Fossil seashells, sharks, butterflies in museum


This video is called Miocene fossil clam Pseudolarix amabilis, October 4 2019.

On 13 January 2019, again to Naturalis museum.

Once again, to its Life Science hall.

Marian was working on many, mostly very small, fossils from the Tortonian age; part of the Miocene age; over 7 million years old. The fossils were from France.

There are thousands of seashell species represented in the fossils. As it was then warmer, there was more biodiversity.

Marian sorted the fossil shells according to genus. Later, specialists would do research on the species.

There were also other fossils found at that spot. Like shark teeth, acorn barnacles, sea urchins, and coral.

Next to Marian, work was in progress on classifying 500,000 unclassified butterflies of the Naturalis collection.

This October 20189 Dutch video is about the Naturalis collection.

Saudi regime beheads more people than ever


This 24 April 2019 video says about itself:

The U.N. human rights office on Wednesday condemned the beheadings of 37 Saudi nationals across the kingdom this week, saying most were minority Shi’ite Muslims who may not have had fair trials and at least three were minors when sentenced.

Saudi Arabia, which said on Tuesday it had carried out the executions over terrorism crimes, has come under increasing global scrutiny over its human rights record since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate and the detention of women’s rights activists.

Spokeswoman for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Ravina Shamdasani said United Nations rapporteurs had expressed concern about a lack of due process and fair trial guarantees amid allegations that confessions were obtained through torture.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Saudi executions reach a new high

SAUDI ARABIA executed 184 people last year, including at least three who were minors when arrested, a human-rights charity revealed yesterday.

The gruesome tally is the highest since Reprieve began tracking executions there six years ago.

Of those executed, 88 were Saudi nationals, 90 were foreign and six were of unknown nationality.

At least another three juveniles remain on death row and are at risk of imminent execution.

Reprieve director Maya Foa said: “This is another grim milestone for Mohammed Bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia.

“The Kingdom’s rulers clearly believe they have total impunity to flout international law when it suits them.

A country that tortures and executes children should be a pariah state, not preparing to host the next meeting of the G20.”

Despite the Crown Prince’s claim of trying to minimise the death penalty, the number of executions under Mr bin Salman’s rule has continued to rise, with four executions in 2020 already.

Hummingbirds, why their beautiful colours?


This 2016 video is called Fact About Hummingbirds – Nature Documentary.

From the Field Museum in the USA:

Hummingbirds‘ rainbow colors come from pancake-shaped structures in their feathers

January 10, 2020

Hummingbirds are some of the most brightly-colored things in the entire world. Their feathers are iridescent — light bounces off them like a soap bubble, resulting in shimmering hues that shift as you look at them from different angles. While other birds like ducks can have bright feathers, nothing seems to come close to hummingbirds, and scientists weren’t sure why. But a new study in Evolution shows that while hummingbird feathers have the same basic makeup as other birds’, the special shape of their pigment-containing structures enables them to reflect a rainbow of light.

“The big question that keeps me up at night is, why are some groups of birds more colorful than others?” says Chad Eliason, the paper’s first author and a postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago. “You can look out your window and see drab brown birds, and then you have this glittering gem flutter to your hummingbird feeder. Why are hummingbirds so colorful? Is it the environment, is it sexual selection? Or is it something about the internal mechanisms, the physics and the way colors are produced?”

To answer these questions, Eliason and his international team of colleagues conducted the largest-ever optical study of hummingbird feathers. They examined the feathers of 35 species of hummingbirds with transmission electron microscopes and compared them with the feathers of other brightly-colored birds, like green-headed mallard ducks, to look for differences in their make-up.

All birds’ feathers are made of keratin, the same material as our hair and nails, and they’re structured like tiny trees, with parts resembling a trunk, branches, and leaves. The “leaves,” called feather barbules, are made up of cells that contain pigment-producing organelles called melanosomes. We have melanosomes too — they produce the dark melanin pigment that colors our hair and skin. But pigment isn’t the only way to get color. The shape and arrangement of melanosomes can influence the way light bounces off them, producing bright colors.

“We call these iridescent colors ‘structural colors’ because they depend on the structural dimensions,” says co-author Matthew Shawkey of Belgium’s University of Ghent. “A good analogy would be like a soap bubble. If you just look at a little bit of soap, it’s going to be colorless. But if you structure it the right way, if you spread it out really thin to form the shell of a bubble, you get those shimmering rainbow colors around the edges. It works the same way with melanosomes: with the right structure, you can turn something colorless into something really colorful.”

“In mammals, the melanin isn’t organized in any fancy way inside of the hairs, but in birds, you get these layers of melanosomes, and when light bounces off the different layers, we see bright colors,” says Eliason.

But even among birds, hummingbird melanosomes are special. Ducks have log-shaped melanosomes without any air inside, but hummingbirds‘ melanosomes are pancake-shaped and contain lots of tiny air bubbles. The flattened shape and air bubbles of hummingbird melanosomes create a more complex set of surfaces. When light glints off those surfaces, it bounces off in a way that produces iridescence.

The researchers also found that the different traits that make hummingbird feathers special — like melanosome shape and the thickness of the feather lining — are traits that evolved separately, allowing hummingbirds to mix and match a wider variety of traits. It’s kind of like how you can make more outfit combinations with three shirts and three pairs of pants than you can with three dresses. All in all, hummingbird feathers are super complex, and that’s what makes them so much more colorful than other birds.

And, the authors note, this project opens the door to a greater understanding of why hummingbirds develop the specific colors that they do. “Not all hummingbird colors are shiny and structural — some species have drab plumage, and in many species, the females are less colorful than the males,” notes co-author Rafael Maia, a biologist and data scientist at Instacart.

“In this paper we describe a model of how all these variations can be achieved within feathers. Now other wonderful questions appear. For example, if it is possible to display a wide variety of colors, why are many hummingbirds green? Whether this reflects historical events, predation, or female variation in preferences are still open and challenging questions,” says co-author Juan Parra from Colombia’s Universidad de Antioquia.

“This study sets the stage for really understanding how color patterns are developed. Now that we have a better idea of how feather structure maps to color, we can really parse out which genes are underlying those really crazy colors in birds,” says Eliason.

Bushfire smoke pollutes Australian Open tennis


This 14 January 2020 video says about itself:

Slovenian tennis player Dalila Jakupović has been forced to retire during her qualifying match at the Australian Open after suffering from severe coughing fits. The poor air quality in Melbourne already delayed the start of the qualifying rounds as smoke from surrounding bushfires smothered the city. Jakupović claimed the first set 6-4 against Swiss player Stefanie Vögele and looked likely to secure the second but collapsed on court before retiring,

Dutch NOS radio reports that Ms Jakupović cried as she had to give up because of the global warming bushfires. Many other players also complained about the foul air.

GERMAN engineering giant Siemens said today that it would continue infrastructure work on a coal mine in Australia despite protests from climate change activists: here.

Precambrian worm-like fossil discovery


This March 2018 video says about itself:

Fossils found around the world suggest that multi-cellular life was not only present before the Cambrian Explosion, it was much more elaborate and diverse than anyone thought. This is the story of the sudden burst of diversity that marked the dawn of truly complex life on our planet.

A three-dimensional image of a 550 million-year-old fossilized tube (left, in red) with internal digestive tract (gold, left and right)

From the University of Missouri-Columbia in the USA:

Scientists find oldest-known fossilized digestive tract — 550 million years

January 10, 2020

A 550-million-year-old fossilized digestive tract found in the Nevada desert could be a key find in understanding the early history of animals on Earth.

Over a half-billion years ago, life on Earth was composed of simple ocean organisms unlike anything living in today’s oceans. Then, beginning about 540 million years ago, animal structures changed dramatically.

During this time, ancestors of many animal groups we know today appeared, such as primitive crustaceans and worms, yet for years scientists did not know how these two seemingly unrelated communities of animals were connected, until now. An analysis of tubular fossils by scientists led by Jim Schiffbauer at the University of Missouri provides evidence of a 550 million-year-old digestive tract — one of the oldest known examples of fossilized internal anatomical structures — and reveals what scientists believe is a possible answer to the question of how these animals are connected.

The study was published in Nature Communications, a journal of Nature.

“Not only are these structures the oldest guts yet discovered, but they also help to resolve the long-debated evolutionary positioning of this important fossil group,” said Schiffbauer, an associate professor of geological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science and director of the X-ray Microanalysis Core facility. “These fossils fit within a very recognizable group of organisms — the cloudinids — that scientists use to identify the last 10 to 15 million years of the Ediacaran Period, or the period of time just before the Cambrian Explosion. We can now say that their anatomical structure appears much more worm-like than coral-like.”

The Cambrian Explosion is widely considered by scientists to be the point in history of life on Earth when the ancestors of many animal groups we know today emerged.

In the study, the scientists used MU’s X-ray Microanalysis Core facility to take a unique analytical approach for geological science — micro-CT imaging — that created a digital 3D image of the fossil. This technique allowed the scientists to view what was inside the fossil structure.

“With CT imaging, we can quickly assess key internal features and then analyze the entire fossil without potentially damaging it,” said co-author Tara Selly, a research assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and assistant director of the X-ray Microanalysis Core facility.

The study, “Discovery of bilaterian-type through-guts in cloudinomorphs from the terminal Ediacaran Period,” was published in Nature Communications. Other authors include Sarah Jacquet from MU; Rachel Merz from Swarthmore College; Michael Strange from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Yaoping Cai from Northwest University in Xi’an, China; and Lyle Nelson and Emmy Smith from Johns Hopkins University.

Funding was provided by grants from the NSF Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology Program (CAREER 1652351) and Instrumentation and Facilities Program (1636643). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

British pro-peace demonstrators against war on Iran


Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the London, England anti-Iran war rally

From the World Socialist Web Site in Britain:

“We’ve seen this all happen before, with the Iraq war. We saw how that went. It was a complete tragedy

UK protesters speak out against war on Iran

By our reporters

13 January 2020

WSWS reporters spoke to attendees at Saturday’s demonstrations in the UK against the danger of war in Iran.

“The thought of us fighting against Iran is terrible,” said Carol, who attended the London protest with her friend, Titch.

“Exposing lies is very important … I believe Dr David Kelly [UN weapons inspector in Iraq] was murdered, but our government will never admit that. He said there were no weapons of destruction.”

Carol

Carol had planned to protest at Belmarsh prison in support of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but decided to attend the Iran war protest in London at the last minute. “It’s very dangerous,” she said. “You’ve got the Iranians on the other hand who have come out and said that they did shoot down the passenger plane and that it was a mistake. But either way, the blood is still on Trump’s hands. This was all because of Trump. It was started long before him, but he has kicked it to another level.”

Titch referred to the regime change operation orchestrated by the US and UK in Iran. “It all began in 1953 when we overthrew the Iranian government to strengthen the Shah. In 1979 the Iranian people overthrew him. Ever since then, America and the UK have had it in for Iran. They’re going to do whatever they can to get in there and tear up that country. Everyone knows it.”

Tia (left) and Maddy

Maddy, who attended the protest with her friend Tia, noted, “We’ve seen this all happen before, with the Iraq war. We saw how that went. It was a complete tragedy.”

Tia said, “The thought of there being more destruction in an area which has just been decimated over and over is really heartbreaking. There’s no chance of any resources being put into recovery, or into making positive change, when warmongering is the only option that our leaders seem to go for.”

“I’m on the demonstration to highlight the persecution of Julian Assange,” Jane noted. “Julian is locked up in Belmarsh prison because he spoke out against war crimes, and the fight to save him is the fight against war as well. I think all the terrible political and environmental issues we’re facing are connected. A consciousness is starting to emerge in the world, where people know there is something terribly wrong and it’s getting to the point where it’s either ‘do or die’.

“I think all our problems are caused by a system that sits above and beyond the government, which is about money and power and oppression, with a few very rich and very powerful people in charge.”

Diane

Labour Party member Diane noted, “Donald Trump is being impeached and it is a perfect diversion to start a war; historically that is what they do. [Former US President Bill] Clinton did it.” Asked her opinion of the US Democratic Party, she said, “I think ideologically they are the same [as the Republicans]. I think big corporations, big business, is behind what’s going on in the world. It is terrifying … how far it has gone to the right.”

John Kelsey stated, “I’m here today to stop war and because it’s been a US strategy for the last 30 years to dominate the Middle East.”

Lucia from Spain

Lucia, a student visiting the UK from Spain, said, “I don’t believe in war with anybody. People need to come together to solve all our problems, including climate change. Trump caused the problem, to create division between other countries to impose American imperialism.”

Deanna remarked, “I am definitely against what Trump is doing. People don’t understand what’s going on, but they need to know.’’

Deanna

About 100 people demonstrated on the steps of a bombed-out church in Liverpool, St Luke’s, which is preserved in memory of the devastation inflicted during World War Two.

David and Stephen, 16-year-old school students attended to express their opposition to war on Iran. “I am here because I’m against war, I’m against violence,” David explained. “Suleimani was visiting Iraq to sort out peace so it wasn’t good that he was murdered.

“Most people don’t want war. I saw on the media that Iranian people like people in America, they just don’t like the president … I imagine they don’t want to go to war with America. America would probably use nuclear weapons [against Iran], like in World War Two, in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. They didn’t need to drop the bomb. Japan were already on the verge of surrender. America killed Suleimani to prove they have the power to destroy. They want the oil. With how advanced weapons are today, there’s no future if war breaks out.”

“It’s my first rally,” Stephen noted. “I agree with stopping tension and war. It will affect the higher up people, but it affects the working class more and future generations, and ruins things for everyone. They won’t listen to us, what we want.”

Jennifer

Jennifer, a qualified social worker at a mental health charity said, “I feel strongly that the Iran war is detrimental and I think we’re going into it blindly with America. We can’t just sit back. We all need to get out there and say ‘no’.”

About 60 protesters gathered in Bradford City centre on Sunday. Performing arts student Carol brought her own banner reading, “Don’t Attack Iran.” She said, “Ever since the news first appeared, I was thinking, ‘What do we expect from a president who’s got a mindset for war?’ There are lots of tensions between lots of places which could get out of hand.

A lot of the attacks in the Middle East are based on lies. They are trying to find excuses to get more power and more money as that’s all that matters to them. Talking to my friends on social media, we are all opposed to what’s happening but feel a bit helpless about what to do.”

ESPER ‘DIDN’T SEE’ SPECIFIC EVIDENCE OF IRAN THREAT Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s order to assassinate Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, but admitted he “didn’t see” any specific evidence backing up the president’s claim that Soleimani had been planning imminent attacks on multiple U.S. embassies. [HuffPost]

The assassination of General Qassem Suleimani, regarded as the second most powerful figure in the government of Iran, was planned more than six months before he and nine others were murdered in a January 3 US drone missile strike at Baghdad’s international airport, NBC News reported Monday: here.

US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo has spilled the beans about the murder of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. He has revealed that it was part of a ‘bigger strategy of deterrence’ – dumping President Trump’s claim that the murders by drone were carried out to prevent an ‘imminent’ attack: here.

Australia’s Pine Gap spy base likely involved in the assassination of Qassem Suleimani: here.

Yesterday, the foreign ministries of Berlin, London and Paris said that they would submit a complaint against Iran for allegedly violating the 2015 Iranian nuclear treaty. This would allow them to then repudiate the treaty, which Washington repudiated in 2018, and support the reimposition of UN sanctions—aligning them with the US campaign against Iran that threatens to provoke all-out war in the Middle East: here.

Pushing the lie propagated by Donald Trump that the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani was aimed at combating terrorism, the government of Brazil’s fascistic President Jair Bolsonaro was one of the first to defend Washington’s war crime. Just one day after the attack, Itamaraty—the Brazilian Foreign Ministry—issued a note stating that “the Brazilian government expresses its support for the fight against the scourge of terrorism”: here.