Triassic dinosaur relative discovered in Antarctica


This 31 January 2019 video says about itself:

Before There Were Dinosaurs, This Triassic ‘Lizard King’ Ruled Antarctica

From the Field Museum in the USA:

Iguana-sized dinosaur cousin discovered in Antarctica

‘Antarctic king’ shows how life at the South Pole bounced back after mass extinction

January 31, 2019

Summary: Scientists have discovered the fossils of an iguana-sized reptile, which they named ‘Antarctic king’, that lived at the South Pole 250 million years ago (it used to be warmer). Antarctanax was an early cousin of the dinosaurs, and it shows how life bounced back after the world’s biggest mass extinction.

Antarctica wasn’t always a frozen wasteland — 250 million years ago, it was covered in forests and rivers, and the temperature rarely dipped below freezing. It was also home to diverse wildlife, including early relatives of the dinosaurs. Scientists have just discovered the newest member of that family — an iguana-sized reptile whose name means “Antarctic king.”

“This new animal was an archosaur, an early relative of crocodiles and dinosaurs,” says Brandon Peecook, a Field Museum researcher and lead author of a paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology describing the new species. “On its own, it just looks a little like a lizard, but evolutionarily, it’s one of the first members of that big group. It tells us how dinosaurs and their closest relatives evolved and spread.”

The fossil skeleton is incomplete, but paleontologists still have a good feel for the animal, named Antarctanax shackletoni (the former means “Antarctic king”, the latter is a nod to polar explorer Ernest Shackleton). Based on its similarities to other fossil animals, Peecook and his coauthors (Roger Smith of the University of Witwatersrand and the Iziko South African Museum and Christian Sidor of the Burke Museum and University of Washington) surmise that Antarctanax was a carnivore that hunted bugs, early mammal relatives, and amphibians.

The most interesting thing about Antarctanax, though, is where it lived, and when. “The more we find out about prehistoric Antarctica, the weirder it is,” says Peecook, who is also affiliated with the Burke Museum. “We thought that Antarctic animals would be similar to the ones that were living in southern Africa, since those landmasses were joined back then. But we’re finding that Antarctica’s wildlife is surprisingly unique.”

About two million years before Antarctanax lived — the blink of an eye in geologic time — Earth underwent its biggest-ever mass extinction. Climate change, caused by volcanic eruptions, killed 90% of all animal life. The years immediately after that extinction event were an evolutionary free-for-all — with the slate wiped clean by the mass extinction, new groups of animals vied to fill the gaps. The archosaurs, including dinosaurs, were one of the groups that experienced enormous growth. “Before the mass extinction, archosaurs were only found around the Equator, but after it, they were everywhere,” says Peecook. “And Antarctica had a combination of these brand-new animals and stragglers of animals that were already extinct in most places — what paleontologists call ‘dead clades walking.’ You’ve got tomorrow’s animals and yesterday’s animals, cohabiting in a cool place.”

The fact that scientists have found Antarctanax helps bolster the idea that Antarctica was a place of rapid evolution and diversification after the mass extinction. “The more different kinds of animals we find, the more we learn about the pattern of archosaurs taking over after the mass extinction,” notes Peecook.

“Antarctica is one of those places on Earth, like the bottom of the sea, where we’re still in the very early stages of exploration,” says Peecook. “Antarctanax is our little part of discovering the history of Antarctica.”

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Panda ancestors, what did they eat?


This 26 December 2018 video says about itself:

Two Captive-bred Giant Pandas Released into Wild in Southwest China

Two giant pandas, which will be released into the wild, received their final physical examinations on Wednesday at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

From ScienceDaily:

Ancient pandas weren’t exclusive bamboo eaters, bone evidence suggests

January 31, 2019

The giant pandas we know and love today live only in the understory of particular mountains in southwestern China, where they subsist on bamboo alone. In support of their tough and fibrous bamboo diet, they’ve got distinctive teeth, skull, and muscle characteristics along with a special pseudo-thumb, the better to grasp and hold bamboo stems, leaves, and shoots with. But according to new evidence reported in Current Biology on January 31, extinct and ancient panda species most likely had a more varied and complex diet.

“It has been widely accepted that giant pandas have exclusively fed on bamboo for the last two million years”, says Fuwen Wei of Chinese Academy of Sciences. But, “our results showed the opposite.”

It’s impossible to know exactly what extinct animals ate. But researchers can get clues by analyzing the composition of stable isotopes (different forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons) in animal teeth, hair, and bones, including fossil remains. In the new study, the researchers first analyzed bone collagen of modern pandas (1970s-2000s) and other mammals from the same mountains.

The stable isotopic composition of carbon and nitrogen from modern panda and other modern mammal bone samples indicated three obvious groups: carnivores, herbivores, and giant pandas. The giant pandas were clearly unique, on account of their habit of eating bamboo. Next, Wei’s team measured bone collagen isotopes of 12 ancient pandas collected from seven archaeological sites in southern and southwestern China and compared them to the patterns they observed in modern giant pandas.

The data comparison showed that ancient and modern pandas are isotopically distinct from one another, suggesting differences in their dietary habits. There was also more variation among ancient panda species, suggesting that the niche they occupied was about three times wider than that of modern pandas. That is, ancient pandas most likely had a varied diet, similar to that of other mammalian species that lived alongside them. They were, the researchers write, “probably not exclusive bamboo feeders.”

The researchers suggest that pandas’ dietary habits have evolved in two phases. First, the pandas went from being meat eaters or omnivores to becoming dedicated plant eaters. Only later did they specialize on bamboo.

The researchers say they would now like to figure out when exactly pandas shifted to the specialized diet they have today. To find out, they plan to collect and study more panda samples from different historical times over the last 5,000 years.

Fascists march in Auschwitz


This 17 November 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Jayda confirms that Britain First [Donald Trump’s favourite British neonazis] support antisemitism

You’ve probably seen that Paul and Jayda’s chum has been sent to prison in Poland and they have posted this video entitled “VIDEO: Jayda Fransen calls for the release of Polish political prisoner Piotr Rybak!”

Now, Rybak isn’t a “political prisoner”. Rybak is a nasty, bigoted antisemitic fool. I have a feeling that is why Paul and Jayda get on with him so well. He has been sent to prison for 10 months as he burned a Jewish effigy at a far right march in Wroclaw last year.

He did put forward the excuse that he “wanted to burn an effigy of George Soros”, however what he did was burn an effigy of a stereotypical right wing depiction of an Orthodox Jew. He backed up his defence by saying that he “didn’t know what George Soros looked like so didn’t know if the effigy was right”.

You’d have thought that if you were wanting to burn an effigy of someone you didn’t like, that you would actually know who it was that you didn’t like…..and if you didn’t know what they looked like then there’s this little thing called Google which can help.

So, quite rightly, he has been convicted for “incitement to hatred on the basis of nationality, ethnicity or religion”. So, not only willing to go against Muslims in the U.K, it seems that Britain First are now also outing themselves as antisemitic/supporting people in being antisemitic.

⚠️⚠️TRIGGER WARNING⚠️⚠️ Jayda is in full on screech mode here, and has even bought a t shirt with Rybak’s face on it.

By Clara Weiss:

Fascists march in Auschwitz

31 January 2019

On January 27, on the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp of Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army, between 50 and 100 Polish fascists marched through the doors of the camp, where more than 1 million European Jews were gassed by the Nazis during World War II. The fascists sang the Polish national anthem and shouted anti-Semitic slogans. The leader of the demonstration, Piotr Rybak, infamous for burning an effigy representing a Jew in 2015, stated that “It’s time to fight against Jewry and free Poland from them!”

Such a demonstration of far-right anti-Semitism at the Auschwitz memorial, which is universally seen as a symbol for the horrific crimes perpetrated by fascism, is historically unprecedented. This outrageous event is the outcome of political processes that have been unfolding in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe since the dissolution of the Stalinist regimes and the restoration of capitalism.

This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Eastern European regimes through their Stalinist bureaucracies in 1989. Shortly thereafter, in December 1991, the Soviet bureaucracy destroyed the Soviet Union and fully restored capitalism in Russia. …

This counter-revolutionary process was hailed and justified by bourgeois ideologists as a “democratic revolution”. The result, workers were told, would be democracy, peace and prosperity for all. The opposite has been the case.

The restoration of capitalism has given rise to obscene levels of social inequality throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and immiserated tens of millions of workers. It has also transformed the region into a center stage for the systematic preparations of imperialism for another world war. Virtually all of these countries are now ruled by rabidly nationalist regimes that are preparing for war, promoting anti-Semitism, and enacting police state measures.

The fascist protesters express what is the official state policy in Poland. In early 2018, the Polish government, led by the far-right Law and Justice Party (PiS), outlawed any mention of crimes perpetrated by Poles against Jews during the Holocaust. Since then, numerous historians working on Polish anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish pogroms have been fired from their jobs.

In November, prominent state officials, including the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who participated in the official Auschwitz commemoration ceremony on January 27, marched alongside fascists from Poland and other European countries on Polish independence day.

The resurgence of fascism in Poland and other Eastern European countries is a particularly sharp expression of what is an international process.

In Germany, the Grand Coalition has deliberately made the neo-fascist Alternative for Germany (AfD) the principal opposition party and has adopted key aspects of its policies and rhetoric. While hundreds of thousands have demonstrated against the far-right over the past year, Jörg Baberowski, the Humboldt University academic, who has publicly stated that “Hitler wasn’t vicious”, is allowed to relativize crimes of Nazism with the backing of the leading political parties and media at the prestigious Humboldt University in Berlin.

In France, president Emmanuel Macron, who has presided over a violent crack-down on the yellow vest movement, recently hailed the fascist dictator Philippe Pétain as a “great soldier.”

In Ukraine, the celebration of Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera and his movement, which engaged in mass murder of Poles, Jews and Ukrainian civilians during World War II, has become official state policy since the US-backed far-right coup in February 2014.

By Clara Weiss:

Anti-Semitic propaganda distributed at Polish parliament as government witch-hunts Holocaust historians

16 March 2019

On Wednesday, an edition of the right-wing newspaper Tylko Polska with a front page article on “How to spot a Jew” was distributed at the Polish Sejm (parliament). In the manner of Nazi-style anti-Semitic propaganda, the article listed “names, anthropological features, expressions, appearances, character traits, methods of operation” and “disinformation activities” which allegedly allowed for identification of Jewish people.

Small new beetle species discovery in Brunei


This May 2017 video is called A new species Leptomorphus sevciki was described from Ulu Temburong National Park – Brunei – Borneo. That species is a fungus gnat.

From Science Daily:

Citizen scientists discover pinhead-sized beetle in Borneo

January 31, 2019

How many citizen scientists does it take to discover a new species? A recent expedition to the Ulu Temburong forest in [the Brunei part of] Borneo proved that you only need 10 enthusiasts with no professional training, yet fueled with curiosity and passion for the outdoors, to find a new beetle the size of a pinhead in leaf litter.

The species, named Clavicornaltica belalongensis, is a tiny, 1.25-mm-long leaf beetle that eats moss on the forest floor. Published in the open-access Biodiversity Data Journal, it is the latest discovery from Taxon Expeditions, an initiative that organises scientific field trips to remote and biodiverse locations for teams of scientists and laypeople.

Unlike other science/adventure trips, Taxon Expeditions gives a unique opportunity for laypeople, or citizen scientists, to describe and publish new species of animals and focus on the thousands of ‘little things that run the world’. Thanks to the initiative, they learn about tropical biology techniques while participating in the process of taxonomy and the study of hidden biodiversity.

The new beetle, for example, is one of hundreds of thousands of tiny beetle species that inhabit the leaf litter of tropical forests and have remained unknown and scientifically unnamed up to our days.

In a YouTube video, Simon Berenyi, who joined the expedition along with his 14-year-old son, says: ‘I had no idea how special this would be; you become a student again — you become a child again.’

Entomologist and founder of Taxon Expeditions, Dr. Iva Njunjic explains: ‘We introduce the general public to all these tiny, beautiful, and completely unknown animals, and show them that there is a whole world still to be discovered.’

Last year, another survey in Borneo organised by Taxon Expeditions ended up with the description of a new water beetle species (Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi). Named after famous Hollywood actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, the discovery raised a real furore on the public scene, culminating in the new insect making an appearance on the profile image of the celebrity’s Facebook page.

London police’s dodgy ‘face recognition’ again


This June 2018 video from England says about itself:

“The police may be more likely to think you either did/didn’t commit a crime based on your skin tone versus the crime itself” says Brian Brackeen, CEO of Kairos, as MET Police test facial recognition technology in London.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain:

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Met Police using ‘rights-abusing’ facial recognition cameras in Romford

Human rights charity Liberty says the surveillance technology ‘is a threat to our privacy’ and ‘chills our freedom of expression’

THE Met Police is using “rights-abusing” live facial recognition cameras at Romford town centre in east London.

The surveillance system is one of the last two of 10 pilot deployments being used to test out the technology.

The force claimed it would distribute leaflets and put up posters to inform the public during the eight-hour trials today and tomorrow, but campaigners said many passers-by remained unaware.

Campaign group Liberty braved the cold weather to warn the public of the camera’s location from 10am to 6pm. Activists said the last time the force had used live facial recognition cameras in a previous deployment on London’s streets no-one they spoke to was aware it was happening.

The automatic software compares live footage of people’s faces to photos from a police database. Any possible matches are flashed up as an alert to officers, who then compare the faces and decide whether to stop someone.

Experience with facial recognition: Amazon facial recognition ‘recognizes’ women as men.

Limiting ourselves to London police: London police facial recognition software ‘recognizes’ 100% of innocent people as criminals. Err … maybe it is not as bad as 100%. British daily The Independent says it is ‘only’ 98% misidentifications. And a BBC report looks at this even more through rose-coloured glasses: ‘only’ 92% of innocent people ‘recognized’ as criminals.

Liberty said that the facial recognition cameras are “light years away” from CCTV technology.

A spokesperson said: “They create uniquely identifiable maps of our faces, more like a fingerprint than a photograph — and fingerprints are usually taken on arrest. This is happening to people as they go about their business.”

Liberty advocacy and policy officer Hannah Couchman said: “This intrusive surveillance technology has no place on our streets — it’s a threat to our privacy, it chills our freedom of expression and it’s discriminatory.”

The campaign group will be in Romford again tomorrow to warn people about the cameras and the risk to their rights.

The Met spent more than £200,000 on trialling the technology between August 2016 and July 2018, resulting in no arrests and only two people being stopped then released, with 110 people’s faces registered as potential “alerts” against police watchlists of wanted criminals.

Australian lungfish, new research


This a 2010 Australian lungfish video.

From the Australian National University:

Riddle of a unique fish solved

January 31, 2019

A great mystery around a unique fish species has been solved by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Scientists knew Lungfish shared some traits with humans — such as the ability to breathe air through lungs — but a new study proves they also have a similar life span, potentially up to 80 years.

Dr Stewart Fallon from the Research School of Earth Sciences said Lungfish have been on the threatened species list in Australia for decades, but this new research could help change that.

“One of the main issues is no one knew their longevity,” Dr Fallon said.

“A lot of fish have what’s called an Otolith — basically a solid stone in their inner ear. As the fish grows, the stone grows as well and there’s usually little annual marker bands on there, so we can count them and know how old the fish is — but the lungfish doesn’t have that stone.

The other main issue is that to get an ear stone you usually have to kill the fish — so obviously you wouldn’t want to do that to a threatened species.”

Dr Fallon and his team, in collaboration with Griffith University, Seqwater, the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, came up with a new approach.

Their technique involves measuring the amount of Carbon 14 in Lungfish scales to pinpoint how old the fish is.

The group discovered they were able to place the fish on the “bomb curve,” which is used to chart the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere.

The curve has a distinct shape, starting to rise in the mid-50s with the advent of nuclear weapons and peaking in 1963, when the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty came into effect.

“That carbon’s been basically mixing in with all the carbon in the Earth since then,” Dr Fallon said.

“So we have this distinct curve, and when we tested the fish we were able to reproduce that curve, and tell when the fish was born.”

The ANU team did around 1200 radio carbon measurements over several years and found fish aged from around three years to 78.

It’s an important breakthrough, as previously researchers had struggled to find any evidence of juvenile fish, leading to concerns there was an ageing population and the fish would eventually just disappear.

“People have been doing research on these fish for 80 years or more. There’s anecdotes about some of the fish in the Brisbane River being translocated from one of the other rivers in the early 1900s because they were already worried about the population then,” Dr Fallon said.

Dr Fallon and his colleagues also noticed there were long time periods where no fish were born at all.

“For example in the Mary River in the 1970s and 80s we didn’t see many fish born.”

“I actually don’t know how they’ve survived in Australia for so long. They like to lay their eggs in the shallow parts of the river where there are plants for the eggs to cling onto. Whenever we have big floods it just wipes everything away, so in these time periods we may find there were big floods just beforehand, and then it takes several years for the plants to grow back.

“If you’re trying to understand a certain population this kind of information is pretty critical and gives us a whole nice background of information that wasn’t there before.”