Threatened Spix’s macaw, Brazilian girl interviewed


This video says about itself:

RARE bird spotted in Brazil

24 June 2016

BREAKING. Extinct in the wild? Maybe not. 16-year old Damily has filmed a Spix’s Macaw in the wild! BLU IS BACK ⚡

From BirdLife:

19 Jun 2017

The Spix Mystery: one year later

By Edson Ribeiro, SAVE Brasil

On June 19th, 2016, Damilys and her mother Lourdes Oliveira woke up before dawn to look for the Spix’s Macaw Cyanopsitta spixii in the forest near their house in Curaçá, a small town of about 30,000 in the dry Caatinga area of Bahia, Brazil.

The day before, a farmer had assured them he had spotted the rare bird – a surprising claim, since it hadn’t been seen in the wild since 2000. Much to her excitement, 16 year old Damilys not only saw it, but also managed to film it with her mobile phone. After she shared on social media, her video went viral. One year on, we caught up with her back in the forest where she sighted the Spix for the first time.

When you were told that a Spix’s Macaw had been spotted, did you believe it right away?

No, we didn’t believe it at all actually! We thought it would be impossible for the Spix’s Macaw to be back in the Caatinga. It may be its natural habitat, but after so many years without sightings it was unlikely to be true. When we actually saw it ourselves, that’s when we really believed it. In the same way, many people only believed it after seeing the video.

Had you had any false alarms of people spotting the Spix’s Macaw before?

Yes, we had two of them last year, but we didn’t know whether or not they were true. One of them happened before I took the footage. When we were in another expedition after we had spotted it, I heard it myself. But since we had our thoughts so fixed in the idea we can’t say for sure… However, since other people also heard it, we thought that maybe it could be close, and it had only been a few days since the footage.

Why do you know so much about this bird?

I started as a volunteer for SAVE Brasil‘s Spix’s Macaw Project (Ararinha Na Natureza). Since the Project began I’ve always taken advantage of all the opportunities I had to go to the field with the team. When this volunteering opportunity presented itself, I did trainings on vertical climbing and radio telemetry.  And now I’m still with the Project, going to the field, compiling data… it’s our daily routine.

Now we are starting to work with the Blue-winged Macaw Primolius maracana (Near Threatened) to observe and monitor them to help in the Spix’s Macaw reintroduction, since they’re closely related.

Do you still go out often to look for it then?

I’ve gone to all expeditions with the people of the Spix’s Macaw Project and until today I still have the hopes of seeing it again. The first expedition I went to lasted more than 15 days.

We also know that your grandfather Pinpin was an avid birder. Is it true the Macaw appeared right in the area your grandfather donated as a nature reserve?

It all started through him, he always had this will to protect nature. His dream was to donate part of his land to protect the environment and see the Spix’s Macaw fly around again, but he didn’t have enough information on how to do it.

There are many farmers’ associations here in Curaçá, and about four years ago my mom went to one of these association meetings and met the Spix’s Macaw Project staff. Then they presented some proposals and my mom saw that they matched with what my grandfather wanted. After this, he succeeded in making his land a protected area. He got us to open our minds, he has always loved nature, and he taught us that. That’s where all my passion comes from.

Do you think the rediscovery of this Spix’s Macaw has changed the way people in Curaçá see the Caatinga and nature?

The town is divided. One has to have an open mind to learn and see the value in nature. A lot of people see that it has changed, and the rediscovery has brought benefits to the town, but other people say everything is the same…However, most people did notice the change.

But are people looking forward to its comeback?

I believe so. People are very excited about the return of the Spix’s Macaw. We have worked really hard on the Project to raise awareness and people are excited because it’s a species that only existed in the Caatinga. The Spix’s Macaw is the symbol of Curaçá, after all!

The footage was certainly appreciated by the online community – it went viral on Facebook, was shared by more than 1500 people and reached more than one million users. Why do you think the video was such a hit with people all around the world?

We knew it would be a success, but not as much as it was! I think it resonated because it made people curious. I guess many people didn’t believe it and wanted to see the video to know if it was real. Even today, a lot of people still don’t believe it.

We’ve been told you want to study biology. Tell us more!

I’ve always enjoyed walking around here and getting to know new places, and before, I wasn’t aware that this type of work even had a name. Then, through the Project they explained it to me, and now I know this is want. The Project staff influenced me in this decision, and they are very supportive. I want to study biology and become an ornithologist!

Are you aware of any threats affecting Curaçá’s nature?

Yes, the most important threats are poaching, mining, and ranching. I think all species are at risk, mainly the ones that feed on fruits and survive of the Caatinga’s vegetation. Ranching is damaging the vegetation, and mining is worsening the deforestation.

So do you see yourself in the future being a biologist for the Spix’s Macaw Project?

More than a biologist. I see myself speaking the Spix’s Macaw’s language, doing all the reintroduction work I’m currently doing with the Blue-winged Macaw, monitoring the nests, picking up the chicks. I see myself doing the same with Spix’s Macaw chicks and achieving what my grandfather always wanted to see, flocks of Spix’s macaws flying around Curaçá again.

Brazilian mammal-like reptile fossils, new study


This video from the USA says about itself:

Lecture 65: Cynodonts: Between Reptile and Mammal

8 November 2016

In this video we will list the major innovations in the cynodonts leading toward the origin of modern mammals.

From ScienceDaily:

Brazilian carnivorous mammal-like reptile fossil may be new Aleodon species

Brazilian specimens previously thought to be Chiniquodon may be first non-African Aleodon

June 14, 2017

Summary: Some Late Triassic Brazilian fossils of mammal-like reptiles, previously identified as Chiniquodon, may in fact be the first Aleodon specimens found outside Africa.

Some Late Triassic Brazilian fossils of mammal-like reptiles, previously identified as Chiniquodon, may in fact be the first Aleodon specimens found outside Africa, according to a study published June 14, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Agustín Martinelli from the Universidade Federal of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and colleagues.

Aleodon is a genus of probainognathian cynodont, a taxon which evolved in the Triassic period, co-existed with dinosaur precursors and other archosaurs and eventually gave rise to mammals. The Aleodon genus was first described using fossils from Tanzania and Namibia, but it was not clear if it belonged within the family of carnivorous mammal-like reptiles known as Chiniquodontids, which includes the morphologically similar Chiniquodon.

The authors of the present study examined the skulls, jaws and teeth of Middle-Late Triassic fossil specimens from the Dinodontosaurus Assemblage Zone in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, most of which were previously thought to be Chiniquodontids, and compared them to a known African Aleodon species, A. brachyrhamphus.

The researchers used tooth morphology to identify one of the specimens as a new Aleodon species, which they named A. cromptoni after Dr Alfred “Fuzz” Crompton, who described the Aleodon genus. They also identified as Aleodon seven Brazilian specimens, previously thought to be chiniquodontids or traversodontids, and possibly one Namibian specimen, noting that this may call the reliability of Chiniquodon identification into question. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that Aleodon cromptoni may be, as suspected, a species in the Chiniquodonidae family.

Whilst the analysis was limited by the partial nature of some of the specimens, the authors note that the identification of these Late Triassic Aleodon specimens in Brazil strengthens the correlation between probainognathians from this epoch in South America and in Africa.

World’s oldest fossil mushroom discovery in Brazil


This video says about itself:

7 June 2017

The world’s oldest fossilized mushroom, dating from 115 million year ago, has been discovered in Brazil and is being called a ‘scientific wonder’. The mushroom fell into a river and began its journey in becoming a fossil at the time when Earth’s supercontinent Gondwana was breaking apart.

It made its way into a highly saline lagoon, sank through the stratified layers of salty water, and was covered in layers of fine sediment, in time becoming a fossil. The world’s oldest fossil mushroom was preserved in limestone, an extraordinarily rare event, researchers say.

From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the USA:

World’s oldest fossil mushroom found

June 7, 2017

Roughly 115 million years ago, when the ancient supercontinent Gondwana was breaking apart, a mushroom fell into a river and began an improbable journey. Its ultimate fate as a mineralized fossil preserved in limestone in northeast Brazil makes it a scientific wonder, scientists report in the journal PLOS ONE.

The mushroom somehow made its way into a highly saline lagoon, sank through the stratified layers of salty water and was covered in layer upon layer of fine sediments. In time — lots of it — the mushroom was mineralized, its tissues replaced by pyrite (fool’s gold), which later transformed into the mineral goethite, the researchers report.

“Most mushrooms grow and are gone within a few days,” said Illinois Natural History Survey paleontologist Sam Heads, who discovered the mushroom when digitizing a collection of fossils from the Crato Formation of Brazil. “The fact that this mushroom was preserved at all is just astonishing.

“When you think about it, the chances of this thing being here — the hurdles it had to overcome to get from where it was growing into the lagoon, be mineralized and preserved for 115 million years — have to be minuscule,” he said.

Before this discovery, the oldest fossil mushrooms found had been preserved in amber, said INHS mycologist Andrew Miller, a co-author of the new report. The next oldest mushroom fossils, found in amber in Southeast Asia, date to about 99 million years ago, he said.

“They were enveloped by a sticky tree resin and preserved as the resin fossilized, forming amber,” Heads said. “This is a much more likely scenario for the preservation of a mushroom, since resin falling from a tree directly onto the forest floor could readily preserve specimens. This certainly seems to have been the case, given the mushroom fossil record to date.”

The mushroom was about 5 centimeters (2 inches) tall. Electron microscopy revealed that it had gills under its cap, rather than pores or teeth, structures that release spores and that can aid in identifying species.

Fungi evolved before land plants and are responsible for the transition of plants from an aquatic to a terrestrial environment,” Miller said. “Associations formed between the fungal hyphae and plant roots. The fungi shuttled water and nutrients to the plants, which enabled land plants to adapt to a dry, nutrient-poor soil, and the plants fed sugars to the fungi through photosynthesis. This association still exists today.”

The researchers place the mushroom in the Agaricales order and have named it Gondwanagaricites magnificus.

Save Brazil’s cherry-throated tanagers


This video says about itself:

Cherry-throated Tanager – Saíra-apunhalada – Nemosia rourei

NE Brazil Birding – DEC 2012 Tour – First video of one of the rarest birds in the world!!!

Taken in Vargem Alta – Espírito Santo – South-east Brazil – with my friend and guide Gustavo Magnago.

From BirdLife:

17 May 2017

Ravaged by deforestation – but a new refuge brings hope for the Cherry-throated Tanager

Over 85% of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has been felled over the last few hundred years – but life continues to cling to the fragments that remain. A newly-created reserve will ensure that one of these fragments, along with the six globally-threatened birds it harbours, will endure for the foreseeable future

Just five hundred years ago, the Atlantic Forest formed a thick green blanket across the east coast of Brazil. Then settlers arrived from Europe, sparking one of the most terrifying rates of deforestation the world has ever seen.

Today, plantations and quarries stand where 88% of the Atlantic Forest once proudly stood. All that remains of this vital ecosystem today are scattered patches of degraded, fragmented forest.

The decimation of the Atlantic Forest is an ongoing tragedy for biodiversity. Despite only being a fraction of its former glory, the Atlantic Forest is still home to a huge number of plants and animals – enough, in fact, to rival the more famous Amazon. Even in its current state, new species are being discovered all the time in the fragments that remain – or in the case of the Critically Endangered (CR) Cherry-throated Tanager Nemosia rourei, rediscovered.

This colourful tanager was known only from a single shot specimen in 1870 for many decades, before its dramatic rediscovery in the 1990s. However, the species remains staggeringly rare, with an estimated global population of less than 200 adult birds. It may be that there are further populations out there skulking in as-yet unexplored fragments, but for now all we can do is protect the habitats that host the populations we do know about.

And this week, there was a major advancement on this front – the establishment of a 1,688 hectare refuge protecting one of the last strongholds of this beleaguered species. The newly-created Águia Branca Private Reserve now represents the second largest private protected area in the Brazillian state of Espírito Santo.

SAVE Brasil (BirdLife Partner) has been acting in the region since 2005, and has supported Grupo Águia Branca (one of the country’s largest transportation and logistics companies) in the creation of this private reserve, which is located between two state parks, Forno Grande, and Pedra Azul.  For many years SAVE Brasil has also been working along the state government for the creation of a 4,300 hectare wildlife refuge adjacent to the private reserve. The public consultations were held in April 2016, but the process is still ongoing.

This area, which is recognized by BirdLife as a priority IBA (Important Bird & Biodiversity Area), is home to over 250 bird species, of which six are globally threatened – none more so than the Cherry-throated Tanager.

The cherry-throated tanager occurs primarily in the canopy of humid montane forests at elevations between 850 to 1,250 meters.  Single individuals or groups of up to ten birds can be found and they are occasionally associated with mixed-species flocks. The population is estimated at only 50-249 individuals.  Sadly, occasional records are always of small groups of 2-3 individuals observed at the same site, which indicates that the same individuals are observed over and over. Therefore, there may be less than 50 individuals in the world.

The Caetés region is also important for five other globally threatened birds: White-necked Hawk Leucopternis lacernulata, Brown-backed Parrotlet Touit melanonotus, Golden-tailed Parrotlet Touit surdusVinaceous Amazon Amazona vinacea  and the Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis.  Threatened mammals also occur in this region, including the endangered Buffy-headed Marmoset Callithrix flaviceps and the Brown-throated Sloth Bradypus variegatus.

The creation of the private reserve represents an important victory for the long-term conservation of the these species, and it is hoped that it will accelerate the process to create the proposed public protected area, protecting a total of 6,000 hectares of a unique Atlantic Forest habitat. Now, that really would be the cherry on top.