Triassic tanystropheid reptile discovery in Brazil


This 2016 video says about itself:

Paleo Profile is back! Today we look a super-weird Triassic long-necked reptile, Tanystropheus! We will examine what this animal used its long neck for, what it ate, and where and how it lived.

Hope you enjoy!

Life restoration of Elessaurus gondwanoccidens, from the Sanga do Cabral Formation (Lower Triassic), Brazil. Credit: Márcio L. Castro

From PLOS:

New fossil from Brazil hints at the origins of the mysterious tanystropheid reptiles

New species named after Tolkien‘s Aragorn hints at early southern evolution for these reptiles

April 8, 2020

A new species of Triassic reptile from Brazil is a close cousin of a mysterious group called tanystropheids, according to a study published April 8, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tiane De-Oliviera of the Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil and colleagues.

After the Permian mass extinction, 250 million years ago, reptiles took over global ecosystems. Among the early groups to appear after this extinction event were the tanystropheids, a group of long-necked animals whose lifestyles are still mysterious, but who were nonetheless successful in the Triassic Period. However, the early evolution of this group is poorly understood, as their remains are very rare from the Early Triassic.

In this study, De-Oliviera and colleagues describe a new specimen of reptile from Early Triassic rocks of the Sanga do Cabral Formation in southern Brazil. Skeletal comparison indicates this specimen, known from remains of the hind leg, pelvis, and tail, is the closest known relative of tanystropheids. The researchers identified these remains as belonging to a new species, which they named Elessaurus gondwanoccidens. The name derives in part from the Elvish name (Elessar) of a character from Lord of the Rings also known as Aragorn or Strider, chosen as a reference to the fossil animal’s long legs.

Most tanystropheid fossils are found in Middle to Late Triassic rocks of Europe, Asia, and North America, and often in marine sediments. The presence of Elessaurus in continental deposits of Early Triassic South America suggests that the origins of this group may lie in the southern continents, and that their ancestors may have lived on land before later species adapted to aquatic life. A clearer view of the group’s origins will rely on more rare fossils from this early time in their evolution.

How deforestation affects Amazon rainforest birds


This video says about itself:

Wingbeats to the Amazon – The Secrets of Nature

Flourishing in the wilds of South America is a greater variety of birds than anywhere else on Earth. Like its people, the continent¹s birds are unique and flamboyant. This superbly shot programme, WINGBEATS TO THE AMAZON, captures the more colourful, majestic and bizarre of South America’s birds….the world’s biggest and most colourful parrots, tiny hummingbirds not much larger than a bumblebee and stylish male manakins that perform odd, vibrating dances to entice a female.

This documentary takes viewers on a journey across the bird capital of the planet. Supporting a quarter of all the bird species on Earth, South America is “the world’s biggest aviary”. The programme explains – with graphic vision – that South America’s astonishing diversity of birdlife boils down to geography. From tropical rainforests to snow-capped peaks not far from the shores of Antarctica, South America is a land of extremes.

The journey begins amongst the icy southern peaks of Patagonia. A windswept landscape, Patagonia is renowned for freezing temperatures and breathtaking scenery. Curious, camel-like animals, wander through the valleys and mighty Andean condors, the world’s largest bird of prey, dominate the skies above.

The foothills below support flocks of Upland geese. In the grasslands slightly further north, big birds dominate. Ostrich-like rheas live here, the males engaging in flamboyant displays in a bid to lure as many females as possible into their harem.

Dotted throughout the Pampas and other South American habitats, there are king-sized swamps thronged with ibises, storks and wildfowl. Spread mainly through northern Argentina, Paraguay, and southern Brazil, woodlands are the next major stamping ground for South American birds.

And with sunrise comes the dawn chorus, an inspirational opera featuring close-up views of singing jays, thrushes, sparrows and a host of others. One bird, the oropendola, combines its song with a deep bowing action.

The final destination in this program is the renowned Amazon forest. Here, the greatest variety of animals and plants have come to live. Indeed four out of five of all South American birds survive in rainforests. Beasts and butterflies crowd the river banks, amongst them skimmers, cattle egrets, hoatzins and jacamars. Star is the male manakin – the most flamboyant resident of all, as he slides backwards, his feet never appearing to leave the perch. As well, there’s toucans – with their enormous beaks among the most exotic of South American birds.

The bird-filled landscapes of South America echo to the sounds of literally millions of winged individuals, each taking part in a host of daily rituals. Many such customs may not be quite so spectacular as hundreds of giant macaws picking clay from a riverbank at dawn each day, but they’re all equally important. Over millions of years, the world’s biggest aviary has given rise to some of the most flamboyant members of the bird family – every one of which has carved out their own unique style and associated survival techniques, ideally suited to this vast continent of extremes.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office:

How does habitat fragmentation affect Amazonian birds?

April 8, 2020

The Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP), located near Manaus, Brazil, began in 1979 and is the world’s longest-running experimental study of tropical forest fragments. A new paper in The Condor: Ornithological Applications summarizes four decades of data from the project about how Amazonian bird communities respond to habitat fragmentation, a question as relevant today as ever in light of the recent increase in deforestation in the Amazon.

Louisiana State University’s Phil Stouffer, who authored the new paper, led bird research at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project from 1991 to 2019. As he describes, studying the changes in bird communities over the forty years following habitat fragmentation led to some surprises. The original plan was to monitor “forest islands” permanently isolated by surrounding cattle pastures, but changes in the Brazilian economy led to the abandonment of the cattle pastures within a few years after their establishment. As trees began to regrow in the areas surrounding the fragments, forest bird species that had initially disappeared began to recolonize the fragments, highlighting the unexpected value of second-growth habitat for rainforest birds. Additional work yielded both good and bad news for fragment-dwelling birds — for example, non-forest bird species typically didn’t invade forest fragments, but even very narrow strips of deforested land could limit the movement of forest-dependent species.

“The long history of the project allowed us to follow changes in the avifauna rather than just trying to interpret what we saw in any particular slice of time,” says Stouffer. “This project was important for stepping away from the idea that habitat fragments are analogous to actual islands — the modern interpretation is a lot more nuanced, and the recovery of birds in second-growth forest provides encouraging evidence that many rainforest birds can use deforested areas that are allowed to regrow. Our challenge now is to determine under what conditions remnant patches and second growth can support rich Amazonian bird communities.” Another issue that the BDFFP hopes to address in the near future is one that didn’t even exist when the project began: what has climate change done to Amazonian birds since 1979, and what does the future hold?

Working in Manaus once meant being isolated from the global scientific community, but no more — BDFFP scientists even hosted an international ornithological conference there in 2015. “On the 40th anniversary of the BDFFP, it seems appropriate to summarize what we’ve learned. It’s also important to reflect on how technical advances that we now take for granted in modern fieldwork were incorporated into the project. For example, digital photography helped resolve criteria for determining the ages of Amazonian birds and GPS technology allows us to determine bird locations and movement with high precision, goals unimaginable when I started at the BDFFP,” says Stouffer.

Botanical garden during coronavirus spring


This 8 April 2020 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

Now that we cannot enjoy the Hortus botanicus Leiden [because of coronavirus], we’d like to bring the Hortus to you. So enjoy the spring in the botanic garden with #hortusathome. Enjoy.

On 9 April, an exhibition starts in the Leiden botanical garden. Because of the coronavirus, visitors cannot go to it. So, now, the exhibition is online.

They say about the exhibition:

The Hortus botanicus Leiden will be highlighting the plants that made the Atlantic crossing in the exhibition From Columbus to the Mayflower: seeds over the sea, from 9 April to 26 November 2020.

In 2020 it will be 400 years since the voyage of the Mayflower, which sailed to America with a group of English separatists known as the ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ on board. Before the Pilgrim Fathers made the crossing and founded the Plymouth Colony in 1620, they lived and worked in Leiden, free of persecution for their faith by the English crown.

Four hundred years after this voyage, America, England, the Native Nations and the Netherlands will be cooperating in organizing commemorative activities. Not only the story of the Pilgrim Fathers will be spotlighted, but also the cultures and places with which they came into contact. The city of Leiden will join in with the international commemoration via the Leiden 400 theme, including a programme of events covering culture, science, education, heritage, heritage-tourism and society.

The Hortus botanicus Leiden will be highlighting the plants that made the Atlantic crossing in the exhibition From Columbus to the Mayflower: seeds over the sea, from 9 April to 26 November 2020. The herbarium compiled by the Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens (1517-1585) will be used as a guide; the Pilgrim Fathers brought a copy of this book with them on their crossing and it already included a number of plants from the ‘New World’ such as maize, tomato, tobacco, pumpkin and the sunflower.