Birds of prey in Yellowstone National Park, USA


This 24 June 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

LIVE with Raptors in West Yellowstone | Yellowstone Live

Meet an owl named Acadia and see bald eagles in action LIVE from West Yellowstone, Montana. Naturalist Leanne Schuh from the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and National Geographic Explorer Rae Wynn Grant are here to take your questions!

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Capuchin monkeys’ stone-tool use evolution


This June 2018 video says about itself:

White-faced capuchin (Cebus capucinus imitator) stone tool use in Coiba National Park, Panama

Higher Quality Supplemental Video from the paper “Habitual stone-tool aided extractive foraging in white-faced capuchins, Cebus capucinus.” Currently up on BioRxiV as a preprint and in peer review.

Preprint available here.

By Bruce Bower, 11:00am, June 24, 2019:

Capuchin monkeys’ stone-tool use has evolved over 3,000 years

A Brazilian site shows the animals’ long history of selecting various types of pounding devices

Excavations in Brazil have pounded out new insights into the handiness of ancient monkeys.

South American capuchin monkeys have not only hammered and dug with carefully chosen stones for the last 3,000 years, but also have selected pounding tools of varying sizes and weights along the way.

Capuchin stone implements recovered at a site in northeastern Brazil display signs of shifts during the last three millennia between a focus on dealing with either relatively small, soft foods or larger, hard-shelled edibles, researchers report. These discoveries, described online June 24 in Nature Ecology & Evolution, are the first evidence of changing patterns of stone-tool use in a nonhuman primate.

“It’s likely that local vegetation changes after 3,000 years ago led to changes in capuchin stone tools”, says archaeologist Tomos Proffitt of University College London. The new findings raise the possibility that chimpanzees and macaque monkeys, which also use stones to pound and dig, have shifted their tool-use styles over the long haul, perhaps in response to climate and habitat changes, Proffitt says.

Archaeological sites linked to apes and monkeys are rare, though. Previous excavations in West Africa unearthed nut-cracking stones wielded by chimps around 4,300 years ago (SN: 11/21/09, p. 24). Present-day chimps inhabiting the same part of Africa crack nuts with similar-looking rocks.

Evidence of long-term changes in tools used by wild capuchins (Sapajus libidinosus) comes from a site in Brazil’s Serra da Capivara National Park. Excavations there have also yielded ancient human stone tools (SN: 10/18/14, p. 14). But the newly unearthed artifacts more closely resemble stone tools used by modern capuchins at the same site (SN: 11/26/16, p. 16), rather than Stone Age human implements, the researchers say.

Primatologist Tiago Falótico of the University of São Paulo, Proffitt and their colleagues recovered 122 capuchin stone artifacts from four sediment layers. Radiocarbon dating of charred wood bits in each layer provided age estimates for the finds. Excavated tools consisted of partial and complete pounding stones, rocks used as platforms on which to pound objects, and pieces of rock that detached from pounding stones and platforms during use.

Relatively small, heavily damaged pounding implements from between around 3,000 and 2,500 years ago were likely used to smash open tiny foods such as seeds or fruits with soft rinds, the researchers say. Similar tools uncovered at the site date to around 600 years ago. Larger pounding stones from overlying sediment appeared about 300 years ago. The appearance of bigger capuchin tools by around that time denoted a shift to eating hard-shelled fruits and nuts that required high-impact pounding to open, the team says.

Then starting roughly 100 years ago, capuchins downsized pounding stones slightly to crack cashews efficiently, the researchers suspect. Capuchins living near the site today like to eat cashews that the animals crack with similar pounding stones.

Either of two scenarios accounted for the variety of stone artifacts found at the Brazilian monkey site, Proffitt says. Different capuchin populations may have visited the location at various times, each using particular types of stones to crack or open preferred seeds, nuts or fruits. Or, a single capuchin population may have regularly returned to the site and changed its tool use over time in order to exploit different types of foods.

Stone tool modifications that occurred over the last 3,000 years among Brazilian capuchins are comparable to those observed among West African chimp communities today, says University of Oxford primatologist and archaeologist Susana Carvalho. These chimps use large, heavy stones to crack hard Panda nuts as well as small stones to break open softer palm oil nuts. “What’s novel is that a stone tool pattern we had already seen in chimps today is now recognizable from the archaeological evidence for capuchins.”

Still, differences between large and small capuchin and chimp tools are modest relative to contrasts among ancient hominid tools, such as simple chopping implements and oval hand axes, Carvalho says. Hominids began making and using stone tools at least 2.6 million years ago.

Swiming sea cucumbers, video


This 14 June 2019 video says about itself:

Weird and Wonderful: Swimming sea cucumbers

It can be hard to move from place to place for many animals that live on the seafloor and move slowly. Most sea cucumbers (Holothurians) live a sedentary life on the bottom of the ocean, eating sediment or detritus that rains down from above. But some sea cucumbers leave the life of eating and pooping on the seafloor temporarily by swimming. They may do this as a defense behavior, or to find a mate. Sea cucumbers have made remarkable adaptations to master the challenges of living in the deep sea.

For more information on the importance of holothurians in deep ecosystems see here.

American prothonotary warblers threatened


This 2013 video from North America is called Prothonotary Warbler Portrait.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office:

Key locations for declining songbird

June 19, 2019

Many of North America’s migratory songbirds, which undertake awe-inspiring journeys twice a year, are declining at alarming rates. For conservation efforts to succeed, wildlife managers need to know where they go and what challenges they face during their annual migration to Latin America and back. For a new study published by The Condor: Ornithological Applications, researchers in six states assembled an unprecedented effort to track where Prothonotary Warblers that breed across the eastern U.S. go in winter — their “migratory connectivity” — and found that nearly the entire species depends on a relatively small area in Colombia threatened by deforestation and sociopolitical changes.

The Ohio State University’s Christopher Tonra and his colleagues coordinated the deployment of 149 geolocators, tiny devices that use the timing of dawn and dusk to estimate birds’ locations, on Prothonotary Warblers captured at sites across their breeding range. When the birds returned to their nesting sites the following year, the researchers were able to recover 34 devices that contained enough data for them to use. The geolocator data showed that regardless of where they bred, most of the warblers used the same two major Central American stopover sites during their migration and spent the winter in a relatively small area of northern Colombia. Additionally, many Prothonotary Warblers appeared to winter in inland areas, rather than in coastal mangrove habitat, which previous studies suggested they relied on most heavily.

These unexpected findings show that we may not understand the winter habitat needs of migratory songbirds as well as we thought. “The most surprising thing about the results was the overwhelming importance of Colombia to this species”, says Tonra. “We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of migratory connectivity, but we never expected that nearly every bird would use the same wintering region. This provided a clear conservation message and shows the power of geolocators in addressing gaps in our knowledge of migratory songbirds.” Colombia’s 50-year civil war accelerated deforestation in the region of the country where the warblers are concentrated, but the good news is that the convergence of birds in this single area means that conservation efforts targeted here could benefit breeding populations across North America.

Collecting data on birds across such a broad geographic area required close collaboration among the study’s thirteen coauthors. “This was very much a team effort, but it really started with Erik Johnson at Audubon Louisiana and Jared Wolfe with the Louisiana Bird Observatory,” says Tonra. “Erik founded and leads our Prothonotary Warbler Working Group, and he initiated the idea of deploying tags across their range. This was an extremely rewarding example of what you can accomplish through collaboration across the range of a species of concern. Everyone put in an enormous effort to gather data in their region, as well as contributing to the preparation of the paper.”