Snake Population On The Decline On Three Continents

Distinct populations of snake species on three continents have crashed over the last decade, raising fears that the reptiles may be in global decline, according to a study published recently.The pattern across the eight species monitored was alarmingly similar despite their geographical isolation, which points to a common cause such as climate change, the researchers said.

Other factors known to play a role include habitat loss, pollution, disease, lack of prey and over-exploitation, either for food or trade.The study showed that 11 of 17 snake populations in Britain, France, Italy, Nigeria and Australia dropped off sharply over a four-year period starting in the late 1990s.“Our data revealed an alarming trend,” the authors reported in the British Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
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Dozens Of British Species Vanishing 'At An Alarming Rate' Despite Attempts To Save Them

Some of Britain’s most endangered wildlife – from red squirrels to native crayfish – are vanishing from the countryside at an alarming rate, a report warns.A census of the most at-risk species found that dozens of plants and creatures are in serious decline, despite Government-backed attempts to protect them.

Conservationists yesterday accused politicians of failing to tackle the crisis and called on the coalition Government to carry out the parties’ election pledges on protecting wildlife.The report, from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, revealed that 88 species are in decline, including skylarks, pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies and red squirrels.

The assessment – which looked at the fortunes of hundreds of threatened species and habitats listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan – found that 19 types of landscape were also suffering, including mudflats, maritime cliffs and saltmarshes.And it revealed that eight species have become extinct since the publication of the original plan in 1994, including the wryneck bird, two lichens, three moths and two beetles.However, the report also found some success in boosting wildlife, with eight habitats and 40 species said to be improving.


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Newly Uncovered Dinosaur Had Longest Horns Of All

A group of US paleontologists said Friday it has unearthed a new species of dinosaurs standing some six feet tall and weighing up to 4.5 tonnes, with the longest horns of all.The 72-million-year-old herbivore, now named Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna, has two large horns above its eyes measuring up to an impressive four feet (1.22 meters) long — the largest of any other species, providing fresh insight into the history of western North America.

Scientists uncovered fossils belonging to both an adult and a juvenile of the rhino-sized tubby creature at the Cerro del Pueblo Formation in Coahuila, Mexico. It measured about 22 feet (6.7 meters) long as an adult, standing six to seven feet (1.8 to two meters) tall at the shoulder and hips.”We know very little about the dinosaurs of Mexico, and this find increases immeasurably our knowledge of the dinosaurs living in Mexico during the Late Cretaceous,” said the study’s lead author Mark Loewen, a paleontologist with the Utah Museum of Natural History.

His team is to release a book next week detailing the find, which took place during expeditions in 2002 and 2003 in the Coahuila desert. The study was funded by the National Geographic Society and the University of Utah.When dinosaurs lived in this corner of Mexico, it was a lush, humid estuary where ocean water mixed with fresh water from rivers, similar to the US Gulf Coast today.
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'Dracula' Fish And Bombardier Worm Make Top 10 List

A “dracula” fish with canine-like fangs, a worm that launches glow-in-the-dark bombs and a psychedelic frogfish are among the Top 10 new species discovered in 2009, scientists just announced.

The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an international committee of taxonomists selected the species from around the world for the annual New Species list.”Committee members had complete freedom in making their choices and developing their own criteria, from unique attributes or surprising facts about the species to peculiar names,” said Quentin Wheeler, director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an entomologist in the School of Life Sciences.

Here are the Top 10 winners:

* Dracula fish: The minnow fish, called Danionella dracula, was found in a stream in Kachin State, Myanmar. The males of the species sport canine-like fangs for sparring with other males, likely over territory. Their lower jaws can open to a wide degree and form an angle of 45 to 60 degrees with the main body axis. This is the first record of oral teeth-like structures being found in the Cyprinidae, the largest family of freshwater fishes.

* Psychedelic frogfish: A bizarre new species of frogfish called Histiophryne psychedelica was discovered in Ambon and Bali, Indonesia. Its body is covered in a psychedelic orange-and-white swirly pattern, interrupted only by its piercing teal-colored eyes. This pigmentation could help the fish blend in among colorful, venomous corals on the seafloor in the area, scientists say.
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10 Species You Can Kiss Goodbye

1.1

California Condor
A resident of the Grand Canyon area and the western coastal mountains of California, the carrion-eating California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) has a lifespan of 50 years, making it one of the world’s longest-living birds. Because of poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat loss, however, it’s also one of the world’s rarest bird species–one that was almost wiped out completely in the 1980s. With the help of conservation efforts, 332 condors are now known to exist, including 152 in the wild.

1.3

Ganges Shark
This rare and elusive species of shark (Glyphis gangeticus) makes its home in India’s Ganges River, where it has a reputation as a man-eater, although people may be confusing it with the more dangerous bull shark. One of 20 sharks on the IUCN’s Red List of endangered species, the Ganges shark is highly sought after for its oil. Rampant fishing, habitat degradation from pollution, and increasing river utilization, however, remain the primary causes for its rapid disappearance.
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How Many Species Exist On Earth?

We asked several scientists from various fields what they thought were the greatest mysteries today, and then we added a few that were on our minds, too. This article is one of 15 in LiveScience’s “Greatest Mysteries” series running each weekday.

The prospect of discovering little green men on other planets has long captured our imaginations, but many scientists are just as excited about finding new life forms in our own backyard.Though humans have shared the planet with millions of other creatures for thousands of years, we know surprisingly little about our neighbors—we don’t even know exactly how many flora and fauna call Earth home.

The National Science Foundation’s “Tree of Life” project estimates that there could be anywhere from 5 million to 100 million species on the planet, but science has only identified about 2 million.“We’ve only touched the surface of understanding animal life,” said entomologist Brian Fisher of the California Academy of Sciences. “We’ve discovered just 10 percent of all living things on this planet.”
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India Needs More Parks And Corridors For Long-Term Survival Of Its Animals

india

In a new study, an international team of scientists has determined that the long-term survival of many large species in the midst of rapid economic growth in India will require improving existing protected areas and establishing new protected areas and corridors.The study, carried out by researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Duke University, and other groups, found that country’s protected area system and human cultural tolerance for some species are key to conserving the subcontinent’s tigers, elephants, and other large mammals.

The researchers created models to estimate extinction probability for 25 large mammal species, determining current species distributions along with more than 30,000 historical records from natural history, taxidermy and museum records dating back 200 years.The models were used to gauge how factors such as protected areas, forest cover, elevation, and human demographics, and cultural attitudes impact extinction predictions.The results of the analysis found that all 25 species would experience some level of local extinction due to a variety of factors such as habitat loss and human population growth and development.
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