‘Bring European bison back to Dutch nature reserve’


This 13 June 2015 video is about bringing back European Bison to the Romanian Carpathians.

Regional TV Omroep Brabant in the Netherlands reports today that the management of nature reserve De Maashorst between Oss and Uden wants to introduce European bison.

Local authorities will still have to give permission for this. The (conservative) VVD political party has objections.

Human with Neanderthal ancestry discovery


This video says about itself:

16 September 2014

Nova – Decoding Neanderthals (PBS Documentary)

By Jennifer Viegas:

Ancient Human With 10 Percent Neanderthal Genes Found

June 22, 2015 11:00 AM ET

DNA from a man who lived 40,000 years ago in Romania reveals that up to 11 percent of his genome came from Neanderthals.

Because large segments of the individual’s chromosomes are of Neanderthal origin, a Neanderthal was among the man’s ancestors as recently as four generations back in his family tree, reports a study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

The finding reveals that some of the first members of our species who came to Europe interbred with the local Neanderthals.

To this day, individuals of European and Asian heritage retain Neanderthal DNA in their genomes, but whether or not Neanderthals went extinct or simply were absorbed into the modern human population remains a matter of definition, senior author Svante Pääbo told Discovery News.

“Some Neanderthals clearly became incorporated in modern human societies,” said Pääbo, director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “It is still unclear exactly how much of the complete Neanderthal genome exists today in people, but it seems to approach something like 40 percent.”

“But, of course, the Neanderthals are clearly extinct in the sense that they do not exist as an independent, separate group since some 30,000 or 40,000 years.”

David Reich from Harvard Medical School coordinated the population genetic analysis of the study, which was an international effort. At the center of the research were the remains of the man, named “Oase 1,” unearthed at a cave system called Peștera cu Oase in Romania.

The researchers believe that the man derived from the same expansion out of Africa as other modern people, but was likely to have been part of an early “pioneer foray into Europe,” ahead of other migrations that were to come later.

Under what conditions his relatives, and those of other early Neanderthal-human hybrids, interbred is a big question.

Chris Stringer, an expert on early humans at the Natural History Museum in London, posed some intriguing questions about the matings.

“Were these peaceful exchanges of partners, raids which stole women or girls, or even the adoption of orphaned babies?” he asked, adding that the answer remains a mystery.

What is clear is that the interbreeding took place at different times and locations. This particular individual, Oase 1, did not contribute much, if at all, to later modern human populations, however. Pääbo explained that whatever population he represented seems to have “disappeared,” leaving behind no known tools or other artifacts.

Romanian fossil Balaur, dinosaur or bird?


This 2011 video is called Ancient Reptile Tribute Three: Balaur bondoc / Dromaeosaurid – Dinosaur.

From PeerJ:

The phylogenetic affinities of the bizarre Late Cretaceous Romanian theropod Balaur bondoc (Dinosauria, Maniraptora): dromaeosaurid or flightless bird?

June 18, 2015

Abstract

The exceptionally well-preserved Romanian dinosaur Balaur bondoc is the most complete theropod known to date from the Upper Cretaceous of Europe. Previous studies of this remarkable taxon have included its phylogenetic interpretation as an aberrant dromaeosaurid with velociraptorine affinities.

However, Balaur displays a combination of both apparently plesiomorphic and derived bird-like characters. Here, we analyse those features in a phylogenetic revision and show how they challenge its referral to Dromaeosauridae. Our reanalysis of two distinct phylogenetic datasets focusing on basal paravian taxa supports the reinterpretation of Balaur as an avialan more crownward than Archaeopteryx but outside of Pygostylia, and as a flightless taxon within a paraphyletic assemblage of long-tailed birds.

Our placement of Balaur within Avialae is not biased by character weighting. The placement among dromaeosaurids resulted in a suboptimal alternative that cannot be rejected based on the data to hand. Interpreted as a dromaeosaurid, Balaur has been assumed to be hypercarnivorous and predatory, exhibiting a peculiar morphology influenced by island endemism.

However, a dromaeosaurid-like ecology is contradicted by several details of Balaur’s morphology, including the loss of a third functional manual digit, the non-ginglymoid distal end of metatarsal II, and a non-falciform ungual on the second pedal digit that lacks a prominent flexor tubercle. Conversely, an omnivorous ecology is better supported by Balaur’s morphology and is consistent with its phylogenetic placement within Avialae. Our reinterpretation of Balaur implies that a superficially dromaeosaurid-like taxon represents the enlarged, terrestrialised descendant of smaller and probably volant ancestors.

French racist mayor refuses Roma baby girl’s burial


Cemetery of Champlan in France

From Al Jazeera:

French mayor slammed over Roma burial denial

Paris suburb mayor accused of racism after refusal to allow baby of ethnic minority to be buried in municipal cemetery.

Last updated: 03 Jan 2015 23:28

The mayor of a Paris suburb has been accused of racism following his refusal to allow a Roma baby to be buried in the municipal cemetery.

Christian Leclerc, the mayor of Champlan, has explained his refusal on the grounds that the cemetery has “few available plots.”

“Priority is given to those who pay their local taxes,” Leclerc was quoted by Le Parisien daily as saying.

Critics, however, believe his decision to refuse the nearly three-month-old girl a final resting place was motivated by anti-Roma sentiment.

“It’s racism, xenophobia, and stigmatisation,” Loic Gandais, president of an association helping Roma families in the region, said.

Gandais accused Leclerc of hiding behind the fact that the baby, identified only as Maria Francesca, was pronounced dead in another town.

The infant was rushed to hospital on December 26 in the nearby town of Corbeil-Essonnes, where she was declared dead from sudden infant death syndrome.

The child’s parents are Romanian natives who have lived in France for at least eight years, according to supporters. Their two other children are attending school in Champlan.

Roma plight

Faced with the mayor’s refusal, they have arranged for their daughter to be laid to rest on Monday in the town of Wissous, a few kilometres from Champlan.

Most of France’s roughly 20,000 Roma live in makeshift settlements with little or no access to basic amenities.

Successive governments have drawn fire for demolishing numerous camps and evicting families with children, although some in France have supported a tough approach.

Roma families in Champlan live on two plots of land without water or electricity.

Though many towns around Paris struggle to integrate Roma migrants some have been moved by the plight of Maria Francesca’s parents.

Explaining his offer to host the burial the conservative mayor of Wissous, Richard Trinquier, told AFP it was “a question of humanity”.

“The pain of a mother who carried a child for nine months, and lost her after two and a half months must not be worsened.”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

An advocacy group for French Roma speaks of shame and calls this racism of the right-wing mayor. “They just do not want Roma, dead or alive. It is inhumane. There is not a shred of empathy.”

“How can they refuse this? It’s disgusting, unfair, inhumane. A Roma family feels as much pain as French parents at the loss of a child.”

See also here. And here. And here.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

The row over Maria Francesca’s grave has coincided with another episode that points to the erosion of the barriers that once existed in France between the “mainstream” centre-right (including the heirs of Charles de Gaulle) and the far right FN (composed partly of the heirs of the collaborationist Vichy regime of 1940-44). Senior officials in the junior movements of both the FN and Mr Sarkozy’s UMP held a joint celebration on New Year’s Eve and posted selfies on the internet.

The UMP demanded an explanation from party members. Former President Sarkozy took over the leadership of the party again in November. He plans to move the UMP to the right on issues such as immigration – but to refuse all dealings with the Front National.

Plant, snake discoveries in Romania


This video is called Eryx jaculus – snake.

From BirdLife:

Autumn of discoveries: SOR welcomes new findings in the Romanian flora and fauna

By Alessia Calderalo, Mon, 20/10/2014 – 11:34

For the Romanian Ornithological Society (SOR, BirdLife Partner) the autumn of 2014 will be remembered as one of the most rewarding periods since the society began its work in conservation. Two important discoveries have been made in the area of Romanian flora and fauna; our colleagues in SOR are proud to share them with the BirdLife Partnership.

The first good news came in early May, when biologist Matis Attila was mapping habitats in the Dumbrăveni Forest Natural Reserve, a Natura 2000 site. While working, he discovered a plant that had never been seen in Romania before- the Hairy Broomrape Orobanche pubescens. However, it was not until September that he was able to confirm his identification. This plant normally lives in the Mediterranean Basin, in countries such as Greece and even Bulgaria, but not in Romania. “It is not an invasive species because it was not brought artificially into our ecosystem. Maybe the plant has been here before and nobody noticed, since the members of the Orobanchaceae family are hard to determine”, said Matis. Hairy Broomrape is a parasite that takes its water and minerals from the roots of a host plant. From now on, anyone who is interested in seeing the Orobanche pubescens will have be able to do so at the Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden in Cluj-Napoca, where it will be growing with the other 650,000 plants of their collection.

The second, very exciting moment came with the discovery of several specimens of Javelin sand boa Eryx jaculus, a non-poisonous, non-aggressive snake that had not been seen alive in Romania since 1937. The anonymous person who made the finding reported it via a Facebook message to Vlad Cioflec, herpetologist and SOR member, noting the discovery of one specimen of this small snake. Vlad set up a team with Corina, his wife and fellow herpetologist together with wildlife photographer, Doru Panaitescu. The trio promptly went to the site, where they discovered other individuals: a female and six youngsters that were photographed, filmed and returned to their burrows. In 1986 and again in 2011, individual snakes were found dead in Romania, but no Javelin sand boa had been found alive in the country since before World War II. The fact that not only one but seven individuals have been found this time gives the experts reason to think that a viable population is possible in Romania.

This video is about the recent discovery of Javelin sand boas in Romania.

Both discoveries have raised the hopes of biologists at SOR, whose work is dedicated to ensuring that Romanian ecosystems expand in variety and richness. If you wish to know more about these findings, please contact Ovidiu Bufnila, Communications Officer at SOR.

EuroBirdwatch, 4-5 October 2014


This video is called Eurobirdwatch 2013 – Maramures Romania.

From BirdLife:

Join us for a fascinating birdwatching weekend on 4 – 5 October

By Elodie Cantaloube, Fri, 12/09/2014 – 13:08

EuroBirdwatch – BirdLife’s biggest birdwatching event in Europe and Central Asia – will take place this year on the weekend of 4 – 5 October. Join us to explore the beauty of birds and experience the magic of bird migration!

Created in 1993, EuroBirdwatch aims to give the opportunity to the youngest as well as the oldest, to confirmed nature lovers as well as the simply curious, to observe the unique migration of birds and to promote efforts to save threatened bird species and their habitats.

As they have done every year on the first weekend of October since its inception, BirdLife national Partners will be organising a wide variety of activities and events across Europe and Central Asia. These will include birdwatching excursions, special birdwatching events on organic farms, contests for children to identify birds by their song, bird fairs, trips to watch birds in national parks and many more activities.

In 2013, EuroBirdwatch was celebrating its 20th anniversary. To mark this special occasion, that year 19,000 people, including children and families, took part in many events organised by the BirdLife Partners in Europe and Central Asia. More than two million birds of different species were counted and reported to the BirdLife Research Center.

Participate in EuroBirdwatch 2014!

Book your time for the weekend 4 – 5 October. Find your national EuroBirdwatch coordinator, which will be the BirdLife Partner in your country. Choose your event and enjoy your birdwatching!

If you are a BirdLife Partner and you want to take part in EuroBirdwatch 2014, to find useful information for registration and organisation please contact Birgit Gödert-Jacoby, EuroBirdwatch Advisor.