Did dinosaur age pterosaurs have feathers?


This December 2018 video says about itself:

Feathers might have originated tens of millions of years before we’d thought, and a 3D rendering of ankylosaur nasal passages lends new insight into how they stayed cool.

From the University of Portsmouth in England:

Evidence that prehistoric flying reptiles probably had feathers refuted

September 28, 2020

Summary: Experts have examined the evidence that prehistoric flying reptiles called pterosaurs had feathers and believe they were, in fact, bald.

The debate about when dinosaurs developed feathers has taken a new turn with a paper refuting earlier claims that feathers were also found on dinosaurs’ relatives, the flying reptiles called pterosaurs.

Pterosaur expert Dr David Unwin from the University of Leicester’s Centre for Palaeobiology Research, and Professor Dave Martill, of the University of Portsmouth have examined the evidence that these creatures had feathers and believe they were in fact bald.

They have responded to a suggestion by a group of his colleagues led by Zixiao Yang that some pterosaur fossils show evidence of feather-like branching filaments, ‘protofeathers’, on the animal’s skin.

Dr Yang, from Nanjing University, and colleagues presented their argument in a 2018 paper in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. Now Unwin and Martill, have offered an alternative, non-feather explanation for the fossil evidence in the same journal.

While this may seem like academic minutiae, it actually has huge palaeontological implications. Feathered pterosaurs would mean that the very earliest feathers first appeared on an ancestor shared by both pterosaurs and dinosaurs, since it is unlikely that something so complex developed separately in two different groups of animals.

This would mean that the very first feather-like elements evolved at least 80 million years earlier than currently thought. It would also suggest that all dinosaurs started out with feathers, or protofeathers but some groups, such as sauropods, subsequently lost them again — the complete opposite of currently accepted theory.

The evidence rests on tiny, hair-like filaments, less than one-tenth of a millimetre in diameter, which have been identified in about 30 pterosaur fossils. Among these, Yang and colleagues were only able to find just three specimens on which these filaments seem to exhibit a ‘branching structure’ typical of protofeathers.

Unwin and Martill propose that these are not protofeathers at all but tough fibres which form part of the internal structure of the pterosaur’s wing membrane, and that the ‘branching’ effect may simply be the result of these fibres decaying and unravelling.

Dr Unwin said: “The idea of feathered pterosaurs goes back to the nineteenth century but the fossil evidence was then, and still is, very weak. Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence — we have the former, but not the latter.”

Professor Martill noted that either way, palaeontologists will have to carefully reappraise ideas about the ecology of these ancient flying reptiles. He said, “If they really did have feathers, how did that make them look, and did they exhibit the same fantastic variety of colours exhibited by birds. And if they didn’t have feathers, then how did they keep warm at night, what limits did this have on their geographic range, did they stay away from colder northern climes as most reptiles do today. And how did they thermoregulate? The clues are so cryptic, that we are still a long way from working out just how these amazing animals worked.”

The paper “No protofeathers on pterosaurs” is published this week in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Dutch schools become coronavirus epicentres


This 29 September 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Coronavirus: Back-to-school in person learning raises concerns about COVID-19 transmission

Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani breaks down the latest news on coronavirus, back to school, and vaccine development.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio, 29 September:

Coronavirus infections have been detected in more than 350 schools. According to the Schools Reporting Point, part of Coronavirus Locator Netherlands (CLN), schools in large cities are mainly affected. “We receive so many reports that it can hardly be kept up to date”, a spokesperson told daily De Telegraaf.

According to CLN, more than half of the current coronavirus clusters originated in education. “Because it is discouraged to have children tested, the question is whether we have all the trouble spots in the picture.”

Wasps killing cockroaches 25 million years ago


This 2011 video is about the ensign wasp Evania appendigaster.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Salute the venerable ensign wasp, killing cockroaches for 25 million years

September 28, 2020

An Oregon State University study has identified four new species of parasitic, cockroach-killing ensign wasps that became encased in tree resin 25 million years ago and were preserved as the resin fossilized into amber.

“Some species of ensign wasps have even been used to control cockroaches in buildings,” OSU researcher George Poinar Jr. said. “The wasps sometimes are called the harbingers of cockroaches — if you see ensign wasps you know there are at least a few cockroaches around. Our study shows these wasps were around some 20 or 30 million years ago, with probably the same behavioral patterns regarding cockroaches.”

Ensign wasps, of the Hymenoptera order and scientifically known as Evaniidae, earned their common name because their abdomen resembles a flag; an ensign is a large flag on a ship, usually flown at the stern or rear of the vessel, that indicates the ship’s nationality.

“As the wasps move about, their ‘ensign’ is constantly moving up and down as if they are flag-waving,” said Poinar, professor emeritus in the OSU College of Science and an international expert in using plant and animal life forms trapped in amber to learn more about the biology and ecology of the distant past.

About 400 species of ensign wasps exist today, distributed across 20 genera. The wasps live everywhere except polar regions. They typically measure 5 to 7 millimeters in length and don’t sting or bite but are lethal for unhatched cockroaches.

A female ensign wasp will look for cockroach egg cases, known as ootheca, and lay an egg on or in one of the cockroach eggs inside the case. When the wasp egg hatches, the larva eats the cockroach egg where it was laid.

Successive instars of the larva then consume the other dozen or so eggs inside the cockroach egg case. Mature wasp larvae pupate within the cockroach egg case en route to coming out as adults, and no cockroach offspring emerge from an egg case infiltrated by an ensign wasp.

Analyzing Tertiary period specimens from Dominican amber, Poinar was able to describe three new species of ensign wasps: Evaniella setifera, Evaniella dominicana and Semaeomyia hispaniola. He described a fourth, Hyptia mexicana, from Mexican amber. The Tertiary period began 65 million years ago and lasted for more than 63 million years.

No cockroaches accompanied the wasps in the amber, but three flying termites were found along with an ensign wasp in one of the Dominican amber pieces. It’s likely the termites were sharing a nest with the cockroaches and this attracted the wasp, Poinar said.

Anti-racist demonstrators arrested in Portland, USA


This 27 July 2020 New York Times video from the USA says about itself:

How Federal Officers Escalated Violence in Portland | Visual Investigations

Peaceful protests were already happening for weeks when federal officers arrived on July 4. Our video shows how President Trump’s deployment ignited chaos.

By Ceren Sagir, 29 September 2020:

Protesters arrested hours after demonstration ended in Portland
PROTESTERS against police brutality were arrested in Portland, Oregon, in the United States on Sunday evening, hours after demonstrations ended with few reports of violence.

The protests, which began on Saturday night with hundreds of people gathering in a park near the Hatfield US courthouse, where there have been regular protests over the summer, were declared unlawful. A protester was seen burning a US flag.

Several arrests were made, though police did not immediately specify a number.

Video footage showed police grabbing a news photographer and pushing him to the ground as he was trying to document them tackling and detaining a demonstrator on a sidewalk.

Freelance photographer John Rudoff, who was wearing a helmet with a “press” sticker on, told local media later that he was “physically OK, but quite annoyed.”

Another online video showed an officer apparently deploying a chemical spray in the face of a man who was yelling at police and waving a sign at them.

Portland has seen protests almost nightly since the police killing of George Floyd in May.

Far-right demonstrators have also been mobilising in the city in counterprotests, several in military-style body armour, and in support of President Donald Trump and his “law and order” re-election campaign.

Police said that they were investigating an assault at the far-right protest on Saturday when one person documenting the event was pushed to the ground and kicked in the face.

PROUD BOYS MEMBER ARRESTED ON ASSAULT CHARGES A prominent member of the Proud Boys was arrested Wednesday in Portland, Oregon — less than a day after President Donald Trump publicly threw his support behind the hate group. Alan James Swinney, 50, faces numerous charges, including felony assault and unlawful use of a weapon. Video and photos show Swinney pointing a gun at protesters with his finger on the trigger during an Aug. 22 clash in Portland between far-right extremists and anti-fascist protesters. At the time, police did nothing. [HuffPost]

North American marbled murrelets in trouble


This 20 April 2020 video says about itself:

In Search of an ENDANGERED Bird: Scouting Marbled Murrelet Training Sites. Wildlife Biology VLOG

Despite the pandemic, the need to monitor endangered species continues. In this wildlife biology vlog, I share my journey scouting out new sites to safely train new marbled murrelet surveyors this coming field season. Murrelets are simply incredible animals, and seeing them again was a much-needed breath of life.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Warming ocean, old-forest loss put a squeeze on an elusive seabird

September 22, 2020

Squeezed by changing ocean conditions that limit their food options and the long-term loss of old forest needed for nesting, marbled murrelets would benefit most from conservation efforts that take both ocean and forest into account, new research by Oregon State University shows.

Published in Conservation Letters, the findings are based on two decades of murrelet surveys at nearly 20,000 sites in the Oregon Coast Range and illustrate how the elusive seabird is at risk of its habitat gradually shrinking to the point of local extinctions or worse.

“It turns out that the same ocean conditions that influence salmon returns, including the forage fish murrelets need to successfully nest, had a huge influence on the likelihood that murrelets will come inland to breed,” said lead author Matt Betts, a researcher in the Oregon State College of Forestry and the director of the OSU-based Forest Biodiversity Research Network. “Given that these prey items tend to be in lower abundance when ocean temperatures are high, changing climate conditions could reduce prey availability as well as the tendency for murrelets to nest in the future.”

Marbled murrelets are closely related to puffins and murres, but unlike those birds, murrelets raise their young as much as 60 miles inland in mature forests. Disturbance in either the ocean or forest environment has the potential to impact murrelet populations.

“There aren’t many species like it,” said study co-author and project director Jim Rivers, also a faculty member in the College of Forestry. “There’s no other bird that feeds in the ocean and commutes such long distances inland to nest sites. That’s really unusual.”

The dove-sized bird spends most of its time in coastal waters eating krill, other invertebrates and forage fish such as herring, anchovies, smelt and capelin. Murrelets can only produce one offspring per year, if the nest is successful, and their young require forage fish for proper growth and development.

Murrelets generally nest in solitude, although multiple nests sometimes occur within a small area. They typically lay their single egg high in a tree on a horizontal limb at least 4 inches in diameter, with Steller’s jays, crows and ravens the main predators of murrelet nests.

“The end goal for these birds is to be very secretive and quiet so predators don’t find their nests and they can produce young,’ said Rivers.

Along the West Coast, marbled murrelets are found regularly from Santa Cruz, California, north to the Aleutian Islands. Their populations have been declining by about 4% a year in Washington, Oregon and California, and the species is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in those states.

“Early on in our work, we noticed strong fluctuations in the numbers of marbled murrelets coming inland to nest, so this study was about trying to get to the bottom of those highs and lows,” Betts said. “We found the first evidence that ocean conditions combined with old-forest nesting habitat influence the murrelets’ long-term occupancy dynamics. In particular, we learned ocean conditions are a key driver of those dynamics.”

The finding has potential key implications for forest policy in Oregon, where any state-owned site that goes two consecutive years without murrelet detection is classified as unoccupied and thus available for timber harvest.

“Our data show that below-average ocean conditions might last for more than two successive years,” Rivers said. “That means there could be a scenario where sites on state lands that are suitable for breeding go unused for more than two years which, under current guidelines, would let them be considered available for harvest. Thus, murrelets might be missing from inland sites not because the forest is unsuitable for nesting, but because they have inadequate forage fish during the summer breeding season. That means it is critical that we consider factors that influence both marine food resources and terrestrial nesting habitat when considering how to recover murrelet populations.”

Betts was part of a research collaboration that published a 2019 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that showed that old forest is still declining across the Pacific Northwest 25 years into the Northwest Forest Plan, a 100-year federal road map to protect older forests.

“This is now less due to the saw and more due to fire,” he said. “That means that even with strong land conservation measures, climate could not only result in warmer ocean conditions but also greater fire frequency and extent, and therefore more old forest loss.”

Other Oregon State researchers contributing to the study were Kim Nelson and Dan Roby of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Jennifer Fisher of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies. Scientists from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, the University of Rhode Island and the U.S. Forest Service also took part.

The OSU College of Forestry and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture provided funding.

Is criticizing capitalism terrorist?


This 2018 video says about itself:

Here’s why capitalism SUCKS! — and why it needs to end!

Part 1 in a series on capitalism, exploring the foundation of capitalism and the mechanisms that place capital owners at the top – and workers at the bottom – of society. In this video, we trace the roots of capitalism all the way back to the decline of capitalism and look at some of the basic ways capitalists accumulate wealth and power at the expense of the working class.

This video is the sequel.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 27 September 2020:

Government guidance slammed for defining anti-capitalism as ‘extremist’

NEW Department for Education guidance on sex and relationships education has been called out for categorising anti-capitalism as an “extreme political stance” and equating it with opposition to freedom of speech, anti-semitism and endorsement of illegal activity.

The guidance tells English schools not to use resources from organisations which have expressed a desire to “overthrow” capitalism.

One teacher told the Morning Star: “I am worried that if this definition of extremist political positions is extended to other guidance, it will bar teachers from using resources from any organisation which has ever advocated an alternative to our current economic system.”

New song by The Damned, Manipulator


This punk rock music video from Britain says about itself:

Manipulator · The Damned

Manipulator

℗ A Spinefarm Records / Search And Destroy Records Recording; ℗ 2020 The Damned, under exclusive licence to Universal Music Operations Limited

Released on: 2020-09-18

Associated Performer, Vocals: David Vanian
Associated Performer, Guitar: Captain Sensible
Associated Performer, Keyboards: Monty Oxymoron
Associated Performer, Bass Guitar: Paul Gray
Associated Performer, Drums: Andrew Pinching
Producer, Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer: Tom Dalgety
Composer Lyricist: Paul Gray

Trump wants even more far-right Supreme Court


This 23 September 2020 United States TV video is called What Amy Coney Barrett said about filling a Supreme Court seat in an election year.

From UltraViolet in the USA today:

News just broke that Donald Trump is going to name Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.

We knew the pick would be bad. But this one is truly awful.

Preapproved by the far-right-wing Federalist Society, Barrett wants to dismantle, if not demolish, Roe v. Wade. She opposes birth control.1 She’s even ruled in favor of “separate but equal” accommodations on the basis of race.2

RBG hasn’t even been buried yet. We’re all still mourning her passing.3 But Trump is pushing forward with a stunningly hypocritical power grab just four years after Republicans blocked President Obama from filling a Supreme Court seat that came open in February of an election year. Let’s be clear, Barrett is a disaster for women’s rights and progress, and it’s an insult to the champion we had in RBG to confirm her to the Court.

Barrett would cement a 6–3 majority on the Court for decades, which would give them a generation or more to tear down RBG’s life’s work and take our nation backward. We can’t let that happen.

This is a five-alarm fire. Will you chip in $5 to help organize a massive outcry and stop Trump from replacing RBG with right-wing extremist Amy Coney Barrett?

Mere hours after learning of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Mitch McConnell promised a vote on Trump’s nominee. It’s no surprise from the man who stole a Supreme Court seat from Barack Obama in 2016.

If McConnell and Trump have their way, a conservative majority deeply out of step with the American people could rule for decades, eliminating the right to choose, climate pollution rules, the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, and civil rights. . . the list is long and horrifying. Women will be especially affected, particularly women of color and transwomen. Our literal lives are on the lines.

Most alarming: Trump said earlier this week that he wants his appointee confirmed before Nov. 3 so they could rule him the winner of the election, no matter what the voters say.4 …

–Shaunna, KaeLyn, Kathy, Melody, Lindsay, Sonja, Kimberly, Maria, Katie, Iris, KD, and Elisa, the UltraViolet team

Sources:

1. Planned Parenthood Condemns Amy Coney Barrett Nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Planned Parenthood, October 31, 2017

2. Profile of a potential nominee: Amy Coney Barrett, SCOTUSblog, September 21, 2020

3. All the Details on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Funeral, Town & Country, September 25, 2020

4. Trump says he wants a conservative majority on the Supreme Court in case of an Election Day dispute. The New York Times, September 23, 2020