What Californian pygmy mammoths ate

This May 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

The Pygmy Mammoths on the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, California.

From Quaternary International:

5 January 2016

Dietary reconstruction of pygmy mammoths from Santa Rosa Island of California


Microwear analyses have proven to be reliable for elucidating dietary differences in taxa with similar gross tooth morphologies. We analyzed enamel microwear of a large sample of Channel Island pygmy mammoth (Mammuthus exilis) molars from Santa Rosa Island, California and compared our results to those of extant proboscideans, extant ungulates, and mainland fossil mammoths and mastodons from North America and Europe.

Our results show a distinct narrowing in mammoth dietary niche space after mainland mammoths colonized Santa Rosa as M. exilis became more specialized on browsing on leaves and twigs than the Columbian mammoth and modern elephant pattern of switching more between browse and grass. Scratch numbers and scratch width scores support this interpretation as does the Pleistocene vegetation history of Santa Rosa Island whereby extensive conifer forests were available during the last glacial when M. exilis flourished.

The ecological disturbances and alteration of this vegetation (i.e., diminishing conifer forests) as the climate warmed suggests that climatic factors may have been a contributing factor to the extinction of M. exilis on Santa Rosa Island in the Late Pleistocene.

Seal on porch in California, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Seal found on porch in Oceanside (NBC San Diego)

7 January 2016

Expect the unexpected. A seal on a porch. El Niño-California

California condor that helped save species back in the wild

This March 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

Condor Chick Feeding at San Diego Zoo (VNR) … Wesa hatched to parents AC-4 and Mexwe.

From Associated Press in the USA:

California condor that helped save species returns to wild


Dec. 31, 2015 4:40 PM EST

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Banking into the wind and then gliding out of sight, a male California condor flew back into the wild after a captive breeding program that helped save North America’s largest species of land bird.

The 35-year-old bird named AC-4 soared out of his open pen earlier this week at a canyon rim inside the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge, in central California’s Kern County. He had been one of just 23 condors left in the world in the 1980s.

It was the bird’s first free flight since 1985, when a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service team captured him near the same spot. It was part of a last-ditch attempt to stop the extinction of the California condor, which has a wing span of more than 9 feet.

AC-4 needed only a few minutes to get his bearings before flying out of the pen and over the canyon, said Joseph Brandt, a lead condor biologist with the wildlife service. Brandt was sitting on a hilltop nearby to watch the release.

“He kind of flew right past us. It was really incredible,” Brandt said by telephone Thursday.

Lead poisoning is believed one of the main factors that drove California condors toward extinction. The birds ingest fragments of lead bullets when they feed on carcasses of animals shot by hunters.

California lawmakers voted in 2013 to phase out lead bullets for hunting by 2019.

Biologists believe AC-4 was 5 to 7 years old when they captured him for the captive breeding program. He fathered the first chick born in the program, giving the program’s founders greater hope they could save the species.

In all, AC-4 sired 30 condor chicks that have been successfully released into the wild.

“Many people have poured their heart and soul” into saving the condors, Jesse Grantham, a former condor program coordinator and part of the original team that captured AC-4, said in a statement from the wildlife service.

This year, biologists recorded 19 wild condor nests in central and Southern California, more nests than at any point this century, Brandt said.

Condors can live up to 60 years in the wild and mate for life, Brandt said. Biologists hope AC-4, which they have tagged for tracking, will pick a mate before the courting season ends this winter, he said.

Elephant seal blocks traffic in California, USA

This video from California in the USA says about itself:

Today, Dec 28, 2015 at approximately 1:30pm, we assisted in saving a lost juvenile male elephant seal on highway 37 east. A large juvenile male elephant seal hauled out of the Delta bay water and was sitting in the middle of the highway. He stopped traffic right ahead of us and wouldn’t move. We pulled over, I called marine mammal center to report it and they said the highway patrol is on the way. (They never arrived. ) No one else knew what to do, so we parked a distance away; I got out of our vehicle to try to help coax him back into the bay water.

This report says this northern elephant seal was a female, not a male.

See also here.

Philippine coral reef live webcam, in California

This video, from the USA, says about itself:

Live Coral Reef Cam | California Academy of Sciences

Dive into the Academy’s Philippine Coral Reef tank— one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world. This impressive tank houses a broad range of aquatic life from the coral reefs and mangroves of the Philippines, a global biodiversity hotspot and an important location for scientific research. Tune in daily at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm PST to watch and listen as Academy divers feed the creatures in the Philippine Coral Reef exhibit and answer visitor questions.

The California Academy of Sciences is the only place in the world with an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and 4-story rainforest all under one roof.

Massacre near abortion clinic in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

2 December 2015

A woman who works at a school near the location of a reported shooting in San Bernardino, California, describes what the scene is like

From the Daily Record in Scotland:

San Bernardino shootings: Hunt for at least one gunman after 12 people reported shot dead near abortion clinic

20:23, 2 Dec 2015

By Paul English

TWELVE people are believed to have been killed in a mass shooting near an abortion clinic in California. Police are hunting for one man but believe more may be involved.

TWELVE people are dead and many more are injured after a mass shooting in California.

The San Bernardino Fire Department Tweeted that it was responding to a “20 victim shooting incident” near a golf course.

Fire officials have confirmed that an “active shooter” was at the scene about an hour outside Los Angeles.

The scene of the shooting is believed to be [an] abortion clinic.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff twitter account has also confirmed the event, Tweeting: “Confirmed an active shooter in the area of Orange Show Rd/ Waterman Ave near Park center. #SBCSD assisting.”

A spokeswoman from the San Bernardino Police Department described the scene as “still very active” and confirmed there may be up to three heavily armed gunmen wearing body armour.

Some unconfirmed reports claim 30 hostages were also taken in an as yet unnamed building, with some having escaped.

Last Friday, a gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in the US state of Colorado, killing three people although the organisation have dispelled rumours that this latest attack is at one of their facilities.

Some witnesses reported that two males with ski masks, who fled the scene in an SUV, were responsible for the shooting. Other reports suggested three men in combat gear were responsible for the killings.

We do have enough information already for heartfelt condolences to the survivors, families and friends of this horrible crime, wishing them all the best possible. Recovery for the injured. Strength for those whose loved ones were murdered.

We don’t have enough information yet about the perpetrators. At first sight (which not always turns out to be correct) this may remind people of a self-styled Christian fundamentalist fanatic equivalent of the ISIS murders in Paris, France. A more militarized, more organised, bloodier follow-up to the murders at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

Suspicions of extreme right violent ‘Christian Identity‘ groups like ‘Aryan Nations‘, the Aryan Brotherhood, and the self-styled ‘Army of God‘ anti-abortion terrorists may cross people’s minds. Self-styled ‘pro-lifers’ once again bring nothing but bloody death.

The Link Between Anti-Abortion Rhetoric and the Planned Parenthood Attack: here.

There may come new developments, corroborating or contradicting this.

UPDATE: TWO SUSPECTS DEAD, 14 KILLED IN SAN BERNARDINO “A man and woman dressed in tactical gear and carrying assault-style weapons shot and killed 14 people and injured 17 at a holiday party at a social services center on Wednesday before being fatally shot by police hours later while on the run.” This was the deadliest shooting since Sandy Hook — and there have been more mass shootings in 2015 than days. Here’s everything we know about the attackers, identified as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, who were reportedly married. The couple had left their six-month-old daughter at her grandmother’s on the morning of the attack. [Matt Ferner, Andy Campbell and Sebastian Murdock, HuffPost]

SURVIVORS RECOUNT SHOOTING SCENE Eyewitnesses and survivors told of hiding under desks and sheltering in place until being rescued by the authorities. Here’s a full timeline of the shooting and resulting manhunt. [Willa Frej, Matt Ferner and Sebastian Murdock, HuffPost]

The San Bernardino shooters had a simply enormous arsenal — and all of it was bought legally: here.

The FBI has determined the California couple that shot and killed 14 people had recently been to the shooting range. [AP]

MOTIVE UNCLEAR IN SAN BERNARDINO SHOOTING “With a young wife, infant daughter and government job, Syed Farook appeared to have arrived at a sweet-spot in life. Friends knew the 28-year-old by his quick smile, his devotion to his Muslim religion and earnest talk about cars he would restore. They didn’t know the man authorities say was busy with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, building homemade bombs and stockpiling thousands of rounds of ammunition for a commando-style assault on a holiday party of his co-workers that killed 14 and injured 21.” Family members of the shooters have no idea what could have motivated the couple to go on such a killing spree. And here’s a look at their massive arsenal. [AP]

MEET THE VICTIMS The 14 lives cut short too soon. Many victims leave behind small children. [Willa Frej, Michael McLaughlin and Jade Walker, HuffPost]

The corporate media and large sections of the political establishment had been pressing for the mass shooting to be labeled as a terrorist attack from the moment it emerged that the two suspects, the US-born Farook and his wife, who was from Pakistan, were both Muslim. These layers are anxious to exploit the tragedy to further Washington’s reactionary agenda of aggressive war abroad, together with police state repression and anti-immigrant chauvinism at home. Unlike any other act of terrorism committed on US soil, however, in this case the victims were all co-workers of Farook, with whom he was attending a holiday office party. They were all well known to him, suggesting that the attack may have more in common with the kind of workplace mass killings that happen on a staggeringly regular basis in America.: here.

The man she had married professed to be deeply religious. But after more than seven years with Robert L. Dear Jr. [later, the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic murderer], Barbara Micheau had come to see life with him as a kind of hell on earth. … A number of people who knew Mr. Dear said he was a staunch abortion opponent. Ms. Micheau, 60, said in a brief interview Tuesday that late in her marriage to Mr. Dear, he told her that he had put glue in the locks of a Planned Parenthood location in Charleston. … One person who spoke with him extensively about his religious views said Mr. Dear, who is 57, had praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work.” In 2009, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concerns for the privacy of the family, Mr. Dear described as “heroes” members of the Army of God, a loosely organized group of anti-abortion extremists that has claimed responsibility for a number of killings and bombings: here.

Mass shootings in the USA: here.

Here’s a map of all the mass shootings this year.

Nuttall’s woodpecker video

This video from the USA says about itself:

22 July 2015

Nuttall’s Woodpeckers are common in low-elevation woods and leafy suburbs of California. The black-and-white bars on the back help distinguish them from Downy Woodpeckers. The red patch on this bird’s head indicates it is a male.