Tuesday February 19, 2019
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‘World’s last male white rhinoceros will never mate’

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White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.

London: White rhinos are on the verge of extinction as it is unlikely that their last male member would father an offspring, conservationists say.

The world’s only remaining male of his kind, 42-year-old Sudan, is counting his days under armed protection to guard him from poachers, Daily Mail reported.

White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.
White rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.

“Sudan is quite an old animal as far as rhinos are concerned – he is an old animal and going to die soon, I think that is the reality,” said Richard Vigne, the chief executive of Ol Pejeta Conservancy – a 90,000-acre not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya.

“The quality of Sudan’s sperm is not particularly great. His ability to mount a female is almost non-existent due to problems with his back legs. It was always going to be a shot in the dark. We had the last remaining potentially reproductively viable northern whites left in the world and to recover a species from that level was always going to be a long shot,” he said.

Sudan was caught in the Shambe region when he was just one-year-old and shipped to the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.

In December 2009, he was moved to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy with two female northern white rhinos and another male, for a ‘Last Chance To Survive’ breeding program.

Three of the five northern white rhinos left in the world lived at Ol Pejeta and it was hoped Sudan would be able to mate with the females Fatu, 15, and Najin, 25, but so far all attempts have failed.

The other remaining male has now since passed away – meaning that as the last remaining male in the world, the fate of the species rests solely on Sudan’s shoulders.

The majestic animal is under guard 24-hours-a-day to protect him from poaching, and his horn has been filed down to further lower the risk of attack.

(IANS)

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World’s Largest Extinction Wiped Out Plants Before Animals, Says New Research

The team studied fossilised pollen, the chemical composition and age of rock, and the layering of sediment on the cliffsides of southeastern Australia. 

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earth, digital
Researchers found high concentrations of nickel in the Sydney Basin's mud-rock - surprising because there are no local sources of the element. Pixabay

The world’s largest extinction wiped out plants before many animal counterparts, says new research.

Roughly 252 million years ago, \nickel byproduct from a volcanic eruption in Siberia drifted to Australia, kicking off the Earth-spanning cataclysm known as the “Great Dying”.

Spewing carbon and methane into the atmosphere for roughly two million years, the eruption led to the extinction of about 96 per cent of oceanic life and 70 per cent of land-based vertebrates.

But the new study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers suggests that nickel may have driven some Australian plant life to extinction nearly 400,000 years before most marine species perished.

“That’s big news. People have hinted at that, but nobody’s previously pinned it down. Now we have a timeline,” said lead author Christopher Fielding.

Roughly 252 million years ago, nickel byproduct from a volcanic eruption in Siberia drifted to Australia, kicking off the Earth-spanning cataclysm known as the "Great Dying". 
Roughly 252 million years ago, nickel byproduct from a volcanic eruption in Siberia drifted to Australia, kicking off the Earth-spanning cataclysm known as the “Great Dying”.  . (VOA)

The team studied fossilised pollen, the chemical composition and age of rock, and the layering of sediment on the cliffsides of southeastern Australia.

They discovered high concentrations of nickel in the Sydney Basin’s mud-rock – surprising because there are no local sources of the element.

The finding, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, points to the eruption of lava through nickel deposits in Siberia, said Tracy Frank, Professor at the varsity.

That volcanism could have converted the nickel into an aerosol that drifted thousands of miles southward before descending on, and poisoning, much of the plant life there.

Fossils
The team studied fossilised pollen, the chemical composition and age of rock, and the layering of sediment on the cliffsides of southeastern Australia. VOA

Similar spikes in nickel have been recorded in other parts of the world, she explained.

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The phenomenon may also have triggered a series of others: herbivores dying from the lack of plants, carnivores dying from a lack of herbivores, and toxic sediment eventually flushing into seas already reeling from rising carbon dioxide, acidification and temperatures.

Though the time scale and magnitude of the Great Dying exceeded the planet’s current ecological crises, Frank said the emerging similarities – especially the spikes in greenhouse gases and continuous disappearance of species – make it a lesson worth studying. (IANS)