The Saddleback Trapdoor Spider.

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A newly discovered species of saddleback trapdoor spider found. Photograph: Suppki/AAP
Thirteen new species of spider have been discovered on Queensland’s Cape York peninsula – adding to the thousands of known species that give Australian wildlife its fearsome reputation.
The new species were found by scientists, teachers and Indigenous rangers during a 10-day journey to the largely unsurveyed area.
The survey is called the Bush Blitz and is a combined project of the Australian government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia.
Maribyrnong primary school teacher Leslie Carr says she signed up to search the Olkola people’s traditional lands so she could relay her adventures to her students.
“It was a lot of digging, I was amazed,” Carr told reporters.
“I thought I’d get up there and they’d be crawling around. But they go down 20 to 30cm.”
Seven new species of Australian spider discovered including unique tarantula
The team used abalone knives to dig into the hard earth before swapping them for pen knives when they got closer to a silk-lined burrow.
The hard work paid off, with the discovery of the 13 new spider species which include a brush-footed trapdoor spider and the newly christened mouse spider, which lives in a stocking-shaped web.
Then there were the tarantulas. “There were ones as big as your hand, about 20 of them,” Carr said.
Now back home, the science teacher says the savannah-like environment was dotted with termite mounds and very dry.
“I’ve had kids coming up saying, ‘Oh, how could you let a spider crawl all over you?’” she says. “I tell them it was scary, but if you don’t threaten the spider, he’s not going to bite you.”
via As if Australia didn’t have enough spiders – 13 new species found in Queensland | Environment | The Guardian.

The Crawley Boatshed.

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This week’s reader photo was taken by Amber Ramento in Crawley, Western Australia.
Thousands of motorists drive past this cute weatherboard structure and its timber boardwalk each day but few would know the history of this Swan River icon.
Thought to have been originally constructed in the 1930s – though nobody seems to know exactly when it was built – it been rebuilt and repaired on a number of occasions, and has had lots of uses.
It would, being built in the 1930s, have been designed for a pleasure craft of some sort – a sailing boat or rowing boats – that would have cruised the Swan River, past the Crawley baths and other boatsheds dotting the shoreline.
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In the 1940’s it was bought by Nattrass family, who had purchase the property behind the boatshed.
At the time, the boatshed was purchased for an additional 5 pounds when the family bought the property.
The family then built a larger, more modern boatshed around the original.
Read on via Reader photo: Crawley Boatshed – Australian Geographic.

The Mystery of Kangaroo Adoptions.

A marked kangaroo and her adopted joey. King et al PLOS One 2015 http://bit.ly/1dxRljP
When you spend six years watching kangaroos, you start to see some strange things. From 2008 to 2013, Wendy King, a doctoral student at the University of Queensland, and her colleagues studied wild grey kangaroos in a national park in Victoria, Australia.
All told, King and her colleagues studied 615 animals–194 adult females, and 326 juveniles, known as joeys. The first time King and her colleagues captured each kangaroo, they took a number of measurements and then marked it so they could recognize it later.
From time to time, they’d find a juvenile kangaroo in the pouch of a different mother. Sometimes it would climb out, but then it would climb back into the new pouch, getting milk and protection from the adult female for months, until it was ready to live on its own.
In other words, these kangaroos had been adopted.
A marked kangaroo and her adopted joey. King et al PLOS One 2015 http://bit.ly/1dxRljP
Scientists have observed adoption in occurring 120 species of mammals. Other species that are harder to study may be adopting, too.
As for kangaroos, scientists have long known that if they put a joey in an unrelated female’s pouch, she will sometimes keep it.
But King and her colleagues have now discovered that kangaroos will voluntarily adopt joeys in the wild. All told, they found that 11 of the 326 juveniles were adopted over their five-year study–a rate of about three percent.
Given the commitment adoption demands from a mammal mother–a kangaroo mother needs a full year to raise a single joey to weaning–this discovery cries out for an explanation.Over the years, researchers have proposed a number of different explanations for adoption.
Some have suggested that mammals adopt young offspring of their relatives because they are genetically similar. By rearing the offspring of their kin, this argument goes, adoptive parents can ensure that some of their own genes get passed down to future generations.
Source: The Mystery of Kangaroo Adoptions

The Battle of Brisbane (Aussies v Yanks),1942.

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Australia and the US were allies during the Second World War, though that wasn’t always apparent in the relationship between GIs and Diggers.
This is the story of one especially bitter encounter.
It was not only in wartime Britain that American GIs were regarded as ‘overpaid, oversexed and over here’. Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is situated on the coast of the south-eastern edge of the state.
In 1942, following his escape from the Philippines, General Douglas Macarthur set up a headquarters in the city and tens of thousands of US troops were camped close by, swelling the population of the 300,000 or so Australian inhabitants of the Greater Brisbane district.
With their smart walking-out uniforms, their movie-star accents, their better pay and their access to various luxuries, they were a hit with many young women: at least that was how the ‘Diggers’ saw it.
In addition, while the Australians were not known for treating aboriginals particularly well, they took exception to the segregation and the denigration that white GIs inflicted on their black brothers in arms.
The situation became explosive when Macarthur made some critical remarks about the fighting capacity of the Australians; and when the first US units engaged alongside Australians in New Guinea performed poorly, the Australian soldiers’ hostility intensified.
Australian troops in both world wars had a reputation, not always deserved, for disliking rules and spit and polish, for showing disrespect to any officer that they considered pompous and inefficient and for behaving generally in a disorderly fashion.
They had little time for military police (MPs) and in Brisbane they were particularly hostile to the US version – ‘Snow Drops’, after their white helmets or, to the Diggers, just ‘provo [provost] bastards’.
On Thanksgiving Day, 26 November, an American private was invited to have a ‘comrade-in-arms’ drink with some Australians. He had already had one or two.
As the group walked towards a pub in the city centre they were stopped by two US MPs who demanded to see the GI’s pass and ordered him to do up his shirt buttons. The Diggers demanded that ‘their mate’ be left alone.
One of the MPs struck an Australian with his baton, which was the cue for the Diggers to turn on the MPs, punching and lashing out with their brass-buckled webbing belts.
The MPs were chased to the American PX (Post Exchange, a retail store somewhat similar to the British NAAFI) in Creek Street and a stand-off developed as the Diggers, whose numbers rapidly grew to, perhaps, 500, demanded that the ‘provo bastard’ who had hit their mate be handed over to them.
As it became clear that no one was going to be handed over to face the crowd the situation began to calm down. At this point a US army weapons carrier drove up, containing two MPs, one of whom was waving a riot gun, essentially a 12-gauge shotgun.
The Australians demanded that he put the gun down. An Australian gunner, Edward Webster, who had already seen action in the North African campaign, seized the barrel and the gun went off, mortally wounding him. It is unclear whether the MP had deliberately pulled the trigger, but another two shots were fired, with the pellets wounding another seven Diggers and an Australian civilian.
After the initial shock of the shooting of Gunner Webster, the Battle of Brisbane began, spreading out from Creek Street and making it dangerous to be seen anywhere in the city in a US army uniform. Estimates vary widely about the numbers involved in the fighting, from 2,000 to 4,000.
Eleven GIs were seriously injured, one with a fractured skull. Australian MPs appear to have been reluctant to get involved; there were 110 of them in the city, as opposed to 800 of the US Provost Corps. A picket of Australian signallers was deployed, with unloaded rifles, to try to bring the situation under control.
Later, Australian troops, including men from Webster’s anti-tank unit, were ordered on to the streets with loaded weapons to bring some order. No further shots were fired and eventually the fighting appears to have run out of steam.
Three Australians were eventually prosecuted as ring-leaders of the trouble. All three were found guilty and jailed for a few months.
Source: History Today.com