ANIMALS

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Accident-Prone Koala Rescued For Third Time After Getting Stuck In Fence

The large male adult koala was totally calm when a rescue organization found and unhooked him.

We’ve all had bad days here and there, but this poor koala seems to have had more than a few.

A South Australia koala had to be saved by Fauna Rescue of South Australia volunteers for the third time when he was found stuck in a fence at the SA Power Networks’ Happy Valley substation.

Fauna Rescue volunteer Sally Selwood told Adelaide Now that it looked “like he’s crawled under the fence to go somewhere, as they do, and then sat up as he was under the fence and got his head caught.”

“But he didn’t have the brains to bob back down again to get out.”

OK, Sally. Or maybe he just wanted to see his volunteer friends again — specially when you consider that Selwood also told the publication that the koala was “quite calm” and that he’s “known” to them.

Previously, the koala ran into trouble when he was found at the bottom of a tree in January 2016. He was “not very responsive” and subsequently spent a week with Fauna Rescue until he was well enough to be released back into the wild.

In an unlucky twist of fate, Fauna Rescue had to care for him again in November 2016 after he was hit by a car. He spent some more time in their care and was purportedly totally OK until his most recent fence incident.

While most koalas don’t resemble cats with their seemingly nine lives, this eucalyptus-loving friend does. Here’s hoping he has many more accident-free adventures in the future!

(Source of article and additional comments: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/accident-prone-koala-rescued-for-third-time-after-getting-stuck-in-fence_us_5b5211a2e4b0b15aba8e7878/)

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More than 100 goats descend on a neighborhood in Boise

The goats chowed down on flowerbeds, leaves and grass before being rounded up.

by Ethan Sacks –

More than 100 goats descend on a neighborhood in Boise
Residents of an Idaho neighborhood woke up Friday morning to a sight that really got their goat.

An invading herd of more than 100 goats rampaged through the neighborhood of West Boise, devouring flowerbeds, grass and leaves as they moved from yard to yard on a recent Friday morning, NBC affiliate KTVB reported.

Representatives of the company that owns the animals, We Rent Goats, arrived at the scene and managed to herd the goats onto a truck around 9 a.m., less than two hours after the initial calls were fielded by Animal Control.

As the goats were rounded up by their handlers, a throng of onlookers and reporters — rivaling the goat herd in size — gathered to watch.

“The neighborhood banded together to force them into one lawn while they were waiting for us,” We Rent Goats owner Matt Gabica told NBC News. “Everyone seemed to be enjoying it. There were tons of little kids around there. Mothers brought infants in strollers to see the goats.”

We Rent Goats, according to its website, provides rentals of herds of the animals to landowners in need of mowing large swathes of grass. The animals apparently specialize in chowing down on weeds.

The animals apparently specialize in chowing down on weeds.

Image: Boise Loose Goats
The goats ate leaves off trees and flowers out of flower beds before they were corralled about two hours after the initial calls to Animal Control, according to KTVB. Joe Parris / KTVB

“The company has insurance and will be following up with neighbors whose landscaping was damaged. Animal control will also be following up with the company,” Boise city government spokesman Mike Journee said in an email.

The 118 goats that got loose were originally corralled near Ada County Highway District retention pond, broke through several slats of a wooden fence to scour the area for more food, the Idaho Statesman reported.

The breakout wasn’t exactly the stuff of heist movies.

“Apparently, they just leaned on the fence and it broke,” said Gabica.

(To see a video of the “goat invasion” visit: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/more-100-goats-descended-neighborhood-boise-n897356/)

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Scientists discover rare dolphin-whale hybrid near Hawaii

A wholphin? A dhale? It’s actually called a…

by Stephen Johnson –


Kimberly A. Wood under Cascadia Research Collective NMFS permit 20605

Scientists have discovered a rare hybrid between a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin in waters near Kauai, Hawaii.

The discovery, made last year, was confirmed this week in a report released by researchers with the Cascadia Research Collective, a nonprofit which in August 2017 conducted a two-week project to photograph, tag and record audio of marine mammals.

The hybrid was the team’s “most unusual finding,” said project lead Robin Baird.

“We had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species,” Baird told The Garden Island newspaper. “We were able to get a biopsy sample of the animal.”

A genetic analysis revealed the animal was likely a first-generation hybrid between a female melon-headed whale (a rarely seen type of whale) and a male rough-toothed dolphin, marking what’s thought to be the first-ever documented discovery of a hybrid between the two mammals.

The researchers named it steno bredanensis.

“Hybrids among different species of whales and dolphins have been previously recorded, but this is the first case of a hybrid between these two species, and only the third confirmed case (with genetics) of a wild-born hybrid between two species in the family Delphinidae,” or oceanic dolphins, Baird told Fox News.

Photo of liger: Алексей Шилин

The dolphin hybrid was a rare find, but crosses between species in the animal kingdom are actually quite common.

A mule, for instance, is a hybrid between a male donkey and a female horse. There’s also more exotic hybrids–zonkeys (donkey and zebra), ligers (lion and tiger), pizzlies (polar and grizzly bear), beefalo (domestic cow and buffalo) and wolfdogs. And, perhaps surprisingly, you might even be a hybrid yourself, considering scientists have identified slight traces of Neanderthal DNA in humans.

Many animal hybrids are possible, but few survive past the first generation. That’s because two animal species are unlikely to have the same number of chromosomes, and hybrids won’t be able to reproduce if their parents are too genetically dissimilar. Even if hybrids can reproduce, they’d likely face other challenges in their environment, like being disadvantaged by their uniquely inherited traits or competition from other species. It’s for these reasons that hybrids in the plant kingdom are often more successful.

Mark Interrante – wholphin – via Flickr

Still, some dolphin hybrids have successfully reproduced. Kekaimalu, the only known living first-generation wolphin, which is a cross between a false killer whale and Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, gave birth to a female calf in 2004, and today the two live together at Oahu’s Sea Life Park. However, that baby was the result of her third pregnancy; her first offspring died in infancy, the other at age 9.

Much remains a mystery about the newly discovered dolphin hybrid, but the Cascadia Research Collective team hopes to learn more about it and other marine mammals in another project in the Hawaiian waters this August.

(Article source: https://bigthink.com/stephen-johnson/scientists-discover-rare-dolphin-hybrid-near-hawaii)

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1 Hen, 76 Ducklings: What’s the Deal With This Picture?

By Sarah Mervosh –

Dozens of common merganser ducklings following Mama on Lake Bemidji in Minnesota. Credit – Brent Cizek.

Where she goes, they follow. All 76 of them.

A female duck in Minnesota has about six dozen ducklings in her care, a remarkable image that an amateur wildlife photographer captured on a recent trip to Lake Bemidji, about 150 miles northwest of Duluth, Minn.

“It was mind blowing,” the photographer, Brent Cizek, said in an interview. “I didn’t know that a duck could care for that many chicks.”

It’s not unusual to see many ducklings gathered together. Some 20 or 30 have been reported with a single hen. But 70-plus?

“It’s an extraordinary sighting,” said Richard O. Prum, an ornithologist at Yale University.

Experts say the photo, which has been shared among bird conservationists and featured on the National Audubon Society’s website, offers an extreme example of a somewhat common phenomenon in nature. Here’s a look at the story — and the science — behind the striking image.

(For the complete article please see: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/24/science/merganser-ducklings-photo.html)

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There’s a Really Weird Link Between Cats And Entrepreneurs

Is this for real?
MIKE MCRAE –

main article image

Paul Hanaoka – https://unsplash.com/photos/OvLBv6F6DGE. 

A protozoan parasite found in cats could be having a rather odd effect on the brains of humans it infects, which under the right circumstances just might turn them into the next Elon Musk.

Toxoplasma gondii is famous for messing with the minds of mice, robbing them of the ability to evaluate risk. There’s some circumstantial evidence hinting at a similar effect on our own minds, which although tenuous, is well worth a closer look.

Research led by the University of Colorado has combed databases of information examining the coincidence of T. gondii infections and entrepreneurial activity across the globe.

They also turned to students and business professionals for a simple spit-test to track their body’s history of Toxoplasma gondii.

The research team was looking for some hint that there was a relationship between the go-getting, risk-taking characteristics of business hot-shots and a past brush with the mind-bending parasite. Which was pretty much what they found.

Almost 1,500 students who tested positive for exposure to T. gondii were 1.4 times more likely to be a business major. They were also 1.7 times more likely to have an emphasis on ‘management and entrepreneurship’.

As for the 197 business professionals the researchers evaluated, being T. gondii positive made them 1.8 times more likely to have started their own business at some point.

Country-level databases on infection rates over the past 25 years also showed an interesting pattern – there was a consistent pattern where infections could be used to predict business startups, as well as a lower reported fear of failure.

At face value, we could assume Toxoplasmosis might do weird things to the brain, potentially lowering inhibitions that might make the rest of us a little more concerned about the risks of sinking time and money into a new venture.

After all, the microscopic cat-borne pathogen responsible for the disease can turn the average cowering mouse into a rodent that shows no aversion to the smell of cat, while causing them to forget where they are.

It’s thought this could be an evolved characteristic, helping the parasite jump between cats through their food supply.

This raises the question of whether there’s a similar neurological effect on humans. It certainly seems to play havoc with our immune system, rewiring our inflammatory response in order to survive.

But our own brains?

On one hand, we’re hardly cat food. On the other, mice are often used as miniature models of human biology – the development of similar symptoms in us isn’t inconceivable.

Some studies hint that a T. gondii infection could make some people more aggressive. But the numbers aren’t convincing, and counter studies have failed to make links between psychological conditions or personality traits and the disease.

This new approach suggests something more subtle could be going on – an influence that isn’t significant enough to give rise to serious psychological conditions, but one that could still potentially nudge people into throwing caution to the wind.

It’s not the first study to step back and look for subtle signs of the parasite’s gentle persuasion across a culture.

Other studies have noticed a correlation between infection rates and neuroticism, for example.

Others have found a negative link between T. gondii and economic performance, suggesting what makes some people risk-takers could increase insecurity and low ability to trust, weakening institutions rather than helping them grow.

The usual caveats concerning correlations apply here, and it’s important not to take the sum of research together in drawing conclusions.

Nobody is suggesting you should go out and buy your kids a cat in the hope it will infect them with the skills to help them to take over Silicon Valley.

Nonetheless, the study does provide an interesting perspective on the ways epidemiology can have a small but powerful force on the psychology that builds culture.

And maybe, just maybe, shows why cats deserve their place of worship on the internet.

The findings are due to be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B .

(For the source of this and other interesting articles please see: https://www.sciencealert.com/toxoplasma-gondii-correlation-entrepreneurial-characteristics-global-economics/)

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Game Cam Captures Bear Bathing On Barranca Mesa (Los Alamos)

on July 13, 2018 – 9:31pm

A game cam captures a bear taking a bath earlier this month in the backyard of a home on Kachina Street on Barranca Mesa in Los Alamos, NM.  Photo by Andrew Delorey

(For more interesting Los Alamos related stories visit: https://www.ladailypost.com/content/game-cam-captures-bear-bathing-barranca-mesa/)

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The Insane-Sounding But Totally Real World War II Plot to Bomb Japan With Bats

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Dogs excel at sniffing out human illness

Now researchers are trying to build a machine version of the perfect dog nose

Photo by Stéphane Juban on Unsplash

Christa Trexler – Cardiology UC San Diego –

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200-million year old monster pushes back the clock on giant dinosaurs

At about 10 tons, Ingentia prima was the first giant dinosaurAt about 10 tons, Ingentia prima was the  first giant dinosaur (Credit: Jorge A. González)

Most of the classic creatures that come to mind when you think of dinosaurs are from the Cretaceous period, when evolution seems to have hit its stride and splashed out with things like the huge, long-necked sauropods. But dinosaurs weren’t always giants – during the earlier Triassic period they were mostly chicken-sized critters, and they didn’t really grow to be massive until the Jurassic. Now, the discovery of a new species in Argentina is pushing back the clock on dinosaur gigantism by up to 30 million years.

The creature has been dubbed “Ingentia prima” (Latin for “first giant”), and it’s been classed as a sauropodomorph, the group that would later evolve into the gigantic sauropods. Although it has a much shorter neck and more theropod-like feet, the family resemblance is clear. Ingentia has been estimated to have weighed about 10 tons, which is huge for its time but makes it a relative lightweight next to some of its descendants like Patagotitan, the largest land animal to ever walk the Earth.

“Before this discovery, gigantism was considered to have arisen during the Jurassic period, about 180 million years ago, but Ingentia prima lived at the end of the Triassic, between 210 and 205 million years ago,” says Cecilia Apaldetti, lead author of a study describing the new find. “It is a true giant, especially for that moment of evolution where most of the animals that coexisted did not exceed two meters in height and the largest reached, at most, three tons.

“That is why we see in Ingentia prima the origin of gigantism, the first steps so that, more than 100 million years later, sauropods of up to 70 tons will come into being, as Argentinosaurus or Patagotitan, from southern Argentina.”

Ingentia prima had a very bird-like respiratory system, with a set of air sacs (green) alongside...

The team also found biological evidence for just how the creature managed to get so big so early. Ingentia seems to have had a respiratory system much like that of modern birds: in addition to lungs, it had a pair of air sacs that would allow it to have a reserve of oxygenated air and let it cool down faster.

“Ingentia had pneumatic cavities in its bones, which indicates the presence of highly developed air sacs, a very efficient breathing system such as that of current birds, and that consequently lightened his weight,” says Oscar Alcober, co-author of the study.

(For the balance of this article please visit: https://newatlas.com/isgentia-prima-first-giant-dinosaur/55408/)

 

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Seal jumps onto fishing boat to escape hungry killer whales

By Ben Hooper – 
Image result for copyright free images - seals

A quick-thinking seal managed to avoid becoming a meal for some killer whales by boarding a nearby charter fishing boat.

Nick Templeman said he and a partner were doing a survey on transient orcas when they spotted a pod of the killer whales chasing a seal near Campbell River in the waters of British Columbia.

Templeman said the seal took off swimming toward a nearby charter boat.

“When it all took place, it took literally about 30 seconds for that seal to come over 150 feet towards the other boat,” Templeman told CTV News. “All of a sudden it comes up and around, up on the swim grid, and it all just started to take place, just like that.”

The seal jumped up onto the Pacific Yellowfin, a charter boat captained by Colin Griffinson of Pacific Yellowfin Charters.

“We said, what will we call the seal if we actually ended up keeping it?” Griffinson told the Columbia Valley Pioneer. “We just joked that we’d call it Lucky.”

Video filmed aboard the boat shows the seal hiding at the back near the motors while the killer whales swam nearby.

(For full story, and video, visit: https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2018/07/05/Seal-jumps-onto-fishing-boat-to-escape-hungry-killer-whales/5591530797214/)

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India Court Declares Legal Rights of “Entire Animal Kingdom”

“Animals cannot be treated merely as Property”

By Mari Margil –
Legal Rights of Entire Animal Kingdom
On July 4, the High Court of Uttarakhand at Naintal in northern India issued a ruling in a case brought to end cruelty of horses used in transport. The court declared that:

Every species has an inherent right to live and are required to be protected by law.”

The decision is part of unprecedented advancement in the growing Rights of Nature movement that includes the work of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Beginning in 2006, CELDF assisted the first communities in the United States – the very first places in the world – to advance the rights of nature into law.  CELDF has now assisted more than three dozen communities across the U.S., as well as the first country in the world – Ecuador – to secure the rights of nature to exist and flourish.

In this week’s India case, Narayan Dutt Bhatt v. Union of India & others, the High Court explained that declaring the animal kingdom as possessing rights is necessary “in order to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic.”

Citing the growing extinction rates of animals – which today exceeds 1,000 times natural background rates – the Court explained, “The loss of one species causes immense damage to the entire ecosystem.”

Further, the Court explained that the growing environmental crises across the globe – including climate change – reveals “there are gaps in laws” that need to be addressed to protect the environment.

Such laws treat nature, including animals, as property without legal rights.  The Court asserted that this needs to change. “Animals cannot be treated merely as property” existing for human use.  Rather, the Court wrote that to address this deficiency in the law related to the environment, “New inventions are required to be made in law to protect the environment and ecology,” including the recognition of legal rights of nature.

The ruling by the High Court follows rulings it issued in 2017. The Court declared legal rights of certain ecosystems, including the Ganges River.  Similarly in Colombia, the Courts issued two rulings in which the Atrato River and the Colombian Amazon region now possess legal rights.

Courts are reaching these decisions as they witness the severe decline of the environment, despite numerous environmental laws.  As Colombia’s Constitutional Court explained in its 2016 decision recognizing rights of the Atrato River, in which it described the many ways in which human activity was jeopardizing the environment, “(J)ustice with nature must be applied beyond the human scenario and must allow nature to be a subject of rights. Under this understanding, the Court considers it necessary to take a step forward in jurisprudence….”

In its ruling this week, the High Court describes the growing movement to recognize rights of nature.

(For the balance of this article please visit: https://celdf.org/2018/07/press-release-india-court-declares-legal-rights-of-entire-animal-kingdom/)

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Crickets are Nature’s Thermometer: How Counting Cricket Chirps Can Tell the Temperature

By Gerard West –

There are many reasons why crickets chirp to one another. It is a way for them to communicate. Crickets will chirp to warn each other of approaching danger. Male crickets chirp to scare off other males from getting the female they have their sights set on, and then use chirping to attract the female. Crickets chirp by rubbing the edges of their wings together.

But did you know they can also communicate with us in a very specific way? Crickets’ chirps can tell us the temperature!

animals, antenna, backgroundPexels.com

Counting Crickets’ Chirps

Two methods exist to tell the current temperature by counting cricket chirps. One converts cricket chirps to Fahrenheit, and the other converts them to Celsius.

To convert cricket chirps to Fahrenheit, count the number of chirps that occur within 14 seconds. Then, add 40 to the number to get the temperature.

An example is: 25 chirps + 40 = 65 degrees Fahrenheit

In order to convert cricket chirps to Celsius, count the number of chirps within 25 seconds. Then divide that number by 3, and then add 4 to get the temperature in Celsius.

An example is: 30 chirps/3 + 4 = 14 degrees Celsius

Why Does Counting Crickets’ Chirps Work?

Crickets are cold-blooded like all insects. They adapt to the temperatures around them. So, the temperature outside affects the amount of energy crickets have available to chirp, among other chemical bodily actions.

When the temperature is warm, crickets are able to chirp at a faster rate. When the temperature is cool, their chirping slows down. This is one reason you may not hear crickets chirping in the winter months, whereas a hot summer night is full of them. For many, cricket chirping is a sound synonymous with summertime.

(Source: https://yourweatherwatcher.com/post/crickets-natures-thermometer-counting-cricket-chirps-can-tell-temperature/)

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Why This Dutch Town Installed Bat-Friendly LED Street Lights

By Brian Spaen

Street lights give us an easier path for transportation at night, but it’s not beneficial for everyone. These affect the lifestyle of night creatures, specifically bats, who are driven out by the light and have to travel longer distances for food. Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop, a new sustainable community in the Netherlands, are installing bat-friendly lighting that helps both parties.

Many of us rarely see bats, especially those that live in more urban locations that are lit up at all times of the day. However, bats are extremely important for our environment, as many plants rely on their pollination.  In turn, they also need fruits and flowers to survive. Seeds from those fruits are digested and spread out by the bat, providing a hands-off planting system.

Vampire bats may be the most popular kind in our society, but they aren’t the only kind. In the United Kingdom, many bats feed on insects only. In a similar way to birds, they can also help the environment by eating pests — even though bats can be pests themselves if they ever find a way into your basement!

“Both the use of LED lights and the change in activity of bats will have a substantial effect on insect populations, since bats are the top predators for insect populations in the urban environment,” Christian Voigt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research said in a 2016 study researching street light impact on urban bats.

image

In order to keep these bats in the area, Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop, a small Dutch community that’s focused on being fully sustainable, has implemented the first-ever street lights for humans and bats. These red LED bulbs will be bright enough for humans to travel despite the different hue, and bats won’t be disturbed by the light.

(For full article visit: https://www.greenmatters.com/news/2018/06/11/Z15Pp47/dutch-community-red-led-street-lights-bats)

 

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Happiest party in the world
 We found this on Pinterest!  https://pin.it/kah73ok6mhulqs
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In science fiction, green blood is common. Monsters often have green blood because it’s strange and scary, the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise have acidic green blood, and the Predator films introduced us to glowing green blood. Green blood does actually exist here on Earth, but it’s quite rare, and a new research effort aimed to determine why certain species of lizard on the island of New Guinea have the bizarre shade of blood was only able to half-answer the question.

The research, which was published in Science Advances, focused on tracing the origin of green-blooded Prasinohaema skinks and figuring out what made them different from their red-blood brethren. The scientists quickly discovered just how unique these creatures really are.

Upon studying the blood of the lizards, researchers were able to determine that a green bile pigment called biliverdin is responsible for the odd color. Biliverdin is present in humans, but only in small amounts, and is responsible for the greenish hue we sometimes see around bruises. Too much biliverdin in human blood and tissue can cause jaundice, a condition characterized by yellow skin and faulty liver function, but some of the lizards in New Guinea are absolutely packed with the stuff.

(For the full article go to: http://bgr.com/2018/05/17/lizards-with-green-blood-leave-scientists-scratching-their-heads/)

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octopus suckers

An octopus tasting a camera.   Pixabay

We have to stop taking away Mother Nature’s achievements. Every time a creature is quirky or bizarre people say that it must be an alien, when the reality is that evolution is capable of creating some of the strangest, creepiest organisms you could ever fathom.

This includes octopuses, which for the record is the correct pluralization of octopus. (It can also be octopodes, since the word is Greek in origin, but never octopi.)

Octopuses seem to be particularly prone to alien theories. The most recent is thanks to a group of scientists—none of whom study zoology and many of whom don’t even study anything biological—wrote a paper in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology that claimed to show octopuses might come from space. In fact, they say that the entire Cambrian explosion (a period 541 million years ago when animal diversity rapidly expanded, producing early forms of many creatures alive today) originated with an influx of viruses from the cosmos. Thirty-three authors co-signed their names to this paper, including the man who originally proposed this highly controversial idea in the 1970s. They use an octopus as an example, noting that “The transformative genes leading from the consensus ancestral Nautilus to the common Cuttlefish to Squid to the common Octopus are not easily to be found in any pre-existing life form” and that therefore “it is plausible then to suggest they seem to be borrowed from a far distant ‘future’ in terms of terrestrial evolution, or more realistically from the cosmos at large.”

 (Read the full article at: https://www.popsci.com/octopus-aliens)
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The world’s oldest spider lived to be 43 before a wasp’s sting did her in

The world's oldest spider ever recorded died in Western Australia at the age of 43.

The world’s oldest spider ever recorded died in Western Australia at the age of 43.

(CNN) — This is No. 16, a 43-year-old spider. Or, rather, this was No. 16.

She died a tragic death when she was violently attacked by a wasp in Western Australia.

What makes her story remarkable is that until her death, this trapdoor spider was the oldest known spider in the world.

Trapdoor spiders are called such because they don’t spin webs like many others. Instead, they live underground and build a cork-like trapdoor out of soil, vegetation, and silk, which they use to trap insects.

The lifespan of a trapdoor spider is between five and 20 years.

“To our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behavior and population dynamics,” said Leanda Mason, the lead author of the study that documented No. 16’s life.

Number 16's burrow lid was pierced by a mean parasitic wasp, whose sting later killed her.

Number 16’s burrow lid was pierced by a mean parasitic wasp, whose sting later killed her.

The cause of its longevity

No. 16 lived in Western Australia, where trapdoor spiders were the subject of a decades-long study that began in 1974.

Thanks to the detailed and long-term research, scientists determined why No. 16 lived so long:

  • It lived in uncleared, native bushland

Trapdoor spiders may look a bit intimidating but they pose no danger to humans. Their bites are nontoxic to humans and they are usually very timid.

No. 16 died in May 2017. But the death was reported in detail in the Pacific Conservation Biology journal this month.

She outlived the previous world record holder, a 28-year-old tarantula found in México.

(From: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/30/world/worlds-oldest-spider-dies-at-age-43-trnd/index.html)

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Newly discovered millipede has 414 legs, 200 poison glands and 4 penises
The new species, Illacme tobini, is one of only two in the Illacme family
The new species, Illacme tobini, is one of only two in the Illacme family (Credit: Paul Marek, Virginia Tech)

(View gallery – 3 images)

A new species of millipede, discovered in a cave in California, joins the rarely-seen family of Illacme, known for having more legs than any other animal on the planet. The new creature, dubbed Illacme tobini, has been studied from a single male specimen and boasts a strange list of body parts, including 414 legs (four of which function as its penises), 200 poison glands that spray an unknown chemical, mysterious mouthparts and a body covered in hairs that secrete silk.

Not much is known about the Illacme family of millipedes. Until the discovery of tobini, the sole species was the Illacme plenipes, first described in 1928 then not seen again in the wild for another 80 years. Of the 17 specimens in collections around the world, one holds the record for the leggiest animal on Earth, with a total of 750 legs. Most of the plenipes specimens were found near San Juan Bautista in California, and their rarity makes the new discovery particularly exciting for diplopodologists – scientists who specialize in the study of millipedes.

“I never would have expected that a second species of the leggiest animal on the planet would be discovered in a cave 150 miles (240 km) away (from the plenipes site),” says Paul Marek of Virginia Tech, one of the researchers who described the new species.

Just one Illacme tobini specimen was found in a cave during an expedition to Sequoia National Park in 2006, despite thorough searching in the cave and surrounding areas for more of them. It was preserved in ethanol, dissected and had samples of its DNA extracted, and study of its anatomy found it to be a close relative of the plenipes, but a distinct species.

With a tally of 414 legs, this one specimen sounds far short of the record-holding 750, but it is about average for the better known Illacme species. The tobini‘s four penises are actually four of its legs, repurposed for reproduction, and the body is covered with tiny hairs that appear to secrete a silk-like substance. Further adding to the mystery, pores in its mouth seem to give off an unknown secretion, and each of its segments is adorned with a pair of glands that spray poison, although just what it sprays also hasn’t been identified.

Since only the one specimen has ever been found, the researchers can’t be sure how widespread the Illacme tobini is, but it likely has a pretty limited range. They conclude that the area should be explored and surveyed in more detail to paint a better picture.

The research was published in the journal Zoo Keys.

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The Mary River turtle, found in Queensland, Australia, features on a new list of the most vulnerable reptile species on the planet.

With its punky green mohican the striking Mary river turtle joins a new ZSL list of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles

The Mary River turtle, found in Queensland, Australia, features on a new list of the most vulnerable reptile species on the planet. Photograph: Chris Van Wyk/ZSL/PA

It sports a green mohican, fleshy finger-like growths under its chin and can breathe through its genitals.

The Mary river turtle is one of the most striking creatures on the planet, and it is also one of the most endangered.

The 40cm long turtle, which is only found on the Mary river in Queensland, features in a new list of the most vulnerable reptile species compiled by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Despite the turtle’s punk appearance – derived from vertical strands of algae that also grow on its body – its docile nature made it historically popular as a pet.

Gill-like organs within its cloaca – an orifice used by reptiles for excretion and mating – enable it to stay underwater for up to three days, but it was unable to hide from the pet collectors who raided its nests during the 1960s and 1970s.

The turtle is placed at 30th on ZSL’s Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) list for reptiles. First established in 2007, Edge lists have previously been published for amphibians, birds, corals and mammals, helping guide conservation priorities for 100 most at-risk species. Each species is given a score which combines extinction risk with its evolutionary isolation or uniqueness, with the latest list supported by a study in the journal Plos One.

Top of the list is the Madagascar big-headed turtle, which has an Edge score higher than that of any other amphibian, bird or mammal, and is still taken for food and global trade.

Other unusual and endangered species include the Round Island keel-scaled boa from Mauritius, a snake which is the only terrestrial vertebrate known to have a hinged upper jaw; the minute leaf chameleon from Madagascar which is the size of a human thumbnail; and the gharial, a slender-snouted fish-eating freshwater crocodile. Less than 235 gharial survive in the rivers of northern India and Nepal.

https://youtu.be/GuACJj9deCc

The Mary Rriver turtle is one of the most striking creatures on the planet, and it is also one of the most endangered.

Rikki Gumbs, co-ordinator of Edge reptiles, said: “Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals. However, the Edge reptiles list highlights just how unique, vulnerable and amazing these creatures really are.”

He added: “Just as with tigers, rhinos and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals. Many Edge reptiles are the sole survivors of ancient lineages, whose branches of the tree of life stretch back to the age of the dinosaurs. If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth.”

(From: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/11/green-haired-turtle-that-breathes-through-its-genitals-added-to-endangered-list)

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Squirrel With Injured Legs Gets Ingenious Prosthetic With Wheels

Alf is the little squirrel who can wheel himself around now.

disabled squirrel bionic

This February, Karamel the squirrel was caught in a trap set for wild animals in Turkey’s southeastern province of Batman. Luckily for the squirrel, 19-year old Rüzgar Alkan walked by and noticed the injured animal. Alkan told the Turkish Hürriyet at the time:

“I found it in the woods. It couldn’t move. I had to do something so I took it to a veterinarian in the center of Batman, using what little money I had. The vet said the situation was serious and an expert vet should check it, so we started researching what we could do.”

Eventually Alkan found computer engineer Tayfun Demir, a squirrel breeder. Working as part of a group alongside orthopedists Mustafa Gültekin and Tolgay Şatana as well as physical therapist Eylem Küçük, Alkan took the bus to Istanbul where he handed the squirrel off to Demir. Alf, as Alkan named the squirrel, was in surgery for six hours at before emerging with this prosthetic. Platinum plates were were fixed in its four broken legs.

“Squirrels are considered like a species of mouse. So they are killed immediately wherever they are seen. But they are living creatures that can live in harmony with people. Awareness needs to be created in Turkey in this regard,” said Demir after Alf’s surgery.

While it’s undoubtedly good news for squirrels everywhere, once they get their hands on bionic power there’s no telling what else they could ruin.

See more information at: https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/animals/a19724248/squirrel-with-injured-legs-gets-ingenious-prosthetic-with-wheels/

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Canary

The bird is named after the Canary Islands, not the other way around. The islands’ name is derived from the Latin name canariae insulae (“islands of dogs”) used by Arnobius, referring to the large dogs kept by the inhabitants of the islands. A legend of the islands, however, states that it was the conquistadors who named the islands after a fierce tribe inhabiting the largest island of the group, known as the ‘Canarii’. The color canary yellow is in turn named after the yellow domestic canary, produced by a mutation which suppressed the melanins of the original dull-greenish wild Atlantic canary color.

(For more information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_canary)

Etymology

The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning “Islands of the Dogs”, a name that was applied only to Gran Canaria. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the Mauretanian king Juba II named the island Canaria because it contained “vast multitudes of dogs of very large size”.

Another speculation is that the so-called dogs were actually a species of monk seal (canis marinus or “sea dog” was a Latin term for “seal”), critically endangered and no longer present in the Canary Islands. The dense population of seals may have been the characteristic that most struck the few ancient Romans who established contact with these islands by sea.

Alternatively, it is said that the original inhabitants of the island, Guanches, used to worship dogs, mummified them and treated dogs generally as holy animals. The ancient Greeks also knew about a people, living far to the west, who are the “dog-headed ones”, who worshipped dogs on an island. Some hypothesize that the Canary Islands dog-worship and the ancient Egyptian cult of the dog-headed god, Anubis are closely connected but there is no explanation given as to which one was first.

Other theories speculate that the name comes from the Nukkari Berber tribe living in the Moroccan Atlas, named in Roman sources as Canarii, though Pliny again mentions the relation of this term with dogs.

Canary Islands

The connection to dogs is retained in their depiction on the islands’ coat-of-arms (shown above).

It is considered that the aborigines of Gran Canaria called themselves “Canarii”. It is possible that after being conquered, this name was used in plural in Spanish, i.e., as to refer to all of the islands as the Canarii-as.

What is certain is that the name of the islands does not derive from the canary bird; rather, the birds are named after the islands.

(For more information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canary_Islands)

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Organic Consumers Association
View This Email On the Web
Sign up Today! GMO Animals Should Be Regulated!

GMO Animals? image of a piglet with its nose in the air

If you think genetically modified salmon is a bad idea, wait ‘til you hear what kind of GMO animals Recombinetics, Inc., the “Monsanto of the genetically modified animal industry,” wants to unleash on the market.

Among other things, Recombinetics wants to genetically engineer pigs specifically to withstand a miserable life in factory farms. Not only that, but the St. Paul, Minn.-based biotech company wants to keep the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) from having anything to do with regulating GMO pigs, or any other GMO animals that could end up in the U.S. food supply.

TAKE ACTION: Tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Genetically modified animals need to be thoroughly safety tested by the FDA!

Recombinetics president & CEO Tammy Lee Stanock recently published an opinion piece that argued for ending FDA oversight of genetically modified animals in favor of “putting the USDA exclusively in charge of regulating all food animals.”

The advantage for Recombinetics is obvious. The FDA uses its regulations for animal drugs to review the safety of genetically modified food animals, such as GMO salmon. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has no process whatsoever for evaluating the safety of animals created through novel technologies, including the gene editing technology used by Recombinetics.

If the company’s plan succeeds, this would be the most drastic deregulation of biotechnology to date—and gene editing is just too risky to deregulate.

The authors of a recent study published in Nature Methods, “Unexpected mutations after CRISPR-Case editing in vivo,” found that gene-editing technology can introduce hundreds of unintended mutations into the gene-edited animal’s genome.

Mutations in certain genes can lead to cancer in the animal. And there’s been no testing done to determine the impact on human health of eating animals with these mutations.

The only way to adequately review the safety of an animal that results from the use of a CRISPR technology, one of the technologies used by Recombinetics, is to sequence the whole genome of a gene-edited animal and compare it with a non-edited control. This is what the FDA should require of companies like Recombinetics—before their products enter the food supply.

TAKE ACTION: Tell the USDA: Genetically modified animals need to be thoroughly safety tested by the FDA!

Thanks!
Alexis for the OCA team

P.S. To avoid GMOs, including Recombinetics gene-edited animals, buy USDA Organic!

Connect With OCA:

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The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization campaigning for health, justice, peace, sustainability and democracy. Donations to the OCA are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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Dogs, Dogs, Dogs…!

If You Ever Had A Dog, You’ll Better Understand ….
The Most Affectionate Creature In The World Is a Wet Dog.

 

 

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Scientist unearths ancient camel fossils in Canadian Arctic

Scientist unearths ancient camel fossils in Canadian Arctic

A Canadian scientist has discovered bone fragments which confirm that the ancestors of modern camels once roamed the country’s Arctic region.

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-21706241/scientist-unearths-ancient-camel-fossils-in-canadian-arctic

Disclaimer: The BBC is not responsible for the content of this email, and anything written in this email does not necessarily reflect the BBC’s views or opinions. Please note that neither the email address nor name of the sender have been verified.

Wild Mustangs of Placitas (click on words)