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Sun, 29 Mar 2020
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Swarms of bats dropping dead in Israel

Bat at night
© CC0
Some studies earlier suggested that the new coronavirus had been caused by bats, and although this theory has not been confirmed, Israeli media has suggested that that the recent mysterious deaths of the nocturnal creatures could have come as a punishment for the onset of global disease or as a sign of something even more dreadful.

Swarms of dead bats with no physical signs of trauma were spotted across Israel, raising questions and fears about the end-of-days omen.

The photos of the dead creatures lying in Gan Leumi Park in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan were first shared by Adi Moskowitz on Facebook, who asked for an explanation to the mysterious phenomenon. Similar photos and videos were published by some other users in neighbouring cities, according to Breaking Israel News, which was suspicious of the death plague among bats and even linked it to a biblical prophecy about the end of humanity as it is.
"I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the sky And the fish of the sea. I will make the wicked stumble, And I will destroy mankind From the face of the earth — declares Hashem", says Zephaniah 1:3, which was used by Breaking Israel News website to explain the mysterious development.
Several social media users and experts have suggested that the reason for the happening could have either been unusually cold weekends, or recently installed 5G technologies nearby, but these theories have remained unconfirmed.

Comment: And in other recent bat-news:


Squids can edit their own genes

Giant Axon in Squid
© Vallecillo-Viejo et al, Nucl. Acids Res., 2020.
Top, schematic of squid anatomy showing the location of the “giant axon,” an unusually large neural projection that partly controls the squid’s jet propulsion system, used for very fast movement, attacks and escapes. Below, schematic of a neuron, showing the location of the nucleus where all RNA editing was previously thought to occur, and the axon, where local RNA editing was identified in squid.
Woods Hole, Mass. - Revealing yet another super-power in the skillful squid, scientists have discovered that squid massively edit their own genetic instructions not only within the nucleus of their neurons, but also within the axon — the long, slender neural projections that transmit electrical impulses to other neurons. This is the first time that edits to genetic information have been observed outside of the nucleus of an animal cell.

The study, led by Isabel C. Vallecillo-Viejo and Joshua Rosenthal at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, is published this week in Nucleic Acids Research.

The discovery provides another jolt to the central dogma of molecular biology, which states that genetic information is passed faithfully from DNA to messenger RNA to the synthesis of proteins. In 2015, Rosenthal and colleagues discovered that squid "edit" their messenger RNA instructions to an extraordinary degree - orders of magnitude more than humans do — allowing them to fine-tune the type of proteins that will be produced in the nervous system.


Boy dies in hospital after being attacked by dogs at home in Dublin

dog attack
The eight-year-old boy who was mauled by two Rottweilers at his Dublin home on Sunday has died.

The child has been named locally as Glen Murphy.

He had suffered devastating injuries to his head and body in the vicious mauling on Sunday afternoon and died in Crumlin Children's Hospital yesterday.

It is believed that the horrific attack, which lasted up to 10 minutes, was caught on CCTV.

The security footage is being examined by gardaí, and is believed to have recorded the horrific incident.


100 cattle egrets and 9 crows found dead in Uttar Pradesh, India

dead birds
Nearly 100 cattle egrets (birds) and nine crows were found dead under mysterious circumstances at two different sites in Aligarh's Sasnigate and AMU campus in UP on Thursday morning.

Following the reports, the university directed their provosts to stop serving chicken in dinning halls amid fears of bird flu.

Talking to TOI, district magistrate CB Singh said that after receiving information, forest officials rushed to the spot and sent one of the dead birds for post-mortem and buried the remaining. He said the exact cause of death will be known from the autopsy report.

Eye 2

Signs and Portents: Snake gives birth to two-headed baby in Australia

2 headed
© Direct Vet Services
A local man who caught a snake and took it to his local vet for a check over has made a creepy discovery after the reptile gave birth inside the bag in which it was being carried.

Steward Gatt, known to Wyndham locals as Stewy the Snake Catcher, captured the Tiger snake earlier this week.

However, when he opened the bag to release the animal he found it had given birth to a bunch of slithering babies.

But that was far from the end of it, with a closer inspection finding one of the baby snakes had been born with two heads.

Stewart says he took the mother snake and her offspring to a local vet.


Parasites in raw fish have risen dramatically, study finds

Anisakis Worms
Anisakis worms in blue whiting fish.
The presence of parasitic worms in raw or undercooked seafood, popular in dishes such as sushi, sashimi, poke and carpaccio, has increased 283-fold since the 1970s, according to a study published in the journal Global Change Biology.

The parasite, called Anisakis or "herring worm" is found in several species of fish and squid. When people inadvertently eat the worm, it can attach to the intestinal wall and cause symptoms akin to food poisoning, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

This disease, known as anisakiasis or anisakidosis, often goes under the radar because people understandably mistake it for a bad case of food poisoning, says senior author Chelsea Wood from the University of Washington, US.

Usually, the worm dies after a few days in humans and the symptoms disappear, although some cases can cause more severe reactions, including acute stomach pain, and persevere for months.

In marine animals, the parasite reproduces and is expelled in their faeces, from where it can infect crustaceans, such as bottom-dwelling shrimp or copepods, which are then eaten by small fish and from there on up the food chain.

Recent upsurges in the disease from several regions including Japan, the US and Europe has led to it being labelled an emerging zoonosis; whether this due to better detection, increased raw fish consumption or more parasites is unclear.

To investigate, Wood and colleagues collated data from thousands of papers that have investigated the proliferation of this worm over time.


Dengue fever crisis grips Latin America - SIX times higher than 2019

Dengue fever patients
© YouTube/Al Jazeera English (screen capture)
Dengue fever cases are soaring in Latin America, all the way from Mexico to Chile. The mosquito-borne illness has become one of the most common reasons for hospitalisation. More than three million cases - a figure six times higher than the previous year - were reported in Latin America last year and the upward trend is continuing. One Colombian city has seen a 500 percent increase in cases in a month.

Comment: Dengue fever cases surge 200% in Mexico in 2019


Devastating swarms of locusts now headed for the Middle East - UN forecaster

© REUTERS / Njeri Mwangi
A swarm of desert locusts flying over a grazing land in Kenya.
Swarms of desert locusts have been wreaking havoc in large parts of East Africa, Iran and Pakistan, as desperate farmers struggle to fend off the marauding insects.

The most devastating plague of locusts in over 30 years is about to hit Africa and the Middle East, according to Rome-based Senior Locust Forecasting Officer Keith Cressman.

The officer, who is employed by Locust Watch, a division of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, on Monday cited the organization's most recent report forecasting that new "extremely alarming" swarms of the insects were forming in the Horn of Africa.

Comment: The unprecedented plague of locusts is just one of a number of effects likely related to our planet's increasingly erratic seasons and extreme weather patterns. We've already seen the damage early frosts, summer droughts and golf ball sized hail - to name but a few - can do to our food supply, but there are other equally disastrous knock on effects that may not be immediately apparent. And for an idea of just how some of these changes are affecting wildlife, a recent article Spring arriving earlier across the US throwing wildlife into disarray notes:
Warmer spring temperatures have also led beetles, moths and butterflies to emerge earlier than in recent years. Similarly, hibernating species like frogs and bears emerge from hibernation earlier in warm springs.All species don't respond to warming the same way. When species that depend on one another — such as pollinating insects and plants seeking pollination - don't respond similarly to changing conditions, populations suffer.

In Japan, the spring-flowering ephemeral Corydalis ambigua produces fewer seeds than in previous decades because it now flowers earlier than when bumblebees, its primary pollinators, are active.

See also: Also check out SOTT radio's:


21 injured in suspected wolf attack in Uttar Pradesh, India


Indian wolf
As many as 21 villagers were injured in a possible wolf attack in Dhaurahra area of Lakhimpur Kheri district on Sunday night. The attacks took place in a span of a couple of hours after sunset. All the victims belonged to eight villages adjacent to the buffer zone of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. All are located within a 16-km radius comprising some 20 villages.

Some of the victims claimed that a lone wolf had attacked them. However, forest department officials are yet to ascertain if it was a wolf or a jackal. However, they are certain that the same carnivore attacked all the victims. They are trying to locate the animal that has created panic among the residents of nearly 20 villages in Dhaurahra. They suspect that the animal may have lost its senses after failing to get a mate and is attacking everyone or it may have become rabid.

A recent census by WWF-India had confirmed the presence of 100 Indian wolves in the Dhaurahra forests. The Indian wolf is protected under schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Black Cat

Mountain lion attacks person, bites deputy in Big Thompson Canyon, Colorado

A cougar
© Dreamstime
A cougar
The quiet of a recreational vehicle park along the lazy running Big Thompson River west of Loveland was shattered Wednesday afternoon when law enforcement shot and wounded a mountain lion that attacked a resident and a female deputy.

The animal was later killed by state wildlife officials.

The attacked occurred just after 2 p.m. at the Riverview RV Park, 2444 River Rim Road.

An eyewitness said the Larimer County Sheriff's Office deputy is lucky to be alive. She was transported to an area hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, according to LCSO spokesman David Moore.