Wednesday, October 29, 2014

7 Islands where Animals Rule

In some places in the world, a certain species of animal seem to rule over humans. From horses to cats and even rabbits, below are 7 places where it seems like there are more animals than humans.

Monkeys - Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico

Imagine the movie Planet of the apes instead the settling is in an island used as a research facility. There is an estimate of around 800 to 1,200 rhesus macaque that frolic around the area. 409 of these monkeys were actually sent in from India in the late 1930’s to make the research facility, and a couple decades and some generations later, the monkeys have ruled the island.

Cats - Tashirojima, Japan

Cat lovers with think this little island is paradise. The island of Tashirojima is a fishing village where cats are said to outnumber humans by 4 to 1. The felines that live here are pretty happy and well feed, thanks to locals and tourists who give them food for good luck. The island also has a number of cat shrines as well as unique cat-shaped and themed buildings.

Pigs- Big Major Cay Island, Bahamas

When you think of the Bahamas, you usually imagine white sand beaches, tropical drinks and just relaxing. However, you might see a couple dozen pigs that would swim along with you. Pigs are actually good swimmers. Local legends say that these pigs were left by sailors as food reserves, but they never came back for them. The pigs are now tourist attractions and are very warm to strangers.

Rabbits - Okunoshima Island, Japan

Japan has a thing about cute, furry little animals. Okunoshima Island once housed a facility that made poison gas back in WWII but now the place has completely changed with a tourism industry brought in by thousands of rabbits that freely hop around the place. The island also has a hotel, camping grounds, a small gold course and even a museum that remembers its dark past, but most of the tourists go there for the bunnies.

Horses - Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia

Assateague Island has one of the best beaches in America, but first time tourist there are often shocked to find over 300 feral horses that roam around the place freely. Locals say that these horses survived a big shipwreck that happened near the island some years ago. They’re mostly harmless, although they’ve been known to take food away from campers.

Snakes - Ilha da Queimada Grande, Brazil

If you’re scared of snakes, this island near Brazil is deffinetly not for you. Ilha da Queimada Grande, which is around 90 miles off 90 miles, is often called the world’s deadliest island. Deadly snakes are found all over the place, estimating 1 snake per 10sq-ft. Golden lanceheads, which are vipers with poison that are said to have the ability to melt human flesh breed here.

Deer - Itsukushima, Japan

The Shinto religion regards the dear as a sacred animal, which is why many of these animals just prance around so many towns near the rural areas. However, Itsukushima is known to have the most populated herd. The place is also known for its Torii gate and shrines.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Scientists describe newly discovered dinosaur as 'one of the weirdest', 'pretty goofy'

WASHINGTON –  Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found bones of two large, powerful dinosaur arms in Mongolia and figured they had discovered a fearsome critter with killer claws.

Now scientists have found the rest of the dinosaur and have new descriptions for it: goofy and weird.

The beast probably lumbered along on two legs like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame. It was 16 feet tall and 36 feet long, weighing seven tons, with a duckbill on its head and a hump-like sail on its back. Throw in those killer claws, tufts of feathers here and there, and no teeth -- and try not to snicker.

And if that's not enough, it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner.

That's Deinocheirus mirificus (DY'-noh'-KY-ruhs mur-IHF'-ee-kuhs), which means "terrible hands that look peculiar." It is newly reimagined after a full skeleton was found in Mongolia and described in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature.  Some 70 million years old, it's an ancestral relative of the modern ostrich and belongs to the dinosaur family often called ostrich dinosaurs.

"Deinocheirus turned out to be one the weirdest dinosaurs beyond our imagination," study lead author Yuong-Nam Lee, director of the Geological Museum in Daejeon, South Korea, said in an email.

When scientists in 1965 found the first forearm bones -- nearly 8 feet long -- many of them envisioned "a creature that would strike terror in people," said University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr, who wasn't part of the study. "Now it's a creature that would strike bemusement, amazement."
This undated handout image provided by Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group, shows a Deinocheirus. (AP Photo/Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group)
And yes, he said, "it's pretty goofy."

The find is tremendous but is a cautionary tale about jumping to conclusions without enough evidence, said University of Chicago dinosaur expert Paul Sereno, who wasn't part of the discovery.

It also reminds us that evolution isn't always what we think, Sereno said.

"This is evolution in a dinosaur -- not a mammal -- world," Sereno said in email. "The starting point is a two-legged animal looking somewhat like a fuzzy-feathered ostrich. Now you want to get really big and suck up lots of soft vegetation. In the end you look like a goofy Michelin ostrich with fuzz and a tail -- not a cow."

Lee figures the tilted wide hips and massive feet show that Deinocheirus was a slow mover and probably grew so big to escape from being regularly feasted on by bigger dinosaurs.

It had a beak that could eat plants, but it also had a massive tongue that created suction for vacuuming up food from the bottoms of streams, lakes and ponds, Lee wrote.

Originally Lee's team couldn't find the dinosaur's skull, but a tip from another researcher led them to recover it from the private market in Germany.

Some kids will soon adopt this dinosaur as their favorite, Holtz said, "and those are kids with a sense of humor."

Source: Here
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River Monster: Face to face with a 20-foot, Monster Anaconda

When Jeremy Wade dives to murky depths hunting a slithery predator, he immediately realizes HE could instantly become the hunted. See him come face-to-face with a massive, terrifying anaconda.
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Sea otter teeth more than twice as tough as ours

Sea otters, which often dine on clams, crabs, and other shelled creatures, have unusually chip-resistant teeth, a new study suggests.

Lab tests show that the enamel coating the teeth of sea otters (Enhydra lutris, shown) is up to two-and-a-half times tougher than human tooth enamel, thanks largely to the enamel’s microstructure. In all mammal enamel, the tiny crystals of calcium phosphate that give the tooth’s surface its hardness are separated by thin layers of protein-rich gel that help prevent cracks from propagating. In human enamel, there are about 14 of these crack-arresting layers per millimeter of tissue, but sea otter enamel has about 19 such layers per millimeter—an increase that substantially boosts the surface toughness of the teeth. Interestingly, the researchers report online today in Biology Letters, previous studies have found that the early hominin, or member of the human family, Paranthropus boisei—which lived in Africa between 1.2 million and 2.3 million years ago and has been nicknamed “Nutcracker Man” due to its large, thick-enameled molars—also had about 19 of these crack-arresting layers of protein gel per millimeter of enamel. That spacing suggests that P. boisei’s teeth may have been more chip-resistant than scientists have previously recognized, which may in turn revamp notions about the diet of these early humans.
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Flying Drone Captures Groundbreaking Killer Whale Video Footage in British Columbia

Researchers from Vancouver Aquarium and Canada's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Fisheries department have used flying drones to capture incredibly rare footage of killer whales in the first known use of this technology for whale marine conservation research.
Killer Whale
Marine biologists studying killer whales (also known as orca whales) usually have to use helicopters and fly over the water to take measurements of the width-to-length ratio of the whales in order to figure out which whales are sickly and malnourished, and which are healthy or even pregnant.
Unfortunately helicopters are very noisy and disruptive, as well as being very expensive, and the helicopters have to be operated at 250m above the water, so it is difficult to obtain high quality footage of the whales.

So the researchers decided to use a custom-built hexacopter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) mounted with a camera that they named "Mobly" to study how reliant endangered killer whales in southern Canada are on Chinook salmon.

There is concern that an increase in salmon fisheries may have affected orcas and the researchers wanted to see if the whales were getting thinner.

In August 2014, the researchers launched Mobly over the ocean, flying at a height of 30m over the ocean and the whales, while the researchers waited in a boat watching the live video feed.

"That first day was memorable not only for images of whales, but for the amount of high-fiving that took place. Mobly performed like a dream—steady, stable, and quiet," Dr Lance Barrett-Lennar, head of the Cetacean Research Program at Vancouver Aquarium wrote in a blog post.

"The images of the whales were stunning, and revealed right away that we weren't going to have difficulty distinguishing robust and thin whales.
"Most importantly, the whales didn't react to Mobly visibly; not only did they not appear disturbed, they didn't seem to notice him at all."

The researchers spent 13 days studying the killer whales and succeeded in taking high-quality images of both southern and northern killer whales visiting the area.

They captured really useful footage of the whales' social behaviour within family groups, how they chased fish, how young whales played together, and even how whales and dolphins swam side by side peacefully.

Barrett-Lennar said: "The bottom line is that the method worked wonderfully well. We are convinced now that Mobly - or one of his cousins - will be an invaluable part of our research program for years to come, as we focus on recovering resident killer whale populations by, among other things, ensuring they have enough to eat."

Source: Here
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Puppy-Sized Spider Surprises Scientist in Rainforest

Piotr Naskrecki- an Entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology caught a new Puppy-Sized Spider. This spider is also known as the South American Goliath bird-eater, having scientific name, “Theraphosa blondi”. The specimen was taken to the lab afterwards. It was also found that it’s a female. After further study, it has been deposited in a museum finally.
puppy-sized spider
Piotr Naskrecki/Getty Images/Minden Pictures RM
A Goliath bird-eater tarantula spider surprised scientist Piotr Naskrecki when he looked for insects in the Guyana rainforest.

According the Guinness World Record, “the colossal arachnid is the world’s largest spider”. Naskrecki reporting to Live Science stated that

“I was taking a night-time walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when I heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When I turned on the light, I expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat but couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing. Later I realized that it is a puppy sized spider.”

Moreover, he reported that the its leg span can reach up to a foot, may be around 30 centimetres, or about the size of “a child’s forearm,” with a body the size of a large fist. On his blog, he wrote that the spider can weigh more than 6 oz. i.e. 170 grams. It is almost equal to the weight of a young puppy.
puppy-sized spider
Pete Oxford/Getty Images/Minden Pictures RM
The Goliath bird-eater can weigh up to 6 oz and have a leg span of almost a foot.

Sources also reported that the size of its leg is bigger than the bird eater but it’s more delicate than bird-eater. Naskrecki suggests that comparing the two would be “like comparing a giraffe to an elephant. Its feet have hardened tips and claws that produce a very distinct, clicking sound, not unlike that of a horse’s hooves hitting the ground”.

Moreover he also observed that the spider used to rub its hind legs against the abdomen. Soon he realized that spider was sending out a cloud of hairs with microscopic barbs on them. And when these hairs get in the eyes or other mucous membranes, they are “extremely painful and itchy and can stay there for days.
puppy-sized spider
The spider's venom is not poisonous to humans.
It has also been reported that the spider is not dangerous to human at all. Even if its bite, it can do no harm to human. The spider basically relies on frogs, insects and earth worms. If it find a nest, it punctures and drink bird’s eggs as well.

Moreover Naskrecki also said,

“Bird-eaters are not very common spiders. I’ve been working in the tropics in South America for many, many years, and in the last 10 to 15 years, I only ran across the spider three times”.

Source: Here
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chimpanzees have favourite ‘tool set’ for hunting staple food of army ants

New research shows that chimpanzees search for the right tools from a key plant species when preparing to ‘ant dip’ - a crafty technique enabling them to feast on army ants without getting bitten. The study shows that army ants are not a poor substitute for preferred foods, but a staple part of chimpanzee diets.
West African chimpanzees will search far and wide to find Alchornea hirtella, a spindly shrub whose straight shoots provide the ideal tools to hunt aggressive army ants in an ingenious fashion, new research shows.

The plant provides the animals with two different types of tool, a thicker shoot for ‘digging’ and a more slender tool for ‘dipping’.

On locating an army ant colony, chimpanzees will dig into the nest with the first tool - aggravating the insects. They then dip the second tool into the nest, causing the angry ants to swarm up it. Once the slender shoot is covered in ants, the chimpanzees pull it out and wipe their fingers along it: scooping up the ants until they have a substantial handful that goes straight into the mouth in one deft motion.  

This technique - ‘ant dipping’ - was previously believed to be a last resort for the hungry apes, only exploited when the animal’s preferred food of fruit couldn’t be found. But the latest study, based on over ten years of data, shows that, in fact, army ants are a staple in the chimpanzee diet - eaten all year round regardless of available sources of fruit. Ants may be an important source of essential nutrients not available in the typical diet, say researchers, as well as a potential source of protein and fats.

The new research, published today in the American Journal of Primatology, was led by Dr Kathelijne Koops from the University of Cambridge’s Division of Biological Anthropology and Junior Research Fellow of Homerton College.

“Ant dipping is a remarkable feat of problem-solving on the part of chimpanzees,”  said Koops. “If they tried to gather ants from the ground with their hands, they would end up horribly bitten with very little to show for it. But by using a tool set, preying on these social insects may prove as nutritionally lucrative as hunting a small mammal - a solid chunk of protein.”

Koops points out that if Alchornea hirtella is nowhere to be found, chimps will fashion tools from other plants - but seemingly only after an exhaustive search for their preferred tool provider.   

Previous research has shown that chimpanzees will actually select longer tools for faster, more aggressive types of army ants. The average ‘dipping’ tool length across the study was 64 centimetres, but dipping tools got up to 76 cm.

The question for Koops is one of animal culture: how do chimpanzees acquire knowledge of such sophisticated techniques?  
“Scientists have been working on ruling out simple environmental and genetic explanations for group differences in behaviours, such as tool use, and the evidence is pointing strongly towards it being cultural,” said Koops. “They probably learn tool use behaviours from their mother and others in the group when they are young.”

The research for the ant-dipping study - which took place in Guinea’s Nimba mountains - proved challenging, as the chimpanzees were not habituated to people - so the team acted almost as archaeologists, studying ‘exploited’ ants nests to measure abandoned tool sets and “sifting through faeces for ants heads”.
Source: Here
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Top 10 Biggest Cats on the Planet

Although you’d never usually see these cats lying around a couch at home or chasing a laser pointer around, these massive wild cats are natural predators that top the food chain wherever they are seen.

Here are the top ten big wild cats and information about these majestic felines.

10. Caracal
They’re also called the desert lynx. These cats are commonly seen in areas around Southwest Asia, Central Asia, parts of India and Africa. Althoughthey are tagged as least concern, they are threatened in North Africa and are rarely seen in India and Central Asia. They commonly weigh in at 42 pounds.

9. Clouded Leopard
Clouded Leopard
Clouded Leopards are seen along the Himalayan foothills, mainland Southeast Asia,Northeastern India and China. These cats are tagged asvulnerable back in 2008 as their total population is estimated to be less than 10,000 mature specimens. They are considered to link big cats and small cats. These leopards can reach a weight of 51 pounds.

8. Eurasian Lynx
Eurasian Lynx
These medium-sized cats are native to East Asia,Central Asia, Siberian forests and Europe. They’re also called the Russian or Siberianlynx, northern lynx,common lynx and European lynx. Lynx are slowly being reintroduced in Western Europe where their population almost despaired. They commonly get as heavy as 79 pounds.

7. Cheetah
Cheetahs are one of the fastest animals alive. They can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3 seconds, making them the ideal predator. They’re commonly seen in Northern Iran and Sub-Saharan Africa, reaching 119 pounds.

6. Leopard
Commonly seen in parts of Asia andAfrica, these big cats can reach a weight of 143 pounds, which is the same as a full grown adult human. They’re known to have short legs, a long body and large heads. These cats are tagged as near threatened because of hunting.

5. Snow Leopard (Unciauncia)
Snow Leopard
Snow leopards are native to Tibet, South and Central Asia. These black and white cats have been tagged as endangered since 2003. Their global population is estimated to be around 4,080-6,590 adults with less than 2,500 individuals reproducing in the wild. They can reach a weight of 165 pounds.

4. Cougar
Also called Puma and Mountain Lion, these cats can grow to reach 264 pounds. They’re commonly found in the Americas, specifically around Southeastern Alaska, Chile and Southern Argentina. They’ll prey on ungulates likebighorn sheep, elk,deer, moose, and domestic cattle, sheep andhorses.

3. Jaguar
Another native to the Americas, they can be found in the Southwestern United States, Mexico, much of Central America,Paraguayand Argentina. Weighing in at 299 pounds, they are the 3rd biggest cats on the planet.

2. Lion
Reaching a weight of 598 pounds, lions are the most popular big cats around. About 10,000 years ago, these giant cats we hunting us a prey. Now, poachers and hunters threaten their population. They’re seen in Sub-Saharan Africa.

1. Siberian Tiger
Siberian Tiger
Along with the Bengal tiger, these big cats are the biggest amongst all of them. Siberian Tigers can reach a whopping 931 pounds and are very powerful. They roam Northeastern China, Russia, some parts of India and the Himalayas.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5 Adorable Animals that can Actually Hurt You

Seeing animals in their natural habitat is an exciting experience for us humans. We think that they’re so adorable and peaceful as they go on their ways in the wild. However, no matter how adorable and cute these animals look, they may pose a threat to you.

Here are 5 adorable animals that can actually do a lot of damage on you if it does ever attack.


Don’t let their cartoon-like grin fool you. Moose are actually one of the most aggressive animals in the planet. They have giant antlers and hooves that are strong enough to bash a car like a baseball bat. They’re also massive, standing at around 5 to 6 feet tall. These huge mammals can also reach a weight of 800 pounds, so you can just imagine scary it is if one would ever charge at you.

Slow Loris

Slow Loris
They might look like a toy, but these animals are actually the only venomous primate. They’re commonly found in areas surrounding Indonesia, they’re often captured by humans because of alleged medical reasons. The toxin they carry is mixed with saliva and it bites when provoked.  The bite causes anaphylactic shock which can cause death.

Big Cats
Big Cats
All big cats, from lions to leopards, are extremely dangerous. For one, they’re big. They might act like kittens but their huge paws, long sharp claws, strong jaws and razor sharp teeth can rip you to shreds easily. They’re natural predators, which means that a lot of things can cause them to attack, so don’t even consider keeping these as pets.

They do keep a low profile, but these flightless birds can be really aggressive and territorial. The Guinness Book of World Records acknowledged the cassowary as the most dangerous bird on the planet. They are capable of running very fast and leaping in very high, it attacks by thrusting its 5 inch long claws on their pray. They can even break bones with their strength.

Poison Dart Frogs

Poison Dart Frogs
Colorful, but deadly, these frogs got their name from Native American Indian tribes that use to make poisonous darts for hunting. There are hundreds of different types of dart frogs, but the most poisonous of them all are the golden poison dart frog. They have the alkaloid toxin covering their skin which can actually kill small mammals and even humans.

It’s important to remember that wild animals don’t really attack you unless you provoke them. So always keep your distance and just observe them.
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Hermaphrodite snail named after marriage equality

Biologists christened the species Aegista diversifamilia, referring to a diversity of family types, because it "represents the diversity of sex orientation in the animal kingdom".

The snail is widespread throughout eastern Taiwan, but was previously mistaken for a closely related species.
A new species of hermaphrodite land snail found in Taiwan has been named in support of marriage equality.
Its discovery is reported in the journal.

"When we were preparing the manuscript, it was a period when Taiwan and many other countries and states were struggling for the recognition of same-sex marriage rights," said Dr Yen-Chang Lee, who first suggested the snail might entail its own species.

"It reminded us that Pulmonata land snails are hermaphrodite animals, which means they have both male and female reproductive organs in a single individual.

"We decided that maybe this is a good occasion to name the snail to remember the struggle for the recognition of same-sex marriage rights."

Dr Lee, from Academia Sinica in Taipei, noticed in 2003 that land snails of the established species Aegista subchinensis seemed to be markedly different on the eastern side of Taiwan's Central Mountain Range.

Together with researchers from the National Taiwan Normal University, Dr Lee then conducted a detailed study of the shape of the animals as well as molecular markers.

The new diversifamilia species, from the east of the mountains, has a larger, flatter shell and is in fact more closely related to a land snail from Ishigaki Island in Japan.

Source: Here
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