Thumbnail Crab (Thia scutellata)
…a species of Thiid crab that occurs in the North Sea, north-east Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. And the only member of the the genus Thia (although two fossil species are known). T. scutellata get’s its common name due to its’ carapace resemblance to a human thumbnail.
Image: Hans Hillewaert
Wisps surrounding the Horsehead Nebula
The famous Horsehead Nebula in Orion is not alone. A deep exposure shows that the dark familiar shaped indentation, visible just below center, is part of a vast complex of absorbing dust and glowing gas. To bring out details of the Horsehead’s pasture, amateur astronomers at the Star Shadow Remote Observatory in New Mexico, USA fixed a small telescope on the region for over seven hours filtering out all but a very specific color of red light emitted by hydrogen. They then added the image to a full color frame taken over three hours. The resulting spectacular picture details an intricate tapestry of gaseous wisps and dust-laden filaments that were created and sculpted over eons by stellar winds and ancient supernovas. The Horsehead Nebula lies 1,500 light years distant towards the constellation of Orion. Two stars from the Orion’s Belt can be found in the above image.
Image credit & copyright: Star Shadows Remote Observatory
Piezodorus lituratus (Hemiptera - Pentatomidae), known as Gorse Shieldbug, is a large shieldbug with two adult color forms which are related to sexual maturity. Those emerging and mating in the spring are predominantly green, whereas the new generation appearing in the late summer have purple-red markings on the pronotum and corium. As in many other shieldbugs, this species frequently becomes darker prior to hibernation.
Although often associated with gorse, larvae also feed on broom, dyer’s greenwood and other plants.
Then the princess left the cave and wandered down to the sea-shore.
Walter Crane, from The necklace of Princess Fiorimonde and other stories , by Mary De Morgan, London, 1886.
A Red-Tailed Hawk gets ran off by a pair of Crows. Although the hawk could conceivably rip them apart with it’s talons, the crows have smarts and maneuverability on their side. Newly annoyed, the much larger bird was more inclined to find an updraft and soar to a less occupied territory than to stick around for more photographs.
Some facts about the evolutionary relationships of charismatic dholes
Canids form one of the most prominent families of carnivores, with 36 interesting taxa in 13 genera that occur throughout most of the world. As a family, canids occupy every continent except Antarctica. Foxes, dholes, dingoes, wolves, jackals, coyotes and various dogs comprise the family.
Within the canid family the dhole is something of an enigma and it is classified in a genus of its own - Cuon. All dholes belongs to the species Cuon alpinus, which includes nine extant subspecies.
The genus Cuon is post-Pleistocene in origin. In 1945 Simpson placed the dhole in the subfamily Simocyoninae of the family Canidae, together with the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) and the bush dog (Speothos venaticus) of South America on the basis of shared anatomical features, most notably the reduction of the role of the crushing post-carnassial molars. Many have questioned Simpson’s classification arguing that similarities in dentition are due to convergent evolution because of a highly predatory diet.
Currently, evolutionary relationships within the family Canidae, reconstructed using comparative karyology, allozyme electrophoresis, mtDNA protein coding sequence data, and super tree method, as well as the relationships at the genus level studied with mtDNA, shows that the living Canidae is divided into five distinct groupings. These include the wolf-like canids, which consists of the coyote, grey wolf, Ethiopian wolf, jackals, dhole and African wild dog. This clade is associated with a group containing bush dog and maned wolf in some trees and, further, this larger grouping is associated with the South American foxes. The red fox group is a fourth independent clade, and finally, three lineages have long distinct evolutionary histories and are survived today by the raccoon dog, bat-eared fox and island and gray fox.
The wolf genus Canis is a monophyletic group that also includes the dhole. Basal to Canis and Cuon are the African wild dog and a clade consisting of two South American canids, the bush dog (Speothos venaticus) and the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus). Consequently, although the African wild dog preys on large game as does the grey wolf and dhole, it is not closely related to either species but is sister to the clade containing these species. This phylogeny implies that the trenchant-heeled carnassial now found only in Speothos, Cuon and Lycaon, evolved at least twice or was primitive and lost in other wolf-like canids and the maned wolf.
In summary, dholes are part of a clade of wolf-like canids within which is related more closely to the extant jackals than to wolves.
Photo: a pair of Indian dholes in wild, Cuon alpinus dukhunensis, from Maharastra National Park, Central India | ©Sandeep Dutta
Wolf in The Netherlands officially becomes endangered species
What better gift could I recieve on this day to celebrate my 4th anniversary with David?! Now the only thing left to do is wait for their return!
The wolf will get a lawfully protected status. This will enable the Faunafund to grant compensations in damage caused by wolves if this will occur, writes Secretary of State Dijksma from the Ministry of Economic Affairs in a reaction to the advice from Alterra (Wageningen University) to the House of Representatives on the anticipation on the return of the wolf in The Netherlands. Wolves are inter alia coming from Germany, getting closer and closer to our borders. A possible return of the wolves after over 150 years to The Netherlands is not excluded.
The Faunafund and Dutch provinces are involved with the advice from Alterra. Provinces are significantly responsible for the implementation of the policy, also in relation to possible damage to cattle and compensations in this regard via the Faunafund.
A considerable part of the advice is on doing research. Particularly provinces will have to decide which research recommendations will be preformed short-term.
Within Europe, genetic reference material from wolves need to be shared more. This way, identifying wolves will become significantly easier. In The Netherlands, the joining of wolf knowledge will not take place via a wolf office, but will have to find a way via already existing organizations.
Picture by Gonnie van der Schans
Protecting the Northern River Terrapin
Our next field report comes from the Bhawal National Park in Bangladesh where the Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska), one of the rarest turtles in the world, is having another good year!
Five of the six known females in the area have already nested, laying a total of 101 eggs! TSA is hopeful that the sixth female, which was discovered in a local pond and joined the breeding program in October 2013, will also produce eggs. All nests have been moved to a caged protected area on the beach for incubation, and temperatures are being carefully monitored in an effort to produce more females.
As in some other reptile species such as crocodiles, river terrapin sex is determined by environmental temperature after fertilization (Temperature dependent sex determination). Lower temperatures produce male hatchlings while a higher temperature will usually result in females. More females mean more eggs and a brighter future for this critically endangered species…
(read more: Turtle Survival Alliance)
A gull swoops down in an attempt to steal a Mallard’s lunch in Gyeongpo Lake, South Korea. Picture: YONHAP/EPA (via Pictures of the day: 17 March 2014 - Telegraph)