Saturday, November 22, 2008

Panda maims Chinese student

Panda attacks man in Chinese zoo

The 20-year-old student had ignored warning signs and scaled a two-metre (6.5ft) barrier to get into the pen.
State media say the panda bit him on his arms and legs, and he had to be rescued by the animal's keepers.
Speaking from his hospital bed, the injured man said the panda had looked so cute he had just wanted to hug it.
People, how many times do we have to tell you? Animals are not cute or cuddly once they're big enough to maul you. Hippos will crush your bones, koalas will take your face off with their claws and pandas (being bears, after all) are just as inclined to kill you as you are to hug them. On the other hand, two meters is a pretty high fence, so this guy must have really wanted it. High five for following your dreams, Liu.

The article's winning sentence: "Keepers said [the panda] had recovered from the incident and was eating and playing as normal."


Sunday, November 16, 2008


Nudibranchs: Beautiful Animals You Never Knew About

I wouldn't suggest you actually read the text - the writing is so bad it might make you vomit your entrails like a sea cucumber (which, weirdly, aren't even in the same phylum as nudibranchs. so that joke doesn't work very well.). Just look at the photos.

Besides looking pretty, nudibranchs can do a lot of interesting things. Some of them eat hydrozoa (like jellyfish) and assimilate their stinging cells, and others eat plants and use the chloroplasts to photosynthesize food for themselves.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Marine Census Discovers New Species

PHOTOS: New Deep-Sea Species Revealed by Marine Census

Remember the yeti crab? The ocean has so many horrible, terrifying things left to discover, it's amazing none of them have decided to kill us all.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Adorable baby pygmy hippopotamus; don't be fooled

It IS true that the Taronga Zoo in Sydney's new baby pygmy hippopotamus is adorable. It is ALSO true that pygmy hippopotamuses are generally docile creatures that do well in captivity.

DO NOT BELIEVE YOU ARE SAFE. If you are unlucky enough to encounter a real hippopotamus and mistake it for a pygmy, you are as good as dead. Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter, once said that a sequence he filmed with hippos was the most dangerous he'd ever done. Steve Irwin! If that's not enough to convince you to stay away, you should consider that "[t]o mark territory, hippos spin their tails while defecating to distribute their excrement over the greatest possible area."

Finally, in the grand tradition of Renaissance Europeans completely making shit up about "the Orient", here is a bizarre painting of humans and dogs fighting a hippo fighting a crocodile, or something, I don't even know. By Peter Paul Rubens (click to make it bigger):

The Dutch always do it weirder.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pissed off Octopus Destroys Aquarium

Otto the octopus wreaks havoc

A octopus has caused havoc in his aquarium by performing juggling tricks using his fellow occupants, smashing rocks against the glass and turning off the power by shortcircuiting a lamp.
Staff believe that the octopus called Otto had been annoyed by the bright light shining into his aquarium and had discovered he could extinguish it by climbing onto the rim of his tank and squirting a jet of water in its direction.
"Once we saw him juggling the hermit crabs in his tank, another time he threw stones against the glass damaging it. And from time to time he completely re-arranges his tank to make it suit his own taste better - much to the distress of his fellow tank inhabitants."
Octopi are disturbingly intelligent. They can open screw caps on jars, be trained like dogs and allegedly learn by simple observation. Some are able to change colors and movement patterns to mimic several different species, and apparently a few have even broken into the holds of fishing boats to eat their catch. Cephalopod intelligence isn't limited to octopi, either - some kinds of squid exhibit complex communication through color changes.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nate Hill, Rogue Taxidermist

"This is Nate. He loves dead stuff. Best of all, he loves making things from dead stuff."

Follow Nate as he builds an anatomically correct man out of dead animal parts, then goes to Chinatown to dig through the garbage for more. Nate, for some reason, seems to only wear naval clothing. This may be the strangest thing I've ever posted here.

From Diagonal View's Youtube channel, a treasury of bizarre documentaries for people with short attention spans.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Japanese Zoo Drill - Escaped Rhino!

Japan is an extremely earthquake prone country, and a scenario where dangerous animals escape into downtown Tokyo isn't that far fetched (remember the confused Japanese macaque). Preparing for such an eventuality, staff at the Ueno Zoo hold regular drills to hone their pissed-off animal catching skills, and short of actually releasing rhinoceroses into the park the only way to do this is have people dress up like them.

Unrelated, but also interesting, from the Ueno Zoo's Wikipedia entry:

"Ueno Zoo's saddest time came during World War II. The Japanese Army ordered that all "wild and dangerous animals" at the zoo be killed, claiming that bombs could hit the zoo and escaping wild animals would wreak havoc in the streets of Tokyo. Requests by the staff at the zoo for a reprieve, or to evacuate the animals elsewhere, were refused. Ueno Zoo's three elephants at the time, John, Tonky, and Wanly (or Wang Lee) were too clever to eat the poisoned food, and thus were slowly starved to death. The fate of Ueno's animals, particularly the elephants, has often been used in Japan as an example of the evils of war."
There's also a scene in Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle where Japanese soldiers in Nanking kill all the animals in a zoo, and I suspect Europe has similar stories. War sucks!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Pet squirrel monkeys

Mail-Order Friends: The Comic Book Squirrel Monkeys

Back in the 1970s, before there were things like AIDS, the internet and common sense, comic books across this great land advertised pet squirrel monkeys. One intrepid writer, George Khoury, managed to track down an account by someone who ordered one and relates his tale in this awesome but probably too long article.

"I grabbed it by its tail, and it came down on, starting literally up by my shoulder, like a drill press it landed on my arm, and every bite was breaking flesh. It was literally like an unsewing machine. It was literally unsewing my arm coming down, and I was pouring blood. I grabbed it by its neck with both my wrists, threw it back in the cage. It’s screaming like a scalded cat. I’m pouring blood. My friend’s laughing uncontrollably, and my father finally comes in the basement door and goes, ‘Jeffery! What are you doing to that rabbit?’ And I go, ‘It’s not a rabbit, it’s a monkey, and it just bit the hell out of me.’ ‘A monkey? Bring it up here!’ I’m pouring, I wrapped a t-shirt around my arm to stave off the bleeding, carried the cage upstairs, and I don’t know why I bothered sneaking it in, because they fell in love with it, and it was like, there was no problem at all. They took me to the emergency room and I got 28 stitches on my arm."
If only life today weren't quite so sanitized. From boingboing, of course.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Vampire moth evolution

I missed the appropriate date for this one, but it's interesting anyway.

Vampire Moth Discovered -- Evolution at Work

"A previously unknown population of vampire moths has been found in Siberia. And in a twist worthy of a Halloween horror movie, entomologists say the bloodsuckers may have evolved from a purely fruit-eating species
When the Russian moths were experimentally offered human hands this summer, the insects drilled their hook-and-barb-lined tongues under the skin and sucked blood.
Weird, I'd never heard of these. Watching them drill into that lady's finger by rocking their head is a little unsettling.

That's not what's really interesting here though, and I think the article does a shitty job of explaining what is. Moths that feed on blood have been known for a while and there are at least three other species in the genus Calyptra that do (though there are many that do not) - the difference is that most C. thalictri populations generally only eat fruit. That means that, at some point in the recent past, the moths evolved the ability and inclination to eat animal blood.

Neat! Here's a video of what is presumably a different species in the same genus. I'm posting it mostly for this comment:
"its really his own fault 4 lying out in the open jungle.
No offence but how dumb.
if he wanted 2 avvoid this he shouldnt be sleepin their


BBC's Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

I always wanted to be a wildlife photographer, roaming the exotic wilderness and searching for rare and unheard of creatures. Then I watched the segments after the credits on Planet Earth, in which the very same wildlife photographers freeze their asses off in the Gobi and sit in wet, disgusting jungles for weeks on end (specifically, I'm talking about the bactrian camel hunt and the one at the end of the birds of paradise episode, which I can't find online). This article further confirms my reservations: "Ten long months spent stalking the rare and elusive snow leopard in temperatures as low as -40ÂșC paid off for a dogged photographer."