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Study: Crocodile evolution rebooted by Ice Age glaciations

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Ottawa [Canada], February 17 (ANI): As per a study driven by McGill University, researchers have discovered impacts of Ice Age sea-level changes in the genomes of Caribbean and Pacific crocodiles in Panama.
Crocodiles are resilient animals from a lineage that has survived for over 200 million years. Skilled swimmers, crocodiles can travel long distances and live in freshwater to marine environments. But they can’t roam far overland. American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) are found in the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of the Neotropics but they arrived in the Pacific before Panama existed, according to new research.
Over 3 million years ago, the formation of the Isthmus of Panama altered global ocean circulation, connecting North and South America and establishing the Caribbean Sea. This resulted in widespread mixing of species on the continent and separation in the seas.
On land, mammals from North America such as mammoths, saber-toothed cats, horses, and camels invaded South America, and strange mammals like giant ground sloths, armadillos, and opossums from South America invaded North America. This event is known as the Great American Interchange, and the opposite happened in the seas, where new species of corals, clams, and fishes evolved in the separated Pacific and Caribbean waters.
The question a group of McGill and Panamanian researchers asked was: how distant are the Pacific and Caribbean populations from each other and do they match the geological record? Researchers have long suspected that American crocodiles living on the Pacific coast should have diverged genetically enough from Caribbean populations to become unique species.
“We assumed we would detect significant genetic differences between Pacific and Caribbean crocodile populations that were isolated for the past 3 million years,” thought Jose Avila-Cervantes, a recent Ph.D. graduate of McGill University under the supervision of Professor Hans Larsson.
To test this, Avila-Cervantes captured and took blood samples of crocodiles from several populations living on both coasts of Panama. Back at McGill University, he sequenced their genomes to look for small variations in their DNA.
He used the genetic differences to estimate how much evolutionary divergence and gene flow existed between populations. With this information, the team found that Pacific and Caribbean crocodile populations have been separated for only about 100,000 years.
“This time of separation is a far cry from the 3 million years we were expecting,” said Professor Larsson, Director of the Redpath Museum at McGill. “But it did match the last interglacial period of the Ice Age.”
Glacial and interglacial cycles in the Ice Age mark periods of peak polar glaciations separated by relatively warm times. These warm times caused sea levels to rise over 100 meters globally compared to present-day levels. Using the record of Ice Age sea levels, Avila-Cervantes was able to reconstruct what Panama would have looked like during these peak cold and warm periods of the Ice Age.
“It surprised us to see that during the warm interglacial periods, most of Panama was underwater with the coasts separated by brackish lagoons, small rivers, and thin stretches of land,” said Avila-Cervantes. “These are the reasons why we think crocodiles were able to pass from coast to coast freely and explain why their oldest genetic signature of separation coincides with this time.”
A second younger signature of genetic separation is timed to about 20,000 years ago and coincides with the last glaciation cycle that they found made Panama about twice as wide as it is today, and probably a good barrier for these crocodiles. “This is one of the first studies to implicate Ice Age glaciation-interglaciation cycles with the evolution of a tropical organism.”
Yet the researchers discovered there is some genetic divergence between the populations on each coast despite the frequent inter-glaciations, and this diversity is at risk due to habitat destruction from human development. “It was difficult to find any population living on the Pacific coast near the Panama Canal,” said Avila-Cervantes.
One of the best-preserved populations is in the middle of the Panama Canal on the Barro Colorado Island Nature Monument. “Preserving the population around this island may be our best chance to preserve the unique genetic signatures of Panamanian American crocodiles,” said Professor Larsson.
“Our study not only highlights the resilience of crocodiles to ancient climate changes and their great capacity to survive large geological events but also their vulnerability to our voracious need to modify their environments.” (ANI)

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Yami Gautam shares glimpse from first day of shooting for ‘Dasvi’

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 25 (ANI): Few days after the cast of upcoming social comedy ‘Dasvi’ unveiled the intriguing character posters and announced the commencement of the film’s shoot on social media, Yami Gautam on Thursday shared a picture from the first day of her shoot.
The ‘Kaabil’ actor, hopped on to Instagram and posted a picture featuring herself as a police officer named Jyoti Deswal.
Dressed as a cop that includes a blue cap and a brown uniform, Gautam is seen carrying a no-make-up look in the snap.
Giving a glimpse of her first day on the set of ‘Dasvi’, the actor wrote, “My first day on the set of #Dasvi playing #JyotiDeswal. Proud and honoured to play an IPS officer. #JaiHind,”

The movie is an upcoming project from the makers of ‘Hindi Medium’,’ Angrezi Medium’ and ‘Bala’. The hilarious social comedy also stars Nimrat Kaur and Abhishek Bachchan in pivotal roles.
Tushar Jalota is making his directing debut with the film, which is written by Ritesh Shah.
‘Dasvi’ is being bankrolled by Dinesh Vijan, Sandeep Leyzell, and Shobhana Yadav. The movie is being produced under the banner of Maddock Films Production, and Bake my Cake films. (ANI)

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‘It got too dangerous’: Sacha Baron Cohen officially retires from playing ‘Borat’

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Washington (US), February 25 (ANI): British actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen recently revealed that he’s retiring from his controversial character of Borat Sagdiyev, as portraying it “got too dangerous”.
According to People magazine, the 49-year-old actor said that he will not be continuing on with his character for another film in the ‘Borat’ franchise.
Cohen said, “It got too dangerous, there were a couple of times I had to put on a bulletproof vest to go and shoot a scene, and you don’t want to do that too many times in your life. I was pretty lucky to get out this time, so no, I’m not doing it again. I’m going to stay with the scripted stuff.”
Elaborating on his decision to end the films, Baron Cohen admitted that he gets little to no sleep ahead of shooting scenes that put his life in harm’s way, like when he attended a far-right rally in the sequel.
He explained, “The night before something like that — that rally — you’re trying to go through everything that can go wrong. In a normal scene like what we’re doing, we’re trying to make sure, ‘How do I make sure my performance is real? Have I done my research? How do I make sure the accent’s perfect?’ In this one you’re going, ‘Okay, if a bunch of guys with guns come from that side of the stage, have I got a way to get out? What happens if someone shoots me? What if a bunch of people start shooting me?'”
Baron Cohen starred in 2006’s Borat as the fictional Kazakhstani journalist who travels throughout the US to make a documentary. The film features real-life interactions with Americans. He reprised the character for the 2020 sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which also features Maria Bakalova as his daughter Tutar.

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Sushmita Sen kickstarts shooting for ‘Aarya’ season 2

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): Former Miss Universe and Bollywood actor Sushmita Sen on Thursday announced that shooting has begun for the second season of her much-anticipated thriller drama series ‘Aarya’.
The ‘Main Hoon Na’ actor took to her official social media accounts to share the news. She posted an extreme close up picture of her eyes where are luscious locks are seen covering half of her face.
She went on to compliment the post with a short note dedicated to the film and its team and wrote, “She sees a storm coming…in the mirror!!! #Aarya #season2 ‘your wish is our command’ I love you guys!!! Let’s do this @madhvaniram @officialrmfilms @disneyplushotstarvip #TeamAarya #duggadugga.”

To which the director of the series, Ram Madhvani welcomed her by replying, “Welcome back Aarya” in the comments section.

Sen made her comeback with the Indian crime drama web television series ‘Aarya’ for which she had bagged the title ‘Best Actor in drama series’ by eminent entertainment award platforms like Filmfare, Dada Saheb Phalke, Film Critics Guild, Raj Kapoor Award.
Directed by Ram Madhvani, the series, apart from Sikandar Kher, Manish Chaudhari, and Namit Das, also featured actor Chandrachur Singh and Vinod Rawat in the first season. (ANI)

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Billie Eilish reveals she recorded new album in lockdown

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Washington (US), February 25 (ANI): American singer and songwriter Billie Eilish recently revealed during an interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show” that she has recorded a new album in lockdown.
According to Variety, the ‘Bad Guy’ singer said that this new album is the result of her first prolonged period of not touring since her career began in 2016. Eilish said, “I don’t think I would’ve made the same album, or even the album at all, if it weren’t for Covid.”
She added, “That doesn’t mean it’s about Covid at all, it’s just that, when things are different in your life, you’re different. That’s just how it is. So, I have to thank Covid for that, and that’s about it.”
She also talked about the imminent release of her documentary, ‘The World’s a Little Blurry’, which captures her hectic life in the months leading up to last year’s Grammy Awards, where she and musical collaborator Finneas captured multiple awards, including Best Album, Song, Record, New Artist and Producer, among others.
As per Variety, the logistics of recording an album would have been easier for Eilish, her brother, and Finneas, as they famously recorded most of their previous releases, which included 2019’s ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ and the ‘Don’t Smile at Me’ EP, in the Los Angeles home they grew up in. (ANI)

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David Fincher to helm Netflix’s ‘The Killer’

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Washington [US], February 25 (ANI): Oscar-nominated director David Fincher, who had recently partnered with Netflix for his acclaimed biopic ‘Mank’, has reunited with the streaming service for his next feature film titled ‘The Killer’.
As per Variety, Michael Fassbender is in talks to star in the upcoming assassin drama. Andrew Kevin Walker, who has collaborated with Fincher on ‘Se7en’, ‘Fight Club’ and ‘The Game’, is writing the script for the forthcoming film.
Cean Chaffin will serve as producer for the film, which will focus on a cold-blooded assassin who begins to develop a conscience, causing him to emotionally crack. The story is based on a graphic novel by Alexis Nolent.
In November, Fincher signed a four-year film deal with Netflix. ‘Mank’, a black-and-white drama that chronicles screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz’s efforts to finish the script for the Orson Welles classic ‘Citizen Kane’, was released late last year and has been widely considered an Oscars frontrunner.
‘Mank’ marked Fincher’s first feature directing effort since 2014’s psychological thriller ‘Gone Girl’. In between, Fincher executive produced and directed the Netflix TV series ‘Mindhunter’, an FBI crime drama starring Jonathan Groff. (ANI)

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‘I like me better when I’m with you’: Mira wishes Shahid Kapoor on 40th birthday

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): As Bollywood’s handsome hunk Shahid Kapoor rang in his 40th birthday on Thursday, his wife Mira penned an adorable note for him on social media.
Mira hopped on to Instagram and shared two pictures wishing the star on his special day. The first picture is a selfie snap that features her kissing the ‘Kabir Singh’ star. Alongside the delightful picture, she explained how special does she feels while being with him.
“Happy 40th to the love of my life. Any wiser and I’m in trouble. Lucky me you don’t look it and lucky you, I don’t show it. I love you baby,” she wrote in the caption.

To wish him further, the mother of two posted a monochrome picture of the birthday boy that captures him coming out of a pool. In the caption, she wrote, “Shine on. Be one with the Light.”

The couple had tied the knot in a personal wedding ceremony in New Delhi in 2015 following which they welcomed two children – Zain and Misha.
Earlier in the day, Sasha’s younger cousin brother and actor Ishaan Khatter also shared a heartwarming birthday wish for him with an unseen throwback picture to mark the special day on social media.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Shahid will next be seen in ‘Jersey’, which also features Mrunal Thakur and Pankaj Kapur. The actor will be essaying the role of a cricketer in the film. It is a remake of a Telugu movie of the same name. He is also working for an untitled OTT project helmed by Indian filmmaker Krishna DK that also features Rashi Khanna in the lead. (ANI)

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