Friday, November 30, 2007

North Shore Animal League America's DogCatemy Awards 2007

Pet Sitter On Cruelty Charge For Overfeeding

The pet sitter at the center of a media storm for allegedly overfeeding a pig is being charged with animal cruelty. The owner alleges that the pet sitter had allowed the pig to treble in weight while in her care.

The 5-year-old part feral, part potbellied pig, called Alaina, was a mere 50 pounds when her pet sitter, Mary Beesecker, began to care for her. Nine months later Alaina weighed a staggering 150 pounds, and required surgery to remove a collar which had become embedded in the fat rolls of her neck. Schmitz had left Alaina with the sitter, a co-worker, in rural Witoka while she was on medical leave to recover from ankle surgery. Alaina had apparently been foraging for cat food and chicken feed outdoors at the co-worker's farm.

Owner Michelle Schmitz has put Alaina on a strict diet that has already resulted in a 10% weight loss, combining a healthy diet with exercise. She said she and Alaina's veterinarian consider 50 pounds a more suitable weight for the mixed-breed pig.

Pot bellied pigs are a popular exotic pet in the United States and other Western nations. Owners often claim them to be as intelligent and trainable as dogs, being easy to train in return for food rewards. Many pig owners even walk their pets on a leash.

Dinosaur Tracks Discovered in Utah

Tracks from half a dozen species of dinosaurs turned up in an area of southern Utah that is popular with recreational riders of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

A section the size of a football field has been closed off to protect thousands of three-toed and other tracks, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

"Some people knew the tracks were out there, but we didn't," BLM spokesperson Larry Crutchfield told the Salt Lake Tribune for a story posted online Thursday. "But most people didn't even know they were riding over dinosaur tracks."

The footprints were laid across dozens of layers of rock and include tracks of a sharp-toothed and clawed carnivore, a three-toed crocodile, and a large plant-eating species.

Southern Utah is known for dinosaur fossils and tracks from the Jurassic period. These animals lived about 190 million years ago in a harsh desert that got intermittent deluges.

"You rarely find herbivores in a desert," said Martin Lockley, who heads the Dinosaur Tracks Museum at the University of Colorado at Denver.

The new sandstone prints are at least a hundred million years older than the fossils being extracted in nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, said paleontologist Andrew Milner.

Full Story

Leopards like Breasts!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Los Angeles Dog Parks...

If you own a dog, you know that it's really important to give your pet some exercise -- hence the urban dog park. As much fun as it is watching your pet piss on the same bushes and sniff the butts of the same dogs on your block every day, sometimes you need to give your hound some variety. At the dog park, man's (and woman's) best friend can run around as much as they want without being attached to a leash, and depending on how friendly you are, there are plenty of opportunities for you to chase some tail as well.

Click here to see maps and locations via "Gridskipper"

Defensive frog

Vick To Pay $1 Million For Care Of Pit Bulls

Shamed NFL star Michael Vick has turned himself in to begin serving his prison sentence early after he pleaded guilty to taking part in an illegal dogfighting enterprise. It is also reported that he has been asked to pay $1 million for the care of the rescued pit bulls.

Vick, one of the most famous players in the National Football League, pleaded guilty in August to charges that he and three other men took part in an illegal dogfighting enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels" at Vick's home in Surry County, Virginia. Vick, 27, was not due for sentencing until December 10th after initially pleading not guilty. He faces a maximum of five years in prison on the federal charges, although prosecutors have requested a 12- to 18-month sentence under terms of the plea deal he reached in August. In September, a grand jury in Surry County indicted him on new charges for beating, killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in and promoting dogfighting. These additional charges carry a potential 10 year jail sentence on top of the federal charge.

It has also been widely reported that Vick, who had signed a 10-year, $130 million contract, has also been told to pay $1 million towards the care of the pit bull terriers taken into care from the dog fighting enterprise he was involved with. Since prosecutors have cited a rash of claims by Vick's creditors and former employer that threaten his ability to pay such an amount, US District Judge Henry Hudson is due to issue a restraining order that essentially would freeze about $928,000 of funds for this purpose.

Fish Steal Food From Rare Seals, Undersea Camera Shows

Food competition is tough for Hawaiian monk seals in the protected waters of Hawaii's remote northwestern islands.

Scientists suspected that fish were serious competitors of the seals, which are listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

So they attached small cameras—called Crittercams—to 42 monk seals to see if they could document the seals' interactions with fish.

Crittercam is a National Geographic Society-patented research tool attached to wild animals that combines video and audio recording with environmental data. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)

The Crittercams caught 69 hours of footage—including scenes of jack fish and sharks stealing prey—such as eels and octopi—that were uncovered by the seals.

"We saw seals swimming along, flipping rocks, and then jacks would swim up ahead and wait at the next rock," said NOAA biologist Frank Parrish.

(See an underwater video of the seals hunting.)

"It was pretty clear that if the fish had figured it out, we had better catch up."

Time-lapse 7-hour kitteh nap

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Greenpeace online poll gives humpback a whale of a name

Greenpeace might want to save the whales, but it's not above giving them silly names.

The legendary environmental organization, as part of its Great Whale Trail Expedition campaign, is tracking humpback whales in the South Pacific via satellite tags and hoping to gather data that will help protect them from hunting. To humanize the massive cetaceans a bit, Greenpeace International is also holding a whale-naming competition in the form of an online poll. It appears, looking at the site, that a number of "winning" names will go to the array of whales being tracked.

Among the 30 finalists, which were chosen from over 11,000 submitted, are names like Cian ("ancient" or "enduring" in Irish), Anahi ("immortal" in Persian), Kigai ("strong spirit" in Japanese) and Humphrey (after that whale who could've used GPS). There's also "Mister Splashy Pants," which appears to have been included among the other 29 names as an "oh, what the heck" entrant.

We're not sure if Greenpeace actually expected anyone to choose it among the list of sweet and profound ethnic monikers, but "Mister Splashy Pants" is currently swimming away with a whopping 68 percent of the vote.

Full Story

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

LOLcat BIBLE!?!?! - Pharo sez, "Who iz Ceiling Cat? I'm in ur Egypt, keepin' ur d00dz."

Welcom to Teh Holiez Bibul
Genesis 1

1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.

2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1

6 An Ceiling Cat sayed, im in ur waterz makin a ceiling. But he no yet make a ur. An he maded a hole in teh Ceiling.7 An Ceiling Cat doed the skiez with waterz down An waterz up. It happen.8 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has teh firmmint wich iz funny bibel naim 4 ceiling, so wuz teh twoth day.

9 An Ceiling Cat gotted all teh waterz in ur base, An Ceiling Cat hadz dry placez cuz kittehs DO NOT WANT get wet.10 An Ceiling Cat called no waterz urths and waters oscunz. Iz good.

11 An Ceiling Cat sayed, DO WANT grass! so tehr wuz seedz An stufs, An fruitzors An vegbatels. It happen.12 An Ceiling Cat sawed that weedz ish good, so, letz there be weed. (and catnipz 2, so wen i makes kittehs they can getz hai.)13 An so teh threeth day jazzhands.

14 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has lightz in the skiez for splittin day An no day.15 It happen, lights everwear, like christmass, srsly.16 An Ceiling Cat doeth two grate lightz, teh most big for day, teh other for no day.17 An Ceiling Cat screw tehm on skiez, with big nails An stuff, to lite teh Urfs.18 An tehy rulez day An night. Ceiling Cat sawed. Iz good.19 An so teh furth day w00t.

20 An Ceiling Cat sayed, waterz bring me phishes, An burds, so kittehs can eat dem. But Ceiling Cat no eated dem.21 An Ceiling Cat maed big fishies An see monstrs, which wuz like big cows, except they no mood, An other stuffs dat mooves, An Ceiling Cat sawed iz good.22 An Ceiling Cat sed O hai, make bebehs kthx. An dont worry i wont watch u secksy, i not that kynd uf kitteh.23 An so teh...fith day. Ceiling Cat taek a wile 2 cawnt.

24 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has MOAR living stuff, mooes, An creepie tings, An otehr aminals. It happen so tehre.25 An Ceiling Cat doed moar living stuff, mooes, An creepies, An otehr animuls, An did not eated tehm.

26 An Ceiling Cat sayed, letz us do peeps like uz, becuz we ish teh qte, An let min p0wnz0r becuz tehy has can openers.

27 So Ceiling Cat createded teh peeps taht waz like him, can has can openers he maed tehm, min An womin wuz maeded, but he did not eated tehm.

28 An Ceiling Cat sed them O hai maek bebehs kthx, An p0wn teh waterz, no waterz An teh firmmint, An evry stufs.

29 An Ceiling Cat sayed, Beholdt, the Urfs, I has it, An I has not eated it.30 For evry createded stufs tehre are the fuudz, to the burdies, teh creepiez, An teh mooes, so tehre. It happen. Iz good.

31 An Ceiling Cat sayed, Beholdt, teh good enouf for releaze as version 0.8a. kthx bai.

All LOLcat Bible Chapters

Natchez, Dixie, and the Laser Pointer

Natchez, Dixie, and the Laser Pointer from chippa on Vimeo.

Monday, November 26, 2007

LOLcats History Video:

Rabbit genes create trees that eat poisons...

Super trees that suck up and destroy toxic chemicals from the air and water faster than regular trees are the latest creation by scientists at the University of Washington.

When the scientists stick a rabbit gene into poplar trees, the trees become dramatically better at eliminating a dozen kinds of pollutants commonly found on poisoned properties.

The trees could prevent the need for digging up tons of soil or pumping out millions of gallons of water for treatment and disposal. They naturally render a list of cancer-causing pollutants -- benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), vinyl chloride, chloroform -- non-toxic.

But while the poplars could benefit cleanup projects, they raise a multitude of ecological and ethical concerns.

Many people are worried about transgenic organisms, in which a gene from one species is inserted into another, whether it's corn that produces a pig vaccine or a soybean that makes its own pesticide. There are concerns that mutant plants could spread, entering the food supply and threatening human health. Or they could interbreed with normal plants, transferring herbicide resistance to weeds, for example. No one can predict all of the potential side effects of a new gene on the host plant or other plants and animals.

When it comes to the pollution-consuming poplars, "it's really a question of trading some of the unknown risks of planting genetically modified trees with the positive environmental benefits," said Andrew Light, a UW professor of philosophy and public affairs. "This is a real dilemma for the environmental community."

Full Story

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pet market bomb kills 13 in Baghdad

A bomb hidden in a box containing birds exploded at a popular pet market in central Baghdad today, killing at least 13 people and foiling tentative hopes for a return to near normal life in the city.

The device, which exploded just before 9am (6am GMT) in the al-Ghazl market, also injured about 60 people, including four policemen.

While the market has been attacked before - a bomb in late January killed 15 people - its popularity has returned as violence has gradually declined since the beginning of a US-led security crackdown in the Iraqi capital in February. Numbers have also increased due to the lifting of a four-hour driving ban on Fridays to protect weekly prayer services from car bombings.

One trader, who was about 150 metres from the blast, said he had only reopened his business last week at the market, which sells birds, dogs, cats, sheep, goats, snakes and monkeys.

The throng of stalls, customers and food vendors "was giving the impression that life is back to normal again, but about 9 o'clock, we heard the sound of an explosion", he told the Associated Press.

He described a scene of chaos, with birds flying into a sky filled with smoke and the bodies of young men littering the ground.

"We helped evacuating some of them, then the Iraqi police and army came and told us to evacuate the place because they feared another explosion could take place," he said.

The blast was one of the deadliest attacks in Baghdad in weeks, following a period in which many locals had begun to hope the security "surge", which reached its full strength in mid-June, had brought about a long-term decline in violence.

Iraqis have been going to markets and to restaurants at night, both unheard of at the height of the violence last year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Why do we eat turkey for Thanksgiving?

In 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving, they were gobbling up many more foods than just turkey. Since lobster, goose, duck, seal, eel, and cod were plentiful during this time, these foods were most likely the main courses of this first feast. Deer meat and wild fowl are the only two items that historians know for sure were menu of this autumn celebration.

So how did the turkey become the main mascot of modern-day Thanksgiving if we don't know for certain that turkeys were at this first feast?

One story tells of how Queen Elizabeth of 16th century England was chowing down on roast goose during a harvest festival. When news was delivered to her that the Spanish Armada had sunk on it way to attack her beloved England, the queen was so pleased that she order a second goose to celebrate the great news. Thus, the goose became the favorite bird at harvest time in England. When the Pilgrims arrived in America from England, roasted turkey replaced roasted goose as the main cuisine because wild turkeys were more abundant and easier to find than geese.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Huge Claw Belonged to 8-foot Sea Scorpion

The giant fossil claw of the largest sea scorpion found yet has just been uncovered.

The 18-inch (46-centimeter) claw likely belonged to an 8-foot (2.46-meter) sea scorpion. Sea scorpions are thought to be the extinct aquatic ancestors of scorpions and possibly all arachnids.

"This is an amazing discovery," said researcher Simon Braddy at the University of Bristol in England. "We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches and jumbo dragonflies, but we never realized, until now, just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were."

This is the largest arthropod known yet, beating the last largest by 14 inches (36 centimeters). Arthropods include spiders, insects, crabs and others with a hard exoskeleton and jointed limbs.

The extinct sea scorpion (Jaekelopterus rhenaniae) was discovered in a quarry near Prum in Germany by researcher Markus Poschmann at the German Department for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the Rhineland-Palatinate. The thick greenish-gray siltstone the claw was found in suggests the creature lived in a brackish lagoon or a flood plain lake.

"Most of the remaining fossils from this site are of very small animals—less than 10 centimeters (4 inches)—so I'm a bit puzzled by what this particular sea scorpion specimen would be eating," researcher Erik Tetlie, a Yale paleontologist, told LiveScience.

The fossil is roughly 400 million years old, dating back to the Early Devonian. Gargantuan arthropods were widespread in the distant past. The most common explanation for this gigantism among arthropods then was the higher level of oxygen in the atmosphere back then.

"There is no simple single explanation," Braddy explained. "It is more likely that some ancient arthropods were big because there was little competition from the vertebrates, as we see today."

Full Story

Planet Unicorn

Bush pardons two turkeys

Adhering to a tradition now entering its 60th year, President Bush on Tuesday delivered a full presidential pardon to the national Thanksgiving turkey in the Rose Garden at the White House.

He also announced the names of the bird and its alternate, which were chosen by people who voted online. They will officially be called May and Flower, the president said.

"That's certainly better than the names the vice president suggested: Lunch and Dinner," Bush joked.

On a more serious note, the president reminded Americans they have much to be thankful for this holiday season.

"This Thanksgiving we are grateful for a harvest big enough to feed us all and millions more. We're grateful for citizens who reach out to those who struggle, from neighbors in need to the strangers they've never met," he said.

"We're grateful for working Americans, who've given us the longest period of uninterrupted job creation on record and a prosperity that lifts our citizens.

"And we're grateful for one blessing in particular: the men and women of the United States military. They've worn proudly the uniform of our country. They have offered their lives in our defense, and each year thousands more volunteer to join their noble ranks and to keep us safe.

"And so on this Thanksgiving, we keep their families and their loved ones in our prayers and in our thoughts," Bush said.

The turkeys chosen for this year's honor came from a farm in Dubois, Ind., according to the White House Web site, and were raised under the direction of National Turkey Federation Chairman Ted Seger.

After the Rose Garden ceremony, the turkeys will be flown first-class to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where they will be the grand marshals of the Disney Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Web site said.

Afterward, they'll live at Mickey's Country House in Magic Kingdom Park.

"May they live the rest of their lives in blissful gobbling and may all Americans enjoy a holiday filled with love and peace," the president said.

Robots inspired by Animals!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wild Turkeys Invading Suburban U.S.

The Pilgrims found New England in the 1600s to be well stocked with wild turkeys, which figured into their regular diet, including the original Thanksgiving feast.

But by the 1930s the native birds had been hunted to near extinction in North America, numbering only in the tens of thousands.

Today, thanks to reintroduction efforts, there are about seven million wild turkeys, and they are thriving in an urban America that the early English settlers could not have imagined.

Wild turkeys have been spotted in towns and suburbs across New England—and have even been seen strolling through downtown Manhattan.

The turkeys' ability to take to these urban environments was a surprise to biologists.

"When restoration efforts started across the country, the rule of thumb was that turkeys required about 6,000 acres [2,430 hectares] of contiguous forest habitat," said Michael Gregonis, a wildlife biologist with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

(Related news: "Country Owls Better Suited to the Suburbs?" [October 19, 2007].)

"We found that not to be true at all. Turkeys are pretty adaptable. As long as they have some cover and some trees that they can get up into at night to roost, they can do pretty well."

The name is "Du Mas"

Whale Swims up Amazon Tributary

An 18-foot (5.4-meter) minke whale ran aground on a sandbar in Brazil's Amazon jungle, some 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean, Brazilian media reported Friday.

The Globo television agency broadcast images of dozens of people gathered along the Tapajós River splashing water on the animal, whose back and dorsal fin were exposed to the hot Amazon sun.

Sea creatures rarely venture so far into fresh water.

"It apparently got separated from its group and swam upstream," biologist Fabio Luna said in a televised interview from the site. "It's very unusual."

Scientists were working to dislodge the mammal and return it to the ocean. They said it weighed about 12 tons.

The whale beached itself Wednesday near Santarém in Pará state, Brazil's Environmental Protection Agency said, according to the Globo newspaper. Phone calls to the agency were not immediately answered.

The creature reportedly is a minke whale. With an average length of about 23 feet (7 meters), minkes are the second smallest of the baleen whales after the pygmy right whale.

The International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee estimates there are about 184,000 minke whales in the central and northeast Atlantic Ocean.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chimpanzees crave roots and tubers even when food is plentiful above ground, as per a new study that raises questions about the relative importance of meat for brain evolution.

Appearing online the week of Nov. 12 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study documents a novel use of tools by chimps to dig for tubers and roots in the savanna woodlands of western Tanzania.

The chimps eagerness for buried treats offers new insights in an ongoing debate about the role of meat versus potato-like foods in the diet of our hominid ancestors, said first author Adriana Hernandez-Aguilar, who collected the field data for her doctoral research at the University of Southern California.

The debate centers on the diet followed by early hominids as their brain and body size slowly increased towards a human level. Was it meat-and-potatoes, or potatoes-and-meat".

Some scientists have suggested that what made us human was actually the tubers, Hernandez-Aguilar said.

Anthropologists had speculated that roots and tubers were mere fallback foods for hominids trying to survive the harsh dry season in the savanna 3.5 million years ago and later (hominids are known to have consumed meat at least as early as 2.5 million years ago)

Elephant Rescue

Barisal, Bangladesh, November 16, 2007—An elephant is employed to push a stranded bus as part of an effort to clear roads after Tropical Cyclone Sidr slammed into the Bangladeshi coast with winds of 140 miles (225 kilometers) an hour.

The storm swept heavy rains and high winds across the low-lying country on Thursday, leveling homes and forcing about 650,000 villagers to evacuate. At least 425 people are believed dead, according to the Associated Press.

bad dog!

Thursday, November 15, 2007



I saw this website featured on Ellen today, and it seemed pretty cool!
Check it out!

those naughty brit animals

Watch the HD version

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Detector Dogs Gather in Spain

Spaniels and poodles sniff out explosives, drugs, bodies in rubble, and even cancer at the Detector Dogs World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Click for Video

Monkey Embryos Cloned, Scientists Report

American scientists reported Wednesday that they had cloned embryos from a nine-year-old male monkey and derived stem cells from them, reaching a long-sought goal that may pay off someday in new treatments for people.

The work was published online by the journal Nature, which took the unusual step of asking another team of researchers to verify the work before publication. That decision reflected the legacy of a spectacular fraud in stem cell research from South Korea several years ago.

The new work is important because someday researchers hope to use such a process in humans to make transplant tissue that is genetically matched to patients, thus reducing the risk of rejection.

Scientists had tried for years to produce stem cells through cloning in monkeys, because the animals are so closely related to humans. But until now, it hasn't worked.

The advance was reported by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center and colleagues. Some media outlets, including the Associated Press (AP), had reported their success earlier this year, based on a presentation at a scientific meeting.

The scientists combined DNA from skin cells of the monkey, a rhesus macaque, with unfertilized monkey eggs that had their own DNA removed. The eggs were grown into early embryos, from which stem cells were removed.

The researchers cautioned that even if their procedure could be used to produce human stem cells, it's far too inefficient to be used in medicine.

Human unfertilized eggs are in short supply and are cumbersome to obtain. The monkey work required 304 eggs from 14 female macaques to produce just two batches of stem cells, the scientists wrote.

Still, George Daley of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, who was familiar with the work, told the AP it was a "a very important demonstration" that the process is feasible in primates, the group that includes monkeys and humans.

Full Story

Man marries stray dog to break 15-year curse

An Indian man has married a dog in a Hindu ceremony - to atone for stoning two other dogs to death.

The man, known as Mr Selvakumar, believed he had been cursed by the killings 15 years ago, and wanted to repair the damage done.

An astrologer told him the only way to remove the curse would be to marry a female dog.

The former stray dog named Selvi - now officially known as Mrs Selvakumar - was chosen by the man's family, bathed and dressed in a sari for the celebrations.

The ceremony was carried out at a Hindu temple in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Sunday.

Selvakumar, 33, said he had been suffering since he stoned two dogs to death and hung their bodies from a tree 15 years ago.

"After that my legs and hands got paralyzed and I lost hearing in one ear," he told the Hindustan Times.

The paper said an astrologer had told Selvakumar the wedding was the only way he could cure the maladies. It did not say whether his situation had improved since the wedding.

The paper showed a picture of Selvakumar sitting next to the dog, which was wearing an orange sari and a flower garland.

The paper said the groom and his family then had a feast, while the dog was given a bun.
Full Story

Crimea oil spill kills 30,000 birds

More than 30,000 birds have died in the wake of the spill of thousands of tonnes of oil from the tanker that broke apart near the Black Sea at the weekend, says the governor of the disaster-hit region. Countless birds, weighed down by thick coatings of oil, are hopping weakly along the shore or sitting helplessly in the sand.

The storm off the Crimea peninsula grounded at least 11 ships, causing the deaths of three crew from another freighter, the Nakhichevan, which spilled sulphur into the Kerch strait, between the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. Rescuers were still looking for five missing crew, said Sergei Kozhemyaka, spokesman for the emergencies ministry.

Yesterday, as workers with shovels and pitchforks cleared up vast clumps of oil glued to sand and seaweed, Alexander Tkachev, governor of the Krasnodar region, said: "The damages are so great it's hard to assess. It can be equated with ecological catastrophe." Investigators are to examine the actions of the captain of the split tanker Volganeft-139, which has leaked at least 2,000 tonnes of oil from its 4,800-tonne load.

Alexei Knizhnikov, head of WWF- Russia's oil and gas programme, said the river tanker had been unfit for severe weather at sea. Other environmentalists said the spill was triggered by years of official neglect that let oil transport ships use inadequate equipment.

Gene in male fish lures females

A gene has been found in male cichlid fish that evolved to lure female fish so that male cichlids can deposit sperm in the females mouths. A study in the online open access journal BMC Biology reveals that the gene is linked to egg-like markings on the fins of cichlid fishes and uncovers the evolutionary history of these markings, which are central to the success of the fishes' exotic oral mating behaviour.

Walter Salzburger, Ingo Braasch and Axel Meyer reared 19 cichlid species at Konstanz University in Gera number of and identified a gene involved in producing yellow pigment cells in oval spots on the fishes' fins. These markings, known as egg-dummies, are found on the anal fins of the male fish and are crucial to mating. The fish are known as maternal mouthbrooders, because once the female has laid her eggs, she picks them up in her mouth. Attracted by what she takes to be eggs - actually the egg-dummy markings - the female then approaches the male. When the female is close to the anal fin, the male discharges sperm into the female's mouth to fertilize the eggs.

Cichlids are a family of fish that include tilapia and angel fish. There are more than 1,800 cichlid species found only in East Africa, and more than 80% of these belong to a grouping known as the haplochromines, which show the characteristic egg dummies...

Dancing Monkey Ad...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007


"Ambassadors" of Indianapolis Zoo Brutallly Asphixiated

A fire at the Indianapolis Zoo killed several small animals, with several other still under constant hospital observation.

Killed by smoke inhalation were three turtles, named Olive, Bess and Nate, a snake named Nibbler, two birds, an armadillo, two rodents and several hissing cockroaches.

Zoo officials are not investigating foul play. I ask however, since when is it so acceptable to roll over on the death of a diplomat?

Fire at Indy Zoo kills ambassador animals - Indianapolis Star

Oiled-bird Being Rescued In San Francisco

UC Davis wildlife experts are leading the rescue of oiled birds in San Francisco today after a container ship spilled nearly 60,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel oil into the bay.

Three veterinarians and a veterinary technician arrived at Fort Mason Wednesday to organize the rescue effort and begin treating injured birds.

By 1 p.m. November 8, there were 21 seabirds being treated, all of them surf scoters, according to UC Davis veterinarian Michael Ziccardi, director of the California Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

Jonna Mazet, a UC Davis veterinarian and international authority on the rescue and treatment of oiled wildlife, has said in the past that for every oiled seabird that is found washed ashore, an estimated 10 to 100 birds died at sea.

The UC Davis rescue team is working in a custom-built recovery and rehabilitation trailer. There, they assess the health status of oiled birds that are being brought in from beaches and the bay waters.

Then the birds are put in boxes and driven to the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia (just outside Fairfield), where they will receive the world's most advanced veterinary care for oiled wildlife.

At the center, the first order of business is not to remove oil from the birds. Instead, it is to warm the birds and nourish them. Once stabilized, they will be better able to withstand the stresses of being washed.

Full Story

Unusual Panda Migration

BEIJING (AP) — Giant pandas are being forced to move from a remote mountainous area in southwestern China due to food shortages as their staple bamboo withers, an animal expert said Monday.

Most of the pandas' favorite arrow bamboo in a 217,000 square-mile (562,000 square-kilometer) region of Sichuan province is going through a once-in-60-year cycle of flowering and dying before regenerating, said Yang Xuyu, deputy head of the province's Wild Animal Preservation Station.

The pandas are moving to other areas of Sichuan, which has about 40 reserves of various sizes.

"No wild panda has been found dead of starvation," said Yang. But more than 80 percent of bamboo in the affected region, called Ruoergai, is now unfit for the animals to eat, he said. Pandas will not touch the plant once it flowers.

About 1,200 pandas — 80 percent of the surviving wild population in China — live in several mountainous areas of Sichuan.

Hundreds of pandas died of starvation in Sichuan in the 1980s when arrow bamboo in some reserves flowered and then died.

Pandas derive most of their nutrition from arrow bamboo and can starve once the plant enters its dying-off stage. The bamboo produces seeds before dying, and takes 10 to 20 years to grow back.

Yang told a conference on panda survival in Chengdu, Sichuan, on Sunday that a shrinking habitat due to farming and industrial development makes it increasingly hard for the animals in the wild to find food during the bamboo life cycle, according to the Xinhua news agency.

China's forestry bureau is carrying out a panda rescue drive and working with the World Wildlife Fund to try to restore panda migration paths, Xinhua said.

In addition to loss of habitat, pandas also are threatened by poaching and a low reproduction rate. Females in the wild typically have a cub once every two to three years.

In the papers...

Endangered Species Chocolate

Oil Spill in California Video

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Squirrel Playing DEAD!

Monkey and a Mirror

When Animals Evolve On Islands, Size Doesn't Matter

A theory explaining the evolution of giant rodents, miniature elephants, and even miniature humans on islands has been called into questions by new research.

The new study refutes the 'island rule' which says that in island environments small mammals such as rodents tend to evolve to be larger, and large mammals such as elephants tend to evolve to be smaller, with the original size of the species being the key determining factor in these changes.

The new research findings suggest that the tendency to either evolve larger or smaller on islands varies from one group of species to another, irrespective of original size. The research team, from Imperial College London, suspect instead that a number of external factors, including the physical environment of the particular island, the availability of prey, the presence of predators and the presence of competing species all play a role in determining the size evolution of island mammals.

Full Story

SAN FRANCISCO BAY OIL SPILL: Thousands jam phones to volunteer

Thousands of people have inundated wildlife hot lines, eager to help rescue birds, clean beaches and volunteer their time.

That means the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at UC Davis is overwhelmed, and phones are jammed.

Spokeswoman Sylvia Wright said 55 volunteers have been trained to rescue birds and will be working with the animals Saturday. Meanwhile, 250 more volunteers who were the first to call on Friday will be the next to be trained.

The group provides a two-hour training session in Fairfield that is mandatory before volunteers are allowed to handle injured or oil-soaked wildlife.

For now, rather than calling, Wright asked that people who want to volunteer check the group's Web site,

California's Department of Fish and Game is also stepping in to help, and will offer classes Saturday in San Francisco, Sausalito and Richmond, explaining how cleanups are conducted and how to get trained in wildlife recovery. The sessions will not offer actual training.

The classes will be held:

-- From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St., San Francisco. (415) 974-4060.

-- From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor, 1340 Marina Way South, Richmond. (510) 236-1013.

-- From 5 to 7 p.m. at the Headlands Institute, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Building 1033, Sausalito. (415) 332-5771.

California oil spill Emergency!!!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency to help fight an oil spill that is threatening the coast of northern California.

He has ordered all available resources to be deployed to tackle the 58,000 gallon (228,000 litre) spill, which is putting wildlife and beaches at risk.

The spill occurred on Wednesday, when a container ship struck the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Some critics have reportedly questioned the speed of the initial response.

The governor's office said special "skimmers" and booms were being used to try to recover some of the oil and limit the slick's spread.

Mr Schwarzenegger said he had signed the emergency order so that the clean-up operation could progress "without wasting a minute of time".

The spill is reportedly the largest to affect the San Francisco Bay area since 10,000 gallons of fuel leaked from a ship undergoing repairs in 1996.

The BBC's Peter Bowes in California says the former prison island of Alcatraz is surrounded by a film of oil.

The California department of fish and game has reported finding two dozen sea birds covered in oil and has said hundreds more may be at risk.

The agency's assistant chief Steve Edinger told the AFP news agency the spill was a "very significant event".

No more fuel is now leaking from the Cosco-Busan container ship that caused the spill.

The slick is relatively small compared to major oil spills such as that caused when the Exxon Valdez tanker hit a reef, releasing 11 million gallons off the Alaskan coastline in 1989.

But environmentalists fear the impact could be felt for months, even years.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Political Coverage that Will Bite You (or that bites, not sure which)

What with Endangered Species Protection acts and the ever present prairie dog scandals, politicians represent not just humans, but all of us. Thus, let the election coverage begin!

However, we here at Animal Insider know that if you cared what some d-bag at a computer thought about current politics you read Drudge, or Wonkette, or, well, Drudge (he's dreamy). Thus, in keeping with our mission to fuck with species (its like fucking with gender only with fewer pinched testes) we present our two newest political correspondents: Charles, the donkey, and Richard, the elephant, er, libertarian.

Sent at 4:15 PM on Thursday
richard1999: how big is ron paul!!!!!!!!!
elephas: did you mean to message me that?
richard1999: yea
elephas: b/c i don't know
richard1999: word
elephas: i'll google it
richard1999: haha

Sent at 4:17 PM on Thursday
elephas: 9 and 3/4 inches
richard1999: bwaaa?
elephas: average length for white male is 6
so it's like he has a baby arm as a penis
richard1999: wow
i have a feeling that your not talking about ron paul anymore
elephas: i thought you meant ron jeremy
here i was risking my job
searching extremely not-safe-for-work stuff...
richard1999: hahaha
you didnt enjoy that?
elephas: who is ron paul?
richard1999: who is ron paul?????????
how can you NOT know about our next prez???
elephas: please. i'm voting obama you fool
and no i do not enjoy seeing just any old penis
richard1999: obama???

Dog + Tiger = Doger?

Tiger Humps Dog!

Biologists Assemble Fly mtDNA for Landmark Genome Project

Brown University biologist David Rand and members of his lab have made a major contribution to a groundbreaking genome sequencing project - single-handedly assembling the mitochondrial DNA sequences of seven species of fruit fly.

The work, appearing in Nature, is part of an international research effort to catalogue the DNA sequences of 12 species of Drosophila, or fruit fly, a critical and common laboratory model used to study human development, genetics, and evolution. Results of the "Drosophila Dozen" project are the complete sequences of both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from the 12 species of fly - a data set that gives researchers the unprecedented ability to compare related species and how they changed over time.

About 150 researchers from around the world, collectively known as the Drosophila 12 Genomes Consortium, came together to sequence, assemble and analyze the genomes, all from closely related species that range from Drosophila yakuba, a red-eyed variety found on the African savannah, to Drosophila mojavensis, a cactus-dweller from the Sonoran desert.

David Rand, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown, along with postdoctoral research associate Kristi Montooth and laboratory technician Dawn Abt were the only researchers in the consortium to assemble mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, sequences. In the sequencing process, DNA is extracted, chopped into bits, then analyzed to determine the order of base pairs. These bits must then be put back together, or assembled, an exacting process that involves piecing together billions of base pairs in proper order using special computer software...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Furries vs. Plushies

Care of:Boinkology

Fish Lives in Logs, Breathing Air, for Months at a Time

A tiny Western Atlantic fish does something never before seen: It makes like a bird, living in mangrove wood for months at a time.

A team of U.S. and English scientists accidentally discovered the unique behavior, which they call "logpacking," during recent excursions to Belize and Florida.

They were studying how the mangrove rivulus—an animal already infamous for its bizarre sexual behavior—survived the frequent dry spells that strike its swampy forest habitat.

"One of us kicked at a log, which broke apart and out came the fish!" said team leader Scott Taylor of Brevard County, Florida's Environmentally Endangered Lands Program.

Log-Dwelling Fish

The mangrove rivulus, also known as the mangrove killifish, is native to the Americas and is about two inches (five centimeters) long.

The fish has long been studied for its many unique features.

It's the only vertebrate known to naturally self-fertilize, for example. In some populations, it can become a hermaphrodite, developing both male and female parts simultaneously, to produce clones of itself. (Related: "Sexual Orientation Is Genetic in Worms, Study Says" [October 25, 2007].)

The animal can also live out of water for up to 66 days, Taylor said, and is one of very few fish species that spend their entire lives in mangrove swamps. Most fish move in and out of the areas as water sources dwindle.

Taylor and his team had previously found that when small pools of water dried up, the rivulus settled into crab burrows. But even those disappear during extreme dry spells.

"Sometimes the pools have very heavy [rivulus] populations, and they have to go somewhere when they dry," he said. "We had seen them under logs and in piles of damp leaves, inside coconuts, even in beer cans—for real."

Sugar, the two-legged dog

SOOO cute!! Sugar lost her two hind legs from being abused, but she still seems sweet and payful. She lives in Taiwan.

Horse impaled on fence stake

THE RSPCA and firefighters are calling for the removal of new fencing after a horse became impaled on its spikes.

It is believed to be the second incident since the fence was put up on marshland in Thamesmead.

The 4ft-high chestnut paling fence was put up by Gallions Housing Association between the marshes at Southmere Green, also known as Veridian Business Park, and the open space of Southmere Park.

The association says it was put up to stop horses which graze on the marshes from getting onto the public footpaths and to create separate grazing areas.

But on October 28, two fire crews from Erith fire station and the RSPCA were called after a horse became impaled on the fence while trying to jump over it.

One witness said the horse was impaled by three of the wooden fence stakes which had entered its stomach.

She said: "There was blood dripping down the palings."

The owner of the horse, believed to be a local traveller, arrived before firefighters and the RSPCA inspector and was already removing the spikes by the time they arrived.

Residents say the previous week another horse died from its injuries after being impaled.

The RSPCA confirmed an inspector had attended the second incident.

A spokesman said the injuries were about 1.5in deep.

An appointment has been made for the horse to see a vet.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tiger Numbers Could Be Doubled In South Asia

Researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society and other institutions declare that improvements in management of existing protected areas in South Asia could double the number of tigers currently existing in the region.

Specifically, the study examined 157 reserves throughout the Indian subcontinent--comprising India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. It found that 21 of the protected areas meet the criteria needed for large healthy tiger populations. Further, the study noted that these protected areas have the potential to support between 58 percent and 95 percent of the subcontinent's potential tiger capacity, estimated to be between 3,500 to 6,500 tigers.

In the absence of reliable data to produce a reliable estimate, tiger conservationists say that the big cats may currently number between 1,500 to 4,000 animals in the four countries combined.

The small improvements to increase tiger populations cited in the study include better funding, increasing staff support, restoring tiger habitat, and stepping up enforcement activities that focus on preventing the poaching of tigers and their prey.

"We were happy to find that the most important reserves identified in the study already have made tiger conservation a priority," said the lead author Dr. Jai Ranganathan of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

The tiger is endangered in all of its natural habitats, a range stretching from India down into Southeast Asia as far as the island of Sumatra, and in the Russian Far East, and is listed as endangered according to both international and U.S. law.

Full Story

New Species Of Peccary -- Pig-like Animal -- Discovered In Amazon Region

Dutch biologist Marc van Roosmalen has discovered a new species of peccary, a member of the pig family, in the basin of the Rio Aripuanã in the south-eastern Amazon region. The divergence time from the already known peccary species (the time which has passed since the evolutionary division) has been set at one to 1.2 million years.

This species has been christened giant peccary (Pecari maximus) by the researchers on account of its size. The holotype of the species can be found in the museum of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA) in Manaus. The giant peccary was known by the local Tupi Indians as Caitetú Mundè, which means ‘great peccary which lives in pairs’.

Peccaries belong to the pig family from the New World (Tayassuidae). Until recently, the species consisted of three types: the collared peccary, the white-lipped peccary and the Chaccoan peccary. In his contacts with local hunters in area of the Rio Aripuanã basin, Van Roosmalen came across three hides of a species of peccary which he had encountered several times in the local jungle, and which differed strongly from the collared peccary which was also indigenous to the area.

The measurements of the body and the skull confirmed that the new species is larger than the other peccary species. The giant peccary has comparatively longer legs and its fur markings are also completely different. The skull sizes of the giant peccary also appear to differ from the other species. Genetic analysis indicates a divergence time with the collared and white-lipped peccary of between one and 1.2 million years. The giant peccary occurs sympatrically with the white-lipped and collared species, in other words they are found in the same region.

The new species also exhibits very different behaviour from its family members, the white-lipped and collared peccaries. These species are found in large to very large groups (even up to hundreds of individual animals in the case of the white-lipped peccary), while the giant peccary is only found in pairs or in small family groups with one or two offspring. The other peccary types root in the ground for seeds and roots.

The giant peccary eats mainly fruit and exhibits little or no rooting behaviour. The habitat of the giant peccary is limited to terra firme, dry wooded areas, in a small region of the basin of the Rio Aripuanã. The researchers therefore expect the giant peccary population to be small, and they recommend that this new species should be placed on the Red List of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Life As A Dog Means Faster Mutations

It may be hard to see that the Chinese crested dog is descended from the wolf, but it’s easier to grasp that two poodles of different sizes are related. In her dissertation presented on May 3, Susanne Björnefeldt, at the Department of Evolution, Genomics, and Systematics at Uppsala University, shows that dogs of the same breed differ more genetically than was previously thought.

The wolf is the first animal that humans domesticated. Even though all dogs descend from the wolf, today dogs occur in more variants than any other mammal. These variations are not only the result of breeding, but also of the comfortable life dogs lead, a life that has entailed genetic changes. We might expect dogs to be genetically different from those of another breed, but we might also be led to believe that they are relatively similar within a single breed.

But in fact dogs of the same breed are genetically more different than we thought, according to Susanne Björnefeldt. She mentions the poodle as an example: it is genetically divided into five groups, although kennel clubs divide the poodle into four distinct groups.

In her dissertation Susanne Björnefeldt has primarily compared the mitochondrial DNA of the dog with that of the wolf and found that more protein changes have taken place in dogs over a shorter period than in the case of their wolf ancestors. Dogs have mutated more rapidly than wolves. Many of these mutations can be harmful to the animal. Whereas wolves have eliminated most altered characteristics through natural selection (a wild wolf with inferior characteristics will not be allowed to mate), dogs have been able to pass on their mutations, for better or worse.

“One advantage is that it is easier to use the dog as an experimental animal in scientific studies in order to facilitate the search for pathogenic genes. A drawback, however, is that thoroughbred dogs are more susceptible to diseases,” says Susanne Björnefeldt, who is the owner of two Welsh Springer spaniels. “One of these dogs, Higgins, has actually contributed to my work by donating hair to a study in which I determined what method works best for extracting DNA from a hair,” says Susanne Björnefeldt.

Full Story

Worms take the sniff test

Buttery popcorn or fresh green vegetables? Your answer tells a lot about you.

Now, researchers say that the way that thousands of tiny worms have answered that question likely reveals a lot about you and your brain, too.

In the experiment at the University of Rochester Medical Center, worms that are hermaphrodites (with characteristics of both females and males) went for the buttery smell, while the males the other of the two sexes in these worms opted for the scent of fresh vegetables. But when scientists tricked a few nerve cells in hermaphrodites into sensing that they were in a male worm, suddenly they too preferred the smell of fresh vegetables.

While the olfactory likes and dislikes of the tiny roundworm known as C. elegans is the stuff of distinctive cocktail conversation, trivia is the furthest thing on the minds of Rochester researchers who did the study, which is being reported in the Nov. 6 issue of Current Biology.

Geneticist Douglas Portman, Ph.D., and graduate student KyungHwa Lee ultimately hope to understand gender differences in diseases like autism, depression, and attention-deficit disorder. A number of more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADD and autism, and a number of more girls than boys are diagnosed with depression. While proposed explanations abound, few researchers debate the notion that the brains of the sexes are in some ways fundamentally different...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Gene that gives dogs black fur

A discovery about the genetics of coat color in dogs could help explain why humans come in different weights and vary in our abilities to cope with stress, a team led by scientists from the Stanford University School of Medicine reports.

The study, reported in the Nov. 2 issue of Science, answers a longtime mystery: What determines coat color in dogs" While scientists have known since the 1900s that most mammals share the same genetic mechanism to determine coat color, by the 1950s they began to suspect that dogs were different.

Now after swabbing the inner cheeks of hundreds of dogs and analyzing the DNA in the resulting samples, a team led by genetics professor Greg Barsh, MD, PhD, has nailed the gene. To the researchers' surprise, the gene makes a protein that's part of a large and variable family called defensins, thought to fight infections.

What is clear now is that this protein engages the melanocortin pathway, a circuit of molecular interactions that controls the type of melanin and amount of cortisol produced by the body. Barsh's lab has studied this pathway, which determines skin and hair color as well as stress adaptation and weight regulation, for 15 years.

The discovery of a new participant in this pathway opens up new vistas for drug research, said the article's co-first author, Sophie Candille, PhD, a former graduate student in Barsh's lab. Candille visited five Bay Area dog shows over six months to gather hundreds of samples by gently swabbing the inside of the dogs' cheeks with a brush...

Divers find new species in Aleutians

There are unknown creatures lurking under the windswept islands of the Aleutians, as per a team of scientific divers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

This summer, while completing the second phase of a two-year broad scientific survey of the waters around the Aleutian Islands, researchers have discovered what may be three new marine organisms. This year's dives surveyed the western region of the Aleutians, from Attu to Amlia Island, while last year's assessment covered the eastern region.

During the dives, two potentially new species of sea anemones have been discovered. Stephen Jewett, a professor of marine biology and the dive leader on the expedition, says that these are "walking" or "swimming" anemones because they move across the seafloor as they feed. While most sea anemones are anchored to the seabed, a "swimming" anemone can detach and drift with ocean currents. The size of these anemones ranges from the size of a softball to the size of a basketball.

Another new species is a kelp or brown algae that researchers have named the "Golden V Kelp" or Aureophycus aleuticus. As per Mandy Lindeberg, an algae expert with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and a member of the expedition, the kelp may represent a new genus, or even family, of the seaweed. Up to ten feet long, the kelp was discovered near thermal vents in the region of the Islands of the Four Mountains...

Lionfish Invasion

Scientists have confirmed that red lionfish have invaded the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, 20 miles off the Georgia coast.

A marine biologist photographed two of the adult lionfish in the sanctuary in late September during a scientific dive. The pair was spotted roughly 70 feet below the sea surface, providing insight into just how close to shore the fish can survive when the area’s water temperature cools in the winter.

The venomous fish threatens divers with excruciatingly painful stings that spread to the entire limb and regional lymph nodes, with discomfort lasting up to 12 hours. Even more troubling is the fact that such an injury hasn’t been encountered previously by local physicians and hospitals.

Native to the western Pacific Ocean, red lionfish are a favorite of the saltwater aquarium trade and were likely introduced into the southeast Atlantic coast during the early 1990s. Recently, the invasive species was found in shallower waters from Florida to North Carolina at various temperatures, raising concerns that the fish might spread farther and faster than originally thought.

"Discovery of the lionfish represents a challenge for both sanctuary management and scuba divers in the area,” said George Sedberry, Gray’s Reef sanctuary superintendent. “Without any natural predators in southeastern waters, lionfish put indigenous marine species at risk due to competition for food and space and their role as a predator of smaller fish."

Monkey Sniffs Butt

Horsing around!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dog Shoots Owner in the Back in Memphis, Tennessee

A Memphis, Tenn., man is in critical condition Wednesday after his dog shot him in the back.

Police say King George, a 150-pound Great Dane, accidentally knocked a .22-caliber pistol off his owner's end table around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. The gun went off, hitting his 21-year-old owner in the back.

"I knew he was smart, I didn't think he was that smart," the victim's fiancee, Miesha Lucas said "He was always protective. I didn't think he would be like that."

Police refused to name the victim as they do not plan to file charges in the shooting, which they've ruled as accidental.

Lucas told that she fears what her fiance will do to the pet once he gets out of the hospital.

The shooting occurred in the Raleigh section of Memphis.

Acording to SNL Weekend Update, they have never seen mallard ducks laugh so hard!