Unicellular organism’s first discovery in the Netherlands


Miniacina miniacea, photo by Foto Fitis, Sytske Dijksen

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Bucket with mini gems on Texel beach

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

It looks like a red coralline little fan. But this phenomenon is a graceful foraminifer, a single-celled organism with a calcium carbonate skeleton. It’s called Miniacina miniacea. Photographer and Ecomare assistant Sytske Dijksen found it on the Hors on Texel, near beach post 7. It is the first time that Miniacina miniacea was found in the Netherlands. Sytske is often found on the beach, rain or shine. There’s lots to explore. This time it was the discovery of a blue bucket associated with a lobster basket.

Plant or animal?

It is sometimes difficult to tell whether a single-celled organism is a plant or an animal. Scientists often use the term animal when an organism has no chlorophyll. Single-celled animals are in the category zooplankton. Miniacina miniacea has no chlorophyll, so you could see it as an animal. With its ‘feet’ it gathers food. In the picture it may look a lot, but in reality Miniacina miniacea is only 1 to 2 millimeters.

Miniacina miniacea lives in the Mediterranean and near the Azores. Probably, a marine current brought the bucket, with foraminifers, from there to Texel.

Human ancestor discovery in Ethiopia


This video says about itself:

Becoming Human Documentary

16 December 2013

Humans (variously Homo sapiens and Homo sapiens sapiens) are primates of the family Hominidae, and the only extant species of the genus Homo. Humans are distinguished from other primates by their bipedal locomotion, and especially by their relatively larger brain with its particularly well developed neocortex, prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes, which enable high levels of abstract reasoning, language, problem solving, and culture through social learning. Humans use tools to a much higher degree than any other animal, and are the only extant species known to build fires and cook their food, as well as the only known species to clothe themselves and create and use numerous other technologies and arts. The scientific study of humans is the discipline of anthropology.

Humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of symbolic communication such as language and art for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families and kinship networks to states. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society. The human desire to understand and influence their environment, and explain and manipulate phenomena, has been the foundation for the development of science, philosophy, mythology, and religion.

The human lineage diverged from the last common ancestor with its closest living relative, the chimpanzee, some five million years ago, evolving into the australopithecines and eventually the genus Homo. The first Homo species to move out of Africa was Homo erectus, the African variety of which, together with Homo heidelbergensis, is considered to be the immediate ancestor of modern humans. Homo sapiens originated in Africa, where it reached anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago and began to exhibit full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago.

From Science:

Published Online March 4 2015

Early Homo at 2.8 Ma from Ledi-Geraru, Afar, Ethiopia

Abstract

Our understanding of the origin of the genus Homo has been hampered by a limited fossil record in eastern Africa between 2.0 and 3.0 million years ago (Ma). Here we report the discovery of a partial hominin mandible with teeth from the Ledi-Geraru research area, Afar Regional State, Ethiopia, that establishes the presence of Homo at 2.80-2.75 Ma. This specimen combines primitive traits seen in early Australopithecus with derived morphology observed in later Homo, confirming that dentognathic departures from the australopith pattern occurred early in the Homo lineage. The Ledi-Geraru discovery has implications for hypotheses about the timing and place of the origin of the genus Homo.

Fish migration research in the Netherlands


This is a video collection about fish migration and eels.

Translated from the Dutch RAVON ichthyologists:

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

On Monday March 2, the volunteer project North Sea Canal and surrounding areas started again. About 40 volunteers went off that night with their lift nets to 18 different sampling locations. In 2014 the monitoring yielded encouraging results. Then, 2,402 migratory fish were caught during three months. Will this be equaled in 2015?

The launch of the project on March 2, was encouraging. During this cold night with high winds more than 1,000 three-spined sticklebacks were caught in Pumping Station Overtoom! In Beverwijk it was 50 three-spined sticklebacks, three silver bream and a lesser pipefish. After completion of the monitoring a first small glass eel swam along! It promises to be an interesting year. Volunteers in the coming period will monitor twice weekly after sunset. The purpose of this monitoring is to gain more insight into the migration of migratory fish to the North Sea.

Dutch fungi atlas will be published


Ecological Atlas of mushrooms in Drenthe

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

On March 13, the mushrooms atlas of Drenthe province will be presented. It is the first time that a book about mushrooms appears written in the Dutch language from an ecological perspective: where does a particular mushroom grow and what does its presence say on the local environment and soil conditions. The Ecologische Atlas van Paddenstoelen in Drenthe will be presented in Zwiggelte (Drenthe).

The eight-kilogram atlas was compiled by professional and amateur mycologists with good reputations at home and abroad. The atlas has 1.700 pages and consists of three parts. Due to the size and the significant and sustained efforts which underlie it, this atlas is already called by some “the mother of all atlases”.

New monkey species discovery in Brazilian Amazon


This video is called Callicebus modestus — An intimate portrait of an endemic Bolivian primate.

Recently, a relative of Callicebus modestus was discovered.

From BirdLife:

New monkey species discovered in the Amazon Rainforest

By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 04/03/2015 – 10:12

Flaming orange tail and ochre sideburns set new Brazilian monkey apart from its closest relatives.

Scientists have discovered a new species of titi monkey in Brazil, according to a recent paper published in scientific journal Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia.

Titis (genus: Callicebus) are new world monkeys found across South America. These tree-dwelling primates have long, soft fur and live in small family groups consisting of a monogamous pair and their offspring. Rather touchingly, they are often observed sitting or sleeping with their tails entwined.

In 2011, researcher Julio César Dalponte spotted an unusual looking titi monkey on the east bank of the Roosevelt River, whose colouration did not match any known species. Intrigued, a team of scientists supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme headed back into the field to collect the information needed to formally describe what they believed to be a new species.

Over the course of a number of expeditions, the team recorded several groups of these unusual monkeys, whose ochre sideburns, bright orange tail and light grey forehead stripe set them apart from other known species in the genus.

Based on these morphological differences, scientists were able to formally describe the monkey as a new species, which they have named Callicebus miltoni (or Milton’s titi monkey) in honour of Dr Milton Thiago de Mello, a noted Brazilian primatologist who is credited with training many of the country’s top primate experts.

“More than luck”

C. miltoni is found in a small area of lowland rainforest south of the Amazon River in Brazil, and spends most of its time in the upper reaches of the forest, where it feeds on fruits.

Like its close relatives, C. miltoni lives in small groups consisting of a mated pair and their offspring. These groups are territorial and use warning calls to keep others at bay – they are particularly vociferous early in the morning and during the rainy season.

This species is not able to swim or cross mountainous terrain, which means that it is restricted to a small area, effectively hemmed in by a number of rivers and hills. This small range could put the species at risk from human activities, particularly because only around a quarter of this area is protected.

Deforestation rates are high in this region, with forest fires also posing a significant threat. Added to this, the Brazilian Government’s ongoing development programme includes several new hydroelectricity dams and an extension of the road system planned within the Amazon.

“It goes without saying that we are really excited about this new discovery”, said researcher Felipe Ennes Silva, who collected the data for the new species description. “It is always thrilling to find something new in the Amazon, as it reminds us just how special this rainforest is and how lucky we are to have it on our doorstep.

“But it will take more than luck if we are to keep making scientific finds like this. The rainforest is under threat like never before, and it will take dedicated, hard work – not just by conservationists but by the government and every other sector of society too – to make sure that this forest ecosystem can continue to support a wide diversity of life and help regulate our planet’s climate.”

The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) is a partnership between BirdLife InternationalFauna & Flora International and the Wildlife Conservation Society that promotes the professional development of conservation leaders. Through training and mentoring, funding, and the provision of networking opportunities, the CLP ensures that these emerging leaders have the skills and knowledge required to address today’s most pressing conservation issues.

The plant family Corsiaceae, new research


This video is called Liliaceae plant family, description, examples, info.

From the Journal of Biogeography:

Ancient Gondwana break-up explains the distribution of the mycoheterotrophic family Corsiaceae (Liliales)

19 FEB 2015

Abstract

Aim

Many plant families have a disjunct distribution across the southern Pacific Ocean, including the mycoheterotrophic family Corsiaceae, which provides a prime example of this biogeographical pattern. A better grasp of the family’s evolutionary relationships is needed to understand its historical biogeography. We therefore aimed to (1) test the uncertain monophyly of Corsiaceae, (2) define its phylogenetic position, and (3) estimate divergence times for the family, allowing us to assess whether the distribution of the family is the result of vicariance.

Location

Southern South America and Australasia.

Methods

We analysed various combinations of mitochondrial and nuclear data to address the monophyly, phylogenetic position and age of Corsiaceae. To test its monophyly, we used a three-locus data set including most monocot orders, and to infer its exact phylogenetic position, we used a five-locus extended data set. We corroborated these findings using an independent plastome dataset. We then used a two-locus dataset with taxa from all monocot orders, and a three-locus dataset containing only taxa of Liliales, to estimate divergence times using a fossil-calibrated uncorrelated lognormal relaxed-clock approach.

Results

Corsiaceae is a monophyletic family and the sister group of Campynemataceae. This clade is the sister group of all other Liliales. The crown age of Corsiaceae is estimated to be 53 Ma (95% confidence interval 30–76 Ma).

Main conclusions

Corsiaceae is an ancient family of mycoheterotrophic plants, whose crown age overlaps with the plate-tectonic split of Gondwana, consistent with a vicariance-based explanation for its current distribution.

See also here.