The last mammoths, video


This 29 July 2021 video says about itself:

The Island of the Last Surviving Mammoths

The Wrangel Island mammoths would end up being the final survivors of a once-widespread genus. In their final years, after having thrived in many parts of the world for millions of years, the very last mammoths that ever lived experienced what’s known as a mutational meltdown.

Produced by Complexly for PBS Digital Studios

Liechtenstein prince poaches ‘Romania’s largest bear’


This 5 May 2021 video says about itself:

The bear hunter AKA Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein

Speak against injustice and against all those who think they are entitled to do what they want.

The bear killer who takes pride in obtaining the so-called ‘trophies‘ should be punished or not? What do you think?

From Politico.eu, 6 May 2021:

Liechtenstein prince accused of poaching ‘Romania’s largest bear

NGOs say the royal killed a 17-year-old brown bear in an act of trophy hunting.

By Eddy Wax

Environmental NGOs have accused a prince from the Liechtenstein royal family of shooting Romania’s largest bear in an act of trophy hunting.

Romania’s Agent Green and Austrian group VGT said in a joint statement published Wednesday that Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein visited Romania in March this year and killed a 17-year-old brown bear on a protected nature reserve.

According to the NGOs, the prince, who lives in Austria, came to Romania under the pretense of shooting a female bear for which the Romanian government had issued a special hunting derogation. The female was disturbing locals in a village in a nature-protection site in the Carpathian mountains.

However, the bear the prince shot was a male nicknamed Arthur that had been under observation by an Agent Green ranger and had always kept away from the villagers, the NGOs said.

“It is clear that the prince did not come to solve the problem of the locals, but to kill the bear and take home the biggest trophy to hang it on the wall. We are dealing with a game of poaching, since they shot the wrong bear,” said Agent Green President Gabriel Paun in his statement. …

The Associated Press reported it had seen documentation showing the prince paid the equivalent of €7,000 to obtain a four-day hunting permit.

Brown bears are protected from deliberate hunting under the EU habitats directive and derogations can be granted only under special circumstances, such as if the animal is putting the public or other wildlife in danger. …

She added, “It’s a great problem that rich people actually all over the world still do trophy hunting as a social activity.”

Birds and squirrel in Panama


This video says about itself:

Rufous Motmot, Red-tailed Squirrel And Blue-grey Tanager On The Panama Fruit Feeder – April 28, 2021

These three species are daily visitors to the Panama Fruit Feeder, here they are all in one clip each seeking some fresh banana. The Red-tailed Squirrels have developed tactics that allow them to liberate and make off with entire bananas.

Pleistocene frozen wolf pup discovery in Canada


This 22 December 2020 video from Canada is called What scientists have learned about mummified wolf pup from the ice age.

From the BBC, 22 December 2020:

A wolf cub that was found mummified in northern Canada lived at least 56,000 years ago, scientists say.

Hidden in permafrost for tens of thousands of years, the female cub was discovered by a gold miner near Dawson city in Yukon territory in 2016.

She has since been named Zhur, meaning wolf, by the local Tr’ondek Hwech’in people.

Scientists now say the cub, of which the hide, hair and teeth are intact, is “the most complete wolf mummy known”.

“She’s basically 100% intact – all that’s missing are her eyes,” lead author Professor Julie Meachen, a paleontologist and professor of anatomy at Des Moines University in Iowa, told the EurekAlert! science news website.

Using a variety of techniques, the team was able to determine many aspects of the cub’s life, from her age and diet to a probable cause of death.

The findings, published in the Current Biology journal on Monday, show the cub and her mother had eaten “aquatic resources”, including fish such as salmon.

Australian greater gliders three species, not one


This 2017 video from Australia is called Greater Glider (Petauroides volans), gliding possum, Strathbogie State Forest 1.

From James Cook University in Australia:

Greater glider species triple

One of Australia’s best-loved marsupials is actually three different species

November 21, 2020

A team of researchers from James Cook University (JCU), The Australian National University (ANU), the University of Canberra and CSIRO analysed the genetic make-up of the greater glider — a possum-sized marsupial that can glide up to 100 metres.

JCU’s PhD student Denise McGregor and Professor Andrew Krockenberger were part of a team that confirmed a long-held theory that the greater glider is actually multiple species.

As a part of her PhD project to understand why greater gliders varied so much across their range, Ms McGregor discovered that the genetic differences between the populations she was looking at were profound.

“There has been speculation for a while that there was more than one species of greater glider, but now we have proof from the DNA. It changes the whole way we think about them,” she said.

“Australia’s biodiversity just got a lot richer. It’s not every day that new mammals are confirmed, let alone two new mammals,” said Professor Krockenberger.

“Differences in size and physiology gave us hints that the one accepted species was actually three. For the first time, we were able to use Diversity Arrays (DArT) sequencing to provide genetic support for multiple species,” he said.

Greater gliders, much larger than the more well-known sugar gliders, eat only eucalyptus leaves and live in forests along the Great Dividing Range from northern Queensland to southern Victoria. Once common, they are now listed as ‘vulnerable’, with their numbers declining.

Dr Kara Youngentob, a co-author from ANU, said the identification and classification of species are essential for effective conservation management.

“This year Australia experienced a bushfire season of unprecedented severity, resulting in widespread habitat loss and mortality. As a result, there’s been an increased focus on understanding genetic diversity and structure of species to protect resilience in the face of climate change,” she said.

The division of the greater glider into multiple species reduces the previous widespread distribution of the original species, further increasing conservation concern for that animal and highlighting the lack of information about the other greater glider species,”said Dr Youngentob.

She said there have been alarming declines in greater glider populations in the Blue Mountains, NSW and Central Highlands, Victoria and localised extinctions in other areas.

“The knowledge that there is now genetic support for multiple species, with distributions that are much smaller than the range of the previously recognised single species, should be a consideration in future conservation status decisions and management legislation,” Dr Youngentob said.

Extinct walrus species discovery in California, USA


This July 2020 video says about itself:

The rise and fall of ancient walruses, and how modern ones got their tusks, is a story that spans almost 20 million years. And while there are parts of the story that we’re still trying to figure out, it looks like tusks didn’t have anything to do with how or what these animals ate.

From ScienceDaily:

Paleontologists uncover three new species of extinct walruses in Orange County, California

Study gives insight to tusk evolution of the marine mammal

November 16, 2020

Millions of years ago, in the warm Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California, walrus species without tusks lived abundantly.

But in a new study, Cal State Fullerton paleontologists have identified three new walrus species discovered in Orange County and one of the new species has “semi-tusks” — or longer teeth.

The other two new species don’t have tusks and all predate the evolution of the long iconic ivory tusks of the modern-day walrus, which lives in the frigid Arctic.

The researchers describe a total of 12 specimens of fossil walruses from Orange, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz counties, all estimated to be 5 to 10 million years old. The fossils represent five species, with two of the three new species represented by specimens of males, females and juveniles.

Their research, which gives insights on the dental and tusk evolution of the marine mammal, was published today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Geology graduate Jacob Biewer, and his research adviser James F. Parham, associate professor of geological sciences, are authors of the study, based on fossil skull specimens.

Parham and Biewer worked with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, an expert in marine mammals at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who is a co-author of the paper. Velez-Juarbe is a former postdoctoral scholar in Parham’s lab and has collaborated on other CSUF fossil research projects. Parham is a research associate at the museum, which provides research opportunities for him and his students.

The researchers teamed to study and describe the anatomy of the specimens, most of which are part of the museum’s collection.

“Orange County is the most important area for fossil walruses in the world,” said Biewer, first author of the paper who conducted the research for his master’s thesis. “This research shows how the walruses evolved with tusks.”

Extinct Walrus Species Get Names

Today, there is only one walrus species and its scientific name is Odobenus.

For the new species found in Orange County, the researchers named the semi-tusked walrus, Osodobenus eodon, by combining the words Oso and Odobenus. Another is named Pontolis kohnoi in honor of Naoki Kohno, a fossil walrus researcher from Japan. Both of these fossils were discovered in the Irvine, Lake Forest and Mission Viejo areas.

Osodobenus eodon and Pontolis kohnoi are both from the same geological rock layer as the 2018 study by Parham and his students of another new genus and species of a tuskless walrus, Titanotaria orangensis, named after CSUF Titans. These fossils were found in the Oso Member of the Capistrano Formation, a geological formation near Lake Forest and Mission Viejo.

The third new walrus species, Pontolis barroni, was found in Aliso Viejo, near the 73 Toll Road. It is named after John Barron, a retired researcher from the U.S.Geological Survey and world expert on the rock layer where the specimens were found, Parham said.

Analysis of these specimens show that fossil walrus teeth are more variable and complex than previously considered. Most of the new specimens predate the evolution of tusks, Parham said.

“Osodobenus eodon is the most primitive walrus with tusk-like teeth,” Parham said. “This new species demonstrates the important role of feeding ecology on the origin and early evolution of tusks.”

Biewer explained that his work focused on getting a better understanding of the evolutionary history of the walrus in regards to its teeth.

“The importance of dental evolution is that it shows the variability within and across walrus species. Scientists assumed you could identify certain species just based on the teeth, but we show how even individuals of the same species could have variability in their dental setup,” said Biewer, who earned a master’s degree in geology in 2019.

“Additionally, everyone assumes that the tusks are the most important teeth in a walrus, but this research further emphasizes how tusks were a later addition to the history of walruses. The majority of walrus species were fish eaters and adapted to catching fish, rather than using suction feeding on mollusks like modern walruses.”

Biewer, now a paleontologist in the Modesto area, also examined whether climate changes in the Pacific Ocean had an impact on ancient walruses. His work suggests that a rise in water temperature helped to boost nutrients and planktonic life, and played a role in the proliferation of walruses about 10 million years ago, which may have contributed to their diversity.

Background

For the fossil walrus research project, geology graduate Jacob Biewer spent hours in the lab measuring and describing the walrus bones.

“I sat many hours with a handy caliper taking notes on the lengths of teeth and width of skulls, among many other measurements,” he said. “Describing bones is much more in-depth and meticulous than it sounds. There are traits that the bones of each walrus species have — the size, shape and number of teeth. I recorded how the bones are different from, or similar to, other extinct walrus species.”

Biewer, a paleontologist who lives in Modesto, noted that despite the pandemic, he and Parham worked on the scientific paper with 300 miles of social distancing.

Completing his first journal publication, based on his master’s work, and conducting the research project helped him to understand scientific methods and techniques that he now uses in his career, where he monitors construction sites for paleontological resources. He also teaches undergraduate geology courses at Cal State Stanislaus, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology, and is considering pursuing a doctorate.

“The experiences I had in conducting this research, especially the presentations at national paleontological conferences, led to a big increase in my confidence in my scientific abilities,” Biewer said. “I credit my time working with Dr. Parham directly to the achievements in my current employment — from the skills he imparted to the doors he helped open.”

Glow-in-the-dark marsupials in Australia


This video says about itself:

In the deep, dark ocean, many sea creatures make their own light for hunting, mating and self-defense. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder was one of the first to film this glimmering world. At TED2011, she brings some of her glowing friends onstage, and shows more astonishing footage of glowing undersea life.

From ABC Radio Hobart in Australia:

Biofluorescent Australian mammals and marsupials take scientists by surprise in accidental discovery

By Rachel Edwards

Following the accidental discovery by scientists in the United States that platypuses glow under UV light, further tests by Australian scientists show other mammals and marsupials also glow.

Marsupials are mammals as well, though different from most mammals.

Biofluorescence has long been known to occur in some insects and sea creatures, but it was unknown that it occurred in other Australian mammals until earlier this month, when scientists at the Western Australian Museum rushed to check their specimen drawers to factcheck the US report.

The findings have Australian scientists working together to confirm the findings of biofluorescence in these animals, and to start looking for a reason that it may occur.

Paula Anich is a North America squirrel researcher from the Center for Science and the Environment, Northland College in the USA, and co-author of the paper about biofluorescent platypuses that was published in the journal Mammalia.

“It’s hard to resist a platypus,” Dr Anich said.

She was alerted to a pink glow that squirrels exude under UV light by a colleague.

Dr Anich then decided to check some of the other specimens she had to hand.

“We pulled the monotreme [egg-laying mammals like platypuses] drawer and the platypuses fluoresced, and it was amazing,” she told ABC Radio Hobart.

It was also reported by Linda Reinhold, a zoologist and amateur mycologist, in the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of the Queensland Mycologist that a roadkill specimen of platypus in Queensland was seen to glow under UV light.

Palaeontologist and curator of Mammalogy at the Western Australian Museum, Kenny Travouillon, heard about the article and borrowed a UV light from that the arachnology department of the museum.

“We borrowed it and turned off the lights in the collection and looked around for what was glowing and not glowing,” Dr Travouillon said.

“The first one we checked was the platypus obviously.

“We tried on marsupial moles and wombats,” Dr Travouillon said.

“We did on the carnivorous marsupials and they did not glow at all.

“It probably makes sense, because if their prey can see UV light, they would not be able to hide from them.”
Why do they glow?

Sarah Munks is an adjunct senior researcher with the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Tasmania and an expert in platypuses.

Given that the sample size of three platypus that had been preserved in a drawer in the Northern Hemisphere for decades is not enough for scientists to confirm that glowing fur is endemic to platypuses, she was initially sceptical.

“When I first read it, I thought ‘mmm, they were just sad-looking museum specimens’.

“A colleague suggested that they could be covered in urine.”

Benefits to glowing in the dark

Dr Anich hoped the release of the paper would get on the radar of Australian platypus experts.

“I think they are the scientists and wildlife biologists best placed to figure it out,” she said.

“It is possible that it is actually taking the ultraviolet light that is more prevalent at dusk and dawn, making it kind of disappear so that any predators that are keying in on ultraviolet light can’t see the platypus because it is kind of cloaking itself.”

Dr Munks was cautious.

“Their sample size was tiny — and I always like to put in a plug for more research,” she said.

“Is this just a way they can find each other? I don’t think so, platypuses have so many other ways of finding their way around.

“All the work done on other species suggests that it is an ancient form of camouflage.

Dr Travouillon suggests that “the benefit is probably so they can see their species from a distance, and they can approach them because they know that it is safe to go towards that animal.”

New collaborations and concern for funding

“It’s incredible seeing it zipping around the researchers,” said Dr Munks, referring to the journal article.

Dr Travouillon posted photos on Twitter of the other animals they tested under UV light, including an echidna, wombats, and bilbies.

“As soon as we posted the pictures, I got contacted from a researcher at Curtin University who works on forensic light and they are interested to do more research,” he said.

“He came with some of his equipment last week and we tested it on some of the specimens and it shows that it is not just UV light but some other lights too.

“We will look at various marsupials to see if there is a pattern with nocturnal mammals, a lot more research coming in the future,” Dr Travouillon said.

“If it’s quirky and interesting like that it will always get people’s attention.”

Cougars and foxes in Chile, new research


This 2017 video from Ecuador is called Andean Fox (Culpeo)!

From Virginia Tech university in the USA:

What does the fox say to a puma?

Predators form an unusual coexistence in the central Chilean Andes

November 13, 2020

Summary: Researchers have found that in the Chilean Andes, two predator species — the puma and the culpeo fox — can successfully share a landscape and hunt for food over the same nighttime hours because they are, in essence, ordering from different menus.

In the high plains of the central Chilean Andes, an ecosystem consisting of only a few animal species is providing researchers with new insights into how predators coexist in the wild.

“The puma and the culpeo fox are the only top predators on the landscape in the Chilean Andes,” said Professor Marcella Kelly, of the College of Natural Resources and Environment. “And there isn’t a wide range of prey species, in part because the guanacos [closely related to llamas] aren’t typically found in these areas anymore due to over-hunting. With such a simplified ecosystem, we thought we could really nail down how two rival predators interact.”

Kelly worked with Christian Osorio, a doctoral student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, and researchers from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile to chart the locations of and potential interactions between pumas and foxes in central Chile. They focused on three axes of interaction: spatial (where the animals are on the landscape), temporal (the timing of specific activities on a given landscape), and dietary (what each species is eating).

To understand the interplay between pumas and foxes, researchers deployed 50 camera stations across two sites in central Chile, one in the Rio Los Cipreses National Reserve and another on private land where cattle and horses are raised. They also collected scat samples at both locations to analyze the diets of pumas and foxes.

The team’s findings, published in the journal Diversity, showed that while pumas and foxes overlapped significantly where they lived and what time they were active, there was little overlap in what they were eating, with the puma diet consisting primarily of a large hare species introduced from Europe, while the culpeo foxes favored smaller rabbits, rodents, and seeds. The two predator species can successfully share a landscape and hunt for food over the same nighttime hours because they are, in essence, ordering from different menus.

“It is likely that foxes have realized that when they try to hunt hares, they might run into trouble with pumas,” Osorio explained. “If they are hunting smaller mammals, the pumas don’t care, but if the foxes start targeting larger prey, the pumas will react.”

How predator species interact is a crucial question for ecologists trying to understand the dynamics that inform ecosystem balances. And while the puma has been designated a species of least concern, the animal’s populations are declining and continue to be monitored by conservationists.

“Least concern does not mean no concern,” Osorio noted. “We have laws in Chile that protect the species, but the data we have to make a conservation designation are very scattered. As we accumulate more consistent and reliable data, the puma may be reclassified as vulnerable or even endangered.”

The hares that comprise approximately 70 percent of the biomass in the puma’s diet are a nonnative species, introduced to the area by European settlers. With guanacos absent from the landscape, the puma has had to adapt its diet to survive.

With some land managers and conservationists campaigning for the removal of the introduced hare species as a way to restore the area’s native ecosystem, Kelly and Osorio note that it is important to understand that pumas would be significantly impacted by a reduction in their primary food source.

A further concern, which the two are currently researching, is the interplay between wildlife and humans. The national reserve increasingly sees visitors eager to witness big cats and foxes in their natural environment, while the sheep and cattle industries are increasingly using remote terrain for livestock cultivation.

“Pumas do occasionally kill livestock, which is a challenge we’re looking into right now,” said Kelly, an affiliate of Virginia Tech’s Fralin Life Sciences Institute. “The government would like to preserve the puma, but there are competing challenges of what kind of threat they pose to livestock and what kind of threat cattle or sheep farming poses to them.”

Understanding how two predatory species can come to coexist has the potential to provide conservationists and ecologists with better ideas for how humans and wild animals can share a landscape.

Swedish, Finnish and Russian wolves, new research


This 2015 video is called Return of the European Wolf.

From Uppsala University in Sweden:

Swedish, Finnish and Russian wolves closely related

November 10, 2020

The Scandinavian wolf originally came from Finland and Russia, and unlike many other European wolf populations its genetic constitution is virtually free from dog admixture. In addition, individuals have migrated into and out of Scandinavia. These findings have emerged from new research at Uppsala University in which genetic material from more than 200 wolves was analysed. The study is published in the journal Evolutionary Applications.

The origin of the Scandinavian wolf strain has long been a controversial topic. Previous genetic studies have indicated migration from the east, without being able to give unequivocal answers about the geographical provenance of this population. The new survey provides a clearer picture of how it formed.

“We can see that those wolves that founded the Scandinavian population in the 1980s were genetically the same as present-day wolves in Finland and Russian Karelia,” says Hans Ellegren, professor of evolutionary biology at Uppsala University.

These results are a culmination of earlier research. In 2019, the same research group published a study in which they had analysed wolves’ Y-chromosome DNA only — that is, the male-specific genes that can be passed on solely from fathers to their male offspring, showing paternal lineages over past generations. In the new, much more extensive study, also led by Hans Ellegren and Linnéa Smeds at Uppsala University, whole-genome sequences were analysed.

From time to time, new wolves migrate into Sweden from the east. Now, on the other hand, the scientists found genetic evidence for migration in the opposite direction: Scandinavian-born wolves among animals found in Finland.

“We’ve probably never had a specific Scandinavian population. Throughout the ages, wolves have likely moved back and forth between the Scandinavian peninsula and regions to the east,” Ellegren says.

The researchers also sought answers to the question of whether there has been genetic mixing of dogs and Scandinavian wolves. Hybridisation between feral dogs and wolves is common in many parts of the world, and may be difficult to avoid. As late as in 2017, a hybrid wolf-dog litter was found in the county of Södermanland, southwest of Greater Stockholm. If such crossbreeds were allowed to reproduce, they would constitute a threat to the genomic integrity of the wolf strain.

When genetic material from Scandinavian and Finnish wolves was compared with that from some 100 dogs of various breeds, however, the scientists were unable to find any evidence that wolf-dog hybridisation has left its mark on the genetic composition of this wolf population — at least, no signs that recent crossbreeding has affected the wolves.

COVID-19, wildlife trade consequence


This 17 November 2020 video says about itself:

Covid Outbreaks On Mink Farms Stir Controversy Among Scientists | NBC News NOW

Controversy has risen in Denmark over the choice to kill millions of minks. Scientists have found a coronavirus mutation that is believed to spread from minks to humans. NBC News’ Molly Hunter reports.

Many diseases, such as COVID-19, have made the jump from animals to people with serious consequences for the human host. An international research team, including researchers from the University of Göttingen, says that more epidemics resulting from animal hosts are inevitable unless urgent action is taken. In order to protect against future pandemics which might be even more serious, they call for governments to establish effective legislation addressing wildlife trade, protection of habitats and reduction of interaction between people, wildlife and livestock. Their review was published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution: here.

Conservation of tropical peatlands could reduce the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the likelihood of new diseases jumping from animals to humans, researchers say: here.