New spider species discoveries in Colombia


This 2015 video says about itself:

Today we are going to be sharing the top 10 fascinating spiders recently discovered. From the tiniest spider in the world to decoy building spiders.

The List: “10 Fascinating Spiders Recently Discovered” – Darwins Bark Spider – Decoy Building Spider – Indian Tiger Spider – Mongolia Spider – Moroccan Flic-Flac Spider – Mysmena wawuensis – Paratropis tuxtlensis – Skeletorus – Albino Trapdoor Spider – Trogloraptor

From ScienceDaily:

As uniform as cloned soldiers, new spiders were named after the Stormtroopers in Star Wars

The new species are amongst the very first bald-legged spiders recorded in Colombia

March 14, 2019

Despite being widely distributed across north and central South America, bald-legged spiders had never been confirmed in Colombia until the recent study by the team of Drs Carlos Perafan and Fernando Perez-Miles (Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay) and William Galvis (Universidad Nacional de Colombia). Published in the open-access journal ZooKeys, their research paper describes a total of six previously unknown species inhabiting the country.

Four of the novel spiders were unable to fit into any already existing genus, so the scientists had to create a brand new one for them, which they called Stormtropis in reference to the Star Wars‘ clone trooper army known as Stormtroopers.

Considered to be amongst the most enigmatic in the group of mygalomorphs, the bald-legged spiders are a family of only 11 very similarly looking, small- to medium-sized species, whose placement in the Tree of Life has long been a matter of debate. In fact, it is due to their almost identical appearance and ability for camouflage that became the reason for the new bald-legged spider genus to be compared to the fictional clone troopers.

One of the most striking qualities of the bald-legged spiders (family Paratropididae) is their ability to adhere soil particles to their cuticle, which allows them to be camouflaged by the environment.

“The stormtroopers are the soldiers of the main ground force of the Galactic Empire. These soldiers are very similar to each other, with some capacity for camouflage, but with unskillful movements, like this new group of spiders,” explain the researchers.

“We wanted to make a play on words with the name of the known genus, Paratropis, and of course, we also wanted to pay tribute to one of the greatest sagas of all time,” they add.

One of the new ‘stormtrooper’ species (Stormtropis muisca) is also the highest altitudinal record for the family. It was recorded from an elevation of at least 3,400 m in the central Andes. However, the authors note that they have evidence of species living above 4,000 m. These results are to be published in future papers.

In the course of their fieldwork, the researchers also confirmed previous assumptions that the bald-legged spiders are well adapted to running across the ground’s surface. The spiders were seen to stick soil particles to their scaly backs as a means of camouflage against predators. More interestingly, however, the team records several cases of various bald-legged species burrowing into ravine walls or soil — a type of behaviour that had not been reported until then. Their suggestion is that it might be a secondary adaptation, so that the spiders could exploit additional habitats.

In conclusion, not only did the bald-legged spiders turn out to be present in Colombia, but they also seem to be pretty abundant there. Following the present study, three genera are currently known from the country (Anisaspis, Paratropis and Stormtropis).

Birds in Colombia, documentary film


This 8 February 2019 video says about itself:

The Birders, a documentary film on Colombian bird diversity and birdwatching presented by ProColombia, with support of FONTUR and directed by Gregg Bleakney.

The film highlights Colombian local birdwatching guide, Diego Calderon-Franco and National Geographic photographer / videographer Keith Ladzinski as they travel through one of the most diverse bird regions in the world to capture new and rare birds that have never been filmed before.

The Birders also takes people through the Colombian landscape, highlighting several of its’ top locations, culture, birds and music. As well as: Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, in the Guajira Peninsula. El Dorado Bird Reserve, in the Santa Marta Mountains. Minca and surroundings, in the Santa Marta Mountains. Tayrona National Natural Park and El Chamicero del Perija Bird Reserve, in the Perija Mountains.

The films aims to change the perception of Colombia through showcasing the diversity of birds who live there.

“Birdwatching in Colombia is a real adventure. These guides and biologists are always finding new things”, says director Gregg Bleakney. Diego Calderón agrees, “Being a bird guide in Colombia is absolutely crazy, we are basically living the Victorian times of exploration.

You can choose a remote corner of the country and almost for sure you are going to find surprises: new species, new subspecies, new range extensions. Colombia is a box of surprises!”

Along with the unique birds and exquisite landscape, The Birders incorporates an original score from local musicians inspired by the bird songs found in the film.

Mucho Indio – Teto Ocampo

Teto Ocampo has spent the past 10 years learning to play the Arhuaco people’s ancestral songs. Though his band, Mucho Indio, Teto takes listeners on a cosmic journey through space and time by translating Colombia’s most ancestral melody, the song of the hummingbird, to a modern format. He composed the melody with a rare charu flute, an instrument that only a handful of people on planet have the knowledge to play.

Song name: Kumuchikayu

Sidestepper English musician Richard Blair is most well known as the founding member of Sidestepper, a pioneering Colombian band that has paved the way for a modern generation of Colombian artists who have successfully gone global through mixing local and foreign musical concepts.

Richard’s meditative song was inspired by “mixed migrant flocks”, a phenomenon where foreign birds migrate to Colombia’s Caribbean region to live, travel and sing with local groups of birds.

Song name: To Close Your Eyes

Ghetto Kumbé Together with the team of the documentary, Edgardo Garcés travelled to his birthplace of La Guajira to record the song of the Vermilion Cardinal. Edgardo tattooed the bird on his arm to ground himself after the death of his parents. He had never seen the bird in the wild before. The story of this eye-catching bird’s connection to indigenous Wayúu culture is the inspiration for this modern Afro-Colombian electronic song.

Song name: Soy Guajira

Frente Cumbiero Using Colombian Cumbia as its base, Mario Galeano and his band Frente Cumbiero composed a modern take on the classic USA surf songs of the 1960s, but with a birder’s soul. The song draws inspiration from the endemic Santa Marta Parakeet. These social birds
live in flocks on a massive ridgeline overlooking the Caribbean Sea and Magdalena River Valley, the birthplace of Cumbia music.

Song name: Parakeet Ridge

El Leopardo With his band El Leopardo, Daniel Broderick (aka Dani Boom) composed a thumping electronic club song that mirrors the Manakin bird’s slow build-up to a frenetic courtship display. The mechanical clapping sound of the White-bearded Manakin’s wings, recorded by the documentary team in Tayrona National Park, is the foundation of Dani’s composition. The courtship call of the Lance-tailed Manakin provided a secondary melody.

Song name: Manakin Boom

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, March 2019:

The Birders is a documentary about the delights of bird watching in northern Colombia, the country that boasts more bird species than any other place in the world. Watch it for free, and then enter to win an all-expense-paid, 4-day trip to the Santa Marta region of the country. Runners-up win binoculars, boots, and more. Watch the movie and enter by March 28.

New bird species discovery in Colombia


This video from Colombia is called Endemic Tatamá Tapaculo – Scytalopus alvarezlopezi – Apia, W Andes.

From Sci-News:

Tatama Tapaculo: New Bird Species Discovered in Colombia

Mar 20, 2017 by Sergio Prostak

A new species of tapaculo — called the Tatama tapaculo (Scytalopus alvarezlopezi) — has been discovered in the cloud forests of Colombia’s Western Andes.

The Tatama tapaculo was first spotted in June 1992 in Colombia’s Risaralda department by Dr. F. Gary Stiles, an ornithologist at the Institute of Natural Sciences at the National University of Colombia.

Now studies of the bird’s vocalizations and DNA have confirmed it to be a unique species.

The discovery is outlined in the April 2017 issue of The Auk, the official publication of the American Ornithologists’ Union.

“We take pleasure in naming this species in honor of Humberto Alvarez-Lopez, the ‘dean of Colombian Ornithology,’ for his many contributions to the knowledge and study of this country’s birds over nearly half a century,” Dr. Stiles and co-authors said.

“We suggest the English name of the Tatama tapaculo for Scytalopus alvarezlopezi because the majority of localities for this species are in the middle sector of the Western Andes near the border between Risaralda and Choco Departments, in which the most prominent and best-known mountain is Cerro Tatama.”

The tapaculos, a group of passerine birds in the family Rhinocryptidae, are small to medium-sized birds, with a total length between 10 and 23 cm and a weight between 10 and 185 grams.

They have short, broadly rounded wings, straight bill, longish legs, strong feet for scratching in the earth; most with short tail.

Most species are reddish brown or gray, with spots or bars; those of woodlands are darker than those of open scrub country.

The Tatama tapaculo is a medium-sized, blackish tapaculo.

“Males are black above, the rump slightly tinged dark brown; dark grayish-black below; the posterior flanks, extreme lower abdomen, and crissum are broadly and slightly indistinctly barred black and dark rufous; the primaries and tail are dark brownish-black,” the researchers said.

“Female and juvenile plumages are presently unrecorded.”

The new species forms part of a distinctive clade of Scytalopus tapaculos that also includes the Stiles’s tapaculo (S. stilesi) and the Magdalena tapaculo (S. rodriguezi), which occur on the Central and Eastern Andes of Colombia, and the Ecuadorian tapaculo (S. robbinsi) from Ecuador.

The bird is easily diagnosable from its near relatives by its song and mitochondrial DNA; differences in plumage exist but are more subtle.

It inhabits dense understory vegetation on the floors and lower slopes of ravines in cloud forest at elevations of 1,300 to 2,100 m.

Dr. Stiles and his colleagues — Dr. Oscar Laverde-R. of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Dr. Carlos Daniel Cadena of the Universidad de Los Andes — believe that the Tatama tapaculo is not threatened at present, but could be potentially vulnerable due to its restricted distribution.

“At present, we would consider the Tatama tapaculo to be ‘Nearthreatened’ or at most, ‘Vulnerable,’ because of its limited distribution and restriction to intact forest, but because its habitat — at least in the Tatama region — is fairly continuous and for the most part not threatened, and because it is locally common to abundant, we see no reason to raise any higher red flags,” they explained.

“However, because of the potential effects of climate change, its abundance and elevation range should be monitored into the future.”

Young people in Colombia are suing their government in order to protect the Amazon rainforest: here.

Colombian police attacks anti-bullfighting protesters


This video says about itself:

25 January 2017

Banned in 2012, the return of bullfighting in Colombia drew crowds of protesters. Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades.