2 Indigenous Leaders Killed in Brazilian Amazon
The murdered men belonged to the Guajajara tribe, which is known for organizing guardians to defend their Amazon rainforest territory against illegal tree clearing, The Guardian pointed out. Violence against Brazil's indigenous communities has increased during the presidency of far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who has spoken against indigenous reserves and promised to open more of the Amazon to agriculture and industry. Saturday's killings come little over a month after illegal loggers shot and murdered forest guardian Paulo Paulino Guajajara.
"How long will this go on? Who will be next?" Sonia Guajajara, leader of Brazil's Indigenous People Articulation (APIB), told The Guardian. "The authorities need to look at our indigenous people. They're taking away our lives."
One indigenous witness recorded a video of the scene, along with a plea for help.
"Please spread this video so that people can know the state of vulnerability we are in, for lack of security, for illicit acts that some people practice. And now our relatives have had to pay with their own lives," the filmer said, according to Amazon Watch. "This can't keep happening. Brazilian authorities and responsible bodies must take action on this."
The murdered men were chiefs named Firmino Prexede Guajajara and Raimundo Guajajara, according to Amazon Watch. They were riding a motorcycle on their way back from advocating for indigenous rights at a meeting with Brazilian electric utility Eletronorte and Funai (Brazilian National Indigenous Foundation). When they reached the part of a highway near El-Betel village, the murderers opened the windows of a moving car and opened fire, tribal spokesman Magno Guajajara said, according to The Guardian.
"They were shooting at everyone," he recounted.
Magno said he did not know why the men were targeted. Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro said on social media that the federal police were investigating the murder and that he would consider dispatching a National Guard unit to the area.
News of the killings sparked outrage from international activists.
"Indigenous people are literally being murdered for trying to protect the forest from illegal deforestation," 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted Sunday. "Over and over again. It is shameful that the world remains silent about this."
Indigenous people are literally being murdered for trying to protect the forrest from illegal deforestation. Over a… https://t.co/QZgvlgxyQ9— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1575827109.0
Amazon Watch program director Christian Poirier also issued a statement denouncing the killings.
"An institutionalized genocide of indigenous peoples is taking place in Brazil," Poirier said. "They are being left alone, vulnerable to all kinds of threats and violence. The international community must not accept that any more indigenous blood be shed. It is the constitutional duty of the Brazilian government to protect indigenous territories and ensure the safety of their peoples."
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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