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Extinct bat rediscovered after 120 years without a sighting

In 1890, an Italian scientist discovered a species of bat in Papua New Guinea that hasn't been spotted since then. It was thought the species had gone extinct because there had been no sightings in 120 years. However, student researchers from the University of Queensland Catherine Hughes and Julie Broken-Brow rediscovered the bat species during a field expedition in the Abau coastal district in Papua New Guinea's Central Province. Welcome back, Pharotis imogene!
The researchers only had their bat traps up for two nights in this location, which means the capture was an extraordinarily lucky one. The specimen caught was euthanized and loaned to the Australian Museum in Sydney, where it was identified as being the long-lost species, the common name being the New Guinea big-eared bat. According to The Conversation, "The New Guinea big-eared bat, like the rest of the genera Pharotis and Nyctophilus, is distinguished by a combination of two features: large ears and a simple “nose-leaf” structure immediately behind the nostrils. Collectively, the group of species is known as long-eared (or big-eared) bats. P. imogene has larger ears than most."

Learning more about the entire species through this recently caught specimen will help researchers in identifying species in the field, and also learn more about what conservation measures are needed to protect this and other bat species in Papua New Guinea. The New Guinea big-eared bat is listed as critically endangered (possibly extinct) by IUCN, as well as making it to the top 100 of the world’s most unique and endangered mammals.

"Further studies need to be done to establish whether the New Guinea big-eared bat is one of a small number of mammal species endemic to the south-eastern peninsula region, or if it occurs more widely," Dr Leung told Science World Report. "Many of the coastal lowland habitats throughout Papua New Guinea are among the most threatened in the country due to clearing for logging and agriculture, and more field surveys of local bat populations could assess the conservation status of the species and inform future strategies to ensure their preservation."

As Dr. Leung and Broken-Brow note in The Conversation, "PNG is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. The country accounts for about 7 percent of the world’s species diversity, with about 276 known mammal species, 314 freshwater fish, 641 amphibian and reptile species, 740 birds, and many more. According to the World Wildlife Fund, between 1998 and 2008, 1060 new species were discovered, including a blue-eyed spotted cuscus, a 2.5 metre freshwater shark, and a giant bent-toed gecko." And now, the rediscovery of a bat species not sighted in 120 years. The new capture location means the researchers know where to start looking to gather more data on this and other bat species, and sites for further ecological studies that can help in conservation efforts.
Source: Here

Chimps Best Humans at Game Theory

As tough as it is to admit, chimpanzees are just better at some things than humans are. Scientists have previously revealed that our closest ape cousins beat us handily at short-term memory skills.
Now, researchers report that chimps are also better than humans in simple contests based on game theory—a form of mathematics that deals with figuring out the best strategy when faced with a competitive situation. In the current study, published this week in Scientific Reports, chimpanzees at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute in Japan played a hide-and-seek computer game (as in the photo above; video here). Undergraduate students and West African villagers also competed separately; no speaking was allowed. Both human and ape gamesters sat facing away from each other; their job was to predict their opponent’s move. Chimpanzee winners were rewarded with apple cubes, while humans were given money. Game theorists have determined that there’s a limit to how often the game can be won—even if both players are making the best possible strategic moves. That limit is called the Nash equilibrium, after the Nobel Prize–winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. The chimpanzees trumped the humans. They learned the game faster than their human counterparts and performed in line with the Nash equilibrium—hitting the theoretical benchmark. Chimpanzees, the researchers say, may be particularly good at the game because of their excellent short-term memories and talents for pattern recognition and rapid visual assessment. In the wild, the apes are also highly competitive, vying for dominance. Humans, on the other hand, are more cooperative.

Source: Here

New Mexico's meadow jumping mouse now on endangered species list

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) added a rare jumping mouse living on the river banks of New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona into its ever-growing list of endangered species.

The New Mexico meadow jumping mouse is now protected under the Endangered Species Act as ordered by the FWS, which says that the mouse is at an "elevated risk of extinction" due to cattle grazing, wildfires and drought and needs "significant conservation intervention."
Jumping Mouse
The FWS still has not issued a final statement on declaring a critical habitat for the endangered mouse, but it has called the move "prudent." Last year, the FWS proposed to elevate the mouse's status to endangered and was examining more than 14,000 acres along the banks of streams and rivers in the three states where the mouse is found as a critical habitat. Around 6,000 acres are found in Arizona's White Mountains in Greenlee and Apache counties.

However, ranchers in these often drought-stricken areas may are not happy with the news, saying fencing off thousands acres of grazing land for a single species will force them to abandon their grazing plots.

"Once again, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chose to cater to big-city radical special interests instead of protecting our jobs, and ignored the fact that conservation and economic growth are not mutually exclusive," says Congressman Steve Pearce in a statement. "FWS failed to recognize that its own policies - which have stopped timber harvesting and forest thinning - are to blame for the raging wildfires that threaten the mouse."

Conservationists are pushing government agencies to protect the meadow jumping mouse, saying that leaving the mouse to fend off for itself in not-so-optimal conditions and letting it go extinct will disrupt the overall food chain.

"Mice are part of the food chain across the entire ecosystem," explains Jay Lininger, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "They're a highly sought-after food source for a variety of snakes, foxes, and birds like redtail hawks. The entire food chain suffers if the jumping mouse blinks out."

Lininger also adds that there is no reason for ranchers to abandon their livestock because they can easily pipe the water from the mouse's riverbank environment to outside the critical habitat where the cattle can water.

At the moment, the less than 30 populations of meadow jumping mice, which have "exceptionally specialized" habitat requirements, occupy only 12 acres of land, says Lininger. Nourishment is critical to the mouse, which lives on insects and seeds that can only be found in riparian environments, because it hibernates most of the year. It only has three to four months to mate, breed and raise its offspring before it goes into hibernation once again.

The meadow jumping mouse has a life span of three years and can produce a litter of seven each year. This, coupled with the grazing, wildfires and droughts, gives the mouse a slim chance at survival.

Source: Here

For the love of rays

Over the last 10 years, the conservation biologist has swum with thousands of the species of huge flattened fish. “They have the largest brain of any fish, make incredible ocean journeys and dive almost...
“They have the largest brain of any fish, make incredible ocean journeys and dive almost 1.5km from the surface,” she said. “They never sleep and swim constantly over their 40-year lifespans. They’re so...

Her groundbreaking research and global lobbying built momentum for the protection of the globally threatened species, which was listed in Appendix II of the Cites (Convention on International Trade in...

Last year, she was recognised as one of National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers. A current partnership between the National Geographic Society and skincare brand La Mer supports Marshall in making a tangible...

“The ocean realm is consumed by this impossible sense of balance. As I came to know more about our oceans this has always been the thing that impressed me most. Hundreds of thousands of organisms live...

Source: Here

Will ecotourism be good for the Turtle Islands?

A group of small islands in the southern province of Tawi-Tawi has long been the birthplace of the gentle and resilient green sea turtles, which is said to be the oldest reptile species in the world.

More than 2,000 of the turtles known locally as “pawikan” nest in the islands every year. Other species, such as the hawksbill turtle, also frequent the area, which lies south of wildlife bountiful Palawan.

Such distinction has earned the island cluster the name Turtle Islands, the last major green sea turtle sanctuary in Southeast Asia and one of the only 10 remaining nesting sites all over the world.
turtle island
Its remote location and lack of regular means of transportation has made the Turtle Islands, which was once held by the United Kingdom, highly untouched despite the Philippine tourism hype.

But that may soon change. The government has announced that ecotourism projects are being planned for three of the six major isles which are part of the municipality of Turtle Islands.

More tourists

The effort has been launched amid an observed increase in the number of tourists visiting the area in recent year, a statement from the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) showed.

The government agency cited local tourism records, which reported a total of 1,139 local and foreign tourists in 2012, up from only 1,058 for the aggregate of 2010 and 2011.

“Tourists visit us to witness marine turtles lay their eggs or watch the hatchlings struggle out of their nests and make their way to the sea,” MinDA quoted Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali said.

“We need the appropriate facilities that will not only accommodate our tourists, but also ensure the safety and protection of the turtles and their nesting sites,” Sahali said further.

Secretary Luwalhati Antonino of MinDA said a budget of P30 million has been secure for the project, bulk of which will be from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority.

The projects will include elevated wooden boardwalks, turtle watching lounges and several cottages for the islands of Taganak, Bakkungan and Baguan, the most widely visited islands.

The facilities, MinDA said, will protect the turtles from tourists while allowing visitors to observe the experience they made the trip for: watching the gentle creatures lay their eggs at night.

“[R]esidents of Turtle Islands can earn sustainable livelihood by promoting this famous attraction, while ensuring the protection of the endangered species and their nesting sites,” Antonino noted.

She added that the initiative is part of the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippine East ASEAN Growth Area’s programs to protect the Greater Sulu-Sulawesi Corridor’s biodiversity.

Caution urged

Commenting on the plan, environmental advocacy group Greenpeace urged government to “proceed with caution especially since turtle nesting grounds are particularly sensitive to any slight disturbance. “

“A full resource accounting should be conducted and its carrying capacity determined before any development is started,” Greenpeace Southeast Asia oceans campaigner Vince Cinches said in an email.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources tagged all marine turtle species as endangered due to the critical decline in the world’s marine turtle population.

In the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 1979 launched the Pawikan Conservation Project to address the dwindling number of local marine turtles.

Turtle Islands has been declared a protected area in 1997 by the Philippines and Malaysia, which governs three of the islands in the cluster. It was the world’s first transboundary protected area.

Cinches said the plan to develop the Turtle Islands “must conform to all internationally accepted environmental principles and comply with Philippine environmental laws…”

“Moreover, the ecotourism plan should be jointly developed by local communities, scientists, non-government and civil society organization representatives, and other stakeholders,” he added.

All ecotourism activities in the island should also be coupled with education efforts, Cinches said, adding that all visitors must undergo comprehensive briefing and be given guides on behavior in the islands.

Aside fom marine turtles, the Turtle Islands is also home to 34 species of birds, 27 coral species, 128 fish species, 62 species of marine flora and other wild animals such as fruit bats and reptiles.

Ecotourism for the economy

“Ecotourism, as long as developed strictly in accordance with ecological principles, is one of the many services a healthy ecosystem gives,” Cinches told Yahoo Philippines.

The industry provides more income for local government and also “reduces the dependency of communities on poaching and veer them away from doing destructive marine activities.”

“If indeed, Turtle Island Wildlife Sanctuary will be opened to the public, it should be a model for sustainability and one that will ensure true protection of our marine ecosystem rather than just a revenue-making strategy,” Cinches said.

Source: Here

Urban frogs use drains as mating megaphones

A tiny tree frog seems to be using city drains to amplify its serenades to attract females. In research published1 today in the Journal of Zoology, researchers found that the Mientien tree frog native to Taiwan congregates in roadside storm drains during the mating season.

Audio recordings revealed that the mating songs of the frogs inside the structures were louder and longer than those of their less-streetwise rivals, who gathered in patches of land next to the drains.
tree frog
“This is perhaps the first study to show that an animal preferentially uses human-made structures to potentially enhance the sounds of its vocal communication signals,” says Mark Bee, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in St Paul. “These males could be taking advantage of the enhanced acoustics in drainage ditches to outdo their competition.”

Frogs' ability to amplify their voices is a known phenomenon. In 2002, researchers showed2 that male Metaphrynella sundana frogs in Borneo use hollow tree cavities in their natural habitats to boost the volume of their calls.
Social networking

In the latest study, a team led by zoologist Yu-Teh Kirk Lin at the National Taiwan University in Taipei studied Kurixalus idiootocus tree frogs in a wooded suburb of Taipei during the mating season, which lasts from February to September.

Males of the species exhibit a ritual known as lekking, and form groups, or leks, during the mating season to compete for females with some kind of courtship behaviour — in its case, singing. The team found that the urban tree frogs used open concrete drains along roads as lek sites — drastically different from those in their natural habitats, where they gather at ponds to warble.

The researchers randomly established 11 plots of 10 metres long and 0.5 metres wide within the drains, and adjacent 10-metre-wide sections of land outside the gutters for monitoring after dark when the frogs sing their mating songs.

They found that the frogs selected storm drains for mating calls much more often than they did the other locations — on average, 1.64 male frogs per square metre, or just over 7 per site, were found inside the drains, and only 0.02 males per square metre, or almost 2 per site, outside.
Romantic success

Calls emitted from inside the drains were louder and longer than those outside — both important mate-selection criteria for choosy females in many frog species, says Lin. Although impossible to distinguish with the human ear, acoustic analysis software revealed the drain calls to be about 4 decibels louder than those outside. The length of all 13 notes in a frog’s call were also 10% longer when the call was emitted from inside the drains.

But the study did not assess whether these males were indeed more romantically successful than their counterparts. The authors say that further studies are needed to confirm that the males hop into drains specifically to amplify mating calls.

Bee notes that there may be other reasons, such as avoiding predators, for the frogs to jump into man-made structures. Alternative hypotheses still need to be eliminated, he says.

Source: Here

Funny Dog Playing Dead after Finger Shot


Spider Disguises Itself as Bird Droppings

It’s the ultimate crappy disguise: The spider Cyclosa ginnaga hides from predators by looking like a pile of bird feces, a new study says.

Study leader I.-Min Tso, an entomologist at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan, first made the discovery walking through a research station in central Taiwan.
Spider Disguises Itself as Bird Droppings
Tso noticed Jackson Pollack-style splotches of white bird dung, which stood out in stark contrast to the lush green foliage. But when he looked more closely, Tso realized that not all of the blobs were bird droppings: A few were spiders in their webs. (Read about a spider that weaves a mysterious picket fence.)

Tso recognized the spiders as C. ginnaga, a species found in Taiwan, China, Japan, and South Korea.

As the “architects of the spider world,” spiders in the genus Cyclosa are known to create elaborate webs, using their silk to make concentric circles like Saturn’s rings and adding debris such as twigs and leaves that hide young spiders from predators. (Related: “New Spider Weaves Spider-Shaped Web.”)

Now, Tso and colleagues have discovered their defense strategy is even more sophisticated than thought.

Cornell University arachnologist Linda Rayor applauded the study, pointing out that C. ginnaga is not alone in masquerading as bird droppings.

“It’s really not all that uncommon. Several other spiders, like Bolas spiders, also use this disguise,” she said.

Web of Disguises

To find out if the bird dropping-like web confused predators, Tso and colleagues measured the webs that resembled bird feces.

Source: Here

Strange Gender-Bender Bird

There are a lot of unusual things in the animal world which we don’t really notice, especially if they’re really not that obvious. However, some things are just too strange to miss out.

A gynandromorph is any animal that contains both male and female characteristics. A very common example would be with birds. Amongst cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), the ones with gynandromorphy would have half bright red and half light gray or brown bodies.  Normally, a male cardinal has bright red feathers that make them stand out from the females.

Gynandromorphy is a very rare case. You’d be really lucky to spot one of these birds. Larry Ammann, a University of Texas statistics professor, was very fortunate to take pictures of this specimen in his own backyard. He took a few photos of the bird but it flew away right after.

Basically, there was a genetic mishap that happened during the cell division in the fertilized ovum, resulting to one side to have male characteristics and the other female. As the bird developed in the egg, each of the sides continued to develop as male and female. Since cardinals have very striking difference between male and female specimens, gynandromorphy is very obvious amongst them.

Another thing that Ammann noticed about the bird is that it doesn’t sing or make sounds like the other cardinals. He’d hear the other birds chirping but the gynandromorph won’t make a sound. He also noticed that the other male cardinals would chase it away from their territory while the females don’t seem to be concerned by it. 

Long Legged Wolf of South America

There are a lot of strange looking animals in South America, most of which many of us don’t even know existed. Imagine seeing an animal that looks like a fox, but has long legs like a gazelle.

This creature, called the maned wolf, definitely stands out from other fox or dog like animals. They stand at around 3 feet tall and weigh in at 50 pounds. It’s the biggest canid you can find in South America and it resembles a fox with reddish- brown fur and long legs. From its name, it has a mane found along their backs. Their ears are long and large, growing to about 7 inches. They also have distinct white markings on the tips of their tails and throats and their legs are usually dark in color.

These wolves are usually seen in southeastern and central Brazil, northern Argentina, eastern Bolivia, and Paraguay. They commonly stay near open forest, marshlands and savannas. As for their diet, they’re omnivorous. Living off small mammals, bird eggs, birds, reptiles and even fruits and vegetation, they can easily adapt to most different environments and food sources.

In recent years, there has been a threat to these animals’ survival. Their natural habitats are being converted for human use and destruction of these areas has forced them to move away. They don’t have a lot of natural predators, but they’re species are in danger since they need open, uninterrupted spaces to live in. another problem is hunting and poaching. They’re being hunted for various body parts, which are believed to contain magical properties by locals. 

Meet the zebra lizard and 6 more of the newest species to be discovered

The World Wildlife Fund have discovered hundreds of new species and the pictures are sure to take your breath away.

Since 2012 the global charity has identified 367 new discoveries while researching in the Greater Mekong region in southeast Asia.






Included on the list are 290 plants, 24 fish, 21 amphibians, 28 reptiles, three mammals and one bird.

Amongst the most interesting ones that have been found include a zebra-striped lizard.

The reptile is only 11.5cm in length and has only one known habitat.

If creepy crawlies are more your thing, a blind huntsman spider also made the list.

With no eye sight the arachnid pursues its prey using its eight legs.

Dr Thomas Gray, manager of WWF-Greater Mekong's species programme, said: "The species discoveries affirm the Greater Mekong as one of the world's richest and most biodiverse regions.

"If we're to prevent these new species disappearing into extinction, and to keep alive the hope of finding other fascinating creatures in years to come, it's critical that governments invest in conservation and green growth strategies."

The WWF is an international organisation dedicated to the conservation of the environment.

They have been active since 1961.

Their latest announcement also included the discovery of a zorro-masked water snake and a rainbow lizard.

Source: Here

A True Artist Elephant

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