Tag Archives: nature

Lonely Okavango wild dog teaming up with jackals and hyena

An adult wild dog on friendly terms with a hyenaThis fascinating article describes a case where a lone wild dog is actively teaming up with hyenas and jackals.

There were plenty of wild dog in the area in the past, but as lion population increased the local wild dog clan was wiped out.

This single adult female remained, and the rangers assumed that she would soon be killed.

However, she has been thriving with “help from some highly unusual and totally unexpected quarters.”

She has integrated fairly well with the larger members of the local hyena clan. She has been photographed interacting and even touching noses with them.

She also “solicits adult black-backed jackals to follow her on the hunt and even regurgitates meat on her return for the growing jackal pups!”

It seems that wild dogs have incredibly strong social instincts. So strong that when this animal had no other wild dogs to interact with she formed bonds with animals of another species. Amazing.

A lone adult wild dog that solicits help from jackals when hunting

Photos of diving under the Antarctic ice

Norbert Wu has spent a lot of time diving under the ice of Antarctica. Very dangerous, very interesting.

Despite the extreme cold, life is relatively abundant and he has some great photos.

Click through to the gallery for more pictures and explanations. Here are some of the best images.


Here a diver is swimming below a crack in the sea ice.


Starfish can be quite vicious. In this case they are slowly devouring a dead seal pup.


In Antarctica you don’t just dig a hole in the ice and start diving. They maintain ‘dive huts’ from which they dive in water as cold as -1.8 Centigrade.


Great idea – a portal and tube have been built to allow researchers to observe what is going on underwater.


Ninja bugs

National Geographic has a photo gallery showing off some of nature’s clever disguises. Well worth a look.

There are two bugs in this picture. Seriously.


“Leaf knockoffs down to brown spots and notched edges, two Mimetica katydids with twiglike legs can rest or feed without drawing attention”.

In case you’re still not sure, here they are:


The gallery is well worth looking at. Below are a few more of by favorites.

Not a snake…


Finally, this is a great mantis. Nature is awesome.


Amazing photo of kingfisher diving

These are some stunning photos of a kingfisher feeding. At first I only saw the one below (best kingfisher photo I’ve ever seen) and couldn’t figure out how the photographer got it right.

Underwater shot of a Kingisher catching a fish

I managed to find the source page (check it out for high-res photos). It has some more stunning pictures which offer hints as to how the photographer could get the first shot.

Kingfisher diving towards a hole in the ice

Kingfisher emerging from a hole in the ice with a good catch

Free Willy was never really free

An Orca in the wildIt seems romantic to release captive animals, but I often wonder how long they last in the wild. Life for wild animals is tough enough – animals released from captivity must really struggle.

It seems that was the case with Willy (aka Keiko) the star of the movie Free Willy. New Scientist outlines the story in this article.


  • The whale’s name was Keiko
  • He was captured in Icelandic waters in 1979 at about 2 years old
  • He then spent 10 years alone in a tank in Mexico
  • After the 1993 public pressure mounted to free Keiko and in 2000 he was transferred back to Iceland
  • He lived in a pen and was trained to swim out to sea with his trainers
  • He briefly interacted with wild orcas but stayed away from them in general
  • After his initial release he turned up in his pen 10 days later with an empty stomach (they tested)
  • He eventually migrated to Norway but started seeking out humans and soon became overwhelmed by the attention he generated
  • He was taken back to his pen in Iceland where he lived out his days. Even though the pen was open to the ocean he never left the bay again until his death in 2003

National Geographic visions of the Earth

Each edition of National Geographic Magazine has a section called Visions of the Earth – basically a collection of great photos from around the world.

I was looking over some of the older ones and was blown away by some of them. Here are a handful of the best.

This one was taken with the lens half submerged. If it wasn’t from National Geographic I wouldn’t believe it was real. I’m still skeptical…
National Geographic picture of a fisherman

This is one of the best photos I’ve seen. I had to read the explanation to understand what was going on. It’s taken near sunset in the deserts of South Africa. There is a massive sand dune rising in the sunlight in the background.

Alligator claw. Awesome.

There are many other excellent pictures, but I restricted this post to three that I really liked.

World record Zambezi shark caught in the Brede River

The front page of the Cape Times today detailed a story about a world record Zambezi shark being caught 5.5km up the Brede River. I did a bit of Googling and found more information and pictures:

  • At over 4m long this is the largest Zambezi shark ever caught anywhere – a world record
  • The researchers were looking for sharks in the river after reports and rumors that they were in the Brede
  • After hooking the shark they were towed 2km further upstream before they could drag her onto the shore for tagging
  • She was tagged and tracked over the next 43 hours. She spent most time in the estuary with only short periods in the surf

Awesome stuff. You can get more information from this article

Brede River Zambezi Shark

Brede River Zambezi Shark

Sabertooths were probably pack animals

As if they weren’t mean enough, now it emerges that sabertooths were probably pack animals

Sabertooths were frightening beasts. About the size of tigers (huge) and with enormous 20cm fangs these guys were mean. And if that isn’t enough, new research suggests that they were pack animals like modern lions (the Ice Age movies had it right).

How they worked that out is a little complex:

  • Tar pits are spots where tar literally rises from the ground. They make excellent spots to find fossils because animals got stuck and were then well preserved
  • Sabertooths are very common in tar pits. Probably because they responded to the distress calls of prey animals and themselves became stuck
  • The researchers did a comparative study in Africa by playing the sounds of prey animals in distress
  • They found that only pack animals (lions and hyenas) responded in any numbers

So basically, by comparing the ratios of sabertooth remains in the tar pits with the study in Africa the researchers could take an educated guess that sabertooths lived in packs.

Another example of evolution in action

Dung Beetles on the road to speciation

Dung beetles – evolving

One of the lies frequently used to refute evolution is that it can’t be seen happening. That argument is, of course, both irrelevant and untrue.

Evolution is routinely observed in action and a recently published paper (reported in The Economist) has illustrated yet another case. What I like about this case is that it illustrates speciation.

Speciation is more than an animal evolving a trait (like a longer tail, or bigger teeth) but rather a single species evolving into two different species. The resulting species are unable to interbreed and will go on to evolve completely separately – just has humans and chimps have evolved separately since their own ancient split.

The object of the study was the humble dung beetle, or rather a specific species of dung beetle which has recently split into four species. The beetles in question were introduced into eastern Australia, western Australia and North Carolina within the last 50 years.

Since then (through a fascinating mechanism that has to do with the relationships between horn, penis and vagina sizes – read the article for more detail) the different populations have developed to the point where they are (or very nearly are) completely different species.

Well within a human lifetime. Take that.

Photos of a chicken developing inside an egg

I came across this blog showing the development of a chicken inside an egg. Seems like these guys cleverly got an egg to develop inside a clear container – like a ziplock or something.

Anyway, I had assumed that birds develop in the yolk – I don’t know why. But this chick definitely develops outside the yolk and consumes the yolk through a network of blood vessels. Very interesting.

Chick Developing
Chick Developing
Chick Developing
Chick Developing
Chick Developing