European toad winking its eye, video


This video is about an European toad winking.

Nel Appelmelk from the Netherlands made the video.

Carboniferous forest simulation on your computer?


This video is called The Carboniferous Period.

From the Carboniferous Forest Simulation site, where you can download this program:

Carboniferous Forest Simulation

Lost in the darkness of our coal mines for more than 300 millions of years, the swamps and forests of the ancient past of our planet now come to new life:

A free, interactive realtime simulation places you into a time machine and enables you to take a walk through the overgrown jungle of ferns, tree-like clubmosses and giant insects our modern civilization was founded on.

The application is currently in alpha state. This means, that the application is not complete both technical and content-wise (for example plant descriptions and sound are not complete, and animals are still missing) and it may contain errors. Nevertheless, we decided to release it as early as possible to share the development progress with you. You can also track and discuss the progress in the interesting “Making of”-thread in The Fossil Forum.

In its final version, the application will be free for personal, museum and educational use, in its current alpha version it is only free for personal use.

Any feedback, hints and reviews by paleontologists, fossil specialists, game/simulation developers and any interested persons are highly appreciated!

Please note, that you will need a pretty tough computer to run the simulation. The minimum requirement is a 2.4 GHz Core I5 processor or similar, 4 GB of RAM and a 1GB 3D graphics card (at least Geforce 560TI or similar).

Shape-shifting frog discovered in Ecuador


Skin texture variation in one individual Pristimantis mutabilis; note how skin texture shifts from highly tubercular to almost smooth; also note the relative size of the tubercles on the eyelid, lower lip, dorsum and limbs. Image credit: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society

From Sci-News.com:

Pristimantis mutabilis: Scientists Discover Shape-Shifting Frog in Ecuador

Mar 24, 2015

Case Western Reserve University PhD student Katherine Krynak, naturalist Tim Krynak of Cleveland Metroparks’ Natural Resources Division, and their colleagues from the Universidad Indoamerica, the University of Kansas, and organization Tropical Herping, have described a unique species of frog from Reserva Las Gralarias, Pichincha, north-central Ecuador. According to the team, the new species – named Pristimantis mutabilis (mutable rainfrog) – changes skin texture in minutes, appearing to mimic the texture it sits on.

Pristimantis mutabilis, described in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, is believed to be the first amphibian known to have this shape-shifting capability.

It belongs to a large genus of approximately 470 frog species found in the southern Caribbean and in Central and South America from Honduras to northern Argentina and southern Brazil.

The scientists believe the ability to change skin texture to reflect its surroundings may enable Pristimantis mutabilis to help camouflage itself from birds and other predators.

Katherine and Tim Krynak originally spotted the small, spiny frog, nearly the width of a marble, sitting on a moss-covered leaf about a yard off the ground on a misty July night in 2009.

The scientists captured one specimen and tucked it into a cup with a lid before resuming their nightly search for wildlife. They nicknamed the frog ‘punk rocker‘ because of the thorn-like spines covering its body.

The next day, Katherine Krynak pulled the frog from the cup and set it on a smooth white sheet of plastic for Tim Krynak to photograph. “It wasn’t ‘punk’ – it was smooth-skinned,” they said.

The scientists found the frog shifts skin texture in a little more than 3 minutes. They then performed morphological and genetic analyses showing that the frog was a unique and undescribed species.

They also studied the frog’s calls, finding three songs the species uses, which differentiate them from relatives.

In addition, team members Dr Juan Guayasamin and Dr Carl Hutter discovered that Pristimantis sobetes – a previously known species of frog with similar markings but about twice the size of Pristimantis mutabilis – has the same trait when they placed a spiny specimen on a sheet and watched its skin turn smooth.

The team plans to continue surveying for Pristimantis mutabilis and to further document their behaviors, lifecycle and texture shifting, and estimate their population, all in effort to improve our knowledge and subsequent ability to conserve this paradigm shifting species. Further, they hope to discern whether more relatives have the ability to shift skin texture and if that trait comes from a common ancestor.

If Pristimantis mutabilis and P. sobetes are the only species within this branch of Pristimantis frogs to have this capability, they hope to learn whether they retained it from an ancestor while relatives did not, or whether the trait evolved independently in each species.

Big Triassic amphibian fossil discovery in Portugal


This video says about itself:

24 March 2015

Excavation in Portugal of giant Triassic fossil amphibian Metoposaurus algarvensis – Paleontology dig.

From Associated Press:

Researchers Find Fossil of ‘Super Salamander’ Species

LONDON — Mar 24, 2015, 11:01 AM ET

Fossil remains of a previously unknown species of a crocodile-like “super salamander” that grew as long as a small car and was a top predator more than 200 million years ago have been found in southern Portugal, researchers announced Tuesday.

The species grew up to two meters (six feet) in length and lived in lakes and rivers, University of Edinburgh researchers said.

The team said the species, given the name Metoposaurus algarvensis, was part of a wider group of primitive amphibians that were widespread at the time but became extinct. They are the ancestors of modern amphibians such as frogs, and are believed by paleontologists to have lived at the same time the dinosaurs began their dominance.

Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said the new species, which had hundreds of sharp teeth, is “weird compared to anything today.”

It was at the top of the food chain, feeding mainly on fish, but it was also a danger for newly appeared dinosaurs and mammals that strayed too near the water, Brusatte said.

The team says the find establishes that this group of amphibians lived in a more diverse geographic area than had been thought.

Andrew Milner, an expert on early amphibians at the Natural History Museum in London who was not involved in the study, said the find “is another piece of the picture.” The Portuguese site has “very good potential to give us more and different types of animal” from the Upper Triassic period, he added.

The dig in Portugal began in 2009 and took several years. The “super salamander” bones were uncovered in a half-meter thick layer of rock in a hillside that is “chock-full” of bones, Brusatte said. The team hopes to raise funds to continue excavating the site.

See also here.

The scientific description of this newly discovered species is here.

Smooth newt’s mating season, video


This is a video about a male smooth newt, preparing for the mating season which will start at the end of March.

Jos van Zijl from the Netherlands made the video.

Blue moor frog video


This is a video about a male moor frog in the Netherlands.

It has its blueish mating season skin.

The video is by smuldershans.