Latest Animal :
Recent Animals

Tarantula Hawks – A Tarantula’s Worst Nightmare

Tarantulas are considered to be one of the most famous exotic pets people take care of. With their large, hairy and sometimes thorny bodies, these spiders aren’t exactly nice looking. What makes them scarier is the fact that they actually eat animals that are bigger than them like mice, lizards and even small birds.

However, what’s even scarier is the creature that hunts for these massive spiders.

Common predators for tarantulas are tarantula hawks. These are a kind of wasps which are great to have around the garden since they give a great deal of help with pollination and they’re typically not aggressive, in fact male tarantula hawks don’t even have stingers. 

The female of the species, is the absolute opposite. Although they’re usually docile, these wasps will sting when they’re being threatened. The sting of a female tarantula hawk is described to be one of the most painful amongst all other insects. After a few minutes, the victim would lose their mental capacity to do anything else other than react to how painful the sting is.

What female tarantula hawks do is they prey on healthy, female tarantulas and stings. This paralyzes them but doesn’t kill them. What she then does is she deposits her fertilized egg into the tarantula’s abdomen and after a few days, it hatches inside the spider. The wasp larva then starts to feed on its host’s juices and continues to feed off the spider form inside for about 20 days. The larva just needs to make sure it doesn’t damage the spider’s vital organs or it’ll kill it before it’s big enough to go on its own. 

Frogs Survive Subzero Temperatures by Living as Ice Cubes

No matter how rough a winter you think you had, it was nothing compared to what a wood frog survives every year. Some of these little amphibians are still waiting for spring, when they’ll thaw out and turn from frog-shaped blocks of ice back into animals. Recently, scientists took a close look at wood frogs living deep in the Alaskan woods and learned that they’re even more impressive than we’d imagined.

Wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) are known for their skill—more like a superpower, really, in the animal world—of freezing solid for the winter. Forget migrating to warmer climes or hibernating in caves: they hunker down and let the ice take them. It crackles through their thumb-sized brown bodies, freezing the skin, the blood, the brain. This would kill most animals easily. But come spring, the wood frog reanimates itself and hops off to breed like nothing ever happened.
ice frog
Most research on this species has looked at frogs from the Midwest or southern Canada. It’s been reported that temperatures below –7°Celsius (about 20°F) can kill the frogs. A laboratory study found that being frozen for more than 2 months is often fatal. Yet the frogs’ range extends into the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Canada. Even below the Arctic Circle, their habitat in Alaska can remain below freezing for half the year, and temperatures can reach –20°C.

Does winter here wipe out large numbers of wood frogs—or are they hardier than we think? Don Larson, a PhD student at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, studied wood frogs both in the lab and the Alaskan forests to look for the answer.

Larson and his coauthors found 18 wood frogs that were preparing for winter and put temperature sensors into their hiding places. They held other frogs in outdoor enclosures or brought them into the lab to be frozen artificially. (Video taken of the enclosure frogs, below, showed that the animals create holes for themselves under the leaf litter by spinning in circles—like a dog settling down for a nap. If uncovered by a scientist, the frogs dug back down until they were hidden again.)

Frogs in the wild stayed frozen for an average of 193 days. During this time, sensors showed that the temperature in their habitats averaged –6.3°C (21°F). At some points, temperatures dropped as low as –18.1°C, or just below 0 Fahrenheit. Despite the conditions, which were worse than anything recorded for wood frogs before, every frog survived.

Their secret may be the key to any good popsicle: sugar.

Wood frogs use the simple sugar molecule glucose, Larson explains, to protect their cells while their bodies are freezing. Packing their tissues with glucose keeps them from drying out too much while ice is crystallizing around their cells. It also prevents any ice from forming within the cells themselves—which is “always lethal,” Larson says.

Compared to frogs that were frozen in the lab, wood frogs frozen outdoors had more than 10 times as much glucose in some of their tissues. This may be because as fall turned into winter, the temperature repeatedly fell below freezing and warmed up again. Frogs pump out glucose as soon as they notice themselves starting to freeze. In the lab, they only had one chance to do this as scientists turned down the temperature. But in the wild, each early cycle of freezing and thawing sent more glucose through their bodies.

While glucose protects cells at the moment of freezing, antifreeze chemicals might help protect frogs from the long-term side effects of being an ice cube. Larson found a molecule called antifreeze glycolipid (AFGL) in wood frogs’ tissues. He explains that AFGL sits on the outsides of cells and attaches to ice crystals as they form. It seems to prevent ice from sneaking across the cell membrane into the cell itself. AFGLs “have been found in insects, plants, and one other frog species,” Larson says.

These antifreeze molecules “are one more piece of the puzzle” of how wood frogs survive freezing so well, Larson says. The frogs in his study froze longer and deeper than scientists had ever seen before—yet every single one of them woke up in the spring, unscathed. For this reason, Larson suspects they can survive even worse. “The limits,” he says, “have not even been touched yet.”

Source: Here

Caribous and Reindeers, How are they Different

Although there are a lot of similarities between caribous and reindeers, and at times people would even mistake them as the same animal, the differences between them are enough to classify them as two different subspecies.

 Caribous and Reindeers share a similar genus, Rangifer. They are also under the same species name, tarandus. One of the major differences between these animals is domestication. Reindeers are semidomesticated Rangifer subspecies while caribous are considered as wild in Alaska and nearby areas.

Both the female and male caribous and reindeers grow antlers, which is a common trait in all deer species, although female reindeer antlers tend to grow larger compared to the female caribous.

Most of their distinguishing traits and differences are said to be caused by domestication. For example, reindeers tend to be stouter, shorter and less active compared to caribous. Although both animals migrate within a grazing range, reindeers don’t go as far as caribous do when migrating during winter.

Male reindeers are smaller compered to male caribous, but female reindeers generally have the same weight as female caribous. Reindeers also have denser and thicker fur than caribous, but the fur on both these subspecies have hollow guards which help keeps them warm during the harsh colder seasons.

Reindeers also start mating about 2 to 4 weeks earlier than caribous. Reindeer calves are born during the last week of April whereas caribou calves start coming out during the last few days of May.

In North America, wild Rangifer are called caribous. While in Eurasia, they are only categorized as wither wild or domesticated reindeers.


Stolen Chihuahuas Worth £32,000

Certain dog breeds are known to be the pets of A-list people like movie stars and rich business tycoons. 
These dogs even get better service at a hotel compared to people. In turn, they become targets for dognappers, knowing that their owners will do absolutely anything to get them back.

Recently, five prized Chihuahuas, including a Crufts dog show champion, were stolen after dognappers broke into a Bridlington, East Yorkshire home. The five dogs are said to be worth a cool £32,000. There is now a nationwide dog hunt to find these precious pups, who were all microchipped with tags.

The prized Chihuahua, a 14 month old Valenchino named Xena, was recently given the Best Puppy in Breed award last month at the Crufts dog show. She is worth about £20,000 and could have been the main target of the dognappers. Xena currently has puppies which are worth about £3,000 each.

The intruders took three generations of top breed Chihuahuas by taking Xena's mother and grandmother, lo and angel. They also took along with them a Russian tri smooth coat called Pandora and Evie, a white long coat.

Dog owner Owner Mal Hilton called the dognappers “scums”. He fears for the dog’s safety and says that everyone is devastated with the situation, especially his kids. He explained how sensitive Chihuahuas are and that they need proper handling.

According to a spokesman from the Humberside Police department, the case is unusual. However anything with value will always attract thieves. 

Dental scientist probes mysteries of narwhal's 'unicorn' tooth

Boston—Dr. Martin Nweeia and research colleagues cite new evidence of how "the most extraordinary tooth in nature" interprets its icy Arctic environment for the narwhal, the near mythological whale with the spiraling tusk that is a tooth 6 to 9 feet long.
But what use, that tooth of unicorn measure?

Dr. Nweeia views his explorations on the nature of teeth as relevant to the practice of dentistry. "The unusual properties of the tusk's microanatomy and expression give us a new perspective of teeth," he said of his narwhal tooth anatomy study published by the journal The Anatomical Record and first posted online March 18.

"In my own dental practice, I am always communicating how unusual and sensory our teeth are in function. We all tend to get this passive sense of teeth as instruments used in biting and chewing and often forget their tissue origins and abilities as sensory organs."

Speaking of sensory organs, Dr. Nweeia's narwhal research (visit for more information) reveals the sensory pathway between tooth and brain of the Arctic whale. The narwhal tooth system is a hydrodynamic sensor capable of detecting particle gradients, temperature and pressure and is able to detect high salt and fresh water gradients, the dental scientists reported.

Source: Here

Study confirms monkeys can do math

Scientists have long suspected that monkeys are capable of mental arithmetics and a new study is helping them prove it. A research team led by neurobiologist Margaret Livingstone trained three rhesus macaques to identify symbols representing the numbers zero to 25. They then taught the test subjects how to perform addition. To eliminate the possibility of rote learning, the team had the monkeys learn an entirely different set of symbols representing the numbers zero to 25. The monkeys were able to reapply their previous knowledge to the new set and continue performing basic mathematics.
The image above shows one of the monkeys preparing to choose the four and five combination on the panel. It has learned that the combined value is greater than eight and will therefore yield a larger number of liquid drops. According to the study, all three monkeys were on average capable of choosing the correct answer "well above" 50 percent of the time. This rules out the possibility of chance. What's also interesting is how the monkeys were routinely undervaluing the smaller number in a given equation. This challenges the idea that mammalian brains perceive numbers logarithmically and may help researchers better understand how human beings process numbers.

Source: Here

Dogs (and Cats) Can Love

I’m not a dog person. I prefer cats. Cats make you work to have a relationship with them, and I like that. But I have adopted several dogs, caving in to pressure from my kids. The first was Teddy, a rottweiler-chow mix whose bushy hair was cut into a lion mane. Kids loved him, and he grew on me, too. Teddy was probably ten years when we adopted him. Five years later he had multiple organs failing and it was time to put him to sleep.
cat love
When I arrived at the vet, he said I could drop him off. I was aghast. No. I needed to stay with Teddy. As the vet prepped the syringe to put him to sleep, I started sobbing. The vet gave me a couple minutes to collect myself and say goodbye. I held Teddy's paw until he died. Honestly, I didn't think I was that attached.

This experience led me to undertake experiments on animal-human relations to try to understand how animals make us care so much about them. Biologically, I wanted to know if pets cause the people to release oxytocin, known as the neurochemical of love, and traditionally associated with the nurturing of one's offspring.

Source: Here

Archaeological, genetic evidence expands views of domestication

Many of our ideas about domestication derive from Charles Darwin, whose ideas in turn were strongly influenced by British animal-breeding practices during the 19th century, a period when landowners vigorously pursued systematic livestock improvement.

It is from Darwin that we inherit the ideas that domestication involved isolation of captive animals from wild species and total human control over breeding and animal care.
But animal management in this industrial setting has been applied too broadly in time and space, said Fiona Marshall, PhD, professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. It is not representative of the practices of the Neolithic herders who first domesticated animals nor—for that matter—of contemporary herders in nonindustrial societies.

Together with Keith Dobney, PhD, of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland; Tim Denham, PhD, of the Australian National University; and José Capriles, PhD, of the Universidad de Tarapacá in Chile, Marshall wrote a review article that summarizes recent research on the domestication of large herbivores for "The Modern View of Domestication," a special feature of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published April 29.

Recent research on the domestication of donkeys, camelids (which includes dromedaries, Bactrian camels, llamas and alpacas) pigs, cattle, sheep and goats suggests that neither intentional breeding nor genetic isolation were as significant as traditionally thought, the scientists said.

"Our findings show little control of breeding, particularly of domestic females, and indicate long-term gene flow, or interbreeding, between managed and wild animal populations," Marshall said.

Why is it important to get domestication right? "Our livestock is losing genetic diversity even faster than some wild animals, because of management practices like artificial insemination," Marshall said. "We took only a bit of the diversity from the wild for domestication, and what we're looking at now is lopping it off really fast so we'll be left with little diversity to survive all the climate and disease issues we're facing. It really is a crisis situation.

Source: Here

Hungry Snake Picked The Wrong Dinner

Researchers on Golem Grad Island, Macedonia, stumbled upon a rather intriguing and wholly disgusting find whilst looking for snakes -  a dead young viper with the head of a huge centipede protruding through its body. What a way to go! The report has been briefly described in the journal Ecologica Montenegrina.

Nose-horned vipers (Vipera ammodytes) are venomous snakes found in southern Europe, the Balkans and certain parts of the Middle East. They can grow up to 95 centimeters and possess a characteristic “horn” on the snout, hence the name. They’re also considered to be the most dangerous European viper because their venom is highly toxic, but they’re a pretty docile species that tend to only bite when provoked.
Hungry Snake Picked The Wrong Dinner
Adult nose-horned vipers usually feed on lizards, smaller snakes and rabbits on Golem Grad, whilst the juveniles eat lizards and a particular species of centipede, the Megarian banded centipede (Scolopendra cingulata). It is not uncommon for snakes to consume potentially dangerous prey, and there have been numerous reports of death due to them “biting off more than they can chew”. Although, as mentioned, these vipers are known to eat this particular species of centipede, it seems that this cocky snake may have underestimated his dinner this time.

S. cingulata can be pretty savage killers themselves; they’re opportunistic carnivores and will eat almost anything that’s not larger than themselves. The authors of the paper note that it’s exceedingly difficult to kill a full-grown Scolopendra. Some people even keep these creepy crawlies as pets. Each to their own I suppose.

The team measured the viper and the centipede; the centipede was found to be 84% of the viper’s trunk length, 112% of its body width and 114% of its body weight. This isn’t hugely impressive compared to the size of animals that snakes have been found to consume previously. But what is interesting/disgusting is that upon dissection, the snake was missing all of its visceral organs- the centipede was occupying the entire volume of the snake’s body. They think it’s possible that the snake swallowed the centipede alive, but the centipede ate its way through the snake in an attempt of freedom, bursting its way through the snake’s abdomen (I am going to have nightmares now…). But unfortunately the poor little guy didn’t make it and died inside the snake with his head poking out. So close… Yet so far…

Source: Here

Scientists discover the animal kingdom’s first ‘female penis’

Scientists have discovered four species of Brazilian insects in which the females possess a penis and the males possess a vagina. This announcement, made today in the journal Current Biology, represents the first documented instance of a "female penis" in the animal kingdom.
Contrary to popular belief, the presence or absence of certain sex organs isn't the determining factor when deciding which animal of a species is female and which is male. In fact, biologists don't use sex chromosomes either. They actually rely on the size of an animal's gametes — sperm in males and oocytes in females. As the rule goes, females are the sex that contribute the largest gametes, whereas males are the sex that contribute the smallest gametes and therefore expend the least amount of energy on producing these cells. So, in this particular instance of sex-role reversal, the convention still applies: the female in these species of insect produces the largest gametes — egg cells. She simply also happens to sport a penis that she introduces into the male's vagina during copulation.

Source: Here

These 22 Photos Will Make You Fall In Love With Foxes

Owing to its beautiful coat and bushy tail, which can be fiery red, steely gray or snow-white, the fox has held a special place in our hearts since time immemorial as a beautiful and mysterious woodland creature. These 22 pictures will make you fall in love with the fox all over again.

The common red woodland fox that most of us know certainly is beautiful, but this cunning creature has managed to adapt to diverse climates throughout the world – the fennec fox of the Sahara desert and kit fox in the southwest U.S. both sport larger ears that help them stay cool in the desert, while the arctic fox has a thick and snow-white insulated coat and small ears that help it retain its body heat.

The fox is a member of the canidae family, which also includes dogs, wolves and other similar animals. After 50 years of breeding experimentation in the Soviet Union, they’ve also provided us with extraordinary insight into the domestication process. Over several generations of selective breeding (by choosing foxes with less fear of humans), Soviet scientist Dmitry Belyaev was able to breed silver foxes that began to exhibit domestic traits like floppy ears, tail wagging and spotted coats.

No matter how each fox looks, however, their wide range ensures that they have become elements of local folklore around the world. Various cultures throughout Europe, Asia and Africa consider the fox to be a cunning and sly creature that often plays the part of the trickster in folktales and myths.

Click Here for More Pictures

Breakthrough DNA study could slow big cat extinction

New research comparing genes from living lions with ancient lion remains could help scientists boost dwindling populations.

A team of scientists has for the first time compared the genetic signatures from living and extinct lions to identify five distinct geographical groups within the lion species.

Their findings were reported in the BMC Evolutionary Biology journal last week.
Lion groups

The research team, led by the University of Durham and including Museum zoologists Prof Ian Barnes and Richard Sabin, has identified the five groups of lions as North African/Asian, West African, Central African, South African and East-South African.

Current conservation policies recognise only two distinct geographical groups.

Unique characteristics

The genetic information contained in lion DNA identifies the unique characteristics of each population, which, according to Mr Sabin, is vital in understanding how to protect lions from the increasing threat of extinction, using conservation programmes and repopulation both in the wild and in zoos.

'We need to understand how individual groups develop and adapt to their local environment,' Sabin said. 'You can't just repopulate an area with lions from anywhere, because they could be entirely unsuitable.'

Only one lion species (Panthera leo) exists today, with isolated populations living across Africa and in India. About 124,000 years ago during the Late Pleistocene, lions were one of the most successful land mammals on the planet, with many subgroups of Panthera leo existing across a huge geographical range from southern Africa to Eurasia and Central America.

Modern hunting and habitat destruction has left lions in India, and western and Central Africa critically endangered. In the past twenty years around 30 per cent of the total lion population in Africa has been lost.

The results of this study will help scientists understand the potential loss of genetic diversity that could arise from poor conservation or mismanagement of the remaining lion populations.

Source: Here

VIDEO: Meet Ocean Ramsey, The ‘Shark Whisperer’ (Who Also Happens to Be Smokin’ Hot)

Now we’ve seen some pretty ballsy interactions with top predators, but this one has got to take the cake.
shark whisperer
Ocean Ramsey is an avid ocean conservationist who’s swimming with sharks to raise awareness and change attitudes about these vilified sea-faring creatures.

She’s also smokin’ hot, which obviously isn’t the most important thing here, but still, damn.
Source: Here

Hero Parrot Rescues Woman During Assault In London Park

Police are crediting a woman’s pet parrot for staving off an attacker in a London park late last week.

According to the Times-Series, Wunsy, an African Grey parrot, had just finished taking a “walk” with his owner, flying alongside her in Sunningfield Park in the suburb of Henden, when an unidentified man approached and pushed her to the ground. But before the assault could escalate into something much worse, the brave bird came to her rescue by flapping his wings and squawking at the assailant -- enough to send him running.
“This was a random attack on a woman walking out of a park,” says Police Constable Chris Cutmore. “Although the parrot, Wunsy, come to her rescue, we are obviously very keen to trace the suspect and prevent him from attacking anybody else.”

Fortunately, neither Wunsy nor his owner were injured in the assault.

Source: Here

Majestic New Cat Species Discovered In Nepal

Researchers studying snow leopard populations high in the Himalayas have announced the accidental discovery of a cat previously unknown to Nepal -- a majestic little cat that's at home in the highest mountain range on Earth.

The small feline, about the same size as a domestic house cat, was caught on film by various camera traps between 13,000 and 15,000 feet above sea level. On 11 occasions between 2012 and 2013, the cat was spotted prowling the rocky mountainside at night in search of food.
“The automatic cameras installed for the monitoring of snow leopards tracked a new species of cat which is hitherto unknown to conservationists working in the Nepal,” said Bikram Shrestha, coordinator of the Snow Leopard Conservancy program.

“It has no Nepali name for it is completely a new animal to the country. We came to know the new animal to be Pallas’s cat after comparing photographs with similar species found in other parts of the world.”

Other populations and subspecies of Pallas’s cat can be found throughout central Asia; they are all listed under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Conservationists are encouraged by the discovery, adding that this early evidence may only be the tip of the iceberg.

“Other areas in Nepal also have the possibility of Pallas´s cat,” says Shrestha. “So, an in-depth study is needed regarding this new species.”

Source: Here

Animals need your time

Today marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week. I know that much of the great stuff that happens at this and any other shelter in the country is primarily because of the great volunteers who work to make a difference.
Volunteering at the shelter can be very rewarding. You’ll never find a more grateful and admiring friend than an animal you just spent time with and comforted. Just lending a hand to make their lives a little more enjoyable and spreading the word about them can help them find a forever home.

Often, people come in during their lunch hour or after work to walk the dogs along the pathway, conveniently located just behind our building. Every dog loves to get out of their kennels and stretch their legs and see what’s happening in the outside world around them. This winter has been an especially long one, each of us is itching to get out and shake this cabin fever. Commit to a walking routine you can enjoy with a shelter pet and you’ll be changing more than just your attitude. It’s great exercise and, like I said, it means the difference between a lonely day and a great day for our shelter dogs.

Source: Here

Searing heat compounds woes of animals

Other than inconveniencing people, the searing heat has started to get to animals and birds as well.

 Quite often animals are left to fend for themselves during summer and they further find it difficult to look for food and water in the urban habitat. The soaring mercury levels in the city have also restricted the movement of stray dogs and cattle, which are seldom seen on the streets. Besides, the heat wave is also taking a toll on the birds, which are the worst affected in summer as they have to scout far and wide for food and water. 
white tiger
 Lack of dense foliage around the animal enclosures at Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park has confined wild animals to their cages, who have resigned to the same fate as their domestic counterparts. Appeal

 Repeated appeals from people to set aside a bowl of water for birds and other suggestions to provide a better environment for animals are yet to percolate into people’s mindset. Animal lovers have also begun circulating a list of dos and don’ts to help people take care of animals, especially pets. 

Source: Here


Extinct Marsupial Preyed On Animals Bigger Than Itself

The biggest known carnivorous marsupial of the modern era – the Tasmanian tiger – or thylacine – went extinct in the early 20th century.

Now, researchers have found that a distant, ancient relative of the thylacine was able to hunt down prey larger than itself, according to a new study in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
ancient thylacine
Based solely on a recovered 16- to 11.5-million-year-old skull, the study team was able to create a virtual three-dimensional model of the fox-sized carnivore called Nimbacinus dicksoni and compared that model to models of other large living marsupial carnivores, including the Tasmanian devil and Tasmanian tiger.

The team’s comparisons revealed similarities to the mechanical performance of the spotted-tailed quoll, a cat-sized carnivorous marsupial native to Australia. The mechanical similarities told the study team that N. dicksoni had a strong bite force for its size, was mostly carnivorous, and was probably capable of taking down vertebrate prey that weighed more than itself.

“Our findings suggest that Nimbacinus dicksoni was an opportunistic hunter, with potential prey including birds, frogs, lizards and snakes, as well as a wide range of marsupials,” said study author Marie Attard of the University of New England in a statement.

“In contrast, the iconic Tasmanian tiger was considerably more specialized than large living dasyurids and Nimbacinus, and was likely more restricted in the range of prey it could hunt, making it more vulnerable to extinction,” said Attard, who worked on the study as part of her doctoral research at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

UNSW researchers have been working in the Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site where the skull was found for 37 years.

“What makes this study of mechanical capacity possible is also what makes Riversleigh globally so stunning – a deliciously high biodiversity of weird and wonderful creatures, and simply extraordinary preservation,” said study author Mike Archer, a professor in the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The study team noted that the cave where the N. dicksoni skull was found has also produced hundreds of other valuable fossil specimens.

“It was a very exciting deposit to work, with skulls and skeletons popping up all over the place as we excavated each ancient floor, one on top of another, that had filled up the cave,” Archer said. “And of course it’s just one of more than 200 fossil-rich sites spanning the last 26 million years at Riversleigh, with more new sites being found every year.”

“The Nimbacinus skeleton was one of the first and most amazing things we encountered in the AL90 deposit. Apart from the modern species, it is the only other extinct thylacinid skeleton known and has provided many insights into the evolutionary origins and behaviors of Australia’s carnivorous marsupials,” he continued.

“We found, from the posture of the skeleton, that it had given up trying to get out of the cave into which it had fallen so long ago. It had folded its arms, and put its head down for a quiet little 15 million-year-long nap. Hence, we nick-named it the ‘Philosophical Thylacine’,” Archer said.

Image 2 (below): This is a photo of Mid Miocene Nimbacinus dicksoni skull and dentition emerging. Credit: Anna Gillespie, University of New South Wales

Source: Here

Animals forever

The Wildlife Taxidermy Centre, which started operations from a garage at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in 2009, has been instrumental in doing the taxidermy of more than 100 animals, birds and reptiles. Now forest departments and private institutions from across the country are approaching the centre to preserve wild animals after their death for scientific and educational purposes
Stuffed animals adorning the walls of villains were common in Hindi movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Though they are no longer seen in today’s films, but the Wildlife Taxidermy Centre (WTC) at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli has been steadily working towards preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of dead animals.

Source: Here

The remarkable self-organization of ants

Give a colony of garden ants a week and a pile of dirt, and they'll transform it into an underground edifice about the height of a skyscraper in an ant-scaled city. Without a blueprint or a leader, thousands of insects moving specks of dirt create a complex, spongelike structure with parallel levels connected by a network of tunnels. Some ant species even build living structures out of their bodies: army ants and fire ants in Central and South America assemble themselves into bridges that smooth their path on foraging expeditions, and certain types of fire ants cluster into makeshift rafts to escape floods.
How do insects with tiny brains engineer such impressive structures?

Scientists have been studying the social behavior of ants and other insects for decades, searching for chemical cues and other signals that the insects use to coordinate behavior. Much of this work has focused on understanding how ants decide where to forage or build their homes. But new research combining observations of ant behavior with modern imaging techniques and computational modeling is beginning to reveal the secrets of ant construction. It turns out that ants perform these complex tasks by obeying a few simple rules.

"People are finally starting to crack the problem of producing these structures, which are either made out of soil or the ants themselves," said Stephen Pratt, a biologist at Arizona State University. The organization of insect societies is a marquee example of a complex decentralized system that arises from the interactions of many individuals, he said.

Source: Here

Ancient shrimp-like animals had 'modern' hearts and blood vessels

 An international team of researchers from the University of Arizona, China and the United Kingdom has discovered the earliest known cardiovascular system, and the first to clearly show a sophisticated system complete with heart and blood vessels, in fossilized remains of an extinct marine creature that lived over half a billion years ago. The finding sheds new light on the evolution of body organization in the animal kingdom and shows that even the earliest creatures had internal organizational systems that strongly resemble those found in their modern descendants.
ancient shrimp
"This is the first preserved vascular system that we know of," said Nicholas Strausfeld, a Regents' Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience, who helped analyze the find.

Being one of the world's foremost experts in arthropod morphology and neuroanatomy, Strausfeld is no stranger to finding meaningful and unexpected answers to long-standing mysteries in the remains of creatures that went extinct so long ago scientists still argue over where to place them in the evolutionary tree.

The 3-inch-long fossil was entombed in fine dustlike particles – now preserved as fine-grain mudstone - during the Cambrian Period 520 million years ago in what today is the Yunnan province in China. Found by co-author Peiyun Cong near Kunming, it belongs to the species Fuxianhuia protensa, an extinct lineage of arthropods combining advanced internal anatomy with a primitive body plan.

Source: Here

Two 15-Foot Oarfish Surface Off Mexican Coast, Elusive ‘Sea Serpents’ Caught On Camera [VIDEO]

Vacations are about experiencing and seeing new things – and then gloating about them to friends and co-workers back home. A group of travelers who recently took a trip to Mexico’s Sea of Cortés will have plenty of material for water-cooler parleys after this adventure. While kayaking, they came across two 15-foot oarfish, which belong to an elusive species of deep sea fish that has inspired countless tales of brushes with sea serpents and is rarely spotted alive.
Rare Oarfish
Unlike the stuff of legend, the recent sighting of the giant oarfish was totally legit. One wise vacationer got some of the oarfish encounter on video. 

As seen in the footage of the oarfish posted to YouTube, the 15-foot fish swam into shallow waters and circled the kayakers, who were affiliated with Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. At one point, one of the oarfish nearly makes its way completely onto the shore. Someone with a kayak paddle scoots the fish back into the water, where it takes off and passes underneath one of the kayaks.

“My God, look at the size of that thing!” one of the kayakers exclaims.

Oarfish, the world’s largest bony fish, are rarely seen in the wild. Until recently, biologists knew very little about them. They live in temperate and tropical waters around the globe and typically spend their days between 650 feet and 3,000 feet below the surface. Oarfish can grow up to 36 feet in length, with some specimens exceeding 50 feet.

Humans’ encounters with oarfish usually occur only when corpses wash up on the beach. Last year, snorkelers on Catalina Island off the California coast encountered a dead 18-foot oarfish, which they towed to shore and photographed. A few days later, a 14-foot oarfish corpse turned up north of San Diego.

Legend maintains that the appearance of an oarfish is a sure sign of an impending earthquake. But the jury is still out on whether the myth has any scientific standing.

“Deep-sea fish living near the sea bottom are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than those near the surface of the sea,” Kiyoshi Wadatsumi, director of non-profit earthquake prediction research organization e-PISCO, told the Japan Times in 2010 following several sightings of oarfish near the Japanese coast.
Source: Here

Why are fruit flies so hard to hit? UW research has an answer

Once they sense danger, fruit flies can pitch their bodies like a fighter jet during flight, rolling almost upside down in order to shift momentum and speed to avoid a oncoming threat, new research shows.
“We discovered that fruit flies alter course in less than one one-hundredth of a second, 50 times faster than we blink our eyes, which is faster than we ever imagined.” Michael Dickinson, UW professor of biology and co-author of the paper about these findings, said in a news release.

In his lab, Dickinson and other researchers have found that evasive maneuvers performed by fruit flies, also known as Drosophila hydei, are very similar to those of a fighter jet. His research will be published in the April 11 issue of Science.

Source: Here

Freeman voices concerns about endangered lemurs in documentary

In ‘Island of Lemurs: Madagascar’, Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman tells the story of the oldest surviving primates, the lemurs.

Shot with IMAX 3D cameras, the film follows conservationist Dr. Patricia Wright as she studies Madagascar’s lemur population and attempts to protect the endangered primates from deforestation.
“We have an extraordinary animal called the Indri. That’s the largest of all the lemurs that are alive today and it is an incredible singer-like, operatic,” says lemur expert Dr. Patricia Wright.

“The Sifakas are what we would call the Dancing Lemurs. They’re the ones that… they can go on the ground and do the elegant dance, or they can be in the trees going from tree to tree… huge leaps, wonderful, wonderful animals!,” says Dr. Wright.

“All these lemurs have one thing in common – from the little one to the very largest one – they all have female dominance. The females are the leaders. The females are the ones that make the choices of where they go and what foods they eat and where they’re going to sit,” says Dr. Wright.

‘Island of Lemurs: Madagascar’ is open now in IMAX theatres across the United States.

Source: Here

Dog Sells at Nearly $2 million

We’ve all heard about dog breeds known as pets for the rich and famous. We see movie stars and business tycoons with their little toy dogs in designer doggy bags. However, the idea of an elite breed has been around for a long time.

In China, the Tibetan mastiff has always been considered as a status symbol for the wealthy. These dogs have been used to guard homes and temples for hundreds of years, and the Chinese have managed take good care of this dog’s heritage.

Recently in a "luxury pet" fair held in Zhejiang’s eastern province, one of these Tibetan mastiff puppies were sold for nearly $2 million in what could be considered as the priciest dog sale in history. According to Zhang Gengyun, a dog breeder based in the area, the pups are sired by the best mastiff studs and have a strong bloodline. He also mentions that there was one red-haired mastiff that was sold for around 6 million yuan.

Spending all that money for a dog might sound crazy, but these dogs are taken very seriously in China. Owning them means more than just having a loyal companion, it’s also a mark of power and wealth. Sending prices of these dogs have skyrocketed over the years.

This huge and sometime aggressive dog is one of the oldest breeds around. The Tibetan mastiff is known for their round manes which makes them look like lions, capable of growing 380 centimeters tall and weighing as much as a full grown man. What makes these dogs even more special how rare they are, another reason why they’re so expensive.


That goat may be a whole lot smarter than it looks

"That's the common public impression, that goats and most other farm animals are not very intelligent," says Elodie Briefer, a researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Zurich.

In a recent study, she and her colleagues found that behind that dazed look is a pretty smart brain, too.

It turns out that goats haven't really been studied for their cognitive skills, at least not in the same way that chimps have.
smart goat
"By working with them, we realized that they are actually very curious animals," Briefer says. "Most people who own goats, they know that they can open locks and escape from any pen."

The goats involved in the study were already domesticated. They were put through a series of tests over the span of several months to measure their thinking abilities.

What they designed was essentially an obstacle course to get food out of a box. Briefer and her team timed the goats to see how fast they could get their grub.

"After these really long intervals, they could solve the task within two minutes, which was quite surprising for us," she says.

Even though the research focused on obtaining food, a goat's intelligence isn't limited to that. In fact, a goat's intelligence is one of the reasons the animal can survive pretty much anywhere, contributing to the resilience of the species.

"They can manipulate objects easily, they can learn complex tasks, and they can remember them," Briefer says.

Source: Here

New Baby Gorilla in San Diego Zoo

The closest way for us to see exotic animal from another corner of the world without leaving our city or town is to visit the zoo. Zoos are great places to take kids and to have them experience a small glimpse of the wild. Animals in the zoo are also well taken care of and are given enclosures that mimic their natural habitat. Some animals are even born in the zoo after adapting to their environment.

Recently, one of the biggest zoos in North America, the San Diego Zoo, welcomed a new baby gorilla to their family.  This is the 17th gorilla delivered in the zoo, and was via a Caesarian section, srare for gorillas in captivity. The birth was successful, however the baby gorilla caught pneumonia. One of its lungs was also treated since it collapsed.

A statement from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park explains that it developed the illness which turned into an inflamed lung with congestion after it was born. The park director of veterinary services, Nadine Lamberski, says that they’ve been working on getting the baby to recover after some days of treatment.

Christina Simmons, the zoo’s spokeswoman, says that the vets have performed some procedures which inflated the baby gorilla’s lungs.

The mother gorilla, named Imani, has been recovering well since her birth. The baby and its mother are lowland gorillas, which are labeled as endangered. There is no name for the baby just yet, but the staff is optimistic about its recovery.


Anemones are Half Plant, Half Animal

If you’ve been watching shows that talk about how the human race started, like Cosmos or shows about genetics, you’d know that there are certain pieces and traits in our DNA that are similar to plants. Although animals and plants are two very different organisms, there are species that could bridge the gap between them. The “missing link” as what most would call it.

Recent genetic studies have discovered that sea anemones, like the ones that certain types of fish live in and eat, are part animal and part plant. The phylum Cnidaria, which contains around 10,000 kinds of animals found mostly in water and marine environments, kept a lot of their plant-like traits, and sea anemones fall under this classification.
Researchers discovered the sea anemone’s half animal and half plant trait though gene expression. They examined the two different processes of gene expression, transcription and translation, and found that an anemone’s transcription is similar to animals while their translation mimics the characteristics of plants.

So if we all have the same bits of pieces of DNA as plants, why don’t we have the same attributes as they do? Well, it’s either because we lost these traits or we changed them through time. It’s like how polar bears changed from brown bears to adapt to their environment.

Evolution is a very complex process that takes a very long time. In fact, it took a single cell organism billions of years to turn into something that could survive on land.  As new discoveries about genetics are revealed, we can understand more about other living organism and how they relate to us, no matter how distant.


World's largest nests are socialist bird collectives

NO, IT'S not a giant haystack - it's an example of one of the largest structures constructed by birds.

Sociable weavers (Philetairus socius) build huge communal nests - multistorey apartment complexes - from sticks and grass. The structures last for decades, sometimes over 100 years. Multiple families live together and even help raise each other's young; you could call them socialist weavers, though that might bring to mind a collective of 19th-century Lancashire textile workers.
The birds - anything up to 100 pairs per nest - live in the harsh Kalahari desert in southern Africa. The thick thatched roof protects them from the sweltering sun, and retains heat during the chill desert night. Photographer Dillon Marsh is interested in how humans and other animals interact, and the weaver's habit of building their nests on telegraph poles attracted him as a subject. "I then became intrigued by the way the nests, although inanimate, almost seemed to be living organisms as they are in a continual state of collapse and repair," he says.

Food is not super-abundant in the desert, so the birds, pictured below, delay breeding until they are 2 years old. It's one of the reasons that it makes evolutionary sense to live communally. In the past the birds had to nest in trees, something else not commonly available in the desert. Telephone poles have allowed the weavers to expand their range.

Source: Here

Moth that Looks Like A Poodle Baffles The Internet

Pictures of a mysterious creature that looks like a cross between a moth and poodle recently went viral on the Web, with some people turning these pictures into memes, only increasing their popularity. The creature is called a Venezuelan poodle moth, and because of how peculiar it looks, plenty of questions revolve around whether it’s real or not.

Fortunately, the poodle moths are 100 percent real, and are possibly a new species of moth identified a few years ago. In 2009, Kyrgyzstan-based biologist Dr. Arthur Anker discovered the moths in Venezuela’s Gran Sabanaarea. The species seems to be related to another fuzzy looking moth, the Muslin Moth or Diaphoramendica.

The poodle moth almost certainly fits into the Lasiocampidae family and the genus Artace or other genus connected to Artace. There is also a possibility that the poodle moth is a new subspecies of the Artacecribraria, a species known to reside around Argentina and up to the northern parts of North America. So far, there are about 10 to 15 Artace species in South America that have been described and scientifically acknowledged. The possibility of the poodle moth to be a new species of previously scientifically undescribed species, or even a new regional subspecies, is high.

Beyond the photos and detail of its discovery, not a lot is known about this strange looking creature.


The Worst Places To Get Stung By A Bee: Nostril, Lip, Penis

It started when a honeybee flew up Michael Smith’s shorts and stung him in the testicles.

Smith is a graduate student at Cornell University, who studies the behaviour and evolution of honeybees. In this line of work, stings are a common and inevitable hazard. “If you’re wearing shorts and doing bee work, a bee can get up there easily,” he says. “But I was really surprised that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.”
bee sting
That got him thinking: Where’s the worst place on the body to get stung?

Everyone who works with stinging insects has their own answers, but Smith couldn’t find any hard data. Even Justin Schmidt was no help. Schmidt is the famous creator of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index—a scale that measures the painfulness of insect stings using wonderful synaesthetic descriptions that almost read like wine-tasting notes. Wine-tasting notes of agony.

According to Schmidt’s index, the sweat bee sting (1 on a scale of 0 to 4) feels like “a tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm”. The yellowjacket sting (2) is “hot and smoky, almost irreverent; imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.” And the daddy of stinging insects—the bullet ant (4+)—produces “pure, intense, brilliant pain, like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel.”

Source: Here
Copyright © Animals Library - All Rights Reserved
Proudly powered by Blogger