Pre-Inca archaeological discoveries in Peru


This video says about itself:

8 March 2014

Archaeologists uncover human remains dating back about 3, 000 years in Peru.

From Peru this Week:

Archaeologists find 3,000-year-old graves in Cusco, Peru

19 Hours ago

By Rachel Chase

Experts say the artifacts and skeletal remains come from the pre-Inca Marcavalle culture.

Excavators working in the city of Cusco have discovered a burial site containing five individuals from the Marcavalle culture, a pre-Inca society.

Andina news agency reports that the skeletal remains date back to around 1,000 BC. The burial site, which contained two double graves and one single grave, was found on land owned by a Cusco center for juvenile rehabilitation. Three of the individuals found at the site were adults at the time of their deaths, while one was a child and the other an adolescent.

In addition to the skeletal remains, some of which were buried wearing beaded necklaces. Tools made from obsidian and camelid bones also accompanied the bodies, as did ceramic fragments bearing artistic motifs known to be associated with the Marcavalle culture.

Andina reports that investigations related to this find go back as far as 1960. No intact human remains of the Marcavalle culture had previously been found.

This most recent dig began in late 2013. Archaeologists are now planning to continue excavations in the area to learn more about the Marcavalle. According to Andina, researchers are hoping for a budget of S/. 1,000,000 to continue their work in Cusco.

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New marsupial frog species discovery in Peru


This video from Ecuador says about itself:

Marsupial Tree-Frog (Gastrotheca longipes) in the Yasuni

Dear friends,

This is a canopy species found in primary tropical moist lowland and montane tropical forest. A direct development species, its eggs are carried in a pouch on the females back. It is not present in modified habitats. The population status of this canopy species is unknown; this species faces no major threats; it is a widespread species with large areas of suitable habitat remaining. There is some localized habitat loss to selective logging and agricultural activities. It might be susceptible to chytrid infection, but this requires further investigation.

From Mongabay.com:

Scientists uncover new species of Andean marsupial frog

By: Jordanna Dulaney

March 05, 2014

The term “marsupial frog” might sound like a hoax, but, believe it or not, it’s real. Recently, herpetologists welcomed a new species, known as Gastrotheca dysprosita and described in the journal Phyllomedusa.

Unlike mammal marsupials, which typically carry their young in pouches on their torsos and are found primarily in Australia, the Gastrotheca genus of frogs, which contains 62 species, is found in the Andes region of South America and sport their pouches on their backs (also called a “dorsal brood pouch”). The female frog’s vascular tissue provides oxygen to the eggs, which she carries for three to four months until they hatch as fully-developed froglets and head off on their own.

This most recently described species owes its classification to William Duellman, of the University of Kansas. While announced in June 2013, the story of this frog’s discovery really began in 1972 when Fred G. Thompson, a malacologist from the University of Florida, collected the first specimen in the Peruvian Amazon. Thompson brought the mystery frog back to the U.S., and gave it to Duellman to identify and catalog.

The plot thickened when, in 1989, another research group both heard and caught another unidentifiable male in the same region. A second call was heard higher up the mountain, but rainy weather made it impossible to find another specimen.

“The jar containing the holotype [original specimen] of this new species has been gathering dust… I have been trying to clean up loose ends during the preparation of a monograph [a detailed study] on marsupial frogs,” Duellman wrote in his article announcing Gastrotheca dysprosita. “Thus, herein I eliminate a loose end by describing a new species.”

For his description, Duellman took meticulous measurements of the two frogs’ bodies, and compared them to known species. In life, the new species has bumpy, bright green skin with stripes of creamish and brown spots down its back and sides. Duellman describes the iris as a “reddish copper” color. The two individuals were found between 3,370 to 3,440 meters (11,000 to 11,300 feet) on the Cerro Barro Negro, a single mountain in Peru.

Little is known about the behavior patterns of Gastrotheca dysprosita since only two frogs have been found up to this point. Under the IUCN’s (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) guidelines, it’s impossible to make a guess at population size because there simply isn’t enough data.

Even the name of the frog is mysterious: dysprosita, from the Greek word dysprositos, literally means “hard to find.” The name would thus be translated as the “hard-to-find marsupial frog.”

“The name reflects the difficulty in finding this elusive frog,” Duellman states in the species description.

Citations:

Duellman, William E. “An Elusive New Species of Marsupial Frog (Anura: Hemiphractidae: Gastrotheca) from the Andes of Northern Peru.” Phyllomedusa 12.3-11 (2013.

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Good Andean condor news from Ecuador


This video is called Peru-Giant Condors taking off and landing at Colca Canyon.

From Wildlife Extra:

Andean condors protected by land purchase

January 2014: More than 270,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat in Ecuador has been purchased by the Rainforest Trust. The mammoth property acquisition, which includes the 18,714-foot Antisana Volcano, will create a permanent refuge for the largest population of Andean Condor in the Northern Andes.

The final 6,100 acre property, called Hacienda Antisanilla, was acquired today to complete a project by Rainforest Trust with Fundación Jocotoco, the Municipality of Quito, and the Quito Water Authority in a coordinated effort that will both protect endangered species and secure an important source of drinking water for Ecuador’s capital city.

“The purchase of multiple properties around Volcan Antisana represents one of the greatest conservation victories ever in the Andes of South America,” said Dr. Robert Ridgely, President of Rainforest Trust and a driving force behind this conservation success. “The final acquisition of Hacienda Antisanilla caps a decade-long effort by Rainforest Trust and our Ecuadorian partner Fundación Jocotoco to protect this fragile and biodiverse ecosystem. We are grateful to all of the partners, organizations and donors who made this possible, including The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, who provided critical support to acquire the Hacienda Antisanilla property.”

Flag of Ecuador, with condor

“The purchase of Hacienda Antisanilla was critical, as this property held the most important site for roosting and nesting Andean Condors – Ecuador’s National bird and emblazoned on our national flag.” noted Fundación Jocotoco Executive Director Rocio Merino. “So after years of struggling, we were able to purchase and protect the area thanks to the constant support of Rainforest Trust and Quito authorities.”

“The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation supports the important work of conservation to preserve the rich biodiversity of the Northern Andes,” said Susan M. Coliton, vice president of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “We saw that the Hacienda Antisanilla property was critical to protecting this population of Andean Condors and were encouraged by the effective cooperation between the conversation effort and the local authorities. We are pleased to have been a part of this successful and important initiative.”

Located just 20 miles from Quito, this enormous but undeveloped area first attracted the attention of conservationists in the 1980s. The Ecuadorian government declared it an ecological reserve in 1993, but the area remained in private hands. Much of the land continued to be farmed, and wildlife was increasingly threatened by over-grazing, fires, and poaching.

Home to the largest single population of condors in the Northern Andes, Antisana is also frequented by pumas, spectacled bears, and the endangered woolly tapir. Antisana is of critical global importance for biodiversity and highlighted as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site due to the presence of no less than three species of threatened frogs found nowhere else. Sadly, the black andean toad (Atelopus ignescens), once common in Antisana, has already gone extinct.

All the properties purchased will be improved by the removal of cattle from the fragile native grassland called “Páramo,” while park guards will patrol the area to curtail poaching.

“This enormous land protection project is even more significant as not only does it help to protect the most critical source of water for the ever-expanding city of Quito but it also connects to two adjacent protected areas, Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve and Gran Sumaco National Park,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust, “Combined, these protected areas safeguard 1.8 million acres of biologically diverse Andean and Amazonian ecosystems.”

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New toad species discovery in Peru


How the new species Rhinella yunga fits in the toad family tree

From Wildlife Extra:

A new toad species found in Peru

January 2014: A new, poisonous, species of toad, Rhinella yunga, has been discovered hiding in the leafy undergrowth of the Peruvian Yungas, a tropical and subtropical forest in the Yungas of Peru.

Belonging to the toad family Bufonidae it has a typical warty, robust body and a pair of large poison parotoid glands on the back of its head. When the toads are stressed they excrete the poison as a protective mechanism.

The colour of the Rhinella yunga resembles the decaying leaves in the forest, making it perfectly camouflaged on the forest floor. It is distinct from all related species in absence of a tympanic membrane, a round membranous part of hearing organ being normally visible on both sides of a toad’s head.

“It appears that large number of still unnamed cryptic species remains hidden under some nominal species of the Rhinella margaritifera species group,” explains lead author Dr Jiri Moravec, National Museum Prague, Czech Republic.

See also British daily The Guardian on this, here.

The scientific description of this new species is here (the Guardian article link to the description does not work).

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Peruvian rainforest wildlife sounds on the Internet


This video is called Tambopata – Peruvian Amazon – Wildlife short film by Daniel Pinheiro.

From Wildlife Extra:

Peruvian eco lodge records sounds of rainforest

Thanks to the latest technology, you can enjoy the sounds of the Peruvian rainforest in your living room. Gordon McGladdery, a musician and sound designer from Canada used a method of recording sound that uses what are called binaural microphones to mimic human hearing and create a 3-D stereo effect.

At Rainforest Expeditions’ three riverside eco-lodges in the Peruvian Amazon, McGladdery’s very high tech equipment was set up to capture the sound experience for everyone. He recorded the resident howler monkeys, Lawrence’s thrush and a colony of bats, among other animals.

“This is the next best thing to being here!” said Jeff Cremer from Rainforect Expeditions. “Holidays here transport people far beyond what they have ever imagined. Now the exotic sounds that stop them in their tracks can follow them home.”

For recorded examples, including the dramatic sound of a herd of charging peccaries, go to www.perunature.com/rainforest-sounds-recording-amazon.html.

For more information on Rainforest Expeditions visit www.perunature.com.

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Red-necked phalarope migration, new research


This video from Scotland is called Shetland Birds – A Red necked Phalarope on Fetlar.

From Wildlife Extra:

Tiny tag reveals record-breaking bird migration

January 2014: A tracking device, which weighs less than a paperclip, has helped scientists uncover one of the world’s great bird migrations.

It revealed that red-necked phalaropes in Shetland migrate thousands of miles west, across the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean; a journey never recorded for any other European breeding bird.

In 2012 the RSPB, working in collaboration with the Swiss Ornithological Institute and Dave Okill of the Shetland Ringing Group, fitted individual geolocators to ten red-necked phalaropes nesting on the island of Fetlar in Shetland, in the hope of learning where they spend the winter.

When the birds returned to Shetland experts discovered it had made an epic 16,000 mile round trip – from Shetland across the Atlantic, south down the eastern seaboard of the US, across the Caribbean, and Mexico, ending up off the coast of Peru. After wintering in the Pacific, it returned to Fetlar, following a similar route.

The red-necked phalarope is one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds. It is now only found in Shetland and the Western Isles, and numbers fluctuate between just 15 and 50 nesting males.

Malcie Smith of the RSPB said: “To think this bird, which is smaller than a starling, can undertake such an arduous journey and return safely to Shetland is truly extraordinary. This tiny tracker has provided a valuable piece of the puzzle when building a picture of where phalaropes go when they leave our shores. We hadn’t realised that some Scottish birds were travelling thousands of miles to join other wintering populations in the Pacific Ocean.”

See also here.

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New lizard species discovery in Peru


This video, in Spanish, is about a relative of the recently discovered lizard species. It says about itself:

Here we report about what appears to be a Wreath Tree Iguana or Elegant Tree Iguana (Liolaemus lesmniscatus), a lizard which lives in different parts of Argentina and Chile.

From Wildlife Extra:

New lizards discovered in Peru

Three previously unrecognised species names after cultural icons

December 2013: Three new lizards have been discovered in the Andes by Peruvian and American biologists from San Marcos and Brigham Young universities respectively. These lizards have been ‘hidden’ and confused with other lizards of the same group because of their overall similar appearance.

However this study, which includes molecular, ecological and more detailed morphological analyses, has identified them as new species. The new study shows that with few resources, multiple different lines of evidence can be integrated to discover new species and provide a basis for more stable scientific names. Species with scientific names tend to become more ‘visible’ to national and international governments and organisations devoted to biodiversity conservation.

Species that are not formally described and without scientific names will often not enjoy the protection of conservation programmes – an issue of pivotal importance in the Andean, Patagonian, and Neotropical regions of South America. The new species are named after and dedicated to two different old Andean civilizations, Chavín and Wari, and an Inca ruler, Pachacutec. Liolaemus pachacutec was found above Písac, an Inca ruin built by Pachacutec. Liolaemus chavin was found in an area close to the center of the Chavín culture, where reptiles and other animals were represented in some remarkable artistic expressions. Liolaemus wari was found close to the center of Wari culture, in Ayacucho department, southeastern Peru. The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

Tropical parrot drives English combine harvester


This video is called Birds of Peru: Blue and yellow macaws – Ara ararauna.

Blue-and-yellow macaws are a big South American parrot species. I saw them flying in their native Suriname; and in Avifauna zoo.

Recently, one made news headlines in England.

From the South West News Service:

Farmers stunned after finding lost parrot… that started steering their COMBINE HARVESTER

August 21, 2013

Two farmers who picked up an exotic bird in a field where stunned after it started steering – their COMBINE HARVESTER.

Farm workers Mark Wells and Andrew Barber, both 40, were harvesting wheat when they spotted a flash of bright color.

The pair jumped off their vehicle and were surprised to see a macaw among the stalks, which they assumed must be a lost pet.

The lost macaw found by farmers Mark Wells and Andrew Barber pictured as it started driving their combine harvester

They lifted the bird back into the cab of their combine and started up the engine.

Mark and Andrew were then amazed when the bird sat on Andrew’s lap and clamped hold of the wheel in his beak – and started steering.

The creature directed the combine all the way across the field and back to the farmers’ truck.

After being so struck with the macaw they nicknamed Rio, Mark decided to take the bird home until its owners can be traced.

Mark’s wife, Georgie Wells, 38, said: “It was amazing. They couldn’t beli[e]ve it when Rio started steering.

“It’s odd enough to find a bird like that just hopping around a field in England. But to stumble across a bird which can steer a combine harvester is crazy.

“Needless to say we haven’t been able to stop laughing about it. Rio is a naturally operator, maybe he can have a job on the farm?”

Rio was spotted in the evening at around 5pm as Mr Barber and Mr Andrews were finishing up for the day at the farm.

Mark and George, who are contractors working on George E Gittus & Sons farm, said the bird was clearly hungry and dehydrated.

He stayed with the Wells at their home in Horringer, Suffolk, from Friday until Monday – where he was given their SPARE ROOM.

Mark and Georgie, who have two children, then took the exotic bird to a vet to be checked over, then handed him to a specialist breeder in the area who has an aviary.

Mrs Wells said: “Rio was shy at first, but soon began to fly around the house, where he began to repeatedly say ‘hello’ and ‘hi’ to everyone.

“He stayed in the spare room until we could take him to a local parrot handler. In the meantime we fed him treats like banana and peanut butter on toast.”

Farmers Mark and Andrew were packing wheat when they spotted the lost macaw.

They were stunned when the bird latched his beak onto the wheel and steered the Claas lexion 600 combine harvester for 20 minutes.

Mark said: “Andrew saw Rio before I did and I thought he’d gone mad when he said there was a multicoloured bird in the field.

“The macaw tried to steal the combine harvester.

“He latched onto Andrew’s leg and wouldn’t let go like he was trying to pull him off the combine.

“We picked it up and got him onto the combine harvester with us. We managed to get him off Andrew’s leg and onto his lap.

“He then latched his beak onto the steering wheel and refused to let go for twenty minutes as we drove around the field.

“Andrew took his hands off the steering wheel and let Rio steer us. We were in hysterics and just couldn’t stop laughing.

“Andrew has been saying he wants a hands free for a while – maybe now he’s found it.

“We got to try parrot steering instead of power steering.”