This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It 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
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…
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.
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
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.
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.