Hollywood Batman actor Pattinson’s coronavirus infection


This 3 September 2020 video is called BREAKING NEWS: Robert Pattinson Has COVID-19 The Batman production completely halted… again.

From Vanity Fair in the USA:

Robert Pattinson Has Covid-19, Halting The Batman Production

Vanity Fair has learned the star came down with the virus just days after shooting resumed.

By Anthony Breznican

September 3, 2020

Dinosaur age insect mimicked lichen


Ecological reconstruction of a 165-million-year-old lacewing mimicking a lichen that existed during the same time period. Image credit: Xiaoran Zuo

From eLife:

Earliest fossil evidence of an insect lichen mimic

September 1, 2020

Scientists have uncovered the earliest known evidence of an insect mimicking a lichen as a survival strategy, according to new findings published today in eLife.

The study suggests that the Jurassic moth lacewing Lichenipolystoechotes mimicked the fossil lichen Daohugouthallus to help conceal itself from predators. This interaction predates modern lichen-insect associations by 165 million years, indicating that the lichen-insect mimicry (or ‘mimesis’) system was well established during the mid-Mesozoic period and provided lacewings with highly-honed survival strategies.

Animals sometimes mimic other organisms or use camouflage to deceive predators. Lichens, which consist of a fungus and alga living in close proximity, sometimes have a plant-like appearance and are occasionally mimicked by modern animals and insects. One of the most well-known cases of a lichen-insect association is when the peppered moth acquired a mutation that turned it black during the Industrial Revolution in Britain, allowing the moth to blend in with tree trunks and lichen darkened by soot.

“As lichen models are almost absent in the fossil record of mimesis, it is still unclear as to when and how the mimicry association between lichen and insect first arose,” explains lead author Hui Fang, a PhD student at the College of Life Sciences and Academy for Multidisciplinary Studies, Capital Normal University, Beijing, China. “The key to answer this question is to find early examples of a lichen-like insect and a co-occuring lichen fossil.”

Fang and her team discovered deposits at the Daohugou 1 locality of Inner Mongolia in northeastern China that showed the 165-million-year-old lichen mimesis. The samples involved two lacewing species resembling a co-existing lichen from the latest Middle Jurassic.

After confirming the occurrence of the Jurassic lichen, the team then documented this mimetic relationship by describing structural similarities and detailed measurements of the lacewing and lichen. Their results suggest that when the lacewings rested in a lichen-rich habitat, a near-perfect match of their appearances would assist the insects’ concealment from predators.

“Our findings indicate that a micro-ecosystem consisting of lichens and insects existed 165 million years ago in Northeastern China,” concludes senior author Yongjie Wang, Associated Professor at the College of Life Sciences and Academy for Multidisciplinary Studies, Capital Normal University, Beijing. “This adds to our current understanding of the interactions between insects and their surroundings in the Mesozoic Era, and implies that there are many more interesting insect relationships awaiting discovery.”

NSA spying illegal, Snowden right, court decides


This 8 May 2015 video from the USA is called Court Rules NSA Bulk Spying Illegal: New Vindication for Snowden, and Uncertainty for PATRIOT Act.

That was then. And now …

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

NSA bugging program revealed by Snowden was illegal

The large-scale wiretapping program of the US security agency NSA that was revealed in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden is illegal. That is the decision of the federal court of appeal in San Francisco. Moreover, the officials who defended the program at the time did not tell the truth, the court said.

Snowden worked at the NSA and revealed seven years ago that the intelligence agency collects and stores Internet and telephone data on a large scale. According to the court, the NSA violates US intelligence law and possibly also the constitution.

Snowden’s story sparked much outrage. Before that, the intelligence service denied that information was collected on a large scale about US American citizens. Following the revelations, officials defended themselves arguing that espionage is crucial in fighting terror on US soil.

Eg, wiretaps allowed four San Diego residents to be convicted of supporting extremist Muslim groups in Somalia, according to the NSA. However, the court of appeal states that “that allegation is inconsistent with the content of the secret file in the case”. The four remain in prison …

Snowden’s response

Snowden fled to Hong Kong before making his revelations and then left for Russia, where he remains to date. In the US, he is suspected of leaking state secrets. He has previously said that he only wants to return to his home country if he gets a fair trial.

Black sea spider crab re-described at last


This 2015 video is about a Macropodia sp. spider crab.

From ScienceDaily:

Neglected for over a century, Black sea spider crab re-described

September 1, 2020

Even though recognised in the Mediterranean Sea, the Macropodia czernjawskii spider crab was ignored by scientists (even by its namesake Vladimir Czernyavsky) in the regional faunal accounts of the Black Sea for more than a century. At the same time, although other species of the genus have been listed as Black sea fauna, those listings are mostly wrong and occurred either due to historical circumstances or misidentifications.

Now, scientists re-describe this, most likely, only species of the genus occurring in the Black Sea in the open-access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

The spider crab genus Macropodia was discovered in 1814 and currently includes 18 species, mostly occurring in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The marine fauna of the Black Sea is predominantly of Mediterranean origin and Macropodia czernjawskii was firstly discovered in the Black Sea in 1880, but afterwards, its presence there was largely ignored by the scientists.

After the revision of available type specimens from all available collections in the Russian museums and the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt-on-Main, as well as newly collected material in the Black Sea and the North-East Atlantic, a research team of scientists, led by Dr Vassily Spiridonov from Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences, re-described Macropodia czernjawskii and provided the new data on its records and updated its ecological characteristics.

“The analysis of the molecular genetic barcode (COI) of the available material of Macropodia species indicated that M. czernjawskii is a very distinct species while M. parva should be synonimised with M. rostrata, and M. longipes is a synonym of M. tenuirostris,” states Dr Spiridonov sharing the details of the genus analysis.

All Macropodia species have epibiosis and M. czernjawskii is no exception: almost all examined crabs in 2008-2018 collections had significant epibiosis. It normally consists of algae and cyanobacteria and, particularly, a non-indigenous species of red alga Bonnemaisonia hamifera, officially reported in 2015 at the Caucasian coast of the Black Sea, was found in the epibiosis of M. czernjawskii four years earlier.

“It improves our understanding of its invasion history. Museum and monitoring collections of species with abundant epibiosis (in particular inachid crabs) can be used as an additional tool to record and monitor introduction and establishments of sessile non-indigenous species,” suggests Dr Spiridonov.