Many dinosaur footprints discovered in Alaska


This June 2018 video says about itself:

Frontiers 146: Great Alaska Dinosaur Hunt

Dinosaurs, flying reptiles and giant sea creatures. They were all residents of Alaska, but definitely not eligible for a Permanent Fund Dividend Check. They lived here long before statehood. About 80 million years ago.

From PLOS:

Dozens of dinosaur footprints reveal ancient ecosystem of Alaskan Peninsula

These trackways allow researchers to explore habitat preferences in high-latitude dinosaurs

October 30, 2019

Abundant dinosaur footprints in Alaska reveal that high-latitude hadrosaurs preferred tidally influenced habitats, according to a study released October 30, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Anthony Fiorillo of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Texas and colleagues.

Dinosaur fossils are well-known from Alaska, most famously from areas like Denali National Park and the North Slope, but there are very few records of dinosaurs from the Alaskan Peninsula in the southwest part of the state. In this study, Fiorillo and colleagues document abundant dinosaur trackways from Aniakchak National Monument, around 670km southwest of Anchorage.

The trackways were preserved in the Chignik Formation, a series of coastal sediment deposits dating back to the Late Cretaceous Period around 66 million years ago. Survey work from 2001-2002 and 2016-2018 identified more than 75 trackway sites including dozens of dinosaur footprints. Based on the anatomy of the prints, the authors identified two footprints of armored dinosaurs, one of a large predatory tyrannosaur, and a few footprints attributable to two types of birds. The remaining 93% of the trackways belonged to hadrosaurs, highly successful herbivores which are typically the most common dinosaurs in high-latitude fossil ecosystems.

Previous research on skeletal dinosaur remains in northern Alaska has found that hadrosaurs were most abundant in coastal habitats. The trackways documented in this study reveal that the same trend was true in southern Alaska. The authors suggest that understanding habitat preferences in these animals will contribute to understanding of how ecosystems changed through time as environmental conditions shifted and dinosaurs migrated across northern corridors between continents.

Fiorillo adds, “Our study shows us something about habitat preferences for some dinosaurs and also that duck-billed dinosaurs were incredibly abundant. Duck-billed dinosaurs were as commonplace as cows, though given we are working in Alaska, perhaps it is better to consider them the caribou of the Cretaceous.”

Ötzi the Iceman and prehistoric plants


This 2017 video is called Ötzi The Iceman. Film documentary.

From PLOS:

Alongside Ötzi the Iceman: A bounty of ancient mosses and liverworts

Frozen flora holds clues to the ancient Alps ecosystem and to the Iceman’s final journey

October 30, 2019

Buried alongside the famous Ötzi the Iceman are at least 75 species of bryophytes — mosses and liverworts — which hold clues to Ötzi’s surroundings, according to a study released October 30, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by James Dickson of the University of Glasgow, UK and colleagues at the University of Innsbruck.

Ötzi the Iceman is a remarkable 5,300-year-old human specimen found frozen in ice approximately 3,200 meters above sea level in the Italian Alps. He was frozen alongside his clothing and gear as well as an abundant assemblage of plants and fungi. In this study, Dickson and colleagues aimed to identify the mosses and liverworts preserved alongside the Iceman.

Today, 23 bryophyte species live the area near where Ötzi was found, but inside the ice, the researchers identified thousands of preserved bryophyte fragments representing at least 75 species. It is the only site of such high altitude with bryophytes preserved over thousands of years. Notably, the assemblage includes a variety of mosses ranging from low-elevation to high-elevation species, as well as 10 species of liverworts, which are very rarely preserved in archaeological sites. Only 30% of the identified bryophytes appear to have been local species, with the rest having been transported to the spot in Ötzi’s gut or clothing or by large mammalian herbivores whose droppings ended up frozen alongside the Iceman.

From these remains, the researchers infer that the bryophyte community in the Alps around 5,000 years ago was generally similar to that of today. Furthermore, the non-local species help to confirm the path Ötzi took to his final resting place. Several of the identified moss species thrive today in the lower Schnalstal valley, suggesting that Ötzi traveled along the valley during his ascent. This conclusion is corroborated by previous pollen research, which also pinpointed Schnalstal as the Iceman’s likely route of ascent.

Dickson adds, “Most members of the public are unlikely to be knowledgeable about bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). However, no fewer than 75 species of these important investigative clues were found when the Iceman (aka Ötzi) was removed from the ice. They were recovered as mostly small scraps from the ice around him, from his clothes and gear, and even from his alimentary tract. Those findings prompted the questions: Where did the fragments come from? How precisely did they get there? How do they help our understanding of the Iceman?”

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition


Elephant seal and king penguin on South Georgia, photo by Thomas-Mangelsen

This comical photo shows a king penguin quarrelling with a southern elephant seal. It is one of the finalists of the 2019 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

The Brabant Natural History Museum in Tilburg, the Netherlands writes about it (translated):

Recognizable! That’s what you think when you look at the photos of the international Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. A nosey seal with a weak smile, two sea otters where it seems that one is trying to save the other, or a marital fight between two exotic birds [European bee-eaters], one of which seems to think his or her own thoughts about it.

Bee-eaters

At least you have to smile about it. And that is precisely the power of the photos: humour to draw attention to – international – nature conservation. Even better when you see them all together.

Dancing bears and lions, a philosophizing monkey and a dreamy squirrel. The prize-winning photos of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, prizes for the most comical animal photos of the year, are coming to Tilburg! The irresistible images can be seen in the sperm whale hall from November 14 on. Also special, because the photos can only be seen in a few places in the world in exhibition form. A great opportunity to show how nice nature can be. The museum immediately seized the opportunity to bring the exhibition to the Netherlands for several years.

With the photo competition, Comedy Wildlife Awards supports the Born Free organization, which is committed to animal protection and welfare. With the competition they call attention to wild animals and the preservation of their living environment. And with the sale of the photos via an auction, they raise money for the Born Free Foundation and the local project Natuur om de Hoek. This allows children to get to know nature in their own neighbourhood on the basis of questions, research and experiment.

British military collaboration with torturing Bahrain dictatorship


This video is called Systematic torture in Bahrain.

British General Paul Nanson (fourth left) dines with other commanders in Bahrain

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sandhurst commander flies to Bahrain for jolly with alumni

THE commander of Sandhurst has flown to the Middle East to dine with foreign alumni from the British military academy.

General Paul Nanson spent time this week in Bahrain, a Gulf monarchy whose autocratic ruler King Hamad trained at Sandhurst and is now patron of the Sandhurst Trust.

Leaders of the Royal Navy’s officer academy in Dartmouth and the Royal Air Force College in Cranwell also took part in the trip to Bahrain for an “inaugural tri-service Middle East alumni event.”

Military personnel from Gulf dictatorships routinely train at armed forces academies in Britain, especially Sandhurst.

Sayed AlWadaei from the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) told the Morning Star: “King Hamad, himself a Sandhurst graduate, has donated millions of pounds to the school and in return one of the halls of residence now bears his name.

“Sandhurst has a long history of training the Middle East’s most vicious dictators and King Hamad is exemplary in this regard.

“Make no mistake, this toxic relationship should never be normalised.”

The dictators of Jordan and Oman both have buildings at Sandhurst named after them.

South African flowers and bacteria, new research


This 201 video says about itself:

Into the Fynbos: Conserving Biodiversity in the Cape Floristic Region

A Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development Project in South Africa’s Western Cape Province encourages landowners to be stewards of their holdings, so that the rich biodiversity in this World Heritage Site has a place to thrive, and the region has a chance to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

From Stellenbosch University in South Africa:

New evidence that bacteria drive biodiversity in the Cape Floral Region

October 30, 2019

Botanists from Stellenbosch University (SU) have come one step closer to unraveling the mystery of the Cape Floral Region’s extraordinary levels of biodiversity.

To date at least some of this remarkable diversity has been attributed to plants’ ability to adapt to micro-niches, created by factors such as a stable palaeo climate, reliable winter rainfall, geographical gradients and diverse soil types.

Now botanists from SU’s Department of Botany and Zoology have found evidence that the largest Cape geophyte genus, Oxalis, has developed a unique association with the bacterial genus Bacillus, that help it to fix nitrogen from the air and to perform extraordinary feats of germination.

Furthermore, they proved that the Bacillus bacteria are so integrated into this symbiotic relationship that they are even inherited from mother plant to seed. The results of the study was published in the journal BMC Plant Biology recently, with the title “Nitrogen-fixing bacteria and Oxalis — evidence for a vertically inherited bacterial symbiosis.”

Prof Léanne Dreyer, a leading expert on Southern African Oxalis at SU and one of the authors, says this is the first report of such a system of vertical inheritance of endophyte bacteria for geophytes.

The Cape is known for the most diverse geophyte flora in the world, with 2 100 species from 20 families, but the factors driving this remarkable diversity are still poorly understood. This diversity is even more remarkable if one takes into account that it occurs in an environment that measures some of the lowest nitrogen and phosphorus levels globally.

How does this symbiotic relationship work?

From previous work, Dreyer’s research group established that 60% of Oxalis species have recalcitrant seeds. This means they cannot tolerate desiccation and have to germinate immediately after being shed.

But even more unique in these species is the incidence of inverse germination, where the seed leaves and the first foliar leave unfurl within the first 24 to 48 hours, without any support of a radicle or roots.

It was in the process of trying to figure out this extraordinary feat of germination that one of Dreyer’s postgraduate students, Dr Michelle Jooste, found evidence of an assemblage of bacteria and fungi in the vegetative and reproductive organs of six Oxalis species.

“We found that the bacteria and fungi inhabit the mucilage surrounding the base of recalcitrant Oxalis seedlings. The mucilage is a thick gluey substance that is excreted by the seed upon germination. Some of the bacteria and fungi we found in the mucilage were recruited from the surrounding soil, but others were provided via inheritance by the seed itself,” Jooste explains.

These bacteria are hosted within the plant body, quite possibly in specialized structural cavities, where they feed on oxalate — an organic acid produced by plants as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

Nine of the most abundant species of bacteria identified in the study were from the genus Bacillus, and three of these have the capacity to utilise oxalates as their only and often preferred source of carbon.

“We think this unusual relationship must have evolved over millions of years, helping Oxalis to make the most of a very predictable winter rainfall season, giving it just enough time to spurt enough growth above ground to also form a bulb underground in order to survive until the next winter’s first rains. Indeed a Russian roulette of germination strategies!” Dreyer explains.

But there are still many more questions than answers in this story.

How the mucilage is formed and what it consists of are the foci of a current study, while another postgraduate student is devising microscopic techniques to pinpoint whether these endophytic bacteria do, in fact, dwell in the unusual cavities that traverse all organs of most recalcitrant Oxalis species. The extremely rapid mode of bulb formation is also under investigation.

“In comparison with other Mediterranean environments, the biodiversity of the Cape Floral Region is off-the-chart. But why that is so, is still one of the greatest mysteries that botanists are trying to unravel,” Dreyer concludes.