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Mon, 05 Jun 2023
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Earth Changes


Unexpected Large Monkey Population Discovered In Cambodia: Tens Of Thousands Of Threatened Primates

A Wildlife Conservation Society report reveals surprisingly large populations of two globally threatened primates in a protected area in Cambodia.

Yellow-cheeked crested gibbon
©Matt Hunt
Yellow-cheeked crested gibbon.

The report counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs along with 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, an estimate that represents the largest known populations for both species in the world.

WCS scientists conducted the surveys with the Royal Government of Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries across an area of 300 square miles (789 square kilometers) within a wider landscape of 1,150 square miles (3,000 square kilometers), which is about the size of Yosemite National Park. The scientists believe total populations within the wider landscape may be considerably greater.


France: Firefighters tackle year's biggest fire

Hundreds of firefighters are battling to put out two fires in the south of France. Officials at Codis, the regional agency which co-ordinates firefighting, describe the blazes, which broke out on Thursday evening near each other, as "the biggest fire in the Mediterranean basin this year".

Officials say that 400 firefighters, 36 fire engines and nine water-carrying airplanes are trying to put out the flames which spread across an uninhabited and uncultivated area in mountains 15 kilometres from the southern city of Narbonne.


Strong earthquake rocks Russia's Lake Baikal

Moscow -- A strong earthquake jolted the southern part of Russia's Lake Baikal area Wednesday morning, Russian news agencies reported.

There are no reports of casualties so far.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake hits southern Iraq

The area near Iraq's border with Iran is known to be less than stable, and now it seems Mother Nature has joined smugglers and suspected militiamen in stirring up the pot there. Early today, an earthquake hit southern Iraq, centered near the Iranian border and strongly felt in the city of Amarah about 40 miles to the west.

The Voice of Iraq news agency said it measured about 5.1, but the U.S. Geological Survey put it at 5.7, not huge but big enough to frighten people unaccustomed to such things.

Life Preserver

Cuba evacuates over 33,000 as Gustav hurricane approaches

Cuba has evacuated over 33,000 people from its eastern provinces as hurricane Gustav approaches the country from the Caribbean, the Presna Latina news agency quoted emergency officials as saying.

The hurricane, accompanied by severe rains, has already swept through Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, killing at least 60 and causing major destruction to infrastructure.


Canada: Earthquake, magnitude 5.8, strikes off B.C. coast

Vancouver -- The sea floor off the B-C coast has been rocked by strongest in a series of earthquakes to hit the area this week.

This map, provided by Natural Resources Canada, uses a red star to mark the location of a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck 157 kilometres west of Port Hardy, off the north coast of Vancouver Island, on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008.


Jamaican Lizards' Shows Of Strength Mark Territory At Dawn, Dusk

What does Jack LaLanne have in common with a Jamaican lizard?

opal-bellied anole
©Terry J. Ord/Harvard University and University of California, Davis
Anolis opalinus: The opal-bellied anole was observed in the Blue Mountains, north of Kingston, Jamaica.

Like the ageless fitness guru, the lizards greet each new day with vigorous push-ups. That's according to a new study showing that male Anolis lizards engage in impressive displays of reptilian strength -- push-ups, head bobs, and threatening extension of a colorful neck flap called a dewlap -- to defend their territory at dawn and dusk.

The lizards are the first animals known to mark dawn and dusk through visual displays, rather than the much better known chirping, tweeting, and other sounding off by birds, frogs, geckos, and primates.

Terry J. Ord, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology and at the University of California, Davis, describes the Anolis lizards' unusual morning ritual in a forthcoming issue of the journal American Naturalist.

"Anoles are highly visual species, so in that sense it's not surprising that they would use visual displays to mark territory," Ord says. "Still, the finding is surprising because these are the first animals known to use non-acoustic signaling at dawn and dusk."

Eye 2

Eyes Evolved For 'X-Ray Vision'

The advantage of using two eyes to see the world around us has long been associated solely with our capacity to see in 3-D. Now, a new study from a scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has uncovered a truly eye-opening advantage to binocular vision: our ability to see through things.

The eyes of some mammals have evolved to point in the same direction. While animals with forward facing eyes lose the ability to see what's behind them, they gain X-ray vision, which makes it possible for them to see through the clutter in the world.

Most animals - fish, insects, reptiles, birds, rabbits, and horses, for example - exist in non-cluttered environments like fields or plains, and they have eyes located on either side of their head. These sideways-facing eyes allow an animal to see in front of and behind itself, an ability also known as panoramic vision.

Humans and other large mammals - primates and large carnivores like tigers, for example - exist in cluttered environments like forests or jungles, and their eyes have evolved to point in the same direction. While animals with forward-facing eyes lose the ability to see what's behind them, they gain X-ray vision, according to Mark Changizi, assistant professor of cognitive science at Rensselaer, who says eyes facing the same direction have been selected for maximizing our ability to see in leafy environments like forests.

Bizarro Earth

Gustav Floods Jamaica; Louisiana Sees Revisit of 2005

Tropical Storm Gustav pounded Jamaica with rain, flooding streets with water and mud, as Louisiana prepared for the system to strengthen into a hurricane bound for areas devastated by Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Three years to the day after Katrina left more than 80 percent of New Orleans under water, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency was on alert for Gustav and said it had food, water and supplies ready to move into the area.


New parasitic wasp discovered in Ireland

A new species of a parasitic wasp with a grisly life cycle that involves laying its eggs inside flies has been found in Ireland, Galway University said on Thursday.

The chance discovery was made by Welsh researcher Chris Williams who is studying the life-cycle of tiny snail-killing marsh flies in County Mayo in the west of the country.

Williams, who is studying for his PhD in Galway, was waiting for flies to hatch in jam jars on his desk when, to his surprise, two different species of parasitic wasp emerged instead.

"I came across two little black Marsh Fly puparia and kept them in jam jars on my desk expecting that adult Marsh Flies might hatch but what emerged were two different species of parasitic wasp," Williams said.