Conservation News

Tasmanian tiger joey 3D scans may unlock evolutionary mystery

CT scans of thylacine specimens are being used to investigate why they resembled dogs despite last sharing an ancestor 160m years ago

Joeys of thylacines, or Tasmanian tigers, look much like the young of every other marsupial: bald, pink, and with pronounced forelimbs and jaws for crawling into their mother’s pouch and latching on to a teat.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that, in the 200-year history of collecting and cataloguing various thylacine specimens for museum exhibits, there has been a bit of a mix-up.

Related: Playing God: should we revive extinct species?

Related: Thylacine DNA reveals weakness – and kinship with the kangaroo

Related: 'Sightings' of extinct Tasmanian tiger prompt search in Queensland

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‘People think the deer are lovely. Then they learn more about it’: the deer cull dilemma

The Scottish Highlands have a deer problem. Is shooting tens of thousands of them the only solution? By Cal Flyn

When we arrive at the cottage, they are already there, watching us from high on the crags overlooking the water. The five of us are still tasting the chill, stale air of the empty building and staking claims on stained mattresses when Julien spots a silhouette through the warped pane of the back window. “They’re up there now,” he says. “Let’s go.”

A minute later we are scrambling up the hillface, gaining height fast. The wind is moving in great currents over the ridge. It comes in waves, smashing against us and then withdrawing, dragging the air from our lungs. Julien and Storm are out in front, goat-footed over the tussocks. I try to copy the way they creep through the heather on their elbows, pressing their abdomens into the mud, all the time scanning the hillside for movement.

Related: A day with a deer stalker: on the trail of Scotland’s rutting stags

Related: ‘Kill them, kill them, kill them’: the volunteer army plotting to wipe out Britain’s grey squirrels

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Problem-solving could be key to grey squirrels' success, study finds

Research in UK shows invasive species bests native red squirrels in complex tasks

The ability to solve problems may explain why grey squirrels are thriving at the expense of native red ones in the UK, research suggests.

Wild greys and reds were presented with an easy task (opening a transparent lid) and a difficult version (a more complex process of pushing and pulling levers) to get hazelnuts.

Related: Red squirrels successfully reintroduced to north-west Scottish Highlands

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Faster reproduction could hold key to saving critically endangered frog

Researchers believe introducing frogs to lower elevation areas would help them reach sexual maturity earlier

Researchers are hoping to increase the population of one of Australia’s most endangered frogs by helping them reach sexual maturity earlier.

The number of wild northern corroboree frogs, which are only found in cold, mountainous areas of the ACT and New South Wales, has been in sharp decline, mostly due to chytrid fungus. The fungus causes an infectious disease that is killing frogs around the world. There are only 20 of the small black and yellow striped frogs left living in the wild in the ACT and fewer than 1,000 in NSW.

Related: 'Fantasy documents': recovery plans failing Australia's endangered species

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'Fantasy documents': recovery plans failing Australia's endangered species

Expired, unfinished or undeveloped: conservationists call for more transparency and accountability in species management systems

Less than 40% of Australia’s nationally-listed threatened species have recovery plans in place to secure their long-term survival.

And close to 10% of listed threatened species are identified as requiring plans to manage their protection but the documents are either unfinished or haven’t been developed, according to data published by the environment and energy department.

Related: Four Australian mammals deemed under greater threat of extinction

Many recovery plans are just fantasy documents because they’re not implemented

Related: 'A national disgrace': Australia's extinction crisis is unfolding in plain sight

Related: Wombats, sharks, possums, frogs: Australia's animals at risk of extinction – interactive

To protect and recover threatened species we must protect critical habitat as they do in the US

Related: ‘Absolute scandal’: how does restoring a ship help endangered species?

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