Biggest rodent ever, new research


This video says about itself:

22 April 2010

CC en Español

A short animated video about the largest rodent that ever lived, Josephoartigasia monesi, also known as the Giant Pacarana. A fossil skull discovered in Uruguay belonged to a rodent, which researchers estimate weighed up to 1 tonne (1000kg)! Andrés Rinderknecht and R. Ernesto Blanco named the new species “monesi” in honor of the famous paleontologist, Alvaro Mones.

The largest rodent alive today is the capybara, which can weigh over 60kg, much smaller than its extinct cousin.

The original article describing J. monesi can be read here.

The skull is housed in Montevideo, Uruguay in the Museum of Natural History and Anthropology.

Much thanks to Dr. Blanco and Dr. Rinderknecht for their amazing discovery! And thank you to Luisa for her Spanish translation…I owe you one!

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Biggest ever rodent was a huge guinea pig with strong, tusk-like teeth

Bite was about as strong as that of a tiger

Andrew Griffin

Wednesday 04 February 2015

The biggest rodent that ever lived, which looked like a huge guinea pig and used its big teeth like an elephant does its tusk, according to new research.

Josephoartigasia monesi, which lived about three million years ago, is the biggest fossil rodent ever found.

Computer modelling has been used to determine how powerful its bite was, and how it used its huge teeth. The research was led by Philip Cox, of the University of York’s Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences.

He found that the bite forces were similar to that of a tiger — about 1400 Newtons. The teeth would have been able to withstand three times that force.

“We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators,” said Cox. “This is very similar to how a modern day elephant uses its tusks.”

To conduct the research, Cox made a CT scan of the fossil and used it to reconstruct its skull. Researchers then used finite element analysis on the model, a technique that can be used to predict how an object would undergo stress and strain.

Beavers cleaning themselves, video


This video is about beavers cleaning themselves, in Biesbosch national park near Werkendam town in the Netherlands.

Barend van Bommel made the video.

Jackdaw and rat quarrel about food


In this video, a jackdaw and a brown rat quarrel about food in the snow in the Netherlands.

Mark Scheper made the video.

Misfit yellow-bellied marmots save lives


This video from California in the USA says about itslf:

Filmed in Desolation Wilderness at around 8,000 feet elevation. I just stood there and the curious animal just walked up to me. June 2012.

The video was taken with a Canon powershot s95 and as you can tell, when the yellow bellied marmot came in close, the Canon wasn’t able to auto focus. The whole video was taken at around 3x optical zoom.

From Science:

Misfit marmots save the day

By Nicholas Weiler

23 January 2015 4:15 pm

A peaceful community of yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris) should be grateful for its outcasts. When they notice a slinking coyote or circling hawk, loners are most likely to sound the alarm and alert the colony, according to a new study of marmot social networks.

Each summer since 2002, researchers have tracked the alarm calls and social behavior of tagged marmots from six colonies near the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado. They jotted down each friendly encounter—nose rubs, cuddles, and playful tussles—to reconstruct the social network linking 142 of the cat-sized mountain squirrels. The researchers rated each marmot for qualities such as social influence and vulnerability based on the number and strength of its relationships.

They suspected that the most socially adept animals would be first to alert their cliques to danger, but in fact, unpopular marmots whistled alarm calls most frequently, the team reports online this month in Behavioral Ecology. Socially vulnerable marmots may call out predators because they can’t rely on strong social networks for protection, the researchers speculate. But standing guard could also be a way to gain access to the in crowd.

South Georgia pipit comeback


This video says about itself:

Dreaming of the South Georgia Pipit

3 August 2011

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests on the search for the only songbird to live below the Antarctic convergence.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare pipits return following rat eradication on South Georgia

The world’s most southerly song bird, the South Georgia Pipit, is fighting back from extinction thanks to work carried out by an 18-strong international team to eradicate rats from its island home in Antarctica.

Just as the final phase of the world’s largest rodent eradication project was being undertaken by UK charity, the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT), news came that a nest of five South Georgia Pipit chicks had been found in an area previously overrun by rats.

The South Georgia Pipit is only found on South Georgia and its numbers had been decimated by the invasive rat populations on the island. Its survival as a species was under threat before the eradication work began.

The discovery of the pipit nest was made at Schlieper Bay near the western end of the island by a former member of the rat eradication team, Sally Poncet, an expert on South Georgia’s wildlife and this year a recipient of the Polar Medal in recognition of service to the United Kingdom in the field of polar research.

Poncet was a member of what has been nicknamed Team Rat during its Phase 1 operations. She discovered the nest while on a Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris expedition (in collaboration with the Government of South Georgia) to survey Wandering Albatrosses.

Alison Neil, Chief Executive of South Georgia Heritage Trust says, “The discovery of pipit chicks is thrilling news and shows the rapid beneficial effect of the Habitat Restoration Project on this threatened species.

“People had spotted pipits exhibiting breeding behaviour following the baiting work, but this is the first firm proof that they are nesting in areas from which they were previously excluded by rodents.

“Pipits cannot breed when rats are present, so this discovery is confirmation that birds are quickly responding to their absence.

“We are confident that when South Georgia is once again free of rodents, it will regain its former status as home to the greatest concentration of seabirds in the world.”

South Georgia is one of the world’s last great wilderness areas and amongst the wildlife on the island are 90 per cent of the world’s Antarctic fur seals and half the world’s elephant seals.

Four species of penguin nest on the island, including King Penguins with around 400,000 breeding pairs. The island’s birdlife includes albatross, skuas and petrels, as well as the endemic South Georgia Pipit, and the South Georgia Pintail.

However, although the wildlife is impressive, it is a shadow of the numbers Captain Cook encountered when he discovered and named South Georgia in 1775.

Rats and mice, arriving in the ships of sealers and whalers, have spread over much of the island, predating on the eggs and chicks of many of the native birds.

The aim of SGHT’s project is to eradicate these invasive rodents and allow millions of birds to reclaim their ancestral home.

A successful trial phase in 2011 was followed by a second phase conducted in 2013. The results have been signs of rodents having been eliminated from almost two-thirds of South Georgia.

Phase 3 began on 18 January. The challenge is to complete the baiting of the entire island during the brief sub-Antarctic summer months and this will be followed by two further years of monitoring by the South Georgia Heritage Trust and the South Georgia Government.

Assuming no signs of rodents have been discovered by 2017, South Georgia will be declared free of rodents for the first time since humans first came to the island.

Red squirrel eats walnut, video


This video is about a red squirrel eating a walnut.

Corry Doornenbal made this video, on 16 January in Driebergen in the Netherlands.

Beavers of Maastricht, the Netherlands


This Dutch video is about beavers in nature reserve De Kleine Weerd near Maastricht city.

The beavers of River Otter in Devon are allowed to stay if they are disease free, Natural England has announced. The beavers were first spotted in February 2014 and it is unknown how they got there: here.