Unusual brent geese family


This 11 January 2020 video shows an unusual brent geese family. The parents are a rare black brent goose and a common brent goose.

Their three youngsters are hybrids.

Luuk Punt made this video in Zeeland province in the Netherlands.

‘Asteroid, not volcanoes, killed dinosaurs’


This 2016 video says about itself:

How Asteroids Really Killed The Dinosaurs – Part 1 | Last Days of the Dinosaurs

In the clip from Last Days of the Dinosaur, we learn how the asteroids really killed the dinosaurs

Asteroid Day is celebrated every year on the 30th of June.

This 2016 video says about itself:

How Asteroids Really Killed The Dinosaurs – Part 2 | Last Day Of The Dinosaurs

Did you know that if the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs from the face of the Earth would have hit another location, they might still be alive? The shallow waters of the Gulf Of Mexico instantly vaporized as the asteroid hit, causing absolute destruction. This was the Last Day Of The Dinosaurs.

From Yale University in the USA:

In death of dinosaurs, it was all about the asteroid — not volcanoes

January 16, 2020

Volcanic activity did not play a direct role in the mass extinction event that killed the dinosaurs, according to an international, Yale-led team of researchers. It was all about the asteroid.

In a break from a number of other recent studies, Yale assistant professor of geology & geophysics Pincelli Hull and her colleagues argue in a new research paper in Science that environmental impacts from massive volcanic eruptions in India in the region known as the Deccan Traps happened well before the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago and therefore did not contribute to the mass extinction.

Most scientists acknowledge that the mass extinction event, also known as K-Pg, occurred after an asteroid slammed into Earth. Some researchers also have focused on the role of volcanoes in K-Pg due to indications that volcanic activity happened around the same time.

“Volcanoes can drive mass extinctions because they release lots of gases, like SO2 and CO2, that can alter the climate and acidify the world,” said Hull, lead author of the new study. “But recent work has focused on the timing of lava eruption rather than gas release.”

To pinpoint the timing of volcanic gas emission, Hull and her colleagues compared global temperature change and the carbon isotopes (an isotope is an atom with a higher or lower number of neutrons than normal) from marine fossils with models of the climatic effect of CO2 release. They concluded that most of the gas release happened well before the asteroid impact — and that the asteroid was the sole driver of extinction.

“Volcanic activity in the late Cretaceous caused a gradual global warming event of about two degrees, but not mass extinction,” said former Yale researcher Michael Henehan, who compiled the temperature records for the study. “A number of species moved toward the North and South poles but moved back well before the asteroid impact.”

Added Hull, “A lot of people have speculated that volcanoes mattered to K-Pg, and we’re saying, ‘No, they didn’t.'”

Recent work on the Deccan Traps, in India, has also pointed to massive eruptions in the immediate aftermath of the K-Pg mass extinction. These results have puzzled scientists because there is no warming event to match. The new study suggests an answer to this puzzle, as well.

“The K-Pg extinction was a mass extinction and this profoundly altered the global carbon cycle,” said Yale postdoctoral associate Donald Penman, the study’s modeler. “Our results show that these changes would allow the ocean to absorb an enormous amount of CO2 on long time scales — perhaps hiding the warming effects of volcanism in the aftermath of the event.”

The International Ocean Discovery Program, the National Science Foundation, and Yale University helped fund the research.

Schoorlse Duinen sand dunes, arrival


This 2017 Dutch video is about the Schoorlse Duinen nature reserve.

This area has the highest coastal sand dunes in the Netherlands.

We arrived there on 17 January 2020. During a short walk, I saw a flowering common daisy.

Stay tuned, as there will be more on this blog about this area!

Honduras regime, mass killing of women


This 17 January 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

4 Years Seeking Justice: Daughter of Slain Indigenous Environmental Leader Berta Cáceres Speaks Out

In Honduras, a new report by the Violence Observatory at the Honduran National Autonomous University says that at least 15 women have been murdered in the first 14 days of this year. Violence against women, LGBTQ people, indigenous leaders and environmental activists has skyrocketed in Honduras under the U.S.-backed government of President Juan Orlando Hernández.

The report comes nearly four years after the Honduran indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead inside her home in La Esperanza, Honduras, by hired hitmen. Last month in the capital of Tegucigalpa, seven men were sentenced to up to 50 years in prison for her killing in March 2016. At the time of her assassination, Cáceres had been fighting the construction of a major hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River on sacred Lenca land in southwestern Honduras.

In November 2018, a court ruled that Cáceres’s killing was ordered by executives of the Honduran company behind the Agua Zarca dam, known as DESA, who hired the convicted hitmen. Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work protecting indigenous communities and for her environmental justice campaign against the massive dam in 2015.

In December, we sat down with one of her daughters, Laura Zúñiga Cáceres, in Madrid, Spain, where she was receiving a human rights award. “This is a late conviction. It has been almost four years of seeking justice. It is the product of a rather difficult and painful process that has been putting us as victims in direct dispute with a murderous and aggressive state, and they produced the minimum consequences that the state could have given,” Zúñiga Cáceres says.

STRIKING nurses have accused the Honduran government of treating them like animals, vowing that they will keep going until demands for increased pay and an end to the threat of dismissal are met: here.

Giant squid genome research


This 2015 video says about itself:

A giant Architeuthis dux squid was caught on camera when it swam into a harbor in Japan on Christmas Eve. The young squid is estimated to be 12 feet long, and scientists say the species can reach over 40 feet in length.

From the Marine Biological Laboratory in the USA:

The mysterious, legendary giant squid’s genome is revealed

January 16, 2020

How did the monstrous giant squid — reaching school-bus size, with eyes as big as dinner plates and tentacles that can snatch prey 10 yards away — get so scarily big?

Today, important clues about the anatomy and evolution of the mysterious giant squid (Architeuthis dux) are revealed through publication of its full genome sequence by a University of Copenhagen-led team that includes scientist Caroline Albertin of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole.

Giant squid are rarely sighted and have never been caught and kept alive, meaning their biology (even how they reproduce) is still largely a mystery. The genome sequence can provide important insight.

“In terms of their genes, we found the giant squid look a lot like other animals. This means we can study these truly bizarre animals to learn more about ourselves,” says Albertin, who in 2015 led the team that sequenced the first genome of a cephalopod (the group that includes squid, octopus, cuttlefish, and nautilus).

Led by Rute da Fonseca at University of Copenhagen, the team discovered that the giant squid genome is big: with an estimated 2.7 billion DNA base pairs, it’s about 90 percent the size of the human genome.

Albertin analyzed several ancient, well-known gene families in the giant squid, drawing comparisons with the four other cephalopod species that have been sequenced and with the human genome.

She found that important developmental genes in almost all animals (Hox and Wnt) were present in single copies only in the giant squid genome. That means this gigantic, invertebrate creature — long a source of sea-monster lore — did NOT get so big through whole-genome duplication, a strategy that evolution took long ago to increase the size of vertebrates.

So, knowing how this squid species got so giant awaits further probing of its genome.

“A genome is a first step for answering a lot of questions about the biology of these very weird animals,” Albertin said, such as how they acquired the largest brain among the invertebrates, their sophisticated behaviors and agility, and their incredible skill at instantaneous camouflage.

“While cephalopods have many complex and elaborate features, they are thought to have evolved independently of the vertebrates. By comparing their genomes we can ask, ‘Are cephalopods and vertebrates built the same way or are they built differently?'” Albertin says.

Albertin also identified more than 100 genes in the protocadherin family — typically not found in abundance in invertebrates — in the giant squid genome.

“Protocadherins are thought to be important in wiring up a complicated brain correctly,” she says. “They were thought they were a vertebrate innovation, so we were really surprised when we found more than 100 of them in the octopus genome (in 2015). That seemed like a smoking gun to how you make a complicated brain. And we have found a similar expansion of protocadherins in the giant squid, as well.”

Lastly, she analyzed a gene family that (so far) is unique to cephalopods, called reflectins. “Reflectins encode a protein that is involved in making iridescence. Color is an important part of camouflage, so we are trying to understand what this gene family is doing and how it works,” Albertin says.

“Having this giant squid genome is an important node in helping us understand what makes a cephalopod a cephalopod. And it also can help us understand how new and novel genes arise in evolution and development.”