Sometimes known as the blind cave beetle, Leptodirus hochenwartii is a species of troglobitic round fungus beetle (Leiodidae) that is endemic to caves in the western Dinaric Alps. Like other troglobites L. hochenwartii is highly adapted for life underground, as it has elongated legs and antennae, reduced eyes, and an absence of pigment. Due to its isolated environment much of the ecology of L. hochenwartii is unknown, however several individuals have been seen feeding on carcasses.
Also known as Gastornis giganteus, the Eocene Diatryma may or may not fall within the range of species included in the Paleocene European genus Gastornis. Known from New Mexico and Wyoming, with possible footprints in Washington, Diatryma/Gastornis was a 6ft tall flightless bird.
Originally thought to be related to ratites and then possibly to cranes, most modern analyses show that it was a member of the duck lineage, though one unpublished study has suggested it may in fact be an advanced, herbivorous terror bird.
Incredible Encounter: Whales Devour European Eels In the Darkness of the Ocean Depths
by Jeremy Hance
The Critically Endangered European eel makes one of the most astounding migrations in the wild kingdom. After spending most of its life in Europe’s freshwater rivers, the eel embarks on an undersea odyssey, traveling 6,000 kilometers (3,720 miles) to the Sargasso Sea where it will spawn and die. The long-journeying eels larva than make their way back to Europe over nearly a year.
Yet by tracking adult European eels (Anguilla anguilla) with electronic data loggers, scientists have discovered that some eels never make it to their spawning ground, but instead are swallowed-up in the depths by leviathans.
"It turns out that eels are hunted and eaten by whales. It happens in surprisingly deep waters where we normally think that the eels would be safe", says Magnus Wahlberg from Southern University who headed the study that appears in Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. "We do not know exactly which whale species are at play, but a good guess would be the pilot whale."
But how did scientists determine that whales prey on the eels?
After heavy flooding across southern England, there are calls for beavers to be reintroduced. Would they help, asks Tom de Castella.
You might assume beavers cause floods. They build dams to create waterlogged habitats. But some supporters say they can actually prevent flooding by keeping more water in uplands, away from people. “Beavers build dams and they complicate and slow down water,” Louise Ramsay, from the Scottish Wild Beaver Group, told the BBC. “They braid the streams [creating a network of small channels] and they will block ditches.”
There is still flooding but the ideal is for it to happen upstream in upland areas where less harm will be done. “You’ll have lots of little pools. You’ve got the water coming more slowly down from the uplands into the low ground.”…
Seeleyosaurus is an extinct genus of plesiosaur. It is known from a large almost complete skeleton from the Upper Lias (Toarcian) of Württemberg. There seems to be the impression of a rhomboidal flap of skin in a vertical plane.
The Sulphur Shelf fungus (Laetiporus sulphureus), aka “Chicken of the Woods” is among the most familiar and visually striking fungi in North America, east of the Rockies, and Europe. It is parasitic, and grows on the base of the trunk of living hardwood trees. It is considered a rather tasty and desirable edible fungus…
Before farming began to spread across Europe some 8500 years ago, the continent’s occupants were hunter-gatherers. They were unable to digest starch and milk, according to a new ancient DNA study of a nearly 8000-year-old human skeleton from Spain.
But these original occupants did already possess immune defenses against some of the diseases that would later become the scourge of civilization, and they apparently had dark skin. The findings are helping researchers understand what genetic and biological changes humans went through as they made the transition from hunting and gathering to farming.
The rise of farming about 10,000 years ago was one of the most dramatic events in human history. Europe’s farmers came originally from the Middle East and migrated west via Greece and Bulgaria. For decades, the only way scientists could study these events was by extrapolating back from the genetics of modern-day Europeans, a rough guide at best to what had happened in the past.
But over the past several years, ever more sophisticated techniques for extracting and sequencing DNA from ancient skeletons have opened the window on to the genetics of ancient hunter-gatherers and farmers alike, allowing researchers to not only trace their movements and interactions but also how the rise of farming changed their biology…
The harvest mouse, Micromys minutus, is a small rodent native to Europe and Asia. It is typically found in fields of cereal crops such as wheat and oats, in reed beds and in other tall ground vegetation, such as long grass and hedgerows.
This little mouse is an adept climber and typically feeds up in the stalk-zone of long reeds and grasses. Depending on the time of year, it feeds on grass seeds, cereals, berries, insects, fruits and the young shoots of grasses
The Emerald-Green Blister Beetle aka Spanish Fly, Lytta vesicatoria, is actually a blister beetle in the family Meloidae. This species contains a high concentration of cantharidin, a strong poison that induces heavy blistering upon contact.
Preparations of desiccated Spanish flies are among the world’s oldest aphrodisiacs, with a reputation dating back to the early western Mediterranean classical civilizations. In ancient China, the beetles were mixed with human excrement, arsenic and wolfsbane to make the world’s first recorded stink bomb. Today, cantharidin is used as a topical application for treatment of benign epithelial growths including warts.
The Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), is a bird in the pheasant family (Phasianidae). It is native to Asia and has been widely introduced elsewhere as a game bird. In parts of its range, namely in places where none of its relatives occur such as in Europe (where it is naturalized), it is simply known as the “pheasant”. Ring-necked Pheasant is both the name used for the species as a whole in North America and also the collective name for a number of subspecies and their intergrades which have white neck rings…