Squirrels are vastly more harmful to the world's power grids than "the cyber" is

Of 1700+ known acts of global power-grid sabotages, affecting some 5,000,000 people, 879 were caused by squirrels; between 0 and 1 were caused by Russia, and another 1 was caused by the USA (Stuxnet). Read the rest

How electric eels work

Electric eels are incredible animals. Besides being able to shock animals, it uses radar to locate prey. This 1950s film features a happy scientist and his beloved pet eel, Joe, who happily shocks five people in the office with his superpower. Read the rest

Intelligence on the wing: The Genius of Birds

On Tuesday November 8, 2016, tens of millions of Americans enthusiastically cast their presidential ballots for a tax-cheating, racist demagogue who literally said anything to get the votes of common working stiffs, even though it should have been abundantly obvious to them that the promises were empty, the rhetoric insincere. A few months ago, I might have called such voters bird brains, but lately I’ve been reading Jennifer Ackerman’s wonderful new book, The Genius of Birds, so I now understand that such an epithet would be an insult to birds. Birds may not be smart enough enough to run a cynical and disingenuous presidential campaign, but birds would never be so stupid as to act so recklessly against their own self-interest.

In The Genius of Birds, Ackerman does not argue that birds are the intellectual equals of humans — that if only a robin could type, it, too, could produce a body of writing on par with the complete works of William Shakespeare. But Ackerman does give us enough examples of what can only be described as intelligence to cause us to reconsider many of our assumptions about whether human beings have a monopoly — or, in the case of the current election, even a grasp — on smarts.

We learn, for example, that “the world’s smartest bird” is a crow found on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, and that this crow can solve puzzles requiring as many as eight steps to execute and two separate tools — O.K., they’re sticks. Read the rest

Are you kidding me with these miniature clay animals?

Dayna Corbitt of WhimsyCalling makes impossibly cute clay figurines of whimsical and mythical animals. Read the rest

Stop calling it "Puppy-Burning" -- it's the "Alt-Warmth Movement"

"And I’m proud to say that when we get there, it will be as the Alt-Warmth. Just think: under the old name, we couldn’t even get anybody elected dogcatcher." Read the rest

Magician tricks doggie

This little dog patiently waits for its treat, but its impish human companion would rather trick it. Read the rest

Dog chases walruses off dock

A crabby dog chased a half-dozen walruses (or are they sea-lions?) relaxing on a dock (or is it a pier?) Whatever. Read the rest

Hippo attacks car

Wikus Ceronie, a welding inspector, describes his encounter with a truculent hippo:

This is my first time ever working in Mozambique and I was on a jolly journey back home to South Africa.

I was crossing the border from Kruger National Park when I noticed a hippo on the bridge. There were people walking around in the nearby vicinity so I automatically assumed this hippo was used to humans. I was quite fascinated by this so I took out my phone to start filming.

Suddenly the hippo turned and just started charging… I braced myself as I realized he wasn’t going to stop. He hit the bakkie head on and then tried biting it. I guess after that he decided he had won because he just turned around and left.

This was terrifying for me because I realized I had nowhere to go and no time to do it in. Beside me was a 50m drop so had he hit me on the side I have no doubt the car would have rolled down the embankment. Even though there was damage done to the bonnet of my vehicle and the door couldn’t open, I’m grateful there were no serious injuries at the end of day.

Read the rest

This guy made a video about his war with a venomous spider infestation

Here's a fellow whose been plagued with redback spider infestations in his backyard garden. In this video he shows his arsenal of weapons (such as deodorant can flamethrowers) and how he uses them to get rid of the venomous spiders. Read the rest

Chimpanzee enjoys virtual reality

Surviga seems to like the world inside a HTC's Vive virtual reality headset. Read the rest

Ernst Haeckel's 1904 bat drawings

Zoologist and artist Ernst Haeckel (1834 - 1919) had some odd ideas about the origins and evolution of life forms. That’s understandable, because at the time, scientists were just beginning to accept Darwinism. (Haeckel himself was a champion of Darwinism, but he added Lamarckism and some unpleasant conjectures about race into his philosophical worldview.)

This remarkable page of expressive bat face drawings was posted last week on Open Culture. It can also be found in the book, Art Forms in Nature, which was originally published as a series of portfolios between 1899-1904. This book of the same name compiles 100 color plates of Haeckel’s meticulously composed, obsessively detailed drawings of plants and animals arranged to show the similarity of different species. Haeckel’s lifeforms radiate vitality from the page and the peculiar way they are drawn seems to stimulate the same part of the brain that’s affected by psychedelic drugs.

The plates were intended to illustrate Haeckle’s ideas about life and evolution, but they ended up being more important to artists than scientists. His blend of crystalline geometric patterns and swooping organic curves feels very Art Nouveau, and in fact many Art Nouveau artists were influenced by Haeckel’s drawings. His work continues to inspire and amaze people today. Read the rest

Calf and piglet best friends

Adorable!

Interspecies friends.

[via] Read the rest

Baby emu excited to play with puppy

From YouTube description:

Sue's pet emu, Emee, was a lone hatch and has a purpose built pen at the end of the room for when her owner isn't home. The rest of the time though, she is treated as one of the family! This video shows her and a very welcoming pet dog named Molly playing together.

Read the rest

Cockatoo solves puzzle box

According to this bird's human companion, Monty has not played with this complicated puzzle in over a year. He seems to know what he's doing. I'm impressed at how well he removed the nut from the bolt. Read the rest

Time-lapse videos of ants eating stuff set to stock music

Ants Eating Stuff to Stock Music is "Nothing more than oddly satisfying time-lapse videos of ants eating stuff all set to random stock music."

It's interesting how the ants covered the Rice Krispie Treat and McDonald's Hot Apple Pie with cut leaves. Why? Read the rest

Do not complain about bodega cats on Yelp

Keeping a cat in a NYC bodega is technically against the rules, but everybody loves bodega cats. Everybody but a certain Yelp review, who is now getting a lot of flak for complaining about a bodega cat at SK Deli in the East Village.

From Brokelyn:

The reviewer has been getting roasted by fellow Yelpers with comments like: “No one likes you. This deli has pretty much anything you might want out of a deli. Owner is a hard ass but the cat is awesome,” which is about the perfect description for most bodegas in New York.

From Gothamist:

Deli and bodega owners face fines of up to $3,000 for having a cat or cats in their establishments, but they also face fines of $300 for the discovery of rodent fecal matter. Lost inventory is another cost, as rats and mice like to chew through containers and eat the food that is left overnight on shelves like a rodent buffet.

Read the rest

Greedy cats become altruistic

Welp those two...

Cats squabble over a saucer of milk, until they are both hit by a crisis of conscience. Read the rest

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