Cambrian. It’s amazing to see what groups of animals had already appeared over 500 million years ago, like arthropods, worms, the first vertebrate animals — nearly every animal that we have around today has a relative that already lived during those times in the Cambrian.”

In honor of fossil hunter Gunther, a preeminent collector who performed fieldwork from the 1930s to the 2000s, Kimmig and Biodiversity Institute colleagues Luke Strotz and Bruce Lieberman named the newly described species Siphusauctum lloydguntheri.

The stalked filter feeder is just the second animal placed within its genus, and the first Siphusauctum to be discovered outside the Burgess Shale, a fossil-rich deposit in the Canadian Rockies.

“What these animals were doing was filtering water to get food, like micro-plankton,” Kimmig said. “The thing is, where this one was located we only found a single specimen over a period of 60 years of collecting in the area.”

Kimmig said it isn’t yet known if the newly discovered stalked filter feeder lived a highly solitary life or if it drifted off from a community of similar animals.

“It’s hard to tell from a single specimen,” he said. “There were algae found right next to it, so it likely was transported there. The algae found with it were planktonic algae that were floating themselves. It could have fallen just next to it — but that would be a big coincidence — so that’s why we’re thinking it came loose from somewhere else and got mixed in with the algae.”

Kimmig and his KU colleagues say the newly described specimen varies in key areas from similar known species of stalked filter feeders from the Cambrian.

“There are several differences in how the animal looked,” Kimmig said. “If you look at the digestive tract preserved in this specimen, the lower digestive tract is closer to the base of the animal compared to other animals. The calyx is very slim — it looks like a white wine glass, whereas in other species it looks like a big goblet. What we don’t have in this specimen that the others have are big branches for filter feeding. We don’t know if those weren’t preserved or if this one didn’t have them.”

According to the researchers, there are no species alive today that claim lineage to Siphusauctum lloydguntheri. But Kimmig said there were a few contemporary examples that share similarities.

“The closest thing to the lifestyle — but not a relative — would be crinoids, commonly called sea lilies,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s likely not a relative of Siphusauctum in the world anymore. We have thousands of similar fossil specimens in the Burgess Shale, but it’s hard to identify what these animals actually were. It might be possibly related to contemporary entoprocts, which are a lot smaller than this one — but it’s hard to tell if they’re related at all.”

Ultimately, the mysterious stalked filter feeder is a reminder of the strange and vast arc of evolution where species continuously come and go, according to Kimmig.

“It is enigmatic because we don’t have anything living that is exactly like it,” he said. “What is fascinating about this animal is we can clearly relate it to animals existing in the Cambrian and then we just don’t find it anymore. It’s just fascinating to see how evolution works. Sometimes it creates something — and it just doesn’t work out. We have some lineages like worms that lived long before the Cambrian and haven’t changed in appearance or behavior, then we have things that were around for a couple of million years and just disappeared because they were chance victims of mass extinctions.”

German neonazi mass murderer not a ‘terrorist’?

This video says about itself:

Inside Story – How did the media cover the Munich attack?

23 July 2016

Police report no links between ISIL [ISIS] and a gunman‘s ‘night of horror’ in a Munich shopping mall.

However, there were plenty of links to Norwegian neofascist mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and other nazi terrorists.

By Dietmar Henning in Germany:

Attack in 2016 on Munich shopping centre was an act of right-wing terrorism

11 October 2017

The German authorities and media regularly exaggerate and exploit terrorist acts or acts of violence perpetrated by Islamist or left-wing groups to justify the strengthening of the police-state apparatus and further surveillance, and to agitate against refugees. By contrast, right-wing terrorist attacks and violence are downplayed, and their political motives often denied.

This has been revealed once again by the case of the cold-blooded murder of nine people from an immigrant background by 18-year-old David S. on July 22, 2016, in Munich’s Olympia shopping centre.

What at first appeared to be a “shooting spree” was soon exposed to be an act obviously motivated by right-wing extremist views. The perpetrator was a convinced neo-Nazi and racist. Nonetheless, the investigating authorities and Munich state prosecutor continue to this day to refuse to describe the attack as an act of right-wing political terrorism.

The Bavarian state intelligence agency described the perpetrator as a “psychologically disturbed avenger” and a “rampager.” The fact he was bullied at school was the main focus of investigations into the attack. The state prosecutor and Bavarian office of criminal police (LKA) wrote in their final report, “It cannot be assumed that the attack was politically motivated.”

They continued to stick to this position after three academics presented reports at Munich’s city hall that came to a very different conclusion. According to them, the attack was not revenge for bullying at school, but was rather motivated by the perpetrator’s extremist world view.

The Office for Democracy in Bavaria’s capital city hired academics Christoph Kopke, Matthias Quent and Florian Hartleb to examine the young shooter’s right-wing background. The trio was able to review the state prosecutor’s investigation files, question witnesses and examine data from the attacker’s computer.

Hartleb, a political scientist, reported that David S. was not so isolated as has been claimed. “He was even class spokesperson,” noted Hartleb. Unlike previous mass shooters, S. did not carry out the murders at his own school, the location of his bullying experiences. He knew none of his victims. On the day of the attack, David S. saved a document on his computer that stated, “I want to exterminate all German Turks now—regardless of whom.” The bullying thesis thus played a much smaller role than the authorities alleged.

David S. carried out the terrorist attack as a “lone wolf,” one of the reports continued. The 18-year-old had a firm ultra-right outlook and developed hatred towards people with an immigrant background. The date of the attack was also no accident. It was the anniversary of the mass shooting by right-wing Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who David S. saw as a model or “supreme hero,” as Kopke put it.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported a year ago that David S. considered it a “distinction” that his birthday was April 20, 1998, the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s.

The fact that S.’s parents were Iranian played no role, explained Hartleb. By devaluing immigrants, he could prove himself to be a “real German.” In a manifesto authored a year prior to the attack, David S. indicated that he considered his Iranian origin to be a special honour because Iranians have the same Aryan origin as Germans. In the pamphlet, the future attacker wrote of “foreign sub-humans,” “cockroaches” and people he would “execute.”

Hartleb did not see the fact that S. apparently had no connections with extremists as proof that S. was not a terrorist. The case, in which an individual acted without the support of an organization, conformed much more to a process of self-radicalisation. This was a “rare, although increasingly common special kind of terrorism.”

Quent, head of the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society in Jena, stated that the events at the shopping centre could be described as the “action of a terrorist acting alone.” The authorities excluded the issues of prejudice and racism. The victims “were not murdered because people who looked similar may have bullied David S., but because David S. had developed a generalised hatred for all people with what from his point of view were specific characteristics.” What is this if it is not racism, he asked, particularly from the standpoint of those affected.

Quent dealt with another aspect arising out of the authorities’ version of events. By referring to the perpetrator’s possible negative experiences with fellow students of Turkish or Albanian origins, the victims were made jointly responsible for the attack.

This was also the attitude of the authorities in regard to the murders committed by the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorist group, two of which took place in Munich. The police did not conduct an investigation into right-wing terrorism, although profilers considered this suspicion as likely, but treated the immigrants themselves as suspects. In accordance with this, investigators intimidated relatives of the victims.

Quent wrote in his report, “The victims of the attack bear no responsibility for the offender’s bullying experiences.” He demanded that the authorities condemn the destructive impact of racism, rather than justifying them with references to causes in the interests of the perpetrator.

Kopke, a professor of political science at the Institution for Economics and Law in Berlin, chose not to go as far as his colleagues and describe the attack as a terrorist act. But even David S.’s references to right-wing extremism qualified the attack as a hate crime and fulfil the criteria for the constitutional definition of “right-wing politically motivated crime (PMK),” according to Kopke.

The authorities reject this interpretation. The domestic intelligence agency, whose “estimations” provided the basis for the conclusion that David S.’s alleged motivation was “unpolitical,” did not attend the presentation of the reports on Friday, despite being invited.

Senior prosecutor Gabriele Tilmann spoke of an “impenetrable mélange” of motives for the attack. The authorities could not conceal David S.’s right-wing opinions. But these did not “trigger the attack,” claimed Tilmann. “We consider the perpetrator’s illness due to many years of bullying to be the primary cause.” Jürgen Miller, chief special investigator at the LKA, asserted, “It was an attack guided by revenge and anger with a variety of motives.”

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, chief senior prosecutor Hans Kornprobst declared a day prior to the report’s release, “I want to warn against compartmentalising the whole thing, even though some want it that way.” Placing a right-wing “stamp” on the attack was a “crude simplification” of the perpetrator’s motives.

While Kornprobst here opposes “crude simplification,” in the case of Islamist acts of terror this has “long become a well-practiced routine,” as Georg Dietz wrote in a column published by Spiegel Online. “In the case of Islamist-motivated killings or attempted murders, regardless of how the Islamist connection is identified, a conspiracy is sought after; in the case of killings motivated by right-wing extremism, even when the connection is clear, they search for understanding.”

This evasive “search for understanding” does not simply stem from the rightward-leaning outlook of the authorities, but also from the fact that the intelligence agencies and police have often known about, and even jointly organised, such attacks. This applies to the NSU murders as it does to the Oktoberfest bombing in 1980. In the case of the terrorist attack at the Oktoberfest, the authorities have referred for decades to the psychologically unstable “lone” perpetrator, Gundolf Köhler, and covered up his right-wing connections and co-conspirators.

The trial in the Munich District Court of Appeals of David S.’s alleged weapons supplier, Philipp K., continues to proceed along these same lines. The accused sold the weapon and ammunition to the young shooter for his murderous assault. There are not only indications of his right-wing views in the investigation files, but also evidence that he possibly knew of plans for an attack beforehand.

However, the state prosecutor could not find any evidence of foreknowledge of and therefore co-conspiracy in the attack, nor a right-wing motive for supplying the weapon. The weapons’ dealer is as a result not being charged with terrorism, but for “violating the weapons law and involuntary manslaughter.”

Beaked whales, new research

This video is called Gervais’ Beaked Whales (Mesoplodon europaeus) off Madeira, Portugal June 5, 2012.

From the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in the USA:

Scientists eavesdrop on little-known beaked whales to learn how deeply they dive

October 11, 2017

Scientists have reported the first dive depths for Gervais’ and True’s beaked whales, two of the least known beaked whale species known as mesoplodonts. The study is also the first to use a towed linear hydrophone array to document dive depths for beaked whales, and researchers say it’s a promising method to obtain dive depths for other beaked whale species.

The findings by NOAA scientists from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Woods Hole, Mass. and a colleague now at Hydroacoustics Inc in Rochester, NY were recently reported in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

“Much of what we know about beaked whales and their dive depths is from two or three species, and from a few locations. We know so little about Gervais’ and True’s beaked whales, but now we know something about how deep they dive and at what depths they are foraging, so this is a step forward,” said Annamaria Izzi DeAngelis, lead author of the study and a marine mammal researcher in the passive acoustics group at the NEFSC.

The linear towed array is made up of a long cable to which a depth sensor and a series of eight hydrophones — underwater microphones — are attached. The array is towed 300 meters, roughly 1,000 feet, behind the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow to reduce the ship’s noise on the array. It is a passive acoustic approach, meaning the array just listens and doesn’t emit any sounds, while active acoustics such as echosounders (also called fish finders) are devices making noise and then listening for that sound.

Average dive depth for Gervais’ or True’s beaked whales heard in the study was 870 meters (about 2,850 feet, or just over half a mile deep). Researchers also found that the average dive depth of the much better known Cuvier’s beaked whale was 1,158 meters (about 3,800 feet, or more than three quarters of a mile deep). Pre-existing dive depth knowledge about Cuvier’s beaked whales from tagging studies helped the researchers validate their results.

Scientists used acoustic recordings collected over 33 days in July and August 2013 from the Henry B. Bigelow in waters from New Jersey to southern Canada along the continental slope and the floor of the deep sea. The data were gathered as part of an annual survey of marine mammals in the North Atlantic conducted by the NEFSC.

Descriptions of clicks, high frequency sounds made by marine mammals, exist for Northern bottlenose dolphins and for Cuvier’s, Sowerby’s and Blainville’s beaked whales, but next to nothing is known about the remaining North Atlantic beaked whale species, and especially about True’s beaked whales. What little information there is comes from dead stranded animals.

The human ear can’t detect the higher frequency clicks made by beaked whales. “Since we cannot rely on our hearing, we use spectrograms to see the sounds,” DeAngelis explained. A spectrogram provides a visual image of the whales’ frequencies.

“We had two click types, one that we identified as Cuvier’s beaked whale and another that looked similar to Gervais’ but could also be True’s beaked whale,” DeAngelis said. Distinguishing True’s clicks is difficult since nothing is known about them, which led DeAngelis and colleagues to use a Gervais’/True’s category for Mesoplodon clicks.

Beaked whales live in deeper waters offshore, are skittish, and spend little time on the surface, making it difficult to see them to study their behavior. Researchers believe the clicks occur when the whales are foraging, starting at around 400 meters depth (about a quarter-mile deep) and continue as they descend to find food, sometimes down to 3,000 meters (just under two miles deep). Since placing tags on individual animals is time-consuming and difficult to do, passive acoustics — devices that can listen for and record information about sounds the whales make — provide another option.

“When tags that record depth over time are attached to individual animals, we get high resolution dive profiles on a small number of individuals in specific locations. The hydrophone array collects lower resolution information but on a large number of animals all over the world,” DeAngelis said. “Because it is hard to tag beaked whales and towed linear hydrophone arrays are commonly used in marine mammal passive acoustics, this method opens doors to allow more depth and ecological data to be collected on a wider range of beaked whale species.”

Depths of beaked whales were calculated by using the time difference between when a click was first received by the array and the time it took for its surface-reflected echo to also reach the hydrophones. Pamguard, a free open source computer program, provided a two-dimensional position for the clicks, and another code, developed by study co-author Robert Valtierra, extracted the time difference between the direct arrival of the click and the surface-reflected arrival. Combining the 2-D position with the time delay between a click and its surface reflection provided the depth of a foraging beaked whale.

Gervais’ beaked whales (Mesoplodon europaeus), sometimes called the Antillean or Gulf Stream beaked whale, grow 15-17 feet long and weigh about 2,640 pounds. They are usually found alone or in small social groups and feed on squid, shrimp and small fish. They live in the deep warm waters of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and East Coast of the U.S. south of New England. They are also found in the eastern North Atlantic from the British Isles to western Africa.

True’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon mirus) are medium sized whales that are hard to distinguish from Gervais’ and other beaked whales. They are found in warm temperate waters off the U.S. East Coast and southern Canada, off the British Isles and western Europe, off western Africa and South Africa, and south of Australia. The first underwater footage of a True’s beaked whale was recorded in 2013 off the Azores in the North Atlantic.

Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) are one of the most sighted and studied beaked whales in the world. Sometimes called goose-beaked whales, they can reach lengths of 15-23 feet and weigh 4,000 — 6,800 pounds. Cuvier’s beaked whales live in temperate, subtropical and tropical waters and prefer the deeper waters of the continental slope and areas around steep underwater geologic features like seamounts and submarine canyons.

The study was funded by NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Navy N45 Program, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Data were collected as part of the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS) program.


Trump’s nuclear war in Korea?

This 8 August 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump threatens North Korea with “Fire and Fury”

In his new song, United States rapper Eminem states about Trump:

What we’ve got in office now‘s a kamikaze that’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust.

US army chief urges greater “combat readiness” for war with North Korea. By Peter Symonds, 11 October 2017. The US is planning an illegal war of aggression against North Korea on a scale that would dwarf its military interventions into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria: here.

Australia deploys for war with North Korea and confrontation with China. By James Cogan, 11 October 2017. A flotilla of six Australian warships is making its way toward the Korean Peninsula and an Australian attack submarine is already in the area exercising with US and Japanese subs: here.

As Trump faces a mounting political crisis at home, the US president may see a war with North Korea as a means of shoring up his administration and crushing domestic political opposition: here.

Trump to light fuse under Iran nuclear deal, as part of more aggressive anti-Iran strategy: here.