Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species | Scientific Reports
This is amazing news. Natrix natrix -previously thought to be the only grass snake in the UK – has been found to be genetically distinct from what was previously thought to be a variation rather than separate species, the newly named Natrix venaticus. Studies sampled mtDNA from existing skins and specimens and found clear genetic differences between the two, confirming Natrix venaticus as a separate and distinct species. No living snakes were harmed for the study either, which is always good news.
Roosting in conical leaves reduces the clarity of bat communications – A new zoology thing for curious kids – 2 New Things
“Spix’s disk-winged bats don’t live the standard cave-bound lifestyle we usually associate with flying mammals. The natives of Central and South America generally roost in the thick, curled leaves of plants like calatheas. Weighting in at only four grams, a handful of bats can hide in a single furled leaf, hanging on thanks to the suction-cup disks on their wings and legs that they’re named for.”
“The new species, Siamogale melilutra lived 6.24 million years ago in the Yunnan Province in China. It weighed approximately 110 lbs and was roughly the size of a modern wolf.”
Darwin’s Fish: Evolutionary controversies in the fossil record | University of Oxford Podcasts – Audio and Video Lectures
Great lecture by Matt Friedman on Darwin’s (and others’) discoveries about evolution and genetics, symmetry in fish, and other things.
Edit: I have since discovered Friedman, M. has written numerous papers on teleost fish, whilst writing my own essays. A very clever man.
Born in 1769, Humboldt observed deforestation and its effects in the Amazon rainforests 200 years ago and wrote about them; he was possibly the first person to express concern for the negative effects of anthropogenic activity on the natural environment. He wrote of nature as a “living whole” and a web or tapestry – all life as connected – a new concept at that time.
Humboldt wrote about soil erosion as a result of deforestation, and of climate change. He describes concern for human destruction of the entire planet – even suggesting we would take that destruction to other, distant planets – and of human greed and violence.
Humboldt evidently influenced Charles Darwin himself. Was he the first ecologist? A fascinating listen.
This exhibition is being held at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham through summer 2017, not far from me, and I am looking forward to visiting!
Birds are more like ‘feathered apes’ than ‘bird brains’