Australia's Yarra River at Risk from Development
By Ian Penrose
The Yarra River which is the major waterway running through Melbourne, Australia is the subject of a precedent setting case for river-care in the State of Victoria. The proposed construction of large townhouses on the riverbank in Coppin Grove, Hawthorn is a major threat to important environmental and social values of the Yarra corridor.
Whilst much of the corridor in the older, inner suburbs suffers from encroaching buildings, this particular proposal is critical because it would be a devastating precedent on a picturesque section of the lower river still free of tall buildings. The Yarra Riverkeeper Association has been instrumental in raising awareness of the threat amongst the local community, the media and all the relevant authorities (the councils on both river banks, Melbourne Water, State Government and Parks Victoria) which are now strongly opposing the development in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The VCAT hearing starts on Oct. 8.
PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AT 12 COPPIN GROVE, HAWTHORN:
Source: Photo taken by Yarra Riverkeeper Association, 17 May 2012.
Source: Permit Application photomontage digitally modified by Yarra Riverkeeper Association to remove unrealistic roof vegetation and foreground trees.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal was established under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998. Since its inception, VCAT’s purpose has been to provide Victorians with a low cost, accessible, efficient and independent tribunal delivering high quality dispute resolution. Over the years, VCAT has evolved to comprise three divisions: 1) the Civil Division which hears and determines a range of civil disputes, including those relating to use or flow of water between properties, 2) the Administrative Division which deals with applications from people seeking review of government and other bodies’ decisions that affect them, including decisions relating to local council land valuations and planning permits and 3) the Human Rights Division.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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