Thursday, December 11, 2014

DISASTER PRECURSORS: Omen – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Mass Animal Die-Offs, Appearance Of Rare Creatures And Warnings From Mother Nature!

December 11, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.


Remains of humpback whale found in Corolla, North Carolina

The whale was first discovered off Pine Island.  © Karen Clark

What remained of a badly decomposed juvenile humpback whale washed up off Corolla on Friday, then was swept away by the nor'easter, only to turn up Monday five miles to the south in Duck.

The Outer Banks Marine Mammal Stranding Network received a phone call Friday about a large dead whale floating off the sand bar in Pine Island, according to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission program coordinator Karen Clark.

"On Saturday the team measured a 34-foot juvenile male humpback whale with severe scavenging," Clark said. "Externally there was nothing indicative for cause of death."

Biologists were going conduct a necropsy on the cetacean and then the carcass was to be buried above the high tide line, but the weather turned, the beach became inaccessible, and the remains were gone by Sunday afternoon.

The next morning, the body of a dead whale was spotted just south of the Army Corps of Engineers Research Pier in Duck.

"A team from the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education confirmed that it was half of a humpback whale of the same approximate size and description as the previously sighted animal," Clark said. "The condition of the animal was too decomposed for an external exam but skin was collected for genetics."

Video posted on Facebook by Carolina Designs Realty showed the whale being buried on the beach Tuesday afternoon.

Humpback whales migrate from the cool waters off New England to spawning grounds in tropical waters. - Outerbanksvoice.


New species of bivalve mollusk discovered in depths of Arctic Ocean

New species of bivalve mollusk was recently described
and named Wallerconcha sarae.  © Paul Valentich-Scott
In the depths of the Arctic Ocean, buried deep in the sediment, an ancient creature waited for over a million years to be discovered. Paul Valentich-Scott, from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (California), and three scientists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS, Menlo Park, California), Charles L. Powell, Brian D. Edwards, and Thomas D. Lorenson were up to the challenge. Each with different expertise, they were able to collect, analyze, and identify a new genus and new species of bivalve mollusk.

The path to discovery is seldom simple or easy. This discovery is no exception. Brian Edwards was the chief scientist on a joint US-Canadian ice breaker expedition aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the summer of 2010. The primary purpose of the expedition was to map the Arctic seafloor and the sediments beneath. Dr. Edwards took deep sediment core samples to further understand the geology of the region including the unusual seafloor mound where these samples were collected. In several of these cores he uncovered bivalve seashells buried nearly 15 feet (4.5 m) below the seafloor surface.

Upon returning to his USGS laboratory in Menlo Park, California, Brian worked with Tom Lorenson on sampling the cores and extracting the shells. The recovered shells were then taken to USGS paleontologist Chuck Powell, for identification. While Chuck was able to ascertain the higher level classification of the clam shells (Family Thyasiridae), he was unable to determine the genus or species. Chuck contacted Paul Valentich-Scott, a clam specialist from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in California.

When examining these ancient shell specimens, Paul was fairly certain that they were new to science
.
The hunt to validate the potential new species was on. Paul contacted a number of thyasirid bivalve specialists around the world and all gave it a thumbs up as a new species. Further, several scientists felt it also might be a new genus (the level above species).
Chief scientist Brian Edwards collecting samples from the
gravity corer.  © Helen Gibbons, USGS/ECS Project

Then the painstaking work began. Paul contacted museums around the globe and requested to borrow specimens that were potentially related to the new species. While he found many species that shared some characteristics, none matched the new Arctic specimens.

The four scientists have been writing up their findings for the past two years and now the work has been published in the international science journal ZooKeys.

The new genus and species is named after two individuals. The genus is named in honor of Dr. Thomas R. Waller a prominent paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution. The suffix "concha" meaning shell, is combined to create the name Wallerconcha. The new species is named after Sara Powell the daughter of co-author Chuck Powell. Chuck was quick to mention "I want to name new species after all of my children."

While many of the specimens collected were definitely fossils, the scientists can't discount the new animal might still be alive today. One of the team members, Tom Lorenson, summarized it this way 'The likely collection of living specimens of this species awaits expeditions to come.' Who knows what other new creatures might be found in those expeditions?

More information:

Valentich-Scott P, Powell II CL, Lorenson TD, Edwards BR (2014) "A new genus and species of Thyasiridae (Mollusca, Bivalvia) from deep-water, Beaufort Sea, northern Alaska." ZooKeys 462: 11-26. DOI.

'It is always exciting when you are the first person to be looking at a new creature' declared Valentich-Scott. 'While I have been fortunate to discover and describe many new species in my career, it is always exhilarating at the outset.'

- PHYS.


Man dies following ferocious deer attack at Slovakian farm

Paid deer price: One of animals at agricultural cooperative in Surovce. © CEN

Police who opened a murder enquiry after a man died from more than 20 stab wounds have found the killer - a male stag that had speared him with its antlers.

Plumber Vladimir Kostur, 59, was installing a new watering system at a farm in the village of Surovce, Slovakia, when the 660lb beast charged, knocking him to the ground.

The raging stag, one of many deer being kept at the farm, then attacked stunned Kostur with its antlers, puncturing his body 20 times as he lay on the ground.

Pal Frantisek Cerny, 54, said: "I was just arriving to give Vlad a hand when I saw the stag appear out of nowhere and attack him. "I couldn't believe the ferocity of it. I always thought of deer as being cute things. But this one was anything but - it was terrifying.

"I ran over to help but by the time I got there he was unconscious."




After the animal was scared off, Kostur was taken to hospital where he later died, and police were called after medics reported the man had stab wounds.

A hospital spokesman said: "The patient suffered serious injuries to his body, legs and arms.

"He was in critical condition and underwent emergency surgery but unfortunately he died the following day."

Police opened a GBH case, which became a murder enquiry when the man died.

But after talking with pal Frantisek who told them the stag was responsible, they are unsure where to go with the case.

Police spokeswoman Martina Kredatusova said the stag had clearly intended to cause harm and wound with intent.

Although they were unlikely to get a conviction, she added: "The case is being investigated as an assault.

"It very much depends now if it was a wild stag or if it was owned by someone. We are still investigating."

But locals in the area have ridiculed the charges.

Farmer Martin Moravek said: "It was a terrible accident and our hearts go out to the man's family.

"But this isn't a criminal case. It's an animal and they are unpredictable." - Daily Mirror.


2 men attacked and injured by wild boar in Shizuoka, Japan




Two men were injured by a wild boar in Kakegawa, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Tuesday.

According to police, a 63-year-old man was attacked at around 11:30 a.m. in a field. NTV reported that he suffered injuries to his face, neck, hands and legs.

About 20 minutes later, a 64-year-old man was attacked by the same boar a few hundred meters away. He suffered injuries to his stomach and legs
.


Police said neither man's injuries are life-threatening.

Members of a local hunting association captured the 1-meter-long boar about an hour later on a riverbank and disposed of it. - Japan Today.


Dead sperm whale found off Odisha coast, India




An eight-member team of palaeontologists from the Regional Museum of Natural History in Odisha's capital city of, Bhubaneswar has begun the exercise to retrieve the skeleton of the giant whale that was washed ashore near Kelua river mouth on December 3.

The team, led by Dr Siba Prasad Parida, began work on Tuesday morning. After spraying chemical powders, the team started cutting out the flesh of the whale.

The extraction process was delayed due to excessive secretion of oil and worms from the body of the dead whale. "We had to re-position the whale 20 feet away with the help of a bulldozer to get going," said local forester Umesh Mohanty.

"So far, we have been able to cut out about 30% of the flesh. It might take another five to seven days to complete the process," said GN Indresa, one of the experts supervising the opeation.

"The bones of the skeletons will be removed and conserved separately with a layer of chemicals applied to them in the museum. It will take approximately five to six months to put together the entire skeleton back," said Shiv Prasad Parida, the leader of the team

The skeleton of a 47.3-foot large Baleen whale is already under display at the Regional Museum of Natural History.

It may be noted that the 32 feet long, approximately 75 years old sperm whale was washed ashore near Kelua river mouth of Astarang and struggled for a long time on shallow waters to swim back to the ocean before its death.

The officials and locals were not able to send the giant whale back to deep waters due to lack of equipment. It was suspected to be hit by a ship, as there was a big scar above its right eye. It could also have been washed ashore by high tide in the sea, the experts said.

Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales in the world and usually live in deep water up to one kilometer around the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. - Odisha Sun Times.


White-tailed deer breaks through 2 doors at New Jersey home

A deer stands in the bathroom of a house in Galloway, N.J. © AP

The deer apparently worked its way through a storm door and the home's main door to get into the Galloway home, where a woman living there locked it in a bathroom before it was freed by police. The bathroom suffered significant damage.


Police say a deer burst through the front doors of a New Jersey home, darted through the residence and ransacked the master bathroom.

Galloway police received a 911 call at around 3:30 p.m. Saturday from a woman reporting that a deer ran through her house while she was putting sweet potatoes in the oven. The woman said she followed the deer into the back of the house and locked it in a bathroom.

Responding officers found the glass on the front storm door shattered. They also found the frame on the main door damaged, indicating that the deer muscled its way through two doors to enter the home.

After a brief standoff, police escorted the deer from the home and released it into the wild.

The bathroom was significantly damaged.

Source: AP

- NY Daily News.


Two-headed fire salamander born in Israel

A two-headed Near Eastern fire salamander tadpole born from a wild mother in a laboratory in Israel. © Prof. Shai Levy, University of Haifa

Just call them "Arne" and "Sebastian." Those are the monikers given to the two separate heads of one baby salamander that was born last week in a lab in Israel.

Two heads are likely not better than one for the Near Eastern fire salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata), which was born, alive, in a laboratory at the University of Haifa in Israel. Researchers aren't sure why the salamander tadpole has two noggins, but say random mutations or environmental pollution could be culprits.

"I could speculate, but it would be pure speculation," Leon Blaustein, an ecologist whose lab discovered the salamander, told Live Science.

Strange salamander

Blaustein's team had collected pregnant female fire salamanders from the wild to give birth in the lab. (This species of salamanders gives birth to live young in a larval or tadpole stage.) A female that was gathered from a site called Kaukab Springs in the Galilee Mountains, gave birth to the two-headed tadpole.

Both heads move, Blaustein said, but so far, scientists have seen only one preying upon a salamander baby's favorite meal, insect larvae. Blaustein gave the heads their names to honor two German scientists, Arne Nolte and Sebastian Steinfartz, with whom he collaborates on studying fire salamander ecology.

WATCH: Two-headed salamander tadpole.



The Near Eastern fire salamander is listed as "near threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature; in Israel, it is locally endangered, Blaustein said. Humans are the main reason the species is struggling. According the IUCN, human development is shrinking salamander habitat in Israel, Lebanon and possibly Syria. Water pollution is another threat, as is human water use for irrigation. Dams can disrupt salamander habitat by flooding the temporary, shallow pools and small streams where the amphibians thrive.

In Israel, Blaustein said, automobiles are killing salamanders on roadways and are a major problem.

Mysterious causes

Salamander deformities are rare, Blaustein said, though not unknown. His lab has recorded cases of salamander larvae born with six legs instead of four, or with only partial heads. Finding two heads on one body is particularly unusual, he said.

Tracing the cause of such deformities is difficult. Amphibians are sensitive to environmental changes and pollution, Blaustein said, which makes them early indicators that something is going wrong in the environment. And the Kaukab Springs site is one of the more polluted breeding sites for these salamanders, he said. However, those factors alone do not prove that pollution caused the defect.

"It would be absolutely incorrect to suggest that this single observation of a two-headed salamander" suggests human-caused damage to the environment, Blaustein said.

After the University of Haifa released a statement that included the researchers' speculation that the two-headed defect might have been caused by pollution or radiation, some news outlets reported that the salamander is radioactive, Blaustein said. It is not.

The salamander isn't the only wild animal found with two heads where only one was supposed to grow. In 2013, a fisherman in Florida caught a pregnant shark and found that one of the live fetuses inside her womb had two heads. Another 2013 find in Australia of an "oddly shaped, pale object" turned out to be a stillborn baby ray with two heads. This defect can occur for several reasons, including an embryo that begins to split into twins, but does not complete the process.

More recently, in August 2014, a dead, two-headed dolphin washed ashore in Turkey. Arguably even stranger was the 2011 discovery of a "Cyclops shark," a one-eyed dusky shark fetus found off the coast of Mexico. "Cyclopia" is a developmental defect in which only one eye forms. - Live Science.


Dog survives cougar attack in Penticton, Canada

Jazz, a Border Collie cross, survived a cougar attack. © Deborah Pfeiffer

A Penticton couple is grateful their dog is on the mend after it was attacked by a cougar outside their home this week.

Jazz, a Border Collie cross, suffered injuries ranging from puncture wounds to his head and scratches following the encounter with the large animal, Wednesday.

"It was a scary experience, and we are just glad the dog is OK," said Marylin Barnay.

According to Barnay, a vineyard owner on Upper Bench Road, her husband let Jazz out around 7:20 a.m. When she went to call him in, she saw him do an about turn and go behind the hedge.

Then, all of a sudden, he was back, with a large animal following him.

"It immediately put its mouth around our dog's head, and I could tell it was a cougar right away," she said. "I started screaming it's a cougar, and it's going to kill our dog. It was awful to see."

Her husband John Barnay grabbed a snow shovel and headed toward Jazz.

"I was going to club the animal, when I realized it was a cougar," he said. "So I banged the shovel, did an about face and ran up the steps. I turned around and looked and it was gone."

They got the dog inside, and after noticing the extent of his injuries took him to the vet.

The couple see coyotes and deer in the dozens, but this is their first experience with a big cougar.

"It looked enormous to me. Its head was the size of a basketball," said Barnay

The couple called a conservation officer, who came out to get information. But by that time the cougar was long gone.

They also contacted as many neighbours as they could.

"We phoned everyone we could think of, because there are families here with small children," said John. "We just wanted to get the word out to our neighbours on Campbell Mountain, this had happened."

As of Friday, Jazz had perked up to the point where he was wagging his tail and playing with a ball in the backyard.

Barnay said another part of the story, is residents are lucky to have such good veterinarians available in the valley.

Conversation officers say the cougar could not be located and would like to warn the public that the animal is still loose in the area, and to report it if they see it.

Source: Penticton News

- Castanet.


Ranch hand hospitalized after cow attack in Cuyama Valley, California




A 65-year-old ranch hand is in the hospital after a cow attacked him during a branding operation at a ranch on Wednesday in the Cuyama Valley.

Shortly after 10 a.m., the cow charged the man and pinned him against a corral causing chest and upper body injuries. Firefighters responded to the ranch near the intersection of Highway 166 and Cottonwood Canyon Road to find the man having difficulty breathing.

Emergency medical personnel then transported the man in a medical helicopter to the trauma unit at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. - Cal Coast News.


Farmer attacked and killed by cattle in Northern Ireland

A 71-year-old man has died after he was attacked by cattle in County Fermanagh.

Robert Brown was killed at his farm at Knockmanoul, near Ballinamallard.

It is believed that it happened on Saturday night as he was preparing cows for a routine TB test.

He was found in his cattle yard by a neighbour after a family member could not get in touch with him. The Health and Safety Inspectorate is carrying out an investigation.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott knew Mr Brown and said it was an extremely sad day for the community.

"Robbie Brown has lived there all his life," he said.

"He is very much part of the community. His sister lives close to him as well.

"He was just a character who was extremely well known and, I have to say from what I know, he wouldn't have had an enemy in the country."

Last year, another farmer, Benny Foster, 71, died after he was gored by a bull near Killea. - BBC.


Rescued dolphins beach themselves for second time with nine dead in New Zealand

Up to 20 common dolphins were stuck in shallows off Tokerau Beach until locals hearded them back out to sea.  © Glenys Urlich

A pod of dolphins rescued by locals at Tokerau Beach last week is believed to have re-stranded at the Cavalli Islands with deadly results.

The Department of Conservation's Bay of Islands manager, Rolien Elliot, said 14 common dolphins became stranded on Motukawanui Island, the largest of the Cavalli Islands off Matauri Bay, during incoming tide on Friday evening.

Nine carcasses were discovered by officials from DoC and Far North Whale Rescue while the rest were presumed to have made their way back out to sea.

It could have been the same pod of common dolphins that was stranded in Doubtless Bay a few days earlier, but testing would be needed to confirm whether that was the case.

The dead dolphins were due to be buried on the island yesterday.

In the first stranding, on Wednesday afternoon, locals discovered a pod of about 20 dolphins floundering at the northern end of Tokerau Beach. While the animals did not appear distressed they were in calf-depth water and the tide was going out.

Tokerau Beach resident Glenys Urlich said the dolphins were "milling around in the shallows" and seemed reluctant to return to deeper water.

A large group of locals kept them wet and upright - dolphins can drown from water entering their blowholes if they tip onto their sides - and tried to herd them out to sea.

Eventually locals got the pod together in slightly deeper water and they swam away about 3.30pm, just before a rescue team arrived from DoC's Kaitaia office.

Mrs Urlich said Tokerau Beach had had a run of whale strandings some years ago so locals were well versed in marine mammal rescues.

Source: Northland Age

- NZ Herald.


Cow kills farm worker in Cherryville, Canada

Allen Donald Powder, 49, collapsed and couldn't be revived after a cow butted him in the chest

The man killed in a cow attack on a B.C. farm on Canada Day has been identified by the B.C. Coroners Service as 49-year-old Allen Donald Powder.

Powder, who called Yellowknife, N.W.T., home, came to the Okanagan to work every summer. He was working on a farm in Cherryville, B.C., the morning of July 1.

Cherryville, which is at the foothills of the Monashee Mountains, is roughly 55 kilometres east of Vernon in B.C.'s North Okanagan.

According to a statement released by the coroner, Powder and another farm worker were moving cattle from one corral to another when the cow attacked.

"One of the cows became very agitated and aggressive and they were having trouble controlling the cow," said B.C. Coroners Service spokesperson Barb McLintock.

"The cow turned on Mr. Powder and butted him really hard with its head."


Powder ran and climbed over a fence, but then collapsed. He couldn't be resuscitated.

The cow had a horn that was lopped short. Powder died from injuries from blunt force trauma.​

McLintock says she has never heard of anything like it before.

But Gord Molendyk, spokesperson for the RCMP in Vernon, B.C., said deaths from livestock attacks are more common than some may think.​

"Canadian Cattlemen put out an article on aggressive cattle and one of the stats in there is over a 15-year period in Canada, 23 people were killed by cows, and this is generally dealing with the beef industry," he said.​

A funeral was held for Powder in Yellowknife earlier this month.

WorkSafeBC and the B.C. Coroners Service are still investigating his death. - CBC.


Lincolnshire farm worker dies following cow attack

An East Lindsey farm worker has died after being attacked by a cow.

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating the incident, which took place at a Wragby farm on Easter Sunday, April 21.

60-year-old stockman John Turner is said to have been seriously injured in an attack by a cow at Kilmister Farm.

Mr Turner was taken by air ambulance to Hull Royal Infirmary, but later died.

Wragby-based HR Bourn & Sons Ltd, which owns the farm, confirmed that it was co-operating with the HSE investigation into the incident.

A statement from the company said: "John Turner tragically died in hospital after being attacked by a cow at Kilmister Farm in Wragby on April 21.

"John was an experienced stockman and a much-valued employee who will be sorely missed by HR Bourn & Sons and his fellow employees.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

"John's funeral is to be held at 2pm on Tuesday, May 20 at the church of St Andrew at Donington on Bain.

"It would be inappropriate to make any further comment in relation to the accident circumstances pending the outcome of the inquest before the coroner."  - Grimsby Telegraph.







MONUMENTAL GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Cape Verde Volcanic Eruption Leaves A Trail Of Destruction - Two Villages And Over 1,000 Homes Destroyed!

Many villagers will have little to return to.  © Joao Relvas/EPA

December 11, 2014 - CAPE VERDE
- Around 60 volcanoes erupt in the average year. On any particular day, there are usually about 20 volcanoes erupting somewhere in the world. Naturally, they can't all make headlines. But when there are human tragedies involved, we need to question the priorities of the news media.

Contrast the fuss about eruption warnings in Iceland with the vanishingly low media profile of the current eruption on Fogo, one of the islands in the Cape Verde archipelago off the coast of West Africa.

In Iceland, great fears of an ash cloud eruption that could down or ground aircraft subsided as the magma broke surface beyond the ice and fed a large and spectacular but pretty harmless fissure eruption across a remote and uninhabited region.

On the other hand, since Fogo's eruption began on November 23 it has so far destroyed two villages and the homes of more than 1,000 people.




Cape Verde became independent from Portugal in 1975 and Fogo is home to some 37,000 inhabitants. A previous eruption on the island in 1995 covered six square kilometres with lava. The current eruption has been even more voluminous, sending lava bulldozing its way through two whole villages.

There have been limited reports on the BBC's Africa news website. But I became aware only through social media when I noticed comments along the lines: "Hey - why haven't we seen this on the news?" If the Cape Verde islands had remained an overseas province of Portugal, like the Azores, perhaps in the developed world we would have heard more about what's been going on there. Instead, although the unfolding events on Fogo are being well-documented by local media, they don't seem to make it into news stories featured outside of Africa.

Fogo erupts mostly a slow-moving form of basalt lava that humans and animals can easily evade. However, its advance is inexorable and there's nothing that can be done to stop it. Even in much-wealthier Hawaii, where the town of Pahoa is currently threatened by advancing lava, a diversion attempt is unlikely.

On Fogo, locals have had time to escape with their movable possessions. They have then sat on higher ground to watch while their homes, schools and agricultural small-holdings are slowly destroyed. Drinking water in the surrounding area is contaminated by volcanic ash, and has been declared unfit for human or animal consumption.

WATCH: Scenes from Fogo volcano.





Unlike in 1995, when the evacuated population were able to return to their homes, this time there is nothing to return to. It's incredibly sad, and has been well-documented on professional and amateur video, but it seems that news editors in the developed world don't deem it newsworthy. Is it just because nobody died, and because so far the locally-organised evacuation centres have been able to cope?

These people have lost their homes and their livelihoods. Does Ebola on mainland Africa and a typhoon in the Philippines mean that there really is no time for an event such as this in our mainstream news agenda? Or do we care about volcanoes only if there's a chance of them inconveniencing our air-travel plans?

The unfolding events on Fogo can be followed (in Portuguese) at Fogo News and in English at Earthquake Report. There's also the GEOVOL group that is active on Facebook. - PHYS.



FIRE IN THE SKY: "Bright As The Full Moon" - Green Fireball Breaks Up Over Southern Poland!

One of the Polish Fireball Network's camera's captured this photograph of the meteor fireball. © pkim.org

December 11, 2014 - POLAND
- On the evening of Tuesday December 9th, people in southern Poland observed a meteor "of comparable brightness to the full Moon" burn up over southern Poland, according to Przemyslaw Zoladek, president of the Polish Fireball Network (PKiM).

Preliminary analysis suggests the bolide entered the atmosphere above Opava in northern Czech Republic.

Observers also reported that the fireball was green in color and was visible low on the southern horizon.

Observers in Lower Silesia (southwestern Poland) reported the object to be higher in the sky and looking much brighter still.

The fireball sighting was reported by observers to the Polish Fireball Network, whose own observer stations - 'PFN41 Twardogora', 'PFN38 Podgorzyn' and 'PFN40 Otwock' - also recorded the event.

The fireball appears to have travelled relatively slowly.

All-sky camera footage apparently shows numerous flares as the bolide entered the atmosphere - evidence of fragmentation of the space body. - SOTT.