strange behaviors

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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Posts Tagged ‘eggs’

Eggs in a Basket: Fossil Find Opens Up Lost World of Pterosaurs

Posted by Richard Conniff on December 1, 2017

With apologies, I have been delayed in posting several articles I published previously this year. Attempting to update now.

by Richard Conniff/Scientific American

Thanks in part to an abundance of fossil discoveries in recent decades, scientists now recognize more than 200 species of pterosaur—the winged reptiles that dominated the world’s skies for 160 million years. But almost nothing is known about how they bred or how their young developed. As recently as 2014 the available scientific evidence on those topics added up to a grand total of just three pterosaur eggs, all badly flattened.

That dramatically changes with the description in this week’s Science of a sandstone block containing at least 215 fossilized eggs of a Cretaceous era pterosaur, Hamipterus tianshanensis. Many are preserved in three dimensions, and at least 16 contain partial embryonic remains.

Paleontologists Alexander Kellner and Xiaolin Wang

A research team led by Xiaolin Wang of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing discovered the eggs, embedded in a rock slab more than three square meters in area, at a dig in northwestern China. Analysis of sediments in the find suggests “that events of high energy such as storms passed over a nesting site” by an ancient lake, the co-authors write, causing the egg mass to float “for a short period of time, becoming concentrated and eventually buried.”

Preservation of any pterosaur fossil is exceptional, partly because their bones were so thin. Extreme scarcity is even Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Sex & Reproduction | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Saving Sea Turtles by Eating Their Eggs

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 19, 2013

A local harvests sea turtle eggs in Costa Rica’s Ostional National Park. (Photo: Olivier Blaise/Getty)

A local harvests sea turtle eggs in Costa Rica’s Ostional National Park. (Photo: Olivier Blaise/Getty)

It is one of nature’s great spectacles. On certain nights of the year, huge numbers of olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) mass in the Pacific Ocean just off the beach at Ostional, Costa Rica. Next, tens of thousands of females come clambering ashore over two or three nights to lay their eggs in the sand. These mass nesting events, called arribadas, may occur a half-dozen times over the course of a year on the beach of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. And each time, for the first two days, local villagers come out to harvest and sell as many eggs as they can lay their hands on. And it is entirely legal.

The harvest may seem particularly shocking given that Costa Rica has carefully cultivated a reputation as a green destination. On the opposite coast, moreover, a conservationist was murdered earlier this year while trying to prevent poachers from raiding the nests of another sea turtle species. (Police recently arrested suspects, said to be known turtle egg poachers, in that killing.)

But Ostional is different, and for its many supporters, it constitutes … to read the rest of this article, click here.

Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Cool Tools, Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »