Dinosaur age plants and dinosaur age climate


This 2016 video from the USA is called What did Plants look like during the Age of Dinosaurs?

From McGill University in Canada:

Newly discovered Labrador fossils give clues about ancient climate

Study provides an updated quantitative estimate of eastern Canada’s climate

August 2, 2019

The discovery of fossilized plants in Labrador, Canada, by a team of McGill directed paleontologists provides the first quantitative estimate of the area’s climate during the Cretaceous period, a time when the earth was dominated by dinosaurs.

The specimens were found in the Redmond no.1 mine, in a remote area of Labrador near Schefferville, in August 2018. Together with specimens collected in previous expeditions, they are now at the core of a recent study published in Palaeontology.

Some of the specimens are the first of their kind to have been found in the area. Alexandre Demers-Potvin, a graduate student under the supervision of Professor Hans Larsson, Canada Research Chair in Vertebrate Palaeontology at McGill University, used the samples he collected to establish that Eastern Canada would have had a warm temperate and fully humid climate during the middle of [the] Cretaceous period.

Fossilized leaves and insects, known to be very similar to communities that today live further south, had been found at the Redmond No. 1 mine in the late 1950s had led paleontologists to hypothesize that the Cretaceous climate of Quebec and Labrador was far warmer than it is today.

With the new samples they found, Demers-Potvin and his colleagues were able to confirm this using the Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program. This tool is used to predict a variety of climate statistics for a given fossil flora, such as temperature and precipitation variables, based on the shape and size of its tree leaves. Their findings put the area’s mean annual temperature around 15°C. Summers were hot — with temperatures of over 20 degrees Celsius — and year-round precipitations relatively high.

Alexandre Demers-Potvin, who is also the study’s first author, said the new work provides insight into how the climate of Eastern Canada evolved over time, useful information to study today’s changing climate.

“The fossils from the Redmond mine show that an area that is now covered by boreal forest and tundra used to be covered in warm temperate forests in the middle of the Cretaceous, one of our planet’s ‘hothouse’ episodes, Demers-Potvin said. These are new pieces of evidence that can help improve projections of the global average temperature against global CO2 levels throughout the Earth’s history.”

Alexandre Demers-Potvin and his collaborators are now undertaking a description of the new fossilized insects discovered at the Redmond site. Demers-Potvin will return to Schefferville in the hopes of finding more insect specimens and fossilized vertebrates that could be hiding in the rubble of the abandoned mine.

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Lakenhal museum, Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt, Wolkers


This June 2019 Dutch video shows a preview of the Lakenhal museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, before it officially re-opened after years of reconstruction.

It shows especially exhibition hall #3, about the 16th century. We went there on 30 July 2019, after we had seen halls one and two. At the end of hall #2 was a big window with a fine view of the city, especially eighteenth-century windmill De Valk.

This video is about returning the most famous painting in hall #3, the Last Judgment by Lucas van Leyden, from its temporary stay in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum during the Lakenhal reconstruction, to Leiden.

This 2011 video is about a Lucas van Leyden exhibition in the Lakenhal before the reconstruction.

The hall includes an anonymous 1530-1535 painting about the life of Saint Anthony. Some interesting details: an owl near the underside. And one of the devils tormenting the saint has a nun’s headgear on; which may be hinting at criticism of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

These two videos are about the restoration of the 1515-1517 The Crucifixion of Christ, by Cornelis Engebrechtsz. Engebrechtsz is the most represented sixteenth-century Leiden painter in the third hall.

There is also work by one of Engebrechtsz pupils, Aertgen van Leyden. Rembrandt owned several of his paintings.

There were also sixteenth-century drinking vessels in this hall.

After hall #3, halls 4 to 6, were about the 17th century; the age of Rembrandt, born in Leiden.

This June 2019 Dutch video shows a visit by a distant relative of Rembrandt to the reconstructed Lakenhal, to see the Rembrandt paintings there.

This June 2019 Dutch video shows a visit to a glasses shop, to talk about Rembrandt’s painting, present in the Lakenhal, The salesman of spectacles.

Rembrandt, Historical painting

This is the other Rembrandt now present in the Lakenhal: a painting about history; we don’t know exactly what history. Behind the sceptre of the depicted king, Rembrandt, then twenty years old, made an inconspicuous self-portrait.

After the exhibition halls about the seventeenth century, there was a corridor with art by Jan Wolkers. Wolkers (1925-2007) is famous as an author, sculptor and painter. In this corridor, there was one small figurative sculpure, depicting Leda and the swan; and abstract reliefs and paintings.

This October 2017 video is about the Lakenhal acquiring artworks by Jan Wolkers.

Saving helmeted honeyeaters in Australia


This 5 June 2015 video from Australia says about itself:

Meet the Helmeted Honeyeater

Get to know the story of a little helmeted Victorian and the dedicated people who are helping to bring it back from the brink of extinction.

From Monash University in Australia:

Repairing harmful effects of inbreeding could save the iconic Helmeted Honeyeater

Research reveals just how much damage is done by inbreeding in the endangered Helmeted Honeyeater

August 1, 2019

Summary: A new study combines over 30 years of demanding fieldwork and advanced genetics to quantify how much harm is done by inbreeding in the last wild population of the helmeted honeyeater, and identifies ways forward.

Habitat destruction results in wildlife populations that are small, made up of relatives, and have low genetic variation.

Breeding between relatives (inbreeding) has harmful effects called ‘inbreeding depression’, often experienced as a shortened life, a poor breeder, or even death.

Not surprisingly then, most animals avoid breeding with their relatives. But when populations become too small, it becomes impossible to find a mate who is not some kind of relation.

Research published today in Current Biology by a collaborative research team led by Monash University reveals just how much damage is done by inbreeding in the critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeater.

Professor Paul Sunnucks from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study said the findings have wide-ranging implications for wildlife management.

“Our study combines over 30 years of demanding fieldwork and advanced genetics to quantify how much harm is done by inbreeding in the last wild population of the Helmeted Honeyeater, and identifies ways forward,” Professor Sunnucks said.

The Monash-led study involved collaboration with Zoos Victoria, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), and other conservation partners, with funding from the Australian Research Council. The Helmeted Honeyeater, named for its ‘helmet’ of head feathers, is a much-loved State emblem found only in a small region of the State of Victoria.

Since European settlement of Australia, a staggering 99% of the floodplain forest essential for Helmeted Honeyeaters has been converted to agricultural land and towns. Consequently, only 50 wild Helmeted Honeyeaters remained by 1989. Thanks to conservation actions including captive breeding at Healesville Sanctuary and habitat restoration, there are now about 230 free-living Helmeted Honeyeaters, living precariously in a single location, Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve.

The Helmeted Honeyeater would now very likely be extinct if not for those 30 years of conservation actions involving DELWP, Zoos Victoria, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, and hundreds of passionate volunteers centred on the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater.

“Most Helmeted Honeyeaters over that time have been given coloured leg-bands so that their success in life and love can be followed,” said DELWP Senior Ornithologist Bruce Quin, who led the monitoring.

The result is a detailed account of how long each of the birds lived and how many offspring they had in their lifetimes. Combining this information on breeding success with advanced genetic analysis, the research team could quantify the profound damage caused to Helmeted Honeyeaters by inbreeding: the most inbred birds produced only one-tenth as many young as the least inbred.

“Clearly, inbreeding depression is likely to impact the population’s chances of survival,” said the paper’s first author Dr Katherine Harrisson, a Monash PhD graduate now at La Trobe University, and the Arthur Rylah Institute (DELWP).

While inbreeding depression is a big problem, it can be reduced by bringing in ‘new blood’ from a closely-related population. Such ‘gene pool mixing’ is an emerging approach to help threatened species. But the wild population of Helmeted Honeyeater is the last of its kind, so where can new genes come from?

Helmeted Honeyeaters are the most distinctive subspecies of the widespread Yellow-tufted honeyeater. In careful trials of gene pool mixing, Zoos Victoria has cross-bred Helmeted Honeyeaters with members of the most similar other subspecies. “Mixing the two subspecies in captivity is going very well, with no signs of genetic or other problems,” said Dr Michael Magrath, a Senior Research Manager from Zoos Victoria. “We have plans to release the first out-crossed birds into the wild population at Yellingbo soon,” he said.

Professor Sunnucks said that all being well, gene pool mixing could help overcome the burden of inbreeding depression and bolster an enduring recovery of the Helmeted Honeyeater.

Imprisoned children dying in Trump’s USA


Imprisoned child in Trump's USA

By Kate Randall in the USA:

US doctors’ group urges probe into child migrant deaths from influenza

2 August 2019

A group of doctors from Harvard and Johns Hopkins has called on Congress to investigate the deaths of immigrant children who were held in government custody after crossing the US southern border in the past year. In a letter to a subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee on Appropriations, the group warns of the “threat of infectious diseases—particularly influenza—inside detention centers holding children.”

According to autopsy results viewed by the doctors, at least three children have died in US custody, in part as a result of influenza, since December 2018. The deaths of the children—ages 2, 6 and 16, appear to reflect a rate of influenza death substantially higher than that among US children in the general population.

While the doctors’ letter is couched in polite terms, what they point to is an indictment of the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, who “may not be following best practices with respect to screening, treatment, isolation, and prevention of influenza.”

The letter says that children housed in detention centers are at a higher risk for contracting the flu due to lower rates of immunization and higher rates of other diseases such as tuberculosis, as well as lack of access to adequate health care earlier in their lives. Added to this are the trauma and stress endured during their long journey from Central America, from heat and exposure, inadequate food and hydration and treks through perilous terrain.

Other investigations by medical professionals have documented the traumatizing situation in the detention camps, in which children are most often detained far longer than prescribed by law, in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Medical assessment of the children is haphazard at best, and nonexistent at worst, and the children are treated not as refugees fleeing poverty and violence, but as young criminals.

The doctors also point to what they term “a ‘revolving door’ effect, in which the centers combine a rapid turnover of child detainees with long-term detention. They say an inflow of susceptible people within a closed or semi-open community can slow the creation of immunity, increasing the risk of disease transmission.

The doctors’ letter details the cases of the three children, all Guatemalan, whose autopsies have shown they died from influenza and its complications. News sources have provided other details of their deaths. The causes of death of three other immigrant children in custody have not yet been determined.

Three migrant child deaths

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8 years old, died on December 24, 2018 in a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, six days after he and his father had crossed into the US near El Paso, Texas. He was in custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when he developed a sore throat and nasal congestion. He was seen at a local hospital, where he tested positive for Influenza B and was then discharged back into federal custody.

Later that same evening, Felipe developed abdominal pain and vomited blood. His father asked that he be sent back to the hospital, but he became unresponsive on the way there and was pronounced dead after efforts to resuscitate him failed. His autopsy found he died from an overwhelming infection from the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria as a complication of Influenza B.

Two-year-old Wilmer Josue Ramirez Vasquez died on May 14 of multiple respiratory infections related to influenza as well as gastrointestinal infections. He was brought April 6 to an emergency room in El Paso, Texas. The severity of his condition prompted his transfer to a pediatric intensive care unit, where he was admitted. It was found he had multiple respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, including Influenza A, Ascaris l umbricoides, Shigella, and E. coli detected in his stool. He died eight days after being admitted to the ICU.

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vaquez died at age 16 on May 20. He crossed the border alone near Weslaco, Texas on May 13, and was then held for six days at a processing center for unaccompanied minors in nearby McAllen, where he fell sick on May 19. A nurse practitioner found he had a 103-degree fever and he tested positive for the flu.

He was prescribed Tamiflu, an anti-viral, and transferred to the Border Patrol station in Weslaco, where he died the next morning. An autopsy report obtained by the Texas Monthly provides new details about his death. The autopsy shows he died from the flu, complicated by pneumonia and sepsis in his CBP cell.

According to the autopsy report, Carlos was fed at 2 a.m. May 20, and agents reportedly checked on him every hour. According to a video viewed by Dr. Norma Jean Farley, a contract forensic pathologist for Hidalgo County, he “is seen lying on the floor, vomiting on the floor, and walks over to the commode, where he sits and later lies back and expires.” The report notes without explanation that “the time on the video is incorrect”, so the exact time of the boy’s collapse is not known. Carlos was found at 6 a.m. that same morning and declared dead 12 minutes later.

The doctors’ letter says that of the approximately 74 million US children, there were 124 deaths due to influenza reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or about one reported death per 600,000 children. By comparison, with at least three deaths in as many as 200,000 immigrant children detained, the rate is about one in 67,000, nearly 10 times higher.

The doctors’ recommendations

The Harvard and Johns Hopkins group makes the following recommendations to curb the spread of the flu among child detainees:

• All children should be screened for symptoms of flu-like illness upon intake and transfer to a new facility.

• Children with flu-like symptoms should be tested for the influenza virus according to CDC guidelines.

• Children with flu-like illnesses should be isolated in their own room, or in a room with others with similar illness.

• Children with flu-like symptoms should be given antiviral treatment pending testing for influenza, as treatment is most effective if initiated in the first 48 hours of symptoms.

• Children with severe symptoms, including respiratory failure and pneumonia, should be immediately transferred to the hospital.

• All children over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated according to the proper schedule per age.

It is highly doubtful, however, that any of these recommendations will be followed. In fact, it is difficult to even determine what type of protocol is being followed in the detention centers holding children. The US government has not provided an assessment of vaccination rates among detained migrants.

The CBP is required by law to transfer unaccompanied children to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within 72 hours, but officials acknowledge repeatedly failing to meet that requirement this year. According to two CBP officials and two other government officials who spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, about half of the children are being held longer than 72 hours, some longer than a week.

In a rare visit in May to a detention facility near the southern tip of Texas, the Post found the center was holding 775 people, nearly double capacity, and that “adults and their toddler children were packed into concrete holding cells, many of them sleeping head-to-foot on the floor and along the wall-length benches, as they awaited processing at a sparsely staffed circle of computers know as ‘the bubble.’”

Conditions of children in detention

Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist and CEO of PathologyExpert Inc., who also signed the letter to Congress, told Texas Monthly that she was shocked at the conditions in which children were being held. She viewed young Felipe’s autopsy report.

“Prolonged custody of mixed groups of migrants from different regions in close quarters increases the likelihood of transmission of respiratory pathogens such as influenza,” she said. “In my opinion, there needs to be a public health audit of the policies and conditions in these migrant camps and a forensic review of all migrant deaths.”

The CBP has not responded to specific questions about Felipe’s care, but a spokesperson claimed people with flu “are handled as appropriate, depending on the specific circumstances. Children with flu may be diagnosed and treated on-site by CBP medical personnel or may be referred as appropriate to the local health system for diagnosis and treatment.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children require what is called a “medical home”, a personalized approach to primary care that relies on the relationship between the patient, physician and a coordinated care team. This is especially true for children leaving immigration detention facilities, due to the psychological trauma and physical health risks they have endured.

However, with children being treated as prisoners rather than refugees, they and their families are fearful of being in contact with the immigration system once they have left detention. Also, doctors providing care to children at CBP facilities are barred from communicating with physicians in the surrounding community.

According to the CDC, in addition to influenza, cases of pneumonia, tuberculosis, chicken pox, scabies and lice have been reported among migrant children at border facilities and shelters and during ORR screenings. This is the hell on earth awaiting children and their families fleeing Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.