Burgundy snails mating on video


This 18 June 2019 shows Burgundy snails mating.

Marianne Wever in the Netherlands made this video.

Netherlands, Canada, Cameroon women continue World Cup football


This 19 June 2019 Dutch video is about the Dutch women’s football team travelling to Reims in France for the 20 June match against Canada.

Canada is #5 in the FIFA ranking, the Netherlands #9. So maybe one might expect Canada to win.

However, the Netherlands won, two goals to one. The first goal was by Anouk Dekker. Then, Canadian Christine Sinclair equalized. Finally, Lineth Beerensteyn made the winning goal.

This video is the summary of the match.

To celebrate, here are two videos about Dutch birds.

This 2015 video is about Texel island birds.

This 2012 video is called Bird Pool Visitors Veluwe.

And this one about Canadian birds.

It is a June 2019 video about a Baltimore oriole singing in Canada.

This means that both teams will continue to the knockout part of the tournament.

This Tuesday, the Netherlands will play against Japan in Rennes.

Not only the Dutch ‘orange lionesses’ will continue for the World Cup.

In the same group, Cameroon, the ‘indomitable lionesses‘ reached the number three spot, also enough for qualifying for the knockout matches, by beating New Zealand 2-1; by a goal in the very last second of the match.

This video is the summary of that match.

To celebrate, two videos about Cameroon birds.

This 2008 video is called African Grey Parrots waking up in Cameroon.

This 2017 video is about the Grey-necked picathartes in Cameroon.

And one about New Zealand birds.

This 2014 video is called The world’s cutest animal? – Baby Kiwi.

Narwhals, belugas can interbreed, new research


This September 2018 video says about itself:

Belugas adopt wayward narwhal in Canadian waters

A lonely narwhal finds majestic company in Canadian waters. Having strayed far from its Arctic habitat, the juvenile managed to join a pod of belugas.

From the University of Copenhagen in Denmark:

Narwhals and belugas can interbreed

June 20, 2019

A team of University of Copenhagen researchers has compiled the first and only evidence that narwhals and beluga whales can breed successfully. DNA and stable isotope analysis of an anomalous skull from the Natural History Museum of Denmark has allowed researchers to confirm the existence of a narwhal-beluga hybrid.

For nearly thirty years, a strange-looking whale skull has gathered dust in the collections of the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Now, a team of researchers has determined the reason for the skull’s unique characteristics: it belongs to a narwhal-beluga hybrid.

A Greenlandic hunter shot the whale in the 1980’s and was puzzled by its odd appearance. He therefore kept the skull and placed it on the roof of his toolshed. Several years later, Professor Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen of the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources visited the settlement and also immediately recognized the skull’s strange characteristics. He interviewed the hunter about the anomalous whale he had shot, and sent the skull to Copenhagen. Since then, it has been stored at the Zoological Museum, a part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

“As far as we know, this is the first and only evidence in the world that these two Arctic whale species can interbreed. Based on the intermediate shape of the skull and teeth, it was suggested that the specimen might be a narwhal-beluga hybrid, but this could not be confirmed. Now we provide the data that confirm that yes — it is indeed a hybrid,” says Eline Lorenzen, evolutionary biologist and curator at the University of Copenhagen’s Natural History Museum of Denmark. Lorenzen led the study, which was published today in Scientific Reports.

Using DNA and stable isotope analysis, the scientists determined that the skull belonged to a male, first-generation hybrid between a female narwhal and male beluga.

Bizarre set of chops

The hybrid’s skull was considerably larger than that of a typical narwhal or beluga. But the teeth were markedly different. Whereas narwhals have only one or rarely two long spiraling tusks, belugas have a set of uniform conical teeth that are aligned in straight rows. The hybrid skull has a set of long, spiraling and pointed teeth, that are angled horizontally.

“This whale has a bizarre set of teeth. The isotope analysis allowed us to determine that the animal’s diet was entirely different than that of a narwhal or beluga — and it is possible that its teeth influenced its foraging strategy. Whereas the other two species fed in the water column, the hybrid was a bottom dweller”, according to Mikkel Skovrind, a PhD student at the Natural History Museum and first author of the paper.

The researchers do not know what prompted the two species to mate, but it suggests a new phenomenon:

“We have analyzed the nuclear genomes of a narwhal and a beluga, but see no evidence of interbreeding for at least the past 1.25 million years of their evolutionary histories. So, interbreeding between the species appears to be either a very rare or a new occurrence. To my knowledge, it has not been observed or recorded before,” says Eline Lorenzen.

Gems among the museum collections

Lorenzen points out that she and her colleagues used novel analytical methods that have only recently been developed.

“There are some true gems in the world’s natural history collections that can provide us with key insights into the evolution and diversity of life on Earth. It is incredible when material — such as this skull, which has been stored in our collection for decades — can be revisited with new methodologies to gain novel biological insights” says Eline Lorenzen.

Mikkel Skovrind adds: “It would be interesting to find out if similar hybrid whales have been spotted elsewhere.”

FACTS:

  • By extracting DNA from the anomalous whale skull and comparing it to a genetic reference panel of narwhal and beluga, researchers established the whale’s genomic affiliation.
  • Researchers analyzed reference stocks of narwhal and beluga for stable isotopes and compared these with isotope values from the hybrid skull. By measuring bone carbon and nitrogen concentrations, researchers were able to discern whether the whale’s diet consisted of food from the water column or from the sea floor. The isotopes demonstrated that the hybrid whale’s dietary choices were very different than those of either narwhal or beluga.
  • Narwhals and belugas are the only toothed whales endemic to the Arctic region. While they are each other’s closest relatives and roughly equal in size, the two species differ in their morphology and behaviour. The narwhal is characterized by its long, spiraled tusk and has a greyish-brown, mottled pigmentation, whereas belugas have two rows of uniform teeth, and adults are completely white. Narwhals are specialists when it comes to dietary choice, and belugas are generalists.
  • The research is a collaboration between the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen, the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and the Department of Anthropology, Trent University (CA).
  • The research is supported by the Carlsberg Foundation, the Villum Fonden Young Investigator programme and the Canada Research Chair programme.

British Conservatives ally with Spanish Franco fascists


This 30 May 2019 video says about itself:

Inside Spain’s far-right battleground: ‘When Franco was alive, it was safer

Vox became the first far-right party to win more than a single seat in Spain’s parliament since the Franco era when it won 24 in the general election. Last week, it fought its first mayoral campaign in El Ejido, a town in Andalucía with a population of 90,000 people, 30% of whom are migrants. Many of them work in the 150 square miles of greenhouses that surround the town. We follow the campaign and talk to Spaniards and migrants.

The recent European elections were a disaster for the British Conservative party of, basically already ex-, Prime Minister Theresa May. They have only four members of the European parliament (MEPs) left. Still, these MPs are members of the international European Conservatives and Reformists caucus in the parliament.

From the euobserver site, 19 June 2019:

Spain’s far-right Vox joins ECR group

The three MEPs elected on the list of Spanish far-right party Vox joined the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), the … group announced on Wednesday. It said ECR now consisted of 62 MEPs from 15 EU countries, down from 70 in the previous five-year parliamentary period. The ECR, previously the third-largest group, looks set to be the sixth-largest group, falling behind [the Christian democrats, the social democrats,] the liberals, greens, and the … ID group.

The ID group is the caucus of French neo-fascist leader Marine Le Pen.

Apparently, the British Conservatives are happy to be in the same caucus as the admirers of Spanish dictator Franco of Vox. That is not totally surprising. As the British Tories used to be in a caucus with the Latvian Waffen SS of Adolf Hitler.

Not all European right-wingers are happy with the Vox neo-fascists. The Belgian Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA; right-wingers, but not as far-right as that other party in Flanders, Vlaams Belang), according to Belgian daily De Standaard today, did not want Vox to join the European Conservatives and Reformists caucus. The feelings of dislike are very mutual. ‘We would love N-VA not to be there’, a Vox spokesman said.

This is because Vox wants violent repression of the Catalan people, like happened in the ‘good old days’ of Franco. While the N-VA favours Catalan independence.

Vox are not the only extreme rightists now becoming the political friends of the British Conservatives. Also in the ECR are now three MEPs of the Dutch FvD party. FvD leader Thierry Baudet is inspired by French anti-Semite and ex-MEP Jean-Marie Le Pen, and by United States racist Jared Taylor. The Dutch Christian Union did not want to be in the same caucus as the FvD. The Christian Union is one of the four parties in the Dutch right-wing coalition government. Though right-wing (anti-abortion, anti-equal marriage for LGBTQ people), Thierry Baudet’s blatant xenophobia goes too far for them. So, they left the ECR caucus.

Rare pink grasshopper, photo


Pink grasshopper

This photo, by 1968Tj from the Netherlands, shows a grasshopper which officially should have been green, but is pink.

That colour condition is called erythrism. It occurs rarely, also in, eg, rabbits, snakes, frogs and birds’ eggs.

It is a bit similar to melanism making a ‘grey’ seal a black seal.

Or to a supposedly black blackbird being white or whitish because of albinism or leucism.