Brown bear bones discovery in the Netherlands


This video says about itself:

17 March 2014

The awe-inspiring brown bear lives in the forests and mountains of northern North America, Europe, and Asia. It is the most widely distributed bear in the world.

Translated from Staatsbosbeheer in the Netherlands:

Thursday, May 28, 2015 12:12

During recent archaeological field surveys in the dunes of the Kop van Schouwen bones of the brown bear were found by archaeologists of the AWN Association of Volunteers in Archaeology. This find is spectacular to mention, because since 1940 only a pierced bear’s tooth had been found in the province of Zeeland until now.

Living locally

A pierced bear’s tooth may have been brought as an amulet by people from elsewhere, but the discovery of the bones probably reflects the actual local occurrence of the brown bear. Expert Dick Mol ruled that the remains are indeed of a young brown bear.

Dated

When the bear was living in Zealand must still be precisely determined. Until now it was known that until the High Middle Ages (10th to 12th century) bears still lived in the Benelux countries. C14 dating can clarify the precise age of the bones.

Roe deer, entangled in fence, free again


Roe deer, entangled in fence

Regional TV Bolsward in Friesland province in the Netherlands reports that this morning, a young male roe deer was found, which had become stuck in a fence.

The deer was brought to an animal shelter. There, it wounds were cared for. Then, the animal was freed.

New ‘apeman’ species discovery in Ethiopia


This video says about itself:

New Human Ancestor Species from Ethiopia – May 2015

27 May 2015

A new relative joins “Lucy” on the human family tree. An international team of scientists, led by Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, has discovered a 3.3 to 3.5 million-year-old new human ancestor species. Upper and lower jaw fossils recovered from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia have been assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. This hominin lived alongside the famous “Lucy’s” species, Australopithecus afarensis. The species will be described in the May 28, 2015 issue of the international scientific journal Nature.

From the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the USA:

May 27, 2015

New human ancestor species from Ethiopia lived alongside Lucy’s species

A new relative joins “Lucy” on the human family tree. An international team of scientists, led by Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, has discovered a 3.3 to 3.5 million-year-old new human ancestor species. Upper and lower jaw fossils recovered from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia have been assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. This hominin lived alongside the famous “Lucy’s” species, Australopithecus afarensis. The species will be described in the May 28, 2015 issue of the international scientific journal Nature.

Lucy’s species lived from 2.9 million years ago to 3.8 million years ago, overlapping in time with the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. The new species is the most conclusive evidence for the contemporaneous presence of more than one closely related early human ancestor species prior to 3 million years ago. The species name “deyiremeda” (day-ihreme-dah) means “close relative” in the language spoken by the Afar people.

Australopithecus deyiremeda differs from Lucy’s species in terms of the shape and size of its thick-enameled teeth and the robust architecture of its lower jaws. The anterior teeth are also relatively small indicating that it probably had a different diet.

“The new species is yet another confirmation that Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, was not the only potential human ancestor species that roamed in what is now the Afar region of Ethiopia during the middle Pliocene,” said lead author and Woranso-Mille project team leader Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “Current fossil evidence from the Woranso-Mille study area clearly shows that there were at least two, if not three, early human species living at the same time and in close geographic proximity.”

“The age of the new fossils is very well constrained by the regional geology, radiometric dating, and new paleomagnetic data,” said co-author Dr. Beverly Saylor of Case Western Reserve University. The combined evidence from radiometric, paleomagnetic, and depositional rate analyses yields estimated minimum and maximum ages of 3.3 and 3.5 million years.

“This new species from Ethiopia takes the ongoing debate on early hominin diversity to another level,” said Haile-Selassie. “Some of our colleagues are going to be skeptical about this new species, which is not unusual. However, I think it is time that we look into the earlier phases of our evolution with an open mind and carefully examine the currently available fossil evidence rather than immediately dismissing the fossils that do not fit our long-held hypotheses,” said Haile-Selassie.

Scientists have long argued that there was only one pre-human species at any given time between 3 and 4 million years ago, subsequently giving rise to another new species through time. This was what the fossil record appeared to indicate until the end of the 20th century. However, the naming of Australopithecus bahrelghazali from Chad and Kenyanthropus platyops from Kenya, both from the same time period as Lucy’s species, challenged this long-held idea. Although a number of researchers were skeptical about the validity of these species, the announcement by Haile-Selassie of the 3.4 million-year-old Burtele partial foot in 2012 cleared some of the skepticism on the likelihood of multiple early hominin species in the 3 to 4 million-year range.

The Burtele partial fossil foot did not belong to a member of Lucy’s species. However, despite the similarity in geological age and close geographic proximity, the researchers have not assigned the partial foot to the new species due to lack of clear association. Regardless, the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda incontrovertibly confirms that multiple species did indeed co-exist during this time period.

This discovery has important implications for our understanding of early hominin ecology. It also raises significant questions, such as how multiple early hominins living at the same time and geographic area might have used the shared landscape and available resources.

Discovery of Australopithecus deyiremeda:

The holotype (type specimen) of Australopithecus deyiremeda is an upper jaw with teeth discovered on March 4, 2011, on top of a silty clay surface at one of the Burtele localities. The paratype lower jaws were also surface discoveries found on March 4 and 5, 2011, at the same locality as the holotype and another nearby locality called Waytaleyta. The holotype upper jaw was found in one piece (except for one of the teeth which was found nearby), whereas the mandible was recovered in two halves that were found about two meters apart from each other. The other mandible was found about 2 kilometers east of where the Burtele specimens were found.

Location of the Discovery:

The fossil specimens were found in the Woranso-Mille Paleontological Project study area located in the central Afar region of Ethiopia about 325 miles (520 kilometers) northeast of the capital Addis Ababa and 22 miles (35 kilometers) north of Hadar (“Lucy’s” site). Burtele and Waytaleyta are local names for the areas where the holotype and paratypes were found and they are located in the Mille district, Zone 1 of the Afar Regional State.

The Woranso-Mille Project:

The Woranso-Mille Paleontological project conducts field and laboratory work in Ethiopia every year. This multidisciplinary project is led by Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Additional co-authors of this research include: Dr. Luis Gibert of University of Barcelona (Spain), Dr. Stephanie Melillo of the Max Planck Institute (Leipzig, Germany), Dr. Timothy M. Ryan of Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Mulugeta Alene of Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Drs. Alan Deino and Gary Scott of the Berkeley Geochronology Center, Dr. Naomi E. Levin of Johns Hopkins University, and Dr. Beverly Z. Saylor of Case Western Reserve University. Graduate and undergraduate students from Ethiopia and the United States of America also participated in the field and laboratory activities of the project.

Explore further: Fossil lower jaw sheds light on early Homo

More information: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature14448

Journal reference: Nature

Swift couple reunited in English nestbox


This video from England says about itself:

Special first moments of Swift arrival from migration – BirdLife nestbox

20 May 2015

This is the exciting moment the second swift arrived at the BirdLife nestbox, after the pair spent 9 months separated on their huge migrations to Africa! The pair exhibit some very interesting bond-affirmation behaviours. Imagine you had spent 9 months apart from your partner!

Video captured by Shaun Hurrell by filming the live feed screen which is in the BirdLife staff room. The swifts can’t hear the background noises, but they do get disturbed midway through by someone walking past the nestbox outside.

From BirdLife:

Special first moments captured on video when second swift returns from migration

By Shaun Hurrell, Sat, 23/05/2015 – 15:57

How would you behave when reunited with a loved one after spending 9 months apart? (and after spending 9 months without sitting down!)

For the BirdLife swifts, spending so long apart on their migrations to Africa is a yearly occurrence. But this is the first time the very first moments of being reunited have been captured on camera – from a nestbox on the side of the BirdLife offices in Cambridge, UK.

Swift, Apus apus, mate for life and tend to return to the same nextboxes year after year. However, the incredible little birds spend almost thier entire lives flying – they even sleep on the wing – and pairs take separate migration routes.

Recorded by BirdLife staff during their lunch, the footage above most likely shows a pair re-affirming their bonds in preparation for nesting.

According to local experts, the ‘wing flapping’ behaviour exibited in the video is a way of stopping aggression when the two meet again or when a bird attracts a new partner. However, courtship and encouraging a new prospective partner to use a nestbox are usually rather more drawn-out affairs than the behaviours displayed here, thus it is very likely that this is last year’s pair meeting up again and re-affirming their bond. Ahhhh :)

Spending only 3 months in Europe to breed, these swifts in Cambridge are ‘on loan’ from our central and southern African colleagues. Swifts have one of the longest migrations of any bird in the region of 22,000 km.

Every year, BirdLife staff wait with excited anticipation for the sound of screeching swifts around the BirdLife offices. But with knowledge of challenges migratory birds face in the Mediterranean and the huge threat of illegal killing, this is always a worry.

Swifts are already struggling because of the lack of traditional roofing eaves and spaces for them to nest, so installing a swift box on your house in Europe is one of the best things you can do to help the species.

Thanks to Dick Newell from Action for Swifts for installing the nestbox and camera at Bird Life’s offices in Cambridge, and to Edward Mayer and Mark Smyth from Swift Conservation for their advice.

The arrival of migratory birds signals a change in seasons, when life is in full swing. Use this cue to get out and enjoy nature, and at the same time give something back. Follow our advice and make simple changes to make your garden, balcony, or school bird-friendly with Spring Alive this year.

Spring Alive is a movement started by a BirdLife, organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) to encourage children and adults to take action for the migratory birds they learn about. This season, Spring Alive has provided easy-to-use information and directions to help you to help birds.

And once you have done it – share it – show and tell us about your achievements on the Spring Alive facebook and flickr pages!

Portuguese birds, new Internet site


This is a lesser spotted woodpecker video from Portugal.

From BirdLife:

Portugal’s birding at your fingertips

By Nuno Barros, Tue, 26/05/2015 – 14:50

Now available at your fingertips, all you need to know about more than 100 species of bird and birdwatching in mainland Portugal, the Azores and Madeira archipelagos. Yes, you can find all the information you need to know about all the best birding sites that the country has to offer, itineraries, and many other interesting facts and figures on the Portuguese Society for the Study of Bird’s (SPEA/BirdLife partner) new website.

Found in the south-western part of Europe, Portugal is a small but beautiful country, home to friendly people, a huge myriad of habitats, and many southern European bird species. In the last few years, more and more birdwatchers have come and discovered the many wonders of birding in Portugal, mostly in the Alentejo and Algarve regions. The country’s year round great weather conditions and ease of spotting elusive birds like the Black-winged Kite, Little Bittern, Great Bustard or Azure-Winged Magpie draws birders from far and wide.

Even in the peak of winter you can expect to see more than 100 species in a week, and with a bit of luck, enjoy some sunny days. And Portugal is so small, so it’s easy to jump from one amazing birding hot spot to another, and along with the local cuisine, culture and landscapes, a visit is simply a must.

There are certainly many other places to go birdwatching in Portugal and it’s islands, but this platform provides birdwatchers with what SPEA thinks are all you need to know about the “best” birding sites around, places that not surprisingly overlap with Important Bird and BiodiversityAreas (IBAs), the conservation background that is SPEA’s stronghold.

So all bird lovers, we invite you to come and explore our website, and see what this magnificent corner of Europe has to offer. You can also come to our next Sagres Birdwatching and Nature activities Festival, from 1-4th October, to celebrate some of Portugal’s birdwatching wonders.

Galapagos volcano calms, pink iguanas safe


This is a David Attenborough video on Galapagos pink iguanas.

From AFP news agency:

May 26, 2015

Galapagos volcano calms, pink iguanas out of danger

A volcano in the Galapagos Islands whose fiery eruption raised fears for the world’s only population of pink iguanas has calmed, sparing the unique critters from danger, officials said Tuesday.

Wolf volcano is still showing signs of activity but has died down since a tour boat to the area found it breathing tongues of fire, puffing smoke and spilling bright orange streams of lava Monday, said officials at the Galapagos National Park and Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute.

“We haven’t had any more explosions like yesterday’s, which suggests a decrease in activity. However, there are still lava flows, which is normal in these cases,” said Alexandra Alvarado of the Geophysics Institute.

The island, Isabela, is home to the only known pink land iguanas in the world. The species, Conolophus marthae, lives at the foot of the volcano and is listed as critically endangered, with a population of only about 500.

The area, which is uninhabited by humans, is also home to members of a rare species of giant tortoise, Chelonoidis becki.

But the animals live on the northwest side of the volcano, opposite the , and appear to have been spared from harm, a park official said.

“We will likely carry out more flights over the area, but the are safe, and the tortoises, because the lava is flowing down the opposite side,” the official said.

Wolf volcano had last erupted in 1982.

It is one of five volcanoes on Isabela island, the largest in the Galapagos.

The Pacific archipelago, which sits about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador, was made famous by Charles Darwin‘s studies of its breathtaking biodiversity, which was crucial in his development of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

UNESCO, which has declared the Galapagos a World Heritage Site, has warned the islands’ environment is in danger from increased tourism and the introduction of invasive species.

The pink iguanas, which were discovered in 1986, were established as a separate species in 2009 after an analysis of their genetic makeup determined they were distinct from their cousins, the Galapagos land iguanas.

Explore further: Fears for pink iguanas as Galapagos volcano erupts

Thankfully, the animals now appear to be in the clear, along with their neighbours, yellow iguanas and giant tortoises. The volcano is still erupting, but it has calmed down and the lava streams are flowing away from where the animals live: here.