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‘Hunting dogs made Neanderthals extinct’


This video says about itself:

Neanderthal: Episode 1 – Evolution History Documentary

16 August 2014

Discovery Channel presents Neanderthal, a two-part, two-hour production documenting the experiences of a small clan of Neanderthals living in the Dordogne region of France at one of the most important junctures in human evolution.

Neanderthal is the story of the rise and demise of one the most successful human species ever to have walked the earth. A species that thrived – until modern man came along. Produced as a compelling drama following the lives of one group of Neanderthals, the special draws on cutting-edge scientific research that challenges the stereotype of the brutish savage.

The Observer: “Easily the year’s most exciting TV science programme… handled with such panache it’s impossible not to be drawn into the tribe’s strange, grim existence.”

This video is the sequel.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Humans eradicated Neanderthal rivals thanks to early dogs bred from wolves

Humans bred wolves to help them hunt in Europe 40,000 years ago

Ben Tufft

Sunday 01 March 2015

Humans were able to eradicate their Neanderthal rivals in Europe thanks to early dogs bred from wolves, according to a prominent American anthropologist.

Dogs were used by humans to gain a competitive edge in hunting that led to the extinction of Neanderthals on the continent 40,000 years ago, Professor Pat Shipman of Pennsylvania State University claims.

“We formed an alliance with the wolf and that would have been the end for the Neanderthal,” Prof Shipman told The Observer.

Her theory challenges the conventional academic wisdom that wolves were only domesticated a mere 10,000 years ago, coinciding with the rise of agriculture.

The professor believes that wolves were bred by humans as early as 70,000 years ago, when humans first came to Europe from Africa – leading to the domestic dogs we know today.

The theory would solve the mystery of why the dominant Neanderthals in Europe died out a few thousand years after the arrival of humans on the continent, despite having lived in the region for more than 200,000 years.

Prof Shipman argues that the alliance with the wolf, along with superior weapons and hunting skills, enabled humans to outwit their Neanderthal rivals and become the dominant species.

“Early wolf-dogs would have tracked and harassed animals like elk and bison and would have hounded them until they tired. Then humans would have killed them with spears or bows and arrows,” Prof Shipman said.

“This meant the dogs did not need to approach these large cornered animals to finish them off – often the most dangerous part of a hunt – while humans didn’t have to expend energy in tracking and wearing down prey.

“Dogs would have done that. Then we shared the meat. It was a win-win situation,” she added.

A study published last year found that modern humans and Neanderthals lived alongside each other in Europe for 4,000 years, exchanging culture and genes.

In Asia humans and Neanderthals could have lived side by side for up to 20,000 years, as anatomically modern humans colonised the continent long before reaching Europe.

The last Neanderthals in Europe are thought to have died out in modern-day Belgium, where they lived in caves as their numbers dwindled.

Most scientists believe that Neanderthals quickly died out after the arrival of Homo sapiens to Europe, owing to competition for resources and possibly violent conflict.

Canadian film on songbirds, crowdfunding


This video says about itself:

Please support: The Messenger Documentary

9 February 2015

The Messenger is a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of the imperiled songbird, and what it means to all of us on both a global and human level if we lose them.

From British Bird Lovers:

Film About Songbirds Launches Crowdfunding Bid

Sunday, 01 March 2015

A Canadian independent film production company has turned to crowdfunding to help them finish a documentary about the plight of songbirds and the remarkable research work being done to help solve the problems they face.

SongbirdSOS Productions, which is based in Toronto, is asking the public to help them raise $50,000 CAD to enable them to finish The Messenger and support its distribution. The Messenger is described as a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of songbirds, and what it will mean to all of us on both a global and human level if we lose them.

SongbirdSOS Productions is owned by award-winning director Su Rynard and producers Joanne Jackson and Diane Woods. They teamed up with a French documentary production company, Films a Cinq, to make the film.

Director Rynard captured some beautiful slow motion footage of songbirds in flight during the production process. You can get a small taste of what to expect in the film in the fundraising video.

Travelling from the northern reaches of the Boreal Forest to the base of Turkey’s Mount Ararat to ground zero in Manhattan, the documentary team meet the people who are examining the threats to songbirds exposing the very real concerns behind their declining numbers.

Work began on the film almost 5 years ago. The first three years were devoted to creative development and raising money to shoot. In 2012 it won the Best Feature Documentary Pitch Award at Sunnyside of the Doc in La Rochelle, France. Shooting began in 2013 and most of 2014 was spent in the edit suite.

The money raised from the crowdfunding appeal will cover professional post production costs, including completing the sound mix, picture editing, colour grading, and mastering followed by an educational and social outreach campaign.

There has been an alarming decline in the global populations of songbirds in recent years. Destruction of habitat, increased urbanization and industrialization, climate change and the use of toxic chemicals as well as an unnatural abundance of predators and scavengers have all contributed to the loss.

Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, the author of Silence of the Songbirds says, “We may have already lost half the songbirds that filled the skies only 40 years ago. Within a few generations, many species may be gone forever.”

Scientific data from the 2012 European Bird Census Council shows that farmland birds have declined over 50% since 1980. The Eurasian Skylark has declined 51% since 1980. The State of the UK’s Birds 2012 also reported a loss averaging 50 House Sparrows per hour, and 835 Winter Wrens each day.

The North American Breeding Bird Survey indicates massive declines since the annual bird counts started in 1966. Bobolink 64%; Canada Warbler 66%; and the Wood Thrush 62%. This is just a small fraction of similarly disturbing statistical data.

The potential impact of this loss of important ecosystem services like pest control and pollination from diverse bird species is troubling and has far reaching implications.

The Messenger is aiming to change not only the way people think about bird conservation but also the natural world and wildlife in general.

You can support The Messenger by donating to their campaign here.

Marine Le Pen ‘reincarnation of Hitler’, says her party colleague


This video from France is about French National Front leader Marine Le Pen and German ex-officer of Hitler’s SS and neo-nazi leader Franz Schönhuber, a political ally and personal friend of the Le Pen family.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rise of the French far right: Front National party could make sweeping gains at this month’s local elections

However, revelations about the bizarre candidates being fielded mean it may not do quite as well as its 30 per cent support nationwide may suggest

John Lichfield, Paris

Sunday 01 March 2015 …

One FN candidate on Aveyron in south-central France had called on his Facebook page for the “destruction of the Jews once and for all”. Another candidate in Ardèche in the Rhône valley had posted a swastika and the message: “Marine, you are the reincarnation of Hitler. You are going to clean up France.”

Another FN candidate in Puy-de-Dôme in the centre of France was dropped after it emerged that he had had been convicted last year of trying to run over a pedestrian while shouting racist insults. …

There are other telling signs that the FN remains rooted in shallow soil. One far-right candidate in Orne, in Normandy, was imprisoned last month for driving without a licence. He is permitted, under the rules, to remain on the ballot paper.

‘White’ whimbrel in Morocco


This video says about itself:

Whimbrel at The Lizard in Cornwall

The whimbrel is a large wading bird. It has longish legs and a long bill that curves near the tip. It is brownish above and whitish below. In flight, it shows a white ‘V’ shape up its back from its tail. In the UK, this species only breeds in north Scotland. It is a passage migrant to other areas in spring and autumn on its way from and to its wintering areas in South Africa. The Shetland and Orkney breeding population has been slowly increasing.

WHERE TO SEE THEM

You could see breeding birds on a visit to Shetland or Orkney in summer. Otherwise, passage migrants can be seen on the coast and sometimes inland in suitable habitat, when hearing its distinctive call can be the best clue to its presence.

WHEN TO SEE THEM

Mid-April to August

WHAT THEY EAT

On breeding grounds insects, snails and slugs; on passage, crabs, shrimps, molluscs, worms.

Filmed in May 2010 at The Lizard

Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

From Moroccan Birds blog, with photos there:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Leucistic Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) still at El Jadida since October 2014

Can a non-marked wader be relocated months after first sighting? Well, this is possible in some few cases including when the bird is leucistic and is alone in the region (so easily identifiable).

This is the case of a leucistic Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) photographed for the first time in the intertidal zone between El Jadida and Sidi Bouzid by Ruth García Gorria on 17 October 2014.

On 13 February 2015, Ruth [García Gorria] relocated the leucistic bird again and took the photographs below (click on the pictures for more details). Ruth also commented that “the plumage is much whiter now” (compare the pictures below with those taken in October 2014 by clicking the link above).

On the other hand, the partially leucistic Common Coot (Fulica atra) is always present in Sidi Moussa lagoon where it was first observed and photographed in October and November 2014 by Ruth.

South American sea squirt in Dutch Oosterschelde estuary


This video is about the pleated sea squirt, Styela plicata.

In the spring of 2008, the sea squirt species Corella eumyota (orange-tipped sea squirt) was found for the first time in the Netherlands. That was in the harbour of Burghsluis, at the Oosterschelde estuary.

In 2014 and 2015, it was also found at another Oosterschelde spot, Westbout.

So, this originally South American species seems to be spreading, but slowly.

Finnish punk rockers with disabilities to Eurovision Song Contest


This video from England says about itself:

21 December 2014

Finnish punks Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN) at the Lexington, London.

After Finnish hard rock band Lordi, who participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, and won (dressed like dinosaurs) …

From the BBC:

1 March 2015

Finland punk band PKN set for Eurovision

A punk band made up of men with learning disabilities is to represent Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The quartet, named PKN, was chosen by Finnish viewers on Saturday and has now been ranked by bookmakers as among the favourites for the contest.

The group, whose members have Down’s syndrome and autism, will perform their 85-second song Aina Mun Pitaa (I Always Have To) at the event in Vienna in May.

“Every person with a disability ought to be braver,” singer Kari Aalto said.

“He or she should themselves say what they want and do not want,” he told Finnish broadcaster YLE.

The group – full name Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat (Pertti Kurikka’s Nameday) – will also become the first punk band to compete at Eurovision.

They first got together during a charity workshop and appeared in an award-winning 2012 documentary called The Punk Syndrome.

This Finnish video says about itself:

The Punk Syndrome – Kovasikajuttu

12 February 2015

A Finnish punk-rock band formed by four mentally disabled guys.

The BBC article continues:

The song deals with the frustration of the rules of daily life, like having to eat healthily and doing chores like cleaning and washing up.

‘Changing attitudes’

“We are rebelling against society in different ways, but we are not political,” bassist Sami Helle told The Guardian.

“We are changing attitudes somewhat, a lot of people are coming to our gigs and we have a lot of fans.

“We don’t want people to vote for us to feel sorry for us, we are not that different from everybody else – just normal guys with a mental handicap.”

They are 5/1 to win the contest, according to Betfred, making them third favourites behind Italy and Estonia.

Heavy metal band Lordi gave Finland its only Eurovision win to date with Hard Rock Hallelujah in 2006.

The UK’s Eurovision entrant will be named on Saturday.