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Lyre bird foraging amongst mulch

posted 19 Apr 2018, 18:41 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 19 Apr 2018, 18:44 ]

Lyre birds are becoming more and more common at the upper reaches of the Allyn River in northern NSW. Once confined more or less to the highlands, they are ubiquitous in the lowland areas, and have even started foraging in domestic environments. Here's a video of a female scratching among garden mulch, taken in April at the Upper Allyn Lister Village.

Bat Sculpture a Malanga New Ireland artifact

posted 18 Mar 2018, 15:08 by Jamie Derkenne

The provenance of a sculpture I bought at auction for $50 in 2017 in Sydney has been found. The sculpture features a squatting figure with well delineated hands surmounted by a stylized bat, and incorporates painted wood (orange, dusty red, white, black) and plant fibre. This is stylistically identical to objects found at the Australian Museum from New Ireland, to the North East of mainland Papua New Guinea.
The object is likely to be a malangan carving. Malangan is a cycle of rituals particular to New Ireland. Malangan express many complex religious and philosophical ideas. They are principally concerned with honoring and dismissing the dead, but they also act as affirmation of the identity of clan groups, and negotiate the transmission of rights to land. ​Malangan sculptures were made to be used on a single
occasion and then destroyed. They are symbolic of many important subjects, including identity, kinship, gender, death, and the spirit world. ​They often include representations of fish and birds of identifiable species, alluding both to specific myths and the animal's natural characteristics. 
Malanggan masks and other objects are commonly used at funeral rites, which both bid farewell to the dead and celebrate the vibrancy of the living. The masks can represent a number of things: dead 
ancestors, ges (the spiritual double of an individual), or the various bush spirits associated with the area. 
The ownership of Malangan objects is similar to the modern notion of copyright; when a piece is bought, the seller surrenders the right to use that particular Malangan style, the form in which it is made, and even the accompanying rites. This stimulates production, as more elaborate variations are made to replace the ones that have been sold.
Malangan ceremonies became extremely expensive affairs, taking into account the costs of the accompanying feasting. As a result, the funeral rites could take place months after a person had died. In some circumstances the ceremony would have been held for several people simultaneously.

Nummulites, all the way down

posted 17 Jan 2018, 20:43 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 17 Jan 2018, 23:24 ]

Stare at something long enough, and you may start to see patterns and connections that simply aren't there.

Nummulites are large coin shaped fossils, that look like coiled rope. The fossils are formed from a single celled organism's shell which is minutely divided by septa into chambers. They are the shells of the fossil and present-day marine protozoan Nummulites, a type of foraminiferan. Nummulites commonly vary in diameter from 1.3 cm to 5 cm and are common in Eocene to Miocene marine rocks, particularly around southwest Asia and the Mediterranean. They are valuable as index fossils.

Nummulites are relatively common in limestone rocks around the Mediterranean, and sometimes you need to look hard to see the delicate features of these fossils. 

Randolph Kirkpatrick was a British spongiologist, cnidariologist and bryozoologist. He was assistant keeper of lower invertebrates at the British Natural History Museum from 1886 until his retirement in 1927. He published a limited number of papers on the sponges of Antarctica and the Indian Ocean. However, his most significant work was carried out on Merlia, a species of coralline sponge (a sponge which secretes a coral-like limestone skeleton). He was the first to correctly interpret these unusual sponges, but his work was largely ignored until the 1960s when T. F. Goreau and his colleagues W. D. Hartman and Jeremy Jackson rediscovered the coralline sponges in the reefs of the West Indies.

The reason his work on this type of sponge was ignored for so long as that Kirkpatrick has spent a lot of time looking at Nummulites. Everywhere he looked in his limestone specimens he found nummulites. He started finding nummulite fossils in other rocks, including igneous and metamorphic rocks, which can't contain fossils because of the huge temperatures and pressures such rocks have been subjected to. Kirkpatrick eventually concluded in 1913 that all rocks - literally all rocks - were formed from nummulites. The entire planet was an accretion of nummulite fossil skeletons. He preferred to call the Earth a 'Nummulosphere'.

A PDF of his work can be found on the link below this article.



posted 20 Dec 2017, 22:18 by Jamie Derkenne

On the Peachtree park walk at the Upper Allyn River, NSW, in early December 2017, we found some examples of Dead Man's Fingers, or Xylaria. Xylaria are hard to identify to the species level as they are a complicated fungi, with a perchant for being able to decompose fallen wood. Other sites suggest these ascomycetes turn completely black over time, but we rather suspect that some remain white.

Strange concretions at Katherine NT

posted 8 Oct 2017, 22:25 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 12 Nov 2017, 18:54 ]

These strange concretions were found near Katherine in the Northern Territory

Strange fossils like concretions on fossil pavement behind a caravan park near Katherine in the Northern Territory are probably concretions formed from microbial degradation of organic matter, according to Professor Martin Kennedy, head of department at Macquarie University's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
We found the concretions near the river behind the Manballu Caravan Park. Prof Kennedy says it is always hard to tell from a photograph, but the oval crescent shape, dark colour, decimeter size and fine grained texture of the structures lead him to believe this is a “concretion” which is typically an early cemented area that typically forms from microbial degradation of organic matter. 
"They most commonly form early after sediment deposition and before burial.  Sometimes within them you will find a fossil- it is commonly suggested that the organic matter in that fossil served as the initial nucleation point of cement formation- the cements are partially made from the carbon within the organic matter. Once initial precipitation of cement starts with a few crystals, the crystals serve as substrate for further crystal growth and the process continues outward. Some of these can become large, like the Moleki boulders on the beach in New Zealand, but your image is more the typical size of tens of centimetres.  An X-ray of this material should reveal that it is comprised of calcium carbonate, maybe siderite, if it is a concretion. Also its carbon isotopic value would be < -5 per mill parts per billion and a thin section petrographic image would show the calcium carbonate isolated to the pores of grains."

Ruby Knipe, club swinger

posted 6 Oct 2017, 21:12 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 8 Oct 2017, 15:10 ]

Club swinging at the turn of last century had a completely different meaning than today. Tapered wooden clubs weighing more than a kilo each somehow became an American health fad which quickly gained popularity in Australia. So much so that the Australian Natives Association, a group of white people who encouraged such things as the adoption of the wattle sprig as a national emblem and the celebration of Australia Day on January 26 (which came about in the 1940s) gave a certifcates to one proficient club swinger.
In Outback Australia, people made their own fun. Ruby Knipe, a teenage girl living in Broken Hill, would often sing and dance (she was gracefully proficient at the Scottish Fling) during intervals at the cinema. But her real strength lay with club swinging. At the age of 16 she "She twirled the wood for five hours and two minutes, and put up a new record for Australian women." The feat put her on page three of the October 14 edition of the Barrier Miner in 1909. Ruby learnt club swinging while at the Emu Creek State School near Bendigo and made quite a name for herself in Broken Hill with her swinging techniques. Apart from endurance, Ruby was famed for being able to swing flaming clubs. The local Australian Natives Association, Willyama Brnch, keen on promoting music, literature and elocution, decided Ruby should be awarded one of their certificates. You can see her certificate at the Broken Hill Historical Society museum. 
A high resolution scan of one of the Australian Native's Association blank certificates is attached for download.

How to uninstall 'JoyLauncher' from an Alcatel phone

posted 26 Sep 2017, 02:31 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 26 Sep 2017, 17:15 ]

The so-called "Joy Launcher" has bricked many an Alcatel phone. The secret to getting rid of it is not to just try to uninstall "Joy Launcher" but to wind-back File Manager as well.

The first thing to do is install an alternate file manager such as Evie. You can do this from the Google Play Store.

The next thing is to stop Joy Launcher and File Manager from auto updating.

Alcatel's Joy Launcher is a classic example of corporate immorality and greed. It literally spams your android phone, making it in some cases next to useless. The following steps are the best solution, apart from rooting and flashing, to getting rid of the incessant popups and "updates" that Joy Launcher instigates.

How to avoid the application auto update

a) Touch Google Play Store app;

b) Touch Menu key at the top left corner of screen;




c) Touch “Settings”;




d) Touch “Auto-update apps”;




e) Select “Do not auto-update apps”.




2. How to remove an unwanted application update

a)      Touch the menu icon , you will see all applications;



b) Select the app which you don’t want to update;




c) Long-press and drag the app to “App info”;




d) Touch Menu key  (on the top right corner of screen);



e) Touch “Uninstall updates”;




f) Touch “OK”;




g) Touch “OK”;




h) Uninstall finished.



Or you can go to “Settings” -> “Apps” -> select the app which you don’t like to update -> touch Menu key  (on the top right corner of screen) -> touch “Uninstall updates” -> touch “OK” -> touch “OK” -> uninstall finished.

You then need to go to Apps Settings -> Apps, select the relevant apps and turn off peeking and notifications for Joy Launcher and File Manager.


Boot Hill

posted 4 Jul 2017, 02:58 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 4 Jul 2017, 02:59 ]

About 20 years ago someone tied their old shoes to a barb wire fence on a roadside an hour north of Gresford in the NSW Hunter Valley. Others, seeing the shoes, added theirs. Today the fence and surrounding trees are festooned with thousands of shoes. The slight rise has been officially named Boot Hill. This is not a well trafficked road, but nonetheless it now is an item of interest for tourist promotion in the surrounding Dungog Shire. The Futility Closet website recently ran an article about Shoes Corner, people to leave unwanted footwear at 109th and Calumet Avenues in Hanover Township. It appears the shoes left on the curb-side number in the tens at most. Hanover has a population just in excess of 11,000 people. Boot Hill has thousands of shoes and the nearest town, Gresford is about an hour's drive away on a dirt road and has a population of maybe 300. Obviously public art is not dependent on visitors or location.

Mozzie Music

posted 23 Jun 2017, 00:32 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 23 Jun 2017, 00:42 ]

Kingsley Reeve, an associate lecturer in sound at Australia's National Institute for Dramatic Art in Sydney, enjoys making soundscapes that "get under your skin." In this piece called The Water, he has used the recordings of male and female Asian tiger mosquitos, Aedes albopictus, but has combined them and slowed them down in such a way that they sound annoying, they sound ominous.

Here's the sound of the female Asian Tiger mosquito:

And here's the sound of the male Asian Tiger mosquito:

And here's the two combined, and slowed right down:

Lord Howe Island Woodhen

posted 18 Jun 2017, 23:27 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 18 Jun 2017, 23:28 ]

This Woodhen was found foraging near Middle Beach, Lord Howe Island in June 2017. It gave a shrill piercing cry and ran off rapidly clutching what looked like a mouse in its beak shortly after being filmed.

When explorers first discovered Lord Howe Island in 1788, they identified 15 bird species including the then common woodhen. Being flightless, curious, and having never been hunted, they became a readily available source of food for visiting sailors and the island's early human population. Since its discovery and the arrival of settlers on the island in 1834, nine of these 15 species became extinct. The woodhen declined in numbers until the late 1970s, when surveys showed that the population had dropped to less than 30 birds, confined to the difficult to access summit regions of the island's two mountains, Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird.[3] The woodhen was at the very brink of extinction in 1980, with just 15 individuals found.

A comprehensive study was carried out to determine the cause of the decline, which was eventually attributed to the introduction of feral pigs. The elimination of the pigs and other disruptive animals (goats), plus a programme of ex-situ conservation (captive breeding) which commenced in May 1980 (the first egg was laid in June 1980), allowed the Lord Howe woodhen to recover its numbers. The captive breeding program was funded with $150,000 from the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, which was spent to construct the compound and to employ scientists involved in this project.

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