Iguana Relative Shows How Lizards Spread Worldwide

An 80-million-year-old lizard discovered in southern Brazil has provided a surprising clue about how these reptiles evolved, and where they once lived, according to a new study.

Until now, researchers had found acrodontans only in the Old World, including Africa and Asia. (This is a type of lizard is called an iguanian that has teeth fused to the top of its jaws, a group that includes chameleons and bearded dragons.) But the newfound fossil, a partial lower jaw of a new species of acrodontan, shows that they lived in the New World much earlier than thought.

The fossil suggests that acrodontans managed to distribute themselves worldwide before the ancient supercontinent Pangaea broke up about 200 million years ago, the researchers said. [Image Gallery: 25 Amazing Ancient Beasts]

“This fossil is an 80-million-year-old specimen of an acrodontan in the New World,” study co-author Michael Caldwell, a biological sciences professor at the University of Alberta in Canada, said in a statement. “It’s a missing link in the sense of the paleobiogeography and possibly the origins of the group, so it’s pretty good evidence to suggest that back in the lower part of the Cretaceous, the southern part of Pangaea was still a kind of single continental chunk.”

The jaw, photographed from different angels, of Gueragama sulamerica.
Credit: Tiago Simoes and Adriano Kury

View full size image

Paleontologists discovered the fossil in the rock outcrops of desert that dates to the late Cretaceous in the Brazilian municipality of Cruzeiro do Oeste. The researchers named the new species Gueragama sulamericana — guera meaning “ancient” in native Brazilian; “agama” in reference to agamid, a family of iguanian lizards; and “sulamericana” meaning “from South America” in Portuguese.

The jaw is missing a few teeth, but has room for 18 of them, and the teeth almost uniformly increase in size from the front to the back of the mouth, the researchers found.

During the Late Cretaceous, G. sulamericana lived in an arid desert environment, although evidence of ancient wetlands suggests that water was available seasonably, the researchers said. G. sulamericana also had company. Other fossil findings, including “hundreds of bones” of the pterosaur species Caiuajara dobruskii, show that larger animals lived there, too, the researchers wrote in the study.

G. sulamericana may have lived in burrows to avoid extreme daytime heat, just as some modern lizards do today, the researchers added.

Surprise finding

Among living lizards, iguanians comprise one of the most diverse groups, with more than 1,700 species. Previous research has found that acrodontan iguanians dominated the Old World, and nonacrodontan iguanians (such as iguanas) dominated the New World, particularly the American South, Caldwell said.

The oldest known acrodontans are from the early to middle Jurassic period in present-day India. However, now researchers know that acrodontans had spread elsewhere in the world by the late Cretaceous, the researchers said.

“This Gueragama sulamericana fossil indicates that the group is old, that it’s probably southern Pangaean in its origin,” Caldwell said. “After the [Pangaean] breakup, the acrodontans and chameleon group dominated in the Old World, and the iguanid side arose out of this acrodontan lineage that was left alone on South America.”

Eventually, nonacrodontans replaced acrodontans in the Americas. But nonacrodontans remain as natives in the Old World, the researchers said.

“This is an Old World lizard in the New World at a time when we weren’t expecting to find it,” Caldwell said. “It answers a few questions about iguanid lizards and their origin.”

STEPS TO FOLLOW WHILE GETTING YOUR PET A PET INSURANCE

steps-to-follow-while-getting-your-pet-a-pet-insuranceWe get a knock out of the chance to know the nuts and bolts of pet protection since it is imperative. However, how about we return to the fundamental purpose of this article? How does pet protection work? It is truly basic, and it can be separated into three stages.

Step 1 – Get Proper Treatment From The Vet

In the case of something happens, and your pet needs therapeutic consideration, take them to the vet.

Step 2 – File a Claim

Every organization has its own procedure for recording claims, yet ordinarily, you can download the case structure from the organization’s site, round it out, and attach the receipts while sending it to the vet office.

Step 3 – Get Reimbursed

Most pet protection arranges have diverse levels of repayment that you can look over, contingent upon the sum you are willing to spend every month. When you present your case, the insurance agency will repay you in five to 14 business days.

It is not a muddled procedure, but rather you ought to ensure you pick an insurance agency that will truly deal with you and your pet.

Things to ask About Pet Insurance

As you are searching for pet protection, there are a few inquiries you ought to request that ensure you discover an organization that addresses your issues.

Will you utilize your present vet?

Great pet insurance agencies do permit you to utilize any authorized vet in the United States, and some will even cover visits in Canada. That way, in case you are going with your pet, and something happens, you can, in any case, record a case.

Do insurance agencies repay what the vet charges?

Yes. There are not any profit cut-off points or additional expenses, however, the repayment sum relies on upon the level you looked over the starting. Commonly, you can pick repayment measures of nd even, yet these levels will influence your month to month premium.

Do you need to pay additional for inherited, intrinsic, or endless conditions to be secured?

Usually, the response to this is no. If it’s not, then you ought to investigate other pet insurance agencies.

Are prior conditions secured?

Similarly, as with most insurance agencies, prior conditions are not secured. You may run over the uncommon insurance agency that will cover previous conditions.

Does the approach of routine check up considerate?

Here’s the place you must be cautious: some insurance agencies will cover routine consideration, yet they won’t cover much for real episodes, for example, surgery. The best pet insurance agencies do not cover routine consideration since they are intended to cover the costly care alternatives.

Using Animal Control To Get Rid Of Unwanted Critters

Animal Control in Carlsbad, CA is responsible for dealing with most of the animal related disturbances for San Diego County, including all of the incorporated and unincorporated areas within. But you may be at a loss if you should contact the City of Carlsbad, who contracts with the County of San Diego for animal control services, or if you should contact the county itself. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to make sure that you are contacting the right department, as well as ensuring that you are not putting yourself in any unnecessary risk.

If you are just looking to adopt a pet, license one you have already, or any other pet matter that is unrelated to a disturbance you should contact the County of San Diego directly. They operate three shelters, including the one in Carlsbad, so you should not have to contact animal control in Carlsbad at all for any peaceful inquiries. Carlsbad animal control is mostly responsible for dealing with animal disturbances that pose an immediate threat to people or animals. So be sure to ask yourself how urgent your inquiry is, and that should help guide you to the correct organization.

A situation requiring animal control assistance would be suspected abuse to an animal in your neighborhood. If you here constant barking, or desperate shrieks from a nearby cat then you may need to call Carlsbad Animal Control. You should not do any private sleuthing to investigate the situation. First of all, an abused animal can typically display violent tendencies, so you may not want to pose yourself as an intruder.

Secondly, you do not want to risk your credibility by having your neighbor call the police on you for trying to “rescue” his pet. Carlsbad Animal Control employs highly trained individuals who have been primed to investigate such occurrences and determine if any abuse has occurred, and take the animal away from its owner if any danger is posed to it. Always trust the professionals to take care of the problems in their field.

If a dead animal is found on the road then you should contact the City of Carlsbad. Dead animals are not just smelly and unsightly, they can also spread disease. Do not attempt to remove the animal yourself, because you probably do not know for sure what killed it and if it poses any danger to you. Once again, just let the professionals who are paid to take care of this problem remove it for you.

Another major problem can be wild dogs roaming the area. A wild dog can be extremely dangerous, so Carlsbad Animal Control should be contacted. Many of these animals have been abused and are very afraid of people, so any attempt to scare the dog into leaving may backfire, prompting the dog to attack you in defense.

In addition, a wild dog has no way of receiving regular vaccinations, so there is a chance that it could be infected with rabies. Animal Control has the necessary training and tools to safely remove the dog, and wild dog removal should never be attempted without their assistance. And, though they may be a terrible nuisanceFree Articles, Animal Control in Carlsbad is not supposed to respond to a skunk in the backyard or an opossum. So make sure you have a genuine emergency before calling.

The Cute and Complicated Science of Raising Twin Pandas

The little panda was cold, low energy and having trouble breathing before its heart stopped beating. But the zoo baby left an indelible mark on its caretakers and admirers before it died, just days after being born to mother Mei Xiang, along with its brother. During its short life, the twin rode atop a lacrosse stick, snuggled with its mother and fed from a bottle, the last of which may have led to its demise.

The final necropsy results aren’t complete, but the butter-stick-size panda likely died when fluid got into its lungs and caused inflammation, a condition called aspiration pneumonia. Veterinarians are unsure whether the cub got the condition during a bottle-feeding blunder or from formula it regurgitated, said Dr. Donald Neiffer, the chief veterinarian at Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

“Whether or not the baby aspirated some of that [regurgitated] material or whether he aspirated material earlier in the day, we don’t know, and we will never know,” Neiffer told Live Science. [See Photos of Mei Xiang’s New Twin Panda Cubs]

Express delivery

The pink and fuzzy cubs are part of a delicate plan, orchestrated on an international level, to preserve the giant panda species and, one day, introduce captive-bred pandas back into the wild. Just 1,864 giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) exist in the wild, according to a 2015 panda census. An additional 395 of the roly-poly fur balls live in breeding centers and zoos around the world, said Devin Murphy, a spokesperson for Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Wild panda numbers increased by about 17 percent in the past decade, according to the 2015 census. American zoos are doing their part to breed and raise the animals, all on loan from China. Right now, there are 13 giant pandas in U.S. zoos, including San Diego Zoo, Memphis Zoo, Zoo Atlanta and the National Zoo.

The new twins were born to Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), the star mother at the National Zoo. Mei Xiang, whose name means “beautiful fragrance,” has three surviving offspring, including Tai Shan (born in 2005), who now lives in China; Bao Bao (born in 2013), who lives at the National Zoo; and the surviving panda twin, which will be named this autumn.The second-retrieved cub squirms as a team examines its weight, length, mouth, heart rate and breathing.

Credit: Pamela Baker-Masson, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

View full size image

Each pregnancy is a carefully timed operation, as female pandas are only fertile for about two days a year. (Finding that fertile window can be tricky.) Mei Xiang didn’t go into estrus in 2014, because she was still nursing Bao Bao. But this year, the zoo’s endocrinologists began monitoring the panda’s hormones, a glamorous job that consists of analyzing panda urine on a weekly basis, Murphy said.

Zookeepers have also done their part to encourage Mei Xiang to mate naturally with Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN), a male giant panda at the National Zoo, but “unfortunately, our pandas have never figured out how to successfully breed,” said Laurie Thompson, a giant panda biologist at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “They both have positioning issues, so we always have had to artificially inseminate her.”

So, as Mei Xiang’s urinary estrogen levels spiked, zookeepers kept an express delivery of semen on hand from potential father Hui Hui (h-WEI h-WEI), a genetically diverse match, who hails from the Chinese Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan. And to increase the likelihood of a pregnancy, veterinarians supplemented the sample with fresh semen from Tian Tian. On April 26 and 27, veterinarians artificially inseminated Mei Xiang.

“Then, we waited,” Murphy told Live Science. “Since pandas have delayed implantation, we just had to wait it out to see when she would start exhibiting behaviors consistent with a pregnancy or pseudopregnancy.” During such false pregnancies, a female panda can snooze a lot, craft bamboo nests, and even cradle foods and toys as if they were real cubs — making it nearly impossible for zookeepers to know if there’s a fetus in the panda’s belly.

Then, on Aug. 19, an ultrasound revealed a fetus, and zoo staff began a 24-hour watch for a delivery. Shortly after, on the morning of Aug. 22, Mei Xiang went into labor. [In Photos: Giant Panda Mei Xiang Gives Birth]

Twin birth

The first cub popped out at 5:35 p.m. EDT.

“I believe there was a cheer and high-fiving,” said Thompson, who was watching the panda cam with colleagues in another room.

Mei Xiang looked so calm that Thompson emailed the zoo’s panda team, saying it didn’t appear that a twin was on the way. But at 10:07 p.m., Mom surprised everyone by delivering a second cub.

Zookeeper Shellie Pick cares for the smaller panda cub in the incubator on Aug. 24. At the time, Pick was weighing the cub, stimulating it to go to the bathroom and taking its temperature.
Credit: Heather Roberts, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

View full size image

“When they’re born, they come out screaming, so there was a little, squealy thing on the ground, and she [Mei Xiang] had one that she was already holding,” Thompson said. “She was figuring out how to pick up the second one without dropping the first one, and she wasn’t really able to do it.”

Immediately, the zookeepers began to follow a “twin protocol” used by panda experts in the United States and China. The caretakers dressed in scrubs, approached Mei Xiang’s den and grabbed the squirmy cub that was on the ground — the larger of the twins.

Newborn cubs can’t regulate their own temperature, so zookeepers put the cub in a heated and humidified incubator, said panda-keeper Juan Rodriguez. Then, they did a medical checkup, and put the cub they’d retrieved to bed in the incubator.

Newborn cubs feed every 2 hours, so the zookeepers prepared for a cub swap. They put the larger twin on the ground about 3 feet (1 meter) away from Mei Xiang. When she heard it crying, she put down the smaller twin, allowing zookeepers to whisk that cub away after Mei Xiang picked up its brother. Soon, the smaller twin was in the incubator and then getting a medical checkup.

“The little one was really feisty,” Rodriguez said. “He tried to jump out of the scale area. We had to wrap him up like a burrito to get a good weight on him.”

The panda team was tired, but the twins were doing well.

Lacrosse-stick solution

The swaps went without a hitch, until Aug. 24, when a curious thing happened: Whenever zookeepers would put a squealing cub on the ground near Mei Xiang, she wouldn’t retrieve it. Instead, she would act as if the cub in her possession were crying, and tend to it.

The lacrosse stick that the panda team used to help swap the panda twins.
Credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo

View full size image

“We had to change the process a little bit,” Rodriguez told Live Science. “We had to bring the cub closer, so she could actually visualize it a little bit better and realize, ‘Oh, this is the cub that’s crying, not the one on me.'”

Zookeepers couldn’t enter Mei Xiang’s den, for safety reasons — after all, she’s still an undomesticated, protective mamma bear, Rodriguez said. [Baby Panda Photos: See a Cub Growing Up]

Surprisingly, a lacrosse stick did the trick. The panda team covered the lacrosse-stick net with brown paper (so the cub’s feet wouldn’t get stuck in the netting) and held it out to Mei Xiang, so she could see the crying cub. Then, a member of the panda team stuck a hand into a hole in the den’s wall, felt around for Mom’s right armpit (where she usually tucked the cubs) and removed the other twin.

It was an unnerving situation.

“Your arm is in there with the bear,” Rodriguez said.

Luckily, in her post-pregnancy haze, Mei Xiang was largely oblivious to the outside world, focusing most of her attention on the cub. Even so, each swap required three to four people, each of whom received training, Murphy said.

The lacrosse-stick method helped the swaps proceed, allowing the team to continue switching the cubs between the incubator and Mom, Rodriguez said.

Last days

Until the panda team developed the lacrosse-stick method, they couldn’t always switch the twins on time. During one long stint in the incubator on Aug. 24, the little panda twin needed fluids and nutrients. So, the panda team fed it with a handheld bottle holding formula made from water, and human and puppy formula, Neiffer said.

“We noticed that he was having some trouble with the nipples, a little bit of troubling swallowing. The milk was pooling up in his throat,” Neiffer said. “And we worry about aspiration of that material into the lungs. It’s one of our biggest concerns.”

Feeding baby animals is as challenging as it is gratifying, and usually involves two to three people, he said.

“With small mammals and birds, you can be the most talented and excellent bottle feeder, and you can have these [aspirations] occur,” Neiffer said. “If the baby is literally sucking a drop of milk from a bottle and decides it’s going to squirm or vocalize, and that drop falls into the trachea, even a small amount can start a pretty significant reaction.”

To be cautious, the caretakers started the cub on antibiotics that target respiratory tissue. Neiffer described it as a catch-22 situation: “We’re trying to get enough calories into cub to survive, but at the same time don’t want to cause any problems,” he said.

They attempted another twin swap that night, but it was not successful. On the way back to the incubator, the little cub regurgitated, and formula came out of his mouth, again raising concerns about aspiration.

Finally, at about 2 p.m. on Aug. 25, the zookeepers successfully swapped the cubs again. The little cub stayed with Mom until the next morning — its last day living on Earth. [Butter Balls: Photos of Playful Pandas]

The end

The panda team quickly realized the little twin had not increased in weight, appeared weaker and less vocal, and had possible respiratory issues.

The zookeepers placed the cub in the incubator, but “all through the morning until the baby died, we had a lot of challenges with keeping the baby’s body temperature at a level that we felt was compatible with life,” Neiffer said.

The treatment ramped up immediately: They gave the cub fluids (to prevent dehydration), a sugar called dextrose (to prevent low blood sugar), antibiotics (to target possible lung infections) and a drug that helps pull fluid off the chest. The caretakers used the incubator’s nebulizer (which atomizes fluids into a breathable steam) to give the cub a saline solution that kept the animal’s respiratory membranes moist, and a drug that helps break up mucus.

Sometimes the cub appeared to be improving, but it stopped breathing at about 1:50 p.m. Zoo staff began resuscitation efforts, but to no avail: The cub died at 2:05 p.m. on Aug. 26.

A postmortem X-ray showed that at least 70 percent of the cub’s lung tissue was inflamed. Neiffer said he suspects the damage from the aspiration pneumonia happened quickly, probably within 24 to 48 hours of the aspiration event.

Aspiration pneumonia could technically happen to a cub while nursing on its mother, but Neiffer said he has never seen that happen in his career of about 20 years. A cub with a cleft palate might have a greater risk of aspirating its mother’s milk, but the condition is typically associated with hand-raised babies, Neiffer said.

To avoid future deaths like this, the zoo plans to modify the nipple sizes and holes on the handheld bottles, and copy nipple designs that have been used by other institutions, Neiffer said.

The twin who lived

The larger, surviving twin is “doing gangbusters” Neiffer said. This cub now spends all of its time with its mother, unless she leaves to drink, defecate or urinate outside her den. In those rare moments, zookeepers sometimes sneak in and weigh the cub to make sure it’s growing.

And it is. The little guy’s waistline is widening, and it’s now able to push itself up on all fours. It’s moved from screaming vocalizations to grunting, as expected, Neiffer said. The black saddle patch on the cub’s back is coming in, and admirers can catch a glimpse of the cute cub on the panda cam.

The other pandas at the zoo, Tian Tian and Bao Bao, haven’t met the twin, but seemed to sense something was up after the birth, the zookeepers said. The animals stopped vocalizing as much, providing quiet to Mei Xiang as she nursed her young, the panda team said.

“We are very happy that the other baby seems to be doing great,” Neiffer said. “And Mei Xiang is a great mother. We are hoping that we just get to watch him grow.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to better reflect when the surviving panda cub will be named. It may be named this autumn before it is 100 days old, according to the zoo.