This video show some wonderful images from remote cameras equipped to film when an animal is spotted. These camera have aided scientists in understanding wildlife in their natural environment and also by providing us cool images.
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Virgin Births in the Animal Kingdom
Initially, a virgin birth, also known as parthenogenesis, was thought to be triggered by extreme situations; it was only documented among captive animals, for example, perhaps by the stress, or isolation. A way to continue the bloodline when all other options had gone, when there was no other choice.
Not necessarily. It now appears that some virgin females produce offspring even in the presence of males.
Another interesting area of research for scientists. The value of sex to aid a species’ success is well understood. The value of being able to produce offspring when no males are around seems obvious also. But how this all works is quite interesting and again shows how much we have to learn.
Related: Fungus-gardening Ant Species Has Given Up Sex Completely (2010) – Some Female Sharks Can Reproduce All by Themselves (2007) – Amazon Molly Fish are All Female (2008) – Bdelloid Rotifers Abandoned Sex 100 Million Years Ago (2007)
Deinocheirus is a Totally Bizarre Dinosaur
A very strange dinosaur has been uncovered, studied and explained by scientists. The dinosaur is from Mongolia about 70 million years ago.
“Deinocheirus is a totally bizarre dinosaur,” explains Phil Currie, professor and Canada Research Chair in Dinosaur Paleobiology at the University of Alberta. At 11 meters long and with an estimated weight of 6.4 tons, Deinocheirus was a behemoth to be sure—but hardly the giant tyrannosaur its massive arms may have suggested. Rather, the apparently disproportionately large forearms were more likely used for digging and gathering plants in freshwater habitats, or for fishing. Among its other unusual attributes are tall dorsal spines, truncated hoof-like claws on the feet to prevent sinking into muddy ground, and bulky hind legs that indicate it was a slow mover.
“Although the arms have been known since 1965 and have always aroused speculation because of their enormous size and sharp, recurving claws, we were completely unprepared for how strange this dinosaur looks,” says Currie. “It almost appears to be a chimera, with its ornithomimid-like arms, its tyrannosaurid-like legs, its Spinosaurus-like vertebral spines, its sauropod-like hips, and its hadrosaur-like duckbill and foot-hooves.”
Currie notes that Deinocheirus is a descendant of ostrich-like dinosaurs that were only slightly larger than humans, so its evolution into a giant, multi-tonne creature is almost certainly responsible for most of its unusual characteristics. “Its great size probably gave it some protection from the tyrannosaurid Tarbosaurus, which appears to have been relatively common in that part of Mongolia some 70 million years ago,” says Currie. To feed its great bulk, Deinocheirus was apparently an omnivore that ingested both plants and fish, as evident from fish remains found in its stomach contents.
“The study of this specimen has shown that even in dinosaurs like Deinocheirus, an animal that has been known for almost half a century, we can still learn surprising things about their anatomy,” says Currie. “Furthermore, it underlines the fact that even today, dinosaurs are still relatively poorly known. The fact that Deinocheirus is from the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia, one of the richest and most diverse dinosaur faunas known, hints that there are probably thousands of dinosaurs that we still do not know about from the majority of dinosaur localities in the world.”
Including poached dinosaur bones (stealing bones has long been a problem to the advancement of science) with the existing bones available to scientists allowed the new understanding of this amazing dinosaur. The now near-complete Deinocheirus specimen has been returned to its home for further study in the Mongolia Centre for Paleontology.
Related: Ancient Whale Uncovered in Egyptian Desert – Nigersaurus, the Mesozoic Cow – Dinosaur Remains Found with Intact Skin and Tissue – Lobopodians from China (“the walking cactus” – an animal) – Korea-Mongolia International Dinosaur Project
Ocean Exploration – Live Feed and Highlights
Nautilus Live provides a live view of the E/V Nautilus as it explores the ocean studying biology, geology, archeology, and more. The site also includes highlights such as this video of a siphonophore.
Siphonophores are actually made up of numerous animals even though they look like one animal. These amazing colonial organisms are made up up many smaller animals called zooids, and can be found floating around the pelagic zone in ocean basins. The Portugese Man O’ War is a famous siphonophore.
Each zooid is an individual, but their integration with each other is so strong, the colony attains the character of one large organism. Indeed, most of the zooids are so specialized, they lack the ability to survive on their own.
Related: Giant Star Fish and More in Antarctica – Hydromedusae, Siphonophora, Cnidarians, Ctenophores (what are jellyfish?) – Macropinna Microstoma: Fish with a Transparent Head – Large Crabs Invading Antarctic as Waters Warm
Here is another video from Nautilus, showing a large dumbo octopus:
Nutrition and Digestion in Horses
Unlike cattle which have several stomachs (and there own interesting digestion system), horses have only one stomach. Like cattle their natural diet is grass. With feed provided by people, horses can run into issues they don’t experience from their natural diet. Fresh grass is fibrous and slows down digestion. If feed is used the feeding should be spread out several times during the day, due to the horses digestive system.
The small intestine is the main site of digestion and absorption of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals.
The cecum is located after the small intestine of a horse and it functions much like the rumen of a cow (as a fermentative vat housing microbes which aid digestion). These microbes break down nutrient sources that would otherwise be unavailable to the horse.
The cecum and colon house bacterial, protozoal and fungal populations which function in microbial digestion of feed material in the digestive tract. Many different products of microbial digestion are absorbed by the horse.
Among other benefits, incorporating long-stem forage into rations increases particle size of ingested matter, thus slowing rate of passage. It also increases dry matter intake, thus stimulating water intake.
Nutrients and Common Feed Sources for Horses from the extension service (USA land grant universities)
Structural carbohydrates, such as cellulose and hemicellulose in plants, can only be broken down by bacterial enzymes in the cecum and colon. The microorganisms convert these carbohydrates to volatile fatty acids (acetate, propionate, butyrate), which can provide 30 to 70 percent of the horse’s energy requirement.
Fibrous feeds are a very important part of the horse’s diet. They provide nutrients for both the horse and microbes in the hindgut as well as stimulate muscle tone and activity of the gastrointestinal tract.
Mineral supplements are usually required in the horse’s diet. Macrominerals are added to a horse’s diet to balance the ration to meet mineral requirements.
Human raised horses usually have some grazing but get some or much of there food needs from feed. Those feeds often supplement normal food for wild horses with beets, apples, carrots and other sources. In addition the horse food supplements include minerals, fiber and even pre-biotics and pro-biotics (just like our processed food does).
As a general rule, horses need 1 to 2 quarts (2 to 4 liters per kilogram) of water per pound of dry matter consumed. Of course, other factors can increase the water need, such as exercise (since it results in water loss through sweating).
USA Designates Large Areas of New Mexico and Arizona as Critical Habitat for Jaguars
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated 764,200 acres of critical habitat for the jaguar (Panthera onca) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This habitat is found within Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties in Arizona, and Hidalgo County in New Mexico.
The final rule reflects the following changes from the July 1, 2013, critical habit at proposal: exclusion of Tohono O’odham Nation lands (78,067 acres) as a result of the Tribe’s efforts working in partnership with the Service to conserve jaguar and other listed species’ habitat on the Nation’s sovereign land. Exemption of Fort Huachuca lands (15,867 acres) due to the conservation benefits to the jaguar provided in Fort Huachuca’s approved Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan.
The revised proposal was based on an updated habitat modeling report that more accurately reflected habitat essential to jaguars in northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States.
Mexico borderlands area is very different from habitat in Central and South America, where jaguars show a high affinity for lowland wet communities. Jaguars have been documented in arid areas of northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States, including thornscrub, desertscrub, lowland desert, mesquite grassland, Madrean oak woodland and pine oak woodland communities. Critical habitat in the United States contributes to the jaguar’s persistence and recovery across the species’ entire range by providing areas to support individuals that disperse into the United States from the nearest core population in Mexico.
Critical habitat is a term defined in the ESA and identifies geographic areas containing features essential to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management considerations or protection. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.
Related: Jaguars Back in the Southwest USA (2006 post) – Big Cats in America (2004) – Mountain Lions Returning to the Midwest USA for the First Time in a Century (2012) – Backyard Wildlife: Mountain Lion
Why do Bats Transmit so Many Diseases like Ebola?
Bats are generally wonderful creatures and helpful to us. For example, they eat lots of insects that are annoying (like mosquitoes) and pollinate lots of plants. Of course, they also eat lots of good (for us humans) insects but the insects still seem to be able to fulfill their environmental niches so all is good.
And they are flying mammals which is, of course, cool.
But bats also transmit virus to us, which do us lots of damage. As the video explains as we have intruded into bat territory and chopped down their natural feeding spots we have come into contact with them more. And because bats evolved to be very resilient to virus and they live in large colonies (for easy transmission of the viruses to lots of bats) they can host viruses and survive long enough to infect lots of other bats, and to infect us if we meet them.
I actually didn’t know this (mentioned in the video): most viruses have a very difficult time surviving even with temperatures a bit above the normal human temperature (98 degrees Fahrenheit). Bats, while they fly, have internal temperatures that soar to 104 degrees (40 degrees centigrade) which kills off most viruses, but certain hardy viruses survive. This also explains why we run fevers when we are sick (which then can kill off viruses) – which I am sure I learned at some point but I forgot. But for the bat viruses that strategy doesn’t work.
Bats, of course, are not impervious to disease. In the USA a disease has killed more than 90 percent of the cave bats in Eastern states.
One of the causes of the current ebola outbreak is believed to be people eating bats in West Africa.
Crows can Perform as Well as 7 to 10-year-olds on cause-and-effect Water Displacement Tasks
In Aesop’s fable about the crow and the pitcher, a thirsty bird happens upon a vessel of water, but when he tries to drink from it, he finds the water level out of his reach. Not strong enough to knock over the pitcher, the bird drops pebbles into it — one at a time — until the water level rises enough for him to drink his fill.
Highlighting the value of ingenuity, the fable demonstrates that cognitive ability can often be more effective than brute force. It also characterizes crows as pretty resourceful problem solvers. New research conducted by UC Santa Barbara’s Corina Logan, with her collaborators at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, proves the birds’ intellectual prowess may be more fact than fiction. Her findings, supported by the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, appear today in the scientific journal PLOS ONE: Modifications to the Aesop’s Fable Paradigm Change New Caledonian Crow Performances.
Logan is lead author of the paper, which examines causal cognition using a water displacement paradigm. “We showed that crows can discriminate between different volumes of water and that they can pass a modified test that so far only 7- to 10-year-old children have been able to complete successfully. We provide the strongest evidence so far that the birds attend to cause-and-effect relationships by choosing options that displace more water.”
Logan, a junior research fellow at UCSB’s SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, worked with New Caledonian crows in a set of small aviaries in New Caledonia run by the University of Auckland. “We caught the crows in the wild and brought them into the aviaries, where they habituated in about five days,” she said. Keeping families together, they housed the birds in separate areas of the aviaries for three to five months before releasing them back to the wild.
A fun way to start out the week: skateboarding cat.
Goats Excel at Learning and Remembering a Complex Tasks
I like research showing animals using intelligence that seems advanced, for example: Crow Using a Sequence of Three Tools – Insightful Problem Solving in an Asian Elephant – Bird-brains smarter than your average ape – Tropical Lizards Can Solve Novel Problems and Remember the Solutions – Pigeon Solves Box and Banana Problem.
I also like open access science, and this has both: Goats excel at learning and remembering a highly novel cognitive task
The individual learning abilities and long-term memory of goats highlighted in our study suggest that domestication has not affected goat physical cognition. However, these cognitive abilities contrast with the apparent lack of social learning, suggesting that relatively intelligent species do not always preferentially learn socially. We propose that goat cognition, and maybe more generally ungulate cognition, is mainly driven by the need to forage efficiently in harsh environments and feed on plants that are difficult to access and to process, more than by the computational demands of sociality. Our results could also explain why goats are so successful at colonizing new environments.
The experiment was done with domesticated goats. I also learned this from the article, which I didn’t know before:
How Wolves Changed the Yellowstone Ecosystem
A great short video explaining the dramatic changes to the Yellowstone ecosystem with the re-introduction of wolves. Even the rivers changed.
Related: Light-harvesting Bacterium Discovered in Yellowstone – Fishless Future – The Sea Otter story – Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps – Polar Bears Playing with Huskies – Curious Cat travel photos of Yellowstone National Park