Young roe deer feeding, video


This video shows a young roe deer feeding.

Wilma van der Vliet in the Netherlands made this video.

Save Scottish wildcats, new website


This 2012 video is called The making of wildlife documentary Last of the Scottish Wildcats.

From Wildlife Extra:

Scottish Wildcat Action website launched

A new Scottish Wildcat Action website has been launched as part of the first national conservation plan to bring back viable populations of Scottish wildcats

Scottish Wildcat Action, supported by the Scottish Government and Heritage Lottery Fund, and its new website has easy-to-use features which encourage people in the Scottish Highlands to report sightings, volunteer with fieldwork, and register their interest to help.

Labour MSP and wildcat champion Rhoda Grant said: “The Scottish Wildcat is part of our heritage that we are desperately seeking to protect. We have a limited time to stop wildcats from disappearing but we also need to reduce the risks from hybridisation and disease from feral cats in the meantime. The launch of the website today will not only help to identify where our remaining wildcats are but it will also help to glean invaluable information on hybrids and feral cat sightings which will allow for the required action to be taken to reduce the hybrids and combat the transmission of disease.

“The website will offer members of the public the opportunity to be involved in this fantastic project to save this most beautiful of species and will, I am sure, prove to be an invaluable resource in ensuring the wildcat’s survival.”

Dr Roo Campbell, Scottish Wildcat Action Project Manager for the work in wildcat priority areas, said: “Local sightings of all wild-living cats are key in our efforts to save Scottish wildcats and the new website will allow our local communities to report sightings.

“As part of our national work, our team of staff and volunteers will set up more than 400 trail cameras in wildcat priority areas to build up a picture of what’s out there, but public sightings will add valuable intelligence to this standardised monitoring.”

Trail cameras are motion-sensitive field cameras used for monitoring shy species that live in remote places.

The website gives users further tips on how to identify a Scottish wildcat, but the general advice is if it looks like a large tabby cat with a thick ringed tail with a black blunt tip, it could be one of few remaining wildcats.

Hybrid and feral cat sightings are also important to the project, which aims to reduce risks of hybridisation and disease transmission through a co-ordinated Trap-Neuter (vaccinate) and Release (TNR) programme in the priority areas.

Numbers of Scottish wildcat are now so low that it is difficult for them to find and mate with other wildcats, so inevitably they have hybrid kittens with unneutered domestic cats.

This inter-breeding is contributing to the attrition of Scottish wildcats as a distinctive native species. The presence of unvaccinated feral cats, often in poor condition, can also lead to diseases, such as feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), being passed on to wildcats.

Wildcat priority areas identified by Scottish Wildcat Action are Strathpeffer, Strathbogie, Northern Strathspey, the Angus Glens, Strathavon and Morvern. Sightings and volunteers within these areas are particularly important to the conservation of the species but sightings from across Scotland are also welcomed.

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “By working together as organisations and individuals we have a better chance of saving this rare native creature. It is thanks to players of the National Lottery that volunteers will be trained and cameras installed to track the elusive Scottish wildcat. However, it is down to us all to keep our eyes peeled, report any sightings, and give this species a brighter future.”

Rare Egyptian vulture discovery in Niger


This video says about itself:

Egyptian Vulture – equilibrist

Azerbaijan. Turianchai reserve. June 24, 2013.

From the Vulture Conservation Foundation:

17 August 2015

Egyptian Vultures found breeding in Niger

The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) – one of the smallest vultures in the world – is still declining fast across its vast range that includes Europe, Asia and Africa, and was in 2007 uplisted to Globally Endangered.

While populations in Europe are relatively well studied – although still declining fast – knowledge about the species in Africa is very poor. We know the species used to breed across the continent, from northern Africa through the Sahel zone to north Tanzania, down to south-west Angola and north-west Namibia, with a gap around equatorial Africa.

Even though data is lacking, breeding Egyptian vultures suffered a large decline in Africa too, and the species may be extinct in many countries south of the Sahara as a breeding species – although in the winter Africa receives many migrant Egyptian vultures coming from Europe.

Recently, colleagues from the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) have found that the species is still breeding in Niger – the first recent breeding record in the country. They found two pairs breeding in the Koutous Massif. This is good news for the species – incidentally, the area is close to the wintering quarters of European Egyptian vultures.

Congratulations to SCF for the fruitful work and for pushing vulture conservation in that part of the world.

Rare nautilus seen for first time in 30 years


This video says about itself:

28 August 2015

The Allonautilus scrobiculatus has inhabited the earth for 500 million years and has only been seen twice, until now.

A rare species of nautilus, a marine mollusc, has been found by researchers for the first time in 31 years. It has been suggested that the Allonautilus scrobiculatus could be the rarest animal in the world.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in 30 years

A rare nautilus has been sighted for the first time in three decades. Allonautilus scrobiculatus is a species of nautilus, marine animals that are small, distant cousins of squid and cuttlefish. They are an ancient lineage of animal, often christened a “living fossil” because their distinctive shells appear in the fossil record over an impressive 500 million year period.

The animal was first discovered by biologist Peter Ward and his colleague Bruce Saunders off of Ndrova Island in Papua New Guinea in 1984, when they realised that their differing gills, jaws, shell shape and male reproductive structures made them different to other nautilus species.

“Some features of the nautilus – like the shell giving it the ‘living fossil’ label — may not have changed for a long time, but other parts have,” said Ward. “It has this thick, hairy, slimy covering on its shell,” said Ward. “When we first saw that, we were astounded.”

This slimy nautilus turned out to be even more elusive than its siblings. Aside from another brief sighting by Saunders in 1986, Allonautilus disappeared until July 2015, when Ward returned to Papua New Guinea to survey nautilus populations.

“They swim just above the bottom of wherever they are,” said Ward. “Just like submarines, they have ‘fail depths’ where they’ll die if they go too deep, and surface waters are so warm that they usually can’t go up there. Water about 2,600 feet deep is going to isolate them.”

These restrictions on where nautiluses can go mean that populations near one island or coral reef can differ genetically or ecologically from those at another. The findings also pose a challenge for conservationists.

“Once they’re gone from an area, they’re gone for good,” said Ward.

Illegal fishing and “mining” operations for nautilus shells have already decimated some populations, Ward said. This unchecked practice could threaten a lineage that has been around longer than the dinosaurs were and survived the two largest mass extinctions in Earth’s history. As it stands now, nautilus mining could cause nautiluses to go extinct.”

Ancient big sea scorpion discovery in Iowa, USA


Pentecopterus decorahensis. Image: Patrick Lynch/Yale University

From Vice.com in the USA:

This Prehistoric Sea Scorpion Was the Size of a Person

Written by Becky Ferreira

1 September 2015 // 01:00 AM CET

The fossilized remains of an enormous sea scorpion have been found in a Iowan fossil bed at the bottom of an ancient impact crater. (Take a moment to let all that sink in.)

Named for a Greek warship called the penteconter, Pentecopterus decorahensis is like some kind of evolutionary fever dream. The newly-discovered species was decked out with lethal clawlike appendages and an idiosyncratic, paddle-shaped leg that was likely used for locomotion.

Measuring almost six feet long, Pentecopterus was a veritable giant in the seas of the Ordovician period, some 467 million years ago.

“It was probably the largest animal in its ecosystem,” paleontologist James Lamsdell told me. Lamsdell is the lead author of a paper describing the animal, published today in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

“From what we know, there was nothing else around that would have been likely to consider Pentecopterus prey,” he added. “It seems that Pentecopterus was the dominant animal in its ecosystem.”

This is even more impressive considering this species is the oldest eurypterid—the scientific term for sea scorpion—ever found in the fossil record. Eurypterids were a very diverse group of creatures that flourished for over 200 million years, before dying off at the dawn of the Triassic period. Among their ranks were the largest arthropods that ever roamed the Earth, and their close relatives live on today in the arachnid family.

The discovery of Pentecopterus pushes the evolutionary timeline of these influential animals back about nine million years, though Lamsdell said the eurypterid family tree’s roots run even deeper.

“We know that Pentecopterus is actually a relatively advanced eurypterid,” he told me. “The exciting thing about this is that it means that there must have been a number of other eurypterid groups around at the time too that we have yet to discover.”

“It is clear however that Pentecopterus was one of the earliest large predators in these complex ecosystems,” he added.

What’s more, Pentecopterus left behind the kind of beautifully fossilized remains that most paleontologists only dream about. “It is very rare to find such exquisite preservation in fossils of this age,” Lamsdell said. “I have never seen anything like this before in a eurypterid.”

The fine state of the specimens is due to the unique nature of Iowa’s Decorah crater where the fossils, which include both adult and juvenile members of the species, were excavated.

The crater was formed about 470 million years ago, when a 200-meter-wide meteorite impacted the Earth. The Ordovician oceans flooded the deformation, creating a shallow marine environment of brackish water. Here, Pentecopterus communities flourished, and when individuals died, they were etched into geological history by the crater’s deoxygenated seafloor, which provided perfect conditions for fossilization.

Indeed, according to Lamsdell, some of the fossils have even retained the creature’s hair and skin patterns. “The really exciting thing is that fine details like hair patterns can tell us a lot about the animals’ ecology,” he said.

“For animals with an external exoskeleton, hairs are the primary way in which they sense the world around them, as eyes can only be looking at one place at any one time,” he continued. “From looking at hair patterns we can see which parts of the animal were particularly sensitive.”

“For example, there are many hairs on the margins of the swimming paddle, meaning that it would have been very sensitive to changes in current flow, which would have helped it as a swimmer,” Lamsdell said.

So, to sum up: Paleontologists have inferred intimate details about a monster species of sea scorpion, the oldest yet found, which lived in the cozy fallout of a planetary collision nearly half a billion years ago. If that doesn’t rate high on your wow meter, you need to get it fixed.

See also here. And here. And here.

Rare citrine wagtail, video


This video says about itself:

31 August 2015

Citrine Wagtail adult female, Warmond, the Netherlands, 2 November 2010.

This blog already blogged about that citrine wagtail when it was there in 2010; including (other) videos.