Did you know that despite normally being quadrupedal (moving with four legs) Ring-tailed lemurs can rear up and balance on their hind legs? While this can be used as an aggressive display, some do it just because they can. Here’s a cute video of Rogue doing just that while calling to the rest of her troop.

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Eighteen members of my family, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters and all were lucky enough to have time off to meet up in Hawai’i for the holidays. We flew in from Korea, my sister and her family from Australia and still more came in from Colorado, Texas and Ohio in the States. To be with family during the holidays is just so precious as so many of my years abroad have seen the holiday season come and go without them. While my friends abroad have made every holiday so special together, being with family is truly special when the holidays with them are so few.
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When Hawaii was first mentioned, I immediately Googled what we should do and black sand beaches and turtles were high on the list of must-sees. The Punalu’u Black Sand Beach on the Big Island is the largest black sand beach on the island and had it all. Black sand to dig our toes into and even sea turtles basking in the sun were said to be there. There were tide pools for little ones to play and bathrooms and showers to wash up, too. While I’d seen black sand beaches in Jeju, Korea before, this one was quite different. The sand was a bit darker and honestly, you can’t beat a beach with sea turtles in my opinion. 

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From our house in Kona, we took a drive south deciding that we’d take the day to see this black sand beach and the turtles and we’d also hit the nearby Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park as it was in the vicinity and it would take more than an hour for the drive anyway.

The black sand is made of basalt and was created when the lava from Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes flowed into the ocean. Rocks go from the beach out into the water, so if you’re swimming be careful and watch where you step. One good thing about the rocks is that they provide some nice tide pools for the babies and they weren’t nearly as sharp and uncomfortable as the lava rocks we’d found in Jeju, Korea so we didn’t need to wear shoes on them. While the tide pools are baby friendly, the water is not. The waves were choppy and swimming in the sea just off the coast here wouldn’t have been all that fun. As our babe played, we also started to notice how much wildlife there was. Because of the black sand and the rocks it was difficult at first, but we soon realized there were little black crabs, black fish and other black sea life in the tide pools that of course our little one immediately got a kick out of.

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The sea turtles that bask in the sun have their own protected area surrounded by rocks to come up to and visitors are kept at bay, only allowed to photograph the giant beauties. Rare and endangered animals like the hawksbill turtle, honu or green turtle and Hawaiian monk seal come to the area to rest and if you’re lucky you’ll spot some on your visit like we did. We even saw one as he came up to shore and took 30 minutes to make his way up to the beach as the waves pushed him in and then pull him out again before he could finally get ashore. We were sort of astonished at how they all managed to make it ashore at this one location in the protected area as the rest of the beach is open to people. I assume there’s something about the way the water pushes them in and where the rocks are that makes this location easier for them to beach.

There are also plenty of places along the road around the island for everyone to get out, stretch and enjoy some gorgeous overlooks providing views of the sea and the surrounding as well. On the way, we took our time and were sure to enjoy the scenery as we passed the blue sea above. This trip out of Kona was worth every minute and introduced us to how much of the Big Island is empty and devoid of people which gives it a very adventure like feel when you’re out on the roads with very few cars passing by.

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Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

Address: Highway 11, Island of Hawaii, HI 96777

Amenities: parking lot, bathroom, outdoor showers

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach & Turtles on the Big Island, Hawaii Eighteen members of my family, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters and all were lucky enough to have time off to meet up in Hawai'i for the holidays.
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The scaly ant eater, also known as the pangolin , is a mammal armored with large, keratin plates covering the top of its body. They are found in both Africa and Asia and are around 12 – 40 inches in size on average.

In the event of an attack, the pangolin will curl up into a ball to shield itself, hence its name, which derives from the Bahasa Malaysian word “pengguling” which means “roll up”.

They are also able to release an unpleasant gas, much like a skunk.

A solitary and nocturnal animal, the scaly ant eater survives on a diet of termites and ants, for which they use their long tongue to pick off their prey. Their tongues are often longer than their bodies, at around 16inches.

Unfortunately for the Pangolins, they are heavily hunted for both their armor as well as their meat.

Seen as a delicacy in some countries, they are often hunted and exported to countries in Asia, as there is a unsubstantiated belief that the keratin armor has certain medicinal properties.

This, as well as the Pangolins natural habitats being largely destroyed by deforestation, has earned them a place on the red list.

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The bumblebee bat lives in caves near bodies of water where insects tend to congregate.  Unlike many bats, which spend the entire night searching for food, the bumblebee bat active for only very short periods of time; about half in hour at dusk, and another half hour at dawn.  This means their feeding can be easily interrupted by bad weather, leaving the bats to go hungry.

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Tuatara Hatchling at UK’s Chester Zoo

*INCREDIBLE NEWS*

Our keepers have hatched the first ever tuatara outside of their native New Zealand - a successful breeding that has taken several decades to achieve.

The tuatara is one of the world’s oldest living species and is believed to have pre-dated the dinosaurs, having been on the planet for more than 225 million years.

Around 70 million years ago they became extinct everywhere except New Zealand, where it now has iconic status.

Our achievements in successfully hatching the tuatara - and all of the intricate skills developed along the way - give us confidence that we can help save highly threatened species such as mountain chicken frogs and Bermudan skinks from extinction in the wild.

(via: Chester Zoo)

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Introducing Machimosaurus

Has anyone heard of this guy ? Well if you have you would know this is the largest ever recorded seawater crocodile who happened to be unearthed in the deserts of Tunisia.

Now relax, it was just the remains, sadly not the real thing :*(

This big fella was on average around 30 feet long and to give you that indication I am short fellow at 5 foot 6, that’s a lot of azzventura’s stacked up on each other , and weighing a monstrous 3 tons! The second picture displays a saltwater crocodile , a human and the Machimosaurus skull to scale!

The fossils, including a skull and a smattering of other bones, were discovered by Federico Fanti of the University of Bologna in Italy and colleagues with support from the National Geographic Society.

Now sadly that 30 feet long is the current best estimate and scientists are now waiting to unearth more complete skeletons to get an even better idea on how big this croc grew!

I should note, that Machimosaurus was the biggest ever seawater crocodile, however standing at an impressive 40 feet and weighing up to eight metric tones, was the freshwater Sarcosuchus imperator who lived on 10 million years ago!

-Source
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160111-ancient-crocodile-marine-largest-paleontology/

I am certain there is something I am not seeing here, and probably after I clear my mind I will think of it, but why , why were freshwater crocodiles the biggest ever recorded crocodiles but only the smaller , more placid ones remain whilst the Saltwater crocodiles are now the main big intimidating boys ! Anyone have any idea?

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Vaquitas Spotted! Critically Endangered Porpoises Persevere

A newly launched search in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez has reportedly found several vaquita marina porpoises, one of the most critically endangered animals in the world. This reassures conservationists that the vaquita isn’t extinct yet. However, that doesn’t mean the tiny animals are in good shape.

The vaquita has never exactly been an animal with huge numbers. The world’s smallest and rarest marine mammal, they live out their lives - often unnoticed - in the same Mexican waters frequented by commercial fishermen. Unfortunately, this makes them an exceptionally vulnerable species, impacted by human activity even more than most. According to the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) Cetacean Specialist Group (CSG), the vaquitas numbered anywhere between 600 and 800 in the 1990s. However, they had recently disappeared so completely that many experts thought them extinct.

That’s why the NOAA is reporting the recent sighting of two (possibly three) of the elusive porpoises with “jubilation and relief.”

(Photo : GreenPeace Mexico)

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Florida’s Three Sisters Springs Shut Down by Hundreds of Manatees 

by Anna Norris

As temperatures have dipped lower than usual for this time of year, a popular swimming spot in Florida was forced to close on Monday after a group of about 300 manatees congregated at Three Sisters Springs to enjoy the balmy waters.

Like penguins, manatees form huddles in the warm springs when the temperatures are a bit too cold for their liking. The Crystal River park closed to allow the manatees to rest undisturbed.

“We have a record number this year,” Laura Ruettiman, an environmental education guide at Three Sisters Springs, told USA Today. “We have 150 more manatees here than have ever been recorded in the past…”

(read more: The Weather Channel)

photos: USFWS, Keith Ramos, and the U.S. Geological Survey

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The king vulture is best known for its beautifully coloured face and head, and is thus considered more “charismatic” than most other vulture species.  These colours are not feathers, but rather patterns directly on the bird’s skin.  Like many vultures, the king vulture’s head is almost entirely bald (save for some bristle-like black feathers).  This prevents rotting meat and blood from being trapped in the vulture’s feathers, possibly leading to bacterial infections, when the bird feeds.

A pedestrian looks at a lion sculpture which was installed by ‘National Geographic Wild’ to highlight the threat to the endangered big cats, in Trafalgar Square, London, Britain on January 28th 2016. The National Geographic channel installed the sculpture, alongside Trafalgar Square’s own famous lion statues, to promote its week of programming on big cats. Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

Chinese Taste For Fish Bladder Threatens Tiny Porpoise In Mexico

Did you know? The bladder of the totoaba fish can sell for up to $10,000.

“People in Asian cultures use the swim bladder in a soup called fish maw,” explains Erin Dean at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It’s also reputed to have some medicinal value — it’s thought to boost fertility.

Dean says no one knows why the demand for it has skyrocketed recently. It could be that when a Chinese fish called a yellow croaker, which once supplied bladders, started dying out, people started turning to the Mexican totoaba to meet the demand for bladders.

What investigators found is that Mexican fishermen are using huge nets, called gill nets, to catch totoaba. And those nets also accidentally snare and kill the vaquita porpoises. Their corpses get thrown away, while the totoaba bladders go to China. The whole business is a violation of both Mexican and international law, since the totoaba and the vaquita are listed by international treaty as endangered, so they’re legally protected.

Read the full story here.