Crows, ravens, eagle feed in Swedish winter


This video shows hooded crows, ravens, and a golden eagle feeding on a dead red fox in a Swedish winter.

Dutch white-tailed eagles build new nest


This 3 December 2019 video shows a sea eagle couple building a new nest in Oostvaardersplasen national park in the Netherlands.

Some young sea eagles, born this year in the Netherlands, have electronic tags; enabling people to see their movements here.

Last Neanderthal eagle necklace discovered


This 1 November 2019 video from Spain says about itself:

The last Neanderthal necklace

Found for the first time in the [Iberian] Peninsula: remains of personal ornaments with eagle talons from the Neanderthal period. These remains are older than 39,000 [years] and were found in the cave Foradada in Calafell, they were probably part of a necklace.

From the University of Barcelona in Catalonia:

Ornament with eagle talons from Neanderthal Period

November 1, 2019

Eagle talons are regarded as the first materials used to make jewellery by Neanderthals, a practice which spread around Southern Europe about 120,000 and 40,000 years ago. Now, for the first time, researchers found evidence of the ornamental uses of eagle talons in the Iberian Peninsula. An article published on the cover of the journal Science Advances talks about the findings, which took place in the site of the cave Foradada in Calafell. The research was led by Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo, researcher at the Institute of Evolution in Africa (IDEA) and member of the research team in a project of the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP) of the UB.

The interest in these findings lies in the fact that it is the most modern piece of the kind so far regarding the Neanderthal period and the first one found in the Iberian Peninsula. This circumstance widens the temporary and geographical limits that were estimated for this kind of Neanderthal ornaments. This would be “the last necklace made by the Neanderthals”, according to Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo.

“Neanderthals used eagle talons as symbolic elements, probably as necklace pendants, from the beginnings of the mid-Palaeolithic,” notes Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo. In particular, what researchers found in Cova Foradada are bone remains from Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti), from more than 39,000 years ago, with some marks that show these were used to take the talons so as to make pendants. The found remains correspond to the left leg of a big eagle. By the looks of the marks, and analogy regarding remains from different prehistorical sites and ethnographic documentation, researchers determined that the animal was not manipulated for consumption but for symbolic reasons. Eagle talons are the oldest ornamental elements known in Europe, even older than seashells Homo sapiens sapiens perforated in northern Africa.

The findings belong to the Châtelperronian culture, typical from the last Neanderthals that lived in Europe, and coincided with the moment when this species got in touch with Homo sapiens sapiens, from Africa -and expanding from the Middle East. Actually, Juan Ignacio Morales, researcher in the program Juan de la Cierva affiliated at SERP and signer of the article, presents this use of eagle talons as ornaments could have been a cultural transmission from the Neanderthals to modern humans, who adopted this practice after reaching Europe.

Cova Foradada covers the most meridional Châtelperronian culture site in Europe. The discovery involved a change in the map of the territory where the step from Middle Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic took place 40,000 years ago, and where interaction between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens sapiens probably took place. Studies in Cova Foradada started in 1997. At the moment, the supervision of the excavation is led by Juan Ignacio Morales and Artur Cebrià. The archaeological study of this site is included in a SERP project funded by the Department of Culture of the Catalan Government and another funded by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, headed by UB professor and SERP director Josep M Fullola.

The first signer of the article in Science Advances is Antonio Rodríguez Hidalgo, from the Institute of Evolution in Africa (IDEA). Other participants, apart from SERP members, are the researchers from Rovira i Virgili University, the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES), the Natural History Museum of Paris, the University of Salamanca, the University of Calgary (Canada) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

Growing up in Israel, Gili Greenbaum would give tours of local caves once inhabited by Neanderthals and wonder along with others why our distant cousins abruptly disappeared about 40,000 years ago. Now a scientist at Stanford, Greenbaum thinks he has an answer. In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, Greenbaum and his colleagues propose that complex disease transmission patterns can explain not only how modern humans were able to wipe out Neanderthals in Europe and Asia in just a few thousand years but also, perhaps more puzzling, why the end didn’t come sooner: here.

Small populations, inbreeding, and random demographic fluctuations could have been enough to cause Neanderthal extinction, according to a study published November 27, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Krist Vaesen from Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands, and colleagues. Paleoanthropologists agree that Neanderthals disappeared around 40,000 years ago — about the same time that anatomically modern humans began migrating into the Near East and Europe. However, the role modern humans played in Neanderthal extinction is disputed. In this study, the authors used population modelling to explore whether Neanderthal populations could have vanished without external factors such as competition from modern humans: here.

How bald eagles fly, new research


This 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

An American Bald Eagle flies with a GoPro

Jeep is a 5-year-old American Bald Eagle in Apopka, Florida. After losing a talon in 2012, Jeep (named after the “GP” in GoPro) is now rehabilitated and acting as an educational ambassador for the Avian Reconditioning Center in Apopka.

From the University of British Columbia in Canada:

Why are bald eagles such great gliders? It’s all in the wrist

New research helps explain how nature reshapes wings

October 24, 2019

Summary: Birds come in an astounding array of shapes and colors. New research helps explain why bird species with similar flight styles or body sizes don’t have consistent wing shapes. Bird species tend to reshape the range of motion of their wings — rather than wing shape or size itself — as they evolve new ways of flying.

Birds come in an astounding array of shapes and colours. But it’s their physical prowess — like a bald eagle’s incredible ability to soar — that captivates human imagination.

An enduring mystery is why bird species with similar flight styles or body sizes don’t have consistent wing shapes. All hummingbirds, and some species of falcons, hawks, kingfishers and passerines can hover, but the birds have strikingly different morphologies and are only distantly related. Ravens soar like eagles while their look-alike cousins, crows, stick more closely to the ground.

New research in Science Advances helps explain why. Bird species tend to reshape the range of motion of their wings — rather than wing shape or size itself — as they evolve new ways of flying.

“Birds essentially swim through the air — they flex, extend and bend their wings in flight,” explains Vikram Baliga, a researcher at the University of British Columbia and lead author on the paper. “As a bird specializes in a flight style, nature doesn’t appear to reshape the size or shape of the wing as much as it remodels the wing’s range of motion. Much like a swimmer adjusting their stroke.”

Hovering birds, according to the research, are relatively restricted in their ability to extend their elbows, but have a generous capability to move their wrist.

“Hummingbirds basically tuck their elbows in and predominately rely on rapidly swinging their wings at the wrist joint,” says Baliga. “For birds that glide, it’s more about maintaining the position of the limbs to keep steady sail. The most restricted species in our study are the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocepalus) and the sooty shearwater (Ardenna grisea), both of which frequently soar and glide.”

Baliga and UBC zoologists Douglas Altshuler and Ildiko Szabo categorized 61 species of birds by flight style — from hovering to gliding to soaring. Using samples collected by the UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum, the researchers manually measured the shape, flexibility and extendibility of each species’ wing. They also built an evolutionary family tree of the birds to then determine how range of motion evolved in the wrists and elbows of bird’s wings.

This work provides insights for drone and aircraft design. Engineers are looking to nature, using bioinspiration to improve flying performance.

“By looking across avian flight diversity, our research has determined one component of how birds use their wings,” says Baliga. “We’re working towards understanding how wings in nature morph during flight so that the knowledge can be applied to unmanned aerial vehicles — particularly in turbulence, wind gusts, or when attacked by aerial predators.

“Evolution has tested a range of wing designs and motions for specific circumstances. Looking at the restrictions that nature places on birds of different sizes and flight styles can help us understand what does and does not work when designing new technology.”