Baby golden snub-nosed monkey in China


This 10 February 2020 video says about itself:

The golden snub-nosed monkey only lives in the mountains of central China. And, when a baby is born, all the females want a chance to hold her.

Elephant herd, including baby, in South Africa


This 8 February 2020 video from South Africa says about itself:

Elephant herd and adorable calf at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

Earth Lodge, being unfenced, allows for some spectacular game viewing. Here, Marelize captured a herd of elephants enjoying some water at the water feature in front of the gym at Earth Lodge. Look out for the adorable calf

Opossums pollinating Brazilian flowers, new discovery


This 7 February 2020 video from Brazil is called Big-eared opossum licking the nectar.

From the Ecological Society of America:

Pollinating opossums confirm decades-long theory

February 12, 2020

In Brazil there is a plant so strange that researchers predicted — and 27 years later, proved — that opossums are key to its pollination. The findings are published in the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecology.

The plant Scybalium fungiforme, a little-known fungus-like species of the family Balanophoraceae, has bunches of tiny pale flowers that are surrounded and housed by a hard surface of bracts — like on an artichoke. Because of their scale-like shape, the bracts must be opened or peeled back to expose the flowers and nectar to pollinators such as bees.

While most species in the Balanophoraceae plant family are primarily pollinated by bees and wasps, researchers at São Paulo State University in Botucatu, Brazil hypothesized something different. They thought that opossums, with their opposable thumbs, would be a key pollinator for S. fungiforme due to the challenging bracts covering the flowers.

In the early 1990s Patrícia Morellato, a professor at the university, first made the prediction. She and her colleagues studied the plant and they captured an opossum with nectar on its nose. There observations went unpublished because they did not record or obtain direct evidence of the opossums pollinating the flowers.

Felipe Amorim, assistant professor at the university and lead author on this study, did not encounter the plant until 2017, but hypothesized that a non-flying mammal is needed for pollination based on the flower morphology. In April 2019 his students independently hypothesized that perhaps rodents could act as the main pollinators of this species. “At that time, neither of us knew anything about the unpublished observations made by Patrícia in the ’90s”, he explains.

In May 2019 Amorim and a team of researchers went to Serra do Japi Biological Reserve, located about 50 km from the area studied by Morellato, and set up night-vision cameras to record the activity of nocturnal flower visitors. The cameras captured opossums removing bracts from the fungus-like plant and pushing their faces into the flowers to eat the nectar. It was the first direct evidence of opossums pollinating the plant.

Amorim sent his colleague Morellato the footage. “When she watched the videos,” he says, “she sent me a voice message as excited as we were when we first saw the opossum visiting the flowers, because it was the first time she saw something she predicted two and a half-decades ago!”

The researchers had made the opossum prediction based on “pollination syndrome” — the concept that floral attributes such as color, morphology, scent, and size reflect the adaptation of a plant species to pollination by a certain group of animals. Opossums, having “hands” with opposable thumbs, are capable of peeling back the scale-like leafs covering the flowers of S. fungiforme. The plant does have other floral visitors that act as secondary pollinators once the bracts are removed — bees and wasps dominate the crowd, but a surprising additional visitor was several hummingbirds.

“Based on the flower morphology,” Amorim says, “Morellato, my students, and I could safely predict that this plant should be pollinated by non-flying mammals, but the occurrence of hummingbirds coming to the ground to visit these flowers was something completely unexpected to me.” Morellato had not seen any hummingbirds visiting this species at her study site during the ’90s, but researchers have more recently obtained indirect evidence that hummingbirds visit the plant in both study locations.

The authors hope to continue studying the pollinators of S. fungiforme to assess the efficiency of each group of flower visitor (mammals, hummingbirds, and bees and wasps) in order to quantify their contribution to the fruit production of this plant. They also want to analyze the chemical compounds of nectar and floral scent, which can reveal much about the adaptation of a plant for a given group of pollinator.

Overall, the story is an interesting one to tell, the culmination of nearly three decades of prediction and observation based on the hard shell surrounding a bunch of tiny flowers. Amorim contemplates that “at the time that non-flying mammals were first predicted as the pollinators of this fungus-like plant, I was about 11 years old, and most of the authors of this study hadn’t even been born!”

Wolves feed blueberries to pups, new research


This 12 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

First-ever footage of wolves eating blueberries in Northern Minnesota

The first-ever footage of wolves eating blueberries in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem! We tried for 2 years to get this footage of wolves eating berries and finally got it this past summer! As far as we know, this is the only footage that exists of wild wolves eating blueberries. Though, we know of a few clips of wolves eating other kinds of berries or fruits.

By Jake Buehler, 11 February 2020:

Wolves regurgitate blueberries for their pups to eat

Fruit may be more important to the animals’ diet than previously thought

Gray wolves are known to snack on blueberries, but the animals do more than fill their own bellies. A new, serendipitous observation shows an adult wolf regurgitating the berries for its pups to eat, the first time anyone has documented this behavior.

Wolves have a well-earned reputation as skillful hunters with a taste for large, hoofed ungulates like deer and moose. But scientists are increasingly recognizing that these predators have an exceptionally varied diet, partaking in everything from beavers and fish to fruit.

In 2017, biologist Austin Homkes of Northern Michigan University in Marquette got a sense of just how important this mixed diet could be for wolves. A cluster of signals from a GPS collar on a wolf led Homkes to a meadow just outside Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park. Homkes, who was studying the animals’ predatory and dietary habits, thought he was headed for a spot where the wolf had killed a meal. But it turned out to be a rendezvous site, with adult wolves bringing food to their no longer den-bound pups.

Homkes watched from a distance as several pups gathered around an adult wolf, licking up at its mouth. This behavior stimulates adult wolves to throw up a recent meal. Sure enough, the adult began vomiting, and the pups eagerly ate what accumulated on the ground. After the wolves left, Homkes got closer and saw that the regurgitated piles were purely of partially chewed blueberries, he and colleagues report February 11 in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.

“It’s a pretty big part of wolf ecology that was right under our noses that we didn’t see,” Homkes says.

Until now, he and his colleagues thought pups in the region just casually munched on berries while hanging around rendezvous sites, which often contain blueberry plants. The fruit may be an underappreciated food source for the pups, the researchers think.

Conservation biologist Robert Mysłajek of the University of Warsaw says the discovery is an “interesting complement” to our knowledge of the species. “Such observations should be especially important for wildlife managers, who often focus only on wolf-ungulate interactions, forgetting about other food items consumed by wolves,” Mysłajek says.

The findings are generating plenty of questions. Homkes is curious about the nutritional value of blueberries for the mostly carnivorous wolves, and the consequences of a bad berry year. “What happens when blueberries are not available if a pack is used to relying on them?” he wonders.

Leopard versus lioness in Namibia


This 11 February 2020 video says about itself:

Leopard Walks Right into a Lion

Watch this incredible moment when an inquisitive & opportunistic lioness sets her eyes on what she decides could be an easy catch.

24-Year-old French biologist and freelance safari guide, Valentin Lavis, was at the perfect spot at just the right time when he caught this rare sighting on video.

He was on an 18-day private safari in Namibia where he and his guests spent the remainder of their trip in the Etosha National Park.

Valentin tells latestsightings.com the story:

“I was guiding an 18-day private safari with 2 clients for a honeymoon. We spent the first 12 days around the country visiting amazing landscapes and a bit of wildlife. My guests were super excited for Etosha National Park and so we spent the remaining 5 nights in the park with a safari every day.”

“We entered the park around midday and made our way to Olifantsrus campsite for the 1st night. We had some great sightings while on safari, but this afternoon was definitely one of the best in my life. It started with an elephant herd crossing in front of us, a tower of giraffes drinking with a honey badger having a mud bath in the middle and at around 5pm I decided to check one last waterhole before heading toward the camp to watch the sunset at the hide.”

“One of the reasons I love this part of Etosha is because it is very quiet and you can often have a sighting just for yourself without being disturbed. There was one vehicle parked next to the water, we started to approach slowly and one of my guests said ‘Lioness!’ Indeed it was! A beautiful lioness was sitting in the open not too far from the water. I soon spotted another animal drinking at the waterhole but it looked way smaller than the lioness… A leopard!!!”

“I quickly positioned the 4×4 to provide a good visual for my guests and waited for the confrontation to happen. It took mere seconds when the lioness started stalking the young female leopard who wasn’t even aware of the lioness’s presence at all! We all tensed up and waited, preparing ourselves for the dramatic but truly wild moment that had to follow, and realized that we are the only few people on earth who will experience this right as it happened.”

“My guests had their cameras ready, and, I too, started to film as steadily as possible while trying to contain my emotions. This was incredibly exciting! The lioness stalked quietly, waiting to get close enough to the leopardess before launching, but as her excitement built up, the leopardess noticed movement and became more than aware of her fate. For a moment, the two stared at each other and the lioness launched as the leopardess turned and speedily ran off into the thicket. After missing her chance, the lioness returned toward the Mopani thickets where she was lying at first. “

“I tried to follow the tracks of the leopardess who disappeared after the attack to try and find where she had run off to, we went toward the main gravel road and my client once again spotted her, she was up in a very uncomfortable thorny bush, completely terrified and alert. We stuck around for an hour or so to see if she would finally calm down and come back down from the tree. Sadly she only came about halfway down the tree when it was time for us to return to camp as the gates were about to close. All bush lovers can confirm: it’s always like this on safari!”

Bat biology, new research


This December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Biology of bats

It turns out that warm-blooded animals aren’t warm all of the time! Researchers at Brown University studying the muscles in bats’ wings found that their wings operate at a significantly lower temperature than their bodies, especially during flight. The National Science Foundation-funded team says this shows that warm-blooded animals have a lot more variation in body temperature than expected. That has implications for how animals are moving around, including humans.