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
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.
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.
Read the rest
"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.
Back in 2002, artists at England's Plymouth University teamed up with Paignton Zoo to see if monkeys could write Shakespeare. Read the rest
Scientists named this newly-identified species of Indonesian crayfish Cherax snowden, after Edward Snowden. Read the rest
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
"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!
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
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
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