‘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.

Harbour porpoises studied in England


This video from England says about itself:

Thames Timelapse

2 April 2014

R/V Song of the Whale travels up the River Thames, in search of harbour porpoises.

From Wildlife Extra:

Whale research vessel begins porpoise survey in the Thames Estuary

A research team on board the unique, non-invasive whale research vessel Song of the Whale will carry out the first ever comprehensive scientific study to assess the population of Harbour Porpoises (the UK’s smallest cetacean) in the Thames Estuary between March 5 and 14.

In all, the survey will cover the area from Ipswich, travelling up the Thames through central London to Tower Bridge, the Thames Barrier, Teddington Lock and the Outer Estuary.

Marine Conservation Research International (MCR), which owns and operates the boat, will carry out acoustic and visual surveys using underwater microphones (hydrophones) and visual techniques, funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and with help from conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The aim is to find out more about where this shy species is located in the tidal Thames and the threats porpoises face from human activities such as man-made underwater noise and litter.

This essential information can help in efforts to conserve the species.

An open day for members of the public to visit the boat will be held on Sunday March 8 at the Hermitage Community Moorings, Hermitage Wharf, Wapping.

The survey events will be as follow: March 5, when there is a training day in Ipswich; March 6, departure from Ipswich to Southend; March 7, Southend to Tower Bridge (day) and Tower Bridge to the Thames Barrier (night); March 8, 1-4pm, open afternoon for public, media and politicians; March 9, surveying Outer Estuary and Tower Bridge to Teddington Lock; March 10-14, further surveying of Outer Estuary and return to Ipswich.

Shore-based surveys involving members of the public will also take place at Rainham Marshes and Thameside Nature Park in Essex from 10am-4pm on Saturday March 7. These will be coordinated with assistance from the RSPB, Essex Wildlife Trust, Kent Mammal Group and ORCA.

For more information visit www.marineconservationresearch.org.

Unique bowhead whale swims near Cornwall


This video is called Bowhead Whale of the Arctic (Nature Documentary).

From ITV in Britain:

Bowhead whale spotted in Cornish waters

A whale never before seen in European waters has been sighted off the Cornish coast.

The Bowhead whale is usually found in the Arctic. The Sea Watch Foundation made this extraordinary discovery after mysterious pictures were sent in showing an animal whose head shape and jaw line didn’t match with descriptions of any of the expected whale species.

The pictures were sent in by Anna Cawthray, taken on a friend’s mobile phone. They showed the 25 ft long whale that she’d encountered off Par Beach on the island of St Martin’s.

Sea Watch’s Sightings Officer, Kathy James, sent the photos to other experts who confirmed the sighting as a bowhead whale. They say its “extraordinary” to see a bowhead in these waters.

Last updated Sat 28 Feb 2015

BBC – Earth – Do whales have graveyards where they prefer to die? Here.

Red squirrel in tawny owls’ nestbox, video


Before the tawny owl couple of my earlier blog post started nesting in their nestbox in Oisterwijk in the Netherlands, a red squirrel visited that box; as seen in the video here.

Giant panda news update


This video is called Life of Giant Pandas – Full Documentary.

From Associated Press today:

China’s latest survey finds increase in wild giant pandas

BEIJING — Wild giant pandas in China are doing well.

The latest census by China’s State Forestry Administration shows the panda population has grown by 268 to a total of 1,864 since the last survey ending in 2003.

Nearly three quarters of the pandas live in the southwestern province of Sichuan. The remaining pandas have been found in the neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

“The rise in the population of wild giant pandas is a victory for conservation and definitely one to celebrate,” said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation for World Wildlife Fund.

Hemley credited efforts by the Chinese government for the increase. The survey shows 1,246 wild giant pandas live within nature reserves. There are 67 panda reserves in China, an increase of 27 since the last survey.

“The survey result demonstrates the effectiveness of nature reserves in boosting wild giant panda numbers,” said Xiaohai Liu, executive program director for WWF-China.

But the survey also points to economic development as a main threat to the rare animal. It says 319 hydropower stations and 1,339 kilometers (832 miles) of roads have been built in the giant panda’s habitat.

WWF said it is the first time that large-scale infrastructure projects such as mining and railroads get referenced in the survey. Traditional threats such as poaching are on the decline, WWF noted.

China began surveying its giant pandas in the 1970s. The latest census began in 2011 and took three years to complete.

The number of giant pandas in captivity grew by 211, more than double the previous survey figure, according to the census released Saturday.

Bats of North Sea wind farms, new research


This video says about itself:

Male Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Bat singing

12 September 2014

At a large mixed maternity roost of Nathusius’ and Soprano pipistrelles in Northern Ireland, the males are busy trying to attract females with their songs. This boy had the cheek to sit right at the entrance to the roost so all the females had to go past him. He was a pretty loud and frantic singer so he probably got lucky.

You can see him opening his mouth as he makes each noise, but the camera could not pick up the very high-pitched sounds that he made.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

27 February 2015

You would not expect it, but bats also fly above the sea. Researchers have now shown that in the months of September and October they may even be found regularly in offshore wind farms. Probably the bats pass the windmills when they are migrating, but the researchers also conclude that they sometimes fly there from the continent to catch insects. Nathusius’ pipistrelle was most heard around the windmills, but signals were also heard from common noctule bats.

The study took place in two wind farms off the coast of Egmond.

Beached harbour porpoise rescued in England


This video from British Columbia in Canada says about itself:

Helpless Porpoise Rescued

30 April 2011

On April 26, 2011, a rare live stranding of an adult Harbour Porpoise occurred on Salt Spring Island. Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre, a local non profit marine mammal rescue centre responded to the stranding. Staff members guided the struggling animal ashore, administered some basic, supportive care, and transported the porpoise to the Island Wildlife facility where the porpoise was kept afloat in one of its marine mammal tanks.

The porpoise was later transported to the Ganges Coast Guard Station and loaded aboard the Coast Guard hover craft, Siyay, which rushed the animal to the Vancouver Aquarium who have more Cetacean rehabilitation expertise.

From the Lincolnshire Echo in England, with video there:

Porpoise rescued from muddy river bank at Gibraltar Point

February 20, 2015

A porpoise became stranded in a muddy river bottom at Gibraltar Point near Skegness today.

Volunteers from Natureland Seal Sanctuary in Skegness came to its rescue after it became stranded when the tide had gone out.

The rescuers had to be roped up for their own safety due to the muddy conditions on the riverbank.

They managed to get the porpoise onto a stretcher before transferring it to the beach.

They then waded through the sea water until it was deep enough to release the porpoise.