Animals





The rich, complex musical symphonies produced by nature are now being irrevocably destroyed. The Guardian writes: When musician and naturalist Bernie Krause drops his microphones into the pristine coral reef waters of…






Watch your back, because the zoo animals we imprison are plotting against us and growing smarter by the day. Is it morally acceptable to hold in bondage creatures intelligent enough to craft tools and devise a path to freedom? Via Digital Journal:

Five chimps caused panic at a German zoo after they escaped using a ladder constructed out of tree branches. In a separate incident, police in Las Vegas shot and killed a chimp and tranquilized another after they escaped.



Writes Ed Yong on Discovery News:

To become both a lover and a fighter, the male spider Nephilengys malabarensis snaps off his penis inside his partner while they have sex. He becomes better at fending off other males who try to mate with her, because his now-lightened body can fight for longer without tiring. And while he’s playing the guardian, his detached genitals can continue pumping sperm into the female. Through self-castration, he gets more stamina, and he gets more stamina.

I first wrote about the self-castrating spider a few months ago. Then, Daiqin Li from the National University of Singapore confirmed that the severed penis continues to pump sperm into the female. That allows the newly minted eunuch to fertilise her remotely, while also blocking the way to other males…


Via CTV News:

More than a century’s worth of matrimony wasn’t enough to keep them together.

After 115 years as an item, two tortoises at an Austrian zoo have decided to call it quits.

Trouble began recently when Bibi and Poldi started to pester one another in the cage they’ve shared at the Klagenfurt Austrian Zoo, where they’ve resided for 36 years.

The two hulking creatures grew up together and, until now, have been inseparable. But now, the star-crossed tortoises refuse to share a cage with one another. “We get the feeling they can’t stand the sight of each other anymore,” Zoo Director Helga Happ told Austrian Times.





I remember reading long ago an article about how man’s own psychological and sociological biases can shape how they view scientific phenomenon. (Sadly, as this was in the pre-Internet days, I can’t…


Photo: Ildar Sagdejev (CC)

Add one more expensive and unnecessary expenditure to the many made by obsessive dog owners: an MRI scan to reveal their innermost thoughts. Via LiveScience:

Fido’s expressive face, including those longing puppy-dog eyes, may lead owners to wonder what exactly is going on in that doggy’s head. Scientists decided to find out, using brain scans to explore the minds of our canine friends.

The researchers, who detailed their findings May 2 in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, were interested in understanding the human-dog relationship from the four-legged perspective.

“When we saw those first [brain] images, it was unlike anything else,”…







Elizabeth Flock writes in Washington Post

If you were watching the Oscars … you would have seen an ad that said only one percent of the money the Humane Society of the United States raises from the public goes to local, hands-on pet shelters. The ad was financed by a Web site called HumaneWatch.org.

But are the reports genuine?

Both Web sites that released the reports are part of the Center for Consumer Freedom, an NGO founded by Richard Berman, a Washington D.C., lawyer, public relations executive, and lobbyist. Berman runs at least 20 others pro-business non-profit Web sites, including TeachersUnionExposed.com, FishScam.com and ActivistCash.com. Berman has long come under fire by activists who say his NGOs are “front groups” used to lobby for corporate interests. A site called Bermanexposed.org is entirely devoted to investigating Berman and the studies his groups has released.