Amphibian, reptile films at Rotterdam festival

This video says about itself:

Adapting Anolis

Short wildlife film documenting the adaptations of Cuba’s Anolis lizards that have allowed them to dominate Cuba‘s jungles.

At the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, there are not only films about birds and mammals, but also the film Adapting Anolis.

The festival organisers write about it:

Cuba’s rainforests are famous for housing the Anolis lizard. There are over 60 different species of Anolis lizard living in Cuba ranging in size from minute to mighty. These lizards have managed to dominate Cuba’s jungle and Adapting Anolis explores the adaptions that have allowed these lizards to become so successful.

There is also the film Pyrenees Island, about a newly discovered amphibian species.

The festival organisers write about it:

In 1990, the discovery of a mysterious frog motivated a Spanish ecologist to begin research on this little amphibian. After three years of extensive studies, Jordi Serra Cobo finally described this new species and named it Rana pyrenaica. Starting in the footsteps of the rare Pyrenean frog, the film invites us into the chaotic world of high mountain torrents.

In this turbulent environment, strange rare beings live alongside the frog. All of them have a complex evolutionary history. All of them are now threatened with extinction. The story tells us not only about the magic of the Pyrenean frog the naturalist discovered, but it also has a lot to teach us about ourselves and the uncertain future that awaits us.

And there is also this Dutch film about frogs at the festival.

Adder crawling, video

This video shows an adder crawling between heather plants.

Johann Prescher from the Netherlands made the video.

Adders wintering: here.

Greek lizards and food shortages, new research

This video is about freeing two Balkan green lizards.

From Wildlife Extra:

Greek lizards change their digestive tracts to cope with food shortages

With little to eat on many Greek islands, Balkan green lizards have evolved their digestive systems considerably compared to members of the same species on the mainland.

Even more surprisingly, these insect-eating lizards have also developed special valves to help them to digest plants.

These facts have emerged from a study led by Konstantinos Sagonas of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece and published in Springer’s journal The Science of Nature.

The new study confirms how some reptiles can adjust their digestive system and food preferences in response to adverse circumstances such as low rainfall and poor food supply.

Previous studies have shown that insect-eating Balkan green lizards (Lacerta trilineata) surviving in the harsh environments of various Greek islands have broadened their diet to include more plants.

To extend this research, Sagonas’ team set out to compare groups of these lizards on the islands of Andros and Skyros with two other populations in mainland Greece.

They found that the island lizards have a longer small intestine and hindgut compared to their mainland counterparts.

Those collected from the island of Skyros also have longer stomachs.

Cecal valves, which slow down food passage and provide fermenting chambers, were found in 62 per cent of the island-dwelling lizards, compared to 19 per cent of the mainland ones. This was a fact not previously known for green lizards.

Cecal valves are typically found in plant-eating lizards, and host micro-organisms that help to ferment and break down plant material into fatty acids.

When these structures do occur in insect-eating lizards, it is generally among populations that have started to eat a varied diet that also includes plants.

Sagonas believes the presence of cecal valves among the island lizards therefore reflects their higher consumption of plant material.

About 30 per cent of their diet consists of plant material, compared to the 10 per cent of the mainland reptiles.

So because of their longer digestive tract and the presence of cecal valves, it takes up to 26 per cent longer for the food of island lizards to pass through their digestive system and the ingested food is exposed for far longer to digestive enzymes.

“Such adaptations allow insular populations to take advantage of the limited food resources of the islands and, eventually, overcome food dearth,” explains Sagonas.

“Energy flow in insular environments, the digestive performance of insular populations and the connections within them, provide insights into how animals are able to colonise islands and maintain viable populations.”

Unlike Greek lizards, Greek humans cannot adapt their digestive systems to the hunger, caused by the European UnionIMF imposition of ‘austerity‘.

Hadrosaur dinosaur discovery in Alaska

This video from the USA says about itself:

Research Team Discovers ‘Lost World’ of Cold Weather Dinosaurs

22 September 2015

A collaborative team between Florida State University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks has spent the last five years digging in a remote bone-bed of dinosaur remains in the remote Prince Creek Formation in Alaska. FSU Professor Gregory Erickson is excited for the new species of duck-billed dinosaurs uncovered in the dig and believes it opens up a lost province of Arctic adapted dinosaurs. The new dino, Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, is closely related to Edmontosaurus, another duck-billed dinosaur found further south near Alberta, Montana, and South Dakota, but several structural differences in adult skeletons helped Erickson and Pat Druckenmiller of the University of Alaska Fairbanks determine it is in fact a different species.

From the University of Alaska Fairbanks:

22 September 2015

New hadrosaur species discovered on Alaska’s North Slope

Research team finds evidence for ‘lost world’ of cold weather dinosaurs

Researchers working with specimens at the University of Alaska Museum of the North have described a new species of hadrosaur, a type of duck-billed dinosaur that once roamed the North Slope of Alaska in herds, living in darkness for months at a time and probably experiencing snow. Ugrunaaluk (oo-GREW-na-luck) kuukpikensis (KOOK-pik-en-sis) grew up to 30 feet long and was a superb chewer with hundreds of individual teeth well-suited for eating coarse vegetation.

Earth sciences curator Pat Druckenmiller said the majority of the bones used in the study came from the Liscomb Bone Bed, a fossil-rich layer along the Colville River in the Prince Creek Formation, a unit of rock deposited on the Arctic flood plain about 69 million years ago.

“Today we find these animals in polar latitudes,” Druckenmiller said. “Amazingly, they lived even farther north during the Cretaceous Period. These were the northern-most dinosaurs to have lived during the Age of Dinosaurs. They were truly polar.”

The name, which means ancient grazer, was a collaborative effort between scientists and Iñupiaq speakers. Druckenmiller worked with Ronald Brower Sr., an instructor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Native Language Center, to develop a culturally and geographically appropriate name that honors the native Iñupiaq people who live there today.

Druckenmiller; UAF graduate student Hirotsugu Mori, who completed his doctoral work on the species; and Florida State University’s Gregory Erickson, a researcher who specializes in the use of bone and tooth histology to interpret the paleobiology of dinosaurs, published their findings in Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, an international quarterly journal that publishes papers from all areas of paleontology.

Druckenmiller and Erickson have previously published documentation suggesting that during this time period, a distinct, polar fauna existed in what is now northern Alaska. At the time, Arctic Alaska was covered in a polar forest because the climate was much warmer. Since it was so far north, the dinosaurs had to contend with months of winter darkness and snow. “The finding of dinosaurs this far north challenges everything we thought about a dinosaur’s physiology,” Erickson said. “It creates this natural question. How did they survive up here?”

The fossil site where the discovery was made is named for geologist Robert Liscomb, who found the first dinosaur bones in Alaska while mapping along the Colville River for Shell Oil Company in 1961. At the time, Liscomb did not recognize that the bones were from a dinosaur.

Since then, museum scientists have excavated and cataloged more than 6,000 bones from the new species, primarily small juveniles estimated to have been about 9 feet long and 3 feet tall at the hips. “It appears that a herd of young animals was killed suddenly, wiping out mostly one similar-aged population to create this deposit,” Druckenmiller said.

Currently, there are three named dinosaurs documented from the North Slope, including two plant eaters and one carnivore. However, most of those species are known from incomplete material. “Ugrunaaluk is far and away the most complete dinosaur yet found in the Arctic or any polar region,” Druckenmiller said. “We have multiple elements of every single bone in the body.”

“So far, all dinosaurs from the Prince Creek Formation that we can identify as species are distinct from those found anywhere else. The recognition of Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis provides further evidence that the dinosaurs living in polar latitudes in what is now Alaska were not the same species found from the same time periods in lower latitudes.”

The scientists completed a detailed study of all the different skull bones of this animal and compared them to close relatives. Some features were shared while others, particularly those in the skull and around the mouth, were seen only in the Alaska material. Mori, who is now a curator for the Saikai City Board of Education in Japan, said, “The new species has a unique combination of characteristics not seen in other dinosaurs. It lacks a pocket on the orbital rim, which Edmontosaurus has.”

New death adder species discovery in Australia

This video says about itself:

17 September 2015

A new snake thought to be among the 10 most venomous in the world has been discovered in north-Western Australia. The Kimberley death adder is 50cm long with a pear-shaped head and orange-brown in colour.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Scientists have discovered a deadly new species of ‘death adder’ in Australia

Doug Bolton

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Scientists have discovered a new type of snake – the comfortingly-named Kimberley death adder – in an isolated region of Western Australia.

The snake was discovered by a group of scientists from the UK and Australia, and measures around 50cm long.

The death adder is already a known species in Australia’s North Territory, and it was believed that the snakes found further west were simply the same species.

However, the group discovered that the snake found in these regions is a different type, unique to that area.

Death adders truly live up to their name. They’re ‘sit and wait’ predators – hanging around waiting for an unlucky animal or human to pass them by, rather than actively hunting on the move.

Their venom is incredibly deadly to humans, and can cause death from total paralysis and respiratory system in around six hours. It is estimated that around 50 per cent of bites from these snakes were fatal before antivenom was introduced.

Despite this fearful bite, the snake is at significant risk from humans, due to habitat destruction and the introduction of new species.

Speaking to The Guardian, Paul Doughty, curator of herpetology at the Western Australian Museum, said it was “a surprise” to find that this death adder was a completely new type.

He also revealed their unsettling hunting techniques – they dangle their tails like a lure, tricking lizards and birds into coming close.

When they’re within striking range, they lash out and kill their prey.

So the next time you’re in Kimberley, Western Australia, and you see something rustling in the undergrowth – run.

See also here.

Mammal, reptile research on Caribbean Sint Eustatius island

This video says about itself:

Green Turtle Tracking. St. Eustatius

12 May 2012

This program is brought to you by GEBE and the Barson Foundation.

Working together with St. Eustatius Stenapa to protect and study the movements of Green Turtles at Zeelandia Beach. Satellite device attached in order to track the almost extinct Green Turtle population.

The Dutch mammal society reports today there will be new research about mammals of Sint Eustatius island in the Caribbean. Much is still unknown about this.

The researchers hope to find out which bat species live on the island. Some bats will be provided with transmitters to find out more about their lives.

As far as people know, there are no native rodent species on Sint Eustatius. The researchers hope to find out which exotic rat and mice species, brought by ships, live here. Camera traps will also try to record other introduced species, like goats and mongoose.

The research will be from 2 October-18 October.

A blog about earlier biological research on Sint Eustatius is here.

Conservation of the herpetofauna on the Dutch Windward Islands: St. Eustatius, Saba, and St. Maarten: here.

Old Triceratops dinosaurs, new discoveries

This is a 9 May 2013 video from Wyoming, USA. Triceratops fossils had already been found there. Since then, even more have been found.

Translated from Vroege Vogels TV in the Netherlands:

Triceratops did not live on its own

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 19:07

The excavation by a Naturalis team of five Triceratops skeletons in one location means that the theory about solitary Triceratops should be reviewed. This is the conclusion of paleontologist Peter Larson of the Black Hills Institute. “This changes everything. We have always believed that Triceratops lived alone and not in herds or families. Until this excavation,” says Larson on Vroege Vogels TV on Tuesday September 8th 19:20. After the excavations, the bones will be brought to Naturalis in Leiden for further research.

Unique discovery

Peter Larson is present at the excavations by Anne Schulp of Naturalis with his expedition team in Wyoming. Here a number of young and adult specimens have been found. That there are so many of them together makes the discovery unique. The bones are very well preserved. This will ensure that the skeletons will be properly mounted. Concerning Triceratops skeletons, so far worldwide only two individuals had been found which were complete for more than half. Only when the entire excavation will be finished, it will be possible to say exactly how complete the skeletons are. Triceratops lived over 66 million years ago and is a herbivorous dinosaur.

Naturalis will bring the skeletons to Leiden for further research. 2018 will see the Triceratops skeletons in the new permanent exhibition which will include the previously found T. rex.

Naturalis paleontologist Martijn Guliker, a participant in the expedition, writes about discovering hundreds of Triceratops bones, in his blog about this excavation.

Why are dinosaurs extinct? You asked Google – here’s the answer, by Brian Switek: here.