Larix occidentalis “Western Larch” Pinaceae (cone with evidence of seed predation by Tamiasciurus hudsonicus Red Squirrel)

Seeley Lake, MT
September 13, 2014
Robert Niese

Red Squirrels are cone specialists and create massive debris piles, called middens, in areas where they regularly eat (typically atop a stump, fallen log, or low, broad tree branch). These middens are easy to spot and are often more than a meter in width. In Western Washington, these cone middens are usually created by the Red Squirrel’s cousin, the Douglas Squirrel (T. douglasii).

Local residents look at the corpse of another Pink Dolphin that was washed ashore in Nakhon Si Thammarat

Thailand: Another dolphin found dead; villagers point finger at hunters
By Krisana Thiwatsirikul, 23rd November 2014;

Another dead Pink Dolphin (Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin) (Sousa chinensis) was found washed up on a beach in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Pak Phanang district yesterday. While coastal villagers revealed that a hunting group from outside had used pair trawls to hunt dolphins in the area, as the fish could yield up to Bt100,000 if sold to an aquarium.

The two-metre-long female dolphin carcass, weighing 200kg, was found in Tambon Pak Phanang Tawan-ok and possibly had been dead for five days. It was the second case in three days after the death of a dolphin in Sichon district, which was presumed to have been caused by the fish swallowing globules of oil following the oil spill at Si Chon beach on November 19.

Villager Aporn Charoenpol, 53, who found the dolphin’s carcass in Pak Phanang, said several varieties of dolphins lived in the area. Some outside hunters, who used pair trawls to fish in the Ao Phanang area, also caught live dolphins to sell elsewhere.

Another fisherman, who did not want to be named, said the pair trawls were possibly from Samut Prakan or nearby provinces because he had heard them talking in the Central Thai dialect. “These people came in 20 pair trawls to fish at Ao Phanang without fear of law. They also took dolphins - along with other marine lives - in a large tank with oxygen,” he added.

A scientist, who asked not to be named, concurred with the villagers’ testimony that dolphin hunters were real and mostly used large fishing boats with heavy tools. He said the group caught fish as per normal but also took dolphins, caught in the net, and kept them in a large tank. The dolphins would be sold mid-sea at a six-digit price for a whole and healthy dolphin, he said. He added that dolphins from the Gulf of Thailand were sold to aquariums in ASEAN countries, especially those that had dolphin shows.

"Fishermen spotting the group should try to record images as evidence but should stay far because the group could be hostile," the scientist warned, urging the Fisheries Department and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources to implement measures to protect these animals.

Source: The Nation

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The skull of the Chinese Water Deer is one of the most iconic skulls out there. 

Like many small Asian deer species, it does not have antlers. Instead the males fight each other with their extremely sharp tusks, slashing at rivals with downward head swings. 

When not actively shanking others, the tusks can be folded back slightly., so they don’t interfere with eating. 

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This is Rosie.

A while back, a friend of mine came upon a dead opossum at the side of the road. It was a large female. On the ground beside her, were 9 crushed babies.

When he turned her over, there was single live baby in the mother’s pouch. She was so young, her eyes were not yet open.

He gave her to me. I began bottle feeding her. For the first month or so, she lived in a sock. 

Rosie was incredible. Curious, friendly and shockingly intelligent. I’d always been told that marsupials fell far short of the intelligence of placental mammals due to their smaller brains. Rosie made me question that. She had the entire floor plan figured out in a few runs, taught herself to open doors, and learned most things (including house training) in a few tries. She was very friendly, and was well behaved when I took her to school. 

Eventually, I was able to find a more permanent home at a sanctuary, where she lives today. She does well with visitors and I still get emails about her occasionally.  

"I just had the best idea."

"Oh, great."

"You know how most animals poop out blobs or tubes or little pellets?"

"Um…"

"I’m going to make this wombat poop different."

"Poop… different…?"

"I’m going to make it poop cubes!

"Seriously?"

"That way the poops won’t roll away when the wombat uses them to mark its territory.”

"I think you’ve finally lost it."

"It’s called ‘innovation,’ my friend."

Source: Flickr / steven-young / licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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New Research: Fossils of New Squirrel-like Species Support Earlier Origin of Mammals

A research team led by paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have described three new small squirrel-like species that place a poorly understood Mesozoic group of animals firmly in the mammal family tree. The study, published today in the journal Nature, supports the idea that mammals originated at least 208 million years ago in the late Triassic, much earlier than some previous research suggests.

The three new species—Shenshou lui, Xianshou linglong, and Xianshou songae—are described from six nearly complete 160-million-year-old fossils found in China. The animals, which researchers have placed in a new group, or clade, called Euharamiyida, likely looked similar to small squirrels. They weighed between 1 and 10 ounces and had tails and feet that indicate that they were tree dwellers.

Based on the age of the Euharamiyida species and their kin, the divergence of mammals from reptiles had to have happened much earlier than some research has estimated. Instead of originating in the middle Jurassic (between 176 and 161 million years ago), mammals likely first appeared in the late Triassic (between 235 and 201 million years ago).

Read the full story. 

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Given how different these skulls look, it’s hard to believe they’re the same species. They’re cats. 

The one on the left is your normal garden-variety cat, and the one on the left is a Persian cat. The capability of selective breeding to mold muscle and bone, is absolutely phenomenal.  

Artificial selective breeding is creature design in practice, bringing to life creatures, in ways designers for games and movies can only envy.

(I posted these photos on my twitter account, challenging followers to identify them. They were correctly identified by User Deadly Beloved)


"Crap. I think the bat extruder’s broken again."

"How is that possible, evolution? We just fixed it last—oh. Oh, yeah, that’s not right."

"They’re pretty bad, huh?"

"They look like shriveled hairy potatoes"

"Hang on, maybe I can salvage this."

"Nuh-uh. No. No way."

"I mean, it is kind of cool how that one skin flap can stretch all the way over their faces.”

"Kind of horrifying, you mean."

"Maybe I can spin it as an adaptation."

"For what? Frightening small children?"

“‘Wrinkle-faced bats.’”

"How on Earth has no one fired you yet?"

Source: Jplevraud/Wikimedia Commons