Good African mountain gorilla news


This video says about itself:

5 November 2014

Mountain Gorilla – Full Documentary HD

The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. There are two populations. One is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three National Parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The other is found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Some primatologists consider the Bwindi population in Uganda may be a separate subspecies, though no description has been finished. As of November 2012, the estimated total number of mountain gorillas is around 880.

From the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany:

Number of wild mountain gorillas exceeds 1,000

The population of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes has more than doubled in the past three decades

May 31, 2018

Summary: A recent census of the critically endangered mountain gorillas conducted in the Virunga Volcanoes found a minimum of 604 individuals. In combination with the 400 individuals living in the only other population in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, these new results push the total number of wild mountain gorillas in the world to over 1000.

“This represents one of the rare success stories in conservation. The population of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes has more than doubled in the past three decades, despite intensive threats of poaching, habitat degradation, and civil conflict”, stated Martha Robbins, research scientist and gorilla expert at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “This increase exemplifies the dedicated efforts of the governments of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to conserve these critically endangered great apes, and notably, the hard work of park staff on the ground. This dramatic increase also shows that extreme conservation efforts including tourism, veterinary work, and community projects can have a positive impact on one of our closest living relatives.”

The census was a combination of intensive fieldwork in 2015 and 2016 and detailed genetic analysis. Field teams walked more than 2,000 kilometres to sweep intensively through the entire 440 square kilometres Virunga Volcanoes searching for trails and nest sites left by the gorillas. Genetic analysis, taking more than 18 months to complete, was conducted on approximately 1,100 fecal samples to determine that there are a minimum of 186 unhabituated (not regularly contacted by humans) gorillas. The remaining 70 percent of the population consists of 418 gorillas that are habituated for research and tourism.

The last census conducted in the Virunga Volcanoes was in 2010, when the population was estimated to be a minimum of 480 gorillas. The current figure represents a 26 percent increase in the number of gorillas over a six-year-period, which is a 3.8 percent annual rate of increase. This increase is due to improved methods used in this recent census as well as actual growth of the population. The 604 gorillas were found in 41 social groups and 14 solitary males.

Conducting the census was a large collaborative effort among the park services of the three countries where mountain gorillas live, namely Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, several non-governmental conservation organizations, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Routine censusing such as this one is a crucial part of adaptive management strategies to help determine whether a population is increasing or decreasing in size and decide if conservation efforts are effective or should be modified. The population of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes numbered only about 250 gorillas in the mid-1980’s.

“Genetic analysis of DNA from fecal samples allows us to count gorillas without even observing them,” observes Linda Vigilant, head of the primatology genetics lab in Leipzig. “Next we will be analyzing the detection history of individuals over time to get more insights into how groups form and group membership changes.”

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Whiskered auklets, new study


This video from Alaska says about itself:

Pelagic birding in the Aleutian Islands, 2012

Laysan Albatrosses were in view almost constantly. We encountered a few Black-footed Albatrosses during the Attu tour, but they were more common near Dutch Harbor. We saw over 15 Short-tailed Albatrosses, one of the major targets of the tours, over the course of both tours. On the way to Attu, two or three were seen between Buldir and Shemya Islands. There were three or four at Stalemate Bank, and on the return to Adak, we saw at least three more. Between Adak and Dutch Harbor, we saw five or more in Seguam Pass and four or more west of Herbert Island.

Other highlights included Whiskered Auklet (scattered throughout the islands, but the largest numbers were in Little Tanaga Strait east of Adak); hundreds of thousands of Least and Crested Auklets with the biggest concentration at the nesting colony at Sirius Point, Kiska Island; Red-legged Kittiwakes between Buldir and Shemya Island and at Stalemate Bank; Northern Fulmars, which like Laysan Albatross, were almost constantly in view, and we saw hundreds of thousands at Chagulak Island, one of their largest nesting colonies. We also saw 10 other species of alcids, Fork-tailed and Leach’s Storm-Petrels, Long-tailed Jaeger, and other pelagic species.

Mammals seen included many sperm and killer whales, one humpback whale, and a pod of Baird’s beaked whales, and Dall’s porpoises.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office in the USA:

Whiskered auklets lack wanderlust, are homebodies instead

May 30, 2018

A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances presents some of the best evidence that Whiskered Auklets are an outlier in the auklet family by not migrating and instead staying close to “home” (their breeding colonies) year-round. Most migratory birds lead two opposite lifestyles in the same year. During the breeding season a bird’s location is constrained and their habits are repetitive given a nest full of chicks that require food, warmth, and protection. For some birds it is the only time they congregate or otherwise come together. Comparatively, during the non-breeding season their only true task is to survive. Whether migratory or residential, as long as the bird makes it back to the breeding grounds to reproduce, they can go almost wherever they want. Whiskered Auklets are consistent through the year though and don’t wander far at all.

Carley Schacter and Ian Jones of Memorial University of Newfoundland used light-based archival geolocation tags on Whiskered Auklets in Buldir Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to determine the locations of their full annual life cycle. The data they collected corroborated what researchers have long suspected. This species is unique in the auklet family for not migrating at all. Most seabirds roost on the water at night, but Whiskered Auklets stay in the vicinity of the breeding colony year-round and consistently return to roost at night on land. Such behavior may not only be unique to auklets, but to the entire seabirds group. How could this unusual adaptation have come about? Whiskered Auklets capitalize on the foraging habitat close to their breeding colony which reduces metabolic costs. Given the influence of tradeoffs on animal behavior and life history strategies, this foraging area could be a large contributor to their residential behavior.

But there are risks to this strategy as well. Lead author Carley Schacter notes, “While this non-migratory behavior is very interesting to us on a theoretical level, there are also important implications for the conservation and management of this most vulnerable of auklet species. Year-round residence near the breeding site (an area of high fishing and shipping traffic) makes Aleutian-breeding Whiskered Auklets even more exposed than previously thought to human threats such as oil/fuel spills and light attraction leading to fatal collisions with vessels. Their nocturnal roosting behavior also makes them especially vulnerable to introduced mammalian predators such as rats and foxes.”

“The authors found evidence for an almost unique adaptation of a seabird in a remote, difficult-to-work-in, and isolated environment”, adds Jeff Williams, Assistant Refuge Manager at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, who was not involved with this research. “We now know that Whiskered Auklets are particularly sensitive to human-caused disturbances (oil spills, light attraction, invasive species introductions etc.) and can incorporate this information into management planning.”

Baby spinosaurus dinosaur discovery


This video says about itself:

Almost a century ago, paleontologists found the first tantalizing hints of a monster even bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex, perhaps the largest predator ever to live.

Newly discovered fossils revealed that Spinosaurus, bigger than T. rex, was an excellent swimmer, unlike any other dinosaur.

Found in the sands of Morocco. Paleontologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim weaves together clues from the Cretaceous period, Nazi Germany, and present-day Africa.

Bigger Than T Rex – HD Documentary (2015).

From PeerJ:

The smallest biggest theropod dinosaur

A new fossil from Africa represents a small juvenile individual of the huge sail-backed Spinosaurus

May 30, 2018

Spinosaurus is the longest, and among the largest predatory dinosaurs, and possesses many adaptations for a semiaquatic lifestyle. A tiny claw phalanx of the foot, discovered in Cretaceous-aged sandstones of the Sahara, shows a peculiar shape compatible with an early juvenile Spinosaurus. As reported in PeerJ — the Journal of Life & Environmental Sciences, the fossil is from the smallest known individual of this giant, sail-backed theropod. The findings suggest the small specimen retains the same locomotor adaptations as the large version — such as traversing soft substrates or paddling — during the entire lifespan.

Collected in Morocco in 1999, a 21 mm-long pedal ungual phalanx (a phalanx supporting a claw of the foot) remained unnoticed in the Paleontological Collection of the Natural History Museum of Milan, until the recent discovery (2014) of a new partial skeleton of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, that preserves an almost complete right foot with peculiar morphology in the phalanges.

The striking similarities with the claw phalanges of the foot of Spinosaurus allowed palaeontologists Simone Maganuco and Cristiano Dal Sasso to identify the tiny bone to a very small and young specimen of the sail-backed Spinosaurus, the smallest individual reported up to today. “Besides the rarity of the fossils belonging to juvenile theropod dinosaurs, and the rarity of Spinosaurus bones, this finding is even more remarkable if we consider the dramatic size attained by some large specimens of Spinosaurus, which are possibly the longest, and among the largest predatory dinosaurs ever found”- says Maganuco.

Assuming the juveniles looked like smaller versions of the adults, the 21 mm-long claw phalanx from this small specimen would pertain to an early juvenile individual, 1.78 m-long, only just a little bit longer than the estimated length of the sole head of the largest adult Spinosaurus known to date, which is also housed at the Natural History Museum of Milan.

According to recent studies, the broader than deep unguals in Spinosaurus with their flat plantar surface are reminiscent of the flattened pedal shape of shorebirds that do not perch, and the whole foot may have been adapted to traversing soft substrates or webbed for paddling. “This find indicates that in Spinosaurus the foot of early juveniles had the same locomotor adaptations observed in large individuals, that were probably achieved early in ontogeny and retained for the entire lifespan”, remarks co-author Cristiano Dal Sasso.

Theocracy in Bavaria, Germany


This video about Germany says about itself:

Cardinal Marx condemns Bavaria decision to hang crosses in all public buildings

1 May 2018

‘If the cross is just seen as a cultural symbol, then it has not been understood’, Marx said. The enactment of a decision to hang crosses in all public buildings in Bavaria has triggered “Division, stirred up trouble and played people off against one another”, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, the president of the German bishops’ conference told the ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ on 30 April. Bavaria last week ordered all government buildings to display a cross at their entrance.

Apparently, the CSU party government in Bavaria is more fanatically Roman Catholic than Cardinal Marx or than the pope (at least the present pope; I am not so sure about his predecessor Ratzinger). It looks like the CSU is scared of losing right-wing voters to the Islamophobic neo-fascist AfD party in this year’s elections. That is also why they are making Bavaria a police state.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Cross from tomorrow on mandatory in Bavarian government buildings

A Christian cross, visibly hung at the entrance. From tomorrow on , this will be mandatory in every government building in the German state of Bavaria. The Kreuzpflicht, on which there is much criticism, also from Christian tendencies, comes from the brain of state premier Markus Söder (CSU), who wants to emphasize the cultural values ​​of Germany. …

There is a lot of criticism of the cross obligation. For example, Söder is said to have established the rule in response to the rising popularity of the anti-immigration party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). In October there are state elections. Söder is said to mainly use the cross to win voters from the right-wing, who believe that immigration from Muslim countries harms the German identity.

Cross is not folklore

There are also many disapproving reactions from Christian sides. Leaders of the Catholic Church believe that the obligation to have crosses leads to division. “The cross is a truly religious symbol and should not be reduced to folklore and regional use”, said the Roman Catholic Bishop Franz Jung in an interview. According to Jung, Söder is responsible for “division, unrest and fighting”.

Mandatory crosses are a mistake, says the Protestant religious scholar Johanne Harberer. “We have enough crosses in Bavaria, Söder abuses the religious symbol.”

The obligation to have crosses applies to all government buildings, but not to all government agencies. Only a recommendation applies to museums, universities and theaters. There are already crosses in courtrooms and many classrooms, writes Die Welt daily.

Just three months after taking office, the fourth government of Angela Merkel is facing possible dissolution. A fierce conflict over refugee policy between the conservative sister parties, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), threatens to blow apart the Grand Coalition, which also includes the Social Democratic SPD. This could also mean the end of the chancellorship of Merkel, who has been German head of government since November 2005: here.