Tiger sneaks up on man at zoo

If it wasn't for the barrier of hard air, this guy would have been lunch for this stealthy tiger. Read the rest

RIP Koko (1971-2018)

Koko, the famous western lowland gorilla who communicated with humans through sign language, died in her sleep Tuesday. She was 46.

From NPR:

Throughout her life, Koko's abilities made headlines. After she began communicating with humans through American Sign Language, she was featured by National Geographic — and she took her own picture (in a mirror) for the magazine's cover.

That cover came out in 1978, seven years after Koko was chosen as an infant to work on a language research project with the psychologist Francine "Penny" Patterson. In 1985, the magazine profiled the affectionate relationship between the gorilla and her kitten: Koko and All Ball.

In 2001, Koko made a fast friend in comedian Robin Williams, trying on his glasses, showing him around and getting him to tickle her. Then they made faces at each other — and the gorilla seemed to recall seeing Williams in a movie. Years later, in 2014, Koko was one of many who mourned Williams' passing.

Image: YouTube/Kokoflix Read the rest

Dogs have more cortex neurons than cats, but raccoons beat them both

Who is smarter: dogs or cats? It's not really meaningful question. Cats have brains suited to the life of a cat, and dogs have the perfect brain for being a dog. But it's interesting to learn about the relative cognitive power and density of animals, which are presented in an article in this month's Scientific American called "Battle of the Brains." The article is behind a paywall, but here are some highlights:

*A bigger brain doesn’t necessarily make an animal smarter. Calculating neuron density within the cerebral cortex provides a better understanding of cognitive power.

*The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that integrates all kinds of information, makes decisions, interprets emotions, solves problems, and creates complex behavior. The neurons in the cerebral cortex act like tiny information processors to form thoughts.

*A new count of these cells shows that humans have around 16 billion neurons in an average-sized cortex. A typical mutt has almost 430 million neurons in its cortex, whereas a cat has just 250 million. Raccoons beat them both with almost 440 neurons within a cat-sized cortex.

Image: By Sonsedska Yuliia/Shutterstock Read the rest

There could be as many as 7000 tigers living in American backyards

If school shootings, the former leader of the free world's alienation of long-time allies in favor of getting cozy with dictators, or the systematic destruction of the environment and the norms of human decency aren't enough to keep you awake at night, this ought to do it: America may have a tiger problem. In many states, no one has a clue of how many tigers are being kept as pets or in private animal sanctuaries.

From the BBC:

Taj was a four-month-old tiger cub when purchased at a Texas truck stop by the driver of an 18-wheeler lorry. But after Taj began tearing up the truck's cab, the driver contacted Austin Zoo to get the animal off his hands. The zoo now looks after the fully grown 17-year-old Bengal tiger male.

Taj is one of as many as 7,000 tigers living in the US either in zoos or privately owned, according to some estimates. That's nearly double the estimated 3,890 tigers still prowling in the wild around the world.

Tigers. Being sold at truck stops.

To be fair, given the number of calories, sugar and sodium in a single 52-ounce refill of Coca Cola available at any Flying J travel center, an apex predator is pretty far down the list of dangerous things you can buy at a truck stop these days.

According to the BBC, the biggest problem going, where tigers in America are concerned, isn't that no one has a bead on how many are being kept as pets. Read the rest

Shiny animal sculptures from Jud Turner

Sculptor Jud Turner (previously) writes, "Been playing with shiny chrome parts in the studio lately (motorcycle parts, mostly) to conjure up things that are currently scaring me: "Stanislav the Russian Boar" and "Hera the Mud Dauber Wasp." Don't worry, I'm using plenty of ventilation and respirator when welding up this toxic but super-fun material. Read the rest

Enjoy 10 hours of life under the sea

No narration, no chyrons, no ads. Just a 10-hour loop of sea creatures living their lives in a world that seems light years away.

[via Kottke] Read the rest

Sentimental coal-miners carried canary resuscitators to revive their feathered lifesavers

This Canary Resuscitator was manufactured in the 1920s by Siebe Gorman and Co.; it was carried by miners to revive the canaries that were used from the late 19th century until 1987(!) as early-warning signals for potentially lethal gas leaks. 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

Watch a kajillion clams make a sudden choreographed appearance

Coquina clams are so attuned to life in the foreshore that they all know exactly when to dig into the sand and exactly when to pop up. Read the rest

Fascinated woodpecker pecks all around a Tesla Model 3 while the nervous owner tells it to stop

This curious woodpecker is captivated by a Tesla Model 3, which is parked at a campsite in Yosemite. The bird checks out the entire car, pecking at the metal and glass as it moves from the passenger side to the front of the car and then on to the driver's side.

You can hear an amused yet nervous man's voice in the background: "What are you doing to my car? You better not crack my glass. Nope..Hey! What are you doing?!" In the end, the woodpecker decides a tree is more interesting. Read the rest

Bandai is manufacturing armored cats

Bandai created armored cats ("Nekobusou") as a jokey tweet whose unexpected popularity inspired the toymaker to go into production with a like of armored cat figurines ranging from $5-14 each. Read the rest

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

Pygmy marmosets devouring grapes

Pygmy marmosets are from South America. At 3.5 ounces, they are the world's smallest monkey (but not quite the world's smallest primate -- that honor goes to 2 ounce pygmy tarsier of central Sulawesi, Indonesia). Enjoy this video of pygmy marmosets enjoying some grapes, which look like beach balls in their hands.

Image: Aardvark video screengrab Read the rest

Shock your way to mosquito bite itch relief

I'm going to Japan for a month this summer. I know two things for certain: it will be mushi atsui (muggy hot) and I will get bitten by ka (mosquitoes). My favorite way to relive the itch of a mosquito bite is with this little device, which delivers a tiny spark of static electricity when you press the trigger. About 10 presses of the trigger will stop the itching for hours. Everyone in my family uses it. Thay cost about $10 on Amazon. It doesn't need batteries. It has a piezoelectric crystal in it. I've had one for years and it still works. Read the rest

Shark captures fish, then bird captures shark, then photographer captures it all

Professional photographer Doc Jon captured a remarkable series of photos of a shark snatched from the waves just as it had clamped down on a fish. Check out his page for more cool nature shots. Read the rest

A stuffed anteater is at the center of a huge nature photography scandal

Marcio Cabral won a Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, but he was stripped of his title after some claimed he used a taxidermied anteater, shown above, in his winning shot. Internet sleuths have been having a field day with the investigation ever since. Read the rest

Watch: Bully pelican lands in seats at Pepperdine graduation ceremony, then snaps at people near red carpet

An ornery pelican caused quite a scene at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California on Saturday when it crashed a graduation ceremony. First it landed in the audience, bouncing around the seats that people were trying to claim as their own. It then landed on the red carpet, snapping at anyone who tried to steer it away as students about to receive their diplomas looked distracted and hesitant as to how to proceed. "Keep going, keep going!" someone from the school faculty told them. This pelican wasn't letting anyone shoo it away or tell it what to do, and didn't leave until it was good and ready. Read the rest

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