Monthly Archives: March 2015

Out of Africa: our ancestors’ Pliocene Eden

For our australopithecine ancestors who lived in East Africa more than 3 million years ago, being on safari was the only way to be. I am convinced that so many generations, and such a cosmic amount of time spent by the hominid lineage as part of the African bush must have left a deep imprint in the hominid brain -including our own.

Australopithecus afarensis mother and child. Not a mere evolutionary step towards humanity, but a species perfectly adapted to the woodlands of Pliocene Africa
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No matter if we live in Europe or New Zealand, when we allow ourselves the time and the silence to listen to our deepest self, we may well find that we miss Africa, even if we have never been there.
A shady gallery forest surrounding a cool stream, and giving way to sunny prairies and open woodlands, that is our original home; herds of elephants, three toed horses and antelopes, that is the “traffic” we were designed to mind; sabertooth cats with dappled coats concealed among the light and shade of the vegetation, that is the danger we are hard-wired to beware. Africa made us, and we are made for Africa.
I don´t know about you, but I can hardly wait to return there when I can!

A pair of Australopithecus afarensis out for a walk in their African home. Elephants, giraffids, rhinoceroses and antelopes were daily encounters while moving in and out of the woods in search of food

Homenaje a Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente: Villardeciervos, 14-03-2015

El sábado 14 de Marzo se cumplen 87 años del nacimiento de Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, y 35 años de su muerte. Para mí, Félix es mucho más que un naturalista y divulgador, es una persona que cambió mi vida para mejor, abriendo mis ojos a realidades que han sido mi inspiración y mi fuerza desde que vi por primera vez el programa “Fauna” allá por los años 60. Hoy, el legado de Félix está en peligro de quedar neutralizado por sectores regresivos que buscan empobrecer nuestras vidas y embotar la sensibilidad de las nuevas generaciones.
La defensa de la naturaleza no es una “ideología” más de las que una persona puede adoptar. Es la ÚNICA opción sensata para poder legar un planeta habitable a las próximas generaciones. Si Félix y su mensaje significan algo para tí, te invito a unirte a nosotros el sábado 14 de marzo en Villardeciervos, Zamora, en plena tierra lobera. Ese día también se quieren subastar las vidas de varios lobos en un intento de perpetuar una explotación sórdida de esa joya de la fauna ibérica, una explotación que sólo beneficia a una minoría anacrónica y que impide que se establezca un modelo de convivencia con el lobo mucho más sostenible y beneficioso ¡Vamos a celebrar a Félix, al lobo ibérico y a la naturaleza!

cartel homenaje Félix

Clean-cut cat: the surgical killing bite of Lokotunjailurus

Lokotunjailurus was a large sabertooth cat that lived in the latest Miocene of Africa. It was a close relative of Machairodus and Homotherium, and just like them it had large and very flattened upper canine teeth with strongly serrated margins. Such weapons were there for a reason: they allowed this predator to kill with a very precise bite, known technically as the “canine shear-bite”, which caused massive blood loss and a quick death of the prey animals.
The kills of Lokotunjailurus could be called “clean” in the sense that they were fast and efficient, giving the prey little time for suffering (or for hurting the hunter). But we should not deceive ourselves about one thing: they would surely be rather bloody affairs, much more so than in the case of modern big cats, whose blunt canines are used for crushing and suffocating, but often don´t even pierce the flesh of their victims.

Lokotunjailurus is seen here performing its surgically precise -but bloody- killing bite
lokotunj with hipparion low res

Unless we caught Lokotunjailurus right in the act of killing, we would be likely to confront a pretty neat animal, and that is no coincidence!
lokotunjailurus head neck low res

All living cats are fastidiously clean and spend inordinate amounts of time licking all traces of blood and dirt off their coat, and there is good reason to suspect that sabertooths would do the same thing. After all, it is an excellent way to keep away insects and infections. And, you know, cats are such clean-cut creatures, it is just in their nature!

Want to learn much more about the differences between the killing bite of sabertooths and that of modern big cats? Download the complete film “Bringing the Sabertooths back to Life” following this link:

Welcome to Mauricio Anton’s YouTube channel

Have you taken a look at my Youtube channel recently? I have just decided to follow Youtube’s suggestion and create an introductory video for new viewers. Hopefully it will convince you to suscribe if you haven’t yet! Here is the link:

Happy viewing!

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