Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pink iguana discovered on Galapagos

Posted in Animals by admin | Tags: , , ,

A new species of iguana with unusual pink skin has been discovered by scientists on the island where Charles Darwin first developed his theory of evolution.

SCIENCE Iguana 125439

The large lizard, which is at risk of extinction, has rose-coloured scales and only lives on one volcano in the Galapagos Islands.

Darwin, whose 200th birthday will be celebrated on February 12, observed both marine and land iguanas when he visited the archipelago in 1835.

The way the creatures adapted themselves to their surroundings helped to develop his revolutionary ideas about natural selection.

But he never explored the Volcan Wolf volcano on the island of Isabela and therefore did not see the pink iguana.

The creature was first spotted in 1986 by park rangers but was dismissed as a curiosity and soon forgotten.

It is only now that scientists have discovered that the “rosada” – or pink – iguana is a species in its own right after comparing its genes with other land iguanas on the Galapagos.

There were also physical differences, besides the striking pink and black-striped colouring. Pink iguanas had flat head scales, unlike other land iguanas, and a thick fatty crest on the back of the neck with small conical scales.

Action is now needed to prevent this scientifically valuable creature becoming extinct, say the researchers writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The discovery comes as seventeen previously unknown species of reptiles and amphibians were found in the threatened rainforests of eastern Tanzania.

The new species, which include chameleons, tree frogs and snakes, were discovered by scientists from the Natural Science Museum of Trento in Italy.

The discovery shows the rich biodiversity of the area which is under threat from fire, logging, collection of wood for fuel and land clearance for cultivation.

The Mysterious Mimic Octopus

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While persons with dissociative disorders, or multiple personalities, have been known to have as many as 100 personalities, they have not been known to morph into totally different creatures — except in the movies, of course
. But one cephalopod, the Indo-Malayan octopus, totally transforms itself into at least 15 different sea animals. So far, at least, the Indo-Malayan octopus is the ultimate biomimic — life imitating life.

Here is the Indo Malayan octopus in its natural state, sitting on a burrow of sand…

octopus The Mysterious Mimic Octopus
Photographs by M. Norman and R. SteenePhotographs by M. Norman and R. Steene

Some animals, particularly certain species of birds and fish, are known to change colors to attract mates or to camouflage themselves to protect against predators. The Indo-Malayan octopus, first identified in 1998, has not had many years under man’s proverbial microscope, so much about how the octopus developed his many skins is not known. But in the meantime, it’s fascinating to study.

First observed by Mark Norman, Julian Finn, and Tom Tregenza on research dives in Indonesia, these unusual mimics were observed in many disguises during a 24 hour period. The researchers photographed the octopus in many phases, as the photos below will show.

Here the octopus is shown foraging for food, using the tips of its arms to probe down holes and the flared web-like part of their arms to trap anything trying to escape from the holes… almost like digging finger tips at the end of clasping hands.

b The Mysterious Mimic Octopus
Photographs by M. Norman and R. SteenePhotographs by M. Norman and R. Steene

When moving, the Indo-Malayan octopus draws its arms together into a leaf shape.

c The Mysterious Mimic Octopus
Photographs by M. Norman and R. SteenePhotographs by M. Norman and R. Steene

In the next photo, the octopus seems to mimic a particular kind of sole fish found abundantly in the same waters.

d 0 The Mysterious Mimic Octopus
Photographs by M. Norman and R. SteenePhotographs by M. Norman and R. Steene

Here, the mimic octopus is swimming like a lion fish…

eimg assist custom The Mysterious Mimic Octopus
Photographs by M. Norman and R. SteenePhotographs by M. Norman and R. Steene

… sometimes with its “poisonous” spines flared, as below. (In the lion fish those spines are poisonous; it is not suspected that they are poisonous in the octopus, only that the octopus is mimicking the appearance and movements of the lion fish for protective purposes.)

f The Mysterious Mimic Octopus
Photographs by M. Norman and R. SteenePhotographs by M. Norman and R. Steene

In the next two photos the octopus is mimicking a banded sea-snake.
gimg assist custom The Mysterious Mimic Octopus
Photographs by M. Norman and R. SteenePhotographs by M. Norman and R. Steene

h 0 The Mysterious Mimic Octopus
Photographs by M. Norman and R. SteenePhotographs by M. Norman and R. Steene

Mark Norman and his fellow researchers have included some short videos of their octopus subjects in their study. Here is one submitted to YouTube by member Marcelnad that is a bit longer.

There are two very striking observances made of this sea character, the Indo-Malayan octopus. One is that some of the 15 species of sea life are likely never to have been observed by the octopus, and the other is that when facing a predator, the octopus will become that predator’s most fearful predator. How does the octopus know how to become something that it has never observed? How does it know what is most feared by its own predator?

The answers are not known yet. What is know is that the Indo-Malayan octopus will likely be a subject of study for a long time. What can technology learn from the observing the mysterious mimic octopus?

The Sky Can be Incredible

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The sky is the part of the atmosphere or of outer space visible from the surface of any astronomical object. It is difficult to define precisely for several reasons. During daylight, the sky of Earth has the appearance of a deep blue surface because of the air‘s scattering of sunlight. The sky is sometimes defined as the denser gaseous zone of a planet’s atmosphere. At night the sky has the appearance of a black surface or region scattered with stars.

During the day the Sun can be seen in the sky, unless covered by clouds. In the night sky (and to some extent during the day) the moon, planets and stars are visible in the sky. Some of the natural phenomena seen in the sky are clouds, rainbows, and aurorae. Lightning and precipitation can also be seen in the sky during storms. On Earth, birds, insects, aircraft, and kites are often considered to fly in the sky. As a result of human activities, smog during the day and light radiance during the night are often seen above large cities (see also light pollution).

In the field of astronomy, the sky is also called the celestial sphere. This is an imaginary dome where the sun, stars, planets, and the moon are seen to be traveling. The celestial sphere is divided into regions called constellations.

See skies of other planets for descriptions of the skies of various planets and moons in the solar system.

Light from the sky is a result of the scattering of sunlight, which results in a blue color perceived by the human eye. On a sunny day Rayleigh Scattering gives the sky a blue gradient — dark in the zenith, light near the horizon. Light that comes in from overhead encounters 1/38th of the air mass that light coming along a horizon path encounters. So, fewer particles scatter the zenith sunbeam, and therefore the light remains a darker blue.

The sky can turn a multitude of colors such as red, orange and yellow (especially near sunset or sunrise) and black at night. Scattering effects also partially polarize light from the sky.

Sky luminance distribution models have been recommended by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) for the design of daylighting schemes. Recent developments relate to “all sky models” for modelling sky luminance under weather conditions ranging from clear sky to overcast.