Digitization uncovers pre-WWII fossil loan

first_imgRicardo Pérez-de la Fuente held up a piece of ancient amber, peering at the 40-million-year-old insect inside. Preserved whole after being trapped in sap that hardened over millennia, the fierce-looking larva was a favorite: Its image adorned his computer desktop.“Looks like a monster, almost — full of spikes,” Pérez-de la Fuente said. Then he added: “It’s going back.”A Harvard postdoctoral fellow and expert in fossilized insects, Pérez-de la Fuente was standing that late May day in the basement of the Northwest Laboratory, near one of the many cabinets that house the 50,000 to 60,000 fossil insects in the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s paleoentomology collection. He had pulled out a drawer holding hundreds of insects about to be returned to Germany in repayment of a long-forgotten loan.In 1934, Harvard instructor on economic entomology Charles T. Brues borrowed the specimens from the University of Königsberg in what was then East Prussia. Why Brues never returned the specimens remains a mystery. Less murky is that the fate of the parent amber collection got caught up in the maelstrom of World War II and that some of the loaned fossils were spared destruction while resting an ocean away, in the specimen cabinets at the MCZ.The discovery of the loan — and the return of 383 specimens to the University of Göttingen, which oversees the remnants of the Königsberg Amber Collection — is the fruit of Pérez-de la Fuente’s labor the past four years, and stems from the convictions of Professor Brian Farrell. The Harvard biologist believes that digitizing museum collections is an important step in opening science and fostering new work by researchers around the world.Farrell, the entomology collection’s faculty curator and an expert in the world’s dizzying array of beetles, has directed the digitization of the MCZ’s larger insect collection — 7.5 million specimens — since the mid-1990s, when he obtained a National Science Foundation grant to image the collection’s type specimens for some 33,000 species.Ricardo Perez de la Fuente examines the snakefly encased in amber. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerWhen the effort began, the museum went through the painstaking process of shooting images on slide film and then scanning the slides to digitize the images. The rapid development of imaging technology since then has helped, Farrell said, but with so many specimens in the collection, progress has been slow.In 2013, Farrell obtained another NSF grant and brought in Pérez-de la Fuente to oversee the digitization of the fossilized insects, including 10,000 trapped in amber. Three years later, Alexander Gehler, curator for the University of Göttingen’s Geoscience Museum, wrote to inquire about the long overdue loan and ask for the borrowed fossils back.The specimens are of Baltic amber, formed tens of millions of years ago when northeastern Europe was covered by vast pine forests full of insects, some of which became trapped in resin. The sap hardened into a clear, yellowish solid, preserving the insects to be discovered and examined by collectors and scientists.The layer of Eocene amber extends out into the Baltic Sea, Pérez-de la Fuente said. Because amber floats, pieces wash ashore regularly. By the mid-1930s, the University of Königsberg had amassed an amber collection of some 100,000 pieces. The specimens Brues borrowed led to several scientific articles before his death in 1955.Most German records of the loan were lost during the war, and there are no records in Harvard’s archives that might explain why Brues never returned them. What is known is that World War II nearly obliterated Königsberg.Following months of Soviet bombing, a British attack in August 1944 heavily damaged the area around the university. Soon after, the museum’s director packed the most valuable amber pieces and shipped them west, to the University of Göttingen, southwest of Berlin. The roughly 80,000 pieces that remained in Königsberg were lost or destroyed, Gehler said. In the postwar redrawing of borders, Königsberg was incorporated into Russia and renamed Kaliningrad.Ricardo Perez-de la Fuente (left) and Professor Brian Farrell discovered the collection while digitizing the University’s collection. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerThe rescued portion of the Königsberg Amber Collection was hidden in a potash mine during the war’s waning months, and retrieved before the mine was destroyed in September 1945. After the war, occupation forces kept the collection in fine arts repositories for more than a decade until it was returned to the University of Göttingen. Today the university holds 18,000 pieces from the original Königsberg Amber Collection.Forgotten loans from yesterday’s analog world turn up regularly as more institutions digitize, Farrell said.“Other museums write us a couple of times a year with specimens that they realize they have that belong to us,” Farrell said. “And partly it’s because the world was largely analog until recently. The records are paper records and they get buried in files and people pass away and are gone. We’re moving everything online and into the MCZ database so we can track things. When there’s a loan that’s due, they get an electronic notice.”Images of the MCZ’s amber insects began to go online in 2015. Months later, Gehler heard from a French researcher asking about a fossil ant that had been in the Königsberg Amber Collection.The ant was not among the specimens that had been saved at the end of the war, so Gehler began to search online, as curators of the collection had done for decades in an effort to turn up loaned material. The search led to a specimen in the MCZ’s database, which Gehler crosschecked with scientific publications. He found articles by Brues with photographs that matched the MCZ image, and identified the specimens as belonging to the Königsberg collection.Specimen of a smaller snakefly (Raphidioptera) from the family Inocellidae. Courtesy of  Harvard’s Museum of Comparative ZoologyGehler delved further and was able to identify 40 to 50 specimens whose original accession numbers, tags, or other identifying characteristics indicated that they had been part of the Königsberg collection. He also found a short memo of the loan with Brues’ name on it. Gehler emailed Farrell in December, asking for help identifying the loaned materials.Gehler’s note set Pérez-de la Fuente to the task of going through the entire 10,000-specimen MCZ amber insect collection by hand, examining each specimen for tags or the unique combinations of numbers and letters used by Königsberg. He then went through the publications by Brues and eminent paleoentomologist Frank Carpenter, cross-referencing specimens their publications identified as coming from the Königsberg collection.Of the 383 pieces Pérez-de la Fuente identified as coming from the original Königsberg collection, 40 were precious type specimens, and so are scientifically invaluable. Those 40 would have been saved at the end of the war, but most of the other specimens likely would have been left behind and lost in the destruction that followed, Gehler said.“The types would have been transported, but a lot of the specimens surviving in Harvard today … might have been left in Königsberg and destroyed,” Gehler said. “It’s a very lucky occasion that they survived.”In June, Pérez-de la Fuente flew to Göttingen with the specimens in his carry-on, delivering them by hand to Gehler.“It was really perfect,” Gehler said. “They … invested a lot of their own time to research this issue. It is 3 or 4 percent of the surviving collection and we are very glad that this material has survived.”last_img read more

Odds & Ends: Pan’s Allison Williams on What Could Go Wrong & More

first_img Wicked’s Willemijn Verkaik’s on the Verge Wicked vet Willemijn Verkaik, Ricardo Afonso and Haydn Oakley have been tapped to join the previously announced new stage adaptation of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, starring Tamsin Greig. The production, helmed by Bartlett Sher, will begin performances at London’s Playhouse Theatre on December 16. Alan Cumming & Victor Garber on Embarrassing B’way Moments. Cabaret’s Alan Cumming and Great White Way Vet Victor Garber recently stopped by Watch What Happens Live on Bravo. Check out below as they chat their most embarrassing Broadway moments with host Andy Cohen…and the most annoying thing an audience member can do (apart from whacking). Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. Allison Williams Talks Pan Problems When it comes to the Peter Pan Live! telecast’s viewers, Allison Williams, who will play the titular role, is pragmatic. “The myriad things that can go wrong is why most of America will tune in,” the Girls star admitted to the New York Post. (That’s not us, obviously. No really.) However, she’s also confident that the team will pull it off: “I’m not scared because everyone is working to the best of their ability…my biggest training ground is improv. I’ll know how to handle things if something goes wrong.” We can’t wait to see what Williams, Christopher Walken, Christian Borle, Kelli O’Hara and some of our favorite Newsies have in store for us on December 4. Antonie Murray-Straughan is Cats’ First Hip-Hop Tugger Antoine Murray-Straughan will play the new 2014 version of the Rum Tum Tugger in London’s upcoming Cats revival, starring Nicole Scherzinger. Andrew Lloyd Webber(!) has said that the Tugger is now going to be “a contemporary street cat and he has to do hip-hop. That will be a completely new way of doing it.” We’re confident, however, that he will still be curious.center_img NPH Reminisces About Being Naked With Josh Radnor Former Hedwig Neil Patrick Harris got honest about getting (publicly) naked when he paid a visit to Conan on October 23. Which led, below, to him reminiscing about being nude with Disgraced’s Josh Radnor. It was all in the name of art, of course, in this case when they starred together on stage in A Paris Letter. We’re somewhat annoyed with ourselves for missing that one. View Commentslast_img read more

Avoid Summer Stingers

first_imgSummer fun doesn’t come without dangers. When the sun comes out, so do a lot ofstingers. “While many bee pollinators are active only in early spring, honeybees and bumblebeesare active all summer,” said Keith Delaplane, a University of Georgia ExtensionService entomologist. “Its sting burns for a few minutes, then starts itching,” Sparks said. “Then a whitepustule forms within several hours of a sting.” If fire ants sting you, treat the area with an approved insect-bite remedy that not onlydeadens pain but provides infection protection. Sting-Kill External Anesthetic, whichcontains benzocaine, is one such product. “Fire ants inflict pain,” said UGA entomologist Beverly Sparks. “They actually bite (tohold on) and then sting — that’s the part that hurts.” If you are allergic to bee stings, carry a sting kit at all times. Most other stings can betreated with a topical ointment such as Benadryl. Don’t swat at stinging insects. Swatting a bee just agitates it more. Delaplanerecommends you walk — or run — away and don’t waste time with fruitless anddangerous swatting. How do you avoid being stung? Wasps and yellow jackets are another matter. In spite of folk tales, most stinging insects are equally potent. Think bees are the only summer stingers? Think again. In Georgia, it’s not bees you have to watch out for. It’s wasps. It’s their behavior that gives them away. “They become more numerous and problematic toward the end of summer,” Delaplanesaid. “The best control is to treat individual nests. The earlier in summer the better.”center_img A fire ant sting is different from other ants. “It depends more on the individual than the bee,” Delaplane said. “For somebeekeepers, honeybee stings are practically nothing. But for those same people, a waspsting can be very painful.” “Most people call any stinging insect a bee,” Delaplane said. “True bees are valuablepollinators and rarely warrant control. A live-and-let-live approach is far better.” “Walking barefoot in clover is a risk,” Delaplane said. “If you encounter bees onflowers, simply leave them alone and enjoy watching them. If you see a bumblebeenest, avoid it. It will die out in the fall.” Commercial sprays are best for controlling wasps and yellow jackets. “If you swell and feel pain at a sting site, it’s not an allergic reaction,” he said. “It’s anormal reaction. An allergic reaction includes sweating, dizziness, light-headedness,shaking, convulsions and more serious symptoms — reactions suffered by a very smallfraction of the population.” Some people may have bad reactions to any bee sting. “Many ants are the shape and size of a fire ant, and unless you have a good hand lensor microscope it’s hard to tell these ants apart,” Sparks said. “If you see a large, turtle-shaped mound with no obvious entry point and when youdisturb the mound, hundreds of ants respond very quickly, you can be sure they’re fireants,” Sparks said. “Some people react severely to fire ant stings,” Sparks said. “They should see aphysician immediately.” Not all ant stings are as painful as a fire ant’s. Allergic reactions to fire ant stings may include chest pains, nausea or lapsing into acoma.last_img read more

Verizon Wireless expands 3G network coverage in Shelburne

first_imgVerizon Wireless,Verizon Wireless recently activated a new cell site in Shelburne that expands wireless voice and 3G data coverage along Route 7, as well as the surrounding areas. The company invested in Chittenden County to continue to stay ahead of increasing demand for reliable voice and mobile Internet access. Verizon Wireless has invested more than $2.8 billion into its New England network since 2000, including more than $242 million in 2010 alone, to increase coverage and capacity on behalf of customers. Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G network.‘We at Verizon Wireless have always believed that the best wireless devices deserve the best wireless networks,’ said director for Network Systems Performance for Verizon Wireless, Richard Enright. ‘Today people across Vermont are increasingly relying on wireless tablets, smartphones and apps to stay organized and connected. Our investment in Chittenden County – and across New England – has kept us ahead of these consumer trends and underscored our belief that any mobile device is only as reliable as the network it runs on.’ SHELBURNE, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Verizon Wirelesslast_img read more

Virus is snarling supply chains across US, survey says

first_img“The data suggests that even as companies adjust to supply disruptions – even anticipating normalizing supply conditions by the third quarter – they are expecting lower aggregate demand this year, which promises to be the most long-lasting impact of the virus outbreak,” ISM chief executive Thomas W. Derry said in a statement.ISM said 95 percent of respondents have been impacted by supply chain disruptions or will be as of late March, up from more than 80 percent earlier in the month, according to the survey of 559 companies in the manufacturing and services sectors taken between March 17-30.Meanwhile, 57 percent reported drops in demand by an average of five percent, and nearly half reported they had lowered their revenue targets, on average by 22 percent.Capital expenditure plans were down among more than a third of companies, on average by 27 percent. Almost all United States companies surveyed in the last half of March said the coronavirus pandemic would or already had hit their supply chains, an industry association said Tuesday.The survey from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) also showed half of the firms cutting their revenue targets, hiring plans and investments in the face of the pandemic.Read also: Airports reduce hours, close terminals following sharp decline in flight traffic Employment was also impacted, with 54 percent of companies saying they would delay hiring at least for this quarter, while a third would cut employees’ hours and around a quarter would reduce staffing altogether.Read also: Millions to lose jobs, fall into poverty as Indonesia braces for recessionNot surprisingly amid the virus outbreak, demand for in the health care sector soared by 50 percent, the survey showed. However, Derry noted that companies who diversified their supply base in response to the trade wars launched by President Donald Trump, “are potentially more equipped to address the effects of COVID-19 on their supply chains.”One of the survey’s few positive indicators was that staffing levels for firms operating in China, where the coronavirus originated, had hit 82 percent of normal in March, up from 56 percent in February.Topics :last_img read more

Buyers keen to invest on April Fool’s Day despite pranksters

first_imgBuyer Ben Landers. Photo Adam armstrong.With an opening bid of $650,000, the property sold for $780,000 to Ben Landers who plans to move into the home next month.Belle Property — Paddington agent Caroline Brown said she was happy for both the seller and buyer. Samson and Jocelyn Reynolds with Place- Bulimba agent Joanna Gianniotis.Battling it out with three registered bidders, the couple bought the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home at 27 Baron St, Greenslopes for $640,000. 48 Murray St, Wilston sold under the hammer for $891,000.There was no time for pranks at 48 Murray St, Wilston.Ray White — Ascot selling agent Ian Cuneo said the three-bedroom, one-bathroom home sold under the hammer for $891,000.With 13 registered bidders on board, he said there was a crowd of about 50 people.Mr Cuneo said the property, which was offered to the market for the first time, attracted plenty of interest.“There was interest for renovators, people to create their own designs or develop underneath,” he said. The auction crowd at 27 Baron St, Greenslopes.Place — Bulimba selling agent Joanna Gianniotis said the Queenslander was previously an investment property. Ms Gianniotis said entry level homes, like 27 Baron St, offered the perfect opportunity for someone to either renovate or build their dream home in this prime inner-city suburb. Tap here for a full list of Queensland auction results. 142 Temple St, Coorparoo.Over at Coorparoo, a cute colonial cottage sold under the hammer for $632,500.The new owners, a young professional couple, bought the two-bedroom, one-bathroom property at 142 Temple St in front of a crowd of almost 60 people.Ray White — South Brisbane selling agent Will Bertelsen said there was plenty of local interest in the home.“We had seven registered bidders and sold it to first home buyers,” he said. Dr Anne Tanner sold her 1930s art deco home at Bardon under the hammer. Photo: Adam armstrong.Brisbane buyers were keen to get down to business this morning as plenty of April Fool’s jokes were thrown around at local auctions..At 36 Carey St, Bardon, a crowd of almost 25 people gathered to hear Belle Property auctioneer Ted Walton postpone the auction for another week.However his prank fell on deaf ears. 27 Baron St, Greenslopes.Meanwhile it was tears of joy for Samson and Jocelyn Reynolds who bought a cute Queenslander at auction this morning. 36 Carey Street, Bardon.It was obvious the crowd was keen to find out who the new owner of this beautiful art deco home would be.Owner Dr Anne Tanner bought the property in 1989 and said she was keen to see how it would go at auction.Dr Tanner said she was keen to move onto her next step and wanted to sell her investment property.“I’ve had tenants in here,” she said.“I used to drive past this house all the time and I just thought it was so cute.” Ted Walton at 36 Carey St, Bardon. Photo Adam armstrong.Dr Tanner, who lives at Bardon, said she had done some renovations to the property, on a 508sq m block.Meanwhile the granddaughter of the builder who created the two-bedroom, one-bathroom Carey St home was also present at the auction. More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this homeless than 1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor6 hours ago69 Queenscroft St, Chelmer sold under the hammer to a young couple.At 69 Queenscroft St, Chelmer a crowd of about 50 people erupted in applause when auctioneer Matt Condon walked out.Place — Graceville selling agent Brad Robson said he wanted to play a joke on Mr Condon, and before the auction asked the crowd to get on board to ‘help embarras him’.“It worked, he walked out and there was a massive round of applause,” Mr Robson said.All jokes aside, Mr Robson said the property sold under the hammer for $1.125 million.“We had a starting bid of $700,000 and we had five registered bidders,” Mr Robson said.He said a young couple who lived in the area bought the property.“They wanted a bigger home for their family,” he said. FREE: Get the latest real estate news direct to your inbox. 85 Stratton Tce, Manly.At Manly a three-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage sold under the hammer for $620,000.Re/MAX Advantage — Manly selling agent Trish Breen said the seller was “over the moon” with the results.There were six registered bidders, with a crowd of about 30 to 40 people at the auction of 85 Statton Tce.Ms Breen said the starting bid was $500,000 and the property, which featured a 70s-style kitchen, sold above reserve.Ms Breen said a couple bought the property and were relocating from Melbourne.last_img read more

IADC Delft Seminar Proves Success

first_imgImage source: IADCThe International Association of Dredging Companies’ (IADC) seminar on dredging and land reclamation took place last month in Delft, the Netherlands. A group of 23 participants originating from 17 different countries attended the 55th seminar, hosted by IADC since 1993.Each year in June, the seminar takes place at the IHE Institute for Water Education.In addition to lectures on topics such as equipment, survey and soil investigation, participants went on a site visit to the Van Oord yard in Moerdijk.They visited Artemis, the cutter suction dredger which is moored alongside the cable-laying vessel Nexus.In the second half of the week, the participants competed in teams to generate the best tender for a site-specific dredging project.The winning bid was produced by Hector Manzo Salazar, Ahmed Aiman Shareef, Jakob Schneider, Dmytro Nadieiev, Gustavo Manuel Portillo Martínez and Justine Holzman.The next seminar takes place in Singapore from 2-6 October 2017.Image source: IADClast_img read more

Pope Benedict XVI rebukes Austrian dissident priests

first_img Share 41 Views   no discussions Sharing is caring! Share FaithInternationalLifestylePrint Pope Benedict XVI rebukes Austrian dissident priests by: – April 5, 2012center_img Tweet Share The Pope said the Church had no authority from God to admit women priests.Pope Benedict XVI has sharply condemned a group of dissident Austrian priests and laymen for questioning key teachings of the Catholic Church.The group, known as the Pfarrer Initiative, has challenged the church on topics such as priestly celibacy and its ban on female priests.Speaking during a Maundy Thursday mass in the Vatican, the Pope said he would not tolerate disobedience.Correspondents say the pontiff’s criticism was unusually outspoken.About 15% of Austria’s 2,000 priests signed the initiative’s call for disobedience in June last year.The appeal calls for “long-needed reforms” and the “admission of women and married people to the priesthood”.The Pope said he understood that the priests were acting out of concern for the Church and thought drastic action was needed.“But is disobedience really a way to do this?” he asked worshippers gathered in St Peter’s basilica.‘Own preferences’He accused the group of making “a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas”.The Pope added that his teachings on the subjects raised by the group were not his own, but the Church’s.“We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the Church, whose servants we are,” he said.He also directly rebuffed demands for the Church to allow the ordination of women, “for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord”.Maundy Thursday is the day when Catholic priests traditionally renew the vows they made when they were ordained, including that of celibacy, says the BBC’s David Willey in Rome.BBC Newslast_img read more

Dr. Grell Chosen to Provide Recommendations to Chinese Builders on the Reconstruction of the Princess Margaret Hospital.

first_img Sharing is caring! Tweet News Dr. Grell Chosen to Provide Recommendations to Chinese Builders on the Reconstruction of the Princess Margaret Hospital. by: – April 15, 2011 Share Ross university professor and Dean of Clinical and Community Affairs Dr. Gerald Grell has been selected to a committee which is responsible for providing recommendations to the Architect and Chinese builders of the reconstruction of the new and upgraded Chinese funded Princess Margaret Hospital.Dr. Grell has already submitted a fourteen point list of suggestions and recommendations to the committee and has advised that we need a facility which we can sell.He stated that a new upgraded medical facility which provides continuous education, training to our medical personnel, upgraded equipment, proper health care and a general hospital which can be recognized and known by the other Caribbean countries is what that is needed.News reporter: Grace HendersonDominica Vibes Newscenter_img Share 39 Views   no discussions Sharelast_img read more

Gay cruise company president issues statement regarding passenger’s arrest

first_img Share Share Sharing is caring! LocalNews Gay cruise company president issues statement regarding passenger’s arrest by: – March 22, 2012 Tweetcenter_img 30 Views   one comment Share Rich Campbell. Photo credit: FacebookPresident of Atlantis Events Inc Rich Campbell has issued a statement regarding a recent incident which occurred in Dominica were two passengers who were aboard the Celebrity X Cruises were arrested and charged for indecent exposure.Dennis Mayer and John Hart both citizens of California pleaded guilty to the charge of indecent exposure when they appeared before chief magistrate Evelina Baptiste on Thursday.Both men “humbly” apologized for disrespecting Dominican law and explaining that the purpose of their visit was to enjoy the island and have fun.Campbell issued the statement on the company’s Facebook page apologizing for the late post which he says was due to limited internet.He “sincerely” asked that people obtain “the facts before condemning Atlantis or Dominica for what happened”. According to Campbell, here are the facts:“Yesterday morning around 9:30 am two of our guests were seen engaging in a sexual act outdoors on their balcony in full public view of the port and town. Not only did many of the residents witness the act, several of our guests saw this incident as well. The local authorities responded to a complaint by several residents. The two gentlemen were arrested on a misdemeanor charge of public indecency and detained overnight. They appeared in front of the local magistrate this morning, paid a small fine, and were released in full.Please understand that the complaint and subsequent arrests had nothing to do with the guests’ sexual orientation, nor was any “anti-gay” law invoked. These guests were engaged in behavior that is inappropriate in any port of call, or major city for that matter. The guests were never left on their own. We had both representatives from Atlantis and Celebrity cruises with them at all times during their ordeal and had our local representatives look after them last night. Furthermore, we worked closely with the US Embassy in Barbados to assure that their safety was always being monitored. Atlantis had 2000 guests in port yesterday in Dominica and most of them had an outstanding time visiting the country. Celebrity Cruises has been extremely supportive, working with Atlantis to insure these guests’ safety and security despite their detention in Dominica. We commend them for their unwavering support through this incident”.The men were ordered to pay a fine of EC$2400.00 each. Dominica Vibes Newslast_img read more