libutron:

The Saiga (Saiga tatarica): on the verge of extinction

Commonly known as Saiga, Mongolian Saiga, and Saiga Antelope, Saiga tatarica (Bovidae) is a very distinctive looking antelope, with a large, proboscis-like nose which hangs down over its mouth.

The Saiga’s nose has a unique internal structure: the bones are greatly developed and convoluted, and the long nostrils contain numerous hairs, glands and mucous tracts. The trunk-like nose of the Saiga is a striking example of an exaggerated trait, assumed to having evolved as a dust filter for inhaled air. In addition, it functions to elongate the vocal tract in harem saiga males for producing low-formant calls that serve as a cue to body size for conspecifics.

Two subspecies are recognized: Saiga tatarica tatarica, and Saiga tatarica mongolica. The nominate subspecies is found in one location in Russia, while the Mongolian subspecies is found only in western Mongolia.

Renowned for its high reproductive potential, the species was thought to be able to withstand even relatively high levels of hunting for its horns - less than 20 years ago, the total saiga population stood at more than one million, and appeared relatively stable. However, intensified poaching pressures during the 1990s, coupled with a breakdown of law enforcement following the collapse of the Soviet Union, caused numbers to plummet to fewer than 50,000 in just one decade – one of the most sudden and dramatic population crashes of a large mammal ever seen.

Currently the Saiga is classified as Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Igor Shpilenok | Locality: unknown] - [Bottom: ©Xavier Bayod Farre | Locality: captive at Kölner Zoo, Humboldtkolonie, Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, 2007]

griseus:

USING LIVING FISH TO STUDY ANCIENT EVOLUTIONARY CHANGES: How plasticity works in evolution race

Ambitious experimental and morphological studies of a modern fish show how developmental flexibility may have helped early ‘fishapods’ to make the transition from finned aquatic animals to tetrapods that walk on land.

The origin of tetrapods from their fish antecedents, approximately 400 million years ago, was coupled with the origin of terrestrial locomotion and the evolution of supporting limbs. Polypterus is a ray-finned fish (actinopterygians) and is pretty similar to elpistostegid fishes, which are stem tetrapods.

Polypterus therefore serves as an extant analogue of stem tetrapods, allowing us to examine how developmental plasticity affects the ‘terrestrialization’ of fish. How else would you find out what behavioral and physiological changes might have taken place when fish first made the move from sea to land over 400 million years ago? putting a fish walking on land…

(read more)

artchipel:

David Jien (USA)

David Jien’s art takes visitors into a world filled with adventure, danger and sex. Old-fashioned romance simmers beneath the surfaces of the 30-year-old’s super-cool drawings, suffusing their action-packed dramas with unexpected tenderness. Artist’s works on paper tell his life story — not literally, like so much of the self-infatuated navel-gazing that digital technology makes possible, but with a more generous, user-friendly mix of poetic license, youthful excess, dreamy passion and labor-intensive devotion. Jien treats the facts of his biography — first-generation Taiwanese American, veteran tagger who spent time in jail and recent art school graduate — as raw material for the fantastic stories that unfold in his pictures. Inspired by such disparate sources as Nintendo, Persian miniatures, Chinese scrolls, Homer, Chaucer, Stanley Kubrick, Roald Dahl, Henry Darger and Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jien’s art brings far-flung elements into a form-savvy epic that is familiar and formidable and a thrill to get lost in. (see more: David Pagel reviews David Jien’s “The Plight of the Who” at Richard Heller Gallery)

© All images courtesy of the artist

[more David Jien | artist found at juxtapoz]

Why is Tumblr in love with the Arctic Monkeys?