World’s smallest snail

Borneo has once again claimed another world record – this time for the world’s smallest land snail.

Its shiny, translucent, white shell has an average height of 0.027 inches (0.7 millimeters), breaking the previously held record by about a tenth of a millimeter. The former champion — the Chinese snail Angustopila dominikae —is the world’s second-smallest snail, with an average shell height of 0.033 inches (0.86 mm), the researchers said.

Dutch and Malaysian researchers named the newfound snail Acmella nana; its species name (nana) is a reference to the Latin nanus, or “dwarf.” Acmella nana is so small that the researchers couldn’t see it in the wild without a microscope




The barefoot ‘solar engineer’: An illiterate grandma’s journey to save her Sabah village

Sourced from Malay Mail online

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 4 — She may be illiterate, a grandmother of nine, and living in one of the most cut-off villages in Sabah, but 40-year-old Tarihing Masanim is on her way to becoming a “solar energy engineer”.

Living in a remote village of Kampung Sonsogon Magandai in northern Sabah, the Dusun rubber-tapper navigates herself around the village barefoot, having never owned a pair of shoes, nor been on an elevator, much less seen an airplane before.

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NEWS: Archaeologists hit ‘gold’ at Mansuli

Sourced from The Star

KOTA KINABALU: The Mansuli Valley in Sabah’s east coast Lahad Datu district houses the oldest human settlement in east Malaysia, archaeologists claim.

Tucked inside a forest reserve and accessible only by a dirt road, researchers stumbled upon a treasure trove in 2003, finding more than 1,000 stone tools that are believed to date back 235,000 years.

The research was jointly carried out by Universiti Sains Malaysia and Sabah Museum, which are also currently looking at other potential sites in the state’s interior Apin-Apin district in Keningau.

USM Centre for Global Archaeological Research director Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin said the evidence showed people settled in Sabah during the Paleolithic period (also known as the Stone Age), 27,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Before this, it was claimed the oldest human settlement, dating back about 40,000 years, was in the Niah Caves, near Miri, Sarawak.

Dr Mokhtar said this in a talk to mark the launch of the Archaeology in Malaysia exhibition by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun at Sabah Museum here yesterday.

The professor said the new evidence showed that humans from the South-East Asian mainland came to Borneo when the Sunda Plain still existed.

(Also known as the Sunda Shelf, it is geologically an extension of the continental shelf of South-East Asia with the major land masses being the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Madura, Bali and their surrounding smaller islands. It covers an area of approximately 1.85 million square kilometres.)

Dr Mokhtar said that when connected to other Paleolithic archaeological sites in Sabah, the Mansuli Valley site established that the early humans had consistently made this part of Borneo their home.

He said efforts were being made to put this information into school books.

USM lecturer Jeffery Abdullah, who is part of the archaeology team, said they found the site by chance while working on the Samang Buat cave, about a kilometre from the site.

“We were walking to the cave when we found stone tools scattered and hidden among small rocks,” said Jeffery, who is pursuing a doctorate in archeology at the university.

Masidi said more should be done to study and conserve the state’s historical heritage.

“While many archaeological sites concentrated in Sabah’s east coast, more studies need to be held in the west coast and interior areas so we can get a better understanding on Sabah’s history as a whole,” he said.

NEWS: Bull elephant kills Australian woman tourist in Borneo

Sourced from The Star

Published: Wednesday December 7, 2011 MYT 6:16:00 PM

Bull elephant kills Australian woman tourist in Borneo


KOTA KINABALU: An Australian woman tourist taking pictures was gored to death by a bull elephant in Sabah’s east coast Tabin Wildlife Reserve.Jenna OGrady Donley, 26, a Sydney-based veterinarian, was attacked by the elephant, which was apparently startled by the sounds of the camera’s shutter and flash, in the 6.30am incident on Wednesday

Witnesses claimed that she could not flee in time as the elephant suddenly charged at her while her woman companion and guide escaped in the attack at this 123,00ha wildlife reserve about 100km from Lahad Datu town.

State Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said the women and their guide had gone to a nearby mud volcano and decided to take the wildlife trail on their way back to the resort.

Ambu said the group had gone off the trail to snap photographs of the wild elephant, which he suspected was a single bull.

Single bull elephants normally isolate themselves and their behaviour is difficult to predict and often dangerous, he said, adding people should keep their distance from such elephants or any wildlife for that matter.

Ambu learned that the women had stopped about 10m from the animal and started clicking away their cameras.

This might have provoked the elephant which suddenly turned around and charged at them, he said, adding the others escaped but the woman could not as she was the closest to the animal.

He said police are investigating the matter, adding the woman’s remains have been sent to the Lahad Datu hospital for an autopsy.

NEWS: Granny fends off croc attack with a mean punch

Sourced from The Star online

Friday October 28, 2011  A 63-YEAR-OLD woman from a longhouse in Sibuti, near Miri, socked a crocodile in the eye and escaped being eaten alive by the reptile, Harian Metro reported. Lumeit Entabang was bathing by the banks of Sungai Bakas, not far from her home in Rumah Empading, when she felt a sharp bite on her left hand. She was then dragged into the water. “All I could do was scream,” she said. “The crocodile let go of my hand and then grabbed my left thigh. “Quickly and with all my might, I hit it right in the eye with my clenched fist,” she said, adding that the punch caused the reptile to loosen its grip and flee to the opposite bank. Following the incident, residents of the longhouse and nearby villa-ges held a miring ngampun ceremony, a traditional Iban ritual to pacify any spirit or jungle creature that the community may have offend-ed. Villager Jackson Gawing, 63, said the Ibans believed that the crocodile had a spiritual relationship with the community but some people might have offended the reptile by killing baby crocodiles that got stuck in their fishing nets. The injured Lumeit said that although her village had been supplied with piped water, she continued to bath and wash by the river as she had done for the past 60 years. “But I’m never going near the river again,” she said.

“Chameleon” Snake Found in Borneo Forest

Sourced from National Geographic

 June 27, 2006—A newfound species of poisonous snake might have developed an unusual way to keep enemies at bay—by spontaneously changing its skin color.

The slightly iridescent serpent, pictured above, was discovered in the Indonesian section of the island of Borneo (map of Indonesia), the international conservation organization WWF announced today. A WWF team found the snake during a 2003 survey of the island’s reptile diversity.

“I put the reddish-brown snake in a dark bucket,” Mark Auliya, a German reptile expert and WWF consultant, said in a press release. “When I retrieved it a few minutes later, it was almost entirely white.”

Auliya found the 1.6-foot-long (0.5-meter-long) snake in wetlands and swamps near the Kapuas River in Borneo’s Betung Kerihun National Park. His team named it the Kapuas mud snake, and the scientists believe it exists only in the river’s drainage areas.

“The discovery of the ‘chameleon’ snake exposes one of nature’s best kept secrets deep in the heart of Borneo,” WWF’s Stuart Chapman said in a press release. “Its ability to change color has kept it hidden from science until now. I guess it just picked the wrong color that day.”

A handful of other reptiles are known to be able to rapidly change their pigmentation (photo: chameleon color change), and the trait has been documented as a defense mechanism in some snakes. The researchers don’t yet know how or why the new snake species makes the change, but they speculate it could be a warning behavior.

—Victoria Gilman