Nanuqsaurus, carnivorous dinosaur, video


This 30 December 2019 video says about itself:

Tyrannosaurs were some of the most imposing and successful predators to have existed. They were a diverse group as well, and Nanuqsaurus was among the most unique of these remarkable animals.

Trump sends more US soldiers to Iraq


This 31 December 2019 video says about itself:

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters have tried to storm the US embassy in Baghdad following US airstrikes this week that killed 25 …

Shouting “Down, Down USA!” the crowd tried to push inside the embassy grounds, hurling water bottles and smashing security cameras outside.

The US military carried out the strikes on Sunday …

Tuesday’s attempted embassy storming took place after mourners held funerals … in a Baghdad neighbourhood, after which they marched on to the heavily fortified Green Zone and kept walking till they reached the embassy.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

US sends extra soldiers to attacked embassy in Baghdad

The US is sending extra soldiers to its embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. An angry crowd attacked the building today, out of anger over US American airstrikes, killing 25 people on Sunday night. …

Some of them are said to have been broken through a security wall and penetrated the grounds of the embassy. The US denies that. …

The reinforcements that are being sent now probably involves a few dozen soldiers. …

The disturbances began today after a memorial meeting for the dead of the US American bombing. …

After the memorial meeting, they marched on to the Green Zone in Baghdad. The American embassy is also located in this highly secured district.

David Attenborough on Karnataka, India wildlife


This 20 December 2019 video says about itself:

Wild KarnatakaDavid Attenborough – Behind the scenes (BTS)

4 years and 400 hours of footage in the making. Wild Karnataka is India’s own 4K blue-chip natural history film made by a world-class team of Indian filmmakers and narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Australian bushfire survivor interviewed


Red bushfire sky over Mallacoota, Australia, photo Jonty Smith/Reuters

This photo shows red bushfire sky over Mallacoota, Australia.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Resident of Mallacoota after deep red inferno: “Hopefully this is a wake-up call”

A scorching heat, air that turned deep red within half an hour and constantly ominous popping of exploding gas bottles. The Australian village of Mallacoota went through perilous hours yesterday. Thousands of people fled to the sea or even into the water because of the rapidly emerging forest fires.

Almost twelve hours later there is still a thick layer of smoke over the village with just over a thousand inhabitants, says Mallacoota resident Val York over the telephone. If you want to go outside, it is best to do that with an oxygen mask, even though the fire front has now gone away.

Together with her husband Peter, Val York has been running boat rental company Buckland’s Jetty Boat Hire for years. The couple was firmly convinced that their property, which is located about five kilometres north of the centre of Mallacoota, would be swallowed up by the forest fires.

“Our fuel is stored in an old wooden shed. When we left, we could already see the flames. We knew what time it was.”

When they started inspecting the expected damage with a boat a few hours later, they saw the smoke rise behind the shed. Miraculously, the building and the wooden scaffolding remained unaffected.

York posted a video of the ‘miracle’ on Facebook.

Their property did not come out of the inferno completely intact. Two boats were lost and the wooden carport at their home was scorched.

But York is relieved that it stopped there. Her friends were less lucky. “They’ve lost their homes. It’s a tragic day”, she says. …

Val York of Buckland’s Jetty Boat Hire hopes that the worst of this summer is over with yesterday’s inferno. She is looking forward with fear to what might come in the coming years.

She has only seen the area around Mallacoota become drier in recent years. “And it is all forest here. Hopefully, this is a wake-up call for our government. So that they will implement their policies differently when it comes to fossil fuels.”

York is referring to the increasing criticism of Prime Minister Morrison. He refuses to take measures when it comes to, eg, the country’s lucrative coal industry. Critics believe that Morrison is doing too little about climate change and see the forest fires as a result of that.

THOUSANDS FLEE FROM FIRE ONTO BEACH Pictures of the red sky and falling embers are trickling onto social media as thousands of residents and tourists in the eastern Victoria town of Mallacoota, about 400 miles south of Sydney, seek refuge from the oncoming blaze and prepare to escape into the Tasman Sea if the fire comes closer. [HuffPost]

NEARLY HALF A BILLION ANIMALS FEARED DEAD IN AUSTRALIAN WILDFIRES  Ecologists at the University of Sydney estimated that 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have died in the blazes that have swept Australia since September, including a third of the koala population in their main habitat in the state of New South Wales. [HuffPost]

7 NUMBERS SHOW HOW BAD CLIMATE CHANGE GOT THIS DECADE In the past decade, the climate crisis, and its fatal consequences, deepened further, as temperatures rose around the globe, ice caps melted, sea levels rose and record-breaking hurricanes, floods and wildfires devastated communities across the U.S. Here are seven figures that show just how dire the climate situation grew this decade. [HuffPost]

FAILURE TO ACT: THE LOST DECADE We may look back on the years 2009 to 2019 as the “lost decade” — a time when the world awoke to the reality of climate change only to squander the chance to take the action needed to tackle it. Now, many scientists fear the targets required to avoid catastrophe are slipping out of reach. [HuffPost]

Australia: Legal report documents “unlawful” police response to Melbourne climate protest: here.

Welsh, Icelandic puffins use tools, new research


This 27 December 2019 video says about itself:

Watch a puffin use a stick as a feather-scratching tool | Science News

A remote motion-sensitive camera captured a puffin on Grimsey Island in Iceland picking up a stick and using it to scratch its feathers in July 2018. It’s the second time researchers studying puffins have spotted such tool use and the first time it’s been documented in seabirds.

By Jonathan Lambert, 30 December 2019:

Stick-toting puffins offer the first evidence of tool use in seabirds

Two birds observed four years and a sea apart turned sticks into feather scratchers

Annette Fayet was scanning a colony of Atlantic puffins off the coast of Wales when something caught her eye. A puffin, gently bobbing on the sea, held a stick in its orange-black bill. Then, the seabird used it to scratch its back.

“I was surprised and excited,” says Fayet, an ecologist at the University of Oxford who studies puffin migration. Puffins (Fratercula arctica<) had never been seen using tools. In fact, no seabird had.

Fayet recorded the unusual behavior in her notebook, but it would take four more years before she got photographic evidence. In 2018 on Grimsey Island in Iceland, one of her motion-sensitive camera captured a puffin snatching a stick from the ground and using it to scratch its chest feathers.

Those observations, described December 30 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, represent the only known example of a bird in the wild using a tool to scratch itself.

Scientists have long known that some birds use tools, mostly to extract food. Stick-wielding crows wow biologists with their ingenuity  (SN: 9/14/16), some parrots grind down seashells with pebbles and Egyptian vultures can crack ostrich eggs with rocks. But seabirds, which tend to have smaller brains, were written off as prospective tool users, Fayet says. The puffin discovery suggests that tool use in birds may be more widespread and varied than previously thought, she and her colleagues say.

“I’m not surprised that seabirds can use tools,” says Corina Logan, a behavioral ecologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who wasn’t involved in the study. She says so many creatures’ cognitive abilities remain undiscovered because detecting them takes so much time and energy.

Despite the small sample size, Logan says she’s convinced puffins can use tools in part because the behavior was seen in two populations four years and 1,700 kilometers apart. Most tool use in birds revolves around eating, but this study “expands our predictions about which species engage in [tool use] and why they might need or want to do so.”

The puffins might be using sticks to flick ticks, a common puffin parasite, from their plumage, Fayet and her colleagues suggest. Summer 2018 in Iceland, when the behavior was caught on video, was an especially bad tick season.