Japanese caddisflies, new study


This July 2018 video from Japan is about Stenopsyche marmorata caddisflies.

From Shinshu University in Japan:

Genome of Japanese insect delicacy sheds light on history of Earth

October 4, 2018

Japanese scientists have shed light on the evolutionary biology and distribution of Stenopsyche caddisflies, also known as sedge flies, a common insect in Japanese rivers and a local delicacy. The new discovery also identified new genetic lineages among previously recognized species.

Their findings were published online in Freshwater Science on July 18th.

Caddisflies are a group of insects that have an aquatic larval stage, while the adults are terrestrial, winged, moth-like insects. Fossilized caddisfly larvae have been found in rocks dating back to the Triassic period, over 250 million years ago, when it is believed the group evolved into one with fully aquatic larvae. Currently, approximately 14,500 caddisfly species from 45 different families have been described worldwide, but many species are still to be recognized.

For their study, the researchers used a molecular approach, analyzing genetic DNA samples collected from the larvae of 21 species of caddisfly from the Stenopsyche genus.

“Stenopsyche caddisflies are the most commonly observed aquatic insect group in Japanese rivers and streams,” explains co-author, Koji Tojo, a scientist from Shinshu University in Nagano, Japan, whose research interests include evolutionary biology and biodiversity. “These caddisflies are popular as a traditional local food, known as ‘Zazamushi’. Thus, it is also an important species group in terms of the ‘Ecosystem Services’ they offer.”

According to Tojo, ‘Zazamushi’ is not only a popular local dish, but is also drawing attention from foreign media. It has recently been introduced in countries such as France, where the demand for insect-based food is booming due to the health and beauty benefits it offers.

In addition to the attention this group of insects is drawing as a protein-packed culinary delight -typically cooked with soya sauce and sugar — the researchers are also interested in learning more about the evolutionary biology and geographical distribution of these critters, which will in turn shed more light on the history of Earth.

Even though Stenopysche caddisflies are considered a common species that are not endangered, Tojo and his team believe that it is very important for the understanding of biodiversity to examine the phylogenetic evolutionary background in detail.

According to Tojo, the results of the study suggest that these caddisflies originated in the south of Asia, and furthermore originated from the Gondwana continent, before dispersing on a global scale over a much longer geohistorical timeframe. “I think that this subject is important as we (humans) explore our roots,” says Tojo.

All organisms without exception, even those living close to us, each have a very long history, Tojo explains. “And their histories are engraved within their cells as their genome information. Knowing the history of that organism leads to a better understanding of that organism. As a result, we will deepen our interests and understanding of biodiversity”, says Tojo, adding that ultimately this will lead to a deeper understanding of the evolution of human diversity too.

Tojo’s ultimate goal is to shed more light on the thought provoking question: ‘How are the evolution of organisms and the history of Earth related?’

To date, Tojo and his team’s research interests have focused largely on the evolutional history of the Japanese insect fauna in relation to the geological history of the Japanese Archipelago, but he is hoping to expand this to the continental scale. “In addition, we would like to deepen the discussion on the mechanisms of species differentiation and creation of diversity in organisms”, says Tojo.

Molecular genetic studies such as this not only provide a wonderful tool for examining the evolutionary history and relationships between individual organisms, populations and even different species, but can also help identify new species that have not been recognized yet, and ultimately help us gain a better understanding of how our planet has evolved.

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Prude rich censorship attempt of Barbie doll art


This satiric video says about itself:

Music video by Aqua performing Barbie Girl. (C) 1997 Universal Music (Denmark) A/S.

The Mattel corporation did not like that parody of their Barbie doll product, and sued. However, United States courts including the Supreme Court decided that the song was part of free speech.

Mattel has since released a promotional music video of the song (with modified lyrics) on the official Barbie web site in 2009, as part of a marketing strategy brought in to revive sales.

Now, there is a new attack on Barbie dolls in art. This time not by Mattel, but by prude rich people in Rotterdam city in the Netherlands.

Translated from Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad today:

At a primary school in Rotterdam a riot has broken out about the spare time activity of a teacher. Parents keep their children at home because they find the art made by the teacher – sexy Barbies – indecent.

By Jitske-Sophie Venema

The Rotterdam School Association has two primary schools in Rotterdam. The parental financial contribution here is more than ten times as high as average at 760 euros, more than half of the pupils get the advice to continue at the highest level of secondary education and culture is of paramount importance.

So, very probably, this prude minority of parents now attacking a teacher for making art in her spare time are much richer than average parents in Rotterdam. They may well be the same kind of person as billionaire Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. Berlusconi, who publicly censors eighteenth century art for showing a woman’s breast (not even a real mortal woman’s breast, the breast of the goddess of Truth). Meanwhile, Berlusconi had sex with a child prostitute. They may well be the same kind of person as billionaire Donald Trump in the USA. Trump, who uses religious Right theocratic ideas about ‘propriety’ for moving towards dictatorship. And who, meanwhile, privately, treats women like dirt.

Yet there is a fierce discussion on art here.

The teacher of the fifth grade is an artist outside school. On her Facebook page, scantily dressed Barbie dolls can be seen, set in challenging poses. The plastic blondes kiss each other,

‘Oh, how horrible!’ these anti-Barbie art parents think; ‘children getting to know that some girls don’t fall in love in boys, but with other girls‘. P.S. They won’t get to know that from their teacher, as she makes the Barbie doll art IN HER SPARE TIME and exhibits it IN HER SPARE TIME. She does not bring it to the classroom.

bend over in a translucent negligée or have a star on their bare buttocks. These images drive some parents of fifth grade students nuts. “It is not normal for a teacher to have this kind of images?” they scream in an anonymously sent e-mail. The parents even think that the teacher is a suspect of child porn,

Yeah, right. Good grief! A lesson in three steps: 1. A doll is not a child. 2. The Barbie dolls do not depict children, but young adult, often professional, women. 3. If the parents want to criticize purveyors of child porn, they should not attack that teacher, but their fellow right-wingers among the Roman Catholic clergy; among the Protestant religious Right in the USA; among Jehovah’s witnesses, etc.

demand that the management intervene and do not want to send their child to school until that time.

School director Per Severin sees this happening indeed. “The exact number of children staying at home differs per day, but there are more than five”, he sighs. In order to cope with the situation, he has now called in the help of the Education Inspectorate and the municipality. “This is an excellent teacher with a long service record. What my teachers do in their private lives is not my business and certainly not that of the children – unless the private activities clash with our school principles. In this respect, these artworks are okay. Facebook has never labeled them as offensive, even though they are very strict in such matters.”

… “Of course, there can be discussions about art. But even if the majority would find these works of art repulsive, that does not mean that I will take away a teacher away from her class.”

Roe deer quarreling, video


This video shows two male roe deer quarreling in the autumn 2018 mating season. They do so on top of an inhabited badger sett in Loonse en Drunense Duinen National Park in North Brabant province in the Netherlands.

Probably, the deer are about two years old.

Peter Kuijpers made this video.

LGBTQ liberation and homophobia in Dutch Zeeland


Zeeland rainbow flag design, by Vos Broekema

This is the design for the rainbow flag of Dutch Zeeland province. It is inspired by both the international rainbow flag and the Zeeland provincial flag.

Zeeland provincial flag

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

As the last province in the Netherlands, the province of Zeeland now also will hang out the rainbow flag. That will happen next Thursday on Coming Out Day. This has been happening for years in the other provinces. “It’s just logical to do it”, says a spokesperson for the province against Omroep Zeeland broadcasting organisation.

Coming Out Day is since 2009 an annual event on 11 October. The intention is that gay men, lesbians, bisexuals or transgenders (LGBTQ people) can then more easily express their sexual preference. Under the slogan ‘come out of the closet!’ there are in schools, but also at companies and in the hospitality sector social gatherings and meetings.

For support, the rainbow flag is hung out in many places. Zeeland province was always an exception. That changed when the GroenLinks party in the provincial legislature came with a motion earlier this year to declare Zeeland a rainbow province. The motion received a narrow majority. Yesterday, the provincial executive also changed tack.

SGP [right-wing Protestant party] executive member Harry van der Maas remains the only one against it. He said earlier that the fight against LGBT discrimination does not belong to the core tasks of the province. Van der Maas was not available for comment this morning, but the official position of the SGP is that “on the basis of the Bible no approval can be given to homosexual practice“. The SGP also opposes “the opening of marriage for same-sex couples, because marriage is a unique and exclusive union between one man and one woman”.

The decision of the province does not mean that all municipalities in Zeeland will also participate. Schouwen-Duiveland, Tholen and Reimerswaal [where the SGP is strong] have already announced that they will keep the rainbow flags out.

Sandwich terns, spoonbills and barn swallows


This 1 January 2015 video is about the villages Wierum and Moddergat in Friesland province in the Netherlands and their Wadden Sea surroundings, as seen from the air.

After 8 September 2018 at two desert islands, on 9 September we went to Moddergat village.

In the village: house sparrows; barn swallows flying.

This 6 May 2013 video is about the villages Paesens and Moddergat in Friesland province in the Netherlands and their Wadden Sea surroundings.

We went to the Wadden Sea dike.

A ringed plover along the coast.

This April 2018 video, in Frisian, is about Paesens and Moddergat and wildlife in their Wadden Sea surroundings.

On poles in shallow sea water, Sandwich terns, cleaning their feathers.

A turnstone on another pole.

Sea aster flowers. Sea lavender and sea purslane grow here as well.

Two spoonbills flying.

A bit further, scores of spoonbills standing in the water. Many great cormorants, oystercatchers and shelducks resting on the bank. Unfortunately, men with a dog, not on a leash, arrive, and drive the hundreds of birds away.

A grey seal swimming.

At the base of the dike, a dead common seal.

We go further west, the surroundings of Zwarte Haan hamlet.

Five barn swallows resting on a fence, while on autumn migration to Africa.

A kestrel nestbox not far away.

A bit further, a buzzard flies along the dike.

Our last stop on this journey to desert islands is still further west, at Balgzand nature reserve. Scores of spoonbills and shelducks.