‘Talk about an oxymoron: A snail on speed. No, researchers weren’t trying to make the gastropods slide faster—they were trying to improve their memories.’ (ScienceNOW)
Anyone who has ever visited San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf has probably hung out with the sea lions of Pier 39, who first appeared after the 1989 earthquake. You should have heard by now about their recent mysterious mass departure, which had left some speculating that they had some sixth sense about an impending disaster such as another major quake. Now, it appears, it has been determined that there is a simpler explanation. In this El Nino season, they have simply gone after their shifting food source. (SFist) This is not to say, it seems to me, that they are not canaries in a coalmine with respect to a different sort of impending disaster, climate change.
“Loren Coleman defines cryptozoology and says, once and for all, that it is science. On the one hand, Loren Coleman is a skeptic, firmly grounded in scientific principles. On the other hand, his particular branch of science, cryptozoology, gives equal credence to suspected bird species, say, and near-mythical creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Cryptozoology—the search for and study of animals whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated—is frequently treated as an easily dismissed bastard child of science. If that’s the case, then Coleman is the unrepentant modern father of the field. Besides authoring nine books on the topic, he also owns the International Cryptozoology Museum, which he runs out of his home in Portland, Maine. A former psychiatric social worker and university professor, he now makes his living writing, lecturing, and consulting about cryptozoology, which he’s studied since before the word existed in English. Coleman’s out to show that there’s much more to cryptozoology than chasing down Bigfoot or plumbing the depths of Loch Ness for its most famous resident.” (The New York Review of Ideas)
The hellbender and Asian giant salamanders (family Cryptobranchidae) are aquatic amphibians found in brooks and ponds in the eastern United States, China, and Japan. They are the largest living amphibians known today. The Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus), for example, reaches up to 1.44 metres (4.7 ft), feeds on fish and crustaceans, and has been known to live for more than 50 years in captivity. The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) can reach a length of 1.8 metres (5.9 ft). (Wikipedia)
“It turns out that the real world is totally like the internet: If you look hard enough, you can find just about anything. This year, scientists found caffeine-less coffee plants, tiny seahorses and a 23-inch long bug that looks like a branch, not to mention a strange white slug no one had ever described that was found in a Welsh garden.
Below, you’ll find the top 10 species found and described in 2008, according to The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.” (Wired Science )
A fish that has been reported to cause LSD-like hallucinations when eaten has been found in the English Channel, many hundreds of miles away from its normal habitat.
The fish, Sarpa salpa, is commonly caught off the coast of South Africa and in the Mediterranean but turned up in the nets of Cornish fisherman Andy Giles.
Sarpa salpa is a popular dish in Mediterranean restaurants but cases of it supposedly causing hallucinations have been reported.” (Guardian.UK).
Australia is known around the world for its large and deadly creepy crawlies, but even locals have been shocked by the size of the giant venomous spiders that have invaded an Outback town in Queensland.” (Five Things – Salon.com).
Grazing and resting cattle and deer orient themselves toward magnetic north, according to analysis of satellite images. This has apparently never been noticed by herdsmen or hunters, the researchers say. via PNAS.
Now, as to why in the world this might be…
“Although fossil reconstructions or pictorial representations can sometimes be difficult to connect with, it’s impossible to ignore the experience of seeing a photograph of an animal on the brink of extinction.
Thus, what follows is a list of 11 extinct animals that were photographed while still alive…
The current rate of extinction is 100 to 1000 times higher than the average, or background rate, making our current period the 6th major mass extinction in the planet’s history.” via EcoWorldly.
- Strangest Beasts to Ever Die (neatorama.com)
“A bat that was clinging to space shuttle Discovery’s external fuel tank during the countdown to launch the STS-119 mission remained with the spacecraft as it cleared the tower, analysts at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center concluded.
Based on images and video, a wildlife expert who provides support to the center said the small creature was a free tail bat that likely had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist. The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery’s climb into orbit.” via NASA.
“A hatchling of a rare reptile with lineage dating back to the dinosaur age has been found in the wild on the New Zealand mainland for the first time in about 200 years, a wildlife official said Thursday.
The baby tuatara was discovered by staff during routine maintenance work at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in the capital, Wellington, conservation manager Raewyn Empson said.
”We are all absolutely thrilled with this discovery,” Empson said. ”It means we have successfully re-established a breeding population back on the mainland, which is a massive breakthrough for New Zealand conservation.”
Tuatara, which measure up to 32 inches 80 cm when full grown, are the last descendants of a lizard-like reptile species that walked the Earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.
There are estimated to be about 50,000 of them living in the wild on 32 small offshore islands cleared of predators, but this is the first time a hatchling has been seen on the mainland in about 200 years.”
(New York Times )