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.

Wildlife news, not war news, from Iraq


This video is about a chuckar partridge (the national bird of Kurdistan; and of Pakistan).

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Sunday 22 February 2015

How butterflies are harbingers of hope in war-torn Iraq

A conservation group dedicated to preserving biodiversity offers a hope of fledgling renewal for this war-shattered land

Nature Iraq: not an oxymoron, but the name of the country’s leading conservation group.

Since it was founded in 2004, it has set up a series of projects to understand and protect the wildlife of Iraq. Now it is able to reflect on three years of effective work which has brought great benefits, both to humans and to wildlife.

You might think that compared with other problems being faced by people in Iraq, those that concern the distribution of butterflies are pretty insignificant. But you’d be wrong. Butterflies matter to the world: and perhaps they matter more to Iraq than to any other nation on earth.

That’s because conservation is one of the arts of peace. Preserving wildlife is important at all times and in all places; but when it comes to the healing of a shattered and broken country, a butterfly has a significance that towers above the trivialities. So here are a few examples of what Nature Iraq has been getting up to.

For a start, it has been running a study and education programme in Iraqi Kurdistan, in the north-east of the country. The group is supported by the Darwin Initiative, funded by the UK government; by the Centre for Middle Eastern Plants, based in Edinburgh; and by Birdlife International, with headquarters in Cambridge. So it’s a business that rises above local troubles. It has a global input and a global significance: wildlife conservation in one place is possible only through the efforts of people in many other places.

Nature Iraq has established an on-line course on biodiversity and conservation, in partnership with the University of Sulaimani in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah. It’s been running for three years and 60 students have now completed the course. Another 60 have just signed up.

Then there’s a nationwide citizen science project on the distribution of butterflies and dragonflies. Thanks to the widespread use of smartphones, photographs of these insects are now flooding in to Nature Iraq, which has already identified four species new to the country. The organisation has set up a team of experts across the world, so that every species can be properly identified and mapped. …

The mountain of Peramagroon, which covers an area of 100 sq km, is a spectacular spot that’s home to Egyptian vultures and a flycatcher called the Kurdistan wheatear. It has a species of wild goat and a good population of spur-thighed tortoises. A survey of the area’s plants revealed 650 species, more than twice the number previously known from the area; among them were several species new to science.

A study of land use on Peramagroon will enable Nature Iraq to establish a proper conservation action plan. A series of school visits have been made to the area, and children have been setting up nest boxes as a result. Nature Iraq is also field-testing a phone app that will help to identify birds in Peramagroon; it contains details of 130 species. The long-term aim is to develop this and similar apps for use across the Middle East.

When it is more important to identify a saker falcon than a Black Hawk helicopter, you know that an important step towards peace has been taken. Bwar Khalid of Nature Iraq said: “I hope we can do more projects and activities in the future, especially in our country where there has been nothing except war and destruction.”

Butterflies and dragonflies matter. People looking for butterflies and dragonflies matter. Unknown species of mountain plants matter. Children setting up nest boxes matter. The fact that a Kurdistan wheatear is different from an eastern black-eared wheatear matters. All these things matter if you wish to turn a country deeply harmed by war into a place where life is worth living. …

Such projects have the vividness of a New Year’s resolution: a new start, one in which better things will surely be possible. Hope comes in a butterfly; in an eastern rock nuthatch; in the flora of a mountain; in people dedicated to looking after them all.

Crocodiles enjoy sliding, surfing and playing with balls


This video is called Biology documentary on Crocodiles.

From Wildlife Extra:

Research reveals crocodiles enjoy sliding, surfing and playing with balls

Fancy a game of something?

A research assistant professor in psychology at the University of Tennessee, Vladimir Dinets, who has been studying crocodiles and alligators for 10 years, has revealed that they enjoy playing with objects, as well as other animals and fellow crocodilians.

Alongside his own observations of crocs displaying play-like behaviours in surfing waves, tossing balls and giving each other piggyback rides, he conducted an informal survey of groups on social media and attendees at conferences who were interested in crocodiles.

His results show a gentler aspect than is usually associated with these predators. They are seen to engage in all three main types of play identified by behaviour specialists as locomotor play, play with objects, and social play.

Play with objects was reported most often. Crocs have been seen playing with wooden balls, noisy ceramic items, streams of water, their prey, and debris floating on the surface of the water.

Cases of locomotor play include young alligators repeatedly sliding down slopes, crocodiles surfing waves and caimans riding currents of water in their pools.

Observed cases of social play include baby alligators riding on older animals’ backs, baby caimans playfully “courting” each other, and a male crocodile giving his lifetime mate rides on his back.

Crocodiles have also been seen playing with other animals. Dinets observed a juvenile alligator playing with a river otter.

In rare cases, individual crocodilians have even been known to bond closely and enjoy the company of people. There is a story of a man who saved a crocodile that had been shot and the two played together for 20 years.

“The croc would swim with his human friend, try to startle him by suddenly pretending to attack him or by sneaking up on him from behind, and accept being caressed, hugged, rotated in the water and kissed on the snout,” says Dinets.

His work, published in the journal Animal Behavior and Cognition, is the first study of play in crocodiles from a scientific basis. The full study can be viewed here.

Dinets’ research builds on the work of colleague Gordon Burghardt, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, whose work defined “play” in connection with a species not previously thought capable of play.

Dinets’ work provides further evidence that play is a universal feature of “intelligent” animals, with complex, flexible behaviour.

He believes that providing crocodiles in captivity with amusements and objects to play with will give them happier, healthier lives.

The finding of this research may contribute to the knowledge of how intelligence evolves and what is needed for its development.

Previous research by Dinets discovered that crocodiles are able to climb trees, work as a team and use lures such as sticks to hunt prey. More of his crocodile research can be found in his book Dragon Songs.

International symposium on pterosaurs in England


This video says about itself:

Largest flying creature ever – Pterosaurs Documentary HQ

25 July 2014

Pterosaurs (/ˈtɛrɵsɔr/, from the Greek πτερόσαυρος, pterosauros, meaning “winged lizard”) were flying reptiles of the clade or order Pterosauria. They existed from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period (228 to 66 million years ago).

Pterosaurs are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight. Their wings were formed by a membrane of skin, muscle, and other tissues stretching from the ankles to a dramatically lengthened fourth finger. Early species had long, fully toothed jaws and long tails, while later forms had a highly reduced tail, and some lacked teeth. Many sported furry coats made up of hair-like filaments known as pycnofibers, which covered their bodies and parts of their wings.

Pterosaurs spanned a wide range of adult sizes, from the very small Nemicolopterus to the largest known flying creatures of all time, including Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx

From the Flugsaurier 2015 Portsmouth site in England:

Second Circular

Flugsaurier 2015: The Fifth International Symposium on Pterosaurs

August 25th-30th 2015

School Of Earth And Environmental Sciences

Portsmouth, UK

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to present you with the second circular for the Fifth International Symposium on Pterosaurs. This includes information on conference structure, fees, abstract submission, accommodation, workshops and the conference dinner. Please visit our website at www.flugsaurier2015.com and remember further information will be provided in the third circular.

We look forward to seeing you all next year.

Flugsaurier 2015 committee.

Registration

Registration is now open and can be found at flugsaurier2015.com/register. The conference fee is £60, with a student concession of £30. All payments will be conducted through Paypal with the required information emailed to delegates following their registration. All students must provide their student numbers and a letter signed by their supervisor/lecturer confirming their student status. This letter should accompany the initial registration and can be emailed to registration@flugsaurier2015.com.

Presentation and abstract submission

We are now accepting submission of abstracts relating to any aspect of pterosaur research. Abstracts must be no more than 1000 words including references and may include 1 figure/A4 plate. Please ensure references are in the style of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. While we prefer that presentations are specifically on pterosaur research, we are willing to accept submission of more peripheral topics for posters e.g. the associated faunal assemblage of a pterosaur bearing unit. Abstract submission closes on March 1st to allow time for the review process. We are also arranging a special publication through the Geological Society of London which we encourage delegates to consider contributing to.

Workshops

We are happy to confirm two workshops for Flugsaurier this August. The first workshop, “Biomechanics and aerodynamics of pterosaurs” will be chaired by Colin Palmer and Mike Habib and focuses on the biomechanics of flight. The second workshop is “The taphonomy of Lagerstätten and the implications for pterosaurs”, chaired by Dave Martill and Steve Sweetman. Dave will be focusing on Konservat Lagerstätten, and Steve will focus on pterosaur-bearing Konzentrat Lagerstätten in the UK.

In addition to our workshops, we will have several pterosaur specimens on display which can be examined by the delegates, including the skull of Parapsicephalus purdoni, on loan from the British Geological Survey. There will also be opportunities to examine the holotypes of Cuspicephalus and Caulkicephalus. Other specimens on display will be announced in the third circular.

Conference dinner

The conference meal will be held in The Royal Maritime Club, adjacent to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. The dinner will cost £37 and will include 3 courses and a half bottle of wine. Any delegates interested in attending should sign-up for the meal when registering for the conference. If you have any specific dietary requirements, please include them in the comments field on the registration form.

Field trips

The fees for the conference field trips to the Isle of Wight and the Jurassic Coast (the second in conjunction with SVPCA 2015) are still to be determined. Delegates are welcome to register their interest for the field trips and will be informed of the price in the third circular.

Accommodation

Accommodation is available in the University of Portsmouth’s Rees Hall for Flugsaurier delegates. There are 50 single rooms available for £45 per night. Double rooms are £63 per night, but will only be available upon request. To register your interest in a room, please tick the appropriate box on the registration form. If you would like a double room, please mention it in the comments section.

Questions or comments should be directed to the organising committee at enquiries@flugsaurier2015.com.

Click here to view a PDF copy.