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Animal X Files Opened For All To See Check Them Out!

Un cut interviews

Animal X UnCut

After months of waiting at last the Animal X Files are opened and are being made available for all to see. In a new Web based series called Animal X UnCut.

We have started with the San Francisco Bay Monsters as featured in Animal X Natural Mystery Unit – Monsters of the Deep.

Where Bill and Bob Clark describe the mysterious creatures they have seen and video taped in San Francisco Bay. Both interviews are now available to watch UNCUT. Also the video is available in its original form and UNCUT.




You’ll be surprised at what one of the brothers thinks these monsters are.

Check out Bob and Bill Clark’s UnCut interview and video recording of the mysterious Monsters of San Francisco Bay here:

Video of monsters

Monster of San Francisco Bay

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Bigfoot

Minnesota Iceman

The Animal X Files are opened for all to see. The Animal X Files are an archive of the middle to late 20th and 21st century’s most important international cryptozoology and mysterious nature’s oral and video history of stories, events and happenings.

With this new series of Animal X UnCut video clips, we are trying to preserve this unique collection; to create an online museum, if you like, of some of the world’s most well known cryptozoological and mysterious nature stories.

Aliens

Chupacabra

If you are interested in cryptozoology, mysterious nature, paranormal, folklore the supernatural and monsters then you are invited to be part of this project by supporting the preservation of this collection. Watch out for more details. Subscribe to be notified.

Animal X UnCut is a unique new web based series where you can watch interviews and sightings from Animal X and Animal X Natural Mystery Unit – uncut, and make up your own mind.

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Top 6 mysterious animal sightings. What do you think they are?

The world is full of mysteries, but none like the mysterious animals that live in the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes. Here’s 6 of the top mysterious animal sighting. What do you think they are?

Sea and Lake Monsters

Top 6 mysterious animal sightings

 

From the Bloop, a mysterious creature that lives in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, to the San Fransisco Bay monster to the monster of Lake Van in Turkey. There are hundreds of stories from all over the world about mysterious monsters of the deep.

These creatures have been seen by hundreds of people but no one knows what these creatures are.

This video clip looks at six of the most mysterious creatures seen by humans.

  • Caddy from Cadboro Bay near Vancouver Canada. Sightings go back centuries.
  • Morgawr from Cornwall in England – said to have been conjured by by a Wizard.
  • New England Sea Serpent. With links to Indigenous American culture
  • Swedish Lake Monster. One of Europe’s most mysterious. It even has ‘protected’ status.
  • Howick Falls monster. The Inkanyumba a deadly giant snake like creature
  • The Monster of Lake Van. Another lake monster that has been around for centuries.

Top 6 mysterious animal sightings.


 

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Marsupial mole makes rare appearance in WA

Marsupial mole makes rare appearance in WA

From the ABC By Erin Parke

Mole

Rare Marsupial mole in WA’s Kimberley


Aboriginal women in Western Australia’s north have encountered a strange, silky-haired mole that is only spotted a handful of times each decade.

The marsupial mole is found only in desert areas of northern and central Australia, and rarely surfaces from underground.

Kate Crossing, who co-ordinates an Indigenous Protected Area in the Gibson Desert, said she was stunned to see one of the animals during a field trip with the local Aboriginal rangers near the Northern Territory border.

“We saw this little golden creature run along the track in front of us, and as I brought the car to a stop, one of our rangers, Yelti, yelled out ‘Kakarratul!’ and jumped out and grabbed hold of it,” Ms Crossing said.

“It was less than the size of your hand, and it’s just this golden-coloured animal, with a little pink nose, and it lives almost all its life underground.

“It is so rare to see them above ground, so we were just amazed … we were so lucky.”
 

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The women, who are from the remote community of Kiwirrkurra, quickly took some photographs and video footage, before releasing the animal a little way off the road.

Ms Crossing said there was tremendous excitement as they were able to touch the fast-burrowing creature, which they call Kakarratul.

“Some of the people who’ve spent more time in the desert before [white] contact had seen a mole before, but not for many years, and there were younger people who’d never seen one properly,” she said.

“It had beautifully soft fur, and it looked really delicate … but it also had really strong front legs and feet. When we put it down, off the road, it went straight down and it was gone in less than 30 seconds.”

Relatively little is known about the marsupial mole, which is so well adapted to living underground it has no functioning eyes or ears.

Found near the Northern Territory border.

Marsupial mole found by WA Indigenous rangers

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2016 International Bigfoot Conference

2016 International Bigfoot Conference

Bigfoot

Minnesota Iceman




 In October of 2015, at a conference in Hot Springs Montana, Author Russell Acord, and Ed Brown sat down and started planning the first International Bigfoot Conference.  While they didn’t agree on everything, the one thing they all agreed on was; they had to create a conference with a purpose, and that purpose was to provide an opportunity for up and coming researchers to share the stage with some of the biggest names in the world of Bigfoot research. 

They knew that if we could pull our resources together; they could create an event to rival the best ones out there.  So they set out to bring in some top respected speakers to share the platform with some that have earned recognition for their own research.  they started with three outstanding up and comers; Kirk Brown from California, Misty Allabaugh from Montana, and Becky Cook from Idaho.  While it is hard to call any of the “Up and Comers”, they were confident they have chosen three candidates who are soon to be stars. 

Now came the task of looking for the big names that could schedule the time to join them on the stage in Kennewick Washington.  Ed first talked to Stacy Brown Jr, and was delighted that he was ‘all in’.  Then, on the Derek Randles, Dr. Jeff Meldrum, Todd and Diane Neiss, Mitchel Townsend, Shane Corson and Gunnar Monson.  But they weren’t done yet; they wanted to add world renowned cryptologists, Adam Davies and Ken Gerhard who confirmed that they were both ‘completely on board’.  And while we won’t give their names just yet, they are awaiting response from a few more legends in community to round out our list of esteemed speakers and guests.

2016 International Bigfoot Conference

 For more information check out their website and if you are down that way definitely join the conference. It sounds great.

Here’s some great stories of Bigfoot featuring at least one of their guests Dr Jeff Meldrum.   This is the famous Skookum Cast Expedition. 






A Wasp That Turns a Spider Into the Walking Dead

A Wasp That Turns a Spider Into the Walking Dead

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell from AnswersinGenisis.org

 

The wasp that turns spiders into the walking dead

A parasitoid wasp (Pteromalus puparum) (Credit: John Abbott/NPL)

 

Spiders turned into zombies by parasitic wasps modify their webs to serve their new masters.
When a parasitic wasp skewers an orb spider and glues an egg to its back, she sets off a chain of events that soon alters the behavior and destiny of the spider. A new study from the host-parasite pair’s Japanese homeland shows that, some time after the egg hatches, the spider abruptly abandons its former lifestyle and follows a precisely choreographed sequence of actions that modify its normal web-building activities to produce the best possible home for a developing wasp.
wasp that turns spiders in to the walking dead

zombie spider

Zombie Web Design

Transformed by the ichneumonid wasp Reclinervellus nielseni’s sting into an obedient zombie, the orb-weaving spider Cyclosa argenteoalba does more than nourish the wasp’s larva with its own inward parts. The zombie spider serves its new master by modifying its web design to make a stronger-than-normal web devoted to the protection of the wasp’s pupal cocoon. No longer concerned with catching prey for itself, the spider reworks its web to build a hammock of extra-strong non-sticky silks that will ultimately cradle the cocoon.

Kobe University’s Keizo Takasuka and colleagues, who published their work in The Journal of Experimental Biology, painstakingly searched for spiders already parasitized by the wasp and then observed how the spiders’ behavior was affected. They also collected and observed the behavior of normal spiders.

This modified web design is actually an enhanced version of the resting web the orb spider normally builds to protect itself when molting. A spider sheds its exoskeleton in order to grow and is helpless during this time. A normal spider molts nestled in its resting web for just two days, but to accommodate the 10-day period wasps require to pupate in their cocoons, the parasitized spider builds an unusually durable web. It spends 10 hours repeating certain web-building steps over and over, reinforcing the web with additional threads until it produces a web of large-diameter silks with increased tensile strength. It leaves out the sticky stuff. Once its construction operation is complete, the zombie spider sits in the center of the web until the larva consumes the rest of its body fluids and kills it. Then the larva morphs into a pupa and emerges 10 days later as a mature wasp

Shining in the Light

The zombie spider decorates this specialized resting web with ultraviolet-reflecting silks. These deter web-destroying collisions with birds. Scientists used to think that the ultraviolet-reflecting silks in spider webs attracted prey, but their routine inclusion in resting webs of molting spiders and the webs of nocturnal spiders suggests otherwise. The fact that these particular zombie spiders, following their detailed and very pragmatic altered programming, include UV-reflecting décor in their cocoon webs while leaving out sticky fibers altogether is consistent with this view. So is the fact that the prey-capture regions of the normal orb webs studied by this Japanese team were unadorned with UV-reflecting fibers.

It appears the UV-reflecting webs are God’s design to protect spider webs from being destroyed by bird collisions. Studies have shown the UV-reflecting silks really do deter bird collisions. At least one company is now manufacturing glass incorporating a web of UV-reflecting strips to prevent birds from crashing into windows. This example of biomimicry—technology based on designs found in nature—now protects birds soaring around the observation tower on the Holy Island of Lindesfarne, a center for Celtic Christianity off the coast of England dating back to the 6th century.

Biomimicry

UV-reflecting silk is just one of many biomimetic applications the study of spiders has provided. For instance, spiders produce several different kinds of silk. A gene that produces a protein in the dragline silk of one species of orb spider has been used to produce transgenic goats that produce recoverable silk in their milk, a protein that can be used to produce fibers stronger than steel for use in artificial joints, bulletproof vests, and parachutes. Biomimetic breakthroughs in technology are imitations of God’s designs. Zombie-creating parasites like this wasp and its parasitized partner can reveal much about the common designs created by God and how even their variations and derangement can work together to perpetuate species in this sin-cursed world.



World Gone Wrong

The fallen world we live in since man sinned supplies an endless variety of examples illustrating what can go wrong. Or, from the point of view of parasitic wasps fulfilling their instinct to multiply using the best available resources, what can go right! How do such parasitic relationships develop?

Parasites survive at the expense of their victims, ordinarily sparing the life of the victim until it is no longer needed.Parasites that manipulate host behavior do so in a way to enhance their own growth or dispersion. Ichneumonid wasps ensure their larvae will be fed by recruiting insects or spiders to donate their bodily fluids to nourish wasp larvae. And the Reclinervellus wasp is not the only ichneumonid that reproduces by providing its larvae with living meals while also manipulating the spider’s web-building behavior to provide each pupa a haven. A Costa Rican wasp, for instance, Hymenoepimecis argyraphaga, follows a similar strategy utilizing the orb-weaving spider Plesiometa argyra.

In fact it was to the Ichneumonidae family of wasps that Charles Darwin referred when he wrote to botanist Asa Gray, questioning how a good God could create such a cruel system. Darwin wrote, “There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.”5

God created a perfectly good world (Genesis 1:31) and presented it to man (Genesis 1:26–28). Darwin failed to recognize that God’s good world went wrong because of man’s sinful rebellion. The New Testament reinforces this Old Testament truth, Romans 8:19–23 confirming that that the whole of creation groans in slavery to corruption in the wake of man’s sin. (Read more about this in “The Fall and the Problem of Millions of Years of Natural Evil.”) Thedeath and suffering that afflict not only people but also animals are consequences of human rebellion against God.

Cruelty and the Curse

Darwin complained that he could not envision the cruelty of nature as part of a good God’s design, yet in order for the living things in this sin-cursed world to endure for the past 6,000 years, variations and even derangements of God’s designs have allowed life to go on. Many organisms have adapted by developing defense and attack structures. (Read more about these in “How Did Defense/Attack Structures Come About?” and entomologist Dr. Gordon Wilson’s article on “Divinely Designed Defenses.”) The study of parasites like the ichneumonid wasps will help answer Darwin’s concern by helping us understand what good purposes these organisms were designed to serve in the pre-Fall world as well as the changes that led to the development of parasitic lifestyles after the Fall. Be sure to read more about this in Dr. Matthew Ingle’s article “Parasitology and Creation.”

Spiders today are carnivores, most paralyzing prey caught in their webs and enzymatically digesting and consuming them. (It is curious that most news articles about these zombie spiders paint a horrific image of the spiders’ fate but fail to mention the daily dietary practices of spiders, which are certainly no kinder.) Carnivory and parasitism are both consequences of sin’s curse. We know from God’s Word (Genesis 1:29–30) that animals did not originally eat other animals.

So what did spiders eat? We cannot be dogmatic about the behavior of pre-Fall animals 6,000 years removed from our ability to observe them, but we can reasonably speculate that they could have subsisted on pollen grains caught in their webs. This is not idle speculation. While spiders today are not generally herbivorous, a mostly herbivorous spider living on the Bullhorn acacia tree feeds on the tree’s Beltian bodies.6 And a 2013 study found that 25% of the diet of the juvenile orb-weaving spiders analyzed consisted of pollen grains caught in their webs. The pollen grains in the study were large enough to require active digestion by the spiders’ extraoral enzymes and were likely consumed while the spiders were recycling their webs.7 Thus it is no stretch to propose that before the Fall spiders wereherbivorous, and spider webs may have originally functioned as pollen catchers.

But what about parasites like the ichneumonid wasps? If God did not originally design these wasps to turn their hosts into zombies, how did they get to be that way? While we cannot go back and observe the process by which an animal, plant, or fungus became a parasite, we can be confident that all the original created kinds of organisms fulfilled helpful, not harmful, roles in the good world God made. Since the Fall, a combination of mutations and other genetic mechanisms, phenotypic plasticity, natural selection, and environmental changes that have altered available resources have produced many harmful varieties of organisms as well as created both symbiotic and parasiticrelationships that ultimately ensure the survival of many species that might otherwise become extinct.

And if the incidence of parasitism in this Japanese pair is any indication, the spider population is not exactly being decimated by the predations of parasitic wasps. It took Keizo Takasuka’s team many days to find 23 parasitized spiders among the 1,615 spiders they inspected.8 Similarly, in a study of zombie ants last year, scientists found that a parasitic fungus infected only a small percentage of the carpenter ants in its ecosystem in order to survive. (Read more about it in “Zombie Ants and Genesis.”) Thus in the post-Fall world in which we live, carpenter ant populations survive to decompose dead wood, wasps survive to continue their valuable pollinating activities, and plenty of spiders survive to continue controlling insect populations.

Usurping the Normal, Not Evolving the New

Further research is needed to discover the chemical agent(s) the wasp or its larva uses to induce the spider’s zombification, causing it to repeat various steps in the normal web-building process over and over while eliminating others. However, a spider’s hormones normally trigger the molting process for which the spider builds a resting web. Therefore, Takasuka and colleagues suspect the wasp is injecting a chemical that mimics the hormone that normally directs the spider to molt.

The same is true of a behavior-altering virus that induces zombie-like behavior in gypsy moth caterpillars. It deactivates their molting hormone, prompting infected caterpillars to climb to treetops where they die and rain their viral load over a wide area. (See “Parasites Affect Behavior of Moths.”)

None of these parasitic relationships or zombie-generating species result from molecules-to-man evolution. This parasitic partnership is an example of an extended phenotype—all the effects a wasp’s gene has, including its effects on another organism (the spider). Parasitic wasps are still wasps, just a family of wasps that now depends on a rather elaborate form of carnivory to reproduce. The spider is still a spider, and even its behavior is a modification of an existing one. Indeed, if these wasps are able to supply a biochemical mimic of the spider’s own hormone, as the authors suggest, such a biochemical similarity exists because all creatures share a common Designer. These and other extraordinary variations were designed by our wise God to be somehow manifested after the Fall. Even though these insidious lifecycles highlight the ugliness of death due to sin’s curse, they still allow the created kinds to reproduce in a fallen world.

Learn more about the beneficial pre-Fall roles today’s parasites likely played in the pre-Fall world in “The Genesis of Malaria: The Origin of Mosquitos and Their Protistan Cargo, Plasmodium falciparum,” how parasitology helps us understand the changes in nature after the Fall in “Parasitology and Creation,” and how deadly venom seems to have developed from harmless but essential biochemicals in “Evolution of Snake Venom: A New Use for Old Genes?” and “Mamba Venom Derives from Gene Duplication.” You can find out more about real-life zombies and parasitic host manipulation in “Zombie Ants and Genesis,” “Parasites Affect Behavior of Moths,” “Brain Chemistry In Rats Altered By Parasite,” and “Zombies Existing in Nature.”

 

 

Man catches winged fish with evil eyes!

Man catches winged fish with evil eyes!

A FISH with wings, creepy green eyes and a nose like a wizard’s hat has been branded an alien after being caught by a shocked fisherman. From the Daily Star

black long-nosed chimaera

Evil eyed alien fish?

 




 

The slimy black creature, which has a ridge of pointed quills on its back, was spotted among the day’s catch and photographed. It’s the latest in a series of strange finds in the world’s oceans and comes after another fish was found with legs.

A terrifying new species of shark – with a pitch black body – has also been discovered in the depths of the sea. The newest find was caught 30 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, by a fishing vessel. When a crew member posted a picture of it online, the fish was described as an alien by Reddit users. “Wow, it looks like an link in evolution,” wrote one person. “What is that birdfish?” Another posted: “We don’t need no stinkin’ aliens – we already got them!”

The truth.

But other eagle-eyed commenters identified the fish as a black long-nosed chimaera. Chimaeras, which are related to sharks, are usually found between 8,500ft and 660ft deep. Reddit user McGuire72, who posted his photo of the creature online, said it was thrown back in the ocean. He wrote: “Unfortunately, from what I’ve read here, he’s a deep-sea fish and likely didn’t survive to get back down to the bottom.” This from National Geographic Kids.




Want more underwater mysteries?

Check this out from the Animal X Natural Mystery Unit.  A one hour special on monsters of the deep. Ever hear of the Bloop? or the Welsh sea monster? What about the Monster of San Francisco Bay?

Monsters of the Deep.

Video of rare giant squid in Japanese harbour




Video of rare giant squid in Japanese harbour

A giant squid provided a rare treat for onlookers in Toyama Bay when one swam into the harbour.
The 3.7m (12ft) cephalopod was much smaller than the 13m they can grow to.

It spent several hours in the harbour on Christmas Eve and was filmed by local divers.

Professional underwater cameraman Takayoshi Kojima told the BBC he rushed to the harbour when a marina manager called and he helped guide the squid to the exit to the sea, where it finally disappeared.

Japanese researchers took pictures of the elusive creature hunting 900m down, enveloping its prey by coiling its tentacles into a ball.

octopus

giant squid

The images show giant squid, known as Architeuthis, are more vigorous hunters than has been supposed.

The images, captured in the Pacific Ocean, appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Documentary companies have invested millions of dollars trying to film adult giant squid in their natural environment. These efforts have met with little success – though one team has managed to capture a juvenile on film.

Japanese fishermen have taken snaps of an adult at the surface but, until now, no one had obtained images of the animal in its deep-sea hunting grounds.

Slippery customer

In their efforts to photograph the huge cephalopod, Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori, have been using a camera and depth recorder attached to a long-line, which they lower into the sea from their research vessel.

Below the camera, they suspend a weighted jig – a set of ganged hooks to snag the squid – along with a single Japanese common squid as bait and an odour lure consisting of chopped-up shrimps.

At 0915 local time on 30 September 2004, they struck lucky. At a depth close to 1km in waters off Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, an 8m-long Architeuthis wrapped its long tentacles around the bait, snagging one of them on the jig.

Kubodera and Mori took more than 550 images of the giant squid as it made repeated attempts to detach itself.

The pictures show the squid spreading its arms, enveloping the long-line and swimming away in its efforts to struggle free.

Finally, four hours and 13 minutes after it was first snagged, the attached tentacle broke off, allowing the squid to escape. The researchers retrieved a 5.5m portion with the line.

Severed appendage

“It was exciting to get a live Architeuthis tentacle. It was still functioning when we got it on the boat,” Dr Kubodera told BBC News.

tentacle

giant squid tentacle

The large suckers repeatedly gripped the boat deck – and Dr Kubodera’s fingers when he prodded the severed appendage.

“The grip wasn’t as strong as I expected; it felt sticky,” he explained.

But while other researchers have suggested that Architeuthis is a rather sluggish creature, the images show it is in fact an energetic predator.

Dr Steve O’Shea, of the Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, told the BBC News website that he was extremely pleased for the researchers.

Kubodera, he said, had “ever-so-quietly been working away in the background on this for a number of years”.

And Dr O’Shea, a world renowned expert on giant squid, added: “From the point of view of the public, who believe this squid is the largest, the meanest, most aggressive squid that we have – it is hugely significant.”

Trawling threat

The Auckland-based researcher said now that the squid had been caught on camera, researchers could focus on other, lesser known squid species and on conservation.

Bottom-trawling by fisheries is destroying squid egg masses on the seabed, Dr O’Shea claimed. Evidence for this comes from an efficient squid predator – the sperm whale.

“Five of the species of squid that were staple in the diet of the sperm whale are recognised in New Zealand as threatened solely as a consequence of the effects of deep-sea bottom-trawling.”

“[Sperm whales] are returning from the Antarctic on their historic migratory route to one of the richest regions on Earth in terms of squid diversity. But the larder is bare and the poor things are washing up on the beaches here starved.”

The giant squid is by no means the largest known. Several other species, including the colossal squid Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, are thought to grow larger.





Please help WOLF MATES from being HOMELESS!




wolves

Timber Wolves

Please help WOLF MATES from being HOMELESS!

Saved as puppies from being fur coats or captive prey for trophy hunters, wolves Timber and Aurora were raised to be in wildlife films and now face homelessness. Please contribute so they can keep having a safe life and playing roles in educational media.

Conservationist, environmentalist and filmmaker Matthew Todd is striving to save these two timber wolves.

These wolves are in trouble and need your help immediately please!

We have always loved nature and supported environmental causes. We have even made wildlife films to share our views and hopefully inspire others. But we realized it was not enough. We wanted to take direct action. In this case we adopted two wolf pups that were heading for certain death. They were being bred to be fur coats or prey for canned trophy hunting farms (places tourists pay to kill wildlife in enclosed areas) in Saskatchewan. We decided to raise the pups in captivity in the best natural way possible and to socialize them just enough to get used to being around humans. We are happy they are still alive and healthy but it has been at great sacrifice…

We first got female pup Aurora and a year later male pup Timber. From the beginning it has been difficult: enclosures, cages, insurance, veterinarians, keepers and food costs. We have forsaken our social life as have had to live in isolated places where people are not disturbed by our having wolves, we had to move a few times (including a huge government approved enclosure) and there is endless bureaucracy dealing with tightening government regulations. Now, after 7 hard years the wolves are losing their present home and we are determined to make sure they do not end up homeless.

We need to raise us much money as possible immediately to ensure these wolves have a safe home to live out their lives. The funds will be used for housing, insurance, veterinarians, food, travel, and plans for long term care.

Please HELP wolves Timber and Aurora secure a well deserved home! We will do everything in our power to promote the wolves in the media as a symbol for all wildlife. By your helping to save them now will allow them to be in more films in future and continue to educate people of all ages to cherish and respect nature. We need support to keep them from homelessness…

Please help Matt. Here’s a link to his fund raising page

Here’s a short clip of the wolves in question.


Scientists probe mysterious wave of antelope deaths

 Scientists probe mysterious wave of antelope deaths

By Rory Galloway
BBC Science writer

mysterious disease

Around 120,000 Saiga antelope have died so far

Around half of the world’s critically endangered Saiga antelope have died suddenly in Kazakhstan since 10 May.

An unknown environmental trigger is thought to have caused two types of normally benign bacteria found in the antelopes’ gut to turn deadly.

The animals die within hours of showing symptoms, which include depression, diarrhoea and frothing at the mouth.

Because it is calving season, entire herds of female antelope and their new-born calves have been wiped out.

“They get into respiratory problems, they can’t breathe easily. They stop eating and are extremely depressed; the mothers die and then the calves are very distressed and then they die maybe one or two days later,” said Richard Kock from the Royal Veterinary College in London.

Prof Kock spoke to the BBC’s Science in Action programme after joining an international team in Kazakhstan studying the causes of the die-off.

Conservation setback

The Saiga antelope is a species adapted to cope with the extremes of temperature found on the central Asian steppes of Kazakhstan. They are about the size of a large sheep and once roamed in their millions from Great Britain to northern China.

Populations have fallen repeatedly due to hunting, reaching a low of around 50,000 individuals after the fall of the Soviet Union. This rendered the species critically endangered.

Saiga

Hunting brought Saiga numbers to a low of 50,000 in the 1990s

Conservationists have made great progress with Saiga in recent years, due to international efforts to reduce poaching and monitor their populations.

This die-off is a severe setback to the conservation effort because it has wiped out four of the six calving herds in the largest remaining – and best protected – “Betpak-dala” population, in central Kazakhstan.

Steffen Zuther, head of the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK), was monitoring calving in one of the herds containing thousands of affected animals.

“Over two days [in the herd I was studying] 80% of the calving population died,” he told the BBC.

The whole herd then died within two weeks.

Kazakhstan

Steffen Zuther has been monitoring herds of antelope in Kazakhstan

About 120,000 individual antelope have died, from a global population of approximately 250,000. Fortunately, mortality rates are now dropping, although the deaths continue in some populations.

“What we’re seeing is sort of a perfect storm of different factors,” Prof Kock explained.
Two different bacteria, pasteurelosis and clostridia, have been found in every dead animal studied. These bacteria are naturally found in the animals’ respiratory and gut systems, so something must have reduced the immunity of the animals.

One possible trigger is climatic. This year a very cold winter was followed by a wet spring, and this may have affected the immune competence of the animals, making them more vulnerable to the bacteria.

This, or some other trigger, pushed the animals past a threshold at which the bacteria overcame Saiga immune defences and became deadly enough to transmit to their calves.
dead antelope and calf

Because of its timing, the wave of deaths has claimed mothers and calves
“There’s no infectious disease that can work like this,” said Prof Kock. He added that the wave of Saiga deaths was not unprecedented. “[This] die-off syndrome has occurred on a number of occasions.”

In 1984, 2010 and 2012 there were massive die-offs, but none of these claimed such a massive proportion of the population. ‘Doesn’t make sense’

Despite these huge losses, Saiga antelope are surprisingly well adapted to recover quickly from population crashes.

“Its strategy for survival is based on a high reproductive rate, so [the Saiga] produce triplets and have the highest foetal biomass of any mammal. It’s built, in a sense, to recover from collapse,” Prof Kock said.

The Saiga’s natural habitat has dramatic temperature fluctuations. “In a very severe winter… you could lose 90% of the population.”

But losing 100% percent of some populations within two weeks “doesn’t make any sense” from a biological or evolutionary perspective, Prof Kock said.

There are five main populations of Saiga remaining in central Asia

Saiga antelope have been a conservation success story after recovering from their critical low in the 1990s. The animals now exist in five locations across central Asia, but all individuals affected by the sudden die-off are from the largest remaining Betpak-dala population in Kazakhstan.

This population consists of six major herds, of which four have been completely wiped out.

Steffen Zuther is going back into the field to investigate more remote populations. He hopes to identify what triggered this population collapse, so he can work to stop it happening again.


Prehistoric North Sea Atlantis hit by 5 metre tsunami

By Paul Rincon
Science editor, BBC News website

A prehistoric “Atlantis” in the North Sea may have been abandoned after being hit by a 5m tsunami 8,200 years ago.

The wave was generated by a catastrophic subsea landslide off the coast of Norway.

Analysis suggests the tsunami over-ran Doggerland, a low-lying landmass that has since vanished beneath the waves.

“It was abandoned by Mesolithic tribes about 8,000 years ago, which is when the Storegga slide happened,” said Dr Jon Hill from Imperial College London.

The wave could have wiped out the last people to occupy this island.

The research has been submitted to the journal Ocean Modelling and is being presented at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna this week.

Dr Hill and his Imperial-based colleagues Gareth Collins, Alexandros Avdis, Stephan Kramer and Matthew Piggott used computer simulations to explore the likely effects of the Norwegian landslide.

He told BBC News: “We were the first ever group to model the Storegga tsunami with Doggerland in place. Previous studies have used the modern bathymetry (ocean depth).”

As such, the study gives the most detailed insight yet into the likely impacts of the huge landslip and its associated tsunami wave on this lost landmass.


During the last Ice Age, sea levels were much lower; at its maximum extent Doggerland connected Britain to mainland Europe.

It was possible for human hunters to walk from what is now northern Germany across to East Anglia.

But from 20,000 years ago, sea levels began to rise, gradually flooding the vast landscape.

By around 10,000 years ago, the area would still have been one of the richest areas for hunting, fishing and fowling (bird catching) in Europe.

A large freshwater basin occupied the centre of Doggerland, fed by the River Thames from the west and by the Rhine in the east. Its lagoons, marshes and mudflats would have been a haven for wildlife.

“In Mesolithic times, this was paradise,” explained Bernhard Weninger, from the University of Cologne in Germany, who was not involved with the present study.

But 2,000 years later, Doggerland had become a low-lying, marshy island covering an area about the size of Wales.

The North Sea has given up wonderful prehistoric finds, like these bone points now kept at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, The Netherlands

This shaft-hole pick made from antler was found near Rotterdam in the Netherlands

The nets of North Sea fishing boats have pulled up a wealth of prehistoric bones belonging to the animals that once roamed this prehistoric “Garden of Eden”.

But the waters have also given up a smaller cache of ancient human remains and artefacts from which scientists have been able to obtain radiocarbon dates.

And they show that none of these relics of Mesolithic habitation on Doggerland occur later than the time of the tsunami.

The Storegga slide involved the collapse of some 3,000 cubic km of sediment.

“If you took that sediment and laid it over Scotland, it would cover it to a depth of 8m,” said Dr Hill.

Given that the majority of Doggerland was by this time less than 5m in height, it would have experienced widespread flooding.

These young Mesolithic women from Teviec, Brittany, were brutally murdered. As sea levels rose competition for resources may have intensified

“It is therefore plausible that the Storegga slide was indeed the cause of the abandonment of Doggerland in the Mesolithic,” the team writes in their Ocean Modelling paper.

Dr Hill told BBC News: “The impact on anyone who was living on Doggerland at the time would have been massive – comparable to the Japanese tsunami of 2011.”

But Bernhard Weninger suspects that Doggerland had already been vacated by the time of the Storegga slide.

“There may have been a few people coming with boats to fish, but I doubt it was continuously settled,” he explained.

“I think it was so wet by this time that the good days of Doggerland were already gone.”

Prof Vince Gaffney, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham, said: “I think they (the researchers) are probably right, because the tsunami would have been a catastrophic event.”

But he stressed that the archaeological record was sparse, and explained that two axes from the Neolithic period (after Storegga) had been retrieved from the North Sea’s Brown Banks area.

It is possible these were dropped from a boat – accidentally or as a ritual offering – but it is also unclear precisely when Doggerland finally succumbed to the waves.

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