Friday, 14 October 2016

Gorilla Tactics

Much excitement appears to have been generated by the report of a male gorilla at London zoo escaping to an area normally reserved for staff ( The animal seems to have been tranquillised with a dart before being returned to its enclosure but not before members of the public had been locked into buildings (with free tea) as a precautionary measure.The experience cannot have been a happy one for any of the participants (gorilla, staff and visitors) but such events cannot be totally unexpected when dealing with such intelligent beasts with time on their hands.

Honking with Dinosaurs

New evidence from a 66 million year old fossil (Vegavis iaai) from Vega island in the Antarctic confirms that this contemporary of the Cretaceous dinosaurs had the syrinx which enables birds to produce song ( This long-legged, goose-like bird existed at the same time as the mighty reptiles. Their sounds may certainly have punctuated the Cretaceous and the possibly exists that some of the dinosaurs (closely-related to birds) also had a syrinx to generate calls.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Seeing the Changes 1122

Lots of stuff around Broughton on the Gower. In the dunes there were lots of Horse mushrooms (Agaricus arvensis). Many flowers were still in bloom like Red campion (Silene dioica); Rest-harrow (Ononis repens); Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris); Moon carrot (Seseli libanotis); Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum); Common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea); Harebell (Campanula rotunifolia); Traveller's joy (Clematis vitalba) enwhiskered; Sea holly (Eryngium maritimum); Common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis); Cut-leaved cranesbill (Geranium dissectum); Yellow star-thistle (Centaurea solstitialis); Sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias); Marsh hawksbeard (Crepis tectorum) and Stone bramble (Rubus saxatilis). The Stone bramble was also in berry. On the shore there were large, washed-up jellyfish and numerous Sandhoppers (Talitrus saltator).

Friday, 7 October 2016

Fracking Ridiculous

The over-turning by UK central government of Lancashire Council's rejections of Quadrilla's plans to frack (use horizontal drilling under lands and homes, followed by inserting water plus chemicals to drive out trapped natural gas from shale rocks) seems bad news on several levels ( It a) is likely to cause considerable local disturbance whilst in operation (remediation is something quite different); b) results in a strong possibility environmental changes (to water courses et cetera); c) is unlikely to be helpful in terms of visitor attractions to the region; d) makes alleviating the UK contribution to the release of climate-change associated gases much harder and e) does nothing to encourage the use of low carbon energy-generating alternatives. I am personally dubious about the claimed financial savings for the UK and postulated job creation. The UK is rather different from the USA in size and population distribution. I also find it more than a little strange that this decision is taken by a government that has just expressed apparent concerns about communities developing feelings that their local wishes are over-ridden by elites.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Chips Off the Old Block?

There is a slightly disturbing report that an in vitro fertilisation technique, called intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI (where the egg is injected with the father's sperm before being implanted), results in boy children with the fertility problems of their fathers ( It seems that such boys (at least in the first generation) have reduced sperm quality and quantity compared to 'normal' boys. One of the factors that might be involved in quality issues is sperm capacitation (maturation of the sperm and its accompanying fluids, enabling the gamete to penetrate the membranes around the egg in the process of fertilisation). Some authorities have suggested that ICSI is only putting off the problem to the next generation.

Water, Water, Everywhere

There is an interesting article on a developing obsession with water in the Western world ( This reveals that waters can cost up to £30 per bottle and can be a) totally deionized (I would think this rather tasteless), b) full of added (by hand or from rocks) specific chemicals; c) taken from inside coconuts (make your own hole); d) be by-products of maple syrup manufacture; e) be squeezed from melons; f) have factors claimed to cure cellulitis or g) have a formulation apparently making hydration more efficient (drink a bit more of the cheaper stuff?). Apparently, the best water is obtained from snared icebergs allowed to thaw at room temperature (application of heat reportedly spoils the product). IT'S WATER, FOR GOODNESS SAKE! We need clean and uncontaminated supplies (not something that everyone on this planet gets) but water is water (taste variations are down to mineral or gas content).  There seems to be lots of wastage involved in bottling (in glass or plastic) the material, advertising it and putting fancy labels on it. There seems to be something a bit obscene going on here.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Seeing the Changes 1121

On the Bynea cycle track in Autumn is not a good place for a Common shrew (Sorex araneus).