Tag Archives | Animals

Scientists celebrate the weird world of animal genitalia with #junkoff

#Junkoff, animal porn by any other name? Courtesy of the Washington Post (has that rag ever changed since Bezos bought it!), animal junk:

Scientists: They’re just like you! They have good days, they have bad days, they glue themselves to angry crocodiles, and they recognize how utterly ridiculous and funny animal genitalia can be.

#junkoff is the latest hashtag to take off in the scientific corners of Twitter, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

(Note: The following may be considered not safe for workplace viewing, though the genitals featured are all decidedly non-human. If in doubt, save this post for when you clock out! Or quit now, because any office that isn’t down with laughing at duck genitalia is NO GOOD as far as we’re concerned.)…

[Enjoy the rest at the Washington Post]

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America’s most lethal animal

Animal attacks have been in the news a lot. Late last year, a 22-year-old student in New Jersey was killed by a black bear he had been photographing. This summer, swimmers off the coast of North Carolina have suffered a record number of shark attacks, several of which resulted in amputations. And early in July, a 28-year-old Texas swimmer who ignored warning signs was killed by an alligator.

Of course, not all human-killing animals are so large. Each year, dozens of Americans die due to bites by venomous snakes, lizards and spiders. Other small animals such as ticks and fleas, though not naturally outfitted with their own lethal weaponry, can nonetheless kill by transmitting deadly infections, such as Powassan virus.

Worldwide, the animal responsible for by far the greatest number of human deaths is just such an insect that transmits a deadly infection: the mosquito.… Read the rest

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Many endangered species are back — but face new struggles

The restoration of formerly endangered species is raising conflict in some places. One example: the return of gray seals to coastal Massachusetts. Here, gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) bicker at a sandy haulout in Chatham Harbor, Cape Cod during the summer of 2013. A new study by scientists at the University of Vermont and Duke University explores strategies to better manage and celebrate the recovery of these animals.David W. Johnston under permit by NOAA

The restoration of formerly endangered species is raising conflict in some places. One example: the return of gray seals to coastal Massachusetts. Here, gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) bicker at a sandy haulout in Chatham Harbor, Cape Cod during the summer of 2013. A new study by scientists at the University of Vermont and Duke University explores strategies to better manage and celebrate the recovery of these animals.
David W. Johnston under permit by NOAA

University of Vermont via EurekAlert:

A study of marine mammals and other protected species finds that several once endangered species, including the iconic humpback whale, the northern elephant seal and green sea turtles, have recovered and are repopulating their former ranges.

The research, published in the June edition of Trends in Ecology and Evolution, suggests that some species, including humpback whales, have reached population levels that may warrant removal from endangered species lists.

But returning species, which defy global patterns of biodiversity loss, create an urgent new challenge for policymakers and communities, the study suggests.

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Schrödinger’s Menagerie

Cat in a box. Credit: Flickr user Wolfgang Lonien, adapted under a Creative Commons license.

Cat in a box. Credit: Flickr user Wolfgang Lonien, adapted under a Creative Commons license.

Paul Halpern via PBS Nova:

Erwin Schrödinger loved animals.

That may come as a surprise to those who associate Schrödinger most closely with his cat paradox. Of all of Schrödinger’s accomplishments, including the Nobel-Prize-winning development of the quantum wave equation that bears his name, that hypothetical thought experiment, occupying just a few paragraphs in a single paper, is what sticks in the public memory. It has also earned Schrödinger an undeserved reputation for animal cruelty.

Yet his family knew better. As related by his daughter Ruth Braunizer, Schrödinger’s dog Burschie (“Laddie”) offered great comfort to the family throughout the dark days of World War II. No family scene was complete without their beloved collie.

Why would a lover of animals imagine something so cruel? For the same reason that, 80 years later, Schrödinger is still branded a cat-hater: preposterous analogies are memorable.

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Monkeys, Money, and The Primate Origins of Human Irrationality with Laurie Santos

Via You Are Not So Smart:

Our guest in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is psychologist Laurie Santos who heads the Comparative Cognition Laboratory at Yale University. In that lab, she and her colleagues are exploring the fact that when two species share a relative on the evolutionary family tree, not only do they share similar physical features, but they also share similar behaviors. Psychologists and other scientists have used animals to study humans for a very long time, but Santos and her colleagues have taken it a step further by choosing to focus on a closer relation, the capuchin monkey; that way they could investigate subtler, more complex aspects of human decision making – like cognitive biases.

One of her most fascinating lines of research has come from training monkeys how to use money. That by itself is worthy of a jaw drop or two.

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Rare Red Fox Reappears in Yosemite Park

A rare photo of a Sierra Nevada red fox, snapped by a remote camera trap in Yosemite National Park. Credit: National Park Service

A rare photo of a Sierra Nevada red fox, snapped by a remote camera trap in Yosemite National Park.
Credit: National Park Service

via Live Science:

The elusive and rare Sierra Nevada red fox has been spotted in Yosemite National Park for the first time in nearly a century, park officials said yesterday (Jan. 28).

Camera traps caught the sleek animal in a remote northern corner of the park on Dec. 13, 2014, and again on Jan. 4 of this year. The cameras were set up by wildlife biologists hoping to spot the red fox and the Pacific fisher,Yosemite National Park’s rarest mammals. The ongoing study is funded by the Yosemite Conservancy.

There hasn’t been a verified sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox inside Yosemite National Park since 1916, said Ben Sacks, director of the University of California, Davis Veterinary School’s Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Unit. That year, two animals were killed in Yosemite’s Big Meadows, northeast of El Portal, for the University of California, Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.

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Animals Just Want To Get High

Yellow-mongoose.jpg

Yellow mongoose by Julielangford (CC)

In an excerpt from his new book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs at BoingBoing, Johan Hari explains why animals eat psychoactive plants (hint: to get high):

The United Nations says the drug war’s rationale is to build “a drug-free world — we can do it!” U.S. government officials agree, stressing that “there is no such thing as recreational drug use.” So this isn’t a war to stop addiction, like that in my family, or teenage drug use. It is a war to stop drug use among all humans, everywhere. All these prohibited chemicals need to be rounded up and removed from the earth. That is what we are fighting for.

I began to see this goal differently after I learned the story of the drunk elephants, the stoned water buffalo, and the grieving mongoose. They were all taught to me by a remarkable scientist in Los Angeles named Professor Ronald K.

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Seals Having Sex With Penguins (Video)

Depending on your preferences, you might consider this video somewhat disturbing and possibly NSFW. There’s no doubt what the seal is trying to do to the penguin!

BBC Earth explains what biologists make of the horny seals going cross-species:

Things are heating up in the cold climes of the sub-Antarctic. On a remote, and mostly desolate island, seals have been caught engaging in an extreme form of sexual behaviour.

Specifically, they have been trying to have sex with penguins.

More than one fur seal has been caught in the act, on more than one occasion.

And it’s all been captured on film, with details being published in the journal Polar Biology.

The sexual behaviour of the fur seals hasn’t come as a complete shock to the scientists that recorded it.

In 2006, they saw, for the first time, a fur seal attempting to copulate with a king penguin, on Marion Island, a sub-Antarctic island that is home to both species.

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How Animals Get High

Yup, your pet wants to get high too. Animal New York explains how:

Everyone likes to get high. Whether from your morning cup of coffee, taking 2C-I to trip balls, or a surge of endocannabinoids after doing exercise, we love the feeling. This is rooted in a common chemistry that all creatures share.

Scientists and cat toy makers have long known that animals too enjoy the fruits of our shared biology. They go for the chemical shortcut to fun times as much as we do. Here are just a few.

CATS

These perennial internet favorites seek out a certain chemical in catnip (Nepeta cataria), called nepetalactone. The mechanism of action is unknown at this time, but what is well known is how cats react when they sense it nearby. They want it.

Once cats notice catnip, they rush over to the stuff. They begin pawing at it, chewing, licking, and generally rolling around like a happy cat.

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World Has Lost More Than Half of Wildlife in 40 Years

Sumatraanse Tijger.jpg

Can you imagine the conspiracy theories that certain usual suspects would be broadcasting far and wide if the human population was halved in just 40 years? So why isn’t there more outcry over that happening to the Earth’s wildlife population? From BBC News:

The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index.

The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago.

The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%.

Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.

Severe impact
Compiling a global average of species decline involves tricky statistics, often comparing disparate data sets – and some critics say the exercise is not statistically valid.

The team at the zoological society say they’ve improved their methodology since their last report two years ago – but the results are even more alarming.

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