Florida, USA green turtles’ health research

This July 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Baby Sea Turtles Hatching at the Beach in Jupiter, Florida

It was around 8pm when they hatched and they all made it to the ocean!

From Florida Atlantic University in the USA:

World’s most complete health analysis of nesting sea turtles conducted in Florida

Study provides critical data for sea turtle conservation and population recovery

June 16, 2020

Summary: The most comprehensive health assessment for a green turtle rookery in the world to date is providing critical insights into various aspects of physiology, biology, and herpesvirus epidemiology of this nesting population. Findings are hopeful for this population of green sea turtles in southeastern Florida, offer important data on the profile of health for future comparative investigations, and suggest that viruses are endemically stable in this nesting population.

While it’s only about a 10-kilometer stretch, Juno Beach is home to one of the largest aggregations of nesting green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Florida and is one of the highest-density nesting beaches in the state. Although this high-profile turtle population has routinely been monitored for nest counts since 1989, an in-depth health assessment of these turtles has never been conducted.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Loggerhead Marinelife Center have conducted the most comprehensive health assessment for a green turtle rookery in the world to date. Findings from the study provide critical insights into various aspects of physiology, biology, and herpesvirus epidemiology of this nesting population and are especially timely as the world observes “Sea Turtle Day.”

Results, recently published in the journal Endangered Species Research, are hopeful for this population of green sea turtles in southeastern Florida and offer important data on the profile of health for future comparative investigations.

“Effective conservation measures cannot take place unless the animals we are trying to protect are healthy,” said Annie Page-Karjian, D.V.M., Ph.D., lead author, assistant research professor and clinical veterinarian at FAU’s Harbor Branch. “Chronological and longitudinal studies of biology, physiology, and overall health in both free-ranging and captive populations are critical for supporting large-scale efforts to promote sea turtle population recovery.”

A total of 4,343 green turtle nests were documented on Juno Beach in 2017, which was the busiest nesting year on record for this beach. For the study, researchers collected blood samples from 60 female green turtles that nested on Juno Beach in 2017. They evaluated a broad suite of biological and health data, including measures of reproductive success, morphometrics, hematology, plasma chemistry, plasma protein fractions, haptoglobin, corticosterone, and measures of oxidative stress, antioxidative capacity, and innate immunity. They also tested for two herpesviruses of green turtles, ChHV5 and ChHV6, which are implicated in fibro-papillomatosis (FP) and respiratory and skin disease, respectively. FP is a debilitating disease of sea turtles characterized by neoplastic growths on the skin, shell, and/or internal organs.

Results showed that all 60 turtles included in the study were in good body condition with no external FP tumors. Five of the 60 turtles (8 percent) tested positive for ChHV5 and all turtles were negative for ChHV6. Of the 41 turtles tested for antibodies to ChHV5 and ChHV6, 29 percent and 15 percent tested positive, respectively, and 10 percent tested positive for antibodies to both viruses. Notably, there were no statistically significant differences between health variables for nesting turtles that tested positive for ChHV5 DNA versus those that tested negative; and also no differences between turtles that tested positive for ChHV5 or ChHV6 antibodies and those that did not. Findings from the study suggest that these viruses are endemically stable in Florida’s adult green sea turtles.

Researchers differentiated between previous viral infection versus recent infection/reactivation, and evaluated the results alongside health analytes to understand whether either infection state was associated with detectable physiological changes.

“The fitness of the turtles examined for this study is likely representative of the health of the ecosystems in which they forage and the oceanic corridors through which they migrate,” said Page-Karjian. “As human activities continue to affect sea turtle population recovery, these comprehensive baseline data from our study will provide a valuable resource for evaluating the impacts of various stressors such as habitat degradation on the population over time and will help inform wildlife and environmental policy management.”

Green turtles are the second most common sea turtle species to nest on the coast of Florida, after loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). Sea turtles are considered to be sentinel species of environmental health, whereby sea turtle health is thought to reflect the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. Thus, examining sea turtle health is an important component of any coastal ecosystem health survey that includes sea turtle developmental, foraging, and/or nesting habitat(s).

Conservation threats to sea turtles in Florida are numerous, and include habitat encroachment and pollution, illegal harvesting, artificial beach lighting and coastal armoring, and human interactions such as entanglement, hook ingestion, and boat strike trauma. Diseases, including FP, also directly threaten sea turtle conservation.

Saudi torture prison discovered in Yemen

This 28 November 2019 video says about itself:

Freed Houthi rebels speak of torture in Saudi prisons

Yemen prisoners released by the Saudi-led coalition speak of torture in Saudi jails.

By Steve Sweeney, 16 June 2020:

Secret Saudi torture prison revealed in Yemen

SAUDI ARABIA has allegedly established a secret prison in Yemen where, it is claimed, thousands of detainees are held and many have been tortured to death by the military.

A prominent Saudi activist and whistleblower, known by the online pseudonym Mujtahidd, posted a leaked report on Twitter today, claiming the jail had been established in Yemen’s largest province, Hadhramout.

“I received a report from former detainees in a prison run by Saudi forces in Yemen,” he said. “[The prison] is kept secret [as well as] what is going on in it.”

He warned that the secret facility was operating outside of both Saudi and Yemeni law, and was not subject to international law.

Conditions inside the prison, where thousands of Yemenis have allegedly been tortured, were described as not fit for animals.

He called on human rights organisations and the international community to press the Saudi regime to allow international monitoring of the prison.

In 2017 Saudi Arabia’s coalition partners in the war on Yemen, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was accused of operating secret prisons in the south of the country amid reports of torture, sexual abuse and rape.

The United States admitted involvement in the so-called black sites, with the Department of Defence admitting that they “participate in interrogations of detainees at locations in Yemen, provide questions for others to ask, and receive transcripts of interrogations from Emirati allies.”

Those rounded up and held in the UAE’s secret prison network include journalists, opposition activists and community leaders.

On Monday the Yemen Press Agency reported the death of a young man who had allegedly been tortured at a jail … in the port city of Aden.

Hussein Marwan Aidroo was reportedly kidnapped 12 days before his death, after taking part in protests demanding water and electricity services.

Guinea pigs, new research

This 2013 video says about itself:

Wild Guinea Pigs (Cavia aperea)

Wild Guinea Pigs running wild around the car park on the Brazilian side of Iguassu falls.

From the University of Otago in New Zealand:

Origins of the beloved guinea pig

June 16, 2020

New University of Otago research sheds light on guinea pig domestication and how and why the small, furry animals became distributed around the world.

Just published in the international science journal, Scientific Reports, the researchers use ancient DNA from archaeological guinea pig remains which reveals the transition from the animals being used as a wild food source 10,000 years ago to their domestication and later role as beloved pets and medical animal models.

It builds on previous research over many years by Professor of Biological Anthropology, Lisa Matisoo-Smith, tracing the DNA from plants and animals that Pacific settlers carried in their canoes and using that as a proxy for identifying human population origins and tracking their movement around the Pacific.

As part of her Otago Master’s thesis research in Professor Matisoo-Smith’s lab, Edana Lord, now at Stockholm University, Sweden and Dr Catherine Collins from Otago’s Department of Anatomy and other international researchers, set about finding out where the guinea pigs that were introduced to the islands of the Caribbean came from.

Professor Matisoo-Smith explains it is generally accepted that modern guinea pigs were domesticated in the Andes region of what is now Peru. As an important food item that was also included in religious ceremonies, they were transported and traded around South America.

Sometime around AD500, guinea pigs were taken out to the islands of the Caribbean, through at least one of several established trade networks. The researchers expected that the guinea pigs found in the Caribbean would came from Colombia, one of the closer locations in South America to the Caribbean.

Using ancient DNA of guinea pigs remains excavated from several sites in the Caribbean, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Europe and North America, they found the guinea pigs on the islands did not originate in Colombia, but most likely originated in Peru.

What was a bigger surprise to the team was that the guinea pig remains found in the Colombian Highlands appeared to be from a totally different species. This suggests that guinea pig domestication likely took place independently in both Peru and Colombia.

The genetic information, along with archaeological contexts, also shows how the guinea pigs had different roles through time.

“They were and still are important food item in many parts of South America and cultures that derived from South America — people took them live to introduce to new islands where they were not native or they traded them for other goods,” Professor Matisoo-Smith explains.

“The guinea pig was brought to Europe in the late 1500s or early 1600s by the Spanish and to North America in the early 1800s as part of the exotic pet trade. In the 18th century, guinea pigs began to be used by medical researchers as laboratory animals because they have many biological similarities to humans, thus the origin of the phrase ‘being a guinea pig‘ in research.

“All guinea pigs today — pets, those that are sold for meat in South America and Puerto Rico, and those used in medical research — are derived from the Peruvian domesticated guinea pigs.”

Why the guinea pig was viewed as a pet in some cultures and a food source in others can likely be attributed to long-established cultural notions of what is acceptable as food.

Professor Matisoo-Smith says the research demonstrates that the history of guinea pigs is more complex than previously known and has implications for other studies regarding mammal domestication, translocation and distribution.

“Identifying the origins of the guinea pig remains from the Caribbean helps us to understand how the human trade networks in the region moved in the past 1000 years or so.

“Through this analysis of ancient guinea pig DNA, we better understand the history of human social interactions over thousands of years and across three continents. It also provides a critical historical perspective of the genetic diversity in guinea pigs and the relationship humans have had with this important domestic animal.”

Police brutality in the USA, Australia

This 16 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Family, Friends, and Community Leaders Remember George Floyd | NowThis

These were the most moving moments from the George Floyd memorial services.

In US news and current events today, friends, family, and community leaders honored George Floyd and called for an end to systemic racism during his memorial on June 9, 2020.

USA: Rayshard Brooks’ killing has fueled the mass protests against police violence and racism that have taken place in all 50 states and dozens of cities internationally: here.

Family demands answers after Missouri cop kills 25-year-old convenience store worker. By Jacob Crosse, 16 June 2020. Hannah Fizer was shot to death by a Pettis County deputy during a traffic stop Saturday night in Sedalia, Missouri.

Hannah Fizer

By John Wawrow and Josh Dubow, 16 June 2020:

United States White hockey players stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement

BRIAN BOYLE is a 35-year-old grizzled veteran of 13 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons who grew up outside Boston.

After seeing video of George Floyd’s death, Boyle wanted to say something.

The Florida Panthers forward, though, wasn’t sure how and didn’t want it to come off the wrong way.

Canadian oil refinery boss lauds George Floyd protests while employing state violence against locked-out workers. By Carl Bronski, 16 June 2020. Federated Cooperatives Ltd. CEO Scott Banda has mobilized and solidarized with racist, far-right forces in seeking to break the resistance of 750 locked-out Regina oil refinery workers.

Australia: The official hostility to the emerging movement was exemplified by a massive operation on Friday night to prevent an “unauthorised” Sydney demonstration against police violence and indigenous deaths in custody. Between 500 and 1,000 officers, many of them from the riot squad, were involved, vastly outnumbering those who sought to protest. Sydney Town Hall was barricaded and surrounded by riot cops, in a show of force aimed at intimidating growing social and political opposition: here.

New diamond frog species discovery in Madagascar

Rhombophryne ellae. Image credit: Mark Scherz

From ScienceDaily:

Shining like a diamond: A new species of diamond frog from northern Madagascar

June 16, 2020

Despite the active ongoing taxonomic progress on Madagascar’s frogs, the amphibian inventory of this hyper-diverse island is still very far from being complete. The known diversity of the diamond frog genus Rhombophryne in Madagascar has increased significantly (more than doubled!) over the last 10 years, but still there are several undescribed candidate species awaiting description. New species are constantly being discovered in Madagascar, often even within already well-studied areas. One such place is the Montagne d’Ambre National Park in northern Madagascar.

Montagne d’Ambre National Park is widely known for its endemic flora and fauna, waterfalls and crater lakes, and considered to be a relatively well-studied area. Yet, only two studies have been published so far on the reptiles and amphibians of the Park.

Serving the pursuit of knowledge of the herpetofauna in the region, Germany-based herpetologist Dr. Mark D. Scherz (Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, Technical University of Braunschweig, University of Konstanz) published a description of a new diamond frog species: Rhombophryne ellae, in the open-access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

“As soon as I saw this frog, I knew it was a new species,” shares Dr. Scherz, “The orange flash-markings on the legs and the large black spots on the hip made it immediately obvious to me. During my Master’s and PhD research, I studied this genus and described several species, and there are no described species with such orange legs, and only few species have these black markings on the hip. It’s rare that we find a frog and are immediately able to recognise that it is a new species without having to wait for the DNA sequence results to come back, so this was elating.”

The new species is most closely related to a poorly-known and still undescribed species from Tsaratanana in northern Madagascar, but is otherwise quite different from all other diamond frogs. With the orange colouration on its legs, Rhombophryne ellae joins the growing list of frogs that have red to orange flash-markings. The function of this striking colouration remains unknown, despite having evolved repeatedly in frogs, including numerous times in Madagascar’s narrow-mouthed frogs alone.

“The discovery of such a distinctive species within a comparatively well-studied park points towards the gaps in our knowledge of the amphibians of the tropics. It also highlights the role that bad weather, especially cyclones, can play in bringing otherwise hidden frogs out of hiding — Rhombophryne ellae was caught just as Cyclone Ava was moving in on Madagascar, and several other species my colleagues and I have recently described were also caught under similar cyclonic conditions,” says Dr. Scherz.

The species is known so far only from a single specimen, making it difficult to estimate its conservation status. Yet, based on the status of other, related frogs from the same area, it will probably be Red-listed as Near Threatened due to its presumably small range and micro-endemicity.

Premature reopening causes more COVID-19 deaths

This 16 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

We Need A Safe Workplace! Tesla Worker Carlos Gabriel Speaks Out For Safety At Elon Musk‘s Tesla Plant

Tesla assembly line worker. Carlos Gabriel spoke out a press conference on 6/15/20 about the lack of information of infected workers at the plant, proper. testing and health and safety at the Elon Musk owned assembly plant in Fremont California.

Governor Gavin Newsom has refused to have proper. staffing at California-OSHA [health inspectorate] with less than 200 inspectors no physical inspection of the plant. has. been made.

AS SUMMER HEATS UP, MIGRANT WORKERS FACE COMPOUND RISK Migrant farmworkers are particularly susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. They tend to live together in packed trailers or apartments due to their low wages, or in dormitories on the farms themselves. They often share kitchens and other common areas and take crowded buses and vans to and from the fields each day. They work inside packing houses where they stand shoulder to shoulder. And many lack access to health care and face language barriers that can make outreach and education more difficult. Without precautions, farming communities may see a spike in cases. [HuffPost]

A woman’s fight to save her brother from a Covid-plagued ICE jail.

PENCE PEDDLES SKETCHY STORY ABOUT VIRUS SURGES Vice President Mike Pence urged the nation’s governors to share misleading claims about resurgent coronavirus outbreaks in some states during a private call. Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, downplayed increases in COVID-19 diagnoses in some regions, claiming they were simply “intermittent” spikes of the virus. He pushed the administration talking point touted by President Donald Trump — but not supported by statistics — that higher figures were due to an increase in testing, not higher rates of infection. [HuffPost]

TRUMP: STOPPING COVID TEST WOULD LEAD TO FEWER CASES During a roundtable on “Fighting for America’s Seniors,” Trump suggested that not testing for the coronavirus could be one way of reducing reported cases. “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” he said. It’s an argument he has made before. Not testing people for COVID-19 would reduce the number of new cases being reported, but wouldn’t reduce the number of people who actually have the disease. Vice President Mike Pence supported the president’s statement, which Trump may have meant as a PR tactic rather than literal scientific evidence. [HuffPost]

‘TRUMP RALLY NOT WELCOME HERE’ A plain-speaking editorial in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s, largest newspaper declared that Trump’s planned rally on Saturday will bring no benefit to the city — and will risk Oklahomans’ lives. “This is the wrong time and Tulsa is the wrong place for a Trump rally,” the Tulsa World editorial stated. Trump’s appearance could trigger dire health consequences, the paper warned, echoing health experts. Fox News host Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, told Trump to ignore the warnings. This comes as the Oklahoma governor invited Trump to visit the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre. [HuffPost]

FDA yanks approval for drug Trump touts for coronavirus because there’s no evidence it works.

REP. ILHAN OMAR’S FATHER DIES OF COVID-19 COMPLICATIONS Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said her father had died from complications of the coronavirus. “It is with tremendous sadness and pain that I share that my father, Nur Omar Mohamed, passed away today due to complications from COVID-19,” Omar said in a statement. “No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him.” “My family and I ask for your respect and privacy during this time,” she said. [HuffPost]

Oscars postpone ceremony and extend eligibility period due to COVID-19.

Boris Johnson desperately needs his lockdown gamble to pay off.

Germany is often called a country with ‘good’ anti-COVID-19 policies. Compared to Trump’s USA and Boris Johnson‘s Britain, that is true. But that is a very low standard. There were recent outbreaks in German slaughterhouses, a German church and a German restaurant.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Hundreds of Berlin households quarantined after outbreak

In the Neukölln district of Berlin, hundreds of tenants have been quarantined in an apartment complex after a coronavirus outbreak. As far as is known, at least 57 people have been infected with the virus, children and adults.

According to German media, it is the first time in the corona crisis that an entire apartment building in the German capital has been quarantined. As a precaution, residents of 369 households are no longer allowed to leave their homes.

… The source of the outbreak is still under investigation.

The authorities point out that many households in the multicultural district are large families, or groups of up to ten people. They often live in small rental homes.

How deep sea corals grow, new research

This December 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

In the deep waters off Florida’s Atlantic coast grow magnificent structures, capable of reaching 300 feet in height. These are the corals of the deep sea. Porcelain-white and centuries-old, few humans have seen these delicate reefs. The Ivory Tree Coral, Oculina varicosa, and Lophelia pertusa flourish in harsh, sunless environments, yet these branch-like formations provide food and shelter for a variety of deepwater organisms. Rich in biodiversity, this mysterious underwater kingdom is threatened by destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling. However, a recently proposed 23,000 square mile marine protected area could save these fragile reefs from ruin.

Changing Seas follows scientists 50 miles offshore on a unique expedition to further pinpoint the locations of these thousand-year-old coral mounds. Using cutting-edge technology, experts from three of the country’s premier ocean research institutions have joined forces to investigate portions of Florida’s seafloor. The science team lives aboard a research vessel for seven days. Their mission: To scan the ocean bottom and create detailed maps using specially built Autonomous Underwater Vehicles or AUVs. Their results could help save Florida’s corals of the deep. But what will they find?

From the University of Hawaii at Manoa:

Surprising growth rates discovered in world’s deepest photosynthetic corals

June 15, 2020

New research published in the journal Coral Reefs revealed unexpectedly high growth rates for deepwater photosynthetic corals. The study, led by Samuel Kahng, affiliate graduate faculty in the University of Hawai’i at M?noa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), alters the assumption that deep corals living on the brink of darkness grow extremely slowly.

Leptoseris is a group of zooxanthellate coral species which dominate the coral community near the deepest reaches of the sun’s light throughout the Indo-Pacific. Symbiotic microalgae (called zooxanthellae) live within the transparent tissues some coral — giving corals their primary color and providing the machinery for photosynthesis, and in turn, energy.

Deeper in the ocean, less light is available. At the lower end of their depth range, the sunlight available to the Leptoseris species examined in the recent study is less than 0.2% of surface light levels. Less light dictates a general trend of slower growth among species that rely on light for photosynthesis.

Previous studies suggested that photosynthetic corals at the bottom of the ocean’s sunlit layer grow extremely slowly — about 0.04 inch per year for one species of Leptoseris. Until recently, there were very few data on growth rates of corals at depths greater than about 225 feet given the logistical challenges of performing traditional time series growth measurements at these depths.

Kahng, who is also an associate professor at Hawai’i Pacific University, collaborated with SOEST’s Hawai’i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL), the Waikiki Aquarium, National Taiwan University and Hokkaido University to collected colonies of Leptoseris at depths between 225 and 360 feet in the Au’au Channel, Hawai’i using HURL’s Pisces IV/V submersibles. The research team used uranium-thorium radiometric dating to accurately determine the age of the coral skeletons at multiple points along its radial growth axis — much like one might determine the age of tree rings within a tree trunk.

“Considering the low light environment, the previous assumption was that large corals at these extreme depths should be very old due to extremely slow growth rates,” said Kahng. “Surprisingly, the corals were found to be relatively young with growth rates comparable to that of many non-branching shallow-water corals. Growth rates were measured to be between nearly 1 inch per year at 225 feet depth and 0.3 inches per year at 360 feet depth.”

The research team found that these low light, deep water specialists employ an interesting strategy to dominate their preferred habitat. Their thin skeletons and plate-like shape allow for an efficient use of calcium carbonate to maximize surface area for light absorption while using minimal resources to form their skeleton. These thin corals only grow radially outward, not upward, and do not thicken over time like encrusting or massive corals.

“Additionally, the optical geometry of their thin, flat, white skeletons form fine parallel ridges that grow outward from a central origin,” said Kahng. “In some cases, these ridges form convex spaces between them which effectively trap light in reflective chambers and cause light to pass repeatedly through the coral tissue until it is absorbed by the photosynthetic machinery.”

The strategic efficiency of Leptoseris enabling its robust growth rates in such low light has important implications for its ability to compete for space and over-shade slower-growing organisms.

“It also illustrates the flexibility of reef-building corals and suggests that these communities may be able to develop and recover from mortality events much faster than previously thought,” said Kahng.

Black Lives Matter, in Trump’s USA, everywhere

This 16 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Critics Slam Trump for Support of Confederate Traitors | NowThis

In US news and current events today, critics continue to slam President Donald Trump over his refusal to rename military bases that are currently named in honor of treasonous Confederate generals who took up arms against the United States and killed thousands of Americans in the pursuit of keeping an entire race enslaved.

As President Donald J Trump’s Press Secretary pointed out, President Trump has no intention of renaming Fort Bragg and numerous other military bases named after Confederate traitors. This comes on the heels of numerous Confederate statues being removed and the Confederate flag, the stars and bars, being banned in an increasing number of places.

Confederate hagiography isn’t a valuable historical lesson, these monuments were created during Jim Crow as a reminder to Black people that while the war may have been lost, many in the South and across the US continue to fight against equality and racial justice.

In a new Lincoln Project ad and VoteVets ad, the Lincoln Project video and the Vote Vets video both take Trump to task over his reluctance to condemn the Confederacy, a position which is becoming increasingly untenable in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and Black Lives Matter protests that rose to global prominence after the police killing of George Floyd.

Camp Himmler, Fort Eichmann? How would I, a Jewish soldier, feel if our army bases were named after Nazis.

The long battle over “Gone With The Wind.”

SCOTUS BRUSHES OFF POLICE IMMUNITY CASE The Supreme Court brushed aside a number of cases that would have allowed it to readdress law enforcement officers’ broad immunity from lawsuits over police brutality. Justices turned away more than a dozen lawsuits related to qualified immunity, the legal doctrine which lets police officers escape accountability for using tactics that haven’t been expressly banned in prior court decisions. The national legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union called the decision “deeply disappointing,” especially in a “time of national reckoning over police violence.” [HuffPost]

RENEWED OUTCRY OVER BLACK TEEN’S 55-YEAR SENTENCE Nationwide anti-racism protests have sparked a renewed outcry over the 55-year prison sentence an Alabama teen received after he was convicted in the death of his friend, who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2015. Lakeith Smith was 15 when he and four friends broke into two homes and were confronted by police in Millbrook, Alabama. During a two-day trial in 2018, a jury convicted Smith of two counts of theft, burglary and felony murder under Alabama’s accomplice liability law. The law says a person can be guilty of murder if a death occurs when they are committing a crime, even if the person didn’t directly cause the death. [HuffPost]

Why does Hollywood back away from shows about police brutality?

Tyler Perry is “taking care” of Rayshard Brooks’ funeral.

Ancient ice age and multicellular animals

This 2019 video says about itself:

How Volcanoes Froze the Earth (Twice)

Over 600 million years ago, sheets of ice coated our planet on both land and sea. How did this happen? And most importantly for us, why did the planet eventually thaw again? The evidence for Snowball Earth is written on every continent today.

From the University of Rochester in the USA:

Clues to a dramatic chapter of Earth’s geological history

June 15, 2020

Summary: How could the planet be covered entirely in ice — a state known as ‘Snowball Earth‘– and still give rise to multicellular life? The transition to such icy periods may not have been as abrupt as previously thought, new research shows.

Imagine Earth completely covered in ice. While it’s hard to picture all of today’s oceans and land masses obscured with glaciers, such an ice-covered version of the planet was not so far-fetched millions of years ago.

Lasting from approximately 1,000 to 540 million years ago, the dramatic chapter is an important part of Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history. Known as the Neoproterozoic Era, the period of severe glaciation was a time when multicellular organisms were beginning to diversify and spread across the planet.

Many researchers posit that ice may have covered every surface of the planet, stretching from the poles all the way to the hot tropics of the equator — a hypothesis known as “Snowball Earth.”

How was it possible there was global ice — even in the warmest areas of Earth?

Researchers from the University of Rochester are shedding new light on that question. By analyzing mineral data left by glaciers before the onset of the Neoproterozoic Era, Scott MacLennan, a postdoctoral research associate in the lab of Mauricio Ibanez-Mejia, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, present the first geological evidence that Earth may have had a cool climate before Snowball Earth.

The study, published in Science Advances, provides important information about a period of the planet’s history that paved the way for the development of complex life on Earth.

“This is a fascinating period, as these dramatic environmental changes happened right as the first true animals were beginning to appear and evolve on Earth,” Ibanez-Mejia says.


A critical aspect of understanding a period of planetwide glaciation is determining what the climate was like before Snowball Earth. Computer models indicate that a cool global climate was necessary in order to initiate a Snowball Earth state, but such a state has not been confirmed by geological evidence. Instead, geological evidence has previously suggested that Earth had a warm and ice-free climate immediately prior to the Neoproterozoic glaciation.

While scientists don’t know the exact mechanisms that may have caused Snowball Earth, they suspect that whatever they were, the mechanisms involved a massive decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. There are several scenarios in which the atmospheric carbon dioxide may have decreased. They include an increase in biomass in the oceans, which may have taken carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turned it into organic matter, or an increase in the weathering of the continental crust, which also takes up carbon dioxide.

In order to determine whether these scenarios are feasible, however, it’s critical to know more about Earth’s climate before the massive glaciation events started.

“If the Earth was very hot, it would mean the ocean was storing a lot of heat, which would take a lot of time to get rid of in order to create a Snowball Earth,” MacLennan says.


Scientists can determine Earth’s climate at points in time by studying rocks that were deposited at different times throughout Earth’s history. MacLennan and his colleagues used zircon dating methods to very precisely date glacial rocks found in modern-day Virginia. Paleomagnetic data, which allows researchers to determine where the continents were located thousands and even millions of years ago, have established that Virginia was located in the middle of a supercontinent within the tropics while the glacial rocks were being deposited. The supercontinent later broke up into smaller parts.

The researchers discovered that the glacial rocks were actually deposited 30 million years before the first Snowball Earth. The observation was surprising because they had expected the glacial rocks to be related to the Snowball Earth event. Instead, the discovery indicates that there were glaciers in the tropics near the equator — albeit at potentially high altitudes — even before Snowball Earth.

“The planet always gets colder away from the tropics and toward the poles because Earth receives most of its incoming sunlight at the equator,” MacLennan says. “If there are glaciers in the tropics, the rest of the planet must have also been very cold. This means that our previous vision of a hot, humid world before the Snowball Earth is probably incorrect.”

The potential trigger mechanism for the massive global cooling therefore may not have been as extreme as some researchers believe; the planet didn’t immediately turn from a warm state to a frozen state but instead appears to have experienced a more gradual cool-off into a Snowball Earth state.


This research raises interesting questions about what Earth was really like 800 to 700 million years ago, before Snowball Earth events, during a time when interesting biological innovations were taking place as multicellular organisms were beginning to diversify.

“There have been a lot of questions about how multi- and single-cellular life forms would survive the Snowball Earths, especially if there was a rapid transition from a hot greenhouse world,” MacLennan says. “Our estimates for pre-Snowball climate imply the planet was probably colder than the modern world, which means there may have been ample cold environments at high latitude and altitude where organisms could have adapted to these cold conditions.”

German neonazi on trial for Lübcke murder

This 2019 video says about itself:

Germany: Two more suspects arrested linked to politician’s murder

Two more suspects were arrested in a case linked to the murder of German politician Walter Luebcke on Thursday.

Elmar J. and Markus, aged 64 and 43 respectively, were detained on suspicion of being accessories to murder. …

Luebcke was found dead on the terrace of his family home in Wolfhagen near Kassel on June 2.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Murder of politician Lübcke shocked Germany, suspect in court today …

Today, the trial of prime suspect Stephan Ernst (46) begins among big interest in Frankfurt.

The main question is of course: did Ernst do it? At least there is a pile of evidence against him. His DNA was found at the crime scene and on the murder weapon, and he made an extensive confession shortly after he was arrested. Among other things, he said that he hated Lübcke for his commitment to refugees, thought about harming him day and night, and that he had already stood several times in front of Lübcke’s house.

Since childhood in neo-Nazi circles

Ernst has been in neo-Nazi circles since childhood. In 1993 he carried out a fire attack at an asylum seekers’ center and assaulted a German-Turkish imam. For that, he was sentenced to six years youth prison as a 19-year-old. Later he joined the neo-Nazi party NPD. He often attends demonstrations of the extreme right and keeps coming into contact with the police. He also has connections with members of the now-banned militant neo-Nazi group Combat 18. During this court case, Ernst is on trial apart from the murder of Lübcke, for attempting to murder an Iraqi asylum seeker more than four years ago. …

But his confession is not the only proof against him. In Ernst’s house, lists of ‘possible targets’ were found on a hidden USB stick. It was a synagogue, local politicians and anti-fascists. He kept entire files with addresses, number plates, behavioral patterns. Also found: manuals for building bombs and conducting underground operations. “Anything that aims to destroy the enemy is good,” Ernst himself wrote.

Many in Germany wonder how it is possible that a well-known neo-Nazi like Ernst was not on the radar with the intelligence service. …

He had a family, bought a house and was CEO of his own company. The secret service thought he had “cooled down” and was no longer watching him.

Incorrect estimate

An absolutely incorrect estimate, says Katharina König-Preuss. She sits for the Die Linke left party in the Thuringian parliament and is an expert in the field of the extreme right in Germany (and also receives repeated threats herself). “If the judiciary does not hear from a neo-Nazi for five years, so does not see him at demos or other meetings, his file will be closed, because they think that this person has turned his back on the scene. That is an absolute mistake. It happens more often that neo-Nazis withdraw when they have a family, but that does not mean that they say goodbye to the ideas.”

Investigation after the murder has shown that Ernst did still support the extreme right. He is said to have supported the banned ‘Identitarian Movement‘ with multiple donations and had contact with Combat 18 people.

The British Conservative Daily Telegraph reports:

The main suspect [Stephan Ernst] in the assassination of a German politician last year previously worked as a campaign volunteer for the nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD), it has emerged.

The NOS article continues:

There are also photos of him at a demonstration in Chemnitz, where several right-wing extremist groups gathered

König-Preuss: “Eg, no extensive research has been done on the members of Combat 18. They should also take a closer look at right-wing extremist elements in their own governmental organisations, with the army and the police.”

The fact that the violence of the extreme right is increasing also has to do with the fact that there is now a party called AfD in parliament. “The road from words to actions is not long. If people with racist beliefs find out that they are no longer alone with their ideas, that even a party with 25 percent of the vote [in Thuringia] thinks the same about refugees, this may be a reason for some to go from verbal abuse into reality.”

“In the case of Walter Lübcke, it was repeatedly claimed that he had betrayed the German people, that he was cooperating in the ‘replacement’ of the German people. On that hate speech, someone like Stephan Ernst also bases his conviction that he in fact, by killing, represents the will of the people.”