Endangered Cuban crocodiles back in the wild


This video says about itself:

Wild Cuba [Nature Documentary] HD

12 July 2015

Cuba’s political and economic isolation has provided the outside world little opportunity to see its wildlife … until now. It may be renowned for its politics and its cigars, but Cuba is home to some of the most unusual creatures on earth, including the feisty Cuban crocodile, the world’s smallest bird and frog, and migrating land crabs.

Cuba’s diverse wildlife stems from its unique natural history. Cuba was not originally in the Caribbean Sea but in the Pacific Ocean, where the island was situated 100 million years ago, before the forces of continental drift slowly brought it into the Caribbean. As the island migrated over the ages, an astonishing variety of life arrived by air, sea, and possibly by land bridges that may have once existed. Over time, these animals adapted to their new environment. Today, more than half of Cuba’s plants and animals, including more than 80 percent of its reptiles and amphibians, are found nowhere else on the planet.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

Endangered Cuban crocodiles come home

July 13, 2017

Experts from WCS’s Global Conservation Programs and WCS’s Bronx Zoo assisted Cuban conservationists in the recent release of 10 Cuban crocodiles (Crocodylus rhombifer) into Cuba’s Zapata Swamp as part of an ongoing recovery strategy for this Critically Endangered species.

These genetically pure crocodiles came from a breeding facility near the Zapata swamp. Hybridization with American crocodiles, which occur in the Southwestern tip of the Zapata Peninsula, is an ongoing issue and has contributed to the Cuban crocodile’s continuing decline. Cuban crocodiles face other threats, such as an increase in illegal hunting in recent years, so the release of captive bred Cuban crocodiles and the protection of these reptiles from poaching and hybridization is critical to the survival of the species in the wild.

The crocodiles were released in the Wildlife Refuge Channels of Hanabana (Refugio de Fauna Canales de Hanábana) — a 570 hectare (1,400 acre) mosaic of water channels, lagoons, marsh grasslands, and swamp forests in the easternmost Zapata Peninsula where Cuban crocodiles historically occurred. Marsh grasslands in this refuge provide crucial habitat for not only Cuban crocodiles, but prey including bird, fish and mammal species. No American crocodiles or hybrids are found in this Wildlife Refuge.

The recent release, which took place on June 8th, is the second reintroduction since Cuba started to release Cuban crocodiles in 2016. The decision to release the crocodiles followed a workshop of crocodile experts organized by WCS and Cuban institutions, including the Fundación Antonio Nuñez Jiménez, CITMA Ciénaga de Zapata, and Empresa Nacional para la Protección de la Flora y la Fauna. The workshop brought together 40 Cuban nationals working for the conservation of crocodiles in Cuba, and 30 international experts.

The workshop resulted in a series of agreed priorities for improving the conservation of crocodiles, including: strengthening the research and monitoring of Cuban crocodiles in the wild; increasing efforts to reintroduce and monitor reintroduced animals in Channels of Hanabana; working with local communities to reduce poaching through alternative livelihoods and environmental education; and working with local authorities to strengthen compliance to reduce illegal selling of crocodile meat.

Said Natalia Rossi, WCS Cuba Program Manager: “This workshop was important because it enabled the second release of Cuban crocodiles into the wild and motivated all participants to do even more to save this critically endangered species. Our workshop was fundamental to bring everyone together to share the work being done to save the Cuban crocodile.”

The critically endangered Cuban crocodile has the smallest, most restricted geographic distribution among all living crocodilian species, being only found in parts of the Zapata and Lanier swamps. Historically it was found throughout the Zapata Peninsula, but indiscriminate hunting for skins beginning in the second half of the 19th century and lasting until the early 1960s decimated most populations. Today, Cuban crocodiles inhabit a territory of about 77,600 hectares (191,700 acres), sharing habitat with the American crocodile and the hybrids of both species.

WCS’s John Thorbjarnarson began working on Cuban crocodiles in the 1990s, and WCS’s Bronx Zoo was the first U.S. zoo to successfully breed Cuban crocodiles. The first one hatched in 1983; six more hatched in 1984, and 21 in 1985. There has been no reproduction since then, but the zoo has a new young pair of crocodiles that will be introduced to each other late this year.

Kevin Torregrosa, Herpetology Collections Manager for WCS’s Bronx Zoo, attended the workshop to establish collaboration opportunities with individuals working with crocodiles in the breeding centers as well as with wild populations.

Said Torregrosa: “Cuba is a fairly isolated island and getting the chance to see the conservation effort in practice was very enlightening. I believe the Cubans were very happy to have the opportunity to show the international community the work that they have been doing.”

Gigantic Jurassic crocodile discovered in Madagascar


This video from Italy says about itself:

Reconstructing the skull of Razanandrongobe sakalavae

4 July 2017

Computed tomography of the fossil cranial bones of Razanandrongobe sakalavae (this is the name of this Jurassic crocodylomorph) provided information on the tooth replacement process and tooth/root size. The largest dentary tooth is 14 cm long and the largest premaxillary tooth measures 15 cm. CT data also allowed to 3-D print the missing counterlateral bones at FabLab Milan, and so to reconstruct the front of the skull at the Natural History Museum of Milan. Technician Andrea Passoni mounts the bone pieces.

Video: Cristiano Dal Sasso.

From ScienceDaily:

Gigantic crocodile with T. rex teeth was a top land predator of the Jurassic in Madagascar

Paleontologists document the features of a giant crocodile relative — the largest and oldest known ‘notosuchian‘, predating the other forms by 42 million years

July 4, 2017

Summary: Little is known about the origin and early evolution of the Notosuchia, hitherto unknown in the Jurassic period. New research on fossils from Madagascar begin to fill the gap in a million-year-long ghost lineage. Deep and massive jaw bones armed with enormous serrated teeth that are similar in size and shape to those of a T. rex strongly suggest that these animals fed also on hard tissue such as bone and tendon.

Little is known about the origin and early evolution of the Notosuchia, hitherto unknown in the Jurassic period. New research on fossils from Madagascar, published in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ by Italian and French paleontologists, begin to fill the gap in a million-year-long ghost lineage.

Deep and massive jaw bones armed with enormous serrated teeth that are similar in size and shape to those of a T-rex strongly suggest that these animals fed also on hard tissue such as bone and tendon. The full name of the predatory crocodyliform (nicknamed ‘Razana’) is Razanandrongobe sakalavae, which means “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region.”

A combination of anatomical features clearly identify this taxon as a Jurassic notosuchian, close to the South American baurusuchids and sebecids, that were highly specialized predators of terrestrial habits, different from present-day crocodilians in having a deep skull and powerful erect limbs. “Like these and other gigantic crocs from the Cretaceous, ‘Razana’ could outcompete even theropod dinosaurs, at the top of the food chain,” says Cristiano Dal Sasso, of the Natural History Museum of Milan.

Razanandrongobe sakalavae is by far the oldest — and possibly the largest — representative of the Notosuchia, documenting one of the earliest events of exacerbated increase in body size along the evolutionary history of the group.

“Its geographic position during the period when Madagascar was separating from other landmasses is strongly suggestive of an endemic lineage. At the same time, it represents a further signal that the Notosuchia originated in southern Gondwana,” remarks co-author Simone Maganuco.

Many baby crocodiles discovered in Egyptian mummy


Baby crocodiles discovered

From the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden):

Egyptian giant crocodile mummy is full of surprises

15 November 2016

The three-metre-long mummified Egyptian ‘giant crocodile’, one of the finest animal mummies in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), turns out to be literally filled with surprises. Examination of detailed new 3D CT scans has led to the conclusion that, besides the two crocodiles previously spotted inside the wrappings, the mummy also contains dozens of individually wrapped baby crocodiles.

Exceptional discovery

This is an exceptional discovery: there are only a few known crocodile mummies of this kind anywhere in the world. Starting on 18 November, museum visitors can perform an interactive virtual autopsy on the crocodile mummy and the mummy of an Egyptian priest. On a large touch screen, they can examine the mummies layer by layer, learning about their age, physical features, and the mummification process. The amulets placed inside the linen wrappings with the mummies can also be examined in detail and from all sides in 3D.

Virtual autopsy in museum galleries

A new scan of the large crocodile mummy was recently performed at the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) in Amsterdam. An earlier CT scan in 1996 had shown that there are two juvenile crocodiles inside a mummy that looks like one large crocodile. The Swedish company Interspectral, which specializes in high-tech interactive 3D visualizations, has converted the results of the new scan into a spectacular 3D application and thus detected the dozens of baby crocodiles.

A reference to new life after death?

The museum’s Egyptologists suspect that the crocodiles of different ages were mummified together as a reference to the ancient Egyptian belief in rejuvenation and new life after death. Another possibility is that no large crocodiles were available at a time when they were needed as offerings to the gods. The mummy was given the shape of one large crocodile with various kinds of stuffing: bits of wood, wads of linen, plant stems, and rope.The ancient Egyptians mummified all sorts of animals, usually to pay homage to a particular deity that could manifest in animal form. For instance, crocodiles were offered to the god Sobek.

Museum’s curators excited about the find

The museum’s curators are excited about this remarkable find: “What was intended as a tool for museum visitors, has yet produced new scientific insights. When we started work on this project, we weren’t really expecting any new discoveries. After all, the mummy had already been scanned. It was a big surprise that so many baby crocodiles could be detected with high-tech 3D scans and this interactive visualization.”

South African waterbuck escapes from crocodile


This video from South Africa says about itself:

Waterbuck Escapes the Jaws of a Crocodile

30 August 2016

Amazing video of a waterbuck standing peacefully in the water, when suddenly it disappears under the water. We soon see that it is a crocodile trying its luck to get a meal. But the waterbuck manages to fight its way out his way out.

Video by: Wynand

Why birds nest near alligators and hawks


This video from the USA says about itself:

Black-chinned hummingbird nesting

8 June 2015

Tucson Arizona. April 24-June 03

Momma building a nest, incubating eggs, feeding young and babies fly off.

One day I was looking out my skinny slice of a bathroom window and I saw a pine tree that had some busy hummingbird activity. I tried to rig up and video from the bathroom window but the vantage point was not good.

I did not want to intrude or cause stress to the mother so from the ground with a tripod set at the highest setting I used a Canon Vixia video camera, 37x zoom, fixed focus and daylight white balance, sometimes I had to adjust the exposure. Using a 64GB card I set up the camera at dawn and just hit record and walked away. When the card was full in a few hours I transferred to a Mac using Final Cut Pro X and selected the clips. Mostly nothing was happening. When all was done the video timeline was about two hours and then I started to eliminate redundant. At thirteen minutes it is still too long but people who like hummingbirds enjoy every minute.

One early morning I found the nest empty as they had already left. I examined the ground below to see if they had fallen out of the nest but that was not the case.

Out of the corner of my eye I spied some bird movement and there was a baby hummingbird on an oleander branch being nurtured by mom. The other baby bird was not to be seen.

Momma often pecked at the baby on the branch— at the head and body trying to encourage flight. And eventually they were both gone. But during the day and the next day there was much flight amongst the pine tree and oleander. Flight training I assume.

I opted to detach and delete the ambient audio as it is near our pool pump and it was annoying.

From the NestWatch eNewsletter in the USA, May 2016:

The Predator Next Door

You might think that a nesting bird would want to be as far away from a predator as it could get and, generally speaking, that’s true. However, it could be very strategic to nest near a predator that is two or more steps above you in the food chain (i.e., your predators’ predator). In this way, some birds derive protection from larger, more aggressive species that keep generalist predators at bay. This phenomenon is called a protective nesting association. Here are two of our favorite examples of nest-protecting predators:

Alligators and Wading Birds

In the southeastern United States, researchers found that wading birds such as herons, egrets, ibises, storks, and spoonbills appear to seek out alligator-inhabited waters above which they can nest. The alligators keep away (or eat) nest predators such as opossums and raccoons, and they cannot climb trees to rob nests themselves. However, the alligators certainly claim any chicks that fall out of the nests from time to time, making it likely that they are also benefiting from their avian neighbors.

Hawks and Hummingbirds

Black-chinned Hummingbirds nesting in southeastern Arizona were found to cluster their nests around the nests of Northern Goshawks and Cooper’s Hawks. Both species of hawk prey on birds, but would not normally bother with something as small as a hummingbird. Researchers found that hummers that nested within 300 meters of the hawks were much more likely to successfully raise young than those that nested farther away.

At least 92 such associations have been documented so far. It is unclear whether the recipients of the protection actively seek out these “protectors,” or if they are simply recognizing that an area has fewer nest predators. Either way, it can pay off to have a formidable carnivore for a neighbor…as long as you fly under the radar.

Alligators, other wildlife in Florida, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Florida‘s Alligator Road – Jane’s Scenic Drive

17 apr. 2016

Unique Florida Eco-Tourism experience – Jane’s Scenic Drive in Fakahatchee Strand State Park. This mini-documentary takes a 22 mile drive through the primordial Florida swamp. Exotic plants, birds and wildlife. More information here and here.