Baby colobus monkey is adorable

'Colobus monkeys live in families with several females sharing in the care of newborns, a behavior called allomothering'

Video: 5 California mountain lions hanging out together, home surveillance camera footage

This is some pretty amazing and highly rare video -- seldom do you get footage of five, count 'em FIVE, California mountain lions all hanging out together. The big cats were captured on home surveillance video, in a rare gathering of the typically solitary critters. Read the rest

Tasmanian tiger: thought to be extinct yet sighted two months ago

In 1936, the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was declared to be extinct. Yet in the last three years, there have been eight reported sightings according to Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. I hope it's true. From CNN:

While stories abound that some continue to live in the remote wilds of Tasmania, an island state off Australia's south coast, there has been no hard evidence to support this -- only claims of sightings, like the ones newly released.

One report last February said that two people, visiting Tasmania from Australia, were driving when an animal with a stiff tail and striped back walked onto the road.

The animal "turned and looked at the vehicle a couple of times" and "was in clear view for 12-15 seconds," the report read. Both people in the car "are 100% certain that the animal they saw was a thylacine."

Another report filed the same month described a striped "cat-like creature" moving through the mist in the distance.

image: Thylacines in a Washington DC zoo, c.1906 (public domain) Read the rest

Paris zoo opens a new exhibit with an immortal mutant slime mold called "The Blob"

The blob has no mouth, but I must scream.

To be fair, it doesn't a stomach, or eyes, or feet, or anything resembling a brain, either (at least as far as modern science would define it). It's not technically a fungus, or an animal, or a planet. It is, quite simply, an incomprehensibly bizarre yellow slime mold that's also alive, and at least somewhat-sentient. Even its official scientific classification, physarum polycephalum, literally translates to "many-headed slime."

And now it's held captive and displayed at the Zoo de Paris, starting October 19.

Did I mention that this blob has some kind of intelligence, or at least the ability to remember things, and absorb knowledge from other slime mold blobs that it consumes? And that it's capable of moving independently, squishing along at a limbless rate of about 1.6 inches per hour? It also has 720 different sex organs, and will heal in two minutes if you cut it in half.

It also, apparently, loves the taste of oatmeal, as well as Acacia trees, oak bark, and chestnut bark. So um, at least it's probably not going to eat us when it ultimately escapes and seeks its revenge for being caged and mocked by us lowly humans? Maybe. If we're lucky.

From EuroNews:

"The 'blob' is a living being that is [one] of nature's mysteries. We don't really know what it is," director of the Paris Museum of Natural History, Bruno David, said, adding that it lives and grows in damp forest undergrowth away from the light.

Read the rest

Sara Varon's New Shoes: a kids' buddy story about the jungles of Guyana and redemption

Sara Varon is co-creator, with Cecil Castellucci, of Odd Duck, the 2013 outstanding kids' picture book, and her latest solo venture, New Shoes is a brilliant reprisal of the themes from Odd Duck: camaraderie among eccentric animals, charming small-town life, fascinating technical details, humor, and beautiful, engaging illustrations.

See the cute and strange underbelly of animals

Familiarize yourself with the underside of myriad animals, from turtles and birds to bats and cats. (Wakaleo Animal Channel via Laughing Squid)

Read the rest

Monkeys make surprisingly terrible random-number generators

Back in 2002, artists at England's Plymouth University teamed up with Paignton Zoo to see if monkeys could write Shakespeare. Read the rest

Watch these busy beetles devour delicious flesh

UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology employ a colony of flesh-eating beetles to clean the meat off the bones of animals whose bones they want to preserve for posterity. (KQED's Deep Look)

Read the rest

New species of Crayfish named after Edward Snowden

Scientists named this newly-identified species of Indonesian crayfish Cherax snowden, after Edward Snowden. Read the rest

Deep sea creatures improved with the addition of googly eyes

There's an entire goddamned tumblr of this stuff and it's magnificent. It even includes the actual species of be-googlied sea critter, and source attribution. And it's not even photoshopped! Man, the oceans are amazing. [HT: Theremina] Read the rest

The rogue reptiles of the River Thames

The Fortean Times' Neil Arnold surveys the current monstrous inhabitants of the Thames and its tributaries, and the not-so-cryptozoological creatures that they might turn out to be: "There have even been reports of alligators." Read the rest

An appreciation of the Sawfish, one of Earth's most threatened fish

"The earliest sawfishes likely arose in the shallow Tethys Sea, that ocean surrounded by the ancient continents of Godwanda and Laurasia, during the Cretaceous period at least 60 million years ago," writes Dr. M. at Deep Sea News.

These "sole survivors of an ancient bloodline" now number only seven species which roam the muddy bottoms of coastal areas, bays and estuaries. 

All sawfishes can move easily between fresh and saltwater and often venture deep upstream into rivers. The sawfish lifestyle puts this both their size and saw near humans.  All seven species are considered critically endangered by the IUCN.  As much as we have impacted them, sawfish have also greatly influenced our culture.

And now, they're one of the most threatened species on our planet. Thanks, humans!

More: Exaltation to Extinction for Sawfishes [Deep Sea News] Read the rest

Sloths!

A handy guide to the changing body of knowledge about sloth biology and sloth behavior. Includes the surprise (discussed here before in an interview with a zoologist from the Smithsonian's National Zoo) that supposedly slow sloths that move quite quickly under certain circumstances. Read the rest

Man vs. duck (or a bunch of little horses)

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck? President Obama refused to address this pressing question. But science has the answer. (Via Tim Maly and kottke) Read the rest

Oh nothing, just rare video of a polar bear mom nursing her cubs

Three live cams captured this polar bear family behavior rarely caught on camera.

This turtle pees through its mouth

Ed Yong writes about the Chinese soft-shelled turtle: "Looks like someone glued the snout of a pig onto the face of a fish, with the texture of a scrotum for good measure. But its bizarre appearance pales in comparison to an even more bizarre, and newly discovered, habit: it urinates through its mouth." Read the rest

The wonder of small things

From a public perspective, biology in the oceans, like biology on the land, tends to favor the charismatic megafauna. Stop by your local aquarium and you'll find masses huddled around the seal pool or the shark tank. People will even attempt to interact with the octopodes. Meanwhile, smaller creatures sit on the sidelines. Crabs, starfish, and ray-like skates have some admirers at the touch tanks. But in the world of small things, they're actually quite large. The ocean is full of even tinier organisms—worms and snails, small shelled animals and even stationary colonies of life that look like rocks or lumps of sand.

The ocean is an amazing place, and Bill Grossman can tell you about the things that live there—large, small, or tiny. Grossman is specimen collector for the Marine Biological Laboratory. Essentially, he's part of a system of support staff for scientists. When researchers at MBL need sea creatures to study, it's people like Grossman who go out on the water and find them.

Back in May, I got to take a short trip aboard the R/V Gemma, MBL's specimen collection boat. The videos I brought back can teach you some amazing things about animals you thought you knew well, and introduce you to creatures you probably never noticed before. Read the rest

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