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Firenado

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firenado

A “firenado” tears through a field in Chillicothe, Missouri on 3 May. Part fire, part tornado, this blazing twister was spotted by Missouri native Janae Copelin while she was out driving.

Source: TheGuardian

Photograph: Janae Copelin /Barcroft

Earth faces sixth ‘great extinction’

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…with 41% of amphibians set to go the way of the dodo

Analysis for prestigious Nature magazine sounds alarm on the way that human activity, from overfishing to agriculture, is forcing a vast number of species to vanish from the wild

A Tasmanian tiger in captivity, circa 1930, shortly before the species became extinct. Photograph: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Popperfoto/Getty Images

A stark depiction of the threat hanging over the world’s mammals, reptiles, amphibians and other life forms has been published by the prestigious scientific journal, Nature. A special analysis carried out by the journal indicates that a staggering 41% of all amphibians on the planet now face extinction while 26% of mammal species and 13% of birds are similarly threatened.

Many species are already critically endangered and close to extinction, including the Sumatran elephant, Amur leopard and mountain gorilla. But also in danger of vanishing from the wild, it now appears, are animals that are currently rated as merely being endangered: bonobos, bluefin tuna and loggerhead turtles, for example.

In each case, the finger of blame points directly at human activities. The continuing spread of agriculture is destroying millions of hectares of wild habitats every year, leaving animals without homes, while the introduction of invasive species, often helped by humans, is also devastating native populations. At the same time, pollution and overfishing are destroying marine ecosystems.

“Habitat destruction, pollution or overfishing either kills off wild creatures and plants or leaves them badly weakened,” said Derek Tittensor, a marine ecologist at the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge. “The trouble is that in coming decades, the additional threat of worsening climate change will become more and more pronounced and could then kill off these survivors.”

The problem, according to Nature, is exacerbated because of the huge gaps in scientists’ knowledge about the planet’s biodiversity. Estimates of the total number of species of animals, plants and fungi alive vary from 2 million to 50 million. In addition, estimates of current rates of species disappearances vary from 500 to 36,000 a year. “That is the real problem we face,” added Tittensor. “The scale of uncertainty is huge.”

In the end, however, the data indicate that the world is heading inexorably towards a mass extinction – which is defined as one involving a loss of 75% of species or more. This could arrive in less than a hundred years or could take a thousand, depending on extinction rates.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

A Real Photobomber

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Australia surfers ‘photobombed’ by spinner shark

Eyewitnesses said the shark leapt out of the water twice

Surfers at a competition in New South Wales were in for a surprise when they found themselves in the company of a large spinner shark.

Spectators saw the shark leaping in and out of the water near Coffs Harbour, close to the surfers and swimmers.

The moment was caught on camera by local resident Steph Bellamy, who said the shark “photobombed” her picture..

Source: BBCNews Read more

Giant fluorescent pink slug

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Kaputar_pink_slug

Triboniophorus aff. graeffei

Now on the endangered species list…

Awesome Photo

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16-glansBoeta

A starling coming in to land

Image credit: Boeta

Raindrops

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Today’s Forecast?

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

has rain ever been so beautiful

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

mushroom,photography


Source: Freedom

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Is it a bird, a plane or a wasp?

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Reblogged from: All downhill from here

Image credit: All downhill from here

Oddly enough, none of the above, check the original post on the link above.

I think it is an awesome beast.

Two new lizard species

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Two new lizard species found in Queensland rainforest

Cape Melville rainbow skink and Cape Melville bar-lipped skink bring the tally of species unknown to science that have been found in small, remote area to eight

A Cape Melville rainbow skink. Photograph: Conrad Hoskin

Two species of lizard previously unknown to science have been uncovered in a remote part of far north Queensland.

Dr Conrad Hoskin, a researcher at James Cook university, found the two species after landing by helicopter in a largely inaccessible area of rainforest on top of the Melville range, about 170km north of Cooktown.

The species have been named as the Cape Melville rainbow skink and the Cape Melville bar-lipped skink. The scientific names of the species – Carlia wundalthini and Glaphyromorphus othelarrni – were chosen by local Aboriginal leaders in a nod to previous traditional owners of the land.

Hoskin said the discoveries were “very exciting” and added to three other species he uncovered during a series of trips to Cape Melville last year: a leaf-tailed gecko, a boulder frog and a golden lizard.

“In each of those cases, as soon as I saw them I knew they were new species,” he told Guardian Australia.

The Cape Melville bar-lipped skink. Photograph: Conrad Hoskin

“I was walking around on my first day there and saw a lizard and thought ‘wow, that’s something different’. And then that night I saw something moving in some mulch by a boulder, I pulled it out and it was another new kind of lizard.”

The rainbow skink is only about 10cm long, with shimmering scales. It is very fast and active during the day, eating small insects. Meanwhile, the bar-lipped skink is slightly larger, about 20cm long, and lives a more subdued life, emerging mostly at dusk.

Hoskin’s discovery of five new species in total adds to a further three species found at Cape Melville in the past few decades. The entire global populations of these eight endemic species live within the rainforest plateau and lowland area of Cape Melville.

Source: TheGuardian read and see more

 

Dreadnoughtus schrani

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Battleship beast: colossal dinosaur skeleton found in southern Patagonia

Dreadnoughtus schrani unearthed in Argentina is most complete skeleton of plant-eating titanosaur recovered anywhere in world

Artist’s impression of the enormous newly discovered dreadnoughtus schrani. A complete skeleton has been unearthed in southern Patagonia, Argentina. Photograph: Mark A. Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The spectacular remains of one of the largest beasts ever to walk the planet have been unearthed by fossil hunters in southern Patagonia.

The unique haul of bones includes a metre-wide neck vertebra, a thigh bone that stands as tall as a man, and ribs the size of planks, representing the most complete skeleton of a colossal plant-eating titanosaur recovered anywhere in the world.

The new species was so enormous that researchers named it Dreadnoughtus schrani after the dreadnought battleships of the early 20th century on the grounds that it would fear nothing that crossed its path.

From measurements of the bones, scientists worked out that Dreadnoughtus weighed nearly 60 tonnes and reached 26 metres from snout to tail, making it the largest land animal for which an accurate body mass can be calculated.

Video here

The colossal dreadnoughts lived around 77m years ago in a temperate forest at the southern tip of South America. Its bodyweight equates to as many as a dozen African elephants or more than seven of the Tyrannosaurs rex species, according to Kenneth Lacorvara, a paleontologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Details of the find are published in the journal, Scientific Reports.

Another giant prehistoric animal, Argentinosaurus, was probably of comparable size but its dimensions are known only from a clutch of backbone vertebrae, a shinbone and a handful of other bone fragments. The diplodocus, which lived 80m years earlier than dreadnoughtus, weighed in at a comparatively measly 16 tonnes.

Lacorvara caught a first glimpse of the remains during a field trip to the stunning but barren scrubland of southern Patagonia in 2005. What appeared to be a small collection of bones soon became an extensive haul of more than 100 bone fragments, exquisitely well preserved when the animal apparently drowned in quicksand.

Kenneth Lacovara with the right tibia of dreadnoughtus schrani Kenneth Lacovara Photograph: Kenneth Lacovara

Though staggering in its dimensions, close inspection of the bones revealed that the animal was not fully grown when it died. “That was a real shock to us,” Lacorvara told the Guardian. “When you look at the bones of dreadnoughtus, it’s clear this individual was still growing fast. There are no indications of a cessation of growth.”

It took Lacorvara’s team, working with Argentinian experts, four successive years to excavate the entire skeleton which amounts to more than 45% of the animal’s bones. Only a single tooth and a small fragment of the dinosaur’s jaw were found from the head. The loss of much of the skull is common in fossils of giant plant-eaters, because the skull bones are relatively small and light to enable the dinosaur to lift its head. During the excavation the team unearthed the remnants of a second, smaller titanosaur.

Source: TheGuardian Read and see video and more photos

Throat of Fire

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Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador: Increased activity

The volcano was dormant until 1999 but has since become active again

Seismologists in Ecuador say the Tungurahua volcano is showing increased activity.

About 40 explosions were registered on Monday and even though their intensity diminished, experts have not ruled out a renewed sudden increase.

An ash cloud up to 3km (1.8 miles) in height has been rising from the volcano over the past few days.

Tungurahua, which had been dormant until 1999, lies 135km (85 miles) south-east of the capital, Quito.

Seismologists have registered dozens of tremors as the volcano spewed ash and rocks

A large ash cloud has been emanating from the volcano’s crater

The 5,023m-high Tungurahua, meaning “throat of fire” in the indigenous Quechua language, is one of South America’s most active volcanoes.

Source: BBCNews

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