Found 3,520 Resources containing: Amazon
Last Friday, researchers from the Brazilian conservation group Bicho D’Água spotted a group of vultures circling a mangrove on the remote island of Marajó. Upon arriving to take a closer look, the team made a startling discovery: As Matthew Haag writes for The New York Times, the scavengers were feasting on the carcass of a 26-foot-long humpback whale calf—an unusual sight given the fact that at this time of year, the whale should’ve been some 4,000 miles away in its seasonal Antarctic feeding grounds.
Speaking with Brazilian news site O Liberal, Bicho D’Água marine biologist Renata Emin offered a possible explanation for the calf’s presence, explaining, “We’re guessing that the creature was floating close to the shore [when] the tide, which has been pretty considerable over the past few days, picked it up and threw it inland.”
Still, the Independent’s Tim Wyatt points out, it remains unclear why the whale was so far inland, let alone roaming the northern Brazilian coast. Although humpback whales typically congregate around the country’s southern Bahia coast during the August through November breeding season, it’s rare for the creatures to journey north toward the mouth of the Amazon River.
Haag of The New York Times further notes that during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, humpbacks migrate to the Antarctic’s warmer polar waters, abandoning the equatorial region of Brazil until the hemisphere’s winter months.
It’s likely the beached calf was separated from its mother during the whales’ mass migration south, Aamna Mohdin reports for the Guardian. Experts estimate the unlucky creature was about 12 months old—as the Epoch Times’ Louise Bevan writes, this is around the age when calves tend to depart from their mothers.
According to Bevan, the current leading hypothesis posits that the whale died at sea and was thrown about 50 feet inland by rough currents and high tides. Photographs of the scene offer few discernible clues to the calf’s cause of death, but as Bicho D’Água biologist Emin tells Brazilian news site G1, researchers are pursuing several lines of investigation: In addition to checking the calf for marks that could indicate whether it was trapped in a net or hit by a boat, the team is waiting on a necropsy report that should be ready within the next 10 days.
In the meantime, the Maritime Herald has raised at least one potential cause of death, suggesting that the calf died after ingesting plastics found in its marine environment. As EcoWatch reports, this is becoming an increasingly common occurrence across the world. Last November, a sperm whale washed up in Indonesia with nearly 13 pounds of plastic in its stomach.
Peter Evans, director of the British-based Sea Watch Foundation, shares an alternative theory with the Guardian’s Mohdin: “This calf probably got separated from its mother, maybe its mother had died, in the southern summer, and then wandered about trying to find food,” he says. “The idea that it was killed by ingesting plastic would need some evidence first to support it. It seems to me more likely that it simply starved to death.”
Unfortunately, the Telegraph’s Ryan Walker points out, it’s possible scavenging and decomposition that took place between the whale’s death and its discovery could hinder scientists from reaching definitive conclusions on its unusual fate.
Given the sheer size of the calf—despite the fact that it’s roughly half the size of an adult humpback, the whale still weighs a staggering 10 tons—and remote nature of its resting place, authorities plan on leaving the carcass largely intact. The creature’s skeleton, according to the Independent’s Wyatt, will be dismantled, preserved and sent to a natural history museum in the nearby city of Belem.
Since the 1990s, Brazilian officials have been tracking a man who is believed to be the lone surviving member of an isolated indigenous tribe. Though he is infrequently seen, the man leaves traces of his life in the Amazon jungle: a footprint here, a chopped tree there, holes for trapping prey, patches of planted fruit and vegetables.
Recently, as Sarah Dilorenzo of the Associated Press reports, officials released a short video of the unnamed man, offering a rare glimpse of one of the Brazil’s uncontacted tribespeople.
Brazil's National Indian Foundation, or Funai, recorded the brief video clip in 2011, but only made it public recently. Shot from a distance, the footage shows the man hacking at a tree with an axe. There is only one other known image of the man, captured by a documentary filmmaker in the 1990s, which shows his partially obscured face peering out from behind a cluster of thick foliage.
Anthropologists believe the man, who appears to be between 55 and 60 years old, has been living on his own in the jungles of Rondônia State for more than 20 years. The other members of his tribe were likely killed by ranchers, according to Ernesto Londoño of the New York Times. Funai has made several attempts to contact the man since, but he made it clear that he is not interested, even wounding an official with his arrow in 2005.
So Funai has been trying to help the man from a respectful distance. Officials have left him seeds and tools, and they are working to ensure that the area where he lives remains protected.
Altair Algayer, coordinator of the team that keeps track of the man, tells the AP’s Dilorenzo that officials wavered over releasing the tape because they could not ask the man for his permission. Ultimately, however, they decided to make the footage public, in the hope that it will reinforce the need to maintain legal protections of indigenous territories and call attention to the precarious existence of Brazil’s uncontacted peoples.
As logging, mining and farming industries push deeper into the Amazon, the more than 100 isolated tribes that live in Brazil have been facing acute threats to their existence. A major concern, according to the advocacy group Survival International, is disease. Isolated tribes are highly susceptible to flus and other infections transmitted by outsiders, and “it is not unusual” for 50 percent of a tribe to be wiped out by foreign illnesses within the first year of contact, Survival states.
Some indigenous groups have also been abandoning their land, driven away by noise and pollution. And some tribes have been deliberately attacked by ranchers and other industry workers vying for their land. Last year, for instance, 10 members of an uncontacted tribe were reportedly massacred by illegal gold miners in a remote region along the Jandiatuba River.
The Tanaru indigenous reserve, where the man in the video lives, is currently surrounded by ranchers and loggers, Slate reported in 2010, and Funai is struggling to keep the man and others like him safe. Budget cuts have forced the organization to shutter some of its monitoring stations, and Londoño of the Times reports that some of its outposts have been attacked by miners and loggers.
For now, however, the mysterious man in the video appears to be faring quite well. In May, the team that monitors him saw signs—footprints and a cut tree—indicating that he is still alive.
“He is the ultimate symbol of resilience and resistance,” Fiona Watson, research and advocacy director at Survival International, tells Londoño. “But we are witnessing genocide in real time. Once he’s gone, his people will have disappeared forever, along with all their history and knowledge.”
It can often feel like there is something deep and universal about a collection of notes making up a chord or arranged into a beautiful melody. For some, music can crawl up the spine and evoke real shivers. Over the centuries, Western music has assumed its highly developed system of harmony and intervals was tapping into some grand truth innately recognized by all humans; after all, even Justin Bieber's music is based on mathematical ratios described by Pythagoras himself.
But new research shows that it may all be in the listener’s head, Sarah Kaplan reports The Washington Post. “People tend to assume that features of music that are present in Western music have some kind of fundamental importance, some biological basis,” Josh McDermott, an auditory neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who traveled to the Amazon to study musical preference, tells Kaplan. “But this result suggests that isn't the case.”
A large chunk of the Earth’s population has been introduced to the Western musical tradition, meaning people grow up exposed to similar tone patterns and musical idioms. So McDermott decided to find a culture with no exposure to Western music to see if there was any biological or universal preference for Western harmonies.
According to a press release, anthropologist Ricardo Godoy invited McDermott to study members of the Tsimane. The indigenous people of some 12,000 farmers and foragers in the Bolivian Amazon have their own musical tradition, but it involves singing one line at a time and does not involve harmonies.
In 2011 and again in 2015, McDermott visited the Tsimane with Godoy. He tested 250 people playing them a series of notes, including consonant chords and dissonant chords, noting their preference for each, Ramin Skibba reports at Nature News.
The team also gave the same tests to Spanish-speaking villagers in a nearby town, people in the Bolivian capital of La Paz and groups of American musicians and non-musicians.
While they Tsimane could tell the difference between harmony and dissonance, they did not express a preference for one over the other. “What we found is the preference for consonance over dissonance varies dramatically across those five groups,” McDermott says in the press release. “In the Tsimane it’s undetectable, and in the two groups in Bolivia, there’s a statistically significant but small preference. In the American groups it’s quite a bit larger, and it’s bigger in the musicians than in the nonmusicians.”
The study concludes that musical preference comes from familiarity. "Rather than being an inevitable consequence of auditory system biology,” the researchers write in the study published in Nature, “it seems that the preferences exhibited by Western listeners for harmonic frequencies arise from exposure to Western music.”
In other words, if someone grows up with Bach and the Beatles, they learn to love the major scale. If they grew up in a family that listens to nothing but dissonant composers like Arnold Schoenberg and Balinese Gamelan music, then, well… they may need a separate study.
There is some evidence, however, that there could be some biological basis for the music we like and dislike. Skibba reports that McGill University neuroscientist Robert Zatorre points out that research on macaque monkeys show that they have neurons in their brain that respond differently to consonant and dissonant tones, something that may occur in the human brain as well. Still, he adds that humans are born with flexible brains and nervous systems, and are highly influenced by the environment they grow up in.
More than 15,000 years ago, humans began crossing a land bridge called Beringia that connected their native home in Eurasia to modern-day Alaska. Who knows what the journey entailed or what motivated them to leave, but once they arrived, they spread southward across the Americas.
The prevailing theory is that the first Americans arrived in a single wave, and all Native American populations today descend from this one group of adventurous founders. But now there’s a kink in that theory. The latest genetic analyses back up skeletal studies suggesting that some groups in the Amazon share a common ancestor with indigenous Australians and New Guineans. The find hints at the possibility that not one but two groups migrated across these continents to give rise to the first Americans.
“Our results suggest this working model that we had is not correct. There’s another early population that founded modern Native American populations,” says study coauthor David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard University.
The origin of the first Americans has been hotly debated for decades, and the questions of how many migratory groups crossed the land bridge, as well as how people dispersed after the crossing, continue to spark controversy. In 2008, a team studying DNA from 10,800-year-old poop concluded that a group of ancient humans in Oregon has ancestral ties to modern Native Americans. And in 2014, genetic analysis linked a 12,000-year-old skeleton found in an underwater cave in Mexico to modern Native Americans.
Genetic studies have since connected both these ancient and modern humans to ancestral populations in Eurasia, adding to the case that a single migratory surge produced the first human settlers in the Americas. Aleutian Islanders are a notable exception. They descend from a smaller second influx of Eurasians 6,000 years ago that bear a stronger resemblance to modern populations, and some Canadian tribes have been linked to a third wave.
Reich’s group had also previously found genetic evidence for a single founding migration. But while sifting through genomes from cultures in Central and South America, Pontus Skoglund, a researcher in Reich’s lab, noticed that the Suruí and Karitiana people of the Amazon had stronger ties to indigenous groups in Australasia—Australians, New Guineans and Andaman Islanders—than to Eurasians.
Other analyses haven’t looked at Amazonian populations in depth, and genetic samples are hard to come by. So the Harvard lab teamed up with researchers in Brazil to collect more samples from Amazonian groups to investigate the matter. Together they scrutinized the genomes of 30 Native American groups in Central and South America. Using four statistical strategies, they compared the genomes to each other and to those of 197 populations from around the world. The signal persisted. Three Amazonian groups—Suruí, Karitiana and Xavante—all had more in common with Australasians than any group in Siberia.Researchers mapped similarities in genes, mutations and random pieces of DNA of Central and South American tribes with other groups. Warmer colors indicate the strongest affinities. (Pontus Skoglund, Harvard Medical School)
The DNA that links these groups had to come from somewhere. Because the groups have about as much in common with Australians as they do with New Guineans, the researchers think that they all share a common ancestor that lived tens of thousands of years ago in Asia but that doesn’t otherwise persist today. One branch of this family tree moved north to Siberia, while the other spread south to New Guinea and Australia. The northern branch likely migrated across the land bridge in a separate surge from the Eurasian founders. The researchers have dubbed this hypothetical second group “Population y” for ypykuéra, or “ancestor” in Tupi, a language spoken by the Suruí and Karitiana.
When exactly Population y arrived in the Americans remains unclear—before, after or simultaneously with the first wave of Eurasians are all possibilities. Reich and his colleagues suspect the line is fairly old, and at some point along the way, Population y probably mixed with the lineage of Eurasian settlers. Amazonian tribes remain isolated from many other South American groups, so that’s probably why the signal remains strong in their DNA.
The results line up with studies of ancient skulls unearthed in Brazil and Colombia that bear stronger resemblance to those of Australasians than the skulls of other Native Americans. Based on the skeletal remains, some anthropologists had previously pointed to more than one founding group, but others had brushed off the similarities as a byproduct of these groups living and working in similar environments. Bones can only be measured and interpreted so many ways, while genes usually make a more concrete case.
“The problem so far was that there has never been strong genetic evidence to support this notion,” says Mark Hubbe, an anthropologist at Ohio State University who was not affiliated with the latest study.
But even genetic evidence is subject to skepticism and scrutiny. Cecil Lewis Jr., an anthropological geneticist at the University of Oklahoma, cautions that Amazonian groups are low on genetic diversity and are more susceptible to genetic drift. “This raises very serious questions about the role of chance … in creating this Australasian affinity,” he says.
Another group led by Eske Willerslev and Maanasa Raghavan at the University if Copenhagen reports in Science today that Native Americans descend from just one line that crossed the land bridge no earlier than 23,000 years ago. While they didn’t look at Amazonian groups in-depth, the team did find a weak link between Australasians and some South American populations, which they chalk up to gene flow from Eskimos.
There’s just one problem: Evidence of Population y doesn’t persist in modern Eurasian groups, nor does it seem to show up in other Native Americans. If Aleutian Islanders or their ancestors had somehow mixed with an Australasian group up north or made their way south to the Amazon, they'd leave genetic clues along the way. “It’s not a clear alternative,” argues Reich.
Both studies therefore suggest that the ancestry of the first Americans is a lot more complicated than scientists had envisioned. “There is a greater diversity of Native American founding populations than previously thought,” says Skoglund. “And these founding populations connect indigenous groups in far apart places of the world.”
Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon Valley : Lepidoptera : Heliconidae / by Henry Walter Bates, Esq
This year, I was on the judging panel for the Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Decade.
Much like Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this decade. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for a statistic that shines a light on the decade’s most pressing issues.
On Dec. 23, we announced the winner: the 8.4 million soccer fields of land deforested in the Amazon over the past decade. That’s 24,000 square miles, or about 10.3 million American football fields.(Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Mongabay)
This statistic, while giving only a snapshot of the issue, provides insight into the dramatic change to this landscape over the last 10 years. Since 2010, mile upon mile of rainforest has been replaced with a wide range of commercial developments, including cattle ranching, logging and the palm oil industry.
Calculating the cost
There are a number of reasons why this deforestation matters – financial, environmental and social.
First of all, 20 million to 30 million people live in the Amazon rainforest and depend on it for survival. It’s also the home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many at risk of extinction.
Second, one-fifth of the world’s fresh water is in the Amazon Basin, supplying water to the world by releasing water vapor into the atmosphere that can travel thousands of miles. But unprecedented droughts have plagued Brazil this decade, attributed to the deforestation of the Amazon.
During the droughts, in Sao Paulo state, some farmers say they lost over one-third of their crops due to the water shortage. The government promised the coffee industry almost US$300 million to help with their losses.
Finally, the Amazon rainforest is responsible for storing over 180 billion tons of carbon alone. When trees are cleared or burned, that carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Studies show that the social cost of carbon emissions is about $417 per ton.
Finally, as a November 2018 study shows, the Amazon could generate over $8 billion each year if just left alone, from sustainable industries including nut farming and rubber, as well as the environmental effects.
Some might argue that there has been a financial gain from deforestation and that it really isn’t a bad thing. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, went so far as to say that saving the Amazon is an impediment to economic growth and that “where there is indigenous land, there is wealth underneath it.”
In an effort to be just as thoughtful in that sense, let’s take a look. Assume each acre of rainforest converted into farmland is worth about $1,000, which is about what U.S. farmers have paid to buy productive farmland in Brazil. Then, over the past decade, that farmland amounts to about $1 billion.
The deforested land mainly contributes to cattle raising for slaughter and sale. There are a little over 200 million cattle in Brazil. Assuming the two cows per acre, the extra land means a gain of about $20 billion for Brazil.
Chump change compared to the economic loss from deforestation. The farmers, commercial interest groups and others looking for cheap land all have a clear vested interest in deforestation going ahead, but any possible short-term gain is clearly outweighed by long-term loss.
What if someone wanted to replant the lost rainforest? Many charity organizations are raising money to do just that.
At the cost of over $2,000 per acre – and that is the cheapest I could find – it isn’t cheap, totaling over $30 billion to replace what the Amazon lost this decade.
Still, the studies that I’ve seen and my calculations suggest that trillions have been lost due to deforestation over the past decade alone.
Effects of forest disturbance on breeding habitat availability for two species of anurans in the Amazon
Foraging strategy and breeding constraints of Rhinophylla pumilio (Phyllostomidae) in the Amazon lowlands
A narrative of travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, with an account of the native tribes, and observations on the climate, geology, and natural history of the Amazon valley. By Alfred R. Wallace ..
Spine title: Wallace's Travels.
Provenance: Class prize presentation bookplate to John F. Hornby, signed by A. Newland.
Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon Valley : Coleoptera--Longicornes : Part I. Lamiares / by H.W. Bates
Binder's title: Longicorns of the Amazon Valley.
Also available online.
Ent copy 39088003565389 is the 1st title bound with the author's Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon Valley (Coleoptera, Prionides). [London] 1869, and Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon Valley (Coleoptera,Cerambycidae). [London] 1870.