The mystery of the Tully Monster continues

In 1958 in an Illinois creek bed, an amateur fossil collector named Francis Tully discovered the fossilized remains of a bizarre creature that resembled a mollusk, insect, and worm yet was none of those things. Since then, thousands of 300 million-year-old fossilized "Tully Monsters" have turned up and the creature was officially named as the Illinois state fossil.

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Octopus suckers don't just suck

The amazing suckers on octopus arms aren't just for sucking. They also are used to smell and taste. To deal with all that sensory input, the vast majority of an octopus's brain cells are in its eight arms!

“It’s more efficient to put the nervous cells in the arm,” neurobiologist Binyamin Hochner, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told KQED's Deep Look. “The arm is a brain of its own.”

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When animals attack... in super-slow motion

Makes me wonder what I looked like this morning attacking that chocolate donut.

(BBC Earth Unplugged via Neatorama)

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This fish hunts by spitting water at its prey

The Archerfish of Southeast Asia and Australia spit at perched insects to knock them into the water for an easy meal. From KQED's "Deep Look":

“When the fish fires the shot,” (Wake Forest University biologist Morgan) Burnett explained, citing the work of other researchers in Germany who first used high-speed cameras to observe the projectiles in 2014, “the water leaves the mouth as essentially a very long stream. But during flight, the stream merges into a ball.”

The fish accomplishes this feat of timing through deliberate control of its highly-evolved mouthparts, in particular its lips, which act like an adjustable hose that can expand and contract while releasing the water.

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Weasel electrocuted at CERN to go on museum display

Last April, a weasel-like stone marten jumped a substation fence at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland and was promptly electrocuted. Now, that same poor creature's corpse is going on display at the Rotterdam Natural History Museum in an exhibition titled Dead Animal Tales. From The Guardian:

The stone marten is the latest dead animal to go on display at the museum. It joins a sparrow that was shot after it sabotaged a world record attempt by knocking over 23,000 dominoes; a hedgehog that got fatally stuck in a McDonalds McFlurry pot, and a catfish that fell victim to a group of men in the Netherlands who developed a tradition for drinking vast amounts of beer and swallowing fish from their aquarium. The catfish turned out to be armoured, and on being swallowed raised its spines. The defence did not save the fish, but it put the 28-year-old man who tried to swallow it in intensive care for a week....

“We want to show that no matter what we do to the environment, to the natural world, the impact of nature will always be there,” (museum director Kees) Moeliker said. “We try to put a magnifying glass on some fine examples. This poor (stone marten) literally collided with the largest machine in the world, where physicists collide particles every day. It’s poetic, in my opinion, what happened there.”

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See a fantastically strange red seadragon on video for the first time

Scientists declared the ruby seadragon a new species in 2015, but that was based on dead specimens in a museum. Now though, Scripps Institution of Oceanography biologist Greg Rouse who led the team that originally discovered the species, managed to find two of the wonderful fish swimming around the Recherche Archipelago, off the south coast of Western Australia. Each one is about 10 feet long. Just kidding. They're 10 inches long. From National Geographic:

After four dives with a remote-controlled mini-submarine, they managed to film two ruby seadragons more than 167 feet underwater, as the fish swam through rocky gardens of sponges and nibbled at their prey, most likely tiny crustaceans called mysids...

...The footage confirms that ruby seadragons use a different means of camouflage than its closest relatives. Common and leafy seadragons are covered in leafy outgrowths meant to camouflage the fish as they swim through seagrasses. The ruby seadragon, however, lacks them—opting instead for a scarlet body, an efficient way to disguise itself from predators in the dark depths.

Most surprisingly, the video suggests that the ruby seadragon can use its curled tail to grasp objects.

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Why the US Navy wanted to communicate using whale language

In the 1960s and 1970s, the US Navy researched whether they could use synthesized whale sounds for submarines to have encoded conversations across long distances underwater. Called Project COMBO, it was a fascinating attempt at biomimicry. The project's culminating experiment even attracted a pod of whales. Alas, Project COMBO ultimately failed, but it makes for a great story. From Cara Giaimo's article in Atlas Obscura:

Positioning themselves off of Catalina Island, 150 feet underwater, they blasted their squeaky, warbly codes through a transmitter. The receiver, placed at varying distances away, plucked the messages out of the noise flawlessly. Another test, in the fall, went deeper down and extended the range. In June of 1974, they sent out a real submarine, the USS Dolphin, which successfully transmitted sounds to a receiving ship—and, in a true vote of confidence, attracted a pod of pilot whales.

After these testing successes, researchers were left with a lot of work to do. Although they had the pilot whale on lock, they wanted to expand their repertoire by inventing “techniques and equipment to synthesize large whale sounds and small whale screams.” They still had to create scalable versions of their tools, including the call generator and the spectrograph-recognizer. Looking ahead, more problems loomed: the researchers figured this was a good enough idea that the Soviets would steal it, at which point American submariners would need to add another skill to their arsenal. “Fleet sonarmen must become more familiar with bioacoustic signals,” they wrote—inspiring thoughts of submarine soldiers, facing long days underwater, taking up sonic seal- and whale-watching.

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First photo of tarantula eating a snake in the wild

Researchers in a southern Brazil grassland spotted a tarantula munching on a foot-long snake. It's the first time a tarantula having this particularly hearty meal has been documented in the wild. The non-venomous snake is a Erythrolamprus almadensis and the tarantula is a Grammostola quirogai that boasts .8-inch long fangs. Federal University of Santa Maria graduate student Leandro Malta Borges found the dining tarantula under a rock. From National Geographic:

As Borges looked on, the tarantula huddled over the decomposing snake, chowing down on the exposed, liquefied guts.

In their description of the scene, published in Herpetology Notes in December 2016, the researchers chalk up the snake’s demise to an accidental break-in. In Serra do Caverá, many tarantula species, in particular sedentary females, hide in the rocks.

“Most likely, the snake was surprised upon entering the spider’s environment and hence [was] subdued by it,” the researchers write.

(photo by Gabriela Franzoi Dri) Read the rest

Moose warms face with car exhaust

On a brisk wintry day, this clever moose decided to use a car's exhaust to get a faceful of warm air. The best part is the car owner who keeps scraping his windshield. Read the rest

Smooth chihuahua Nana has the derp game on lock

Instagrammer Edamame114 is proud biographer of Japan's derpiest superstar chihuahua Nana. Follow Nana's adventures wearing hats, going to local landmarks, and eating treats. Warning: you may make audible sounds while scrolling. Read the rest

Stabilized footage of a cow playing with a hay bale

Redditor ibru stabilized this adorable clip of a cow rolling a hay bale down a hill: "I know it wasn't really needing to be stabilized a lot but I thought it'd make a good pano-ground gif." Read the rest

Watch a young grizzly bear play with floating video cameras

Below, a young grizzly bear plays with two GoPro cameras mounted on a pontoon floating in the clear water of the Knight Inlet on the British Columbia Coast.

"The idea was to film bears diving for fish in 2-meter deep pools," wrote Newsflare member kitchinsink, who uploaded the video. "If I was in the pool they wouldn't come and dive so I needed a camera that would float 'inconspicuously!'"

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Watch this iguana run for its life from a snake attack

From BBC's Planet Earth II, intense footage (with an intense soundtrack) from the Galapagos Islands of a newly-hatched iguana chased by racer snakes.

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Cute two-faced calf is oldest of its kind to survive

Meet Lucky, a two-faced calf who lives in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Lucky is just over a month old but may be the oldest animal of its kind to survive with the genetic abnormality, called diprosopus. From National Geographic:

The calf was named Lucky by the McCubbins' five-year-old daughter, Henley, after her parents told her the rare animal was lucky to be alive. Most such genetic or developmental defects are aborted in the womb, although a few make it to birth. Most of those die within a few days.

For a two-faced or two-headed animal to make it to adulthood is extremely rare. It's considered ultrarare in the wild, although two-faced cat "Frank and Louie" lived to at least 12 years old, thanks to the care of its owners.

So far, Lucky has been doing well, the McCubbins said, although the middle two of her eyes don't work. She can only walk in circles and falls down a lot.

Lucky needs some help eating, and both mouths move at the same time.

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Hipster snake sports mustache and sunglasses

The Texas Park and Wildlife Department recently posted this photo of a particularly stylish Western rat snake.

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2016 Comedy Wildlife photo finalists announced

Wanting to see some new animal reaction pics? Swing by The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards and be inspired by some of 2016's best. Something for every occasion. Read the rest

Adorable doggo turns 12 and gets a Big Mac to celebrate her birthday

“My dog Pip turned 12 the other day and we gave her a Big Mac to celebrate,” says IMGURian Amandazander1d.

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