dendroica

realmonstrosities:

Galeruca tanaceti is but one of several species of Leaf Beetle who become bulbous, bulging and bloated during the mating season.

They put on so much weight that they positively balloon, and their wing cases can no longer cover their body!

It’s only the females who get in this state and it’s all for producing lots and lots of eggs.

Images: Malcolm Storey/Udo Schmidt

Dioctria atricapilla is a species of robber fly in the subfamily Dasypogoninae, found in grassy environs throughout Eurasia. Measuring 9–12 millimetres (0.35–0.47 in) in length, with a 7–9 mm (0.28–0.35 in) wingspan, it feeds mainly on smaller flies and predatory hymenopterans.
Photo: Richard Bartz                                                        via: Wikipedia

Dioctria atricapilla is a species of robber fly in the subfamily Dasypogoninae, found in grassy environs throughout Eurasia. Measuring 9–12 millimetres (0.35–0.47 in) in length, with a 7–9 mm (0.28–0.35 in) wingspan, it feeds mainly on smaller flies and predatory hymenopterans.

Photo: Richard Bartz                                                        via: Wikipedia

The Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) is a large diving duck which breeds in the lowland marshes and lakes of southern Europe and Central Asia and winters in the Indian Subcontinent and Africa. This specimen was photographed in the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. These gregarious birds are classified least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Photo: David Iliff                                                                   via: Wikipedia

The Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) is a large diving duck which breeds in the lowland marshes and lakes of southern Europe and Central Asia and winters in the Indian Subcontinent and Africa. This specimen was photographed in the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. These gregarious birds are classified least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Photo: David Iliff                                                                   via: Wikipedia

The Ottoman Viper - Vipera xanthina is a venomous viper species found in northeastern Greece and Turkey, as well as certain islands in the Aegean Sea. The species, which averages 70–95 cm (27.6–37.4 in) in length, feeds on small mammals and birds.
Photo: Benny Trapp                                                             via: Wikipedia

The Ottoman Viper - Vipera xanthina is a venomous viper species found in northeastern Greece and Turkey, as well as certain islands in the Aegean Sea. The species, which averages 70–95 cm (27.6–37.4 in) in length, feeds on small mammals and birds.

Photo: Benny Trapp                                                             via: Wikipedia

SCIENCE:  A tale of two crows Despite frequently exchanging their genes in two distinct zones in Europe where their ranges overlap, the all-black carrion crow and the gray-coated hooded crow maintain very different plumages. 
Now, a new study suggests that the genetic differences keeping these two species separate are limited to less than one percent of the birds’ genomes. 
To explore what keeps the two phenotypically distinct, Jelmer Poelstra and colleagues compared the genomes of 60 crows — some Corvus corone and others Corvus cornix — from their so-called hybrid (or overlapping range) zones in Europe and found that varied expression of just a few genes (less than 0.28 percent of the entire genome) was enough to maintain different coloration between the two species…
read the paper here:  http://bit.ly/1soUVBS 
Image: Wikicommons

SCIENCE:  A tale of two crows

Despite frequently exchanging their genes in two distinct zones in Europe where their ranges overlap, the all-black carrion crow and the gray-coated hooded crow maintain very different plumages.

Now, a new study suggests that the genetic differences keeping these two species separate are limited to less than one percent of the birds’ genomes.

To explore what keeps the two phenotypically distinct, Jelmer Poelstra and colleagues compared the genomes of 60 crows — some Corvus corone and others Corvus cornix — from their so-called hybrid (or overlapping range) zones in Europe and found that varied expression of just a few genes (less than 0.28 percent of the entire genome) was enough to maintain different coloration between the two species…

read the paper here:  http://bit.ly/1soUVBS

Image: Wikicommons

Birds evolve ‘signature’ patterns to distinguish cuckoo eggs from their own
For some birds, recognising their own eggs can be a matter of life or death. In a new study, scientists have shown that many birds affected by the parasitic Common Cuckoo - which lays its lethal offspring in other birds’ nests - have evolved distinctive patterns on their eggs in order to distinguish them from those laid by a cuckoo cheat.
The study reveals that these signature patterns provide a powerful defense against cuckoo trickery, helping host birds to reject cuckoo eggs before they hatch and destroy the host’s own brood. 
To determine how a bird brain might perceive and recognize complex pattern information, Dr Mary Caswell Stoddard at Harvard University and Professor Rebecca Kilner and Dr Christopher Town at the University of Cambridge developed a new computer vision tool, NATUREPATTERNMATCH. The tool extracts and compares recognizable features in visual scenes, recreating processes known to be important for recognition tasks in vertebrates…
(read more: PhysOrg)
photos: David Kjaer (left) and Mary Caswell Stoddard/Natural History Museum, UK (centre, right)

Birds evolve ‘signature’ patterns to distinguish cuckoo eggs from their own

For some birds, recognising their own eggs can be a matter of life or death. In a new study, scientists have shown that many birds affected by the parasitic Common Cuckoo - which lays its lethal offspring in other birds’ nests - have evolved distinctive patterns on their eggs in order to distinguish them from those laid by a cuckoo cheat.

The study reveals that these signature patterns provide a powerful defense against cuckoo trickery, helping host birds to reject cuckoo eggs before they hatch and destroy the host’s own brood. 

To determine how a bird brain might perceive and recognize complex pattern information, Dr Mary Caswell Stoddard at Harvard University and Professor Rebecca Kilner and Dr Christopher Town at the University of Cambridge developed a new computer vision tool, NATUREPATTERNMATCH. The tool extracts and compares recognizable features in visual scenes, recreating processes known to be important for recognition tasks in vertebrates…

(read more: PhysOrg)

photos: David Kjaer (left) and Mary Caswell Stoddard/Natural History Museum, UK (centre, right)

palaeopedia
palaeopedia:

The mediterranean Monk Seal, Monachus monachus (1779)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : CarnivoraSuborder : PinnipediaFamily : PhocidaeGenus : MonachusSpecies : M. monachus
Critically endangered
2,4 m long and 300 kg (size)
Mediterranean sea (map)
The monk seals’ pups are about a meter long and weigh around 15–18 kilograms, their skin being covered by 1–1.5 centimeter-long, dark brown to black hair. On their bellies, there is a white stripe, which differs in color between the two sexes. This hair is replaced after six to eight weeks by the usual short hair adults carry.
Pregnant Mediterranean monk seals typically use inaccessible undersea caves while giving birth, though historical descriptions show they used open beaches until the 18th century. There are eight pairs of teeth in both jaws.
Believed to have the shortest hair of any pinniped, the Mediterranean monk seal fur is black (males) or brown to dark grey (females), with a paler belly, which is close to white in males. The snout is short broad and flat, with very pronounced, long nostrils that face upward, unlike their Hawaiian relative, which tend to have more forward nostrils. The flippers are relatively short, with small slender claws. Monk seals have two pairs of retractable abdominal teats, unlike most other pinnipeds…
(read more)

palaeopedia:

The mediterranean Monk Seal, Monachus monachus (1779)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Carnivora
Suborder : Pinnipedia
Family : Phocidae
Genus : Monachus
Species : M. monachus

  • Critically endangered
  • 2,4 m long and 300 kg (size)
  • Mediterranean sea (map)

The monk seals’ pups are about a meter long and weigh around 15–18 kilograms, their skin being covered by 1–1.5 centimeter-long, dark brown to black hair. On their bellies, there is a white stripe, which differs in color between the two sexes. This hair is replaced after six to eight weeks by the usual short hair adults carry.

Pregnant Mediterranean monk seals typically use inaccessible undersea caves while giving birth, though historical descriptions show they used open beaches until the 18th century. There are eight pairs of teeth in both jaws.

Believed to have the shortest hair of any pinniped, the Mediterranean monk seal fur is black (males) or brown to dark grey (females), with a paler belly, which is close to white in males. The snout is short broad and flat, with very pronounced, long nostrils that face upward, unlike their Hawaiian relative, which tend to have more forward nostrils. The flippers are relatively short, with small slender claws. Monk seals have two pairs of retractable abdominal teats, unlike most other pinnipeds…

(read more)

Continental swallowtail breeding in UK for first time 
Conservationists say spectacular butterfly seen hatching along the south coast, and could establish permanent foothold
by Patrick Barkham   
Britain may have a spectacular new butterfly: dozens of continental swallowtails have been spotted along the south coast after being filmed emerging from pupae in gardens and allotments for the first time.
Unprecedented footage, which will be broadcast on Springwatch tonight, shows the first British generation of this charismatic, colourful butterfly hatching out in an ordinary garden after large caterpillars were spotted feeding in suburban Chichester, Eastbourne and Hastings last summer.
It raises hopes among butterfly lovers that the continental swallowtail will establish a permanent foothold in Britain, the first of potentially dozens of exciting new colonists created by climate change…
(read more: Guardian UK)
image: Matt Berry/Butterfly Conservation

Continental swallowtail breeding in UK for first time 

Conservationists say spectacular butterfly seen hatching along the south coast, and could establish permanent foothold

by Patrick Barkham   

Britain may have a spectacular new butterfly: dozens of continental swallowtails have been spotted along the south coast after being filmed emerging from pupae in gardens and allotments for the first time.

Unprecedented footage, which will be broadcast on Springwatch tonight, shows the first British generation of this charismatic, colourful butterfly hatching out in an ordinary garden after large caterpillars were spotted feeding in suburban Chichester, Eastbourne and Hastings last summer.

It raises hopes among butterfly lovers that the continental swallowtail will establish a permanent foothold in Britain, the first of potentially dozens of exciting new colonists created by climate change…

(read more: Guardian UK)

image: Matt Berry/Butterfly Conservation

oakapples

oakapples:

Spot the difference. At the top is the endemic British subspecies of the Old World Swallowtail, Papilio machaon ssp. britannicus, which is largely restricted to the area around the Norfolk Broads. Below is the continental subspecies, P. machaon ssp. gorganus. There’s much excitement in the lepidopterist community at the moment, as numerous sightings of the latter subspecies emerging from pupae in the south of England are fuelling speculation that successful breeding colonies of this beautiful butterfly may be becoming established.

Dioctria atricapilla is a species of robber fly in the subfamily Dasypogoninae, found in grasslands and grassy habitats throughout Eurasia. Measuring 9–12 mm (0.35–0.47 in) in length, with a 7–9 mm (0.28–0.35 in) wingspan, it feeds mainly on smaller flies and predatory hymenopterans.
Photo: Richard Bartz                                                           via: Wikipedia

Dioctria atricapilla is a species of robber fly in the subfamily Dasypogoninae, found in grasslands and grassy habitats throughout Eurasia. Measuring 9–12 mm (0.35–0.47 in) in length, with a 7–9 mm (0.28–0.35 in) wingspan, it feeds mainly on smaller flies and predatory hymenopterans.

Photo: Richard Bartz                                                           via: Wikipedia