Country Life Today: The coming of the Age of Man – the first epoch defined by Man’s impact on the environment

The arrival of the Anthropocene as a proposed new global era; a call to re-wild deer-stalking areas in Scotland; how 'play dead' saved a dog's life.

Scientists on verge of declaring the ‘Anthropocene’ as new epoch in the Earth’s history

Mountain climbing in pure winter conditions.

Some 3.5 billion years after life began on Earth, scientists look set to declare that we’re in the first ecological chapter in history created by Man – an era that represents the first where mankind is the dominant influence on the climate and environment.

The idea that we’re now in an ‘Anthropocene’ epoch (from the Ancient Greek anthropos meaning ‘man’ and kainos meaning ‘new’) is a couple of decades old, but it’s on the verge of widespread acceptance. Professor Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester has chaired a panel of experts that has spent the last decade reviewing evidence to decide if the concept has merit – and a positive vote was passed last week. ‘We look at the issue dispassionately and honestly,’ said Prof Zalasiewicz. ‘Geology is quite good at that: the rocks don’t lie… We’re all too aware of the wider significance of what the Anthropocene is.’

Full story (The Times – subscription required) 

A legendary performance

A video from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe shows a painted dog pulling off the greatest escape of its young life. Caught in the jaws of a fierce lioness and surrounded by gamekeeper’s vans watching the scene, the young pup remained calm and still until the lioness placed him down to attack one of his pack mates. Much to the surprise of onlookers, he then jumped up and ran away. Both dogs escaped the lioness.

Painted Dog Conservation claim that there are fewer than 7,000 painted dogs left in the wild, spread out over 14 countries – these two wily escape artists have earned their place in their number.

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Full story (Huffington Post)

A Scottish solution to climate change proposed by a Brazilian

An article in The Scotsman suggests that Scotland re-wilds land used for sporting activities — and in particular deer stalking, which apparently occupies 1.8 million hectares of Scottish countryside.

‘Rewilding this landscape with natural forests, and restoring and protecting peatlands, would not only have climate benefits, it could also create numerous economic benefits for both land owners and communities,’ claims the article’s author, Pedro Moura Costa.

In his author note, Mr Moura Costa is credited not as a climate scientist but instead as a Brazilian investment manager, chief executive of a firm named ‘Sustainable Investment Management’. Which makes the whole thing feel a bit like a Saudi banker coming to Britain to tell us off for the state of our offshore wind farms…

Full story (The Scotsman)

Quote of the day

‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’

– Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan


Entire Roman town discovered next to a motorway in Kent

Mosaic floor, the Dining Room and Audience Chamber, Lullingstone Roman Villa, Eynsford, Kent, 1991. Artist: J Bailey

Another Kentish Roman settlement: Mosaic floor, the Dining Room and Audience Chamber, Lullingstone Roman Villa, Eynsford, Kent, 1991.

The remains of an entire Roman town have been found next to a motorway in Kent. The 18-acre settlement contains rare coins, pottery and jewellery which dates back to as early as 43 AD. A seven-metre-wide road was also found, as well as the remains of a temple, both of which prove that the A2 wasn’t the only major Roman road in the region.

‘This is very exciting.’ Said Dean Coles, chairman of the Newington History Group. ‘The scale of this site, with the huge number and quality of finds, changes our knowledge of Newington’s development.’

Full story (The Independent)

Two recipes to try out on National Hamburger Day

pastrami burger recipe

Today is (some may say preposterously) Hamburger Day so to celebrate, here are two mouthwatering burger recipes to cook tonight.

Find the burger recipes from Melanie Johnson and Waitrose here

And finally – a whale politely fights back against accidental pollution…

‘You can have this back, thank you.’