New bird species discovery on Borneo


This video from Malaysia says about itself:

Bulbul, Cream-vented – Pycnonotus simplex

Tuesday 19th October, 2010- Taman Negara, Kuala Tahan, Pahang.

This Bulbul is easy to ID, from the whitish eyes that the bird has.

From Louisiana State University in the USA:

New cryptic bird species discovered

March 27, 2019

Summary: Through persistent detective work and advances in genetic sequencing technology, researchers have discovered a new species of bird on Borneo — the Cream-eyed Bulbul, or Pycnonotus pseudosimplex.

In the lush, lowland rainforests on the island of Borneo lives a rather common, drab brown bird called the Cream-vented Bulbul, or Pycnonotus simplex.

This bird is found from southern Thailand to Sumatra, Java and Borneo. In most of its range, it has white eyes. On Borneo, however, most individuals have red eyes, although there are also a few with white eyes. For 100 years, naturalists have thought the eye-color difference on Borneo was a trivial matter of individual variation. Through persistent detective work and advances in genetic sequencing technology, Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science researchers have discovered that the white-eyed individuals of Borneo in fact represent a completely new species. Their discovery of the Cream-eyed Bulbul, or Pycnonotus pseudosimplex, was published recently in the scientific journal, the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club.

Scientists recently discovered a new species of bird on Borneo - the Cream-eyed Bulbul. Credit: Subir Shakya, LSU

“One of the reasons we knew we had a new species as opposed to just a variant of another species was because the two populations — the red-eyed and white-eyed populations — actually occur together on Borneo. You can go to a site and see both of these birds. One of the theories of speciation is if two birds co-occur in the same area, and they are not interbreeding, then that’s a definitive sign that they are different species“, said Subir Shakya, lead author and LSU Department of Biological Sciences Ph.D. student.

Shakya made the discovery after he had returned to LSU from an expedition to Sumatra. Back at LSU, he was sequencing the DNA of several bird specimens from Sumatra and comparing them to specimens from other sites in the region to determine the degree of genetic relatedness of various species from the different islands and the mainland of Asia, which is a common practice after returning from fieldwork. Several bulbuls from Borneo and the surrounding region were among the specimens he compared; however, the white-eyed Cream-vented Bulbuls from Borneo appeared genetically distinct from all the other white-eyed and red-eyed Cream-vented Bulbuls he examined. Further work to understand this discrepancy led to the conclusion that the white-eyed birds from Borneo were in fact a new species.

“We had found white-eyed individuals of the bulbul in old-growth hill forest in Crocker Range National Park in 2008 and in Lambir Hills National Park in 2013; and a group from the Smithsonian found them in Batang Ai National Park in 2018. All of these areas are in Malaysian Borneo,” said co-author Fred Sheldon, the LSU Museum of Natural Science curator of genetic resources and Shakya’s Ph.D. advisor.

Specimens are preserved at the LSU Museum of Natural Science, which houses the world’s largest collection of genetic samples of birds from Borneo and Sumatra as well as the Smithsonian and University of Kansas Museum. White-eyed and red-eyed individuals look almost exactly the same, except for eye color.

“This discovery was made due to Subir’s dogged detective work, and a little serendipity,” Sheldon said.

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Male Borneo frogs take care of tadpoles


This 16 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Johana Goyes-Vallejos (UConn and KU): Do Female Frogs Call?

Dr. Johana Goyes-Vallejos discovers that in the smooth guardian frog of Borneo, female frogs call.

In frog species, typically male frogs call, while females stay silent. Dr. Johana Goyes-Vallejos shows that in the smooth guardian frog of Borneo (Limnonectes palavanensis) this is not the case and that female frogs call, too, producing spontaneous vocalizations to attract males. Dr. Goyes-Vallejos’ discovery that female frogs call suggests that L. palavanensis exhibits a reversal in calling behavior and possibly a sex-role-reversed mating system, which would be the first ever observed in a frog species.

Speaker Biography: Johana Goyes Vallejos received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Universidad del Valle, in Cali, Colombia. For her Ph.D., she joined the lab of Dr. Kentwood Wells in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Connecticut. Johana’s research interests include sexual selection and amphibian mating systems (frogs and toads), with a particular interest in species that exhibit parental care behavior.

For her dissertation work, she focused on elucidating the mating system of the smooth guardian frog of Borneo (Limnonectes palavanensis), an unusual species about which very little was known when she began her work. Using a combination of extensive fieldwork, bioacoustics, and methods in behavioral ecology and animal communication, Johana described behaviors of this species that were previously unknown to science. When not chasing frogs in remote forests around the world, Johana enjoys salsa dancing, reading non-scientific books, and baking.

From the University of Kansas in the USA:

Extraordinary ‘faithful father’ revealed by study of smooth guardian frog of Borneo

December 18, 2018

Stay-at-home dads might find their spirit animal in the smooth guardian frog of Borneo. A new pair of research papers authored by an investigator at the University of Kansas shows the male of the smooth guardian frog species (Limnonectes palavanensis) is a kind of amphibian “Mr. Mom” — an exemplar of male parental care in the animal kingdom.

“Sex-role reversal is basically when a male takes the role that you usually see with females in other species”, said Johana Goyes Vallejos, a postdoctoral research associate with the Herpetology Division at KU’s Biodiversity Institute, who led both studies. “The male provides care for the offspring. The females do the displaying part — like a peacock that has beautiful feathers — the female has those ornaments or behaviors you usually see with males.”

The papers reflect three years’ worth of fieldwork in Borneo, a vast island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean split among the nations of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Goyes Vallejos observed the frogs both in the wild and in outdoor enclosures at a field station.

In one of the papers, published in the Journal of Natural History, Goyes Vallejos offers new details about the prolonged parental duties of the male smooth guardian frog, behavior that had been studied very little until now. “In frogs, male parenting is more common”, said Goyes Vallejos. “But in other frog species, males take care of eggs and offspring, but they continue to call to attract other females — they aren’t missing opportunities to mate with females just because they have a clutch of eggs. So, sometimes they have two or three clutches of eggs from different females. But in the case of the smooth guardian frog, they only take care of one clutch and they don’t call at that time — they aren’t interested in attracting other females; they’re very faithful fathers. That’s unusual. Clearly, other frog species can do it, so why don’t they? There’s some reversal in the sex roles where the father becomes a very devoted parent while the female can go on to mate multiple times.”

According to the KU researcher, the smooth guardian frogs are primarily terrestrial, living in the leaf litter on the floor of the tropical rainforest where they’re most active at night, feeding on insects and other arthropods.

“Males produce advertisement calls to attract females to their location”, said Goyes Vallejos. “When females approach, if they like each other, they have a mating ritual. The female lays 15 to 20 eggs on the ground, then the male is the one that stays with the clutch of eggs and the female takes off — possibly to mate with other males. The males stay with the eggs for 11 days on average, and when they hatch the tadpoles scramble on the back of the male. The male takes them throughout the forest to find small pools to be deposited where they can finish their development.”

In the second paper, published in the journal Ethology, Goyes Vallejos wanted to know more about the kinds of strategies males used for depositing the tadpoles in these pools.

“They can be small puddles left by the rain, a fallen log or a tree stump filled with water — really any small body of water,” she said. “We don’t know for sure, but it generally takes between three to four weeks for tadpoles to become frogs.”

For the first half of the study, Goyes Vallejos observed male frogs in the study area as they searched for naturally available pools where their piggybacking tadpoles could develop into fully fledged frogs.

“I found they were very sparse and they couldn’t find places where they could deposit tadpoles”, she said. “This told me these tadpole pools are very rare and the frogs had to travel a long time. They can’t put them anywhere — it needs to have a lot of food; they feed on the little algae that grow on the fallen leaves in the bottom of the water. And it must be permanent enough so the tadpoles have time to develop. These places are scarce. The males are on a mission — they need to find these pools.”

For the second half of the study, the KU researcher created artificial pools in the forest floor that each was a few inches deep and about the diameter of a dinner plate — perfect nurseries for tadpoles. She wanted to see if, given identical pools, other factors might influence the male guardian frogs’ pool-selection process.

“I measured different variables like how much leaf litter was around, how steep was the terrain, and how much coverage from the forest did it have?” said Goyes Vallejos. “I found it was more probable for a male to deposit his tadpoles on flatter rather than steep terrain. My explanation was that possibly males were looking for places that would hold water — you wouldn’t go places where pools empty out because the terrain is too steep and the tadpoles would be washed out under heavy rains, which are very common in the rainforest. Instead, they looked for places permanent enough for tadpoles to develop to completion.”

Using the artificial pools for choice experiments, the KU researcher sought to find out if the presence of other organisms — predators or competitors — affected frogs’ selection of tadpole pools.

“In most of the literature on frogs, you find that parents avoid competitors, and especially predators, at all costs, so that was my prediction”, Goyes Vallejos said. “In my case, the predator was dragonfly larvae — quintessential tadpole predators. The experiment consisted of having two artificial pools, one next to the other. One had predators, and one didn’t. I looked to see if the male would avoid predators, and I expected males would deposit tadpoles in the empty pools without the predator. I was very surprised when I found they actually split the number of tadpoles between two pools. Say he had 14 tadpoles — then he would put seven in one and seven in the other. That was the most common strategy. In 12 deposition events I recorded, five out of 12 times they deposited the tadpoles split the number of tadpoles in both pools.”

In the other experiment, Goyes Vallejos wanted to see if tadpoles of the same species already in one pool would affect deposition of new tadpoles.

“Maybe they’d see them as competitors or maybe see them as a sign they were safe there”, she said. “In this case as well, the males split the tadpoles in the two pools — it didn’t matter if there were tadpoles of same species or predators present in the pool — they split them between the pools.

Goyes Vallejos said the experiments showed “the splitting behavior is the same as not putting all your tadpoles in one basket.”

“If these pools aren’t very common, and if you find them, you need to take advantage of this resource,” she said. “Presumably, the males divide the number of tadpoles in different pools and hope that at least one pool will be permanent enough for the tadpoles to develop into frogs. It doesn’t matter if a predator is in there — try to avoid it. It’s better to have someplace for your tadpoles than no place at all. Tadpoles don’t move a lot, so maybe they’re relying on that behavior not to be affected by predators. The alternative is the males weren’t aware there was a predator, but typically, frogs are good at detecting predators in the water. Those are a matter for further study, but in general, they’re trying to find as many places as possible to deposit tadpoles.”

Goyes Vallejos, who grew up in the mountains of southwest Colombia, became interested in frog research after earning her undergraduate degree in her home country when she had an opportunity to study frog signaling at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

“I fell in love with them,” she said. “I was blown away by the diversity of frogs, how they vocalize and all the different strategies they have to find each other and mate. One thing led to another, I moved to Connecticut to earn my Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, and during that time I spent several years in the jungles of Borneo looking for frogs.”

Blonde orangutan Alba freed in Borneo


This 17 December 2018 video from Indonesia says about itself:

The World’s Only Albino Orangutan – Alba

Do you remember when Alba first came to our rescue centre? Post this emoji «🙌» in the comment section if you participated in suggesting a name for her!

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Albino orangutan Alba will be freed today in a national park in the Indonesian part of Borneo island. The animal was found by villagers in May last year and kept in a cage.

Conservationists found the very malnourished and dehydrated female and took her along. From all over the world there were suggestions for a name for the orangutan. Eventually it became Alba, which means white in Latin and dawn in Spanish.

Recently, the animal has strengthened. The female has also shown that she can climb trees effortlessly. According to experts, she is therefore ready for a return to the wild.

Today Alba is released together with a normally coloured congener. They will be monitored in the national park.

World’s oldest figurative art discovery in Indonesia


This 9 October 2014 video says about itself:

World’s oldest cave paintings from 40,000 years ago discovered in Indonesia

Scientists have calculated that ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are at least as old as prehistoric art in Europe, laying to rest the idea that a human creativity was first born on the western continent.

Using uranium decay levels, scientists concluded that the drawings were made 35,000-40,000 years ago, roughly the same period as drawings found in Spain and France.

One Asian handprint is the oldest on record at 39,000-years-old. Archaeologists estimated the age of a dozen stencils of hands in mulberry red and two detailed drawings of an animal described as a “pig-deer“.

The Indonesian cave drawings are part of more 100 pieces of art in Sulawesi, southeast of Borneo.

From Nature today:

Palaeolithic cave art in Borneo

Abstract

Figurative cave paintings from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi date to at least 35,000 years ago (ka) and hand-stencil art from the same region has a minimum date of 40 ka1.

Here we show that similar rock art was created during essentially the same time period on the adjacent island of Borneo. Uranium-series analysis of calcium carbonate deposits that overlie a large reddish-orange figurative painting of an animal at Lubang Jeriji Saléh—a limestone cave in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo—yielded a minimum date of 40 ka, which to our knowledge is currently the oldest date for figurative artwork from anywhere in the world.

In addition, two reddish-orange-coloured hand stencils from the same site each yielded a minimum uranium-series date of 37.2 ka, and a third hand stencil of the same hue has a maximum date of 51.8 ka.

We also obtained uranium-series determinations for cave art motifs from Lubang Jeriji Saléh and three other East Kalimantan karst caves, which enable us to constrain the chronology of a distinct younger phase of Pleistocene rock art production in this region. Dark-purple hand stencils, some of which are decorated with intricate motifs, date to about 21–20 ka and a rare Pleistocene depiction of a human figure—also coloured dark purple—has a minimum date of 13.6 ka.

Our findings show that cave painting appeared in eastern Borneo between 52 and 40 ka and that a new style of parietal art arose during the Last Glacial Maximum. It is now evident that a major Palaeolithic cave art province existed in the eastern extremity of continental Eurasia and in adjacent Wallacea from at least 40 ka until the Last Glacial Maximum, which has implications for understanding how early rock art traditions emerged, developed and spread in Pleistocene Southeast Asia and further afield.

Like Europe, Borneo hosted Stone Age cave artists: here.

Prehistoric rock paintings are a source of fascination. Aside from their beauty, there’s deep meaning in these strokes, which depict ancient rituals and important symbols. Scientists now describe use of ‘X-ray vision’ to gain brand-new insights about the layers of paint in rock art in Texas without needless damage: here.

Newly discovered beetle species named after astronaut, Leonardo Dicaprio


This video says about itself:

BREAKING! Leonardo DiCaprio awarded an impressive insect honor

1 May 2018

Meet Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Bornean riffe beetle now known as Grouvellinus andrekuipersi

There was already a tulip named after him and a planetoid, but since today astronaut André Kuipers is also the proud name giver of a new beetle species; the Grouvellinus andrekuipersi.

The beetle was discovered during an expedition in Borneo, organized by biologist Menno Schilthuizen. During the same expedition another beetle was found, named after the American actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Vulnerable

De Groot wrote a competition for an original name for the beetle and biology student Auke-Florian Hiemstra suggested naming the insect after André Kuipers because of his great commitment to the environment.

“As an astronaut, Kuipers saw the earth from space and experienced the “Overview Effect“. He suddenly saw how vulnerable the earth is and realized that we should be careful with our planet.”

Kuipers received the scientific publication in Zookeys from Hiemstra, in which the beetle is described with its new name.

Riffe beetle

The Grouvellinus andrekuipersi is a real riffe beetle. It was found in an area in Borneo with a lot of clean and fresh water. The beetles live on pieces of wood in streams and mainly eat the bacteria that grow on the wood. The Grouvellinus andrekuipersi probably only occurs in Borneo.

It is not the first time that animals and insects are named after celebrities. A [pistol] shrimp with bright pink scissors and a good sense of drumming was named after the British rock band Pink Floyd and a fly with heavy arms after Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Donald Trump was also named after an animal species. The moth Neopalpa donaldtrumpi has a yellow-orange ‘haircut’ that is very similar to that of the American president.

Elephants in Borneo, why?


This video says about itself:

Saving the Borneo Elephant (full documentary) HD

The Bornean Elephant is a subspecies of the Asian Elephant, physically and behaviourally different from the elephants of mainland Asia. Known locally and commonly as ‘Bornean Pygmy elephants’, they are about a fifth smaller than mainland Indian elephants but similar in size to populations of Sumatra and the Malaysian Peninsula. They are generally more rotund in appearance with shorter trunks and a smaller rounder face, which makes their ears appear larger. They also have a long tail, which in some individuals reaches all the way down to the ground . Only some males display tusks, which are shorter and straighter than in the mainland elephants.

From the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia:

New light on the mysterious origin of Bornean elephants

January 17, 2018

How did Borneo get its elephant? This could be just another of Rudyard Kipling’s just so stories. The Bornean elephant is a subspecies of Asian Elephants that only exist in a small region of Borneo. Their presence on this southeastern Asian island has been a mystery. Now, in a study published in Scientific Reports, a research team led by Lounès Chikhi from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC, Portugal) and CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier (France), and Benoit Goossens, from Cardiff University (Wales), and Sabah Wildlife Department (Malaysia), found that elephants might have arrived on Borneo at a time of the last land bridge between the Sunda Islands in Southeast Asia.

Until recently, two opposing theories have been under debate to explain the origin of Bornean elephants: they could have been recently introduced by humans, maybe 300 years ago, or they could have diverged from Asian elephants a long time ago. Indeed, there are historic records reporting that, in the 17th century, neighbour Sultans offered elephants as gifts to the Bornean Sultan. Current elephants would thus be non-native elephants that turned feral. On the other hand, about 15 years ago a genetic study showed that the DNA of Bornean elephants was very different from that of other Asian elephants, suggesting a very ancient separation, on the order of 300,000 years ago. However, no elephant fossils have yet been discovered in Borneo, even though fossils from other large mammals such as orang-utans have been found.

To shed light on the mystery of Bornean elephant’s origin, Chikhi and Goossens’ team used genetic data analysis and computational modelling to study the past demographic history of these animals. It is very difficult to track ancient demographic history of animals, even more when there are no fossil records to guide the work. “What we did was to create computational models for different scenarios that might have happened. Then, we compared the results from these models with the existing genetic data, and used statistical techniques to identify the scenario that best explained the current genetic diversity of the elephant population in Borneo”, explains Lounès Chikhi.

“Our results suggest that the most likely scenario to have occurred is a natural colonization of Borneo around 11,400 to 18,300 years ago. This period corresponds to a time when the sea levels were very low and elephants could migrate between the Sunda Islands, a Southeastern Asia archipelago to which Borneo belongs. We cannot exclude more complex scenarios, but a historical human introduction seems very improbable, and so does a very ancient arrival”, adds Reeta Sharma, researcher at the IGC and first co-author of the paper.

With less than 2000 individuals surviving today in an increasingly fragmented environment, and with regular news of poisoned or killed Bornean elephants, the future is grim for this endangered species. “Its very limited geographic distribution and reduced genetic diversity compromise the future of the population. Understanding their origins and past demography will be useful for the development of a long-term conservation strategy, especially at the time we, Sabah Wildlife Department, and partners are drafting a new 10-year State Action Plan for the Bornean elephant”, said Goossens. The researcher notes “in the light of the recent killings of elephants in the state for ivory trade and during conflicts, Sabahans must realise that it is their natural patrimony that is targeted, they need to stand for their wildlife and condemn those who kill those magnificent creatures. We should take pride of our wildlife, elephants are part of Sabah’s patrimony and we cannot afford losing more animals.”

New beetles discovered in Borneo


This video says about itself:

A documentary exploring the diversity and conservation of one of the world’s last remaining true wildernesses, Maliau Basin in Borneo. Filmed Jan – March 2016 by Matt Jarvis.

Recently, there was an expedition by Naturalis museum in the Netherlands to the Maliau Basin in Sarawak in Malaysia, on Borneo island. They discovered five beetle species, new for science.

Probably, they discovered many more species new for science. However, the scientists in the expedition were specialists of some beetle families and did not know everything on other beetles and animals. So, further research on what they found may discover much more.

An extensive web site, in Dutch, about the expedition is here.