Friday, June 14, 2019

Mysteries of pristine Kimberley wilderness are being unravelled at last

Horizontal Falls demonstrates the extreme tides of the Kimberley.

The natural mysteries of the Kimberley, one of Australia's last pristine habitats, have been documented like never before thanks to a multi-million-dollar project.

More than 200 scientists worked over five years in collaboration with local Indigenous groups to conduct what was one of the largest marine science studies undertaken in Australia.

Kelly Waples from the WA Marine Science Institution said it had given researchers an unprecedented understanding of the region's signature reefs and wildlife, including whales, dugong and saltwater crocodiles.

Climate change a threat

With the onset of climate change and increasing levels of human activity, Dr Waples said gaining a better understanding of the Kimberley's extreme ecosystem was vital for its protection.

Isolated for thousands of years from large human populations, the Kimberley's rugged coastline and high tidal movements have allowed plant and animal species seen nowhere else to flourish.

"The way the ecosystem is set up is a bit different to other places, and we need to understand that to be able to manage the area for the future," Dr Waples said.

Research breaks ground

Researchers from 25 organisations were tasked with cataloguing the unique biodiversity and determine how it survived and co-existed in such a harsh environment.

Saltwater crocodile populations were found to be on the rebound, with a 256 per cent increase in numbers in the past 30 years.

High-priority nesting areas for marine turtles, which are being significantly affected by warming sea temperatures, were identified along the coastline.

Surveys of the sea floor found almost 2,200 species including sponges, molluscs and crustaceans.

Whale researchers now know more about the mammals' distribution throughout the Kimberley coast, including the role of Camden Sound as a major calving area for humpbacks.

Ground-breaking data also suggested that calving areas might extend along the Dampier Peninsula, a popular tourist destination north of Broome.

New species of coral were documented for the first time, as scientists tracked the recovery of reef systems from widespread bleaching linked to climate change.

Meanwhile, more evidence of elusive Australian snubfin dolphin and humpback dolphin populations were also documented in isolated areas.

Collaboration key

Working with Indigenous people was an essential part of the project that, Dr Waples said, helped to employ local knowledge and foster skills among remote community residents.

"One of the best lessons I've learned from the Kimberley is to recognise Indigenous knowledge, to recognise there was a lot of value in that," she said.

Fossils of giant new species of sea creature found on South Australia's Kangaroo Island

The fossils of a giant new species of sea creature have been found on Kangaroo Island, with experts saying it was likely the "terror" of other creatures on the seafloor.

Researchers said the discovery of a group of sea creatures called trilobites added insights to knowledge of the Cambrian explosion, the greatest diversification event in the history of life on Earth.

The fossils, called Redlichia rex, were the largest Cambrian trilobite to be discovered in Australia.
Trilobites, which had hard, calcified, armour-like skeletons over their bodies, were related to modern crustaceans and insects.

They were one of the most successful fossil animal groups, surviving for about 270 million years.
The new species was discovered at Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island, where more than 100 other species were discovered, including some with soft parts intact.

"We decided to name this new species of trilobite Redlichia rex — similar to Tyrannosaurus rex — because of its giant size, as well as its formidable legs with spines used for crushing and shredding food, which may have been other trilobites," University of Adelaide PhD student James Holmes said.

The findings were published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology by a team of scientists from the University of Adelaide, South Australian Museum and the University of New England led by Mr Holmes.

A giant of the ancient ocean

Redlichia rex is the largest Cambrian trilobite found in Australia, growing to about 30 centimetres long — or twice the length of other trilobites of about the same age.

"Interestingly, trilobite specimens from the Emu Bay Shale — including Redlichia rex — exhibit injuries that were caused by shell-crushing predators," said senior study author Associate Professor Diego Garcia-Bellido, from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Museum.

"There are also large specimens of fossilised poo — or coprolites — containing trilobite fragments in this fossil deposit."

Mr Holmes said one of the major drivers of the Cambrian explosion was likely an evolutionary "arms race" between predators and prey.

"The overall size and crushing legs of Redlichia rex are a likely consequence of the arms race that occurred at this time," Mr Holmes said.

Specimens of Redlichia rex and other Emu Bay Shale fossils are on display in the South Australian Museum.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

15 major ancient Celtic gods and goddesses you should know about

15 Major Ancient Celtic Gods And Goddesses You Should Know About

When it comes to the all the way from the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and Ireland to the frontiers of Liguria in Italy and the upper Danube. Suffice it to say, their mythology rather mirrored this multifarious scope, with various tribes, chiefdoms, and even later kingdoms having their own set of folklore and pantheons.

Reconstructions of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Reconstructions Of The Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World

From the historical perspective, the list of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World comes to us from an incomplete manuscript known as the Seven Sights of the World (which incidentally only listed six monuments), possibly authored by Philo of Byzantium in circa 225 BC.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mummified cats and beetles found in ancient Egyptian tombs

Mummified cats and beetles found in ancient Egyptian tombs

Updated November 11, 2018 14:48:33 Archaeologists have discovered a rare collection of mummified scarab beetles, as well as an apparently pristine Fifth Dynasty tomb they plan to open in the coming weeks. The mummified beetles were among artefacts found in seven tombs discovered over the past six months on the edge of the King Userkaf pyramid complex at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo.

'Wild speculation': Scientist who found mystery space object dismisses alien theory

'Wild speculation': Scientist who found mystery space object dismisses alien theory

Posted November 14, 2018 11:35:31 The scientist who discovered a mysterious cigar-shaped space object says suggestions by Harvard astronomers it is an alien probe are "wild speculation". When 'Oumuamua - a Hawaiian word meaning "a messenger from afar arriving first" - was detected last year, it became the first object originating beyond our solar system to be observed in our vicinity.

Signs of alien super-Earth planet detected around lonely star near us

Signs of alien super-Earth planet detected around lonely star near us

After decades of searching, astronomers say they've finally detected compelling evidence of an alien world orbiting one of the closest and most iconic stars in our cosmic neighbourhood. Barnard's star, a small red dwarf star in the constellation of Ophiuchus, is a favourite of astronomers and sci-fi fans.