New silver boa constrictor species discovery in Bahamas


Chilabothrus argentum, (photo: R. Graham Reynolds / The Reynolds Lab / UNCA)

A video says about itself:

A new species of boa constrictor has been discovered on a remote Caribbean island

27 mei 2016

A new species of boa constrictor with silvery scales has been discovered on a remote island in the Bahamas.

Scientists identified 20 of the three-foot long snakes during two expeditions to the Caribbean islands, the second made in October last year.

One of the creatures made a dramatic appearance by slithering onto the head of the expedition leader as he slept.

The Silver Boa, Chilabothrus argentum, is so-named because of its distinctive silver colour and the fact that the first specimen found was climbing a Silver Palm tree.

The US team led by Dr Graham Reynolds, from Harvard University, confirmed that the snake was a previously unknown species after conducting a genetic analysis of tissue samples.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Scientists discover new species of silver boa constrictor snake in Bahamas – but it’s already ‘critically endangered’

Silver boa described as ‘mild-mannered’, calm and possibly ‘critically endangered’ with fewer than 1,000 thought to exist

Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent

Thursday 26 May 2016

A new species of snake, described as a “calm and mild-mannered” creature, has been discovered in the Bahamas – but it is already feared to be critically endangered.

The silver reptile was found on a silver palm tree on Conception Island, an uninhabited nature reserve, in July last year.

And, after research to confirm it was a separate species, it has been named the silver boa or Chilabothrus argentum, scientists revealed in a paper about the discovery to be published in the journal Breviora.

Professor Graham Reynolds, of University of North Carolina Asheville, was among the first to see the snake.

“It was exciting. As soon as we saw the first one, we knew we’d found something new,” he said.

“It just sat there and looked at us. They are very docile animals, they are very calm, slow-moving, mild-mannered.”

Deciding to conduct a systematic search that night, they then found four others of the same species before deciding to get some sleep on the beach.

“As I was sleeping I woke up to a disturbance and there was something on my face and I realised it was a boa,” Dr Reynolds said.

“It came out of the forest and crawled around on top of me. Maybe I smelled like the other snakes or something. I’ve never heard of that happening [with a boa].

“It was confusing at first but I thought it was incredible. I couldn’t believe it.”

He put the snake in a cloth bag and released it later after taking its measurements, an experience the snake seemed to take in its stride.

The beach encounter was all the more remarkable because the silver boa appears to be highly specialised, living and hunting in the trees.

Because they move so slowly, they catch their food mainly by sneaking up quietly on songbirds while they are resting in the trees at night.

“We’ve watching them stalk and hunt,” Dr Reynolds said. “It grabs its prey and wraps it up. We think they mostly eat birds.”

Their silver skin is unusual — snakes usually have a camouflage pattern – and the reasons behind its evolution are unclear. “The silvery colour is pretty striking. At night it shows up well in a flashlight,” Dr Reynolds said.

They grow to up to a metre long but are slender, weighing as little as 300 grams.

It is believed there are less than 1,000 individuals and that they are under threat from feral cats.

“We found evidence of feral cats on the island and we know these cats eat other boas,” Dr Reynolds said. “The boas really have no defence against cats.”

Robert Henderson, a curator at the Milwaukee Museum of Natural History and one of the world’s experts on boas, said finding a new snake species – and particularly a boa – was a “rare” and “exciting” event.

“Worldwide, new species of frogs and lizards are being discovered and described with some regularity,” he said. “New species of snakes, however, are much rarer.

“The beautiful Bahamian Silver Boa, already possibly critically endangered, reminds us that important discoveries are still waiting to be made, and it provides the people of the Bahamas another reason to be proud of the natural wonders of their island nation.”

Tyrannosaurus rex, by David Attenborough


This video, recorded in the USA, says about itself:

What Was Tyrannosaurus rex Like? – #Attenborough90BBC

25 May 2016

Sir David visits the Museum of Colorado to talk to Robert T. Bakker, who explains some of what he has learnt about the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Why birds nest near alligators and hawks


This video from the USA says about itself:

Black-chinned hummingbird nesting

8 June 2015

Tucson Arizona. April 24-June 03

Momma building a nest, incubating eggs, feeding young and babies fly off.

One day I was looking out my skinny slice of a bathroom window and I saw a pine tree that had some busy hummingbird activity. I tried to rig up and video from the bathroom window but the vantage point was not good.

I did not want to intrude or cause stress to the mother so from the ground with a tripod set at the highest setting I used a Canon Vixia video camera, 37x zoom, fixed focus and daylight white balance, sometimes I had to adjust the exposure. Using a 64GB card I set up the camera at dawn and just hit record and walked away. When the card was full in a few hours I transferred to a Mac using Final Cut Pro X and selected the clips. Mostly nothing was happening. When all was done the video timeline was about two hours and then I started to eliminate redundant. At thirteen minutes it is still too long but people who like hummingbirds enjoy every minute.

One early morning I found the nest empty as they had already left. I examined the ground below to see if they had fallen out of the nest but that was not the case.

Out of the corner of my eye I spied some bird movement and there was a baby hummingbird on an oleander branch being nurtured by mom. The other baby bird was not to be seen.

Momma often pecked at the baby on the branch— at the head and body trying to encourage flight. And eventually they were both gone. But during the day and the next day there was much flight amongst the pine tree and oleander. Flight training I assume.

I opted to detach and delete the ambient audio as it is near our pool pump and it was annoying.

From the NestWatch eNewsletter in the USA, May 2016:

The Predator Next Door

You might think that a nesting bird would want to be as far away from a predator as it could get and, generally speaking, that’s true. However, it could be very strategic to nest near a predator that is two or more steps above you in the food chain (i.e., your predators’ predator). In this way, some birds derive protection from larger, more aggressive species that keep generalist predators at bay. This phenomenon is called a protective nesting association. Here are two of our favorite examples of nest-protecting predators:

Alligators and Wading Birds

In the southeastern United States, researchers found that wading birds such as herons, egrets, ibises, storks, and spoonbills appear to seek out alligator-inhabited waters above which they can nest. The alligators keep away (or eat) nest predators such as opossums and raccoons, and they cannot climb trees to rob nests themselves. However, the alligators certainly claim any chicks that fall out of the nests from time to time, making it likely that they are also benefiting from their avian neighbors.

Hawks and Hummingbirds

Black-chinned Hummingbirds nesting in southeastern Arizona were found to cluster their nests around the nests of Northern Goshawks and Cooper’s Hawks. Both species of hawk prey on birds, but would not normally bother with something as small as a hummingbird. Researchers found that hummers that nested within 300 meters of the hawks were much more likely to successfully raise young than those that nested farther away.

At least 92 such associations have been documented so far. It is unclear whether the recipients of the protection actively seek out these “protectors,” or if they are simply recognizing that an area has fewer nest predators. Either way, it can pay off to have a formidable carnivore for a neighbor…as long as you fly under the radar.

Anaconda, world’s biggest snake


This 24 May 2016 video is about anacondas; world’s biggest snake species.

I had the privilege of seeing an anaconda, resting on a river bank in Suriname. It was a young snake, not as big as the ones in this video.

David Attenborough on catching a python


This video from Britain says about itself:

Young Attenborough Catches A Python#Attenborough90BBC

18 May 2016

Sir David remembers how nervous he was when catching a python.

Slow worm in the Netherlands, video


This video shows a slow worm near Ede in Gelderland province in the Netherlands, on 12 May 2016.

Michael de Vries made this video.