Friday, February 24, 2017

400 Million-Year-Old Marine Worm with Terrifying Snapping Jaws Found in Canadian Museum


An international team of scientists found that an ancient fossil stored in a Canadian museum since mid-1990s actually belong to a new species of extinct primordial worm with terrifying snapping jaws.
Pictured above is a bristle worm. The ancient fossil stored in a Canadian museum is considered to be a giant extinct bristle worm, or the marine relatives of earthworms and leeches, that roamed the sea about 400 million years ago.
(Photo : ohsuzucane/YouTube Screenshot)

The new species, described in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, is considered to be a giant extinct bristle worm, or the marine relatives of earthworms and leeches, that roamed the sea about 400 million years ago.

"Gigantism in animals is an alluring and ecologically important trait, usually associated with advantages and competitive dominance," said lead author Mats Eriksson from Lund University, in a press release. "It is, however, a poorly understood phenomenon among marine worms and has never before been demonstrated in a fossil species.

The fossil, which only contained jaws, first came to the attention of the researchers in 2014. However, the researchers did not think much of the specimen during that time until Eriksson saw the scale bar and thought that the fossil might be the largest known jaws that belong to segmented worms.

Normally, fossil jaws from ancient worms are only a few millimeters in size and need to be studied under a microscope. However, the fossil jaw stored in the Royal Ontario Museum is easily visible to the naked eye, reaching over one centimeter in length.

In comparison with living species, the size of the jaw suggests that its owner has reached over a meter in body length. Just like the giant eunicid species, or colloquially known as "Bobbit worm", the new species use its terrifying snapping jaws to capture their prey and drag it to their burrows.

The researchers named the giant worm Websteroprion armstrongi in honor of its collector, Derek K Armstrong, and the bass player of the death metal band Cannibal Corpse, Alex Webster.

Armstrong collected the fossil in June 1994, during an investigation at a remote and temporary exposure in Ontario. The collected specimens were brought back to the Royal Ontario Museum and has been stored there since then.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Can you Spot the Animals Camouflaged in These 5 Images?


Camouflage is nature's gift to a few lucky animals who can either use it to escape predators or sneak up on their lunch. It's truly astounding how well some animals blend in with their environments. Can you even see these animals in their closeups? Meet 5 of the world's craziest camouflagers.
Do You See The Baron Caterpillar?
Native to India and Southeast Asia, the Baron Caterpillar has spikes and a bright green color when young that allow it to camouflage itself among leaves and avoid the predators that would prevent it from becoming a butterfly.
Can You Find The Pygmy Seahorse?
Pygmy seahorses are so tiny, at only 2.7 cm tall, that only seven have been found since their discovery in 1969, and six of those were discovered after 2000!
Do You See Both Of The Underwing Moths In This Photo?
Underwing moths have two sets of wings. The hidden set, only visible when flying, is brightly colored with orange, yellow, red, and white patterns. But when they're still, they're almost impossible to spot against most trees. They even know which trees look most like them and choose to land on those for their safety.
Can You Distinguish The Leaf Tailed Gecko From Its Surroundings?
The leaf-tailed gecko is so good at hiding, we only know of 8 of them. They may look dried up and dead on the outside, but rest assured they are not actually rotting leaves and are, in fact, vibrant, living lizards.
Do You See The Reef Stonefish Here?
Reef Stonefish use their camouflage to sneak up on prey, which is unfortunate for the prey, since they're incredibly poisonous.

Did you find all of the hiding animals? Learn anything new? Talk to us about it in the comments below, and share with your friends to see if they can find all of the hiding animals!
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

11 Wild Animal Species You Never Knew Were Endangered


Orangutans

01_Wild_animals_species 
There are two species of orangutans: Bornean, ones that prefer the ground over the trees, and Sumatran, which have longer facial hair and develop closer bonds with each other. A century ago, their global population was more than 230,000. Now there are between 45,000 and 69,000 Bornean (endangered status) and only 7,500 Sumatran (critically endangered status).

Ground squirrels

02_Wild_animals_species
That’s right, even squirrels are endangered, specifically the San Joaquin antelope ground squirrel. Native to California, these guys have been disappearing since 1979 on account of the construction and human developments going through their habitat. Their total population is unknown, but it could be anywhere between 124,000 and 413,000.

Tigers

03_Wild_animals_species
All six tiger species are endangered, with Sumatran and South China tigers at a critically endangered status. The main reasons for their population decline are poaching and destroyed habitats, as humans clear forests to gather timber and build roadways. Only about 3,890 tigers currently live in the wild.

Giraffes

04_Wild_animals_species 
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently put giraffes at a vulnerable status, the level just before endangered. The giraffe population has declined a drastic 40 percent in the last 30 years, primarily due to loss of habitat and poaching. Some giraffes are killed just for their tails, which are considered status symbols in Africa.

Hummingbirds

05_Wild_animals_species 
Seven hummingbird species are endangered, all found in the Americas, primarily because of deforestation. The chestnut-bellied hummingbird has fewer than 1,700 mature individuals, and there are less than 400 sapphire-bellied hummingbirds left.

Black rhinos

06_Wild_animals_species 
Black rhinos are critically endangered, with fewer than 5,000 left in the world. The rest have succumbed primarily to poaching and illegal trading for their horns. Between 1970 and 1992, hunters killed 96 percent of Africa’s black rhinos. 

Bonobos

07_Wild_animals_species 
War hurts more than just humans. Civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has made bonobos more vulnerable to poachers and continues to destroy their forest homes. It’s unclear how many bonobos there are—probably 10,000-50,000—but scientists believe their population will continue to decline over the next 50 years.

Whales

08_Wild_animals_species 
As few as 300 North Atlantic right whales remain in the wild, and the populations among the other seven species range between 10,000 and 90,000. Pollution is a major threat for these aquatic giants, but according to the World Wildlife Fund, more than 1,000 whales are killed every year for commercial purposes.

Asian elephants

09_Wild_animals_species 
The main threat to Asian elephants, one of the most intelligent animals, is their shrinking habitat. As the human population grows, people invade their land to build roads and railway tracks. Elephants in Myanmar are at an especially high risk for being captured and traded or used illegally in the tourist industry. Fewer than 50,000 are left on the entire continent. 

Chimpanzees

010_Wild_animals_species 
Game meat from chimps, called bushmeat, has become a delicacy for wealthy African residents, which makes them a prime target for poaching. Additionally, baby chimpanzees are taken from their natural habitats and sold as pets in nearby cities. Their current population is somewhere between 173,000 and 300,000.

Sea lions

011_Wild_animals_species 
ImagingSea lions native to Australia, New Zealand, and the Galapagos Islands are all on the endangered species list. Their main threat is bycatch, which occurs when they are accidentally caught in fishing equipment while commercial fishers are trying to catch other fish. New Zealand sea lions are predicted to be extinct in five generations, about 50 years.
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Monday, February 20, 2017

Man Drives Hours Every Day In Drought To Bring Water To Wild Animals


In a land as parched as Kenya's Tsavo West National Park, no visitor arrives with more fanfare than the water man.

That would be Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua. And when he rumbles down the dusty road bearing some 3,000 gallons of fresh water, the elephants, buffalo, antelope and zebras come running.

They've come to know the water man by the rumble of his engine. And his lifesaving cargo.

"There is completely no water, so the animals are depending on humans," Mwalua tells The Dodo. "If we don't help them, they will die."
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
Mwalua fills the bone-dry watering holes in the region, driving for hours on end every day to haul water to where it's most desperately needed.

The holes themselves, lined with concrete, often need cleaning — Mwalua blames it on buffalo droppings — and sometimes, he will just hose down an area of cracked earth for the grateful animals.

"The buffalo roll in the mud so they suffocate the fleas and ticks," he says.
water truck in tsavo kenya 
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
Many animals don't even wait that long, fearlessly crowding the truck as Mwalua cranks the tap.

"Last night, I found 500 buffalo waiting at the water hole," he says. "When I arrived they could smell the water. The buffalo were so keen and coming close to us.

"They started drinking water while I was standing there. They get so excited."
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
Mwalua, who is a pea farmer in his local village, came up with the idea after seeing firsthand the grim toll climate change has taken in his native land. In the last year especially, he says, the area has seen precious little precipitation, leaving animals to die of thirst in these cracked lands.

"We aren't really receiving rain the way we used to," he says. "From last year, from June, there was no rain completely. So I started giving animals water because I thought, 'If I don't do that, they will die.'"
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
Between road trips, Mwalua runs a conservation project called Tsavo Volunteers. The 41-year-old also visits local schools to talk to children about the wildlife that is their legacy.

"I was born around here and grew up with wildlife and got a lot of passion about wildlife," he says. "I decided to bring awareness to this so when they grow up they can protect their wildlife."
 
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
Last year, Mwalua started renting a truck and driving water to several locations in Tsavo West. His mission would extend to several trucks, keeping him on the road for hours every day as he drives dozens of hard miles between stops.

"The truck is heavy and doesn't go very fast," he says. "We have to be very patient and go deliver water."
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
But his lifeline has also extended from that hose in Tsavo West all the way to the United States — where three women, who have never met him or each other, help him keep the taps flowing.
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
"I visited Kenya December of 2015, though I didn't know Patrick at the time or meet him," Angie Brown, who lives in Connecticut, tells The Dodo. But the country, and especially the plight of its animals, haunted her.

When she heard about the most recent drought, Brown connected on Facebook with Cher Callaway and Tami Calliope. The trio — Callaway lives in Utah and Calliope in Vermont — decided to help.
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
Callaway, who has worked with Mwalua on several projects — including fundraisers for beehives and night patrols to gently scare elephants away from villages — says Kenya's water delivery man is keeping animals alive during the current drought.

"His commitment to the wildlife and his heritage is unmeasurable," she tells The Dodo. "Even risking his own life in the middle of the night to deliver water to a dry water hole."
buffalo in kenya 
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
Callaway set up a GoFundMe page that has so far collected more than $18,000 from people around the world — all of it going toward Mwalua's water delivery service.
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
"We have all spent a lot of time getting the word out about the animals Patrick is helping and the GoFundMe has been a real success," Brown says. "He needs so much more money though."
In fact, they're hoping to soon buy him his own truck.
Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua
But one way or another, Mwalua will keep rumbling down those dusty roads. Many miles to go. And many more thirsty mouths.

Want to help? Consider making a contribution here.
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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Here’s why viral photos of these obese tigers are not funny or cute


Plump furry animals can seem cute but are they healthy? This is the debate that has gripped people online. Pictures of really obese tigers rolling on the floor have gone viral on social media and it has raised some serious concerns about animals’ health conditions.
fat tiger
The viral pictures of the obese tigers at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin City, northeastern China have amused Netizens and received strong criticism from animal welfare groups. The big cats have reportedly been overfed by their carers and the visitors coming to the park. According to reports, visitors are able to purchase “live chickens and strips of beef” which they can directly feed to the tigers.

People on Chinese social media also joked that the tigers ate too much during the Spring Festival holiday.

Park workers claim there is nothing to worry about – alleging that it is common for tigers to put on weight over the winter months as they are treated well to combat harsh winter conditions. But assured that over the spring, the wild cats shed weight.

However, the Born Free Foundation, one of the world’s leading conservation organisations has strongly lashed upon the zookeepers, saying the “tigers are ill.”

“These tigers appear very obese, indicative of a wholly inappropriate and unnatural diet, woefully inadequate opportunities for natural behaviour and exercise, and the constants of captivity. In my view, this is not funny or “cute”. These animals are ill,” Will Travers OBE, President of the Born Free Foundation said in a press release.

The foundation argued that tigers are naturally agile hunters, with naturally large home ranges and obesity would simply not be seen in wild tigers.
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Why your dog never forgets


Scientists have long wondered whether what underlies 'smart' behaviour in animals is cognitive processes – in other words, thinking, an expression of some kind of intelligence.

Researchers started by studying non-human primates and have since demonstrated remarkable cognitive abilities in other mammals, including dogs.
dog
They have shown that dogs have significant capacity to remember associations between commands, situations and behaviour.

Recent research even showed that dogs can actually remember specific events, just like humans and other primates can.

In the early 2000s, a series of studies began to show unequivocally that dogs have sophisticated abstract abilities.

For example, they can follow pointing gestures, something that was previously thought to be a uniquely human capacity. 

A later study showed that dogs could do this even though chimpanzees, often thought of as one of the smartest animals, can't.

Dogs have also been shown to have numerical abilities, another skill previously thought to exist only in humans.

A 2002 study investigated the ability of 11 pet dogs to count by performing simple calculations in front of them using treats.

The researcher would place a number of treats behind a screen one by one and then reveal how many there were in total.

But sometimes the experimenter would manipulate the outcome so that the total of treats revealed at the end wasn't the same number the dog had seen placed there. For example 1+1=3 instead of 1+1=2.

The dogs spent significantly longer looking at the outcome of the manipulated calculations, as if the answer was not what they had been expecting.

This suggested that not only did the dogs anticipate the results of the calculations, but also that they held representations of numbers in their memory.


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Friday, February 17, 2017

Cute animals with troubling political positions


We are all so used to seeing pictures of cute animals and assuming they are harmless and friendly creatures, full of love and peace. But it's not so, according to comedian Alice Frasier. Here are some adorable animals with terrible political positions.

We’ve always just accepted that cute animals probably have cute thoughts. If we’ve thought about it at all (I have). Most memes, like the ‘I can haz cheeseburger’ phenomenon, indicate that the cuter the animal, the littler and cuter its little cute brain must be and the fluffier and more adorable its thoughts. But with recent advances in cute-animal mind-reading technology, we’ve been able to interview a few adorable little beasties, and we’ve found that appearances can be deceiving.

Here are 5 animals with troubling political positions.
This adorable little sloth likes to eat buds, tender shoots, and leaves, mainly of Cecropia trees, to be gently petted with just a fingertip while it clings to something, and to rage against the lax morals of a post-modern ethical framework. “In my opinion, Putin”, sloth declares, “is the only leader who dares raise the banner and openly, without excuses, declare that he will defend traditional values.” He yawns. “The debauched modern culture makes a mockery of what god and nature has dictated, and I for one am sick of it.”

You’re not quite sure what he means by traditional values, or what god and nature’s dictates, but you don’t want to ask. And he is pretty adorable.
This kitty is so cute she doesn’t even know which side’s right side up! But she does know how she feels about asylum seekers! Aside from chasing after laser pointers on the walls, kitty feels that the left are focusing too much on the problems of “queue jumping illegals” when “we have thousands of homeless people in Australia already”.
This tiny blissful piglet likes ice-cream and posing for photographs, and hates that feminists are dominating popular discourse at the cost of men. Why do women always complain about being excluded from traditionally masculine power-positions like boardrooms and politics when they’re not fighting to do the traditionally masculine dirty and dangerous work as well? Where are the women fighting to get into mining or garbage collection? You’re right piggy. It’s a double standard. Soothe your troubled heart with some ice-cream.
These baby platypuses are velvety smooth and wrinkly-grumpy. Their little hands are probably cool and damp but their bellies are warm. They think that hysterical libtard lefties are trying to shut down free speech, and spend their spare time on 4Chan, fighting for the right to complain about ‘the jews’.
This happy puffer fish looks up at you with trusting eyes, believing in the beauty of god’s creation and that abstinence only education is the best way to keep your children from sin. Sex education just shows children a range of options for depravity, and teaching them about contraception will only lead to reckless underage fucking. Keep their minds clean, and remember your girls’ best protection from the sexual lusts of men is to maintain her modesty.
This angry birdy wants to let the invisible hand of the free market have free reign. She believes taxation is just a euphemism for theft by an aggressive state, and that an unregulated market will allocate our increasingly scarce resources more efficiently.

So there you have some very cute animals with some very troubling political opinions. This is what happens when you eat a banana and go to sleep while trying to contemplate the essential quality of the Internet.
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

If Anything Can Make You Feel Better, It’s This Istanbul Street-Cat Documentary


Torun jokingly calls Kedi “uplifting terrorism” when we meet to chat about her charming feline flick. But the film is more than just a cute cat video blown up to feature length; it’s a slice-of-life portrait of Istanbul, which is crawling with the creatures that have become the heartbeat of the city’s daily rhythm. She profiles seven camera-ready cats, all of whom have distinct personalities and nicknames: the Hustler, the Lover, the Psycho, the Social Butterfly, the Hunter, the Gentleman, and the Player. A good director knows the importance of a good cast, and Torun’s got one hell of an ensemble.
cats
Torun gets her camera low to the ground to stay eye level with her feline stars, but she also makes sure to give some screen time to the human citizens who take care of these strays, people who speak of their fish-loving visitors as good friends and equals. Cats have always been highly regarded in Istanbul, and folklore says a cat once saved the Prophet Muhammad from a poisonous snake. There’s even a popular saying in Turkey that goes: “If you’ve killed a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God.” (Don’t worry: No cats die in this film.)

There’s something very feel-good about Kedi, but Torun admits the film’s lack of conflict was hardly intentional. “Initially the idea was to get every side of the story,” she says. “There are, of course, people who are openly anti-cats, but they also happen to be people who are anti-people. We had a really hard time trying to get people to talk to us if they didn’t like cats.” It’s a point the movie drives home: Loving cats may make you a lovelier person.

For a film that feels like a response to troubled times, there’s very little politics in the film — no mention of terror attacks or Erdogan. “[The relationship between humans and cats] is a very timeless relationship and it would be an injustice to the cats and to the people who love them to suggest otherwise,” Torun says. “It’s bigger than the politics; it’s bigger than small-minded politicians in our lives that come and go.” The film was shot the summer following the Gezi Park protests — a series of rallies against the closing of a public park that evolved into massive demonstrations against government crackdowns on free speech and secularism — and yet they’re only mentioned by one of the interview subjects, briefly. “I didn’t want to include anything pessimistic; it’s not an activist film,” Torun says. “But it was a way to highlight our shared humanity, and an appreciation of an aspect of life that goes beyond language, beyond religion, beyond anything.”

Kedi is at its best when it show a connection that runs deeper than passing petting. In one section, a woman says that cats — who move in a playful, feminine manner — are like surrogates for female expression under traditional Turkish norms. “Although Turkey is still one of the most advanced in terms of women’s rights, culturally, it’s still a little bit backwards,” Torun says. “If you do express your femininity, then you’re seen as a ‘loose’ woman. If you don’t express your femininity, then you’re seen as frigid. Whereas with cats, no one judges them. No one says, ‘Oh, what a slut’ to a cat.”

“You also see so many men in the film who tend to these cats, and have this opportunity to be affectionate with a feminine being without it being misinterpreted,” she explains. “Male-female relationships in Turkey are stunted, and they can express these kinds of emotions in a healthy way — you know, with other creatures like cats.”

There’s also a sense of camaraderie and community that’s built from each neighborhood taking care of its cats together. In one scene, people chip in to pay a street cat’s vet fees, an act of instinctive generosity that’s hard not to imagine seeping into interpersonal connections. It’s a healthy reminder of the things that are worth holding onto. And yes, the cats are cute, too.
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

12 Facts About Chinese Zodiac Animals


Chinese New year is a celebration of the first day of the first month in the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The tradition, believed to have started as early as 2300 BC, is based on a 12-year-long cycle, with each year in the cycle corresponding to a particular zodiac animal sign: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog or pig. This year is the Year of the Rooster.

Many legends surround the origins of the Chinese zodiac animals. The most commonly told story involves the Jade Emperor. He decreed that the first 12 animals in the universe to complete a race would be chosen as calendar signs, and the order in which they finished the race would determine the order of the zodiac. The rat, who placed first, is believed to have won the race by hitching a ride on the ox’s back.

In honor of Chinese New Year, here are 12 facts about the Chinese zodiac animals:

1. Sumatran bamboo rats can weigh as much as a domestic cat.

2. To protect their young, muskoxen form rings around them, with their horns facing out towards predators.

3. Tigers are the world’s largest wild feline, weighing up to 363 kilograms and measuring up to 3.3 metres.

4. A snowshoe hare’s (rabbit’s) white winter fur turns brown as the snow melts each spring.

5. A Komodo dragon bite can kill an animal within 24 hours. Their toxic saliva contains more than 50 bacterial strains.

6. Common garter snakes, Canada’s most widespread snake, give birth to live young.

7. The only truly wild horse is Przewalski’s horse, a species not descended from domesticated horses.

8. At 14 kilograms, the horns of a male Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are heavier than the combined mass of its bones.

9. Golden snub-nosed monkeys inhabit higher altitudes than any other primate species, besides humans.
10. To attract mates, roosters do a dance called “tidbitting,” which involves making noises and moving their heads up and down.

11. The hunting success rate of the African wild dog is higher than a lion’s.

12. Female wild boars (pigs) can have two litters per year, with six or more offspring per litter.

This post was written by Adam Hunter and originally appeared on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s blog Land Lines.
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