More mammals are becoming nocturnal so they can avoid humans

As Earth's human population expands, it's harder for other mammals to avoid people during the daytime. As a result, some mammals are becoming increasingly nocturnal. Nobody knows how that shift will affect individual species and even entire ecosystems. In a new paper in the journal Science, University of California, Berkeley wildlife ecologist Kaitlyn Gaynor and her colleagues examined data on how 62 species across the world spend their days and night. From Scientific American:

For example, leopards in the Central African nation of Gabon are 46 percent nocturnal in areas without bushmeat hunting, but 93 percent nocturnal where the practice is common. In Poland wild boars go from 48 percent nocturnal in natural forests to 90 percent nocturnal in urban areas. Even activities people consider relatively innocuous, such as hiking and wildlife viewing, strongly affected animals’ daily rhythms. Brown bears in Alaska live 33 percent of the day nocturnally when humans stay away, but that number goes up to 76 percent for bears exposed to wildlife-viewing tourism. “We think that we're leaving no trace often when we’re outdoors, but we can be having lasting consequences on animal behavior,” Gaynor says...

Perhaps even more alarming is the cascade of effects that could occur in the wider ecosystem as animals switch from day to night. “Patterns of competition and predator–prey interactions might change with the nocturnal behavioral changes,” Gaynor says. If one species—say a top predator—starts hunting at night and goes after different types of prey, it will likely have innumerable trickle-down consequences for everything along the food chain.

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Bear investigates police officers loitering on the side of the road

This bear smartly checked out a couple cops suspiciously loitering in their car on the side of the road. Reportedly the officers were just eating their lunch. This time. Read the rest

Delightful creatures frolicking in the waves

Swimming pigs, splashing horses, and diving bulls await in this lovely roundup of animals swimming, some of whom are a bit surprising to see taking to water so eagerly. Read the rest

Crows hold "funerals" for their dead and this very weird experiment revealed why

According to researcher Kaeli Swift of the University of Washington's Avian Conservation Laboratory, crows hold "funerals." When they see a corpse of their own kind they gather together and squawk loudly. To determine what they may be doing, Swift displayed a taxidermied dead crow to other crows. On some days though, she wore a creepy mask and wig. After multiple experiments with and without her disguise or the dead bird, the crows appeared to remember "the experience with the mask and dead crow and now connected the area with danger." From Deep Look:

And here’s what Swift said makes that really interesting: These new mobs (she encountered even weeks later) contained crows that had never seen the masked Swift with the dead crow. But they still learned to avoid the masked figure.

Learning directly from each other, rather than through individual experience, is called social learning.

“By participating in these funerals, crows can get information about new dangers without taking the risk,” Swift said.

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Howler Monkeys are coming for your soul

Beautiful beaches. Lush jungles that thrive in volcanic soil. Friendly people and amazing local cuisine. You can keep 'em all. One of the things I enjoyed most about my last trip to Costa Rica were the calls of local howler monkeys. It didn't matter that I knew what was making their horrific calls. Hearing their low, simmering rage-filled grunts and screams never failed to make the lizard bits of my brain insist that my face was about to be eaten and that I would soon be dead.

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Artist summons supernatural animals in these gorgeous images

Polish artist Dawid Planeta created his "mini people in the jungle" series to include gentle gargantuan animals which appear before silhouetted humans. Read the rest

Charming interlocking wood sculptures

Zenji Funabashi creates colorful animals scultures that lock together in all sorts of fun ways. Imagine the satisfaction of sliding the pieces together. Read the rest

The story of Don the talking dog

In 1912, Don the dog took American vaudeville by storm. A European immigrant, Don spoke German, or at least 8 words of it. He reportedly said things like kuchen (“cake”), hunger (same word in English and German), and his own name. A celebrity and media darling, Don went from the stage to starring in newspaper ads for Maltoid Milk-Bone dog treats. Over at Smithsonian, Greg Daugherty tells the whole story of this curious canine:

Off stage, Don’s purported ability to talk was taken seriously even in academic circles. Lending some credence to the notion that a dog might actually converse, the inventor Alexander Graham Bell had once claimed that as a young man he taught his Skye terrier to say “How are you grandmamma?”

On a 1913 visit to San Francisco, Don and his handlers called on J. C. Merriam, a respected paleontologist at the University of California at Berkeley, who, if contemporary newspaper accounts are to be believed, was “astonished” and “declared his belief that the dog can reason and think for himself.”

Earlier, the respected journal Science had another explanation, based on statements by a University of Berlin professor who had also examined Don. His conclusion, the journal reported in May 1912, was that “the speech of Don is… to be regarded properly as the production of sounds which produce illusions in the hearer.”

How the hell does he know though? Did he ask Don? Read the rest

Man gets swallowed by hippo and lives to talk about it

Ok, show of hands: who here's been eaten by a hippo? Anyone? No? Then you'll want to keep reading, because Chris Broughton has and his story is frigging horrific.

While he was in his twenties, Broughton ran a business that saw him guiding tourists down the Zambezi river, near Africa's Victoria Falls. During the years that he worked this gig, Broughton had made it a habit to avoid a particularly grumpy male hippo while he and his clients were out on the water. Hippos, you see, are wicked territorial. The beast had launched a couple of half-assed attacked against him and his customers in the past. No damage was done, but it was enough to make him wary of pissing the hippo off.

On one occasion, Broughton took a group of tourists out on the water along with three apprentice guides that he was showing the ropes to. One of the apprentices was attacked by the hippo, flinging him into the air. Broughton ordered the other two guides to get the tourists to safety while he went after his apprentice. What happened next, told in Broughton's own words, is absolutely insane.

From The Guardian:

I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness. There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf.

I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry.

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This punk turtle that breathes through its genitals is going extinct

The Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus), seen in this marvelous photo by Chris Van Wyk, calls Queensland, Australia its home. It's a fantastic creature with a green mohwawk of algae strands. The Mary River Turtle can stay underwater for up to 72 hours as it breathes through glands in its reproductive organs. Unfortunately, it's also one of the latest animals that the Zoological Society of London's EDGE conservation group added to its list of endangered species. From National Geographic:

The Mary river turtle waddled its way on the list for a number of reasons: it's the only member of its genius, and according to EGDE's website, it became evolutionarily distinct 40 million years ago. Forty million years of Earth's changes, however, wasn't enough to prepare them for 100 years of human intervention.

Their habitat... has been disrupted from dam construction, and the species was widely bought and sold in the pet trade.

Today it's protected by the Australian government, and conservation groups are working to make sure its habitat is preserved.

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The Suburban Pittsburgh Book of the Dog

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is one of very few (and apparently the most populous) to publish data on its dog registrations. Nathan Fulton, a student at CMU, offers a summary of Pittsburgh Doggos By the Numbers, though it should be noted that it excludes those within city limits. (With 300k humans in town and a million more out in the burbs, assume we're missing at least a quarter of the doggos)

Ten Most Popular Dog Names in Allegheny County Name Count Bella 708 Lucy 474 Buddy 469 Molly 435 Bailey 424 Sadie 398 Max 393 Daisy 370 Charlie 328 Cooper 305

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Why humans are so enchanted with cats

We think cats are our pets but we are mistaken. The New Yorker interviews Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World:

She explains how “cats domesticated themselves”—essentially by choosing proximity to people as their survival strategy—and then proceeded to infect one in three humans on Earth with a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which affects our behavior in ways that are still not entirely understood, although there is speculation that one of the symptoms might be an attraction to cats. Scientists estimate that there could be as many as a billion cats in the world, and their number continues to grow. So, if you feel like you live under your cat’s paw, you might as well get used to it. As Tucker says, “We’re never going to get control over these animals.”

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Watch a cheetah jump into vehicle during a safari

"A cheetah decided to explore our vehicle on a safari I was leading for Grand Ruaha Safaris (in the Serengeti National Park," wrote wildlife photographer Peter Heistein on Instagram. "Another one jumped up on the hood and was staring at us through the windshield. They were just curious, we kept calm and let them go about their business. Quite a thrill to be this close!

"Our guide Alex Mnyangabe... helped us through the encounter with instructions on how to treat the animal 'with respect.'"

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This hog ain't no pig – watch how he tidies up the room

Paul is a VERY good pig. Watch as, at his owner's behest, he cleans the heck out of his belongings, putting them back in his toy box, where they belong. I'd give so much if I could teach my dog to do this. Read the rest

Photographer positions horses to look like landscapes

This may look like grasslands, but it's a horse carefully positioned and beautifully photographed by Lee Diegaard, part of her Equuleus series. Below: Copper Valley. Read the rest

Phantasmagoric human-animal hybrids on exhibition

Kate Clark combines taxidermy animals with hand-sculpted human faces to create fantastical beasts from unreal lands. From her artist's statement:

The fusion of human and animal that I create presents a fiction suggesting that our human state is fully realized when we acknowledge both our current programming and our natural instincts. I emphasize the characteristics that separate us within the animal kingdom, and, importantly, the ones that unite us.

The wild animal hide I use has an energy and presence like no other material. I shave sections of the animal's skin to reveal porous and oily features that we recognize as our own. Stitched over a hand-sculpted human face, the material quality of the skin brings believability to the final sculpture: they are portraits we relate to. I emphasize the seams so that the faces are obviously reconstructed yet they are not monstrous, they are approachable, calm, dignified, majestic. The viewer has an intimate relationship with the face and then identifies with the full animal, acknowledging the animalistic inheritance within the human condition.

Kate Clark (via Juxtapoz)

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Frank Welker recording roars for The Lion King

Welker turns up in the credits of seemingly ever cartoon that involves precisely customized animal noises. Seeing him work is a lot of fun, claw gestures and all.

"Great. Yeah, that was good."

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