Posts tagged zoology
Posts tagged zoology
The latest bit from Wikipedia that cracked me the heck up is in the opening section from the article on hares:
Normally a shy animal, the European brown hare changes its behavior in spring, when hares can be seen in broad daylight chasing one another around meadows; this appears to be competition between males to attain dominance (and hence more access to breeding females). During this spring frenzy, hares can be seen “boxing”; one hare striking another with its paws (probably the origin of the term “mad as a March hare”). For a long time, this had been thought to be intermale competition, but closer observation has revealed it is usually a female hitting a male to prevent copulation.
I love the way this is phrased, implying that someone came up with the nifty male dominance theory and everyone thought it was fine and dandy — and then a hundred years later, someone finally bothered to check if it was right.
"Yo guys, so I’ve got this funny story…"
Michael Slezak for New Scientist:
Most parents are security conscious but Australian superb fairy-wrens take it to another level. They have no choice: fairy-wren mothers often have their nests hijacked by Horsfield’s bronze cuckoos (Chalcites basalis).
The cuckoo egg looks like the wren eggs but hatches earlier, at which point the cuckoo chick ejects the wren eggs. Unless the mother wren realises an intruder is in the nest, she raises the cuckoo as her own, wasting time and food.
But the cuckoo only gets away with it 60 per cent of the time. In the other 40 per cent of cases, the wren detects the cuckoo within days, abandons it, and starts another nest. That’s because the mother teaches her chicks a password while they are still inside their eggs. Once hatched, the mother abandons the nest if they can’t give the password.
Nature is both weird and awesome at the same time.
Gruesome AP report:
Seagulls around the city of Puerto Madryn discovered about a decade ago that by pecking at the whales as they come up for air, they can create open wounds. Then, each time the whales surface, it’s dinner time: Gulls swoop down and dig in, cutting away skin and blubber with their beaks and claws.
The problem has only grown more severe since then as more gulls caught on and the bird population exploded due to easy access to human detritus — not only open-air garbage heaps but fish parts as well, dumped directly into the water by fishermen and a seafood packing plant.
There’s even a picture! Don’t worry, it’s pretty safe.
I mean, it’s clearly not safe in the sense that it shows a seagull in the process of devouring a whale and what the fuck, but there’s no visible wound and the bird’s beak looks like it’s just resting on the whale, so if you didn’t know the context you wouldn’t even know that some bad shit was about to go down.
Ed Yong on Discover's Not Exactly Rocket Science blog:
Some flies, known as phorids, specialise in decapitating ants in a gruesome way. They lay their eggs inside their victims. When the maggots hatch, they move towards the ant’s head, where they gorge upon the brain and other tissues. The ant stumbles about in a literally mindless stupor until the connection between its head and body is dissolved by a enzyme released from the maggot. The head falls off and the adult flies burst out.
Nature is weird.
Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, died on Sunday of unknown causes, the Galapagos National Park said. He was thought to be about 100 years old.
George was believed to be around 100 years old and the last member of a species of giant tortoise from La Pinta, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park said.
A very sad day. :(
I unfortunately had no choice but to click this BBC News piece by Matt McGrath:
Accounts of unusual sexual activities among penguins, observed a century ago by a member of Captain Scott’s polar team, are finally being made public.
Details, including “sexual coercion”, recorded by George Murray Levick were considered so shocking that they were removed from official accounts.
He was shocked by what he described as the “depraved” sexual acts of “hooligan” males who were mating with dead females. So distressed was he that he recorded the “perverted” activities in Greek in his notebook.
Necrophilia is now hooliganism. Also I like the idea of being so upset by something that you start writing in Greek.
I just finished the book The Prodigal Tongue by Mark Abley a few days ago. It was a pretty enjoyable look at the influence of other languages on English and the influence of English on other languages. Here’s a review by The Telegraph if you’re interested.
The Madidi titi, a species of South American monkey, was mentioned in the book. From Wikipedia:
Rather than choosing a name themselves, [British biologist Robert] Wallace, his team, and WCS auctioned off the naming rights to raise funds for FUNDESNAP (Fundación para el Desarrollo del Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas), the nonprofit organization that maintains Madidi National Park. The online casino GoldenPalace.com, one of over a dozen bidders, paid US$650,000 to have the species named after them.