Mammoth ancestor discovery in Namibia


Moeritherium

This picture, like the others in this blog post, is by German artist Heinrich Harder (1858-1935). It depicts Moeritherium, one of the earliest species, ancestral to present day elephants.

Palaeomastodon

This picture shows Palaeomastodon, which lived later than Moeritherium: about 36 million years ago.

Deinotherium

Still later came Deinotherium, looking more like present day elephants; though its tusks pointed downwards.

Before elephant evolution led to the woolly mammoths of about 100,000 years ago, ancestors of these mammoths lived in Africa. They were Mammuthus subplanifrons. Ever since the 1920s, only a few small fossils of this species had been found.

Recently, Dutch paleontologist Dick Mol found an almost complete skeleton of such a fossil ancestor, 3-4 million years old, in Etosha national park in Namibia. Later, Mr Mol says, mammoths left Africa for Eurasia; and humans went along with them.

This video is called Hunting for Woolly Mammoths Documentary.

Yesterday, in Amsterdam, the exhibition Giants of the Ice Age, on mammoths and similar animals, started.

Giraffes helped by photographers


This video is called Niger‘s Endangered White Giraffes (Full Documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Citizen science project launched to help the world’s giraffes

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) with the support of the Polytechnic of Namibia has launched a project to develop an online citizen science platform for giraffes.

GiraffeSpotter.org is an easy to use web-based application that allows people to upload their photos of giraffes they have seen, together with the location where the image was taken and any other valuable information they can supply to help in conservation efforts, such as herd size, sex and age class of the giraffe.

With the help of GiraffeSpotter.org, GCF will be able to improve its understanding of giraffe ranges, distribution, numbers and ultimately the various species of giraffes’ conservation status across Africa.

At the same time, the charity hopes that the project will also engage people and raise awareness of the plight of giraffes in the wild.

15 years ago there were 140,000 giraffes in Africa. Today there are 80,000: here.

New elephant shrew species discovery in Namibia


This video from East Africa says about itself:

Elephant Shrew, Macroscelidea order, eats ants termites worms and makes paths to dash from when a threat appears. Although diurnal they are seldom seen.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

New species of mouse-like creature with ‘elephant trunk’ discovered

A mouse-like creature with an elephant’s “trunk” has been discovered in a remote desert in Namibia.

The new species is known as an “elephant shrew” and is a type of round-eared sengi.

The tiny creature is the smallest known member of the sengi family with a body just 9cm long and despite its size, is more closely related to elephants, manatees and aardvarks than to shrews.

It was discovered by researchers from the California Academy of Sciences during research on their cousins in southwestern Africa.

Dr Jack Dumbacher and colleague Dr Galen Rathbun noticed that one animal differed from any they had seen before, being smaller, with rust-coloured fur and a new hairless gland underneath its tail.

Genetic analysis confirmed that they had discovered a new species and their findings will be published in the Journal of Mammology.

It is the third new species of sengi discovered in the wild in the past decade.

Dr Dumbacher, the Academy’s curator of ornithology and mammalogy, thanked colleagues for collecting “invaluable” specimens that allowed them to discover the difference.

He added: “Genetically, Macroscelides micus is very different from other members of the genus and it’s exciting to think that there are still small areas of the world where even the mammal fauna is unknown and waiting to be explored.”

Found on the inland edge of the Namib Desert at the base of the Etendeka Plateau, scientists believe the creature went undescribed for so long because of the challenges of doing scientific research in such an isolated area.

Yet it is the isolation and unique environmental conditions of the region that have given rise to the sengi and other unique organisms.

An Etendeka round-eared sengi has been added to the Namib Desert exhibit in the Academy’s natural history museum.

It joins a replica of Welwitschia mirabilis, an ancient plant also native to the Namib Desert that can live for up to 2,500 years.

See also here.