Posts Tagged ‘cool animals’

Frogs jump farther when competing at a county fair

July 14, 2010

This image's connection to the story is tenuous at best.

The Calaveras County Fair takes their frog-jumping contest very seriously. When researchers from Brown University wanted to analyze their contest to compare the results with more controlled frog-jumping experiments, the officials limited their observations to using video from a camera in the viewing area. Adding new equipment to the jumping area would change the circumstances of the contest in a way that could give contestants an unfair advantage. And if we can’t even apply the rule of law to a frog-jumping contest anymore, then we are truly fucked. One minute you’re letting some grad students place some digital scales in your frog-jumping contest, and the next thing you know everybody’s raping and murdering.

Anyway, the results were that more than half of the nearly 3500 recorded jumps at the contest last year beat the record in the scientific literature set under more controlled conditions. The Wired Science article linked to above offers some insights on why that might be the case. But before I quote it, you need to know that these frogs have “jockeys.” Seriously.

Most frog jockeys, as human contestants are known, compete using the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana), a large, voracious species that has invaded the West Coast from the eastern United States. Jockeys can touch their frogs only at the beginning of the first jump. Afterward, they rely on shouting, blowing or crouching behind the frog and doing their own startling leaps to urge the frogs on.

Anyone can rent a frog at the fair to enter the contest. But many serious competitors bring their own, inspiring rumors about secret locations in the wild for catching a top jumper.

Hey, what’re you doing this weekend? Oh, you know, I’ll be in my secret location training my bullfrog. I think I’m on to a really great, innovative startling jump that can add 2 feet to the record. What are you gonna do? Just rent one of those unmotivated slacker frogs?


Mice get real mad fighting at home

July 11, 2010


We have to show these mice freedom by enslaving them, and show them courage by frightening them.


We all know that scientists just don’t like mice. But now it turns out that this long-standing hatred has somehow resulted in empirical data.

So in the usual, day-to-day, mouse-hating life of the lab geeks, one of them decided to try to measure the “winner effect,” i.e. that winners in previous contests will continue to win, perhaps boosted by the resultant testosterone. So instead of having the normal Schadenfreude-enducing random caged mice fights, the scientists decided to frame the mice fight clubs in the format of a tournament so they could study this possible effect:

We examined this issue in the territorial California mouse (Peromyscus californicus) because males of this species are more likely to win fights after accruing victories in their home territory but not after accruing victories in unfamiliar locations. Using immunocytochemistry and real-time quantitative PCR, we found that winning fights either at home or away increases the expression of androgen receptors (AR) in the medial anterior bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, a key brain area that controls social aggression. We also found that AR expression in brain regions that mediate motivation and reward, nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and ventral tegmental area (VTA), increases only in response to fights in the home territory.

So these mice basically got more pumped up from fighting, won more, and were more inclined to continue fighting when they were set up to win while on their own turf, but not when they were similarly set up to win in an unfamiliar environment. So the next time you think you’re flying into an uncontrollable rage, get out of town for a while and maybe that will make you more docile (?). I don’t know. Whatever.

Possible hybrid bear shot by Innuit hunter

April 15, 2010

It looks like Carl Paladino is not the only one into ‘interspecies erotica’ these days. Bears around Victoria Island may have been crossing the lower taxonomic category to get it on as well.

So this unnamed Innuit hunter – probably poor and barely able to keep his family fed – one day he was shooting at some food, and up from the ground came a possible polar / grizzly ‘pizzly’ ‘grolar’ hybrid. The Innuit call these hybrids “Nanulak,” which is also the Innuit word for both “snow” and “corn.”

DNA testing has only confirmed one other case of these hybrids in the wild. That was in 2006 when a guy from Idaho shot one in the same general location at around this time of year. Here is what it looked like, since the hunter who made this most recent kill is – to his credit – refusing to make pictures public or even talk about it until DNA analysis is done:

Nobody’s really sure why these sightings have been getting more frequent in recent times. Maybe it’s because more members of the insane hunter demographic are able to go up to these remote areas. Or it could be a result of climate change. Or it could be that grizzlies are wandering way further north than they usually do just by accident. Or it could be that they were following caribou populations. So we’ll just have to wait and see what more data reveals.

Yeah, that’s right! I got no conclusion here. We just don’t know and that’s all we can say until better evidence is available. And that’s just how things can be sometime. So just fucking deal with it already.

Pissed off dog totally messes up a cop car

March 26, 2010

There’s not much else to say about this. Enjoy.

Pic of the day

March 19, 2010

New Scientist has a gallery of orangutans doing stuff around water, like fishing and building bridges. Here is one swimming and definitely not in the process of drowning because it was thrown into the water by New Scientist’s photographers while the crew pointed and laughed.

According to the accompanying article, “[O]ne pair was even seen having sex in water.”


March 18, 2010

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to allow barbers to have aquariums at work.

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to see cool fish when I get a haircut.

Huge prehistoric crocodiles will eat us all

February 24, 2010

New Scientist is reporting that the newly identified Crocodylus anthropophagus probably ate human ancestors. They lived around 1.8 million years ago in Africa and were 7.5 meters (about 25 feet) long.

By contrast, what is supposed to be the largest living crocodile in Africa is only 6.1 meters (20 feet) long. His name is Gustave. There are apparently some crocodiles in India which are larger than Gustave, but still smaller than C. anthropophagus was. Here is a slideshow of examples:

There are a bunch of anatomical differences between these fossils and current crocodiles, and this kind of flies in the face of this idea that the genetic frequencies of crocodiles haven’t changed much over geological time and they’re basically all the same as their ancestors since Jesus made them along with all the other fish of the sea 6000 years ago.

So they found fossils of human ancestors with cut marks which matched up with the bite of C. anthropophagus. Maybe they were just being territorial, but the team who made the discovery thinks that the fossil remains were the victims of attacks by smaller crocodiles, while the larger adult ones would just totally fuck up and eat a whole humanoid.

Pic of the day

January 18, 2010

Owl flying

Pic of the day

December 30, 2009

This is a fish parasite which eats the fish’s tongue down to the stub and then moves into the fish’s mouth to act as its tongue.

All hail our glorious cephalopod overlords

December 14, 2009

An Amphioctopus marginatus has been observed using coconut shells as armor. Here is a picture PZ Myers has on his blog of the species:

“I could tell that the octopus, busy manipulating coconut shells, was up to something, but I never expected it would pick up the stacked shells and run away,” [Australian zoologist Julian] Finn said. “It was an extremely comical sight—I have never laughed so hard underwater.”

This is apparently significant because it carried the coconuts to a certain location for a specific use, which is something never seen by sea creatures before. Birds and some mammals do it, too, so it’s not that crazy, really. We all know that African swallows can carry coconuts across oceans as long as they grip it by the husk.

I guess we should all make our arrangements now then. Not only can they use tools, but they can also walk bipedally. It’s only a matter of time before the veined octopuses of the world enslave us all.

UPDATE: Here is a video of the octopus which made the zoologist lol:

Snake with a foot

September 16, 2009

Some Chinese woman found a snake with a foot on her wall. That’s just one foot.

So, of course, she killed it.

Please turn to the book of Genesis, chapter 3, verses 14 and 15:

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

As far as I know, Kent Hovind has not yet found a way to connect these two accounts, but I’m sure that’s coming soon. OK, so the woman is the enemy of the snake in both. Then we’ve got this serpent trying to get out of this whole “being cursed by God” thing by growing a foot. Who knows if it was still eating dust or not.