Pterosaur flight, an engineer’s perspective


This video is called Largest flying creature ever – Pterosaurs Documentary HQ.

From Palaeocast today:

Episode 42: Pterosaur aerodynamics

Palaeontology is more than just going out into the field, digging up bones, and putting them back together. A good understanding of biology, geology, and even engineering can help to figure out how extinct animals lived and especially how they moved around.

To further comprehend how we can use knowledge of engineering in palaeontology, especially with respect to understanding extinct animal flight, we spoke to Colin Palmer from the University of Bristol, and the University of Southampton. His background in engineering provides a unique set of skills and angle to studying pterosaur flight.

Rare tortoise babies born on Galapagos island


This video says about itself:

5 March 2015

Baby tortoises were born on the Island of Pinzon, something that likely hasn’t happened since 1880. CNN’s Natalie Allen has this story.

From Associated Press:

Scientists cheered by birth of Galapagos tortoises in wild

Posted: Mar 14, 2015 5:33 AM Updated: Mar 17, 2015 8:36 AM

By GONZALO SOLANO

QUITO, Ecuador – For the first time in a century, babies of the endangered Pinzon giant tortoise have been born in the wild in the Galapagos islands, scientists said.

An expedition in 1970 found only 19 adult tortoises on the archipelago’s Pinzon island, averaging 70 years old, so scientists removed them to start a captive breeding program on Santa Cruz island. The program produced juveniles that were transplanted back to the island, which is the only place the species is found.

Danny Rueda, who is in charge of conservation and restoration of ecosystems in the Galapagos, told The Associated Press that in December six infant Pinzons were found to have been born on the island.

He said there are now 650 juvenile and adult tortoises on Pinzon.

Rueda said the reintroduction of the tortoise was helped by the 2012 campaign to eradicate rats that infested Pinzon and other islands in the archipelago after being introduced long ago by passing ships. The rats prevented the reproduction by tortoises and other species.

“Finding the six baby tortoises tells us that the process of eradicating rats succeeded,” he said.

“We have begun to see that the ecosystem has begun to restore itself” on Pinzon, Rueda added. “It is a process that takes a long time. But the first step is the birth of tortoises in their natural habitat, which a century ago did not happen.”

The Galapagos, an Ecuadorean territory in the Pacific about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the mainland, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978 because of its unique land and marine animals and vegetation. That flora and fauna helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

See also here.

Adder research in the Netherlands, video


This Dutch video is about adder research in the Netherlands.

World’s oldest crocodile dies


This video from the USA says about itself:

The American Crocodile: Waterways

8 June 2013

They’ve been around since the dinosaurs and are certainly as scary as T-Rex (not the band), the American Crocodile has consistently lost habitat, and decreased in numbers. Follow the decades long research and work to save this wonderful, toothy creature.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Rotterdam Zoo mourns after death of the ‘oldest crocodile in the world’

Today, 11:50

In Blijdorp Zoo crocodile Hakuna has died. According to the zoo, he was probably the oldest crocodile in a zoo in the world. How old Hakuna was exactly is not known, but he came to the park in 1930 and was already an adult. He must have been certainly over 85 years.

The zoo has announced the death of Hakuna on Facebook.

Hakuna came along with his female partner Matata to Rotterdam Zoo. They were a gift from singer and actress Josephine Baker. Matata died last year. The two American crocodiles were among the few animals in the zoo which survived the bombing of Rotterdam [by Hitler’s air force] in 1940.

See also here.

Most popular animals in Britain


This vido is called Children’s Favorite Animals – Learning English Animal Names | Kids Learning Video.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies, says YouGov

Dogs remain the nation’s favourite animal

Zachary Davies Boren

Monday 02 March 2015

Men and women like quite different animals, according to new research.

According to a silly YouGov analysis that has confirmed long-held suspicions of gender-based animal bias, men like lobsters, alligators and sticklebacks (it’s a type of fish) whereas women prefer cats, ponies and miniature pigs.

The country’s overall favourites are still predictably pets like dogs and cats, as well as the more exotic tigers and elephants.

But, by declaring their animal preferences via the YouGov website, some of the pollster‘s 190,000 members have helped reveal that some stereotypes really are true.

Men, whom one classic nursery rhyme claims derive from slugs, snails and puppy-dog tails, have an expressed affection for powerful, strange, and not-traditionally cute creatures.

Slow worms, crayfish, and ants feature on the list of animals loved by one gender but not by the other.

Male animal preferences

Women, on the other hand, choose cuddly critters like guinea pigs, hedgehogs and panda bears.

Besides the butterfly and the penguin, every one of the female-preferred is a mammal.

There’s not a single mammal amongst the more male-loved animals.

Female animal preferences

What’s in a number?

This poll is actually more complex than many of the higher-brow studies which YouGov regularly releases; that’s because of something called the Z-score.

YouGov explained: “For each preference by members of a given group, we find what is known in statistics as the Z-score.

“This is a measure of what is particularly true of the people in that group. Basically, it is how the attitudes and opinions of a particular group differ from the national average and how great the strength of that difference is.”

The Z-score for the animals preferred by women are much stronger than those by men, which means the difference in opinion over donkeys is much greater than the one over rattlesnakes.

This probably means that women like their creatures much more than men like theirs.

Read the full list here.

New ichthyosaur species discovery in English museum


This video from England says about itself:

Ichthyosaur Doncaster – ITV Calendar interview (19.02.2015)

Interview with ITV Calendar, discussing the newly described species of ichthyosaur from the collections of Doncaster Museum (Ichthyosaurus anningae – Lomax & Massare, 2015).

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Museum staff thought this fossil was a plaster model, but it turned out to be a new species

By Rachel Feltman

February 23 2015

The BBC reports that a newly discovered species of ichthyosaur — an aquatic reptile resembling a toothy dolphin that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs — languished in a British museum for 30 years. And it wasn’t mistaken for the fossil of another species, but for a plaster cast of one.

Paleontologist Dean Lomax, an honorary scientist at the University of Manchester in England, was studying the fossil collections of his hometown museum in Doncaster when the education director offered him the use of an ichthyosaur copy for a display he was putting together.

But it was no copy — and it wasn’t a known species of ichthyosaur, either. Unusual features in the limb bones of the 189-million-year-old creature set it apart from other ichthyosaurs that Lomax had studied.

“When I looked at it, I realized this wasn’t a cast at all. It was real,” Lomax said in a video for the BBC. In fact, Lomax found that the fossil had preserved the ichthyosaur‘s final meal in its stomach. He thinks that the fossil shows bits of tentacle from a squid.

Since that first examination in 2008, Lomax and his colleague Judy Massare, a professor at Brockport College in New York, have compared the fossil with nearly 1,000 other specimens to make sure the discovery was unique. Last week, they published their official findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Lomax and Massare have named the new species Ichthyosaurus anningae in honor of Mary Anning, a 19th-century British fossil hunter who found the first confirmed ichthyosaur fossil.

“It is an honor to name a new species, but to name it after somebody who is intertwined with such an important role in helping to sculpt the science of palaeontology, especially in Britain, is something that I’m very proud of,” Lomax said in a statement. “In fact, one of the specimens in our study was even found by Mary herself!”

It’s shockingly common for new species to be discovered dusty and forgotten in museum collections, which is why it’s so important that they receive enough funding to store and protect their extensive collections. Every time a researcher goes diving into these neglected archives, they’re almost sure to surface with something new and exciting.

Read More:

Long-forgotten secrets of whale sex revealed

Forgotten for a century on a museum shelf, a ‘new’ cricket is discovered

Museum fossil find pushes snake origins back by 65 million years

New cricket discovered in long-neglected amber collection<

Prehistoric turtles and climate change


This March 2014 video is called Global Warming 56 Million Years Ago: What it Means for Us .

From the University of Florida in the USA:

Tropical turtle discovery in Wyoming provides climate-change clues

Published: February 23 2015

Tropical turtle fossils discovered in Wyoming by University of Florida scientists reveal that when the earth got warmer, prehistoric turtles headed north. But if today’s turtles try the same technique to cope with warming habitats, they might run into trouble.

While the fossil turtle and its kin could move northward with higher temperatures, human pressures and habitat loss could prevent a modern-day migration, leading to the extinction of some modern species.

The newly discovered genus and species, Gomphochelys (pronounced gom-fo-keel-eez) nanus, provides a clue to how animals might respond to future climate change, said Jason Bourque, a paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF and the lead author of the study, which appears online this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology</em>.

The wayfaring turtle was among the species that researchers believe migrated 500-600 miles north 56 million years ago, during a temperature peak known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Lasting about 200,000 years, the temperature peak resulted in significant movement and diversification of plants and animals.

“We knew that some plants and lizards migrated north when the climate warmed, but this is the first evidence that turtles did the same,” Bourque said. “If global warming continues on its current track, some turtles could once again migrate northward, while others would need to adapt to warmer temperatures or go extinct.”

The new turtle is an ancestor of the endangered Central American river turtle and other warm-adapted turtles in Belize, Guatemala and southern Mexico. These modern turtles, however, could face significant roadblocks on a journey north, since much of the natural habitat of these species is in jeopardy, said co-author Jonathan Bloch, a Florida Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology.

“If you look at the waterways that turtles would have to use to get from one place to another, it might not be as easy as it once was,” Bloch said. “Even if the natural response of turtles is to disperse northward, they have fewer places to go and fewer routes available.”

To put the new turtle in evolutionary context, the researchers examined hundreds of specimens from museum collections around the country, including turtles collected during the 1800s housed at the Smithsonian Institution. Co-author Patricia Holroyd, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said the fossil history of the modern relatives of the new species shows they could be much more wide-ranging, if it were not for their restricted habitats.

The Central American river turtle is one of the most endangered turtles in the world, threatened by habitat loss and its exploitation as a human food source, Holroyd said.

“This is an example of a turtle that could expand its range and probably would with additional warming, but — and that’s a big but — that’s only going to happen if there are still habitats for it,” she said.