Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little Bix nursery

Protoceratops andrewsi nest from Mongolia - image from National Geographic, by Khishigjav Tsogtbaatar


There's so many of them and they all so tiny and cute! If you have read Dinotopia by James Gurney, you'd know of Bix. For those who need a refresher course, Bix was a traveling dinosaur Ambassador and she was also a Protoceratops. The link here is that these little hatchlings are also Protoceratops, from Mongolia. A total of 15 youngsters were uncovered in a nest.

Will and Bix from James Gurney's Dinotopia

Protoceratops is a herbivorous, beaked dinosaur that lived over 85-70mya. It's the smaller cousin of Triceratops, but lacking facial horns. Its life-cycle is pretty well know due to the amount of fossil evidence of hatchlings, adolescents, and male and female adults.

image from Melbourne Museum

Protoceratops also lived along-side Velociraptor. This is famously noted in the "Dueling Dinosaurs", where a Protoceratops locked its beak tightly on the forearm of a velociraptor; the moment being frozen in time and sediment.

image of Dueling Dinosaurs by AMNH

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Apologies don't prevent extinction

Unheard of for me to post more than a single post in a day, but this compelled me to mention and remind us how rapidly thing can go south.

On this day, 7 years ago, the last male Po'ouli, a small, endemic Hawaiian bird, died from Avian malaria whilst in the care of the Maui Bird Conservation Centre with the intention of breeding the species back from the brink. Sadly, his death came barely 2 months after his capture from the wild and a female had not been found in time to breed.

This setback would have been less devastating if there were more Po'ouli to collect to try again. The species was unknown to science until 1975 where the population was estimated to be around 200 (76 birds/km2); however, ten years later, the Po'ouli population dropped to 8 birds/km2. A significant decline of over 90%. Since the loss of the Po'ouli male, the reality of the situation was confirmed when no evidence or sightings of
living specimens were found in their natural habitat; making the Po'ouli extinct.

Eric Vanderwerf, of U.S Fish and Wildlife Services lamented in 2004: "I kind of liken it in some way to the loss of the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel. If we lost that, we could never get it back. We can never get another."

When they find one near Loch Ness, I'll be excited

MORE dinosaur news:

A nearly complete fossil of a plesiosaurus was uncovered by a Syncrude heavy equipment operator in an oil sands area, Alberta. It is believed to be around 40 million years older than other plesiosaur fossils, making it the oldest plesiosaur discovered to date.

image by Sue Sabrowski - Royal Tyrrell Museum

Thursday, November 24, 2011

No one is safe, not even Drop bears

I've been in a glass cage of emotion! No internets for weeks, which has made me feel very out-of-tune with the world... but the first thing I did read was the multiple murderous hippopotami in South Africa.

1. Farmer gouged to death by pet hippo Humphrey who was 'like a son to him'
2. Escape from the jaws of a hippo

While hippos are pretty dangerous in general, I was intrigued to know if there had been any honey badger attacks (specific aren't I). I didn't find any honey badger media but I did find this:

Koalas under attack from cows

Who'd have thought that a cow would be spooked by a koala enough to have a murderous streak. They are thuggish in their approach too. So watch out for the koalas, Eastern Staters. Next we'll be hearing about cows with guns...

Another article I found was this:

This is a new species, unknown to science referred to as a "ferret-badger". It's interesting looking enough. At first I thought they called it a ferret-badger because they had no idea which one it was more closely related to; then I did a little more research and found the strangest handful of cute, ferret-badgers. They look a little like Palm civets to me.

A species of Melogale, Chinese ferret-badger
(image from Scienceblogs)