Ancient crustacean fossil named after David Attenborough


This 21 March 2017 video from England is called Cascolus ravitis, a 430 Million-Year-Old ‘Exceptionally Preserved’ Fossil.

From the University of Leicester in England:

430 million-year-old fossil named in honor of Sir David Attenborough

Ancient relative of the lobsters and crabs complete with soft-parts is new to science

March 22, 2017

Summary: A new 430 million-year-old fossil has been discovered by scientists, and has been named in honor of Sir David Attenborough. The discovery is a unique example of its kind in the fossil record, say the authors of a new report.

An international team of scientists led by the University of Leicester has discovered a new 430 million-year-old fossil and has named it in honour of Sir David Attenborough — who grew up on the University campus.

The fossil is described as ‘exceptionally well preserved in three-dimensions’ — complete with the soft-parts of the animal, such as legs, eyes and very delicate antennae. The fossil has been determined as an ancient crustacean new to science — a distant relative of the living lobsters, shrimps and crabs. There are about 40,000 crustacean species known today.

The find comes from volcanic ash deposits that accumulated in a marine setting in what is now Herefordshire in the Welsh Borderland.

Professor David Siveter of the Department of Geology at the University of Leicester made the discovery working alongside researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Imperial College London and Yale, USA.

Professor Siveter said: “Such a well-preserved fossil is exciting, and this particular one is a unique example of its kind in the fossil record, and so we can establish it as a new species of a new genus.”

“Even though it is relatively small, at just nine millimetres long, it preserves incredible detail including body parts that are normally not fossilized. It provides scientists with important, novel insights into the evolution of the body plan, the limbs and possible respiratory-circulatory physiology of a primitive member of one of the major groups of Crustacea.”

The fossil is named Cascolus ravitis in honour of Sir David, who grew up on University College Leicester campus (the forerunner of the University), in celebration of his 90th birthday. Cascolus is derived from castrum meaning ‘stronghold’ and colus, ‘dwelling in’, alluding to the Old English source for the surname Attenborough; while ‘ravitis” is a combination of Ratae — the Roman name for Leicester — ‘vita’, life, and ‘commeatis’, a messenger.

Professor Siveter said: “In my youth, David Attenborough‘s early programmes on the BBC, such as ‘Zoo Quest‘, greatly encouraged my interest in Natural History and it is a pleasure to honour him in this way.”

Sir David Attenborough said: “The biggest compliment that a biologist or palaeontologist can pay to another one is to name a fossil in his honour and I take this as a very great compliment. I was once a scientist so I’m very honoured and flattered that the Professor should say such nice things about me now.”

Professor Siveter added: “The animal lived in the Silurian period of geological time. Some 430 million years ago much of southern Britain was positioned in warm southerly subtropical latitudes, quite close to a large ancient continent of what we now call North America, and was covered by a shallow sea. The crustacean and other animals living there died and were preserved when a fine volcanic ash rained down upon them.”

The fossil specimen has been reconstructed as a virtual fossil by 3D computer modeling.

New frog from the Peruvian Andes is the first amphibian named after Sir David Attenborough: here.

Australian Great Barrier Reef coral problems


This March 2017 WWF video is about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It has coral bleaching problems.

Raccoon in Canada video


This video from British Columbia, Canada says about itself:

Raccoon Vs Rock Crab – Blue Planet – BBC Earth

22 February 2017

On the coast of Vancouver Island, the changing tides have a fascinating impact on shallow sea life. Raccoons take full advantage of the low tide to enjoy a sea feast in the spring tides.

Sea snails and hermit crabs video


This video says about itself:

Giant Horse Conch & Burglar Hermit Crabs – Blue Planet – BBC Earth

20 February 2017

An amazing Giant Sea Snail makes a meal of a smaller Tulip Snail and it is not long before a group of eager Hermit Crabs seize the opportunity to grab a new home.

Curaçao coral reefs video


This 1 February 2017 Dutch video is about biology student Auke-Florian Hiemstra, doing research about coral around Curaçao island.

Corals may get temporary reprieve from bleaching: here.

New dragonfly species named after baby Bhutanese prince


Gyalsey emerald spreadwing dragonfly

This month, Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands reports that a new dragonfly species from Bhutan has been named.

The insect was discovered in 2015, during a joint Bhutanese-Dutch expedition in eastern Bhutan.

Its name is Gyalsey emerald spreadwing dragonfly. Gyalsey means ‘prince’ in Bhutanese. The new species was named after the young crown prince of Bhutan; on his first birthday, the dragonfly’s name became known.

113 dragonfly species are known from Bhutan.

Walnut orb-weaver spider, European Spider of the Year


This video is called Spider ID: Walnut Orb-Weaver.

The walnut orb-weaver spider has been named European Spider of the Year 2017.

Deutsche Welle radio in Germany writes about it:

Germany’s arachnologists put their focus on this cute creature: Many of us have likely met the walnut orb-weaver spider at some point – around the garden or house. It loves to dwell in old masonry or in the bark of old trees or dead wood. Its cobwebs are large and beautiful: up to 50 inches in diameter.