Easter hares and Easter rabbits


This video is called European or Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus).

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Is The Easter Bunny A Rabbit? Or Acually A Hare?

Posted on Friday, March 27, 2015 by eNature

Spring has sprung and Easter is right around the corner. That means the Easter Bunny is on the minds of many children.

And on the minds of many adults is the age-old question…..

Is the Easter Bunny a rabbit or a hare?

As many of our readers know, hares and rabbits are cousins. The good news for all candy-lovers is that both are well equipped by nature to handle the tasks that come with being the Easter Bunny.

Rabbit vs. Hare

It’s actually the European hare, or brown hare, that holds the impressive credential of being the original Easter Bunny. At least according to a Germanic legend dating back to the 1500s. The ritual of children preparing nests and eagerly anticipating the arrival of Oster Haas (Easter hare), who delivers brightly colored eggs on Easter morning, has taken place in German-speaking countries for centuries.

In the United States the cottontail rabbit has been designated as the official deliverer of Easter treats. This is easily evidenced by the lyrics in popular holiday tunes such as “Peter Cottontail,” and the presence of that signature fluffy white behind in every commercial rendition of the Easter Rabbit imaginable.

How are the Easter Hare (brown hare) and the Easter Rabbit (cottontail rabbit) equipped for the daunting tasks associated with their profession?

Let’s take a closer look at the unique features of these members of the family Leporidae to find out.

Night Time Is the Right Time

It goes without saying that the job of the Easter Rabbit requires lots of stamina and endurance. This small mammal must accomplish the seemingly impossible task of delivering hundreds of thousands of eggs to children in a single night. Both rabbits and hares are primarily nocturnal creatures, thus able to stay alert and on-task the entire Saturday night prior. Their most productive hours are at dawn and dusk, times of heightened activity and energy for the rabbit and hare. Both species are equipped with large eyes for seeing at night, and their large ears allow them to detect territorial intrusions.

Lickety Split

The forefeet and hindfeet of rabbits and hares have strong claws and a special type of thick hair on the lower surfaces that provides better gripping. Not only does this adaptation aid with running on uneven terrain, it may also allow for the skillful carrying and maneuvering of multiple Easter baskets with minimal slippage (and broken eggs).

With their longer hind legs, European hares have a competitive edge over cottontail rabbits, able to reach a running speed of 50 miles per hour. The agile hare has the speed and skills to outrun and outwit predators. Cottontails move at a swift, but decidedly slower pace than hares, and often rely on surface depressions and burrows to conceal themselves. So far, both the hare and rabbit have managed to elude humans on every Easter Sunday to date—an incredible feat indeed.

Many Wabbits

Though it would completely debunk the theory that there is just one Easter Rabbit, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to assume that egg-delivery is a task shared by a complex, vast network of hundreds, if not thousands of rabbits. There certainly are enough of them to cover all the territory. It’s no secret that rabbits and hares are an exceptionally fertile and active lot, often producing dozens of offspring over the course of lifetime.

Newborn hares would most quickly be able to jump on board and help with Easter tasks. Just minutes after being born, they are fully-furred and able to run around with relative ease. Alternately, newborn rabbits are ill-suited for just about any activity; they are born blind and naked, and require much coddling by their mothers before venturing out in the world.

On the Job Satisfaction

One has to wonder what the glamour and allure in being the Easter Bunny might be. One of the draws may be unlimited quantities food. While children drool over the chocolate eggs and other sweets delivered to them on Easter Sunday, rabbits and hares are no doubt enticed by their favorite edibles—grass and clover—found in many backyards. Perhaps the payoff is the pleasure of seeing the smiles on children’s faces when they discover the colorful Easter eggs that have been left for them. Or maybe it is the honor in upholding tradition, year after year.

Whatever the reward or rewards, you’ve got to commend the Easter Rabbit and the Easter Hare for hundreds of years of excellent service and on a job well done.

Learn more about the Eastern Cottontail.

More about the Desert Cottontail.

Carboniferous forest simulation on your computer?


This video is called The Carboniferous Period.

From the Carboniferous Forest Simulation site, where you can download this program:

Carboniferous Forest Simulation

Lost in the darkness of our coal mines for more than 300 millions of years, the swamps and forests of the ancient past of our planet now come to new life:

A free, interactive realtime simulation places you into a time machine and enables you to take a walk through the overgrown jungle of ferns, tree-like clubmosses and giant insects our modern civilization was founded on.

The application is currently in alpha state. This means, that the application is not complete both technical and content-wise (for example plant descriptions and sound are not complete, and animals are still missing) and it may contain errors. Nevertheless, we decided to release it as early as possible to share the development progress with you. You can also track and discuss the progress in the interesting “Making of”-thread in The Fossil Forum.

In its final version, the application will be free for personal, museum and educational use, in its current alpha version it is only free for personal use.

Any feedback, hints and reviews by paleontologists, fossil specialists, game/simulation developers and any interested persons are highly appreciated!

Please note, that you will need a pretty tough computer to run the simulation. The minimum requirement is a 2.4 GHz Core I5 processor or similar, 4 GB of RAM and a 1GB 3D graphics card (at least Geforce 560TI or similar).

Japanese midges in Dutch sea water


Telmatogeton japonicus larva, photo by Floris Bennema

Translated from the Dutch Stichting ANEMOON marine biologists:

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

The marine splash midge Telmatogeton japonicus is found since 1963 in the Northwest European coastal waters. This insect, which is native to the area of Japan and Hawaii is a discreet but certainly interesting newcomer to our shores. Interesting, because the larvae live in our brackish and saline water. Precisely in that environment we see only very rarely and very few species of insects. Locally, on eg, buoys and wind turbines in the North Sea, this species has established itself massively.

New Iraq film, trailer


This video shows the trailer of the new film on Iraq being made now, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.

The film asks Iraqis about possibilities of a post-war future.

See also here.

Worst than ISIL: Iraq’s US-caused public health catastrophe: here.

Bar-headed geese flying over the Himalayas, video


This National Geographic video says about itself:

Birds of a Feather | The Himalayas

24 March 2015

Bar-headed geese are the highest-flying birds in the world. But their amazing ability comes at a price. THE HIMALAYAS AIRS SUNDAY MARCH 29 at 9P.

Arctic tern research in Svalbard, update


This video shows Dr Maarten Loonen, Arctic tern researcher at Groningen university in the Netherlands. In Svalbard, he holds Arctic tern Guusje, the first tern provided with a geolocator in Dr Loonen’s Arctic tern migration research on Spitsbergen island. If the glue of the ring around Guusje’s leg will be dry, then she will be released, to (probably) travel all the way to the Antarctic, and back to the Arctic.

The 39 terns provided with geolocators on Spitsbergen in 2013 have been named by 39 sponsors in a crowdfunding scheme. That scheme is now finished.

Of the 39 2013 geolocator Arctic terns, 13 individuals were caught again at the same nesting colony in Spitsbergen in 2014. The majority of the 2013 terns had not returned to the nesting site, as it suffered much from Arctic foxes stealing eggs.

The Arctic tern Beauty had already been ringed and provided with a geolocator in 2012; this bird was caught again in 2013, but not in 2014.

Names of the terns ringed in 2013 and recaptured in 2014: Anke, Benji, Henk de Groot, Inky, Jacobird, Jan Pier, Karmijn, Lubbe, Marjolein, Mystic, NoorDrenthe, Suzanne, Tom.

Names of the terns, ringed in 2013, and not caught again in 2014: Angelo, Annelies, Arctic Jewel, BenJeanette, Berna, Ellen, Flo, Frederico Segundo, Gerie, Gerrit de Veer, Guusje, Herman, Hidde, Imiqutailaq, Joanne, Jonathan, Krukel 1, Maamke, Maarten, Meliora, Riiser-Larsen, Ruth, SolarAccess, Stirns, Suzanne, Viti.

In 2014, also 18 Arctic terns nesting in Groningen province, in the Eemshaven harbour, in the Netherlands have been provided with geolocators.

This video by Maarten Loonen says about itself:

9 June 2013

I am joining Derick Hiemstra and Klaas van Dijk in the Eemshaven to observe and ring Arctic Terns. In this industrial area, activity is low and Arctic Terns have started breeding. On this location the world champions [in] migration distance were equipped with a geolocator two years ago and recaught one year ago. Today Derick and Klaas are doing their normal checks. They read colour rings but also metal rings from terns. Then we continue catching and ringing some breeding pairs. All this is part of my preparation for this summer field season on Spitsbergen.

20 Arctic terns nesting in the White Sea region in Russia got geolocators in 2014 as well.

New book about owls


This video is called True Facts About The Owl.

From The Sound Approach site:

Undiscovered owls – Magnus Robb and the Sound Approach invite you into the mysterious, magical and twilight world of owls.

Undiscovered owls will be available to purchase in April 2015, however you can PRE-PURCHASE your copy NOW and have it delivered the moment it arrives at Sound Approach HQ.

Explore the twilight world of owls that you can hear in your garden, the park or woods with this lyrical investigation into their sounds. Listen to previously unpublished digital stereo recordings of the owls of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, illustrated with annotated sonograms. Enjoy paintings and photographs, often of the individuals recorded. Learn how to research into evolution, behaviour and sounds invite us to recognise a dozen new owl species.

Share the thrill of closing in on a huge fish owl found only a handful of times before, the rarest owl in our region. Travel to rugged desert mountains, where the authors chanced upon a previously undiscovered owl, the first new Arabian bird species for nearly 80 years. Learn to listen like an owl and maybe you could find the next one.

Brought to you by the team of obsessives that produced Petrels night and day.