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The Living Amazon: New Digital Log Of Every Brazilian Rain Forest Species

Researchers in the northern state of Pará want to use the Internet to track the thousands of plant and animal species in the Brazilian rain forest. It's part of an even more ambitious global project.

Yellow-ridged Toucan rescued by the Palmari Reserve in Brazil (Alexander Torrenegra)
Yellow-ridged Toucan rescued by the Palmari Reserve in Brazil (Alexander Torrenegra)
Reinaldo José Lopes

Researchers from Brazilian museum Emílio Goeldi, in the northern state of Pará, have launched an ambitious project: making each of the thousands of animal and plants species that inhabit the Amazon forest available on the Internet.

At the moment, the Center of Biodiversity (which can be accessed here) has a list of some 3,000 species of animals, from mammals to spiders, all of which are native to Pará.

In the new list, researchers want to include images and sounds of each species. The Amazon forest project is intended to eventually be expanded to include other Brazilian states, as well as neighboring countries, like Peru and Colombia.

Even in groups which have been broadly studied, such as mammals and birds, about 10% of Amazonian species are still unknown. "And there are lots more if you think of reptiles and amphibians," says biologist Ulisses Galatti, one of the project's coordinators. "We plan to cover all the Brazilian Amazon by the end of the year."

The project will be connected to other online tools in Brazil and abroad whose goal is to count how many living species exist across the whole planet — an ambitious task.

Without such basic data, it is difficult to protect areas threatened by human activity, or to study evolution in plants and animals. However, some problems must be overcome, such as the lack of professionals on Systematics, the discipline of Biology that classifies living beings.

Helping other scientists

Right now, the user only has access to scientific names and conservation statuses (if a species is endangered, for example) of species living in Pará.

In the future, any individual species will be listed along with the museum to which their reference models belong, and which served as the original base that researchers used. This is very important information for other scientists, who will be able to say if a similar species is the same as the reference or a different one.

Together with the website, the Goeldi Museum will publish a book named "Species of the Millenium," which tallies the 130 new discoveries made by the museum researchers between 2000 and 2011.

Read more from Folha de S. Paulo.

Photo - Alexander Torrenegra

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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