Friday, 20 November 2009

Even More Crocodiles for the Newspaper Front Page

The local newspaper in Darwin is renowned for having crocodile stories on the front page. Afterall, the local region is a very significant crocodile region with large areas of crocodile habitat and many large crocodiles.

Below is a superb new crocodile story.........will it make the NT News front page? Will Wicking produce a cartoon to match?

These are momentous decisions for the highly acclaimed editors at the newspaper.

However, it is an interesting thought......a world full of crocodiles. How would Swamp the cartoon character in the newspaper handle so many competitors?

New fossils reveal world full of crocodiles

New fossils unearthed in the Sahara desert reveal a once-swampy world divided up among a half-dozen species of unusual and perhaps intelligent crocodiles, researchers have found.

Researchers have given some of the new species snappy names - BoarCroc, RatCroc, DogCroc, DuckCroc and PancakeCroc - but say their findings help build an understanding of how crocodilians were and remain such a successful life form.

They lived during the Cretaceous period 145 million to 65 million years ago, when the continents were closer together and the world was warmer and wetter than it is now. Some walked upright with their legs under the body like a land mammal instead of sprawled out to the sides, bellies touching the ground. "We were surprised to find so many species from the same time in the same place," said paleontologist Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal. "Each of the crocs apparently had different diets, different behaviours. It appears they had divided up the ecosystem, each species taking advantage of it in its own way."

Mr Larsson and Paul Sereno from the University of Chicago, funded by National Geographic, studied the jaws, teeth and what few bones they had of the crocodiles. They also did CT scans to see inside the skulls.

Two of the species, DogCroc and DuckCroc, had brains that looked different from those of modern crocodiles.

"They may have had slightly more sophisticated brain function than living crocs because active hunting on land usually requires more brain power than merely waiting for prey to show up," Mr Larsson said.

RatCroc, a new species formally named Araripesuchus rattoides, was found in Morocco and would have used its buck-toothed lower jaw to grub for food.

PancakeCroc, known as Laganosuchus thaumastos, was six metres long with a big, flat head.

DuckCroc represents new fossils found in Niger from a previously known species called Anatosuchus minor. It would have eaten grubs and frogs with its broad snout.

The more ferocious BoarCroc was also six metres long but ran upright and had a jaw built for ramming, with three pairs of knife-like teeth.

"Their amphibious talents in the past may be the key to understanding how they flourished in, and ultimately survived, the dinosaur era," Mr Sereno said.

[sourced from ABC web site ex Reuters]

Saturday, 14 November 2009

It Is NOT Frog Weather Now

Having a short sojourn in the city of churches.......of Australia [ every country has one don't they?], Adelaide.

It is stinking HOT..............a week of temperatures around 38 - 39C, with the big 40 predicted for tomorrow, with more to come next week.

And super low humidity. Definitely hiding time for sensible monsoon frogs. Should have stayed home, it has been ideal humid and stormy weather in Darwin this week. However, I am engaged in serious humanitarian deeds for a week or two in the city of Adelaide.

Here people hide during the day, as the temperature builds up, slowly to emerge after the sun descends into oblivion. Or, alternatively, hide in the air conditioned buildings during the day. The high temperatures are not so bad, being used to that, but everything you touch is RED HOT, as the sun is very fierce.

There is a major equestrian event here this weekend, and the horses will be under a bit of stress as they compete. I thought it was only mad dogs and Englishmen who went out into the midday sun, but it seems the horsey set do too.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Yellow Flowers - But Be Quick

I have been photographing a few local "significant" trees recently.

Yes, as I said, it is that time of year when many trees flower. So they can set seeds into the wet season, and hopefully germinate a few replacement seeds that will become new trees.

While there have been a few over the past few weeks, this past week has been the time for weeping rosewood trees to do their thing. They have a beautiful, pendulous crown and the shade under a weeping rosewood is very dense, for all of about 50 weeks each year.......not 52 though.

They have been flowering this past week or so, and they are very eyecatching with a large dense crown thoroughly covered in bright golden flowers. But you need to be quick, as the flowers are really an "all or nothing" event, rapidly going from bright yellow flowers to almost no colour as the flowers are rapidly shed onto tthe ground. THEN........they lose most of the leaves, but for about 1-2 weeks, during which time they look awful. It is not uncommon for newcomers to think the tree has died, or maybe, succumbed to termites.

Then a verdant green replacement set of leaves arrives on the scene, for another year.

One photo is of a single tree, not far from our house two days ago - in full colour. It is magnificent. The others are of a group of trees on a major road - yesterday they were still resplendent in yellow, but today........look hard and see what is left of the flowers, as a pale yellow brown tinge.......with leaf fall to come. It happens that quickly.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Frog Night

Last night was Frog Night. It rained, about 25mm, the best fall so far this Wet Season and the first decent fall for a month. It rained steadily over about 45 minutes, then eased to a sprinkle.

And the green tree frogs started to bark, and loud it was hard to hear inside the house.

Many do not believe how loud they can be and how many there are around, especially in our area. Most local gardens have good surface mulch and they seem to enjoy living in that, but last night they were out singing in their numbers.

Only the males make a loud bark........looking for a mate. That is one way I guess, you need to let them know you are around.

Tonight the noise is not so loud, but there are still quite a few lurking around in the garden.

The green tree frogs seem to have not suffered major reductions in numbers due to the arrival of the horrible Cane Toads, at least so far in urban areas.

While they are very loud after rain it is nice to know they are around. But ladies, take care when going to the toilet; at least turn on the tree frogs in the loo are common and the hands are clammy. [so I am told!] Definitely better than a redback spider on the toilet seat though.

Monday, 2 November 2009

More Mysterious Steps - in RED and Silver

The steps are more are appearing in both red and silver, as well as the original yellow.

It is intriguing.........who is the perpetrator??

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Darwin is an interesting town..........not the least for the local dogs.

Current thinking over this post is being driven by the fact that now, at nearly midnight, after walking the dog over the past hour has introduced me to a new crazy lot of dogs, cosily esconsed behind their 2 metre fences.

Tonight we went out a different route, along the new cycle path that covers the new underground power cables. A beautiful smooth 3m wide concrete path, mostly well lit. But then it stopped and we crossed to the other side near houses.

Normally, the walking route, although going past a few houses with dogs, is relatively quiet. My dog, a large Rhodesian Ridgeback is like most Ridgebacks, very bark much at all, and the usual dogs tend to bark once or twice and then stay quiet.

No, not tonight..........this lot are a crazy, noisy, fang showing, fence hitting mob of lunatic dogs. And included among the worst were two tiny dogs - about 15cm tall........but oh did they bark! And they were relatively innocous, compared to the rest, those fence smacking types.

I do wonder how this situation would be if a child was walking past at any time.

Sure, we have problems with itinerants, and house breaking, but this was a bit much. Why should these dogs be so aggressive, in comparison to the others?

Miss Kool herself [the Ridgeback] showed considerable self restraint, haughtiness and a deal of derision......those crazy, crazy barking dogs, stuck behind a fence and I am out walking. Up yours! I am sure she was thinking those thoughts or similar.

And not once did a voice sound from within the yard of the barking dog, lights still on in the house or not.

Ah ha.........the obvious cause.............full moon! Yes, RIGHT!