Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are an endangered species that lives in the Gulf of Mexico.
The only time a sea turtle will come out of the water is to lay eggs or their sick. This sea turtle mama is laying her eggs on South Padre Island. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the smallest of the five sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners with an nonprofit organization, Sea Turtle Inc, for the protection of all sea turtles. Majority of the sea turtles that nest on South Padre Island are the Kemp’s ridley.
Two male Texas Tortoises (Gopherus berlandieri) get they scrap on over some territory and females, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, southern Texas, USA. The Texas tortoise is a threatened species.
A rare albino green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) swims in a tank at the Sea Turtle Reserve Centre in Kosgoda, Sri Lanka. The centre collects turtle eggs from the beaches for hatching before poachers remove them as they are considered a delicacy. Once hatched the small turtles are let free in the sea. (2010)
A newly discovered dome-headed, dog-size dinosaur suggests that small dinos were more diverse than paleontologists have realized.
The dinosaur, discovered in Alberta, Canada, is named Acrotholus audeti; Acrotholus means “high dome,” as the new dinosaur was a pachycephalosaur, a group known for their thick, bony skulls. The new specimen is the oldest pachycephalosaur ever found in North America, and rivals the oldest specimen in the world, scientists report today (May 7) in the journal Nature Communications.
“Acrotholus provides a wealth of new information on the evolution of bone-headed dinosaurs. Although it is one of the earliest known members of this group, its thickened skull dome is surprisingly well-developed for its geological age,” said study researcher David Evans, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum…
The origins of winged flight is a hotly debated topic in paleontology. A study published last year in Science suggests that wings and feathers may have evolved in dinosaurs earlier than previously thought. When researchers took a closer look at several fossil specimens of Ornithomimus edmontonicus, they found winglike forelimbs and hundreds of traces of filaments suggestive of feathers. Ornithomimus belongs to a group of dinosaurs that appears in the fossil record millions of years before maniraptorans, the group of feathered dinosaurs that survives today as birds, the findings hint at even earlier evolutionary origins of wings and feathers.
O. edmontonicuswas no flier, however. The researchers estimate it weighed 150 kilograms (330 pounds), so it’s wings more likely served some other function, perhaps in courtship or brooding.
Image: Julius Csotonyi (above)/Royal Tyrrell Museum (below)
If Nyasasaurus parringtoni isn’t the earliest dinosaur, it’s the closest thing to it that scientists have found so far. Working from an upper arm bone and six vertebrae found in Tanzania in the 1930s, researchers surmise that Nyasasaurus would have been about the size of a Labrador retriever, but with a much longer tail. In a paper published last year in Biology Letters.
They argue that it lived in the southern part of the supercontinent Pangea about 243 million years ago, predating all other known dinosaurs by at least 10 million years.
Meet the oldest boneheaded dinosaur in North America, and possibly in the world. Acrotholus audeti was identified from two solid bone skull caps found in southern Alberta, Canada. The bony domes are 10 cms (4 in) thick. The researchers who describe the new species this week in Nature Communications say their find hints at the possibility of more discoveries of small, plant-eating dinosaurs to come.
Tortoise Trafficking Raging Out of Control in Madagascar
Conservation groups urge authorities to clamp down on black market trade
WCS Press release
Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,000 individual tortoises have been seized from would-be smugglers.
Illegal trafficking of two critically endangered tortoise species from Madagascar has reached epidemic proportions, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Turtle Survival Alliance, Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, Turtle Conservancy, Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund and other groups who urge authorities to clamp down on wildlife smuggling before some species are collected out of existence.
According to the groups, more than 1,000 radiated and ploughshare tortoises have been confiscated from smugglers in the first three months of 2013 alone. In late March, 54 ploughshare tortoises made it as far as Thailand before being seized by authorities. A recent report by TRAFFIC states that the radiated tortoise is now the most common tortoise for sale in Bangkok’s infamous Chatuchak wildlife market.
The groups say that since the beginning of Madagascar’s continuing political crisis in 2009, smuggling has increased by at least ten-fold due to weak governance and rule-of-law. In addition, erosion of cultural protection of the tortoises for short term monetary gain has contributed to their sharp decline. In the past, tortoises were protected by “fady” – a local belief that harming the tortoises is taboo. However, with years of drought and increasing levels of poverty, people from regions outside the tortoise’s natural range, who do not practice these types of fady, are capturing and illegally selling tortoises…
Feathered Dinosaurs were Diverse, Like Darwin’s Finches
by Megan Gannon
Flightless feathered dinosaurs with parrotlike beaks and long, skinny claws that scampered around North America may have been the Darwin’s finches of the Late Cretaceous era.
Fossils of at least five species of vegetarian birdlike dinosaurs known as caenagnathids have been found from West Texas to Canada with wide variation in their beak shapes and body size, giving scientists clues about how the small creatures could coexist by carving out different dietary niches.
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was famously inspired by the diversity of beak shapes among finches on the Galapagos Islands, which he took as a sign that the birds had somehow adapted to the specific environments where they lived. More recent research has shown that Darwin’s finches can evolve quite quickly. For instance, one species shrunk its beak size to better compete with another bird for small seeds in a mere two decades.
Millions of years ago, different species of caenagnathids may have similarly adjusted their beak size across western North America…
(illustration by Nicholas R. Longrich/Yale - This new species, Leptorhynchos (“little jaw”) gaddisi, belongs to a broader group of bird-like dinosaurs characterized by toothless beaks and long, slender claws.)
The Cape Gopher Snake aka Baja Gopher Snake (Pituophis vertebralis) is found in arid habitat along the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. They attain a length of up to 18 inches (48cm). Baja gophers feed on a variety of birds, bird’s eggs, and small mammals in the wild. They are know to be a nervous and aggressive species, if cornered or handled.
… is endemic to the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. This species was once present across the archipelago, including the large islands of Mallorca and Menorca. Today it is only found on small, rocky islands with no human inhabitants. Morphologically distinct subspecies have emerged on many of these isolated islands.