The crocodiles that inhabited the coasts of North Africa during the late Miocene period embarked on a journey to Europe across what is now the Mediterranean basin. This is confirmed by the analysis of the first fossils of the Crocodylus genus in the Iberian Peninsula, found in the Valencian site of Venta del Moro between 1995 and 2006, and which are now being described for the first time.
When the Rhizostoma luteum jellyfish was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar, only nine specimens were identified. For years, it was so inconspicuous that later, in the 20th century, it failed to turn up for six decades. A team of scientists, with the help of a citizen initiative, has now confirmed that it is not really as difficult to find as previously believed.
The Andes mountain range hides many biological treasures between its altitudes. One of them is the great diversity of frogs that is coming to light little by little thanks to the work of a Spanish researcher, among others. The biologist has discovered many new amphibian species in the last decade, including a new genus. Its latest finding is that of a small brown frog in the Cordillera Real de los Andes of Bolivia, which due to its limited distribution area should be considered 'vulnerable'.
The fauna of deep seabed tends to be relatively unknown due to the difficulty of collecting samples at great depths. A research team from the A Graña Marine Biology Station in Galicia undertook four oceanographic expeditions in the waters off the northwest coast of the Iberian Peninsula that have led to the discovery of several new species that inhabit the abyssal plains. Now they describe two eyeless species of millimetric proportions.
Pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae) tadpoles have the amazing ability to grow at different rates depending on changes in temperature. A new study has revealed that this species, which requires relatively warm environments for breeding, speeds up its capacity for growth in Sweden during the warmest time of the year in order to take full advantage of short periods of high temperatures. This trait may be the key to this frog's survival in cold climates.
Scientists from Tarbiat Modares University (Iran), in collaboration with the researcher Sergio Álvarez from the University of Jaén (Spain), have discovered a new species of nematode –or roundworm– in Iran which belongs to the rare genus Diploscapteroides. The new species has been named Diploscapteroides persicus and is one of just seven species of worm identified to date that belong to this genus. The description of this new worm includes a morphological and molecular characterisation of the specimens that have been studied.
The Tsaratanana Massif –the highest mountain on Madagascar and one of the island's most remote regions– is home to several indigenous species. Yet, the majority of these species remain unknown to science due to the fact that this woodland area is difficult to reach. Thanks to a European expedition to this area, however, a group of scientists has discovered, among other species, two new species of very elusive frogs that live on the forest floor.
The parakeets that have invaded Europe and North America over the last forty to fifty years, creating massive nests in many urban areas, seem to have originated from the same small geographical area in South America. In addition, the invasive populations are genetically identical and are recognised by a relatively rare dominant haplotype in the source population. This has been the conclusion of an international study in which Spanish scientists have participated.
In Jaen in 2009 a team of scientists found the remains of what was, until then, the oldest turtle species in southern Europe at 160 million years old. But by reinterpreting the fossils, a Spanish researcher has proved that it is not a new species, but a group of very diverse turtles in Europe during the Jurassic Period, which disappeared due to changing sea levels.
The common frog is one of the amphibians with the highest distribution in the Iberian Peninsula. It reproduces preferably in permanent areas of water where it comes into contact with the red swamp crayfish, which preys on its larvae. Research carried out by the Spaniard Germán Orizaola from the University of Uppsala (Sweden) confirms that the larvae of these frogs have developed a defensive response to the invasive species. They also have deeper tails and larger bodies if they co-exist with the crayfish.