How dinosaur age ecosystems worked


This November 2018 video is called The Dinosaur Timeline (Mesozoic Era).

From the Geological Society of America in the USA:

Late Cretaceous dinosaur-dominated ecosystem

March 18, 2020

A topic of considerable interest to paleontologists is how dinosaur-dominated ecosystems were structured, how dinosaurs and co-occurring animals were distributed across the landscape, how they interacted with one another, and how these systems compared to ecosystems today. In the Late Cretaceous (~100-66 million years ago), North America was bisected into western and eastern landmasses by a shallow inland sea. The western landmass (Laramidia) contained a relatively thin stretch of land running north-south, which was bordered by that inland sea to the east and the rising Rocky Mountains to the west. Along this ancient landscape of warm and wet coastal plains comes an extremely rich fossil record of dinosaurs and other extinct animals.

Yet, from this record, an unexpected pattern has been identified: Most individual basins preserve an abundant and diverse assemblage of dinosaur species, often with multiple groups of co-occurring large (moose- to elephant-sized) herbivorous species, yet few individual species occur across multiple putatively contemporaneous geological formations (despite them often being less than a few hundred kilometers apart). This is in fairly stark contrast to the pattern seen in modern terrestrial mammal communities, where large-bodied species often have very extensive, often continent-spanning ranges. It has therefore been suggested that dinosaurs (and specifically large herbivorous dinosaurs) were particularly sensitive to environmental differences over relatively small geographic distances (particularly with respect to distance from sea level), and may have even segregated their use of the landscape between more coastal and inland sub-habitats within their local ranges.

In their new study published in Geology, Thomas Cullen and colleagues sought to test some of these hypotheses as part of their broader research reconstructing the paleoecology of Late Cretaceous systems.

One of the methods they’re using to do that is stable isotope analysis. This process measures differences in the compositions of non-decaying (hence, “stable”) isotopes of various common elements, as the degree of difference in these compositions in animal tissues and in the environment have known relationships to various factors such as diet, habitat use, water source, and temperature. So the team applied these methods to fossilized teeth and scales from a range of animals, including dinosaurs, crocodilians, mammals, bony fish, and rays, all preserved together from a relatively small region over a geologically short period of time in sites called vertebrate microfossil bonebeds.

By analyzing the stable carbon and oxygen isotope compositions of these fossils they were able to reconstruct their isotopic distributions in this ecosystem — a proxy for their diets and habitat use. They found evidence of expected predator-prey dietary relationships among the carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs and among aquatic reptiles like crocodilians and co-occurring fish species.

Critically, says Cullen, “What we didn’t see was evidence for large herbivorous dinosaurs segregating their habitats, as the hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, and ankylosaurs we sample all had strongly overlapping stable carbon and oxygen ranges. If some of those groups were making near-exclusive use of certain parts of the broader landscape, such as ceratopsians sticking to coastal environments and hadrosaurs sticking to more inland areas, then we should see them grouping distinctly from each other. Since we didn’t see that, that suggests they weren’t segregating their resource use in this manner. It’s possible they were doing so in different ways though, such as by feeding height segregation, or shifting where in the landscape they go seasonally, and our ongoing research is investigating some of these possibilities.”

Another important part of their study was comparing the fossil results to an environmentally similar modern environment in order to examine how similar they are ecologically. For a modern comparison, they examined the animal communities of the Atchafalaya River Basin of Louisiana, the largest contiguous wetland area in the continental U.S. The landscape of this area is very similar to their Cretaceous system, as are many elements of the plant and animal communities (not including the non-avian dinosaurs, of course).

From their comparisons, the team found that the Cretaceous system was similar to the Louisiana one in having a very large amount of resource interchange between the aquatic and terrestrial components of the ecosystem, suggesting that fairly diverse/mixed diets were common, and food being obtained from both terrestrial and aquatic sources was the norm. They also found that habitat use differences among the herbivorous mammals in the Louisiana system was more distinct than among those large herbivorous dinosaurs in the Cretaceous system, lending further evidence to their results about their lack of strict habitat use preferences.

Lastly, the team used modified oxygen stable isotope temperature equations to estimate mean annual temperature ranges for both systems (with the Louisiana one being a test of the accuracy of the method, as they could compare their results to directly measured water and air temperatures). The team found that in their Late Cretaceous ecosystem in Alberta, mean annual temperature was about 16-20 degrees C, a bit cooler than modern-day Louisiana, but much warmer than Alberta today, reflecting the hotter greenhouse climate that existed globally about 76 million years ago.

Characterizing how these ecosystems were structured during this time, and how these systems changed across time and space, particularly with respect to how they responded to changes in environmental conditions, may be of great importance for understanding and predicting future ecosystem responses under global climate change. The team’s research continues and should reveal much more about the food webs and ecology of the dinosaurs and other organisms that inhabited these ancient landscapes.

Coronavirus, Amazon and other workers news


This 17 March 2020 video says about itself:

Employees of Amazon‘s Castel San Giovanni warehouse went on an indefinite strike on Monday to contest the lack of safety measures amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“Here it’s not possible to work with the number of persons that we are, as we are constantly walking along each other, touching the same things, eating in the same space,” said Beatrice Moia, Safety Workers Manager at Amazon’s main Italian logistics hub, which reportedly employs over 1,000 people.

“We had a quite long meeting of over three hours with the company, we tried to apply here the protocol signed by unions and companies for safety but we haven’t found enough common grounds to ensure safety”, she added.

An Amazon worker, Maria Ipri, said that she doesn’t “wear a mask because they didn’t give it to us.” “The only one I have, I use it when I go shopping. Not having the possibility of buying them, I don’t wear it.”

Castel San Giovanni is a city located in Emilia-Romagna, one of the most affected areas in Italy with over 3,000 reported cases of coronavirus.

Health systems in Italy, the European epicenter of the disease, are so overwhelmed that they cannot process the corpses of the dead, let alone tend to the sick: here.

Italy’s death toll overtakes China’s. Coronavirus crisis cripples Italy’s health care system: here.

The maintenance and tightening of punishing economic sanctions against Iran as it confronts one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the coronavirus constitutes a US war crime: here.

A study published Monday by the Imperial College, a public research university in London, estimates that millions will die from the coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom and United States. In their best-case scenario, in which transmission of the virus is massively mitigated, and “even if all patients were able to be treated,” the authors write, “we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in GB, and 1.1–1.2 million in the US”: here.

The number of US Americans with coronavirus is nearing 15,000, and more than 200 have died: here.

Facing mask shortage, US doctors told to use bandanas: here.

New York City now the epicenter of coronavirus pandemic in the US: here.

First ICE officer tests positive for COVID-19. Immigrants in US detention facilities plead for help as coronavirus pandemic spreads: here.

There is growing outrage among workers in the United States and internationally over the fact that they continue to be kept on the job in the face of the spreading coronavirus pandemic and that no measures are being taken to secure their lives and livelihoods: here.

Amazon puts us at risk:” Warehouse workers discuss company’s inaction in the face of the coronavirus pandemic: here.

Some US auto companies announce plant closures, others remain open in wake of worker job actions over coronavirus: here.

Media blackout of wildcat strikes in US auto industry: here.

Drivers shut down Detroit bus system with sick-out over health and safety concerns during coronavirus outbreak: here.

Canada: Ontario Toyota worker describes company inaction in the face of coronavirus pandemic: here.

UK: Johnson government uses coronavirus crisis to seize dictatorial powers: here.

Retired UK welfare advice worker Terry Craven: “If they are going to build a herd immunity, they already know it’s going to kill thousands of people”: here.

Growing anger among Brazilian workers to response of government to coronavirus crisis: here.

The dispute over the German biotech company CureVac shows how national and profit interests hinder the rapid development of a vaccine against COVID-19: here.

Massive social disaster looms as worldwide job losses from coronavirus pandemic expected to reach 25 million: here.

Leading orchestras and musicians move to free online performances in response to the coronavirus pandemic: here.

New Caledonian manta rays dive deep


This 2018 video says about itself:

“New Caledonia, Mother of the Coral Sea” features the incredible diversity of the Coral Sea in New Caledonia and how it provides for the people of New Caledonia — where nature and people are inextricably linked. The film features the different sides of New Caledonia — from Noumea, its capital city, to the magnificent Ouvea, referred to as “the closest island from Paradise”, and the bountiful life — turtles, sharks, manta rays, and large schools of fish — that blossoms in these waters, and are respected as culturally-significant totems.

Local community members, Marie-Lucette Taoupoulou, Pierre Kaouma, Marjorie Tiaou and Marino Tiaou take us through their world and their way of life. They share about their bond with nature and their aspirations of preserving this bond for generations to come. Conservation International and the Manta Initiative are working with partners to conserve the Coral Sea and its diversity — before it becomes endangered.

Narrated in French, with English subtitles, the film, produced by Blue Sphere Media, also features CI’s Marine Program Coordinator Mael Imirizaldu and Manta Initiative researcher Hugo Lassauce. …

The Mother of the Coral Sea has won a Silver Award for Best Documentary Short and an Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography at the Independent Shorts Awards in Hollywood, and has been officially selected to screen at the International Ocean Film Festival.

From PLOS:

Reef manta rays in New Caledonia dive up to 672 meters deep at night

Declining ray species dives much deeper than previously recorded, perhaps to access scarce zooplankton supplies

March 18, 2020

The first data collected on the diving behavior of reef manta rays in New Caledonia considerably extend the known depth range for this vulnerable species in decline, according to a study published March 18 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hugo Lassauce of the University of New Caledonia, and colleagues. These results add new information on the habitat use of the species in a region where manta behavior has not previously been studied, and increase their known depth range by more than 200 m.

Reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi) are declining worldwide, in large part due to fishing pressure. More detailed information on the distribution and habitat use of the reef mantas is necessary to inform conservation and fisheries management measures to ensure the long-term survival of the species, now listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Pop-up satellite archival tags (PSAT tags) are one of the most effective methods to investigate fine-scale movements and habitat use in manta rays, but until now, there have been no such studies conducted in New Caledonian waters. In the new study, Lassauce and colleagues report the results from nine PSAT tags deployed in New Caledonia, recording the world’s deepest known dives for reef manta rays.

All tagged individuals performed dives exceeding 300 m in depth, with a maximum depth of 672 m. Most of the deepest dives occurred during nighttime, possibly to access important food resources. The authors hypothesize that these results may indicate zooplankton abundance in the surface waters surrounding New Caledonian coral reefs is insufficient to sustain reef manta rays. According to the authors, many of the marine protected areas throughout the known range of reef manta rays are coastal and do not extend into deeper offshore waters. As deep-water fisheries increasingly exploit this zone, the study highlights the importance of incorporating offshore waters and deep-water foraging grounds in manta conservation initiatives.

The authors add: Tagged Manta rays (Mobula alfredi) from the never-studied-before population of New Caledonia showed unprecedented deep dive behaviour. More frequent and deeper dives than ever recorded before, Manta rays of New Caledonia set a new depth range to 672 meters.

Coronavirus threatens Greek-Turkish border refugees


This 6 March 2020 video says about itself:

Turkey has deployed 1,000 police officers to its border to prevent Greece from pushing migrants and refugees back into its territory.

Tens of thousands of people have been trying to cross into Europe since Ankara opened its borders last week.

But Greece does not want them.

Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim reports from Edirne on the Turkey-Greece border.

By Seda Taskin in Turkey:

Friday, March 20, 2020

Thousands of refugees fear coronavirus after being abandoned on Turkish-Greek border

SOME 10,000 refugees are at heightened risk of coronavirus at the Turkish-Greek border with nowhere to go, despite being asked to “stay at home” to prevent spread of the disease.

Muhammed Salih, who is among those to have been waiting at the Kapikule border for 20 days, warned that the situation is “really bad”.

“Everyone is afraid of catching the coronavirus here. We don’t want to be sick.

“They tell people to ‘stay at home’. But where should those who don’t have a house stay?”

Thousands of migrants have been left stranded in the border region for more than three weeks.

Many of them were bussed there by Turkey after its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened land and sea borders with Greece, promising to “flood the gates of Europe” unless he was given support for his illegal war on northern Syria.

Many children are among those trapped, living in makeshift tents in cold weather.

Mr Salih said that soldiers prevented the refugees from accessing the villages, warning that food supplies were running short.

“The soldiers are constantly fighting with us and want us to leave. But we have nowhere to go. Our only hope is to leave here as soon as possible,” he said, explaining that he had sold all of his possessions in a bid to reach Europe.

He said that there were about ten thousand people at the border, surviving on bread, water and biscuits.

“Food and blanket supplies are very insufficient. They give a meal for three people to a family of six. We need food for our babies, but we cannot find it either.”

Appealing for help, he said: “It gets very cold in the evening. They should not forget us. We have a soul.”

Republican People’s Party MP for Istanbul Ali Seker warned that the situation for refugees was as serious as the coronavirus outbreak.

Europe, the US and Turkey were all responsible for the situation, he said, calling on them to take necessary measures.

Refugees have reported brutal treatment at the hands of Greek security services and the Frontex border agency. Many claim to have been badly beaten, saying that tear gas has been fired at crowds which included children.

A Syrian man was shot dead by Greek authorities at the border two weeks ago.

Lawyer Abdullah Resul Demir, president of the International Refugee Rights Association, confirmed that a criminal complaint was to be filed against the Greek police over the alleged brutality.

Dinosaur age ancestry of ducks, chickens discovery


This 18 March 2020 Cambridge university video from England is called ‘Wonderchicken‘ – Discovering the world’s oldest modern bird fossil.

From the University of Cambridge in England:

‘Wonderchicken’ fossil from the age of dinosaurs reveals origin of modern birds

March 18, 2020

The oldest fossil of a modern bird yet found, dating from the age of dinosaurs, has been identified by an international team of palaeontologists.

The spectacular fossil, affectionately nicknamed the ‘Wonderchicken‘, includes a nearly complete skull, hidden inside nondescript pieces of rock, and dates from less than one million years before the asteroid impact which eliminated all large dinosaurs.

Writing in the journal Nature, the team, led by the University of Cambridge, believe the new fossil helps clarify why birds survived the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period, while the giant dinosaurs did not.

Detailed analysis of the skull shows that it combines many features common to modern chicken- and duck-like birds, suggesting that the ‘Wonderchicken’ is close to the last common ancestor of modern chickens and ducks. The fossil was found in a limestone quarry near the Belgian-Dutch border, making it the first modern bird from the age of dinosaurs found in the northern hemisphere.

The fossil doesn’t look like much on first glance, with only a few small leg bone fragments poking out from a piece of rock the size of a deck of cards. Even those small bones attracted the researchers’ interest, since bird fossils from this point in Earth’s history are so rare.

Using high-resolution X-ray CT scans, the researchers peered through the rock to see what was lying beneath the surface. What they saw, just one millimetre beneath the rock, was the find of a lifetime: a nearly complete 66.7-million-year-old bird skull.

“The moment I first saw what was beneath the rock was the most exciting moment of my scientific career,” said Dr Daniel Field from Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, who led the research. “This is one of the best-preserved fossil bird skulls of any age, from anywhere in the world. We almost had to pinch ourselves when we saw it, knowing that it was from such an important time in Earth’s history.

“The ability to CT scan fossils, like we can at the Cambridge Biotomography Centre, has completely transformed how we study palaeontology in the 21st century.”

“Finding the skull blew my mind,” said co-author Juan Benito, also from Cambridge, who was CT scanning the fossils with Field when the skull was discovered. “Without these cutting-edge scans, we never would have known that we were holding the oldest modern bird skull in the world.”

The skull, despite its age, is clearly recognisable as a modern bird. It combines many features common to the group that includes living chickens and ducks — a group called Galloanserae. Field describes the skull as a kind of ‘mash-up’ of a chicken and a duck.

“The origins of living bird diversity are shrouded in mystery — other than knowing that modern birds arose at some point towards the end of the age of dinosaurs, we have very little fossil evidence of them until after the asteroid hit,” said co-author Albert Chen, a PhD student based at Cambridge. “This fossil provides our earliest direct glimpse of what modern birds were like during the initial stages of their evolutionary history.”

While the fossil is colloquially known as the Wonderchicken, the researchers have given it the slightly more elegant name of Asteriornis, in reference to Asteria, the Greek Titan goddess of falling stars.

“We thought it was an appropriate name for a creature that lived just before the end-Cretaceous asteroid impact,” said co-author Dr Daniel Ksepka from the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. “In Greek mythology, Asteria transforms herself into a quail, and we believe Asteriornis was close to the common ancestor that today includes quails, as well as chickens and ducks.”

The fact that Asteriornis was found in Europe is another thing which makes it so extraordinary. “The late Cretaceous fossil record of birds from Europe is extremely sparse,” said co-author Dr John Jagt from the Natuurhistorische Museum Maastricht in the Netherlands. “The discovery of Asteriornis provides some of the first evidence that Europe was a key area in the early evolutionary history of modern birds.”

“This fossil tells us that early on, at least some modern birds were fairly small-bodied, ground-dwelling birds that lived near the seashore,” said Field. “Asteriornis now gives us a search image for future fossil discoveries — hopefully it ushers in a new era of fossil finds that help clarify how, when and where modern birds first evolved.”

The announcement of the Wonderchicken find coincides with a new exhibit at Cambridge’s Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, where visitors can learn more about Asteriornis and see the fossil up close. “Dawn of the Wonderchicken” runs from 19 March to 15 June. Admission is free.

Dr Daniel Field is funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. He is a University Lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Christ’s College Cambridge.

British prince Andrew in sexual abuse scandals


This 18 November 2019 British TV video says about itself:

Dr Hilary Jones Assesses Prince Andrew’s Sweating Claims | Good Morning Britain

In an exclusive interview on BBC’s Newsnight, Emily Maitlis interviewed Prince Andrew about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and the allegations that he had underage sex with one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts. The Prince denies such allegations and has no recollection of meeting Ms Roberts. GMB speaks to women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing five of Epstein’s accusers, and she says the royal should volunteer himself to be interviewed by the FBI and US lawyers. In the studio, Lady Colin Campbell, journalist Angela Levin and Dr Hilary Jones discuss the case. Dr Hilary also assesses the claim that the Prince made in the interview that he is unable to sweat.

By Peter Frost in Britain

Friday, March 20, 2020

Has Prince Andrew been rescuing young girls from sex trafficking all along? No.

PETER FROST uncovers yet more of the disgraced duke’s dirty dealings

JUST when we thought Prince Andrew had run out of lies, we hear that despite assurances that he would be happy to give an interview to criminal investigation authorities on his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the FBI tells us that Andrew has given them “zero co-operation” following requests for an interview about his close friendship with the convicted paedophile.

Prince Andrew has been keeping his head down generally. Just to be clear, that isn’t the same thing as his favourite face-down massage. Some 230 charities and universities of which he was patron or similar have sacked him or hinted they want nothing more to do with him. His mother — the Queen — it seems is pleased about this. She hopes it may protect the monarchy from further embarrassment and humiliation.

Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, with whom he still lives, are a bit disappointed. Many of the charities provided the prince, or both of them, with all-expenses paid visits to many exotic locations at home and abroad. Also each organisation held a formal royal lunch or dinner each year — providing two-thirds of the couple’s annual nosh.

The pair will get no more free tickets to the English National Ballet and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, both of which had him as patron.

Charities involved with young children were quick to realise his connection with a convicted paedophile as well as accusations made about his own behaviour with underage girls could be embarrassing to say the least. Out he went.

It seems even the Queen pulled the plug on a planned 60th birthday party for Andrew in February. Despite Andrew being her favourite child the big palace bash was downsized to a discrete family gathering.

The prince appears to be trying to hang on to his role with what was called “Pitch@Palace” a scheme for young entrepreneurs rather like Dragons Den with Prince Andy as chief dragon.

In the real TV show the dragons use their own money — but Andy is smarter, or greedier than that. He got high-profile business sponsors like Barclays, the accountancy firm KPMG, the Standard Chartered Bank and the telecoms company Inmarsat to put up the cash.

Happily, all of them have now pulled out over the prince’s recent behaviour.

Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying: “The duke will continue to work on what has been renamed ‘Pitch’ and will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties and outside of Buckingham Palace. We recognise there will be a period of time while this transition takes place.”

Meanwhile Parliament has launched an investigation into the way the scheme was run as a private company.

Another charity initiative set up by the prince to help young women trafficked for sex in India has been embroiled in allegations of mistreatment.

Andrew started “Key to Freedom” in May 2012, soon after he was pictured walking with Epstein in Central Park, New York, following the paedophile billionaire’s release from prison.

He claimed his new charity would financially empower vulnerable young women in India by selling their handmade fashion items in Britain through retailers including Topshop and the Buckingham Palace website.

However, the initiative soon fell into financial decline and is now largely inactive, despite being highlighted by the prince and his family as a success story throughout the scandal of his association with Epstein.

In fact, exactly when the prince’s team was setting up the Key to Freedom project, its partner charity in India, the Women’s Interlink Foundation (WIF), which manages care homes for vulnerable children and young women, was being investigated by the Indian authorities.

Ten girls aged between 12 and 15 had run away from one of the WIF’s two homes for trafficked and orphaned girls alleging that they were beaten by staff and generally mistreated.

WIF admits it did not tell the prince about the investigation, which it says cleared the care home. But it refused to publish the official police report or its own internal report. WIF’s founder Aloka Mitra dismissed the young women’s complaints, stating: “Some of them said we did not get the correct kind of chapatis.”

Clearly, Prince Andrew and his team failed to conduct due diligence on his partner charity – as indeed they did with Key to Freedom that also faces criticism that it gave false hope of financial security to the women making the hand-printed silk scarves, which were sold online at the Royal Collection shop.

The duke’s website also claims the initiative has “changed the fate of more than 100 vulnerable young women” and is still active. But WIF confirms no scarves have been available to buy through retailers for more than 18 months and only tiny orders for tote bags were placed.

These tote bags were given as gifts to guests at Andrew’s daughter Princess Eugenie’s wedding last year. The young women who made them in India got just £1.50 per bag. One guest at the wedding was Sarajit Mitra, head of the Indian charity — I hope he was served the right kind of chapati.

Mitra, WIF’s chief operating officer and son of the founder, has said that orders from Topshop declined after 2013 and stopped abruptly in June 2018 without any explanation from the prince or his team, which he described as “rude”.

Despite this, in late August a royal source close to the prince said he was particularly dismayed that his efforts to help victims of sex trafficking were being overlooked while his connections with Epstein once again hit headlines.

Mitra also said the women earned on average up to £150 per year — equivalent to 41p a day. WIF took 40 per cent of the price of any scarves they made.

The money from sales is put into accounts for the workers, but it cannot be accessed without permission from Mitra. Reportedly the women cannot leave the barbed wire compound without guards who accompany them to shops to buy essential items that are not covered by the money the state pays to WIF.

Mitra was given copies of letters written by girls who had lived in the home where they expressed their unhappiness. One letter alleges girls in the home are badly treated and “when the children want to complain, then they are told off and are asked to be quiet about it.”

The British High Commission in India was responsible for introducing the duke to WIF. One key member of the Prince’s team Amanda Thirsk, his private secretary, was at the centre of the Key to Freedom project.

Thirsk was the one who advised the prince to take part in his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview. She no longer works for him.

Andy’s ex-wife Ferguson came up with the Key to Freedom name and Andrew’s charitable trust donated £10,000 seed capital. The initiative launched formally in 2013, with an order from Sir Philip Green’s Topshop.

Just like his refusal to talk about his relationship with Epstein, Andy is also saying nothing about these Indian charities and nor is Topshop, which was involved with the Key to Freedom project at the same time that top boss Green was himself facing allegations of sexual and racial harassment of staff.

Andy and Fergie’s latest scam is to get you and I — the taxpayer — to pay for his other daughter Beatrice’s upcoming wedding just as we did for his daughter Eugenie’s three-and-a-half million pound bash.

Most amazing is that Andrew, disgraced cheat and scam artist, remains the eighth in line to the throne.

New sawshark species discoveries


This 2018 video is called The Life of a Sawfish.

Sawfish, which are rays, should not be confused with sawsharks.

This 2015 video is called Japanese Sawshark.

From Newcastle University in England:

New species of sawsharks found in West Indian Ocean

March 18, 2020

Summary: Two new species of sawsharks discovered in the West Indian Ocean reinforces how much we still don’t know about life in the ocean and the impact climate change is having on it.

Not one, but TWO new species of the rarely seen six-gilled sawsharks have been found in the West Indian Ocean by an international team of marine scientists.

The newly discovered Pliotrema kajae and Pliotrema annae — affectionately known as Kaja’s and Anna’s six-gill sawsharks — were discovered during research investigating small-scale fisheries operating off the coasts of Madagascar and Zanzibar.

Publishing their findings today in the journal PLOS ONE, the study team say the discovery of two new sharks highlights how little we still know about life in the ocean and the impact we are having on it.

Lead author Dr Simon Weigmann, based at the Elasmobranch Research Laboratory in Hamburg, explained:

“The six-gill sawsharks are really quite extraordinary as most sawsharks have five gill slits per side.

“So it was really exciting to find a new six-gill sawshark species and to find two new species — well that was simply astonishing!

“Knowledge of sawsharks in the western Indian Ocean is generelly still scarce. But considering their known depth distributions, both new species are likely affected by fishing operations.

“This assumption, combined with the limited range and apparent rarity of both new species, raises concerns that they are vulnerable to overfishing and might be in continuing decline.

“This could be particularly alarming for Anna’s six-gill sawshark due to its very small known range, rarity and occurrence in shallow waters as the species is only known from depths of 20 to 35 m.”

Two rostra of P.kajae were collected by Dr Ruth Leeney based at the Natural History Museum in London and many further specimens of this new species were found in different museum collections. The two specimens of P.annae were collected by PhD student Ellen Barrowclift, Dr Andrew Temple and Dr Per Berggren from Newcastle University, UK, and Dr Narriman Jiddawi from the Institute of Fisheries Research, Zanzibar.

Dr Temple, a co-author on the paper, said:

“Last year our team highlighted the massive underreporting of sharks and rays caught in the South West Indian Ocean and the urgent need to expand efforts globally to assess the impact of these fisheries on vulnerable species.

“The discovery re-enforces both how important the western Indian Ocean is in terms of shark and ray biodiversity, but also how much we still don’t know.”

Dr Berggren, a co-author on the paper and leader of Newcastle’s Marine MEGAfauna lab, adds:

“This project is also testament to the value of scientists working with local communities. Without the fishers´ help we would not have discovered these animals. Their knowledge of their environment is unparalleled and it is our mission to help them preserve the marine animals and ecosystems they rely on to survive.”

As its name suggests, the sawshark is a type of shark best known for its saw-like snout. Found mainly in the temperate waters of all three major oceans (with the centre of distribution in the western Pacific Ocean), the number of sawsharks has declined in the past couple of decades due to commercial fishing.

Sawsharks can reach up to about 1.5 metres in length and have a long snout edged with sharp teeth which alternate in size (smaller teeth are inserted between larger teeth).

They also has a distinctive pair of barbels in the middle of the snout — whisker-like sensory organs around the shark’s mouth which help the shark detect its prey.

Even though the sawshark and sawfish share similarities in appearance, they differ in several aspects. Sawfish are larger, they don’t have barbels, and their gills are located on the bottom side of the body (like typical for rays).

Sawsharks are carnivores, living on a diet of fish, crustaceans and squid, and use their serrated snout to kill their prey. Fast movement of the snout from side to side cuts the prey into fine pieces that can be swallowed easily.

Both new species differ from the only previously known six-gill species, Pliotrema warreni, in the position of their barbels: in P. kajae and P. annae, these are situated approximately halfway from the tip of the saw — the rostral tip — to the mouth, compared to P. warreni, where they are about two-thirds of the way down, much closer to the mouth.

A special feature of P. annae is the generally shorter rostrum as compared to P. kajae and P. warreni.

Coronavirus, profiteering United States senators, other news


This 20 March 2020 CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:

Four U.S. senators reportedly sold stocks before the coronavirus sent markets plunging. Republican Senator Richard Burr sold up to roughly $1.7 million in mid-February, days after penning an op-ed assuring Americans that the U.S. was prepared to handle the disease. No charges have been filed … Nancy Cordes reveals who the other Senators are and breaks down the details surrounding the accusations.

The three other senators about whom this is known so far are Republican party Kelly Loeffler, one of the richest United States politicians, climate denialist Republican James Inhofe, and Democratic party Dianne Feinstein.

CORONA CRONIES: AT LEAST 2 SENATORS CASHED IN ON CRISIS At least two Republican senators, Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), sold hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in stock shortly after Congress began receiving regular briefings about the outbreak of coronavirus spreading around the globe. [HuffPost]

Apparently, the Huffington Post did not know about Inhofe and Feinstein yet.

GOP CORONAVIRUS AID COULD UNRAVEL PROTECTIONS FOR KIDS WITH DISABILITIES Advocates of children with special needs are sounding the alarm on Senate Republicans’ proposed “Phase 3” coronavirus stimulus package, saying that it may eventually give the government power to absolve schools of at least some of their legal obligation to educate students with disabilities. The package says Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos can soon tell Congress whether she thinks schools should be temporarily exempt from some of these requirements. [HuffPost]

PHOTOGRAPHER CAPTURES TRUMP’S ‘CHINESE VIRUS’ SPEECH REVISION A Washington Post photographer captured an image of President Donald Trump’s altered news conference script showing what appeared to be his own handwritten change from “corona” to “Chinese” to form “Chinese virus”. Photographer Jabin Botsford posted the close-up on Twitter amid raging criticism of Trump over his repeated insistence on using his racist name for the coronavirus. [HuffPost]

Asian people are being targeted by racist attacks. Here’s how you can be an ally.

TRUMP DUCKS RESPONSIBILITY FOR VIRUS SUPPLIES Pressed on the dire shortage of medical supplies and testing to deal with the coronavirus, Trump deflected responsibility. Speaking at what’s become a daily White House press briefing on the pandemic, Trump insisted that states should take the lead in supplying badly needed medical equipment and protective items, despite the federal government’s vastly greater resources and capabilities. Governors, meanwhile, complained the federal government was competing with states and gobbling up supplies.[HuffPost]

Before the virus outbreak, a cascade of warnings showing the U.S. was not ready went unheeded by Trump’s government.

TRUMP BOASTS OF UNPROVEN CORONAVIRUS TREATMENTS Trump ignored urgent concerns about the federal government’s disheveled handling of the coronavirus outbreak, instead using a news conference to make vague or misleading claims about potential treatments while touting his administration’s supposed accomplishments in handling the crisis. [HuffPost]

CALIFORNIANS ORDERED TO STAY AT HOME California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ordered Californians to stay at home, except for essential work and errands, due to the coronavirus pandemic. California, home to approximately 40 million people, is the first state under such an order. “We are confident that the people in the state of California will abide by it,” Newsom said. [HuffPost]

HOMELESS FAMILIES IN LOS ANGELES TAKE OVER VACANT HOMES Homeless families are occupying vacant homes in the Los Angeles area as two major crises collide in California: the years-long affordable housing shortage and the immediate, mounting coronavirus pandemic. Starting on Saturday — as cases of COVID-19 ballooned statewide — homeless mother Martha Escudero, 42, and her 10- and 8-year-old daughters moved into a vacant house owned by the California Department of Transportation in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles.

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS WORKERS NEED CHILD CARE Nearly one-third of health care provider households need to care for children between the ages of 3 to 12, according to a new analysis. And 15% of these households do not have another partner or older child who can help with child care. [HuffPost]

Britain: PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson was urged today to reallocate military spending towards the NHS, social care and community support for people affected by the coronavirus. The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) accused the government of endangering the public by “wasting money on preparations for war while doing little to prepare for real threats” such as climate change or pandemics: here.

Millions of Brazilians demand resignation of Bolsonaro over coronavirus: here.

PROTESTERS ACCUSE NETANYAHU OF EXPLOITING PANDEMIC Hundreds of people defied restrictions on large gatherings to protest outside Israel’s parliament, while scores of others were blocked by police from reaching the area as they accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of exploiting the coronavirus crisis to solidify his power and undermine Israel’s democratic foundations. [AP]

Dinosaur age beetle pollination of flowers


This 16 August 2018 video says about itself:

Beetle Found In Ancient Amber Was Early Pollinator

Gizmodo reports an amazing Cretaceous Period beetle has been found in amber with bits of pollen around it.

The pollen suggests they first emerged during the Middle Triassic.

This kind of evidence is extremely rare to find.

Early pollinating insects were paired with non-flowering plants.

This means that beetle pollination of cycads evolved before the breakup of the Gondwana supercontinent during the Early Jurassic 167 million years ago.

From the University of Bonn in Germany:

Beetles changed their diet during the Cretaceous period

International team decodes 99 million-year-old amber fossils

March 18, 2020

Like a snapshot, amber preserves bygone worlds. An international team of paleontologists from the University of Bonn has now described four new beetle species in fossilized tree resin from Myanmar, which belong to the Kateretidae family. They still exist today, with only a few species. As well as the about 99 million years old insects, the amber also includes pollen. It seems that the beetles helped the flowering plants to victory, because they contributed to their propagation. In turn, the beetles benefited from the new food source. The results have now been published in the journal “iScience”.

The researchers have described the new beetle species using specimens in four amber pieces from Myanmar (previously known as Burma). The pieces are estimated to be 99 million years old and date from the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs were a rich and diverse group. Two of the pieces are in the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona (Spain), while the other two specimens are kept in the Institute of Geology and Palaeontology in Nanjing (China).

“Although Myanmar surprises us time and again with finds of great scientific importance, amber pieces containing numerous organisms are not often found there,” says project leader Dr. David Peris, who comes from Spain and is a postdoc at the Institute for Geosciences at the University of Bonn with an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s fellowship. He carried out the project with scientists from the USA, Spain, Germany, China and the Czech Republic.

Three of the examined amber pieces contained numerous beetles, while the fourth piece contained only one specimen of this family. Many pollen grains of different groups of seed plants, some of them long extinct, have been preserved with the beetles in the tree resin. Peris: “This close association suggests that the grains were distributed in the viscous lump of resin by the movement of the beetles.”

The beetle family still exists today

The Kateretidae are a small family of beetles with less than 100 described modern species that today live in South America and other temperate and subtropical regions. The species of this family feed on pollen and flower parts. Due to their dietary habits, they are nowadays regarded as pollinators of flowering plants (angiosperms). But in the middle Cretaceous period their rapid development had just begun. Previously, the Earth was colonized by gymnosperms, literally meaning “naked seeds”, which also includes our conifers. “The most important aspect of this study is that the pollen grains in three of the amber pieces do not belong to flowering plants,” says Peris. The pollen grains on the beetle of the fourth piece of amber, however, come from a water lily, a group of very primitive angiosperms that emerged at an early stage.

Living together for mutual benefit

There are other pollinating insects in amber, but almost all of them concern gymnosperms. When flowering plants (angiosperms) began their early development, they represented a new resource that was used by the Kateretidae. The beetles adapted quickly and formed a mutually beneficial symbiosis: The flowering plants served the beetles as a food source and these animals contributed to the propagation of the new angiosperms by pollination.

In earlier studies, it was speculated that the beetles might belong to the insect groups that pollinated the earliest flowers. Some of these animals had developed the ability to pollinate gymnosperms well before the appearance of angiosperms. “Our study supports this hypothesis of significant host plant relocation, as there are no Kateretidae associated with gymnosperms today,” says Peris. Adapting to the new resource has proven to be an evolutionary advantage.

United States Republican Senator Burr, coronavirus profiteer


This 20 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

SECRET Recording Exposes Coronavirus Lie by Senator

This right-wing senator was caught in a HUGE coronavirus lie! Ana Kasparian and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned a small group of well-connected constituents three weeks ago to prepare for dire economic and societal effects of the coronavirus, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR.

The remarks from U.S. Sen. Richard Burr were starker than any he had delivered in more public forums.

On Feb. 27, when the United States had 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, President Trump was tamping down fears and suggesting that the virus could be seasonal.

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle. It will disappear,” the president said then …

Read more here.

Trump’s new strategy on coronavirus is already being undermined by his own actions: here.

CNN: Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and his wife sold as much as $1.7 million in stock last month ahead of the sharp market decline that’s resulted from the novel coronavirus global pandemic, according to Senate documents: here.

This 20 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

What A Coincidence: GOP Senator Dumped Up To $1.5m In Stock While Downplaying Pandemic

Senate Intelligence Committee chair and Senator Richard Burr (Republican-North Carolina) sold off a load of stock recently. …

Burr’s move came just a few weeks before telling wealthy constituents in private that the global spread of the coronavirus would be “akin to the 1918 pandemic.’

It was also while he was in a position to receive briefings from intelligence agencies on the matter.

On Feb. 7, 2020, Burr co-authored an op-ed for Fox News saying the U.S. was “better prepared than ever before” for emerging public health threats like the coronavirus.

“We are not only ready to face the coronavirus today but new public health threats in the future.” Sen. Richard Burr Op-Ed, Fox News

Burr’s stocks included $150,000 in shares of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and $100,000 in shares of hospitality chain Extended Stay America.

Both companies have suffered even more catastrophic losses.

This 20 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Slams Richard Burr For Using Coronavirus To Make Millions: ‘He Needs To Resign!’

So, this senator of Donalds Trump’s Republican party is a coronavirus profiteer.

Unfortunately, there are some more coronavirus profiteers.

Like bosses of car factories profiteering from workers working in factory halls where they may get contaminated with coronavirus. Like bosses in the so-called defence war industry profiteering from workers working in factory halls where they may get contaminated with coronavirus. Getting contaminated while making weapons for wars, eg, the genocidal war of the Saudi regime on the people of Yemen.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Doctors are suing French Prime Minister and Health Minister

Three doctors have filed a complaint against French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and former Health Minister Agnès Buzyn. They believe that they were aware of the severity of the corona pandemic, but did not warn about it and did not take measures in time.

Philippe and Buzyn are charged with “voluntarily refraining from adopting or imposing measures, which could help combat a disaster likely to pose a safety hazard”. This may get a prison sentence of up to 2 years in France and a fine of 30,000 euros.

The complaint will be handled by the Court of Justice of the Republic. It is not known when the verdict will be.