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
read more " These 22 Photos Will Make You Fall In Love With Foxes"

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
read more "Breakthrough DNA study could slow big cat extinction"

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

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
read more "Hero Parrot Rescues Woman During Assault In London Park"

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
read more "Majestic New Cat Species Discovered In Nepal"

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
read more "Animals need your time"

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

read more "Searing heat compounds woes of animals"

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
read more "Extinct Marsupial Preyed On Animals Bigger Than Itself"

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
read more "Animals forever"

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
read more "The remarkable self-organization of ants"