Chachalaca and blue-gray tanagers in Panama


This video says about itself:

Blue-gray Tanager Startles Gray-headed Chachalaca – August 13, 2019

A Blue-gray Tanager startles a Gray-headed Chachalaca at the Panama fruit feeder. When the chachalaca decides to leave, a group of tanagers arrive for breakfast. Blue-gray Tanagers occasionally forage in small groups though mainly they are observed in pairs.

Advertisements

United States candidate Harris, weak on peace


This 13 August 2019 video from the USA is called Kamala’s Campaign Praises Hillary [Clinton]’s War Mongering.

So, it looks like Democratic party presidential candidate Kamala Harris is not only tough on persecuting poor people and weak on prosecuting billionaires like Steven Mnuchin, now Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury; and weak on prosecuting sexually abusive Roman Catholic clergymen. She is weak on peace as well.

South Yemen revolts, Saudi regime losing war?


This 11 August 2019 video from Aden is called Saudi-Led Coalition Moves Against Separatists in Yemen.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Southern separatists overrun Aden, exposing fraud of US, Saudi puppet regime in Yemen

13 August 2019

Last week, a separatist militia overran Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, forcing the flight of the handful of ministers loyal to the puppet President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi

who is under house arrest in Saudi Arabia, where he had been allowed to flee to after resigning as president

that were still in the country.

The events have laid bare the abject failure of four years of murderous war to create anything approaching a stable US and Saudi-backed regime in the impoverished Arab country. At the same time, the takeover of Aden heightened fears in Washington that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) … may be distancing itself from the bellicose US policy in the region.

The tumultuous events have played out in the context of the mounting crisis of the Saudi-led and US-backed war that has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians while leaving 80 percent of the population in need of food assistance and several million on the brink of starvation. The country is facing what is acknowledged as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The divergence of interests and objectives between the two principal partners in the so-called coalition waging this war— Saudi Arabia and the UAE—have become increasingly impossible to mask. This is particularly the case in the wake of the UAE’s decision announced in June to withdraw the bulk of its military from Yemen and abandon positions it had held in the northeast and northwest of the country.

It has turned over many of its positions, as well as large quantities of arms, military vehicles and equipment, to a disparate collection of militias reportedly comprising 90,000 fighters. These militias include both the Security Belt, which is loyal to the separatist Southern Transitional Council, and the Republican Guard, headed by Tariq Saleh, the nephew of longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, who directed military campaigns against the south over the course of 20 years.

What they share in common, and with the UAE, is their lack of any support for the ostensible goal of the Saudi-led war, the restoration of the so-called legitimate government of President Hadi. This was the official justification for a war against the Houthi rebels who seized the country’s most populous areas in the north, along with the capital of Sana’a, and were marching on Aden before the Saudi-led intervention began in March 2015.

While the violent events in Aden over the past week have exposed the fraud of this so-called government, the trigger for the alleged clashes is by no means clear.

Aidarous al-Zubaidi, the leader of the Southern Transitional Council, charged that its affiliated militia, the Security Belt, had to choose between “self-defense, or surrender and accepting the liquidation of our just cause.”

The “cause” to which he refers is the recreation of the state of South Yemen, which was known before 1990 as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and had been closely aligned with the Soviet Union before the turn by the Stalinist bureaucracy toward capitalist restoration and the dissolution of the USSR. Under pressure from Moscow, the South Yemeni regime united with the north. Regional tensions, however, persisted, resulting in an attempted secession and civil war in 1994.

There were also reports that an Islamist militia aligned with the US-Saudi puppet regime had killed one of the separatist commanders and that members of the presidential guard had fired on the separatists first, provoking the clash.

For its part, supporters of Hadi accused the southern militia … of carrying out a “coup”. The militia members apparently stormed the presidential palace after taking over surrounding military bases following a call by the deputy head of the Southern Transitional Council to “topple” the Hadi regime.

This was by all accounts not a difficult task. The movement of the southern militia sent cabinet ministers loyal to Hadi rushing to a Saudi jet to be flown out of the country. The militia took control of the presidential palace as well as other government buildings and bases, together with heavy weaponry, along with the port of Aden and the city’s airport. Many of Hadi’s troops reportedly defected to the separatists. …

Saudi media reported that Hadi met Sunday with his patron King Salman [of Saudi Arabia] on Sunday. Thus far, the “legitimate” president has made no public statement concerning the ouster of his officials from their last redoubt in Yemen.

This 1 May 2018 video says about itself:

South Yemen Independence: Socialism in Arabia?

Is South Yemen heading towards independence and will it return to its former socialist republic roots? Find out here!

CRACKS SHOW IN A CRITICAL MIDEAST ALLIANCE Cracks have begun to appear in the partnership of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as the Yemen campaign staggers toward stalemate and tactics differ over confronting Iran’s behavior in the Gulf. That may, in turn, become a headache for the Trump administration, already frustrated by the Saudi-UAE spat with Qatar. [CNN]

Ancient crocodiles’, new crocodiles’ unexpected teeth


This 2009 video says about itself:

Crocs Eating Dinos | National Geographic

Paul Sereno and his team of scientists and artists show us what the world looked like in an age when crocs ate dinosaurs.

From the University of Missouri-Columbia in the USA:

No teeth cleaning needed: Crocodiles shed old teeth, grow new ones

Even fossilized plant-eating crocodiles replaced their teeth

August 13, 2019

Unlike people, crocodiles do not clean their teeth to slow down wear and tear. Instead, they get rid of them and replace them with new copies.

Having one of the most powerful bites in the animal kingdom, crocodiles must be able to bite hard to eat their food such as turtles, wildebeest and other large prey. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that crocodiles — and even their plant-eating ancestors — had thin tooth enamel, a trait that is in stark contrast to humans and other hard-biting species. These findings could suggest new approaches for dealing with people’s teeth.

“Once we unlock genetically how crocodiles and other non-mammals do this, maybe new teeth can be bioengineered for people,” said Brianne Schmiegelow, a former undergraduate student at MU and current dental student at University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Instead of using fillers such as crowns, people could instead ‘grow’ new teeth when they need to replace their worn out chompers.”

The team used a three-dimensional x-ray scanner to measure the thickness of tooth enamel in crocodiles. They found regardless of tooth position — incisor, canine, molar — age or diet, crocodiles do not have thick tooth enamel. With this new information, the team also studied published data on dinosaur teeth and found that the data nearly matched what they were seeing in crocodiles. For instance, a Tyrannosaurus rex has the same enamel thickness as a crocodile and can also bite extremely hard.

“Crocodiles bite really hard, so we were curious if they have teeth that correspondingly withstand those forces — tough teeth to match a tough bite,” said Kaleb Sellers, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri and lead researcher on the study. “We found that they don’t have tough teeth, and we think it’s because they replace their teeth like most other non-mammal animals. That made us wonder if other animals — even prehistoric — had similar issues.”

Researchers said the next step is to study tooth replacement and the timing of teeth growth in crocodiles and other animals such as dinosaurs — even looking into the possibility of genetic causes.

“Enamel takes a long time to build, so it’s not something animals will do ‘off-the-cuff,’ so to speak,” said Casey Holliday, an associate professor of anatomy in the MU School of Medicine. “It presents us with an interesting puzzle. If ancient crocodiles were chewing plants, did their new teeth already have the correct architecture — dimples and facets — to allow for this chewing? The findings here have paved the way for exploring this mystery with future research.”

New South American water beetles discoveries


This 2009 video says about itself:

Adults and larvae of Hydrophilidae

This is a video of aquatic beetles belonging to the family Hydrophilidae. These insects are also known [as] “water scavenger beetles” or “silver water beetles”.

From the University of Kansas in the USA:

New water beetle species show biodiversity still undiscovered in at-risk South American habitats

August 13, 2019

Researchers from the University of Kansas have described three genera and 17 new species of water scavenger beetles from the Guiana and Brazilian Shield regions of South America, areas seen as treasure houses of biodiversity. The beetles from the countries of French GuianaFrench Macron wants destructive gold mining in French Guiana, Suriname, Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela were discovered through fieldwork and by combing through entomological collections at the Smithsonian Institution and KU.

The beetles are described in a new paper in ZooKeys, a peer-reviewed journal.

Lead author Jennifer Girón, a KU doctoral student in ecology & evolutionary biology and the Division of Entomology at KU’s Biodiversity Institute, said the new species hint at vast biodiversity left to be described in regions where resource-extraction operations today are destroying huge swaths of natural habitat.

“The regions we’ve been working on, like Venezuela and Brazil, are being degraded by logging and mining,” she said. “Eventually, they’re going to be destroyed, and whatever lives there is not going to be able to survive. At this point, we don’t even know what’s there — there are so many different kinds of habitats and so many different resources. The more we go there, and the more we keep finding new species, the more we realize that we know next to nothing about what’s there.”

According to Girón and co-author Andrew Short, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at KU, fieldwork and taxonomic work on Acidocerinae (a subfamily of the family Hydrophilidae of aquatic beetles) during the past 20 years have exposed “an eye-opening diversity of lineages and forms resulting in the description of seven of the 11 presently recorded genera since 1999.”

The KU researchers said the three new genera they’ve now added to Acidocerinae possibly have remained obscure until now because many of the species inhabit seepages — areas where groundwater rises to the surface through mud or flow over rocks near rivers or streams.

Girón and Short discovered some of the new species during a field trip to Suriname.

“I have only been to one of the expeditions there,” Girón said. “Before that, I had no experience collecting aquatics. But Andrew (Short) has been to those places many times. It’s very remote, in the heart of the jungle. We went four hours in a bus and then four more hours in a boat up the river. There is a field station for researchers to go and stay for a few days there. We looked for the beetles along the river, forest streams and also in seepages.”

During their fieldwork, Girón and Short, along with a group of KU students, sought the seepages that were rich hunting grounds for acidocerine aquatic beetles.

“If you’re along a big river, you’re not as likely to find them,” Girón said. “You have to find places where there’s a thin layer of running water or small pools on rocks. They’re more common around places with exposed rock, like a rock outcrop or a cascade. These habitats have been traditionally overlooked because when you think of collecting aquatic beetles or aquatic insects in general, you think of rivers or streams or ponds or things like that — you usually don’t think about seepages as places where you would find beetles. So usually you don’t go there. It’s not that these aquatic beetles are especially rare or hard to find. It’s more like people usually don’t collect in these habitats.”

Girón said the descriptions of the new aquatic beetles also underscore the usefulness of museum collections to ongoing scientific research in biodiversity.

“It’s important to highlight the value of collections,” she said. “Without specimens housed in collections, it would be impossible to do this kind of work. Nowadays, there has been some controversy about whether it is necessary to collect specimens and deposit them in collections in order to describe new species. Every person that has ever worked with collections will say, ‘Yes, we definitely need to maintain specimens accessible in collections.’ But there are recent publications where authors essentially just add a picture of one individual to their description without actual specimens deposited in collections, and that can be enough for them to publish a description. The problem with that is there would be no reference specimens for detailed comparisons in the future. For people who do taxonomic work and need to compare many specimens to define the limits of different species, one photo is not going to be enough.”

To differentiate and classify the new species, Girón and Short focused on molecular data as well as a close examination of morphology, or the bodies of the aquatic beetles.

“This particular paper is part of a bigger research effort that aims to explain how these beetles have shifted habitats across the history of the group,” Girón said. “It seems like habitat has caused some morphological differences. Many aquatic beetles that live in the same habitats appear very similar to each other — but they’re not necessarily closely related. We’ve been using molecular techniques to figure out relationships among species and genera in the group.”

Girón, who grew up in Colombia and earned her master’s degree in Puerto Rico, said she hoped to graduate with her KU doctorate in the coming academic year. After that, she will continue her appointments as research associate and acting collections manager at the Natural Science Research Laboratory of the Museum of Texas Tech University.