Spray-painted polar bear sparks alarm in Russia

A polar bear daubed with the painted slogan T-34, the name of a Soviet era tank. (Social Media)
Updated 04 December 2019

Spray-painted polar bear sparks alarm in Russia

  • Local media reported that scientists had marked the bear because it was scavenging for food near a human-inhabited area in the Arctic region
  • Polar bears regularly visit areas inhabited by humans in Arctic Russia to search for food, often in rubbish tips

MOSCOW: A video showing a polar bear daubed with painted slogan T-34, the name of a Soviet era tank, has caused alarm in Russia with experts saying it could prevent the bear hunting.
Local media reported Tuesday that scientists had marked the bear because it was scavenging for food near a human-inhabited area in the Arctic region.
The video was posted on Facebook on Monday by Sergei Kavry, who works for the World Wildlife Fund in the Chukotka region.
He said he was concerned at the large letters daubed on the side of the bear, seen plodding through snow.
“Why? Why? He won’t be able to hunt inconspicuously,” Kavry wrote. Kavry said he found the video on a WhatsApp social media group and did not know where it was shot.
A senior researcher at the Institute of Biological Problems of the North in far eastern Russia, Anatoly Kochnev, told RIA Novosti news agency he did not know where the video was shot, but the letters could have been painted on by “jokers.”
“At first, until he cleans himself off, it will be hard for him to hunt,” the scientist said.


Severpress news agency, based in the Yamalo-Nenetsky region, some 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) northeast of Moscow, reported that the marks were put on by an expedition of scientists on Novaya Zemlya, a remote and sparsely populated Arctic archipelago.
It cited experts as saying a team of scientists from Moscow went to investigate a polar bear that was raiding a settlement’s rubbish tip and they marked the bear to see if it returned.
The agency quoted Ilya Mordvintsev, a senior researcher from Moscow’s Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution, as saying the expedition members caught the bear and sedated it.
Finding the animal was well-fed and therefore would not attack humans, they took it to a safe distance from the settlement and marked it with paint that would wash off in two weeks, to see if it returned to scavenge, he said.
The video was apparently shot last week, the agency reported.
Polar bears regularly visit areas inhabited by humans in Arctic Russia to search for food, often in rubbish tips.
In February in Novaya Zemlya, officials sounded the alarm over an “invasion” of 52 bears in the main settlement there.
The bears are affected by global warming with melting Arctic ice forcing them to spend more time on land where they compete for food.

 


Renaissance master Raphael did a nose-job in self-portrait, face reconstruction suggests

Updated 11 August 2020

Renaissance master Raphael did a nose-job in self-portrait, face reconstruction suggests

  • Professor Mattia Falconi: ‘He certainly made his nose look more refined’
  • Raphael died in Rome in 1520 aged 37, and was buried in Rome’s Pantheon

ROME: Raphael probably didn’t like his nose, and replaced it with an idealized version in his famous self-portrait.
That is the conclusion of Rome University scientists who produced a 3D computer reconstruction of the Renaissance master’s face from a plaster cast of his presumed skull made in 1833.
In that year, the remains believed to be those of the man hailed by his contemporaries as “the divine one” because he sought perfection through his work were last exhumed.
“He certainly made his nose look more refined,” said Professor Mattia Falconi, a molecular biologist at the university’s Tor Vergata campus. “His nose was, let’s say, slightly more prominent.”
Raphael died in Rome in 1520 aged 37, probably from pneumonia, and was buried in Rome’s Pantheon.
The self-portrait, which normally hangs in Florence’s Uffizi gallery but is currently in Rome for an exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of his death, was done about 15 years earlier, when he was clean-shaven.
It features the more aquiline nose that Raphael also included in other works in which he painted himself.
The reconstruction is of the way he may have looked closer to his death, when he wore a beard.
Falconi, along with forensic anthropologists and other experts, reconstructed the face with tissue layering techniques used by crime investigators.
The result was a face similar to that of the master on an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, one of his students.
“When we finished, I said to myself ‘I’ve seen that face before,’” Falconi, 57, said in a telephone interview.
Another similarity is with the subject of “Portrait of a Man,” painted between 1512 and 1515 by Sebastiano del Piombo, a Raphael contemporary and rival.
For centuries there has been speculation that the bones exhumed in 1833 and reburied in a re-styled crypt may not have been Raphael’s because some of his students were later buried near him.
But Falconi believes the research points to an around 85 percent chance that the skull is Raphael’s because of similarities with most of the artist’s face as depicted by him and his contemporaries.
Not everyone was pleased with Falconi’s research. An art critic for the Rome newspaper La Repubblica said it had produced a cheap “videogame version” of Raphael.
Falconi said he hoped the tomb can be opened again someday for direct tests on the skull. This could resolve several mysteries, including confirming what caused his death.