Good fulmar news from Scotland


This video says about itself:

PuffinsIsle of May, Scotland

27 July 2016

The Isle of May is located in the north of the outer Firth of Forth, approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) off the coast of mainland Scotland. It is a renowned bird wildlife sanctuary and while there are a range of interesting birds to observe there is no doubt that the main attraction are the puffins.

From the Isle of May nature reserve in Scotland:

Fantastic Fulmars

Posted on August 4, 201 by Bex Outram, Assistant Reserve Manager

The number of our serene tube-nose Fulmar has risen, with an increase of 10% on sitting birds. The overall population is 341 pairs, the sixth highest count; the highest population count being 381 pairs in 2010.

Our Fulmars are still very much present on the island at the moment feeding chicks. Both adults are now able to go on fishing trips bringing food back for their young, which are now large enough to fend for themselves. The defence strategy of Fulmars is to squirt an oily substance from their beak towards any unsuspecting intruder that gets too close; something a seabird doesn’t want is to have oiled feathers as they won’t be able to fly. The chicks are now at that stage where they are able to project this far enough to keep them out of any harm. It is an amazingly effective defence strategy and there are few predators that are brave (or stupid) enough to try and predate a Fulmar.

These superb seabirds are also more prone to ingesting plastics than many other seabirds due to their foraging strategy. They will often feed on carrion and pick bits of food off the surface in feeding frenzies. With such an abundance and variety of plastics in the ocean it can be very hard to differentiate between what is food and what is potentially harmful.

They seem to be having a good season and we hope that this success continues for one of our under-appreciated but quietly brilliant seabirds.

Stop British Trident nuclear weapons, peace activists arrested


This video from Scotland says about itself:

Faslane Peace Camp – Fighting Trident

4 March 2009

Faslane Peace Camp in Scotland reached 25 years of age in 2007/08. This film is about the ongoing attempt by one of its longest serving protesters at ‘civil disobedience.’

By Peter Lazenby in Scotland:

Five activists arrested for Trident base road block

Wednesday 12th July 2017

FIVE peace campaigners were arrested yesterday after blockading the Trident nuclear weapons base at Coulport in Scotland.

The five locked themselves together using concrete blocks and metal tubes at 7am across the access road leading to the base.

Police were forced to use cutting gear to separate them after they blocked the road to the base for two and a half hours.

The action was part of the Trident Ploughshares nuclear disarmament international camp taking place this week near Coulport.

Those arrested included veteran disarmament campaigner Brian Quail, 79, Angie Zelter, 66, a peace and environment campaigner from Knighton in Wales, and Sam Donaldson, 29, a community worker from Hull.

The Spanish campaigners arrested were Women in Black activist Almudena Izquierdo Olmo, 60, from Madrid, and Alternativa Antimilitarista activist Juan Carlos Navarro Diaz, 46, from the Canary Islands.

Last week, the United Nations introduced a Nuclear Ban Treaty in its attempts to halt nuclear weapons proliferation but British government refused to take part.

Ms Zelter said: “British nuclear weapons are illegal and now there is a United Nations Ban Treaty. It is imperative that all of us get involved in non-violent nuclear disarmament as our government is engaged in state terrorism.”

Ms Izquierdo said: “We demand our government, as part of Nato, sign and ratify the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty in order to prohibit nuclear weapons from entering foreign military bases and ports in Spain.”

The international protest camp was set up on Saturday, and will remain until July 18. Protesters include a delegation from Finland.

Fish to amphibian evolution, new research


This video says about itself:

The Evolution of Amphibians

23 January 2016

The first major groups of amphibians developed in the Devonian period, around 370 million years ago, from lobe-finned fish which were similar to the modern coelacanth and lungfish.

These ancient lobe-finned fish had evolved multi-jointed leg-like fins with digits that enabled them to crawl along the sea bottom. Some fish had developed primitive lungs to help them breathe air when the stagnant pools of the Devonian swamps were low in oxygen. They could also use their strong fins to hoist themselves out of the water and onto dry land if circumstances so required.

Eventually, their bony fins would evolve into limbs and they would become the ancestors to all tetrapods, including modern amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Despite being able to crawl on land, many of these prehistoric tetrapodomorph fish still spent most of their time in the water. They had started to develop lungs, but still breathed predominantly with gills.

From the University of Calgary in Canada:

Fossil holds new insights into how fish evolved onto land

‘It’s like a snake on the outside, but a fish on the inside’

June 21, 2017

The fossil of an early snake-like animal — called Lethiscus stocki — has kept its evolutionary secrets for the last 340 million years.

Now, an international team of researchers, led by the University of Calgary, has revealed new insights into the ancient Scottish fossil that dramatically challenge our understanding of the early evolution of tetrapods, or four-limbed animals with backbones.

Their findings have just been published in the research journal Nature. “It forces a radical rethink of what evolution was capable of among the first tetrapods,” said project lead Jason Anderson, a paleontologist and Professor at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM).

Before this study, ancient tetrapods — the ancestors of humans and other modern-day vertebrates — were thought to have evolved very slowly from fish to animals with limbs.

“We used to think that the fin-to-limb transition was a slow evolution to becoming gradually less fish like,” he said. “But Lethiscus shows immediate, and dramatic, evolutionary experimentation. The lineage shrunk in size, and lost limbs almost immediately after they first evolved. It’s like a snake on the outside but a fish on the inside.”

Lethicus’ secrets revealed with 3D medical imaging

Using micro-computer tomography (CT) scanners and advanced computing software, Anderson and study lead author Jason Pardo, a doctoral student supervised by Anderson, got a close look at the internal anatomy of the fossilized Lethiscus. After reconstructing CT scans its entire skull was revealed, with extraordinary results.

“The anatomy didn’t fit with our expectations,” explains Pardo. “Many body structures didn’t make sense in the context of amphibian or reptile anatomy.” But the anatomy did make sense when it was compared to early fish.

“We could see the entirety of the skull. We could see where the brain was, the inner ear cavities. It was all extremely fish-like,” explains Pardo, outlining anatomy that’s common in fish but unknown in tetrapods except in the very first. The anatomy of the paddlefish, a modern fish with many primitive features, became a model for certain aspects of Lethiscus’ anatomy.

Changing position on the tetrapod ‘family tree’

When they included this new anatomical information into an analysis of its relationship to other animals, Lethiscus moved its position on the ‘family tree’, dropping into the earliest stages of the fin-to-limb transition. “It’s a very satisfying result, having them among other animals that lived at the same time,” says Anderson.

The results match better with the sequence of evolution implied by the geologic record. “Lethiscus also has broad impacts on evolutionary biology and people doing molecular clock reproductions of modern animals,” says Anderson. “They use fossils to calibrate the molecular clock. By removing Lethiscus from the immediate ancestry of modern tetrapods, it changes the calibration date used in those analyses.”

Ancient sea scorpions, new research


This video says about itself:

13 September 2016

Today we examine the amazingly bizarre group of prehistoric arthropods, the Eurypterids or sea scorpions of the Paleozoic. We answer questions like: Where they really scorpions? How large did they get? And what are they exactly?

From the University of Alberta in Canada:

Sea scorpions: The original sea monster

Sea scorpions used serrated tail spine to dispatch their prey, researchers suggest

April 18, 2017

Summary: Related to both modern scorpions and horseshow [sic: horseshoe] crabs, sea scorpions had thin, flexible bodies. Some species also had pinching claws and could grow up to three metres in length. New research that the sea scorpions had another weapon at their disposal: a serrated, slashing tail spine.

Four hundred and thirty million years ago, long before the evolution of barracudas or sharks, a different kind of predator stalked the primordial seas. The original sea monsters were eurypterids — better known as sea scorpions.

Related to both modern scorpions and horseshow [sic: horseshoe] crabs, sea scorpions had thin, flexible bodies. Some species also had pinching claws and could grow up to three metres in length. New research by University of Alberta scientists Scott Persons and John Acorn hypothesise that the sea scorpions had another weapon at their disposal: a serrated, slashing tail spine.

Armed and dangerous

“Our study suggests that sea scorpions used their tails, weaponized by their serrated spiny tips, to dispatch their prey,” says Scott Persons, paleontologist and lead author on the study.

Sparked by the discovery of a new fossil specimen of the eurypterid Slimonia acuminata, Persons and Acorn make the biomechanical case that these sea scorpions attacked and killed their prey with sidelong strikes of their serrated tail.

The fossil, collected from the Patrick Burn Formation near Lesmahagow, Scotland, shows a eurypterid Slimonia acuminata, with a serrated-spine-tipped tail curved strongly to one side.

Powerful weapons

Unlike lobsters and shrimps, which can flip their broad tails up and down to help them swim, eurypterid tails were vertically inflexible but horizontally highly mobile.

“This means that these sea scorpions could slash their tails from side to side, meeting little hydraulic resistance and without propelling themselves away from an intended target,” explains Persons. “Perhaps clutching their prey with their sharp front limbs eurypterids could kill pretty [well] using a horizontal slashing motion.”

Among the likely prey of Slimonia acuminata and other eurypterids were ancient early vertebrates.

World’s oldest amphibian fossil in Scotland?


This video from the USA says about itself:

13 September 2016

In this lecture I will highlight five Devonian fossils that represent steps along the transition to a fully terrestrial tetrapod. You should be able to arrange a cladogram of Devonian tetrapods and illustrate the changes in anatomy that occurred during the transition toward living on land.

By Anna Buckley, BBC Science Radio Unit in Britain:

The most important fossil you’ve never heard of

10 April 2017

It’s not a household name, but an ancient creature found in the Scottish borders fills a crucial period in the evolutionary record. It sheds light on how four-limbed creatures became established on land.

An ancient animal found in rocks from the Scottish borders is thought to be the earliest known example of an animal with a backbone to live on land.

The fossilised remains of this highly significant creature, called Tiny, shed light on a key period in our evolutionary history.

Tiny has four limbs, a pair of lungs and up to five fingers (the fossil evidence is unclear exactly how many).

“It was one small step for Tiny, one giant leap for vertebrates,” said palaeontologist Dr Nick Fraser in an interview on the BBC Radio 4’s Life Scientific.

“Without Tiny, there would be no birds, no dinosaurs, no crocodiles, no mammals, no lizards and obviously we wouldn’t be around.”

“So that one step is crucial”, Fraser said. “And this fossil is right here on our doorstep in the Scottish Borders.”

There are infuriatingly few fossils from this important period in our evolutionary history, known as Romer’s Gap.

Previously, some palaeontologists had argued that this gap in the fossil record was due to lower than average oxygen levels in the earth’s atmosphere.

But the recent discovery of several four-limbed creatures like Tiny suggests many terrestrial tetrapods were thriving on land about 360 million years ago.

The late Stan Wood, a field collector, spent several decades looking for fossils to fill Romer’s gap, convinced that it didn’t really exist. In the late 2000s, he began to uncover a number of important fossils near the Whiteadder river in East Lothian.

He phoned Nick Fraser, director of natural sciences at the National Museums in Scotland, to alert him.

Members of the Tw:eed Project then collected rocks from this area and analysed them using CT scans.

Many ancient tetrapods were the size of dogs. So, with a skull just 4cm long, this one was dubbed Tiny.

So why isn’t this important fossil better-known? Perhaps because it is so small.

Or perhaps because, to this day, Tiny remains trapped in a rock and hidden from view.

Anti-nazi demonstration in Scotland


This video from Scotland says about itself:

25 March 2017

Hundreds of people turned out to protest a “White Pride” demonstration staged by the far-right National Front group in Edinburgh, Saturday.

The counter protesters carried banners with slogans like “Scotland says nae to Nazis” and chanted “Nazi Scum” as they marched through central Edinburgh.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) who organised the counter protest said “We won’t stand for their racism, their Islamophobia, their scapegoating of migrants and refugees.”

The White Pride demonstration was scheduled to coincide with the Sikh religious festival of Nagar Kirtan in city which involves a procession and traditional display of martial arts and music.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Edinburgh anti-fascists drown out neonazi noise

Monday 27th March 2017

OVER 400 anti-fascists faced down a pathetic motley crew of 29 neonazi thugs in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The Scottish Defence League and the National Front staged a “white pride” march in the city.

Many wore balaclavas or masks to hide their identity. They were able to march only with heavy police protection.

The 400 counter-protesters carried placards stating: “Nae Nazis, Refugees Welcome here,” and the simple message to the racists: “F… Off,” while chanting: “Master race — ha ha ha!”

Unite Against Fascism organised the counter-demonstration, which was fenced off from the white pride marchers by metal barriers. There were sieg heil salutes from the pitifully small band of right-wing extremists.

UAF Scotland’s Margaret Woods said: “We are delighted at today’s brilliant turnout for the UAF demonstration against the nazi National Front.

“There is no place in our society for fascists and we will always oppose any attempts they make to assemble or march.”