Bulgaria accused of illegal aid to fossil fuel power providers

LONDON/SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria has given 1.3 billion euros ($ 1.5 billion) in illegal aid to coal-fired and other power plants, according to a complaint filed with the European Commission by London-based lawyers ClientEarth on Thursday.

Reuters: Environment

36m-Year-Old Fossil Discovery Is Missing Link In Whale Evolution, Say Researchers

Ocean Leadership ~

A new study helps understand how baleen whales feed and filter water for food. (Credit: Teddy Llovet/Flickr)

(Click to enlarge)  (Credit: Teddy Llovet/Flickr)

Fossil hunters say they have unearthed a missing link in the evolution of baleen whales after digging up the remains of a creature thought to have lived more than 36 million years ago.

(From The Guardian) —  The whales, known as mysticeti, sport a bristling collection of sieve-like plates known as baleen that they use to filter water for food. Species include the enormous blue whale, the gray whale and the humpback whale.

But while baleen whales are known to have shared a common ancestor with toothed whales, which are the other major group of modern whales, the path by which the creatures emerged has been somewhat hazily understood. Now researchers say they have discovered the oldest known cousin of modern baleen whales, offering unprecedented insights into their evolution.

“This [split in the family tree] has been dated to about 38 or 39m years ago,” said Olivier Lambert, co-author of the research from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. “The whale we discovered here has been dated to 36.4 [million years ago], so it is only two to three million years younger than this presumed origin.”

Unearthed at a site known as Playa Media Luna on the southern coast of Peru, the newly discovered creature has been named Mystacodon selenensis – a portmanteau of the Greek for “moustache” and “tooth”, together with a nod to the Greek goddess of the moon.

The animal would have been just under four metres in length but, rather than boasting baleen, it had a mouthful of teeth and apparently vestigial hind limbs.

From an analysis of the skull, jaw and teeth, Lambert says that the newly unearthed animal likely hoovered up other marine creatures by suction feeding, moving its tongue to lower the pressure inside its mouth and draw its prey in, before expelling the water.

“If it was indeed using suction to catch its prey, it means that the prey items could not be too large, because the whole animal was swallowed in a single gulp – so medium sized fish, maybe small squid, could have been a good type of prey for such an animal,” he said.

By contrast, the ancestors of both baleen and toothed whales are thought to have captured prey by grabbing it with their teeth, a method also used by many modern toothed whales.

Read the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/11/36m-year-old-fossil-discovery-is-missing-link-in-whale-evolution-say-researchers-mystacodon-selenensis

The post 36m-Year-Old Fossil Discovery Is Missing Link In Whale Evolution, Say Researchers appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Leaked: UK £7 billion export credit for fossil fuel industry violates ‘clean energy’ pledge

Between 2011 and 2016 the UK’s export finance agency UKEF provided £109m to underwrite exports of equipment to coal mines in Russia, writes Lawrence Carter – despite the agency’s commitment not to support ‘investment in dirty fossil-fuel energy production’. And that’s just a fraction of the £6.9 billion UKEF has lavished on the corrupt, polluting sector since 2000, while it was meant to be backing the clean energy technologies of the future.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Ecologist Special Report: Divesting from investment in fossil fuels gains momentum in the UK

Since the beginning of the year, increasing efforts by both public and private institutions to reduce their exposure to fossil fuel investments have emerged and over the weekend, UK campaigners further stepped up the pressure in a serious of co-ordinated Global Divestment Mobilisation (GDM) calls for continued divestment. Remo Bebié takes an overview
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

A climate insurgency: building a Trump-free, fossil-free future

After 99 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, his only achievement is to pursue his anti-climate, anti-environment agenda with a cruel passion that is already alienating a clear majority of Americans, writes Jeremy Brecher. The Peoples Climate March tomorrow will signal the strength of the fightback. And while there will be no overnight victory, a national, indeed a global movement is forming to resist Trump and bring the age of fossil fuels to its long overdue end.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Fossil Shows Pregnant Momma Sea Monster With Developing Embryo

Ocean Leadership ~

A new study found an ancient pre-dinosaur reptile fossilized with its embryo, indicating it gave birth to live young. (Credit: David Peters / Wikimedia Commons)

(Click to enlarge) A new study found an ancient pre-dinosaur reptile fossilized with its embryo, indicating it gave birth to live young. (Credit: David Peters / Wikimedia Commons)

An extraordinary fossil unearthed in southwestern China shows a pregnant long-necked marine reptile that lived millions of years before the dinosaurs with its developing embryo, indicating this creature gave birth to live babies rather than laying eggs.

(From Reuters / By Will Dunham)– Scientists on Tuesday said the fossil of the unusual fish-eating reptile called Dinocephalosaurus, which lived about 245 million years ago during the Triassic Period, changes the understanding of the evolution of vertebrate reproductive systems.

Mammals and some reptiles including certain snakes and lizards are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young.

Dinocephalosaurus is the first member of a broad vertebrate group called archosauromorphs that includes birds, crocodilians, dinosaurs and extinct flying reptiles known as pterosaurs known to give birth this way, paleontologist Jun Liu of China’s Hefei University of Technology said.

It boasted one of the longest necks relative to body size of any animal that ever existed. Dinocephalosaurus, unearthed in Yunnan Province, was an estimated 13 feet (4 meters) long, including a slender neck roughly 5-1/2 feet (1.7 meters) long, Liu said. It had paddle-like flippers, a small head and a mouth with teeth, including large canines, perfect for snaring fish.

“I think you’d be amazed to see it, with its tiny head and long snaky neck,” said University of Bristol paleontologist Mike Benton, who also participated in the research published in the journal Nature Communications.

Its body plan was similar to plesiosaurs, long-necked marine reptiles akin to Scotland’s mythical Loch Ness Monster that thrived later during the dinosaur age, though they were not closely related.

Not laying eggs provided advantages to Dinocephalosaurus, the researchers said. It indicated the creature was fully marine, not having to leave the ocean to lay eggs on land like sea turtles, exposing the eggs or hatchlings to land predators.

Read the full article here: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-science-creature-idUSKBN15T2Q7

The post Fossil Shows Pregnant Momma Sea Monster With Developing Embryo appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

World's biggest tropical carbon sink found in Congo rainforest

A 145,000 sq km area of peatland swamp forest has been discovered in the Congo Basin, writes Tim Radford, and it holds a record 30 Gt of carbon, equivalent to 20 years of US fossil fuel emissions. Now the race is on to protect it from damaging development that would emit that carbon over coming decades.

ENN: Top Stories

ECB’s ‘quantitative easing’ funds fossil fuels, arms, cars and climate change

What kind of companies is the European Central Bank supporting by buying €46 billion of their bonds under its QE programme? Research by Corporate Europe Observatory reveals a strong preference for oil, gas, tar sands, dirty power generation, armaments, aviation, airports, car makers, motorways, luxury goods and gambling. Our sustainable be future be damned!
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

The Big Shift: Why the banks need to stop investing OUR money in fossil fuels

The world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries are doing their bit to promote the expansion of renewable energy. The least we can do in the developed world is to ensure the money in our bank account helps rather than hinders their efforts, writes JOE WARE
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Pew: Renewable energy enjoys wide support while fossil fuels divide national opinion

Pew Research's “Politics of Climate” survey is a mixed bag for energy industry watchers, revealing a solid chunk of Americans support expanded fossil fuel use, while almost everyone supports renewables.

“One spot of unity in an otherwise divided environmental policy landscape is that the vast majority of Americans support the concept of expanding both solar and wind power,” the think tank said in a blog post. “The public is more closely divided when it comes to expanding fossil fuel energies such as coal mining, offshore oil and gas drilling, and hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas.”

ENN: Top Stories