Golden eagle saved from well


This video from the USA says about itself:

4 February 2018

Starving Eagle Rescued from Well | This [golden] eagle was starving to death, but rescuers found him just in time and helped him get better — and the moment he finally goes back home is amazing. To help Goldielocks’ rescuers save more animals, you can support the Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

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Over fifty people murdered in Las Vegas, USA


This video from Nevada in the USA says about itself:

50 dead, over 100 shot at Las Vegas Country Music Festival near Mandalay Bay Resort 10:08 pm

2 October 2017

Update from police: 50 dead so far. Making this the worse mass-shooting in American history.

Worst Mass Shooting in US History Leaves More Than 50 Dead, 400 Injured in Las Vegas: here.

AT LEAST 50 DEAD, OVER 200 INJURED IN SHOOTING AT LAS VEGAS COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL Police identified Stephen Paddock, 64, as the lone gunman who shot at thousands of concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort during the end of Jason Aldean‘s set. Authorities killed Paddock in the hotel room. Eyewitnesses said “the shots just kept coming” as people fled the streets while bodies were dropping. [HuffPost]

I wish strength and recovery to all injured people; and strength to all families and friends of the dead and injured people.

This massacre in Nevada state is the bloodiest mass murder as an expression of ‘gun culture’ in the USA so far. Murderer Stephen Paddock owned at least ten guns. He also had a hunting licence and owned two private aircraft.

Probably, Donald Trump and the Trump supporting National Rifle Association will repeat their shopworn mantra: ‘Guns don’t kill people …’

Trump Offers Condolences To Las Vegas Shooting Victims, Doesn’t Mention Guns. Trump spoke in platitudes while reading prepared remarks from the White House: here.

And no, Rupert Murdoch empire, this bloodbath was not by a Muslim. And no, Rupert Murdoch empire, this bloodbath was not by a Black Lives Matter activist. It was not by an open or closet gay man. It was by a heterosexual affluent white male.

Musicians flocked to Twitter to offer their thoughts and condolences on the Las Vegas shooting.

THE MOM OF A MASS SHOOTING VICTIM IN TEXAS DESCRIBES HER LAST DAYS “As soon as Debbie Lane got clearance to drive after cataract surgery, she filled her pickup truck with used patio furniture and carted it to her only child in Plano, Texas. Meredith Hight, 27, was going through a divorce after six years of marriage, and her house needed a makeover.” [HuffPost]

Big Triassic fossil fish discovered in Nevada, USA


Possible look of the newly discovered predatory fish species Birgeria americana with the fossil of the skull shown at bottom right. Artwork: Nadine Bösch

From the University of Zurich in Switzerland:

Large-mouthed fish was top predator after mass extinction

July 26, 2017

Summary: The food chains recovered more rapidly than previously assumed after Earth’s most devastating mass extinction event about 252 million years ago as demonstrated by the fossilized skull of a large predatory fish called Birgeria americana discovered by paleontologists from the University of Zurich in the desert of Nevada.

The most catastrophic mass extinction on Earth took place about 252 million years ago — at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geological periods. Up to 90 percent of the marine species of that time were annihilated. Worldwide biodiversity then recovered in several phases throughout a period of about five million years. Until now, paleontologists have assumed that the first predators at the top of the food chain did not appear until the Middle Triassic epoch about 247 to 235 million years ago.

Unexpected find of a large predatory fish

Swiss and U.S. American researchers led by the Paleontological Institute and Museum of the University of Zurich have discovered the fossil remains of one of the earliest large-sized predatory fishes of the Triassic period: an approximately 1.8-meter-long primitive bony fish with long jaws and sharp teeth. This fish belongs to a previously unknown species called Birgeria americana. This predator occupied the sea that once covered present-day Nevada and the surrounding states already one million years after the mass extinction.

Triassic “Jaws

In the United States, almost no vertebrate fossils from the Early Triassic epoch (252 to 247 million years ago) have been scientifically described until now. “The surprising find from Elko County in northeastern Nevada is one of the most completely preserved vertebrate remains from this time period ever discovered in the United States,” emphasizes Carlo Romano, lead author of the study. The fossil in question is a 26-centimeter-long partial skull of a fierce predator, as evidenced by three parallel rows of sharp teeth up to 2 centimeters long along the jaw margins, as well as several smaller teeth inside the mouth.

Birgeria hunted similarly to the extant great white shark: the prey fish were pursued and bitten, then swallowed whole. Species of Birgeria existed worldwide. The most recent discovery is the earliest example of a large-sized Birgeria species, about one and a half times longer than geologically older relatives.

Predators appeared earlier than assumed

According to earlier studies, marine food chains were shortened after the mass extinction event and recovered only slowly and stepwise. In addition, researchers assumed that the ancient equatorial regions were too hot for vertebrates to live during the Early Triassic. Finds such as the newly discovered Birgeria species and the fossils of other vertebrates now show that so-called apex predators (animals at the very top of the food chain) already lived early after the mass extinction. The existence of bony fish close to the equator — where Nevada was located during the Early Triassic — indicates that the temperature of the sea was a maximum of 36°C. The eggs of today’s bony fish can no longer develop normally at constant temperatures above 36°C.

“The vertebrates from Nevada show that previous interpretations of past biotic crises and associated global changes were too simplistic,” Carlo Romano says. Despite the severity of the extinctions of that time and intense climatic changes, the food webs were able to redevelop faster than previously assumed.

Three new toad species discovered in Nevada, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

24 July 2017

Scientists have discovered three new species of toads living in Nevada’s Great Basin in the US, that have been isolated from other populations for 650,000 years and may already be at risk of extinction. Discoveries of new amphibians are extremely rare in the US with only three new frog species discovered since 1985 – and toad species are even more rare, with the last species discovered north of Mexico, the now extinct Wyoming toad, in 1968.

“We’ve found the toads in small, wet habitats surrounded by high-desert completely cut off from other populations,” said Dick Tracy, professor at University of Nevada in the US. “These are absolutely new, true species that have been separated from other populations for 650,000 years,” said Tracy. The three new species, the Dixie Valley toad, Railroad Valley toad and Hot Creek toad are not connected geographically.

They were found in Tracy’s 10-year long survey of the desert-dominated Great Basin. The toads are small in size, yet each have a suite of unique physical features that differ from each other, as well as other toads in the region. Each of the species have slightly different colours, and they are about two inches long when full grown.

“The Dixie Valley toad is a pretty toad, with flecks of gold on an olive background,” said Tracy. The Dixie Valley toad is only found in an isolated spring-fed marsh which make up less than four square miles surrounded by an arid region where aquatic resources are both rare and widely scattered. The habitat occupied by this newly described species is also adjacent to a proposed site for a geothermal power plant that could dry up the marsh and threaten the toad’s survival.

“If this power plant goes in and the habitat is dried up, this recently discovered species could go extinct,” Tracy said. “It’s a good candidate for an Endangered Species Act listing,” he said. The Dixie Valley species has the smallest body size among the region’s complex of related species in the western US, and can be further diagnosed from other toads in the complex by the large glands on its hind legs in addition to its distinctive colouration.

The Railroad Valley toad is in the Tonopah Basin in the central Nevada desert and the Hot Creek Toad is about 56 kilometres away but in Hot Creek Mountain Range, in a drainage isolated from the Railroad Valley toad. All three new species are natives of the Great Basin in Nevada, which was once covered by large marshes and giant inland lakes during the Pleistocene Epoch and is now among the most arid regions in the US with only one per cent of the landscape containing water. The findings were published in the journal Zootaxa.

From the University of Nevada, Reno in the USA:

Rare discovery of three new toad species in Nevada’s Great Basin

July 21, 2017

Summary: Three new species of toads have been discovered living in Nevada’s Great Basin in an expansive survey of the 190,000 square mile ancient lake bottom, report investigators.

Three new species of toads have been discovered living in Nevada’s Great Basin in an expansive survey of the 190,000 square mile ancient lake bottom. Discoveries of new amphibians are extremely rare in the United States with only three new frog species discovered since 1985 — and toad species are even more rare, with the last species discovered north of Mexico, the now extinct Wyoming toad, in 1968.

“We’ve found the toads in small, wet habitats surrounded by high-desert completely cut off from other populations,” Dick Tracy, a biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lead scientist on the project, said. “These are absolutely new, true species that have been separated from other populations for 650,000 years.”

The three new species, the Dixie Valley toad, Railroad Valley toad and Hot Creek toad are not connected geographically. They were found in Tracy’s 10-year long survey of the desert-dominated Great Basin. His team used 30 “shape” metrics and DNA studies to analyze these toads’ characteristics to determine if each were distinguishable from the closely related Western toad, found throughout the Western United States.

The evidence supports the recognition of three distinct new species. The toads are small in size, yet each have a suite of unique physical features that differ from each other, as well as other toads in the region. Each of the species have slightly different colors, and they are about two inches long when full grown.

“The Dixie Valley toad is a pretty toad, with flecks of gold on an olive background,” Tracy, a long-time professor in the biology department of the College of Science, said. “It’s not like the big, common green toads you might find in other marshes around the west or even in Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.”

The Dixie Valley toad is in Churchill County about 100 miles east of Reno. The toad is only found in this isolated spring-fed marsh which make up less than four square miles, surrounded by an arid region where aquatic resources are both rare and widely scattered. Dixie Valley is the hottest and most geothermally active system in the Basin and Range Province. The habitat occupied by this newly described species is also adjacent to a proposed site for a geothermal power plant that could dry up the marsh and threaten the toad’s survival.

The power plant development is on hold while the Bureau of Land Management reviews the geothermal project and the possible impacts on the toad species. The Center for Biological Diversity, a national environmental group based in Tucson, Arizona, marshaled more than 1000 letters to the BLM asking them to reconsider permitting the power plant being built at the site of the newly discovered species.

Potential for Endangered Species Act listing

“If this power plant goes in and the habitat is dried up, this recently discovered species could go extinct,” Tracy said. “It’s a good candidate for an Endangered Species Act listing. The ESA was passed under Richard Nixon in 1973, and the second species listed under the new Act was the Houston Toad. This is a tough conflict between commerce and biological resources, and we need to seek compromises so if the project proceeds, it won’t hurt the toads.”

Tracy’s team includes his master’s student Michelle Gordon from the University’s Biology Graduate Program, who is the lead author of the scientific paper describing the new species, and his former doctoral student Eric Simandle from the University’s Ecology and Evolution and Conservation Biology Graduate Program. Simandle is now an associate professor at Paul Smiths College in New York and is a co-author on the study that discovered the toad in the thick underbrush of the spring-fed marsh.

The small isolated toad populations also have the smallest individuals compared to other western toads.

The Dixie Valley species has the smallest body size among the region’s complex of related species in the western United States, and can be further diagnosed from other toads in the complex by the large glands on its hind legs in addition to its distinctive coloration.

The overall population numbers of the Dixie Valley toad are unknown, and the current range is severely restricted, suggesting that this species’ population is likely very small and especially vulnerable to changes in environment.

“The toads are perfectly concealed in the dense vegetation of their habitat,” Gordon said. “You could easily miss seeing them during the day, making accurate counts difficult. But, during one trip at dusk, toads were everywhere, giving the impression that toads were locally abundant. And, without the water in this habitat, this toad species would completely disappear.”

Isolated by Desert

The Railroad Valley toad is in the Tonopah Basin in the central Nevada desert and the Hot Creek Toad is about 35 miles away but in Hot Creek Mountain Range, in a drainage isolated from the Railroad Valley toad. All three new species are natives of the Great Basin in Nevada, which was once covered by large marshes and giant inland lakes during the Pleistocene Epoch and is now among the most arid regions in the United States with only one percent of the landscape containing water.

“Our goal has been to understand the relationships among toad populations in the Great Basin,” Tracy said. “We’ve found that our knowledge of amphibian diversity in the western United States remains incomplete and that novel discoveries continue to occur, even in unlikely settings. This is really, really neat; an exciting thing, to find something not known to exist before.”

Tracy has been honored as a Guggenheim Fellow, as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as a Distinguished Scholar at Pepperdine University, and as a Fellow of the Association of Western Universities. He is the recipient of an American Society of Zoologists’ Service Award, a Desert Tortoise Council Conservation Award and a Service Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tracy has authored more than 200 scientific papers, and his work is known internationally.

“Dr. Tracy has long been recognized as one of the world’s leading ecologists,” Jack Hayes, chair of the Department of Biology said. “In recent years as he has turned his attention to conservation issues, he has been translating his basic knowledge into studies that make a difference for Nevada, the U.S., and the biodiversity of the world. The discovery of a new species of vertebrate in North America at this point in time is extremely rare, so the research by Dr. Tracy and his graduate students is a remarkable and exciting accomplishment.”

The discovery of the Dixie Valley toad was announced in the peer-reviewed science journal Zootaxa on July 6.

Cave diving in Nevada, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

7 April 2017

This amazing Behind-The-Scenes Blue World adventure takes viewers to Devil’s Hole Cave (sometimes called Devil’s Hole II) in Nevada to explore the aquifer that lies beneath Death Valley! The Blue World team is working on their first giant screen film for IMAX® Dome (OMNIMAX®) theaters, featuring the most incredible cave diving adventures around the world. This epic Blue World episode takes viewers behind the scenes of our shoot in Nevada.

JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD is an Emmy Award-winning underwater science/adventure program.