animal evolution

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OMG it’s a fish with suction cups
Cities should be studied as evolutionary hotspots, says biologist
Animals and birds evolve more quickly in urban environments than in remote habitats, Cheltenham science festival is told
By Hannah Devlin

Foxes loitering around rubbish bins and pigeons roosting in train stations: urban animals are widely regarded as the dregs of the natural world.

However, according to biologist Simon Watt, cities represent some of the world’s hotspots for evolution and behavioural adaptation. Speaking at the Cheltenham science festival, Watt, who is founder of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, said: “The ice caps are melting, the rainforest is shrinking, the one environment that is growing is cities. If we’re going to look for evolutionary shifts right now in our world, the place to look is cities.”

In his talk, Watt cited a host of examples of how the urban environment is prompting new genetic shifts and unexpected behaviours. A proportion of black cap warblers, which used to migrate to Morocco or southern Spain, have shifted their route to Britain where urban heat islands and garden bird feeders allow them to survive at more northerly latitudes than was previously possible.

“The ones that come to Britain are starting to get shorter wings – better for manoeuvrability, worse for long flights – and longer beaks, which are better to get through the wee bars of garden bird feeders, although worse for things like fruits and berries.”

Birds in cities often sing at a higher pitch, perhaps to be better heard against higher levels of background noise. Photograph: Sue Tranter RSPB Images/PA Wire


Sure that long neck is helpful getting food…but water…

anonymous asked:

Dear Koryos: Can you imagine a universe wherein bats have become the ancestors of some kind of Highly Intelligent Life Form (not necessarily humanlike intelligence, but something as different from today-bats as humans are different from Ancient Primate Ancestor)? I originally just was thinking about what kind of Cultural Norms such beings would have, but then I realized I couldn't really imagine anything except bat-shaped things that more or less thought like humans.

I’ve sat on this question a while because it’s such an interesting one to me. The biggest issue here is that you’d have to specify which bats you’re making your theoretical ancient ancestor, because there’s such a vast diversity of behavior within the group. A vampire bat would be different from a sac-winged bat would be different from a hoary bat would be different from a flying fox ancestor, is what I’m saying. Any social or behavioral organization paradigm that you can think of, there’s a bat that has it.

So to think about what a sapient bat would look like, we first need to assess the intelligence and behavior of possible ancestral bats. And here I’m gonna stick a readmore, because this gets looooong.

Keep reading


natgeoVideo by @joelsartore | A Panther chameleon at the @lincolnchildrenszoo.
Over time, chameleons’ five toes have evolved into a fused pair of two and three, leaving feet that are perfect for clutching onto the branches they live on. Their eyes move independently from one another, allowing a 360 degree view of the world around them. Chameleons are very territorial, living in isolation with the exception of mating. If two males cross paths, it’s common for them to have a standoff wherein they both change colors and make themselves appear larger by inflating their bodies. Usually, these displays end with one of the two backing down, and changing into a dark, dull color.
Chameleons change colors depending on mood, light and temperature. It’s a common misconception that chameleons can change into any color under the sun. Species are born with a certain range of colors and are unable to stray from those. Panther chameleons have been known to exhibit some of the most vibrant variations.

anonymonster  asked:

Hello! You recently reblogged a Hercules beetle pupa and I was wondering if you would be able / inclined to maybe explain why a part of it moves in circles like that?

Sure! I don’t know if you were a kid like me who enjoyed unearthing moth pupa and harassing them so that they wiggled (like this), but it’s the same principal. Basically, it’s a last-ditch defense mechanism to try and deter predators who may be startled when that tasty-smelling brown thing starts squirming.

One of the most extreme examples of this is the daring owl-butterfly (already a cool name), which not only squirms, but creates a pupa that looks remarkably like the head of a venomous snake.


Diver Keri WIlk has been one of the few people to observe a strange sperm whale trait, described as a “poonado”.

This is thought to be a rarely used defence mechanism, which is different to when the whales defecate before their descent into deeper waters. The whale released an unusual amount of faeces, turned on its side and used its flipper to propel the excrement in a huge 30 metre arc.

This could be the first time this mechanism has been photographically documented, but has been observed in the wild previously.

(Via Daily Mail)


Useful and educational original caption:

I had honestly never seen a turtle eating before. This beautiful Hawksbill Turtle uses his ‘beak’ shaped mouth to get in the crevices of the coral reef. Although it looks as though he is just eating the hard coral here! Hawksbills are unfortunately on the critically endangered list. Their greatest threat remains the harvesting of their beautiful shell for jewelry.


Working on a watercolour drawing of Shuvuuia, a Cretaceous theropod dinosaur that lived in what is now Mongolia. I researched images of the skull of Shuvuuia, and took some photos of a Muscovy duck at our local park as inspiration for the reconstruction. This dinosaur was very bird-like, and the skull is described as being highly avian. Indeed when you search for images of Shuvuuia’s skull and compare them to a skull of a modern bird, such as an Emu, you can really see the similarities in structure. Undeniable evidence that birds are living dinosaurs.

The Muscovy I referenced was quite aggressive towards other birds, and made a rather intimidating repetitive breathy huffing sound, all the while wagging its tail. The duck would walk around for a bit to search for leftover food, and when it came upon some old croissants, it savagely tore into them, shaking them about. I could easily see something like Velociraptor in this bird! Although it is a duck, it behaves more like a goose, particularly in its aggression. Nothing is more inspiring than going out and watching animal behaviour. This is also why I highly recommend having a notepad and a good camera on hand. Taking your own videos and photos for reference will be crucial in shaping your own style!

Here are two links to videos of the sounds Muscovy ducks make. The first video is the sound that the drake at the park was making as he ate his croissants. (Side note, bread is very bad for ducks! I removed the croissants after getting them away from him.) The second video is more of a squabbling type of vocalization. I can imagine a group of small theropod dinosaurs sounding similar to this! Ducks definitely do more than the standard quack. Some make some pretty weird sounds, like the male Ruddy duck’s call.