Brazilian Atlantic forest wildlife film at Rotterdam festival

This video is the trailer of the film Brazil, a natural history: Fragile Forest.

At the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, are not only films from Africa, but also this film.

The organisers write about it:

This enigmatic forest once stretched along the coast of Brazil for thousands of kilometres. Now there is only 7% left. Yet it is still home for many remarkable animals. Muriqui are the largest monkeys in South America. These very rare, highly social creatures greet each other with hugs – the closer the friendship, the more intense the hugs.

Great dusky swifts fly through the tumbling waters of the mighty Iguaçu Falls to build their nests on the slippery rock faces behind the curtains of water.

Coatis are curious looking creatures with their long flexible noses and banded tails, making them quite comical. But appearances can be deceptive; coatis are efficient hunters. They are also very social, living in all-female gangs that are composed of sisters, mothers and aunts. The females support one another in their day-to-day lives, keeping a watch out for predators.

Blue manakins are also social, but in a completely different way. In the depths of the forest, the males of these startlingly colourful birds work as a team to court a female. Like miniature circus performers they jump and bounce on a branch, one after the other, to excite their audience. Only the lead artist gets to carry out the last act.

African wildlife films at Rotterdam festival

This video is the trailer of the film Africa’s Trees of Life – Sausage Tree.

The organisers of the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam in the Netherlands write about it:

With a new perspective and fresh approach to wildlife filmmaking this film tells the story of the predators and animals that live in Nsefu along Zambia’s Luangwa River. A mother leopard finds the perfect place to ambush her prey. She shares her territory with a pride of lions and their nine cubs. Powerful lionesses hunt down a warthog and a buffalo and introduce the two-month-old cubs to their first solid meal. In the river, hippo bulls fight to protect their part of the river, and hundreds of crocodiles feed on the body of the loser.

The anchor of the film is an iconic tree – the Sausage Tree – easily recognizable within the vast landscape of the South Luangwa Valley. The harsh reality brought on by the winter drought plays out in the shade of the sausage tree which throws a life line to the hippos, giraffes, elephants, antelopes and baboons of the area. Large fruits and crimson flowers keep the herbivores well fed when all other vegetation is withered and dry.

With specialized low light cameras we follow a hippo on its secretive night mission to find the nutritious fallen fruits. Then he pays it forward by dispersing the sausage tree’s seeds in his dung. Cameras in the tree capture the macro insect life that revolves around the flowers. Bees collect pollen and nectar and, at the same time, fertilize the flowers. The same cameras placed on the branches film birds, baboons, vervet monkeys and squirrels drinking the abundant nectar. Below them, puku, impalas and bushbuck eat the fallen flowers.

This video is the film Zakouma.

The Rotterdam festival organisers write about it:

Between the Sahara desert and lush forests in the center of the continent of Africa, there is an intermediate band, made of savanna, thorny scrub, forest gallery and rocky outcrops.

In this region, six months in the year, not a drop of water falls, and animals persist in seeking the last ponds. The other half of the year, this desert place becomes a quagmire and all animals are in a flooded landscape by torrential rains. Few nature places are unspoiled in this region. But there is a real jewel in the heart of the Sahel: Zakouma National Park in Chad!

Mammal films at Rotterdam festival

This video is called The Arctic Giant. It is the trailer of a film about bowhead whales.

At the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, there will not only be films about birds, but also films about mammals. Like The Arctic Giant.

This video is called Dolphins Spy in the Pod 2014 Season 1 Episode 2.

The festival organisers write about this film:

Using revolutionary wildlife film-making techniques, 13 Spy Camera Creatures including ‘Spy Dolphin’, ‘Spy Nautilus’ and ‘Spy Turtle’ infiltrate the secret underwater world of dolphins. Swimming right alongside some of the most captivating animals on the planet, these new spies reveal spectacular moments from inside the pod.

In this extraordinary undersea voyage into the dolphin’s world, much of the behaviour has never been seen before. Seen through the camera eyes of the different Spy Creatures, this is dolphins up close and irresistible.

This video is the trailer of the film Wild Taiga. It shows wolves, brown bears, and other mammals in Finland and Belarus. Also birds, like pygmy owls.

This video is called Hunt for the Russian Tiger trailer.

The festival organisers write about this film:

Over five years of loneliness and danger one man waited to see a glimpse of Siberian tigers. Their intimate private lives had never been filmed before. Now biologist Chris Morgan reveals an amazing story of endurance in Russia’s wilderness as the first cameraman to record the tigers’ family life. This is the story of a man in search of one of the rarest of big cats.

This video is called Broken Tail trailer. The festival organisers write about this film:

Colin Stafford-Johnson spent almost 600 days filming Broken Tail and his family. Broken Tail was the most flamboyant tiger cub he’d ever seen in Ranthambhore, one of India’s premier wild tiger reserves.

Impossibly cute, he gamboled and posed for Colin’s camera through the first years of his life. But then without warning, Broken Tail abandoned his sanctuary and went on the run – surviving in hills, farmland & scrub until eventually he was killed by a train almost 200 kilometres from home. He was barely three years old.

Why did this young tiger leave Ranthambhore National Park, supposedly one of India’s best-protected tiger reserves? How could he possibly have survived in rural India for perhaps a year? What does his death reveal of the fate of the world’s last tigers? On a spectacular journey across Rajasthan, Colin travels by horseback retracing Broken Tail’s last journey, gathering clues as to his route and his behaviour, asking why he abandoned the park and above all – leading the search for the truth behind the future of the last wild tigers in India.

The story of a charismatic Irish cameraman on the trail of a lost tiger makes Broken Tail a compelling, poignant and important film.

This video is called BLOOD LIONS, OFFICIAL TRAILER 2015.

The festival organisers write about this film:

Breeding lions for slaughter in South Africa is big business. Over 1000 captive-bred, hand-reared lions were killed in the country last year, fueling a multimillion-dollar international industry.

Blood Lions follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on their journey to uncover the realities about predator breeding and canned lion hunting.

Michler investigates the breeding farms where lions are hand-reared to be sold to the hunting industry. We witness the results of battery farming that provide stark contrast to lives of wild lions.

Aggressive farmers resent Michler’s questions, but the highly profitable commercialisation of lions is plain to see – cub petting, volunteer recruitment, lion walking, hunting, and the new lion bone trade are all on the increase. It is a story that blows the lid off all the conservation claims made by the breeders and hunters in attempting to justify what they do.

This video is the film, also shown in Rotterdam, Pride. It says about itself:

13 September 2013

Pride looks into the cultural relationship between residents of Gujarat, India and the last remaining population of Asiatic lions in the world. With fewer than 50 lions living in the wild at the turn of the 20th century, rural communities started working with the government to create a haven for this top predator and are successfully securing this animal’s place in the ecosystem. Produced by Roshan Patel.

This video is called BBC Natural World | The Real Jungle Book Bear.

The festival organisers write about this film:

We all know him, we all love him: Baloo – Mowgli’s constant companion from The Jungle Book. Writer Rudyard Kipling and even more the Walt Disney movie made this clumsy fellow world famous.

The role models for Baloo are the Sloth Bears of India – surprisingly little is known about this secretive species. These in our days mostly nocturnal animals have never been portrayed in a natural history program before.

Over a period of three years Oliver Goetzl and Ivo Nörenberg not only were lucky enough to film these elusive creatures at daytime but got also behavior that was even not known to scientists so far – e.g. the mouth feeding of cubs by their mothers. Jungle Book Bear, a BBC film, is narrated by David Attenborough.

This video is called Pandas: The Journey Home Trailer.

The festival organisers write about this film:

This 3D family film will let you fall in love with this iconic, delightful creature and better understand the desperate plight of pandas in the wild. The filmmakers of National Geographic’s Pandas: The Journey Home were granted unprecedented access to the Wolong Panda Center in China to bring to light the extraordinary efforts of the Chinese to secure the panda’s future in the wild.

The film follows the center’s pandas at a significant milestone in their history. After decades of its captive breeding program, the center has hit its target number of 300 giant pandas and must now tackle the challenge of reintroducing breeding populations to the wild. The filmmakers were allowed to film the release of pandas bred in captivity and to follow a group of wild pandas in their mountain habitat.

Meet all of the pandas at the center as they get ready for their new lives, and learn about their fascinating habits as you chuckle at their hijinks. It turns out pandas are as much fun as they are cute, and they love getting the best of their keepers! Experience the dedication of the scientists who work tirelessly on behalf of this amazing animal. And follow one panda in particular, Tao Tao, as he is released into the bamboo forest to begin his adventure living in the wild.

This video is the film A Wild Dogs Tale.

The festival organisers write about this film:

In the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta an extraordinary lone African wild dog named Solo is creating a new pack for herself out of an unlikely alliance of hyenas and jackals. She sees this incredible team of predators as not just her hunting partners, but also as her family. She is even taking the lead in raising the offspring of her jackal companions by hunting and bringing back food for them, and by fighting off all threats. A Wild Dog’s Tale follows this true story, featuring amazing animal behaviour never seen before. This National Geographic film is truly amazing.

This video is called The Bat Man of Mexico: Trailer – Natural World – BBC Two

The festival organisers write about this film:

In this BBC film David Attenborough narrates the story of Rodrigo Medellin, Mexico’s very own ‘Bat Man’. Since he first kept vampire bats in his bathroom as a child, Rodrigo has dedicated his life to saving them.

Now Mexico’s most famous export product, tequila, is at stake. Rodrigo’s beloved lesser long-nosed bat is crucial to the liquor – pollinating the plants the drink is made from. To save both, Rodrigo must track the bats’ epic migration across Mexico – braving hurricanes, snakes, Mayan tombs and seas of cockroaches. The threats are very real not only for Rodrigo and the bats, but also for anyone with a taste for tequila.

Hog-nosed rat discovery in Sulawesi, Indonesia

This 1 October 2015 is about a newly discovered rat species in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

From the Journal of Mammalogy:

A hog-nosed shrew rat (Rodentia: Muridae) from Sulawesi Island, Indonesia

Jacob A. Esselstyn, Anang S. Achmadi, Heru Handika, Kevin C. Rowe

29 September 2015


We document a new genus and species of shrew rat from the north peninsula of Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. The new taxon is known only from the type locality at 1,600 m elevation on Mt. Dako, in the district of Tolitoli.

It is distinguished from all other Indonesian murines by its large, flat, pink nose with forward-facing nares. Relative to other Sulawesi murines, the species has extremely large ears (~ 21% of head and body length), very long urogenital hairs, prominent and medially bowing hamular processes on the pterygoid bones, extremely long and procumbent lower incisors, and unusually long articular surfaces on the mandibular condyles.

Morphologically, the new taxon is most similar to a group of endemic Sulawesi rats known commonly as “shrew rats.” These are long faced, carnivorous murines, and include the genera Echiothrix, Melasmothrix, Paucidentomys, Sommeromys, and Tateomys. Our Bayesian and likelihood analyses of DNA sequences concatenated from 5 unlinked loci infer the new shrew rat as sister to a clade consisting of Melasmothrix, Paucidentomys, and Echiothrix, suggesting that Sulawesi shrew rats represent a clade.

The Sulawesi water rat, Waiomys mamasae, was sister to the shrew rats in our analyses. Discovery of this new genus and species brings known shrew rat diversity on Sulawesi to 6 genera and 8 species. The extent of morphological diversity among these animals is remarkable considering the small number of species currently known.

Extinct horse with fossil uterus discovery

A skeleton of a Eurohippus messelensis mare is shown with its fetus (white ellipse). (photo: Sven Traenkner)

From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:

Oldest preserved uterus found in ancient horse-like fossil

Deborah Netburn

October 7, 2015

Talk about a mother of a discovery: Researchers in Germany have found the fossil of a 48-million-year-old pregnant horse relative, her fetus and bits of her preserved uterus as well.

It is the oldest and only the second fossil uterus ever described, according to Jens Franzen of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany.

Franzen and his colleagues described the find in a paper published Wednesday in PLOS One.

Less than 2% of fossil mammal finds have yielded anything more than fragments of jaw material and other bones, which makes this discovery particularly unexpected.

The primitive horse relative is known as Eurohippus messelensis. It was much smaller than modern-day horses. Even fully grown, the ancient equine was about the size of a fox terrier — about 12 inches high at the shoulders. It was discovered in Grube Messel, near Darmstadt, Germany.

In the picture above, you are looking mostly at the fossilized remains of the mare. The fetus is located in the white oval.

Franzen and his colleagues report that the 48-million-year-old uterus looks nearly identical to those found in modern horses. This suggests that the uteral system was already well developed by the Eocene period (56 to 34 million years ago), and may date back to the Paleocene era (66 million to 56 million years ago) or even earlier.

Grube Messel is a former shale quarry that is famous for its complete vertebrate skeletons. Back in the time when Eurohippus messelensis roamed, it was a freshwater lake, surrounded by a tropical rainforest.

Animals that fell in the lake were preserved thanks to an interaction between bacteria in the lake and iron in the water.

After a dead animal was submerged in the lake, bacteria gathered on its soft tissue and started producing CO2. The CO2 reacted with the iron in the lake to form iron carbonate minerals. This material hardened on the bacteria, creating a fixed bacterial mat that exactly followed the lines of the decomposing soft tissue.

“The bacteria petrified themselves,” Franzen said.

The preserved bit of uterus was not immediately obvious, however. The researchers said they first noticed a “conspicuous gray shadow” between the fetus and the lumbar vertebrae of the mother, after taking a micro X-ray of the fossil.

They eliminated the possibility that the shadow was an artifact of preparation or an abdominal muscle. Eventually, they concluded that they were looking at the oldest bit of fossilized uterus ever seen.

The authors are still not sure what killed the mother Eurohippus messelensis, but it is unlikely that childbirth was to blame. Although the fetus was near term when its mother died, it was not yet positioned to enter the birth canal.

See also here. And here.

Seal in Biesbosch national park

This video is called Scotland’s Big 5 – Harbour Seal.

Translated from Staatsbosbeheer in the Netherlands:

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

In the [freshwater national park] Biesbosch for some time a seal has been swimming around. A boater saw the animal swim last night and informed forester Thomas van der Es.

Probably the seal swam via the Haringvliet or the New Waterway into the nature reserve. Because there is plenty of fish in the Biesbosch, the animal will remain strong enough to swim back to sea under its own power.

It remains a rarity to see these animals in the Biesbosch. … The last two observations were in March 2002 and in December 2012.

Extinct human Homo naledi’s hands and feet, new study

This video says about itself:

10 September 2015

Paleoanthropologist and explorer Lee Berger has made an important new discovery in the human family tree: a new species called Homo naledi. In this interview with journalist Bill Blakemore, Berger gives the details of the find, how it came about, the difficulty in recovering the fossils, and why it’s such an important find.

From Nature Communications:

The foot of Homo naledi

6 October 2015


Modern humans are characterized by a highly specialized foot that reflects our obligate bipedalism. Our understanding of hominin foot evolution is, although, hindered by a paucity of well-associated remains.

Here we describe the foot of Homo naledi from Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa, using 107 pedal elements, including one nearly-complete adult foot. The H. naledi foot is predominantly modern human-like in morphology and inferred function, with an adducted hallux, an elongated tarsus, and derived ankle and calcaneocuboid joints. In combination, these features indicate a foot well adapted for striding bipedalism.

However, the H. naledi foot differs from modern humans in having more curved proximal pedal phalanges, and features suggestive of a reduced medial longitudinal arch. Within the context of primitive features found elsewhere in the skeleton, these findings suggest a unique locomotor repertoire for H. naledi, thus providing further evidence of locomotor diversity within both the hominin clade and the genus Homo.

Also from Nature Communications:

The hand of Homo naledi

6 October 2015


A nearly complete right hand of an adult hominin was recovered from the Rising Star cave system, South Africa. Based on associated hominin material, the bones of this hand are attributed to Homo naledi.

This hand reveals a long, robust thumb and derived wrist morphology that is shared with Neandertals and modern humans, and considered adaptive for intensified manual manipulation.

However, the finger bones are longer and more curved than in most australopiths, indicating frequent use of the hand during life for strong grasping during locomotor climbing and suspension. These markedly curved digits in combination with an otherwise human-like wrist and palm indicate a significant degree of climbing, despite the derived nature of many aspects of the hand and other regions of the postcranial skeleton in H. naledi.