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Many Aussie plants and animals adapt to fires but the fires are changing

<p>Australia is a land that has known fire. Our diverse plant and animal species have become accustomed to life with fire, and in fact some require it to procreate.</p> <p>But in recent decades the pattern of fires – also known as the fire regime – is changing. Individual fires are increasingly hotter, more frequent, happening earlier in the season and covering larger areas with a uniform intensity. And these changes to the fire regime are occurring too fast for our native flora and fauna to adapt and survive.</p> <p><strong>Our fire-adapted plants are suffering</strong></p> <p>Many of Australia’s iconic eucalypts are “shade intolerant” species that adapted to exist within a relatively harsh fire regime. These species thrive just after a major fire has cleared away the overstory and prepared an ash bed for their seeds to germinate.</p> <p>Some of our most majestic trees, like the alpine ash, can only regenerate from seed. Those seeds germinate only on bare earth, where the leaf litter and shrubs have been burnt away.</p> <p>But if fire is so frequent the trees haven’t matured enough to produce seed, or so intense it destroys the seeds present in the canopy and the ground, then even these fire-adapted species can <a href="http://www.lifeatlarge.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/650007/Reshaping-alpine-landscapes-summary.pdf">fail</a>.</p> <p>The current fires are re-burning some forests that were burnt only a decade ago. Those regenerating trees are too young to survive, but also too young to have started developing seed.</p> <p>With the disappearance of these tree species, other plants will fill the gap. Acacias (wattles) are potential successors as they mature much earlier than alpine ash. Our tall, majestic forests could easily turn into shrubby bushland with more frequent fires.</p> <p>Even within a burnt area, there are usually some unburnt patches, which are highly valuable for many <a href="https://theconversation.com/burnoff-policies-could-be-damaging-habitats-for-100-years-30240">types of plants and animals</a>. These patches include gullies and depressions, but sometimes are just lucky coincidences of the terrain and weather. The patches act as reserves of “seed trees” to provide regeneration opportunities.</p> <p>Recent fires, burning in hotter and drier conditions, are tending to be severe over large areas with fewer unburnt patches. Without these patches, there are no trees in the fire zone to spread seeds for regeneration.</p> <p>Eucalypt seed is small and without wings or other mechanisms to help the wind disperse it. Birds don’t generally disperse these seeds either. Eucalypt seed thus only falls within 100 - 200 metres of the parent tree. It may take many decades for trees to recolonise a large burnt area.</p> <p>That means wind-blown or bird-dispersed seeds from other species may fully colonise the burnt area well before the Eucalypts. Unfortunately many of these windblown seeds will be <a href="http://hotspotsfireproject.org.au/download-secure.php?access=Public&amp;file=fire-weeds-and-native-vegetation-of-nsw.pdf&amp;type=">weed</a> species, such as African Love Grass, which may then cover the bare earth and exclude successful Eucalypt regeneration while potentially making fires even <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-invasive-weeds-can-make-wildfires-hotter-and-more-frequent-89281">hotter and more frequent</a>.</p> <p><strong>Animals have fewer places to hide</strong></p> <p>Young animals are significantly more vulnerable to disturbances such as fire than mature individuals. So the best time to give birth is a season when fire is rare.</p> <p>Spring in the southern zones of Australia has, in the past, been wetter and largely free from highly destructive fires. Both flora and fauna species thus time their reproduction for this period. But as fire seasons lengthen and begin earlier in the year, vulnerable nestlings and babies die where they shelter or starve as the fires burn the fruits and seeds they eat.</p> <p>Australian fauna have developed <a href="https://theconversation.com/animal-response-to-a-bushfire-is-astounding-these-are-the-tricks-they-use-to-survive-129327">behaviours that help them survive</a> fire, including moving towards gullies and depressions, climbing higher, or occupying hollows and burrows (even if not their own) when they sense fire.</p> <p>But even these behaviours will fail if those refuges are uncharacteristically burning under hotter and drier conditions. Rainforest, marshes and the banks of watercourses were once safe refuges against fire, but we have seen these all <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/24/world-heritage-queensland-rainforest-burned-for-10-days-and-almost-no-one-noticed">burn in recent fires</a>.</p> <p><strong>What can be done?</strong></p> <p>All aspects of fire regimes in Australia are clearly changing as a result of our heating and drying climate. But humans can have a deliberate effect, and have done so in the past.</p> <p><a href="https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1469-8137.1998.00289.x">Indigenous burning</a> created a patchwork of burnt areas and impacted on the magnitude and frequency of fires over the landscape. These regular burns kept the understory under control, while the moderate intensity and patchiness allowed larger trees to survive.</p> <p>There have been repeated calls of late to <a href="https://theconversation.com/our-land-is-burning-and-western-science-does-not-have-all-the-answers-100331">reintroduce Indigenous burning</a> practices in Australia. But this would be difficult over vast areas. It requires knowledgeable individuals to regularly walk through each forest to understand the forest dynamics at a very fine scale.</p> <p>More importantly, our landscapes are now filled with dry fuel, and shrubs that act as “ladders” - quickly sending any fire into tree canopies to cause very destructive crown fires. Given these high fuel conditions along with their potentially dangerous distribution, there may be relatively few safe areas to reintroduce Indigenous burning.</p> <p>The changed fire conditions still require active management of forests, with trained professionals on the ground. Refuges could be developed throughout forests to provide places where animals can shelter and from which trees can recolonise. Such refuges could be reintroduced by reducing forest biomass (or fuel) using small fires where feasible or by <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry/national/nbmp">mechanical means</a>.</p> <p>Biomass collected by machines could be used to produce biochar or other useful products. Biochar could even be used to <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-016-0372-z">improve the soil</a> damaged by the fires and excess ash.</p> <p>Midstory species could be cut down to prevent the development of fire ladders to tree crowns. Even the overstory could be <a href="http://theconversation.com/forest-thinning-is-controversial-but-it-shouldnt-be-ruled-out-for-managing-bushfires-130124">thinned</a> to minimise the potential for crown fires. Seed could also be collected from thinned trees to provide an off-site bank as ecological insurance.</p> <p>Such active management will not be cheap. But using machinery rather than fire could control biomass quantity and distribution in a much more precise way: leaving some biomass on the ground as habitat for insects and reptiles, and removing other patches to create safer refuges from the fires that will continue to come.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129754/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cris-brack-98407">Cris Brack</a>, Associate Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/many-of-our-plants-and-animals-have-adapted-to-fires-but-now-the-fires-are-changing-129754">original article</a>.</em></p>

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He’s growing up so fast! Duchess Kate dishes on Prince Louis turning into a “little boy from being a baby”

<p>Prince Louis, at just 21-months-old, is proving he is not too far behind four-year-old Princess Charlotte and six-year-old Prince George, according to his mother.</p> <p>The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to Bradford for a day bursting with royal engagements and during one visit, Kate opened up about her youngest child.</p> <p>The couple joined in on a workshop for grandparents taking care of grandchildren and Jo Broadbent, who takes care of her six-year-old granddaughter, told<span> </span><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://people.com/royals/prince-louis-21-months-is-proud-of-this-recent-milestone-says-mom-kate-middleton/" target="_blank">People</a><span> </span>that the Duchess was a proud mom.</p> <p>"I asked how her children were," Broadbent said.</p> <p>"She said Louis had started to tell her 'he's balancing,' and she said it was really nice to see him turning into a little boy from being a baby. She’s obviously very proud of her children."</p> <p>The royal toddler is definitely growing up fast as well, with pictures of Prince Louis walking were first captured and released to the world in May of 2019.</p> <p>Soon after the young prince joined his family on the Buckingham Palace balcony during<em><span> </span>Trooping the Colour<span> </span></em>for the very first time and had hearts swooning all over the world.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see Prince Louis’ adorable cherub face throughout the years.</p>

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“Hear the truth from me”: Prince Harry’s brutally honest speech

<p>Prince Harry has spoken publicly about his surprise decision to leave the royal family, explaining to guests at a charity dinner that he wanted to deliver the “truth from me”.</p> <p>He also pleaded for the public to trust that “my wife upholds the same values that I do”.</p> <p>In his speech, that was delivered at the Sentebale Fundraiser and shared on Twitter via royal reporter Omid Scobie, Prince Harry spoke honestly about the period of transition his family was experiencing. </p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/tv/B7hGUztJA0F/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/tv/B7hGUztJA0F/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal)</a> on Jan 19, 2020 at 2:00pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“I can only imagine what you may have heard or perhaps read over the last few weeks,” Harry told the crowd.</p> <p>“So, I want you to hear the truth from me, as much as I can share — not as a Prince, or a Duke, but as Harry, the same person that many of you have watched grow up over the last 35 years — but with a clearer perspective.</p> <p>“... I have grown up feeling support from so many of you, and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms as you saw me find the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hurray!</p> <p>“I also know you’ve come to know me well enough over all these years to trust that the woman I chose as my wife upholds the same values as I do. And she does, and she’s the same woman I fell in love with.</p> <p>“We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride.”</p> <p>Prince Harry went onto explain that he was disappointed that things had ended like this and felt that himself and his family had no other choice but to leave.</p> <p>“Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve,” he explained.</p> <p>“For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this.</p> <p>“The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">In a passionate speech, Harry spoke about recent events, telling guests, “I want you to hear the truth from me, as much as I can share – not as a Prince, or a Duke, but as Harry.”<br /><br />Read his words, in full, here👇🏻 <a href="https://t.co/8nS7He5LB4">pic.twitter.com/8nS7He5LB4</a></p> — Omid Scobie (@scobie) <a href="https://twitter.com/scobie/status/1219016511546892289?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 January 2020</a></blockquote> <p>He also made it clear that he is not walking away from the royal family.</p> <p>“What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away... Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible,” he explained.</p> <p>“I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had to come to, that I had to step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.</p> <p>“... We are taking a leap of faith — thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”</p> <p>Naturally, Prince Harry ended things on a lighter note, sharing a sweet story about how his eight-month-old son Archie. The doting dad said that Archie “saw snow for the first time the other day and thought it was bloody brilliant”.</p>

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The Queen’s secret message to Harry and Meghan

<p>The Queen and Buckingham Palace released statements early yesterday morning about what will happen to Harry and Meghan going forward as they wish to step back from their royal duties.</p> <p>The Queen, who is the world’s longest reigning monarch, is used to sending out coded messages to let people know how she really feels. The statement from her yesterday was surprisingly open.</p> <p>“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” the Queen’s statement reads.</p> <p>“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.</p> <p>“I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.</p> <p>“I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.</p> <p>“It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”</p> <p>Many royal fans were surprised by the personal nature of the note, as the Queen consistently uses “I” and “my family” throughout the statement. </p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7Y23bfnGHH/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7Y23bfnGHH/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily)</a> on Jan 16, 2020 at 9:09am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The statement from Buckingham Palace and therefore Prince Harry and Meghan was much more formal. Royal fans were quick to pick up on the use of “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex”, which suggested that they’re using their titles while they still have them.</p> <p>“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.</p> <p>“As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for royal duties.</p> <p>“With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.</p> <p>“The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7eJp7tJcXU/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7eJp7tJcXU/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal)</a> on Jan 18, 2020 at 10:30am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.</p> <p>“Buckingham Palace does not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security.</p> <p>“This new model will take effect in the spring of 2020.”</p> <p>This essentially means that Prince Harry and Meghan are giving up their royal titles and stepping away from all of the charity work that was done in partnership with the Royal family.</p> <p>Royal fans of Harry were quick to point out that this is devastating for Prince Harry as it means that the army charities he proudly supported will no longer receive his help.</p> <p>“It’s so sad that Harry has to give up his military career over this, Meghan KNEW who Harry was and knew what she was getting into so now a couple years later does she want to change it?!! It’s not fair on him having to walk away from his friends, life to move to where she stayed!!” one fan angrily commented underneath the announcement.</p> <p>Others noticed that their comments were being deleted on the post, which only added fuel to the fire.</p> <p>“Why are you deleting negative but true posts???” another fan pointed out.</p> <p>It has been an intense ten days for the British Royal family, but it appears that a resolution is slowly but surely coming forward. </p>

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Tales of wombat "heroes" are unfortunately not true

<p>If you’ve been following the bushfire crisis on social media and elsewhere, you may have seen reports of <a href="https://www.unilad.co.uk/animals/wombats-share-their-burrows-with-animals-displaced-in-bushfires/">benevolent wombats</a> herding other animals to shelter into their fire-proof burrows.</p> <p>These stories went quickly viral – probably reflecting the appetite for good news after the horrors of the bushfire crisis. However the accounts are not entirely accurate.</p> <p>Wombats do not heroically round up helpless animals during a bushfire and lead them to safety. But wombats do help other animals in a different way – even if it’s not their intention.</p> <p><strong>Accidental heroes</strong></p> <p>Wombats can emerge as accidental heroes during a bushfire, by providing a safe refuge underground for other wildlife.</p> <p>Wombat warrens – networks of interconnecting burrows – are large and complex, and considerably shielded from the above-ground environment. Small mammals are known to <a href="https://media.australianmuseum.net.au/media/dd/Uploads/Documents/38347/ams370_vXVIII_05_LowRes.ffb19ac.pdf">use wombat burrows</a> to survive an inferno.</p> <p><a href="https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1017/S0952836902001620">One study</a> of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_hairy-nosed_wombat">southern hairy-nosed wombat</a>, for instance, found warrens with 28 entrances and nearly 90 metres of tunnels.</p> <p>What’s more, temperatures deep within burrows are very stable compared to surface temperatures, with daily temperature fluctuations of less than <a href="https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1017/S0952836902001620">1℃, compared to 24℃</a> on the surface.</p> <p>This thermal buffering would help a great deal during intense fires, and you can understand why other species would want access to these safe havens.</p> <p><strong>The wombat sharehouse</strong></p> <p>By placing camera traps outside 34 wombat burrows, <a href="http://www.publish.csiro.au/am/am15052">a 2015 study</a> showed a surprising variety of animals using southern hairy-nosed wombat burrows. Researchers observed ten other species, six of which used them on multiple occasions.</p> <p>The intruders ranged from rock wallabies and <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/2784/21961179">bettongs</a> to skinks and birds. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_penguin">Little penguins</a> were recorded using burrows 27 times, while the <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/16751/21955343">black-footed rock wallaby</a> was observed using wombat burrows more often than wombats – nearly 2,000 visits in eight weeks! They were even observed using the burrows to specifically avoid birds of prey.</p> <p>But wombats aren’t alone in providing real estate for other species. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinifex_hopping_mouse">Hopping mice</a>, <a href="https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:0d4c9c0c-51d3-44e0-a365-fe0f8b791c66">echidnas</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eremiascincus">sand swimming skinks</a>, <a href="https://www.ridgeandvalleyreptiles.com/nephrurus-milli.html">barking geckoes</a> and numerous invertebrates <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196308001821">were found</a> using the warrens of bettongs and bilbies in arid Australia.</p> <p><strong>Anybody home?</strong></p> <p>It’s also important to recognise wombats don’t have “a burrow”. Rather, they have <a href="http://www.publish.csiro.au/wr/wr07067">multiple burrows</a> within their <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_range">home range</a>. In fact, a 2012 study tracked one wombat to <a href="https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2011.00881.x">14 different burrows</a>.</p> <p>While wombats are often regarded as quite sedentary, <a href="https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2011.00881.x?casa_token=SiuOr4VY07oAAAAA%3AQNnJyBxVubXbqq27P9j_Z6-fqIsTD0NE1rdU9OGlifTq2v53Ti6eJWPCAc77wljbRgYCzinXHVRiWv_Jyw">another study</a> found the average home range size of common wombats is 172 hectares.</p> <p>They spend <a href="http://www.publish.csiro.au/zo/ZO02061">a few nights</a> sleeping in one burrow, before moving onto another.</p> <p>Since each wombat has multiple burrows, many can be vacant within a home range, and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320707001048">abandoned burrows</a> are common in some areas. <a href="http://www.publish.csiro.au/wr/Fulltext/WR07067">A 2007 study</a> showed that even among “active” burrows (those with signs of recent use), only one in three are actually occupied by a wombat at any given time.</p> <p>This means, at times, other species may not need to share burrows with wombats at all. It’s vacant real estate.</p> <p>So how might a wombat react to an uninvited guest? This is difficult to know, and likely depends on who’s visiting. Wombats prefer not to share burrows with other wombats, although burrow sharing <a href="http://www.publish.csiro.au/zo/ZO02061">can be common</a> when wombat populations are very high in one place.</p> <p>In her book <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/6088/">Wombats</a>, Barbara Triggs recalls a fox being chased from a burrow by an angry wombat. Meanwhile, the crushed skulls of foxes and dogs in wombat burrows suggest not all intruders are welcome.</p> <p>That a suite of species use wombat burrows suggests wombats may not notice or care about squatters – so long as they don’t pose a threat. But more research is needed on the fascinating interactions that take place in wombat burrows, particularly during fire.</p> <p><strong>The battle is not over</strong></p> <p>While empirical studies are needed, the available evidence suggests wombats may well provide an important refuge for other wildlife during fire.</p> <p>In any case, it’s important to recognise that surviving fire is only <a href="https://theconversation.com/animal-response-to-a-bushfire-is-astounding-these-are-the-tricks-they-use-to-survive-129327">half the battle</a>.</p> <p>Wombats and their house guests face a medley of challenges post-fire – not least avoiding predators in a barren landscape and eking out a living in a landscape with scarce food.</p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-nimmo-15432">Dale Nimmo</a>, Associate professor/ARC DECRA fellow, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-sturt-university-849">Charles Sturt University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/tales-of-wombat-heroes-have-gone-viral-unfortunately-theyre-not-true-129891">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Little boy dances for joy at seeing rain for the first time

<p>A little boy who has never seen rain in his life has spent the morning watching on in joy and dancing in mud puddles after a downpour hit his family’s farm in NSW.</p> <p>The 18-month-old’s mum shared a video of him running around their property in Scone, saying “wow!” as he tried to figure out what was going on.</p> <p>“Our boy just couldn’t contain his excitement,” his mother Tiffanie McKenzie wrote on Facebook.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F9NewsSydney%2Fvideos%2F2808990652495370%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=476" width="476" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p> <p>He can be seen dancing around as the mud puddles around his feet.</p> <p>Others from drought affected areas are thrilled about the long-awaited rain.</p> <p>Green Valley Farm in Tingha, NSW, has been drenched as the area has been hit with 75 mls of rain.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fstephanie.stewarthickman%2Fposts%2F2634482036630810&amp;width=500" width="500" height="624" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>Mudgee also received a lot of rain and Katoomba near the NSW Blue Mountains has had rain create a mist over the mountain tops.</p> <p>The NSW SES has urged residents in fire-affected areas, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/nsw-rain-little-boy-dances-in-rain-for-the-first-time-scone/75f2492c-d24e-4988-80e6-095fa7fddbb8?ocid=Social-9News" target="_blank">9News</a></em>, to take care as there is now a risk of flash flooding, falling trees and landslides as wet weather impacts the fire grounds.<span> </span></p>

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Royal baby number 4 for Kate and William?

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>The Duchess of Cambridge spoke about the possibility of having another royal baby, as she spoke about previously being “broody”.</p> <p>She’s recently revealed on a visit to Bradford that the Cambridge clan isn’t likely to expand any further due to resistance from Prince William.</p> <p>"I don't think William wants any more," the 38-year-old said when asked about the possibility of baby number four, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.hellomagazine.com/royalty/2020011683263/kate-middleton-responds-fourth-child-rumours/" target="_blank">Hello!</a></em></p> <p>She spoke about the possibility to fan Josh Macpalce, who was thrilled when he revealed that he had sent the couple cards congratulating them on the births of all three children.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7WgHiJlvxt/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7WgHiJlvxt/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Kensington Palace (@kensingtonroyal)</a> on Jan 15, 2020 at 11:12am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>During a visit later in the day at Khidmat Centres, the Duchess of Cambridge revealed her youngest’s latest milestone while chatting to locals at the Older Yet Wiser workshop.</p> <p>"Kate obviously has a great interest in early years development, she’s quite knowledgeable about it, she referred to some of the tools and techniques we learnt about on the course,” explained Jo Broadbent who is a full-time carer for their six-year-old granddaughter.</p> <p>“I asked how her children were. Kate said Louis had started to tell her 'Mummy, I'm balancing' and she said it was really nice to see him turning into a little boy from being a baby. She's obviously very proud of her children."</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6eXqjIlOvk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6eXqjIlOvk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">🎄 Merry Christmas! This photograph of The Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis was taken by The Duchess of Cambridge in Norfolk earlier this year. We wish all our followers a very happy and relaxing Christmas Day ⛄️</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/kensingtonroyal/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Kensington Palace</a> (@kensingtonroyal) on Dec 24, 2019 at 4:01pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Prince Louis was last seen in public days before Christmas when he arrived with Duchess Kate and his sister Princess Charlotte to Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Christmas luncheon.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="post-action-bar-component-wrapper"> <div class="post-actions-component"> <div class="upper-row"></div> </div> </div>

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Australian bushfires could drive more than 700 animal species to extinction

<p>The scale and speed of the current bushfire crisis has caught many people off-guard, including biodiversity scientists. People are scrambling to estimate the long-term effects. It is certain that many animal species will be pushed to the brink of extinction, but how many?</p> <p>One recent article suggested <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-season-in-hell-bushfires-push-at-least-20-threatened-species-closer-to-extinction-129533">20 to 100</a>, but this estimate mostly considers large, well-known species (especially mammals and birds).</p> <p>A far greater number of smaller creatures such as insects, snails and worms will also be imperilled. They make up the bulk of biodiversity and are the little rivets holding ecosystems together.</p> <p>But we have scant data on how many species of <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-01-08/insects-invertebrates-frogs-affected-by-bushfire/11843458">small creatures</a> have been wiped out in the fires, and detailed surveys comparing populations before and after the fires will not be forthcoming. So how can we come to grips with this silent catastrophe?<span class="attribution"><span class="source"> </span></span></p> <p>Using the information that is available, I calculate that at least 700 animal species have had their populations decimated – and that’s only counting the insects.</p> <p>This may sound like an implausibly large figure, but the calculation is a simple one. I’ll explain it below, and show you how to make your own extinction estimate with only a few clicks of a calculator.</p> <p><strong>Using insects to estimate true extinction numbers</strong></p> <p>More than <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/other/numbers-living-species/contents">three-quarters</a> of the known animal species on Earth are insects. To get a handle on the true extent of animal extinctions, insects are a good place to start.</p> <p>My estimate that 700 insect species are at critical risk involves <a href="https://conservationbytes.com/2011/07/26/predicting-marine-biodiversity/">extrapolating</a> from the information we have about the catastrophic effect of the fires on mammals.</p> <p>We can work this out using only two numbers: <em>A</em>, how many mammal species are being pushed towards extinction, and <em>B</em>, how many insect species there are for each mammal species.</p> <p>To get a “best case” estimate, I use the most conservative estimates for <em>A</em> and <em>B</em> below, but jot down your own numbers.</p> <p><strong>How many mammals are critically affected?</strong></p> <p>A <a href="https://time.com/5761083/australia-bushfires-biodiversity-plants-animals/">recent Time article</a> lists four mammal species that will be severely impacted: the long-footed potoroo, the greater glider, the Kangaroo Island dunnart, and the black-tailed dusky antechinus. The eventual number could be much greater (e.g the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/04/ecologists-warn-silent-death-australia-bushfires-endangered-species-extinction">Hastings River mouse</a>, the <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/fires-rage-across-australia-fears-grow-rare-species">silver-headed antechinus</a>), but let’s use this most optimistic (lowest) figure (<em>A</em> = 4).</p> <p>Make your own estimate of this number <em>A</em>. How many mammal species do you think would be pushed close to extinction by these bushfires?</p> <p>We can expect that for every mammal species that is severely affected there will be a huge number of insect species that suffer a similar fate. To estimate exactly how many, we need an idea of insect biodiversity, relative to mammals.</p> <p><strong>How many insect species are out there, for each mammal species?</strong></p> <p>The world has around <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/other/numbers-living-species#downloads">1 million</a> named insect species, and around <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/other/numbers-living-species#downloads">5,400 species</a> of land mammals.</p> <p>So there are at least 185 insect species for every single land mammal species (<em>B</em> = 185). If the current bushfires have burnt enough habitat to devastate 4 mammal species, they have probably taken out around 185 × 4 = 740 insect species in total. Along with many species of other invertebrates such as spiders, snails, and worms.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/309629/original/file-20200113-103971-8f6187.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/309629/original/file-20200113-103971-8f6187.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">There are hundreds of insect species for every mammal species.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">https://imgbin.com/</span></span></p> <p>For your own value for <em>B</em>, use your preferred estimate for the number of insect species on earth and divide it by 5,400 (the number of land mammal species).</p> <p>One recent study suggests there are at least <a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/science/far-fewer-species-animals-plants-5803977">5.5 million</a> species of insects, giving a value of <em>B</em> of around 1,000. But there is reason to suspect the real number could be <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-earths-biodiversity-could-be-much-greater-than-we-thought-61665">much greater</a>.</p> <p><strong>How do our estimates compare?</strong></p> <p>My “best case” values of <em>A</em> = 4 and <em>B</em> = 185 indicate at least 740 insect species alone are being imperilled by the bushfires. The total number of animal species impacted is obviously much bigger than insects alone.</p> <p>Feel free to perform your own calculations. Derive your values for <em>A</em> and <em>B</em> as above. Your estimate for the number of insect species at grave risk of extinction is simply <em>A</em> × <em>B</em>.</p> <p>Post your estimate and your values for <em>A</em> and <em>B</em> please (and how you got those numbers if you wish) in the Comments section and compare with others. We can then see what the wisdom of the crowd tells us about the likely number of affected species.</p> <p><strong>Why simplistic models can still be very useful</strong></p> <p>The above calculations are a hasty estimate of the magnitude of the current biodiversity crisis, done on the fly (figuratively and literally). Technically speaking, we are using mammals as <a href="https://conservationbytes.com/2011/07/26/predicting-marine-biodiversity/">surrogates</a> or <a href="https://methodsblog.com/2018/10/08/biodiversity-vascular-plants/">proxies</a> for insects.</p> <p>To improve these estimates in the near future, we can try to get more exact and realistic estimates of <em>A</em> and <em>B</em>.</p> <p>Additionally, the model itself is very simplistic and can be refined. For example, if the average insect is <a href="https://blog.csiro.au/the-impact-of-bushfires-on-australian-insects/">more susceptible</a> to fire than the average mammal, our extinction estimates need to be revised upwards.</p> <p>Also, there might be an unusually high (or low) ratio of insect species compared to mammal species in fire-affected regions. Our model assumes these areas have the global average – whatever that value is!</p> <p>And most obviously, we need to consider terrestrial life apart from insects – land snails, spiders, worms, and plants too – and add their numbers in our extinction tally.</p> <p>Nevertheless, even though we know this model gives a huge underestimate, we can still use it to get an absolute lower limit on the magnitude of the unfolding biodiversity crisis.</p> <p>This “best case” is still very sad. There is a strong argument that these unprecedented bushfires could cause one of biggest extinction events in the modern era. And these infernos will burn for a while longer yet.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129773/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mike-lee-8293">Mike Lee</a>, Professor in Evolutionary Biology (jointly appointed with South Australian Museum), <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-bushfires-could-drive-more-than-700-animal-species-to-extinction-check-the-numbers-for-yourself-129773">original article</a>.</em></p>

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The clue in Archie’s name that gave away the Sussex’s plans to leave

<p>The news of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan announcing their departure from the British Royal Family has left many shocked at the decision.</p> <p>However, for royal fans that have kept a close eye on the couple, the decision wasn’t a surprise and it all comes down to the naming of their eight-month-old son Archie.</p> <p>Before Archie was born, there were whispers about what his name would be, and it was expected that the newborn would receive a royal title.</p> <p>As per royal tradition, Archie could have assumed the title Earl of Dumbarton, but the new parents decided to opt out of the title.</p> <p>Instead, Harry and Meghan decided to name him Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, also known as Master Archie.</p> <p>Speaking to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.express.co.uk/news/royal/1228263/baby-archie-news-meghan-markle-news-prince-harry-sussex-royal-instagram" target="_blank">The Express</a>, Majesty</em><span> </span>magazine managing editor Joe Little said that the name choice for Archie could have signalled the first sign that the couple were planning to break rank.</p> <p>"The fact Archie isn't Earl of Dumbarton or styled HRH makes me wonder whether this wasn't already part of a wider masterplan," he told the publication.</p> <p>Others are saying that the couple’s request for privacy surrounding the birth of Archie when Duchess Kate had a photoshoot on the steps of the hospital after the birth of her children signalled that something was wrong.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BiEdt8tgxso/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BiEdt8tgxso/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to announce that they have named their son Louis Arthur Charles. The baby will be known as His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge.</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/kensingtonroyal/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Kensington Palace</a> (@kensingtonroyal) on Apr 27, 2018 at 3:00am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The speculation comes after the Queen issued a statement after ironing out some of the details of the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes departure from the royal family.</p> <p>“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,” the statement reads.</p> <p>“Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.</p> <p>“It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.</p> <p>“These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”</p> <p>Some royal commentators noted that the Queen not referencing to the couple as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by their titles means that they might be stripped of their titles in the future.</p> <p>However, Prince Harry’s biographer Penny Junor was impressed by the statement from the Queen.</p> <p>“It’s quite optimistic. It’s the best that could be hoped for,” she explained.</p> <p>“At least she’s telling us they will be part of her family. She couldn’t have done anything else. There was a gun to her head.”</p>

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Thomas Markle could be called on to testify against Meghan

<div class="body_text "> <p>Estranged father Thomas Markle could be called on to testify at the high court against his daughter Meghan as part of her ongoing legal action against the<span> </span><em>Mail on Sunday</em>.</p> <p>Reports have emerged suggesting that the paper’s defence is reliant on Thomas’ account.</p> <p>The Duchess of Sussex is currently suing the newspaper for breach of copyright, invasion of privacy and misuse of personal data after it published excerpts from a letter that she sent to Thomas about how he was treating her.</p> <p><em>Mail on Sunday<span> </span></em>filed its 44-page long defence at the high court on Tuesday arguing that the Duchess and other royals rely on publicity about themselves and their lives to maintain the privileged positions they hold”. It also argues that Meghan could not “have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the contents of the letter were private and would remain so”.</p> <p>“There is a huge and legitimate public interest in the royal family and the activities, conduct and standards of behavior of its members,” the filing said. “This extends not merely to their public conduct, but to their personal and family relationships because those are integral to the proper functioning of the monarchy.”</p> <p>The paper is targeting all of Meghan’s claims, including where she says that she had not courted publicity for her relationship with her father. The paper has countered this saying that Meghan hasn’t denied authorising her friends to speak about the relationship for an article with US magazine<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://people.com/royals/meghan-markle-dad-thomas-markle-letter-after-wedding/" target="_blank">People</a></em>.</p> <p><em>Mail on Sunday</em> has dismissed the copyright claim by arguing that the letter was not an original literary work while also saying that Meghan and her team “briefed” the media against Thomas to obtain favourable coverage.</p> <p>"The privacy allegation, which is being made by Meghan in this particular case, is that there was also an invasion of her privacy by the revelation of this letter and the information about their personal relationship," media lawyer Mark Stephens told the<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51109538" target="_blank">BBC</a></em>.</p> <p>"Effectively, Thomas Markle and therefore the<span> </span><em>Mail on Sunday's </em>defence is that because it is alleged Meghan and her team were out briefing against Thomas Markle — he had a right of reply, he had a right to defend himself, he had a right to put the record straight and it's much less clear that she wins that cleanly or at all".</p> <p>The legal proceedings are being funded by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex privately and any proceeds will be donated to an anti-bullying charity. </p> </div>

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How wildfire smoke is affecting your pets and other animals

<p>Catastrophic fires across the globe are increasing in both <a href="https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr870/pnw_gtr870_011.pdf">frequency and magnitude</a>. The bushfires in Australia, fuelled by heatwaves and drought, have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/datablog/ng-interactive/2019/dec/07/how-big-are-the-fires-burning-on-the-east-coast-of-australia-interactive-map">burned more than 10.7 million hectares</a>, an area larger than Iceland.</p> <p>Over <a href="https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/01/08/australian-bushfires-more-than-one-billion-animals-impacted.html">one billion animals</a> are estimated to have died in the Australian bushfires so far. This loss of life is devastating. Horses, dogs and other domestic animals are also being affected by the smoke generated by the wildfires.</p> <p>As veterinarians who have cared for small animals following the California wildfires and researched the impacts of wildfires on horses in Canada, we have some perspective on how smoke can harm companion animals and what people can do to protect the animals in their care.</p> <p><strong>What is smoke?</strong></p> <p>The composition of smoke depends on what is being burned. The smoke from a house fire or a barn fire will contain different compounds than the smoke from wildfires or bushfires.</p> <p>When an animal inhales smoke, it brings a combination of toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, and particulate matter, a mixture of small liquid and solid particles, into its throat, nose and lungs.</p> <p>Smoke inhalation can <a href="https://www.dvm360.com/view/smoke-inhalation-proceedings">damage the respiratory tract</a> in multiple ways; it can cause burns and lead to physical irritation, causing the airway to swell and become blocked.</p> <p><a href="https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/treating-environmental-lung-injuries-drowning-and-smoke-inhalation/">Toxic gases</a> can impair oxygen delivery and lead to death. Animals with immediate and close exposure to fires, such as barn or house fires, face this risk.</p> <p>Exposure to bushfires or wildfires results in a sustained, lower-dose exposure to smoke. The major concern here is particulate matter. Very small particulate matter (less than four microns in diametre) can bypass the body’s natural filters and reach the lower airways.</p> <p><strong>Smoke inhalation in horses</strong></p> <p>Our relationship with horses is unique in that they bridge the gap between livestock and companion animals. As athletic animals, air quality impacts horses’ capacity to perform. The financial ramifications of impaired performance is not insignificant, given the economic impact of the <a href="https://www.horsecouncil.org/resources/economics/">horse industry</a> in <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/horse-racing/nine-billion-reasons-why-racing-matters/news-story/16d381f391e1f02092c48510b8ce89f6">multiple</a> <a href="https://www.equestrian.ca/cdn/storage/resources_v2/XTEHyRosaHidTWQeX/original/XTEHyRosaHidTWQeX.pdf">countries</a>.</p> <p>Horses have a huge lung capacity. A horse moves more than 2,000 litres of air through its lungs every minute during strenuous exercise. With this air, horses also inhale a large number of pollutants, which is drastically increased during fires.</p> <p>In 2018, Calgary was smothered in wildfire smoke for more than six weeks, with poor air quality warnings issued daily. During this period, we <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334657179_Mild_Equine_Asthma_Effects_of_Commonly_Used_Treatments_on_the_Respiratory_Microbiota_Inflammatory_Gene_Expression_and_Aerobic_Performance_during_High-Intensity_Exercise">studied the impact of poor air quality on exercise performance in polo horses</a> that were at a maintenance level of fitness at the end of the competition season. They continued the same training program throughout the trial, so all results are due to the improved conditions and not a conditioning effect.</p> <p>Every horse involved in the study exhibited coughing at rest and during exercise, with owners complaining of decreased performance.</p> <p>We performed a procedure called a lung wash on these horses to retrieve cells and particulate matter from their lungs. Every horse in the study showed inflammation of the respiratory tract. We also found large amounts of microscopic pollens and other debris trapped in the cells. These findings are diagnostic of asthma in horses, and were also commonly seen by veterinarians working in the affected area.</p> <p>We also wanted to know how much the performance of these horses improved after prolonged smoke exposure. The gold standard technique to evaluate athletic performance is the measurement of maximum oxygen consumption, also known as VO2max.</p> <p>After 2.5 weeks of improved air quality, horses had a 15 per cent increase in speed, as well as a 13.2 per cent increase in VO2max, compared to those measures on the first day of improved air quality. To put this into context, training two-year-old racehorses for eight weeks has been reported to result in a <a href="https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jes/8/3/8_3_75/_pdf">6.7 per cent improvement in VO2max</a>.</p> <p><strong>How to keep animals safe</strong></p> <p>There are <a href="http://www.bccdc.ca/resource-gallery/Documents/Guidelines%20and%20Forms/Guidelines%20and%20Manuals/Health-Environment/WFSG_EvidenceReview_ReducingTimeOutdoors_FINAL_v6trs.pdf">many guidelines</a> <a href="https://www3.epa.gov/airnow/wildfire_may2016.pdf">available for people</a> when air quality is poor, but very little information for pet owners.</p> <p>The air quality index (AQI) is used in Australia and the United States. The AQI is a single number presented on a scale of 0-500, ranging from excellent air quality to the most hazardous air pollution. Canada uses the <a href="https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/air-quality-health-index/about.html">Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)</a>, using a scale from 1 to 10.</p> <p>The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-10/sydney-smoke-returns-to-worst-ever-levels/11782892">several regions where AQIs had surpassed 500 in December 2019</a>. Wildfires in northern Alberta in 2018 sent AQHI index <a href="https://globalnews.ca/news/5338930/gallery-smoke-southern-alberta-pictures/">past 11 in Calgary in May 2019</a>.</p> <p><em><strong>Stay indoors</strong></em></p> <p>Where possible, animals should be kept indoors when the AQI is greater than 150 or AQHI is 10+ for multiple days in a row to reduce exposure to small particulate matter. The environment matters, however. For example, a dog in a tightly sealed home will have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20948956">less exposure</a> to airborne irritants than a horse in a stable.</p> <p>Like human asthmatics, staying indoors might not prevent symptoms in animals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, especially when smoke persists for greater than five days. In addition, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2297465/">brachycephalic breeds</a> such as pugs and bulldogs are likely to have a reduced tolerance to smoke.</p> <p><em><strong>Reduce outdoor physical activity</strong></em></p> <p>When animals exercise, they increase the amount of air they inhale, which increases the deposition of particles deep in the lungs.</p> <p>Based on <a href="https://apps.state.or.us/Forms/Served/le8815h.pdf">guidelines</a> from <a href="http://deq.mt.gov/Portals/112/Air/FireUpdates/Documents/Activity%20Guidelines%20for%20Wildfire%20Smoke%20Events.pdf">multiple</a> regulatory bodies and associations, we recommend <a href="https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/news/guidelines-horses-exposed-wildfire-smoke">limiting outdoor exercise in animals</a> when smoke is visible. Moderate to intense exercise should be reduced when there is a high or very high risk rating (AQI exceeding 100; AQHI greater than 7). We recommend cancelling events (such as a Thoroughbred race) when there is a very high risk rating (AQI greater than 150 or an AQHI of 10+).</p> <p>There’s every indication that fire seasons are going to become <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/86268/longer-more-frequent-fire-seasons">longer and more frequent</a>. When smoke starts to blanket the land, remember there are simple things you can do to protect the respiratory health of both you and your pets.</p> <p><em>This is a corrected version of a story originally published on Jan. 8, 2020. The earlier story included a photo that showed the breakdown of blood components instead of the inflammatory cells, debris and pollens in a horse’s lungs after exposure to bushfire smoke.</em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephanie-laura-bond-918615">Stephanie Laura Bond</a>, Postdoctoral Associate, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-calgary-1318">University of Calgary</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-osborne-931664">Laura Osborne</a>, Adjunct associate, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-calgary-1318">University of Calgary</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/renaud-leguillette-931485">Renaud Leguillette</a>, Professor, Calgary Chair in Equine Sports Medicine, DVM, PhD, Dipl.ACVIM, Dipl. ACVSMR, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-calgary-1318">University of Calgary</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-wildfire-smoke-affects-pets-and-other-animals-129430">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How animals survive bushfires

<p>Have you ever wondered how our native wildlife manage to stay alive when an inferno is ripping through their homes, and afterwards when there is little to eat and nowhere to hide? The answer is adaptation and old-fashioned ingenuity.</p> <p>Australia’s bushfire season is far from over, and the cost to wildlife has been epic. A <a href="https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/01/03/a-statement-about-the-480-million-animals-killed-in-nsw-bushfire.html">sobering estimate</a> has put the number of animals killed across eastern Australia at 480 million - and that’s a conservative figure.</p> <p>But let’s look at some uplifting facts: how animals survive, and what challenges they overcome in the days and weeks after a fire.</p> <p><strong>Sensing fire</strong></p> <p>In 2018, a staff member at Audubon Zoo in the United States accidentally burned pastry, and <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10164-019-00628-z">noticed something peculiar</a>. In nearby enclosures ten sleepy lizards, or <em>Tiliqua rugosa</em>, began pacing and rapidly flicking their tongues. But sleepy lizards in rooms unaffected by smoke remained burrowed and calm.</p> <p>It was obvious the lizards sensed the smoke from the burnt pastry, probably through olfaction, or sense of smell (which is enhanced by <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-why-do-snakes-flick-their-tongues-29935">tongue flicking</a>). So the lizards were responding as they would to a bushfire.</p> <p>In Australia, experiments have shown smoke also awakens <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938417304419">Gould’s long-eared bats</a> and <a href="https://www.une.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/111825/StawskiMatthewsKoertnerGeiser_SmokeAshTorporActivity_PhysiolBehav2015.pdf">fat-tailed dunnarts</a>, enabling their escape from fire.</p> <p>Animals also recognise the distinct sounds of fire. Reed frogs <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2002.1974">flee towards cover</a> and eastern-red bats wake from torpor <a href="https://sbdn.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Scesny-MS-Thesis-2006-Red-bats-and-fire-detection.pdf">when played the crackling sounds of fire</a>.</p> <p>Other species detect fire for different reasons. Fire beetles from the genus <em><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanophila">Melanophila</a></em> depend on fire for reproduction, as their larvae develop in the wood of burned trees. They can detect fire chemicals <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.2161-4296.2008.tb00424.x">at very low concentrations</a>, as well as infrared radiation from fires.</p> <p>The beetles can detect very distant fires; <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/related?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0037627">one study</a> suggests individuals of some species identify a fire from 130km away.</p> <p><strong>Stay or go?</strong></p> <p>Once an animal becomes aware of an approaching fire, it’s decision time: stay or go?</p> <p>It’s common to see large animals fleeing a fire, such as the kangaroos filmed <a href="https://www.facebook.com/abcinsydney/videos/3094496487228353/?t=3">hopping from a fire front in Monaro</a> in New South Wales a few days ago. Kangaroos and wallabies make haste to <a href="https://twitter.com/matthewjohngill/status/1211986832763707392">dams</a> and creek lines, sometimes even <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/wr/Fulltext/WR08029">doubling back through a fire front</a> to find safety in areas already burned.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TRm14TfPL6g"></iframe></div> <p>Other animals prefer to stay put, seeking refuge in burrows or under rocks. Smaller animals will happily <a href="https://media.australianmuseum.net.au/media/dd/Uploads/Documents/38347/ams370_vXVIII_05_LowRes.ffb19ac.pdf">crash a wombat burrow</a> if it means surviving a fire. Burrows buffer animals from the heat of fires, depending on their depth and nearby <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2404417.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A123188cf5406548889c46d62508dae77">fuel loads</a>.</p> <p>From here, animals can <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ecog.02251">repopulate the charred landscape as it recovers</a>. For example, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ecog.02251">evidence suggests</a> populations of the agile antechinus (a small carnivorous marsupial) and the bush rat recovered primarily from <em>within</em> the footprint of Victoria’s Black Saturday fires.</p> <p><strong>Avoiding fire is only half the battle</strong></p> <p>The hours, days, and weeks after fire bring a new set of challenges. Food resources will often be scarce, and in the barren landscape some animals, such as lizards and smaller mammals, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320715002086">are more visible to hungry predators</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.3401">Birds of prey arrive quickly at fires</a>. <a href="https://bioone.org/journals/Journal-of-Ethnobiology/volume-37/issue-4/0278-0771-37.4.700/Intentional-Fire-Spreading-by-Firehawk-Raptors-in-Northern-Australia/10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700.full">Several species</a> in northern Australia have been observed intentionally spreading fires by transporting burning sticks in their talons or beaks.</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.3401">One US study</a> published in 2017 recorded a seven-fold increase in raptor activity during fire. They begin hunting as the fires burn, and <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2028.1987.tb01088.x">hang around for weeks or months to capitalise on vulnerable prey</a>.</p> <p>In Australia, introduced predators can also be drawn to fires. Feral cats have been observed travelling up to 12.5km from their home ranges <a href="https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/153672/2/01_McGregor_Extraterritorial_hunting_2016.pdf">towards recently burned</a> savanna ecosystems, potentially drawn by distant smoke plumes promising new prey.</p> <p><a href="https://bioone.org/journals/Wildlife-Research/volume-42/issue-8/WR15011/Amplified-predation-after-fire-suppresses-rodent-populations-in-Australias-tropical/10.1071/WR15011.full">A 2016 study</a> found a native rodent was 21 times more likely to die in areas exposed to intense fire compared to unburned areas, mostly due to predation by feral cats. Red foxes have an <a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2656.13153">affinity for burned areas too</a>.</p> <p>So should a little critter hunker down, or begin the hazardous search for a new home?</p> <p><strong>Staying put</strong></p> <p>Perhaps because of the risks of moving through an exposed landscape, several Australian mammals have learnt to minimise movement following fire. This might allow some mammal populations to recover from within a fire footprint.</p> <p>Native mammals have been found <a href="https://media.australianmuseum.net.au/media/dd/Uploads/Documents/38347/ams370_vXVIII_05_LowRes.ffb19ac.pdf">hiding in beds of ash</a> after fires.</p> <p>Short-beaked echidnas seek refuge and, when finding it, <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2016.0382">lower their body temperature and limit activity</a>, so reducing the amount of food they need for energy. Despite their spiny defences, echidnas have been found more often <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jmammal/article/98/3/835/3063279">in the stomachs of foxes following fire</a>, so staying put in a little refuge is a good move.</p> <p>Small marsupials such as brown and yellow-footed antechinus also <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0134">use torpor to suppress their energy use</a> and therefore the need to seek food.</p> <p><strong>Running the gauntlet</strong></p> <p>Not all wildlife have adapted to stay put after a fire, and moving in search of a safe haven might be the best option.</p> <p>Animals might take short, information-gathering missions from their refuges into the fireground before embarking on a risky trek. They may, for example, spot a large, unburned tree that would make good habitat, and so move towards it. Without such cues to orient their movement, animals spend more time travelling, wasting precious energy reserves and <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2008.1958">increasing the risk </a>of becoming predator food.</p> <p><strong>Survival is not assured</strong></p> <p>Australia’s animals have a long, impressive history of co-existing with fire. However, a <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/brv.12486">recent study</a> I led with 27 colleagues considered how relatively recent threats make things much harder for animals in fire-prone landscapes.</p> <p>Some native species are not accustomed to dealing with red foxes and feral cats, and so might overlook cues that indicate their presence, and make the bad decision to move through a burned landscape when they should stay put.</p> <p>When fires burn habitat in agricultural or urban landscapes, animals might encounter not just predators but vehicles, livestock and harmful chemicals.</p> <p>And as this bushfire season has made brutally clear, climate change is increasing the scale and intensity of bushfires. This reduces the number of small refuges such as fallen logs, increases the distance animals must cover to find new habitat and leaves fewer cues to direct them to safer places.</p> <p>We still have a lot to learn about how Australia’s wildlife detect and respond to fire. Filling in the knowledge gaps might lead to new ways of helping wildlife adapt to our rapidly changing world.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129327/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-nimmo-15432">Dale Nimmo</a>, Associate professor/ARC DECRA fellow, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-sturt-university-849">Charles Sturt University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/animal-response-to-a-bushfire-is-astounding-these-are-the-tricks-they-use-to-survive-129327">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Knitters unite to sew pouches for injured wildlife

<p>Knitters around the world are lending their hand to support native wildlife caught up in the Australian bushfires.</p> <p><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-50951043">More than 6.3 million hectares</a> of bush, forest and parks have been burned in this bushfire season, killing an estimated billion of animals.</p> <p>The Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild said the organisation’s call for volunteers had been met with an outpouring of offers to make pouches, wraps, blankets and beddings for injured and orphaned animals.</p> <p>Since its establishment in April, the guild’s <a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/arfsncrafts/">Facebook group</a> has accumulated more than 160,000 members.</p> <p>“It’s been going crazy,” Belinda Orellana, a founding member of the Queensland-based guild, told <a rel="noopener" href="https://10daily.com.au/news/a200107szpkb/the-world-is-knitting-clothes-for-australias-injured-wildlife-and-darn-the-pics-are-cute-20200107" target="_blank">Reuters</a>.</p> <p>“Our group creates and supplies items to rescue groups and carers around the country who take in and care for the wildlife.”</p> <p>Donations have come in from the United States, Britain, Hong Kong, France and Germany.</p> <p>Volunteer Rachel Sharples told <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/07/australia-wildfires-animals-shelters-knitting">The Guardian</a></em> young marsupials such as kangaroos, koalas, possums and sugar gliders require a pouch to grow up.</p> <p>“Australia has a lot of iconic and lovable animals,” Sharples said.</p> <p>“I think that for people to physically be able to create something, to physically create an item they know an animal will use, resonates with people more so than a cash donation and that is why we have set that up as an option or a way to help.”</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Farfsncrafts%2Fphotos%2Fa.111834340275091%2F134713067987218%2F%3Ftype%3D3&amp;width=500" width="500" height="515" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>Anyone looking to donate their knitting to the guild can find the patterns, instructions and drop-off information <a href="https://www.facebook.com/arfsncrafts/posts/116145636510628?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARAK8StJnGcSazCJHhffZ64pp0w915vHMnZNfLY1zUZeyuDMMFm3veo1lGGYsm13oM8TNfcmpk1v-q5taDXBDN5IDO12wMjA0ml4PSu8z0KLannvlBiibLGzwhOyq96hHVVjEM9oXW89YbtSGbhT-lbpN4HlxoGO1CANlkeX0glfJ1tszhxxjoOW2DTlk4D2vDlK1M0Fi0lE9gZQX190HSpHwdpdSR471Zms6ibhh6hQAjjqClRcREJJ7lh9pdpo9kk134Srm1Y6JASzMP_qaFUAEC6G8EP713RsGF8xLgvTIpP-KLWNY218bABMj1IzAwQNph9x0Wjy8mluypU8Qpo&amp;__tn__=-R">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Photo credit: Avalon Llewellyn / Animal Rescue Craft Guild</em></p> <p><em><span>OverSixty, its parent company and its owners are donating a total of $200,000 to the Vinnie’s Bushfire Appeal. We have also pledged an additional $100,000 of product to help all those affected by the bushfire crisis. We would love you to support too! Head to the <a href="https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw">Vinnie's website</a> to donate.</span></em></p>

Family & Pets

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Why desexing dogs isn't always the best thing to do

<p>In pet-loving nations such as Australia, nobody likes the idea of dogs churning out litters in squalid conditions or sitting homeless in a shelter.</p> <p>Responsible dog owners are therefore strongly encouraged to desex their pets, through programs such as <a href="https://ndn.org.au/get-involved/2019-national-desexing-month/">national desexing month</a> and <a href="https://dogshome.com/the-homes-campaigns/if-you-love-them-desex-them">low-cost surgery schemes</a>. In some places in Australia, it is even <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/is-desexing-mandatory-for-cats-and-dogs/">compulsory</a>.</p> <p>But as we try to limit unwanted dogs, experts estimate there is demand in Australia for nearly <a href="http://ankc.org.au/media/6598/a-forensic-view-of-puppy-breeding-in-australiav4.pdf">half a million new puppies</a> every year.</p> <p>Many desexed family pets are the ideal parents of the next generation of family companions, having demonstrated their ability to fit in with family life. Yet by desexing as early as possible, we are removing the best source of happy healthy pets from the doggy gene pool.</p> <p>We argue there’s room for responsible pet owners and breeders to work together, breeding ideal companion animals and reducing the number of unwanted or unsafe dogs left in shelters.</p> <p><strong>We want happy, loyal pups</strong></p> <p>People want their dogs to suit their family’s needs: tall or short, short-coated or non-shedding, couch potato or running buddy. We have created hundreds of breeds to meet these preferences. However, Australian pet-owners most value dogs that are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159109001555">affectionate, friendly, obedient and safe with children.</a></p> <p>Such dogs are a combination of nature and nurture. Most temperament traits in dogs, including <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/40101976_Genetic_variation_in_aggression-related_traits_in_Golden_Retriever_dogs">aggression</a>, have a genetic basis. Dogs bred for working roles, such as police work, have physical and behavioural assessments to make sure they can do their jobs well.</p> <p>If we treat being a happy and safe companion as a job, we need to <a href="https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ufaw/aw/2010/00000019/a00102s1/art00003">select breeding dogs with the right characteristics to succeed</a>. This begins with carefully selecting parents who also have these traits. Many dogs who would breed perfect family pets are themselves family pets, and owners have years of observation to rely on.</p> <p>A puppy’s early life is also extremely important for creating a suitable pet. Raising them in rich environments, with plenty of affection, <a href="https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/full/10.12968/vetn.2013.4.6.334">equips puppies with important life-skills</a>. For those destined for companionship, this experience includes regular playtime with humans and exposure to life in a modern household. These requirements highlight the need to consider where dogs come from.</p> <p><strong>Professionals, hobbyists or irresponsible owners</strong></p> <p>While we don’t have firm data on where Australians get their pets, we can safely assume there are three main sources: commercial breeders, recreational or hobby breeders, and members of the general public who fail to desex their pet dogs.</p> <p>While new <a href="http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/puppy-farm-legislation">legislation</a> in Victoria targets the worst puppy mills, even the best large-scale commercial operations may struggle to give puppies the attention they need early in life.</p> <p>Meanwhile, recreational breeders, who are often strongly motivated to provide the best upbringing possible, may not select their breeding dogs on the basis of their performance as pets.</p> <p>Instead, they may focus on success in the show ring or pedigree bloodlines, potentially producing very expensive dogs ill-equipped to be great pets.</p> <p>And what of the traditional source of the family dog – pet owners who fail to desex their pets? If high rates of desexing exclude from the gene pool those really wonderful pet dogs owned by “responsible” owners, and only irresponsible owners allow their dogs to breed, the resulting puppies are far less likely to possess the traits so desired by prospective homes.</p> <p>One has only to visit a local shelter to see the unfortunate results of accidental matings among the many wonderful dogs seeking a new home. Thousands of dogs are surrendered in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/7/7/50">Australia shelters every year</a>.</p> <p>To secure future generations of successful companion dogs, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2019.00241/full">a new approach to breeding is needed</a>. Restricting who can breed, and issuing penalties to those who break the rules, is one strategy that must of course be developed and enforced.</p> <p>All breeders must be educated about careful selection of parents, and suitable early experiences in breeding puppies that will excel as pets.</p> <p>But the final piece in the puzzle should be collaboration between responsible breeders and pet owners in the breeding process.<span class="attribution"><a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/" class="license"></a></span></p> <p>If more responsible dog owners were encouraged not to desex their dogs at an early age, but to wait until their dogs’ physical and behavioural health has been thoroughly demonstrated, the very best companion dogs could be permitted to contribute their genes to the next generation.</p> <p>This more nuanced approach, where owners and breeders work together to identify dogs of exemplary health and temperament, could enrich the companion dog gene pool and result in happier owners, happier dogs, and emptier shelters. Although not desexing companion dogs does carry risks – from <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-decisions-to-desex-male-dogs-just-got-more-complicated-95520">behavioural issues to unwanted puppies</a> – we believe this is worth considering. Always discuss your concerns with your veterinarian. Not snipping in haste may be a better option than snipping everything.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/123013/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-dawson-798660"><em>Jessica Dawson</em></a><em>, PhD Student in Anthrozoology, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/pauleen-bennett-12681">Pauleen Bennett</a>, Professor and Head of Department, Psychology and Counselling, College of Science, Health and Engineering, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/paul-mcgreevy-139820">Paul McGreevy</a>, Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/let-it-breed-why-desexing-dogs-isnt-always-the-best-thing-to-do-123013">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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“Harry shush!” Adorable video of Princess Diana scolding cheeky Prince Harry resurfaces

<p>Prince Harry has proven to be a mama’s boy time and time again and a beautiful interview showing a cheeky young Hazza rattling his mother, Princess Diana, has resurfaced online. </p> <p>In an interview from what is believed to be in the 80s, the Princess of Wales is answering questions about her love of helping those less fortunate.</p> <p>However before she can give an answer to what career she would have pursued if she wasn’t a royal, a young Prince Harry is heard giggling in the background to which Princess Diana sternly replies “Harry! Shush!” </p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iaKIrzqiFeU" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The little prince keeps going through and even receives an earful from his big brother and some warning looks from his mother. </p> <p>The video, which stems from a documentary which aired on Channel 4 and NBC in 2017, was reshared on a Duchess Of Sussex Instagram fan page this week before it was removed. </p> <p>The post quickly racked up 50,000 views, with fans gushing over Harry's cheeky humour.</p> <p>“Princess Diana was an extraordinary woman so cute I love this clip very nice!”, one user wrote. </p> <p>Another added: “Oh my gosh! This is adorable!” while another said: “The one and only Harry”.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see Princess Diana and her youngest son, Prince Harry when he was a cheeky toddler.</p>

Family & Pets

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Bindi Irwin thankful for “beautiful” bushfire sketch of father Steve

<p>Bindi Irwin has reached out to an Australian artist who created a tribute to more than 500 million animals which have died in the bushfires ravaging the country.</p> <p>Sharnia-Mae Sturn took to social media last week to share her artwork, which shows a group of animals – including koalas, kangaroos, echidnas and an emu – and Steve Irwin welcoming them into his embrace.</p> <p>“Don’t worry little guys! I’ll take care of you,” the words on the print read.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B68UuyIB3wt/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B68UuyIB3wt/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Feel free to share this but please give credit to my page! So... it’s sad to say that I’ve spent about 3 weeks or so on this and the subject is still relevant. This little tribute drawing goes to all the innocent animals caught in the blazes across my home country, it breaks my heart to see it’s still going on but there’s only so much that can be done to keep it from spreading. I hope all the animals who couldn’t make it are now in heaven with Steve Irwin, being taken care of, and not having a care in the world or memory of how they got there. Rest In Peace fuzzy babies, we will miss you ❤️ #australianbushfires #sketchykoala #prayforaustralia #donate</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/therealsketchykoala/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> TheRealSketchyKoala</a> (@therealsketchykoala) on Jan 5, 2020 at 7:12am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“This little tribute drawing goes to all the innocent animals caught in the blazes across my home country, it breaks my heart to see it’s still going on but there’s only so much that can be done to keep it from spreading,” wrote Sturn on her Sketchy Koala Facebook page.</p> <p>“I hope all the animals who couldn’t make it are now in heaven with Steve Irwin, being taken care of, and not having a care in the world or memory of how they got there. Rest In Peace fuzzy babies, we will miss you.”</p> <p>On Sunday, Sturn shared that the daughter of the late Crocodile Hunter had thanked her for the tribute.</p> <p>“I’m so proud, I found out last night that my drawing reached Bindi Irwin! She said it was beautiful and thanked me for sharing my art,” Sturn wrote.</p> <p>“That’s one of the biggest achievements I could reach from this.”</p> <p>Bindi said while the Irwin family-owned Australia Zoo is safe, the Wildlife Hospital has been receiving tens of thousands of wildlife patients.</p> <p>“With so many devastating fires within Australia, my heart breaks for the people and wildlife who have lost so much,” Bindi said in a statement shared on Instagram.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B60DXgHhqrK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B60DXgHhqrK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">With so many devastating fires within Australia, my heart breaks for the people and wildlife who have lost so much. I wanted to let you know that we are SAFE. There are no fires near us @AustraliaZoo or our conservation properties. Our Wildlife Hospital is busier than ever though, having officially treated over 90,000 patients. My parents dedicated our Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to my beautiful grandmother. We will continue to honour her by being Wildlife Warriors and saving as many lives as we can. 💙🙏🏼</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/bindisueirwin/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Bindi Irwin</a> (@bindisueirwin) on Jan 2, 2020 at 2:07am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“There are no fires near us @AustraliaZoo or our conservation properties. Our Wildlife Hospital is busier than ever though, having officially treated over 90,000 patients.</p> <p>“My parents dedicated our Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to my beautiful grandmother. We will continue to honour her by being Wildlife Warriors and saving as many lives as we can.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">💙🐨 <a href="https://t.co/pvfGFVlKyL">pic.twitter.com/pvfGFVlKyL</a></p> — Australia Zoo (@AustraliaZoo) <a href="https://twitter.com/AustraliaZoo/status/1213600422625067009?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 4, 2020</a></blockquote> <p><em>OverSixty, its parent company and its owners are donating a total of $200,000 to the Vinnie’s Bushfire Appeal. We have also pledged an additional $100,000 of product to help all those affected by the bushfire crisis. We would love you to support too! Head to the <a href="https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw">Vinnie's website</a> to donate!</em></p>

Family & Pets

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New study shows that animal's lifespan is written in its DNA

<p>Humans have a “natural” lifespan of around 38 years, according to a new method we have developed for estimating the lifespans of different species by analysing their DNA.</p> <p>Extrapolating from genetic studies of species with known lifespans, we found that the extinct woolly mammoth probably lived around 60 years and bowhead whales can expect to enjoy more than two and a half centuries of life.</p> <p>Our research, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-54447-w">published today in Scientific Reports</a>, looked at how DNA changes as an animal ages – and found that it varies from species to species and is related to how long the animal is likely to live.</p> <p><strong>The mystery of ageing</strong></p> <p>The ageing process is very important in biomedical and ecological research. As animals grow older, they experience a decline of biological functions, which limits their lifespan. Until now it has been difficult to determine how many years an animal can live.</p> <p>DNA is the blueprint of living organisms and it is an obvious place to seek insights into ageing and lifespan. However, no-one has been able to find differences in DNA sequences that account for differences in lifespans.</p> <p>Lifespans among vertebrates varies greatly. The pygmy goby (<em>Eviota sigillata</em>) is a small fish that lives only eight weeks, whereas individual Greenland sharks (<em>Somniosus microcephalus</em>) have been found that lived for more than 400 years.</p> <p>Knowing the lifespan of wild animals is fundamental for wildlife management and conservation. For endangered species, lifespan can be used to understand what populations are viable. In industries such as fisheries, lifespan is used in population models to determine catch limits.</p> <p>However, the lifespan of most animals is unknown. Most estimates come from a small number of individuals living in captivity whose ages at death were known. For long-lived species it is difficult to obtain a lifespan as they may outlive a generation of researchers.</p> <p><strong>Using changes in DNA to measure age</strong></p> <p>Over the past few years researchers have developed DNA “clocks” that can determine how old an animal is using a special type of change in the DNA called DNA methylation.</p> <p>DNA methylation does not change the underlying sequence of a gene but controls whether it is active. Other researchers have shown that DNA methylation in specific genes is associated with the maximum lifespan of some mammals such as primates.</p> <p>Despite DNA methylation being linked to ageing and lifespan, no research until now has used it as a method to estimate the lifespan of animals.</p> <p>In our research, we have used 252 genomes (full DNA sequences) of vertebrate species that other researchers have assembled and made publicly available in an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genome/">online database</a>. We then compared these genomes to <a href="https://genomics.senescence.info/species/">another database</a> of known animal lifespans.</p> <p>Using this data, we found that we could estimate the lifespan of vertebrate species by looking at where DNA methylation occurs in 42 particular genes. This method also lets us estimate the lifespans of long-lived and extinct species.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/306222/original/file-20191211-95138-nfsxg8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/306222/original/file-20191211-95138-nfsxg8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Using DNA analysis, scientists can now estimate the lifespans of long-lived and extinct species.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">CSIRO</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Extinct species</strong></p> <p>We found the lifespan of the bowhead whale, thought to be the world’s longest lived mammal, is 268 years. This estimate is 57 years higher than the oldest individual that has been found, so they may have a much longer lifespan than previously thought.</p> <p>We also found the extinct woolly mammoth had a lifespan of 60 years, similar to the 65-year span of the modern-day African elephant.</p> <p>The extinct Pinta Island giant tortoise had a lifespan of 120 years by our estimate. The last member of this species, Lonesome George, died in 2012 at age 112.</p> <p>Interestingly, we found Neanderthals and Denisovans, which are extinct species closely related to modern humans, had a maximum lifespan of 37.8 years.</p> <p>Based on DNA, we also estimated a “natural” lifespan modern humans of 38 years. This matches some anthropological estimates for early modern humans. However, humans today may be an exception to this study as advances in medicine and lifestyle have extended the average lifespan.</p> <p>As more scientists assemble the genomes of other animals, our method means their lifespans can readily be estimated. This has huge ecological and conservation significance for many species which require better wildlife management.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/128623/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/benjamin-mayne-908831">Benjamin Mayne</a>, Molecular biologist and bioinformatician, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-new-study-shows-an-animals-lifespan-is-written-in-the-dna-for-humans-its-38-years-128623">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan share adorable new photo of baby Archie to mark the New Year

<p>Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have revealed an adorable photo of baby Archie on their Instagram to bring in the New Year.</p> <p>The Duke and Duchess of Sussex posted the snap of their young son, who is close to eight-months-old, wearing a cute bobble hat as he’s in his dad’s arms.</p> <p>Archie was spotted wearing little sheepskin boots given to the couple by the Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.</p> <p>The royal couple wished their Instagram followers a happy 2020 as they shared their highlights from 2019 in a video reel.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6w6HrhHGT0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6w6HrhHGT0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Happy New Year from the Sussexes! As part of their year in review video, the Sussexes debuted a new picture of Prince Harry &amp; Archie in Canada. I can’t decide which part of Archie’s outfit I love more - his pompom beanie, his Breton striped hoodie or his tiny Uggs! Here’s to a 2020 full of smiles like this for the Sussexes. 😍</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/theduchessofsuxess/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> HRH Duchess Of Sussex</a> (@theduchessofsuxess) on Dec 31, 2019 at 8:48pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The caption to the post read: “Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and thanking you for your continued support!</p> <p>“We’ve loved meeting so many of you from around the world and can’t wait to meet many more of you next year.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/tv/B6v_KOtJinF/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/tv/B6v_KOtJinF/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">“Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and thanking you for your continued support! We’ve loved meeting so many of you from around the world and can’t wait to meet many more of you next year. We hope 2020 brings each of you health and continued happiness.” - The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Special thanks to Chris Martin and @Coldplay for allowing us to use one of their songs Photo and video © SussexRoyal Thanks to PA for additional images and footage</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/sussexroyal/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> The Duke and Duchess of Sussex</a> (@sussexroyal) on Dec 31, 2019 at 12:15pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“We hope 2020 brings each of you health and continued happiness – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.”</p> <p>The heartwarming photo features towards the end of the video.</p>

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63-year-old mother accepts blame for deadly inferno at zoo

<p>A fire broke out in a zoo in Western Germany just minutes into the new year, killing more than 30 animals.</p> <p>A 60-year-old woman and her two adult daughters have turned themselves in after hearing that the blaze killed five orangutans, two gorillas and a chimpanzee as well as many more monkeys, birds and bats.</p> <p>The women bought five Chinese lanterns, which are banned locally and in most of Germany for over a decade. The trio believed that they were allowed on New Year’s Eve and had inscribed good wishes for the new year in the lanterns, according to chief investigator<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://10daily.com.au/news/world/a200102ezmoj/grandmother-turns-herself-in-after-new-years-zoo-tragedy-that-killed-30-animals-20200102" target="_blank">Gerd Hoppmann.</a></p> <p>Only two chimpanzees were able to be rescued from the flames by firefighters. They suffered burns but are in a stable condition.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6vevaBqXVp/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6vevaBqXVp/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Wir wünschen euch einen guten Rutsch in ein hoffentlich erfolgreiches Jahr 2020. Kommt gut 'rein und feiert fleißig! 🎉 Wir freuen uns auf ein tolles neues Jahr mit Euch! Euer Team vom #ZooKrefeld Fotos: Magnus Neuhaus #silvester #silvester2019 #jahresende #jahreswende #kommtgutrein #jahresübergang #orangutan #orangutans #orangutanborneo #wildlifephotography #zooborn #monkeys #monkey #primate #animal #animals #wild #wildlife #nature #naturelovers #zoophotography #zoo #zoolife #zoolove #zoolovers #zoozeit #krefeld #krefelderzoo</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/zookrefeld/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Zoo Krefeld</a> (@zookrefeld) on Dec 31, 2019 at 7:30am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"It's close to a miracle that Bally, a 40-year-old female chimpanzee, and Limbo, a younger male, survived this inferno," Mr Dressen said, adding that many of the zoo's animal handlers were in shock at the devastation.</p> <p>"We have to seriously work through the mourning process," Mr Dressen said. "This is an unfathomable tragedy."</p> <p>The Krefeld zoo opened in 1975 and attracts over 400,000 visitors each year.</p>

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Experimental treatment makes dog’s 11 cancerous tumours “disappear”

<p>Beloved rottweiler Griffin was given just three months to live after being diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. However, thanks to an experimental treatment in Queensland, he is still living years later after taking part in a clinical trial.</p> <p>His owner, Adam Johnson, noticed a lump in the back of Griffin’s neck in 2017.</p> <p>"I thought we'd take him for a routine check," Mr Johnson said to the<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-01/dog-cancer-tumours-experimental-treatment/11819284" target="_blank">ABC</a>.</em></p> <p>"It didn't seem like anything untoward, I just thought it would be medication and 'he'll be right' sort of thing.</p> <p>"A few days later we found out it was a cancerous lump.</p> <p>"It was devastating, absolutely devastating right before Christmas."</p> <p>Griffin the rottweiler was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma and given three months to live.</p> <p>University of Queensland PhD candidate and veterinarian Dr Annika Oska said that the type of cancer Griffin was diagnosed with is usually a death sentence for dogs.</p> <p>"He had a really big lump taken off his side but by the time he went back to have his stitches removed from the original surgery, he had another three lumps, so they were growing really quickly," Dr Oksa said.</p> <p>Instead of going with the traditional route of chemotherapy, Dr Oska had another idea and enrolled Griffin in a medical trial that used immunotherapy treatment. This treatment is designed to “wake up” the dogs own immune system so the body recognises a foreign cancer.</p> <p>"With this one [trial] we make it specifically from the dog's own tumour," Dr Oksa said.</p> <p>"So it's very, very personalised and then we hope that the dog's own immune system will recognise the cancer and start fighting it."</p> <p>His owner was surprised at the results.</p> <p>"One by one, the cancerous lesions began to disappear to the point where two years on we've still got him here," Mr Johnson said.</p> <p>"At that point in time it felt like a Hail Mary.”</p> <p>Dr Oska said that researchers were encouraged by the results and that it could eventually be expanded into human trials for similar cancers.</p> <p>"We're hoping that this will be a way forward to include in the treatment protocol for these dogs.</p> <p>"We need to have more dogs in the trials obviously, so we have more evidence.</p> <p>"So at the same time we're researching what happens to the tumours, how do they respond to the vaccine — can we make any changes to it? Or combine it with different treatments."</p> <p><em>Photo credits: <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-01/dog-cancer-tumours-experimental-treatment/11819284" target="_blank">ABC</a>  </em></p>

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