Birds and trees in Africa


This December 2016 video, by Danielle van Oijen from the Netherlands, is about the importance of trees for wintering birds and people in Mali, Africa.

Birds, fungi in nature reserve


This autumn 2016 video is about Dutch nature reserve Huys te Warmont.

Including birds, like ring-necked parakeet, great spotted woodpecker, short-toed treeceeper and starlings.

And fungi, like bearded tooth mushroom.

Mice-eating carnivorous plants


This video from the USA says about itself:

20 January 2017

While the carnivorous cravings of most flesh-eating plants are limited to small insects, one exception is the pitcher plant. It can consume anything that fits in its mouth–including a mouse!

Carnivorous plants, new research


This video says about itself:

14 January 2014

Discover one of the most unique hunters of the plant kingdom, and witness how the cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica) uses deception and patience to trick unsuspecting insect prey into its highly specialized pitcher traps.

From Science News in the USA:

Meat-eating pitcher plants raise deathtraps to an art

Green carnivores hunt with scum and sweets

By Susan Milius

7:00am, January 6, 2017

Tricking some bug into drowning takes finesse, especially for a hungry meat eater with no brain, eyes or moving parts. Yet California pitcher plants are very good at it.

Growing where deposits of the mineral serpentine would kill most other plants, Darlingtonia californica survives in low-nutrient soil by being “very meat dependent,” says David Armitage of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Leaves he has tested get up to 95 percent of their nitrogen from wasps, beetles, ants or other insects that become trapped inside the snake-curved hollow leaves.

The leaves don’t collect rainwater because a green dome covers the top. Instead, they suck moisture up through the roots and (somehow) release it into the hollow trap. “People have been doing weird experiments where they feed [a plant] meat and milk and other things to try to trigger it to release water,” Armitage says. Experiments tempting the green carnivore with cheese, beef broth, egg whites and so on suggest there’s some sort of chemical cue.

However the water enters the leaf pool, it starts out clear. As insects drown, the liquid darkens to a murky brown or red and “smells just horrible,” he says. The soupiness comes from bacteria, which help doom prey by lowering the surface tension of the drowning pool, Armitage reports in the November Biology Letters. Ants or other small insects sink below the surface immediately instead of floating at the top.

But first, pitchers lure victims to the pool by repurposing an old plant ploy: free nectar. It’s “highly nitrogen-rich and full of sugars, so it’s delicious — I’ve tasted it,” Armitage says. Pitcher plants sprout blooms, but the trap nectar doesn’t come from the drooping flowers. A roll of tissue near the pitcher mouth oozes the treat.

That nectar-heavy roll curves onto what’s called the fishtail appendage. Mature plants (2 years or older) grow this forked tissue like a moustache at the pitcher mouth. Biologists for more than a century have presumed that this big, red-veined, lickable prong worked as an insect lure. Armitage, however, tested the idea and says it may be wrong.

Clipping fishtails off individual leaves, or even off all the leaves in a small patch, did nothing to shrink the catch compared with fully mustachioed leaves, he reported in the American Journal of Botany in April 2016. The only thing fishtails lure, for the time being at least, are puzzled botanists.

Earliest nightshade plant fossil discovered


This video is called Biology: Morphology of Flowering Plants: Solanaceae.

From Science News:

Tomatillo fossil is oldest nightshade plant

Pocketed berry is millions of years older than earlier estimates

By Meghan Rosen

2:14pm, January 5, 2017

Two tiny tomatillo fossils have kicked the origin of nightshade plants back to the age of dinosaurs.

The fossils, pressed into 52-million-year-old rock, suggest that the nightshade family originated millions of years earlier than scientists had suspected, researchers report in the Jan. 6 Science.

Nightshades include roughly 2,500 species of plants, from tomatoes to eggplants to tobacco. Previous estimates had dated the family to some 30 to 51 million years ago. And scientists had suggested that tomatillos, specifically, arose even more recently, around 10 million years ago.

Paleontologist Peter Wilf and colleagues have nixed that timeline. They uncovered the roughly 2-centimeter-tall fossils from an ancient lake in what is now [Argentinian] Patagonia. Each fossil preserves the delicate, tissue-paper-like sheath that typically covers a tomatillo’s central berry, like a candle inside a paper lantern. In one fossil, evidence of a berry (now turned to coal) still remains.

“This is like an impossible fossil,” says Wilf, of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “That you could preserve something this delicate — this little papery structure. It’s unheard of.”

The outer structures may keep tomatillo berries dry — and afloat. “You’ve got an umbrella and a life raft,” Wilf says. And it’s built right in.

The fossils represent a new species of tomatillo, called Physalis infinemundi, Wilf and colleagues at Cornell University and the Paleontological Museum Egidio Feruglio in Patagonia report. Infinemundi is Latin for “at the end of the world.”

Fifty-two million years ago puts these tomatillos deep in the southern hemisphere during the final days of the supercontinent Gondwana, before Antarctica split from Australia and the southern tip of South America.

Beefsteak polypore, 2017 Fungus of the Year


This video is about the beefsteak polypore.

The Dutch Mycological Society has named the beefsteak polypore (or ox tongue) as its 2017 Fungus of the Year.

This edible fungus lives mainly on English oak and related Quercus trees.

Beautiful birds and fungi in Australia and Slovakia


This 2016 video is called Most beautiful creature video – Wildlife, animals and bird photography. It shows birds, fungi and other wildlife, especially in Australia and Slovakia.

Pet sounds: why birds have much in common with humans. An expert on Australian native species says birds can have empathy, grieve after the death of a partner and form long-term friendships: here.