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Zombie flies turning bees to Zombees

"The Flight of the Living Dead", is just how John Hafernik, a Biology professor of San Francisco State University calls it when bees leave their hives, fly around in a disoriented way, get attracted to light, and then fall and wander around that reminds him of zombies in the movies.

Last October, his team verified that there has been a bee infestation in Burlington, Vermont, when an amateur beekeeper found bees acting erratically and eventually killed them after seeing parasites to cause this dementia.

John Hafernik first accidentally discovered these zombees in California last 2008, after that, cases were reported from Oregon, Washington state, California and now, South Dakota.
The culprit for this bizarre phenomena? A fly called Apocephalus borealis that latches mainly on bumblebees and yellow jacket hornets, "But not honeybees", according to Hafernik. Once the flies latch on to bees with their eggs, the bees starts to exhibit the zombie-like behavior, when the eggs hatch, they generally drop dead after about five minutes, he added.

Read the complete article here, or check out the website run by Hafernik and his colleagues at


After Genetic Tweaks, Fruit Flies Glow When They Sense Cancer

Sniffing Setup In this experimental setup, scents travel through the tube on the left and flow over the fruit fly mounted on the translucent block. Above the fly is the lens of a microscope that allows researchers to see individual cells on the fly's antenna.
University of Konstanz
cancer sniffing Fruit Flies
Fruit flies are able to distinguish breast cancer cells from healthy mammary tissue, according to a new study. The humble fly joins dogs and honeybees as members of the animal kingdom that are able to detect odors associated with cancer. Unlike dogs, however, the flies can't show people when they get a hit. So, instead, researchers genetically engineered the flies so that receptor cells on their antenna glow when they latch onto cancer odors.

Source: Here

Enalikter aphson: Bizarre New Fossil Arthropod Species Discovered

Named Enalikter aphson, the ancient animal belonged to Megacheira, an extinct group of marine-dwelling ‘short-great-appendage’ arthropods.
Enalikter aphson
“It would have lived on the seabed in water possibly up to about 100 or 200 m deep, at a time known as the Silurian, when invertebrates were just beginning to move onto land. It would have been a very warm, subtropical environment,” said Prof Derek Siveter from the Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History, who is the lead author on a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Source: Here

58-Million-Year-Old Flying Seabird Discovered in New Zealand

An international group of paleontologists reported the discovery of a fossil seabird species that lived in what is modern New Zealand during the early Paleocene, around 58 million years ago. The bird, named Australornis lovei, is one of the world’s oldest species of flying seabirds.
58-Million-Year-Old Flying Seabir
The fossil bones of Australornis lovei were collected from the Waipara greensand deposits of North Canterbury, New Zealand’s South Island.

Source: Here

One of the strangest animals on earth gets a little weirder

Mantis shrimp, the psychedelic reef-dwellers that can wallop their prey with an astounding 200 pounds of force, have a large collection of unique qualities. One is an unusually large number of photoreceptors, the light-sensing proteins that contribute to color vision. Humans have three types of color receptors, birds and reptiles have four, and mantis shrimp have an astounding 12 different kinds.
One of the strangest animals on earth gets a little weirder

Each type of photoreceptor samples a small set of wavelengths in the color spectrum, but our vision demonstrates that just three or four channels are sufficient to distinguish between different hues even on a very fine scale. Why, then, would these creatures need 12 types of photoreceptors?

Source: Here

First Wild Beaver in 800 Years Confirmed in England? [Video]

Few species recoveries have ever been as dramatic as that of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). Once overhunted to near extinction, only 1,200 beavers remained by the year 1900. Today, after more than a century of intense management and reintroductions, the beaver population stands at more than one million (pdf), which can now be found in almost every country in their historic range in Europe and Asia.
Wild Beaver
One notable exception to that recovery, so far, has been England, where beavers were all killed off more than 800 years ago (they disappeared from the rest of the U.K. around 1600). Although a few small groups of captive beavers live in England and there are plans to eventually reintroduce some of the furry rodents back into the wild, none live there naturally, on their own.

Source: Here

Mexico’s ‘water monster’ may be extinct

Mexico’s salamander-like axolotl may have gone extinct from its only known natural habitat in Mexico City’s lakes.
The animals’ only habitat in the wild is Lake Xochimilco, which is struggling in the face of heavy pollution and expanding urban reach.

Source: Here

First Living Coral Reef Discovered In Greenland

Canadian researchers recently stumbled upon the first coral reef ever discovered off the coast of Greenland. The findings, published in the International Council for the Exploration at Sea's journal ICES Insight, describes how the reef was formed by cold-water corals and limestone skeletons located off Cape Desolation south of Ivittuut.
living coral
“It’s been known for many years that coral reefs have existed in Norway and Iceland and there is a lot of research on the Norwegian reefs, but not a great deal is known about Greenland,” PhD student Helle Jørgensbye from the Technical University of Denmark said in a statement. “The great Norwegian reefs are over 8,000 years old, which means that they probably started to grow after the ice disappeared after the last ice age. The Greenlandic reef is probably smaller, and we still don’t know how old it is.”

Source: Here

Have you seen a bat-eating spider?

According to animal professionals last March of 2013, bat-eating spiders are common and are found all around the world except for Antarctica. 

This spider specie is known as (Argiope savignyi) and (Poecilotheria rufilata), the latter commonly known as the tarantula, were found to trap small bats in their web to eat them.
According to Discovery, they have found 52 instances of this preying from 100 years of reports and observations. This is particular in the North and South of America.

So, would that give Spiderman an edge over Batman?

Low Maintenance Pets: Rabbits

As low maintenance pets, rabbits are generally viewed as a cross between cats and dogs, in the sense that though they are self-sufficient like cats, they still do require certain interactions from their owners just like dogs.

Requiring a lot of physical exercise, would-be owners could either source ample spaced indoor rabbit enclosures that afford rabbits with lots of room for exercise routines, or opt for getting leashes or body harnesses that are specially designed to accommodate a rabbit’s mobility when they are outdoors. Some rabbits can be trained to be adept in moving around with body leashes or harnesses worn on them.

Just like guinea pigs and hamsters, rabbits aren’t exactly peckish when talking about their dietary needs, with a wide variety of commercial food pellets for rabbits available in pet stores, matched with their preferred diets of healthy greens, fruits and vegetables – carrots included.

With more than 50 breeds known to be in the United States alone,
prospective pet owners can find rabbits that can weigh as much as 2 to 13 pounds, with lifespans that could range between five to ten years.

Like dogs, certain rabbit breeds can be trained to “come” when they are being called, with others even trainable to use their own litter box, giving them another “odd” pet attribute as a cross between a pet cat and a pet dog.

Singularly unique on their own, keeping a rabbit as a pet isn’t generally taxing for pet owners – save perhaps when talking about multiple rabbits living together in one household.


Low Maintenance Pets: Geckos

While pet geckos do require a particular type of enclosure when kept as pets – specifically a heated terrarium that has an indoor temp rate between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit – they are still widely considered to be one of the world’s top low maintenance pet varieties.

With lifespans that could run as long as twenty years, geckos stand to be one of the most misinterpreted creatures in the animal kingdom, typically viewed as slimy lizards – which are descriptions that are truly far from the real non-slimy physical characteristics of geckos.

As nocturnal creatures, they don’t require a lot of exercise and upkeep, and can be given a steady diet composed of crickets and/or worms – two easy to find pet feed types in pet stores and pet specialty venues. With different types of geckos known to be – from “leopard” variety to the “green skinned” variety – potential pet owners can easily find a gecko type that fits with their pattern and color particulars.

Generally viewed as pets that are ideal for children 10 years old and older, persons with allergies to fur can find a companionable pet in a gecko, apart from greatly reaping from its low maintenance needs and particulars.

Though there may be issues pertaining to a gecko’s enclosures and dietary needs, they are – all in all – not all that difficult to maintain as pets, perfect for those who aren’t keen on keeping a furry buddy in the house, as well as ideal for those who are in search for an exotic pet that isn’t challenging to keep.

Zebra stripes, has a great purpose in the wild

Professor Johannes Zanker, a Neuroscience professor of Royal Holloway University, explains the significance of zebra stripes.

The stripes are intended to create an optical illusion or motion illusion against predators and pesky insects that may carry diseases.


Low Maintenance Pets – Hamsters

Like guinea pigs, hamsters also hold a reputation in the low maintenance pets scene, though they are not exactly considered as ideal for children, considering the fact that they are nocturnal – something which children are not.

As a low maintenance pet, hamsters aren’t all that difficult to feed, with different varieties of commercial food pellets available for sale in pet specialty venues, matched with their dietary requirements and needs sated by regular meals of fresh fruits and vegetables.

With lifespans that could range between two to three years, the enclosure or housing requirements of hamsters tend to be specialized for their physical attributes, but a general pet enclosure designed for animals of the hamster’s size is typically okay.

An exercise wheel is often considered by many as an “essential” item to have in a hamster’s enclosure, allowing him or her with the chance of getting his or her daily exercise routines and runs.

Contrary to most assumptions, a hamster tends to be okay when it is on its own, a hamster trait that isn’t like other pet varieties that require regular interactions with other pet fellows. A number of hamster owners even confess that hamsters, when kept in same sex enclosures, tend to be more aggressive.

One thing to be wary about hamsters though, in cases when opposite sex pairs are kept, is that they tend to breed fast, with the pregnancy cycles of hamsters known to only run for two weeks.

Other than their fast breeding tendencies, hamsters are simply ideal for those on the lookout for low maintenance pets.

Funny Hamster Characteristics

Carefree Hamster

Motherly Hamster

Playful hamster

Sick-and-tired-of-naggers hamster


Two cats on adventure


Low Maintenance Pets: Guinea Pigs

Also known as cavy or cavies, guinea pigs stand to be one of the top low maintenance pets in the world, famed for even being described as the ideal “starter pet” for kids.

With different types of guinea pigs known to come in various coat colors, patterns and hair types, there are thirteen guinea pig breeds acknowledged by the American Cavy Breeders Association, each having their own distinct physical characteristics.

As a “starter pet” for children, the guinea pig’s sturdy physical body is often described as ideal, when talking about the possible rough handing they could experience when children play with them.

Though they do require a lot of exercise, guinea pigs are known to be self-sufficient when it comes to addressing their physical fitness needs. Also, though they are called guinea pigs, they don’t really come from Guinea – they come from South America – and they are not pigs.

With lifespans that could range between five to ten years, guinea pigs are also not all that fickle to feed, with a wide variety of commercial food pellets available in pet stores, apart from their compatibility with diets composed of fresh fruits and vegetables and prairie hay.

Companionable and simply fun loving, keeping a guinea pig as a pet is not really all that challenging to do, a guinea pig pet quality that is backed by its reputation for being the best type of pet that is perfect for children of all ages.

If you’re looking into getting a new, low maintenance pet this year, consider the guinea pig as a possible option.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey, the American zoologist who was murdered in Rwanda in 1985 after a long battle to protect mountain gorillas, has been celebrated in a Google doodle.
Dian Fossey
Fossey, who would have been 82 on Thursday, was born in San Francisco on January 1932 and educated at the University of California.

Source: Here

V is for vortex

The northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) was once such a widespread sight in the skies of north Africa that the bird was immortalized as an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph. The picture symbol denoted the word akh, which means ‘to be resplendent, to shine’. Ibis populations are less resplendent today, with just a few hundred of the wild birds remaining, mainly in Morocco. They can still shine, however; a study of 14 northern bald ibises reported this week on page 399 offers the first experimental evidence that helps to resolve one of the great questions of the natural world: why do migrating birds often fly in an elegant V formation?
The obvious answer is that it saves energy. Just as the mass ranks of a peloton in a cycle race make life easier for riders, and as tight formations can save aircraft fuel, the signature shape of a flock of ibises or geese is assumed to make flight less of a flap — at least for the bulk of the birds that follow the leader. (That is another, less obvious, theory for the V shape: that the bird at the front is the best navigator.)

Source: Here

Bird Data Confirms That V’s Help Save Energy

Birds of a feather may flock together, but why they fly together in V formations has never been known for certain.
Now, with the help of 14 northern bald ibises fitted with lightweight sensors on a 600-mile migration from Austria to Tuscany, researchers are suggesting that the explanation is one that was long suspected but never proved: The formation helps the birds conserve energy. \

Source: Here

Why do Toucans have large bill

What can one do with the nose? If one were Cleopatra of Egypt, she could rule Rome. If one were the unfortunate Sphinx of Egypt, his form minus the nose could become the wonderment of the World. If one were Tycho Brahe, he could remove the nose, for polishing amidst a heated debate or duel, to distract his opponent. For, he lost his original nose in a duel and had a metal one fixed. If one were the Tamil Detective Sambu created by Devan, he could run his thumb and index finger over the nose to make a deduction that is often wrong. If one is a proboscis monkey inhabiting the island of pulau pulau bompa, it endures the ignominy of its nose looking similar to Rastapopulous, the villain of Tintin comics.
toco toucan
What can one do if one is a toco toucan with its nose and mouth wrapped into one big bill? Of course, it can use the bill for quick thermo-regulation by exchanging heat with the environment. In fact, in a matter of minutes toucans can release upto 400 percent of their metabolic heat through their bill.

Source: Here

'Falcon cam' reveals how the birds of prey close in for the kill

Scientists have strapped tiny video cameras to the heads and backs of falcons to learn how the birds hunt their prey.
Footage from the on-bird cameras revealed the strategy the predators used in flight as they chased down crows and closed in for the kill.

Source: Here

Polar bear dies at Joburg Zoo

Johannesburg - One of two polar bears in Africa has died of natural causes at the Johannesburg Zoo, it said on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old female, Geebee, died on Sunday, the zoo's manager of veterinary services, Katja Koeppel, said in a statement.

Source: Here


Op-Ed: Your cat thinks you are a big stupid momma cat

According to the British anthrozoologist John Bradshaw, cats regard their "owners" as large rather stupid members of their own species but not hostile.
John Bradshaw is on the faculty of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. Bradshaw's specialty is anthrozoology:

""Anthrozoology is the study of interactions between man and animals, and has emerged as a specialty over the past twenty-five years, initially in North America and subsequently also in Europe, Australia and Japan. It is essentially an interdisciplinary science, involving specialists in biology, psychology, social sciences, medicine and veterinary science.""

Source: Here

What behavior do you have after playing online games?

Admit it! After playing online games, you will be bound to react like one of these guys. So which one are you?


Jackalopes: a myth or a misconception?

What is a jackalope? 

From Wikipedia: 

The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore (a so-called "fearsome critter") described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers and sometimes a pheasant's tail (and often hind legs). The word "jackalope" is a portmanteau of "jackrabbit" and "antelope".

But last June of 2013, Gunnar Boettcher of Mankato, Minnesota took a shot and a video that went viral about a bunny with odd spikes growing out of its face. And he call the weird bunny "Frankenstein". 

But according to Ken Varland, the regional wildlife manager at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, It's just a cotton-tail with a bad case of papilloma virus.

Thus, in the old days without professionals like Ken Varland, this would become a misconception of an evil, or a bad-spirited creature due to this bizarre sight. 

Check out the full story at nbcnews.


Low Maintenance Pets

Pet owners are well aware of just how huge a responsibility keeping a pet can be, from regularly feeding them to ensuring that they are fit, healthy and happy.

But while the responsibility of keeping a pet can be daunting to some, there are actually a number of low maintenance pets available in pet stores and pet specialty venues, each known for being relatively easy with their care and aftercare prerequisites, requirements and needs.

This year, those who’ve been keen on keeping a pet can get a good start by looking into the “qualifiers” that define low maintenance pets from the rest.

In terms of feeding requirements – A low maintenance pet, by default, is not fickle when it comes to its dietary needs, defined by the ready availability of food items that are complementary with their constitutions.

Matched with sparse feeding time frequencies – typically requiring pet owners to feed them at least twice a day – the feeding requirements of low maintenance pets are not really that difficult to cover.

In terms of care/handling– Apart from their low maintenance feeding requirements and needs, low maintenance pets are also “sturdy” when it comes to their care and handling.

At its core, low maintenance pets don’t require specialized equipment for owners to physically interact with them, nor are they “volatile” in terms of how they are being carried or reared by their owners.

In terms of housing – Though a number of low maintenance pets require pet-specific enclosures, they are not exactly particular about “habitat” temperatures, nor do they require specific housing needs that are tied with environmental control gauges or specialized machines.

Bottom line, low maintenance pets require only the most minimum of specifics and particulars from pet owners, making them ideal for those who can’t spend a lot of time and resources in maintaining other pet varieties.

How the scorpion's venomous sting evolved

The sting in a scorpion's tail has been connected to common defensive proteins by scientists.

Defensins are proteins common to many plants and animals that fight off viral, bacterial and fungal pests.

Researchers investigated the relationship between these proteins and the neurotoxins present in scorpion venom.

Source: Here

First venomous crustacean discovered

Scattered throughout Mexico and central America are pools where water surfaces from underground networks of caves, which the ancient Maya said were gateways to the underworld. Biologists have now found that these bodies of water are home to a mysterious real-world creature as well: the first venomous crustaceans known to science.
venomous crustacean
The crustacean in question, Speleonectes tulumensis, belongs to the remipedes, a group first described in 1981. Observing these pale, blind and tiny animals in their natural habitat has been hard because they live in labyrinthine cave networks that are as difficult for divers to navigate as they are dangerous. Nonetheless, biologists including Björn von Reumont and Ronald Jenner, both of the Natural History Museum in London, found remipedes tossing away empty exoskeletons of shrimp, presumably having fed on them.

Source: Here

Rodent empathy is environmental and not genetic, study shows

Rats, like humans, will show kindness to strangers, but only if the rats in distress are of a familiar type, a new study has found.
Neurobiologists from the University of Chicago have discovered that rats display empathy-like behavior toward other rats, but the basis of that empathy is environmental, rather than genetic. The creatures aren’t born with an innate motivation to help rats of their own kind, but instead those with whom they are socially familiar.

Source: Here
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