hunting behavior

self care is coming face to face with a ghost and setting out on a quest to capture what you once saw onto video with no big camera crews following you around joined only by your fellow investigator nick groff and your equipment tech aaron goodwin as you travel to some of the most highly active paranormal locations where you spend an entire night being locked down from dusk till dawn

Across the world and for millions of years, army ant colonies have been infiltrated by impostors—beetles that pass for ants and make their living as parasites. Army ants are named for their aggressive hunting behavior, and they’re also fierce defenders of their colonies. But this hasn’t stopped several beetle species from the family Staphylidae which have evolved to infiltrate roaming army ant colonies and live in them as parasites. A new study published in the journal Current Biology finds this capacity evolved not just once, but at least a dozen times in beetle species that are only distantly related. Read more about this new research on the blog.

ausdogkora  asked:

What's the protocol for when the power goes out at the aquarium? And do you have advice of what to do to keep fish (and filter bacteria!) alive if the power goes out? :)

Okay, staff at the aquarium actually get questions like this frequently from visitors. This is because visitors are often quite shocked to realize that many of the animals they saw during childhood visits are still there, in spite of Hurricane Sandy and all the damage it brought to the Jersey shore. They start asking about how we weathered the storm.

The truth is, we have major plans in place for handling any emergency or power outage. This is how the aquarium staff (at the time of Sandy, I was still just a volunteer!) did so well. By having plans in place and reviewing them, it greatly helps with most issues.

Minor power outages or rolling brownouts are a common enough occurrence during the worst of summer heatwaves or storms, no matter where you live NJ. While modern upgrades and redundancies to the power grid has removed much of the risk of significant power loss, it can happen.

To deal with minor losses, we have a few hidden treasures tucked away. While the building has emergency lighting to assist with human navigation, every free-standing exhibit has a flashlight or lantern tucked underneath. Why? Well, every extra bit of light is important to help us pathetic humans navigate in the dark. We employees and volunteers know our aquarium and the terrain pretty well, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be hazardous in the dark. This means helping everyone get around safely to a secure area or possibly exiting the building if external conditions warrant is priority 1.

These lights are also crucial for our sharks and their tank mates. Successfully keeping larger sharks with fish requires working with their natural tendencies. Sharks tend to be more active with hunting at night. One of the biggest tricks to keeping sharks in aquaria is making sure they have a nightlight. It need not be bright enough to disturb, just bright enough to prevent them from getting into that hunting behavior and starting to look at their tank mates as a possible snack. So, a big job is specifically ensuring that there are lights on our sharks.

Side note : I picture this whenever we talk about power outages and shining flashlights for the sharks. I’ve never experienced a power outage at work, but I have a feeling this will be me if it happens while I’m around the sharks.

Originally posted by oneangryshot

In addition to hidden flashlights, each and every free-standing exhibit has a hidden emergency kit underneath including a battery operated air pump, line, and stone. If the power outage will continue longer than a minor inconvenience, these little battery operated pumps can be set up to keep some circulation and surface disturbance in the exhibits.

This plan for dealing with minor outages is only as good as our prior preparation. So, these pumps and flashlights are frequently checked to ensure that everything is in working order and that they all have good batteries. We have a cache of batteries in our lab, as well as a huge tote of spares.

If a power outage looks like it is going to persist for longer than a few hours, then we have a bit of a challenge on our hands. Temperatures on smaller exhibits (especially terrestrial ectotherms) may begin to slide, and prolonged stagnation of water through filter media may cause the beneficial bacteria to consume all available oxygen (and die). The aquarium has generators on hand for this very emergency. We may not be able to operate ALL life support systems, but our generators can handle ensuring that critical systems are functioning.

Where it gets interesting is our water quality monitoring. In our day to day operations, the aquarium alternates between two systems from Hach and YSI. These are both battery operated, handheld devices with internal lighting that we can use to go from tank to tank and monitor for temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and pH (on the YSI). As we test, the data is displayed on the device in use and is also stored for later retrieval. So, although I need a computer to upload data and make our pretty spreadsheets for logging purposes, I could still easily go around and ensure that each tank is sitting within a reasonable range for general parameters.

Our aquarium has two levels, and our upper level has been known to turn into “tent-city” when a prolonged outage is expected (or a significant storm). Staff has camped out there and spent the night to ensure that nothing goes awry. I am told, however, that the seals make bad roommates (they can be active and noisy at night, apparently!).

We also put in a ton of prep work if we suspect an event will cause us to lose power, such as a hurricane or other major weather event. This may include things like setting up the generators, putting pumps into place, etc. By being ready in advance of the power going out, we’ve already done much of the hard work. I also like to think it gets us in the right mindset for when the power does go out, no different than having a fire drill.

Okay, I think this is long enough for one post. I’m going to make a second one for home hobbyists dealing with power loss.

anonymous asked:

"A lost dog poster (up next to a free kittens ad and a for rent sign…)" I'm sorry I don't understand what this means...

Cas. The “dog who thinks he’s people.” The Winchesters’ “attack dog.” Who’s currently “lost.” Because he’s not answering his phone and Dean can’t even track him with his phone’s GPS, and he’s even tried checking through national police databases to see if anyone fitting Cas’s description has been arrested… I mean, Dean was trying to distract himself from the fact that he couldn’t find his dog by going down to the pound to pet a different dog. Basically. Metaphorically speaking.

I think fandom has pretty universally decided that Cas would be a cat person.

And for rent could mean several different things… but mostly the fact that Dean’s waiting for Cas to properly come home, move into the bunker.

A concept:

Werewolves seldom live alone. The wolf instinct is powerful- but it doesn’t drive hunting behavior; that’s a little too cognitive, a little too much testing and careful gauging. It’s only the very recently turned, or those whose inhibitions are lowered one way or another, that catch themselves hunkering down when something runs in front of them or salivating at the presence of any raw meat.

But the pack instinct dominates, powerfully. Partners, romantic or platonic. Family, biological or found; in a gregariousness that transcends species boundaries some make their pack out of pets, or even plants- but a werewolf will virtually never be caught in isolation if they can possibly help it. Amateurs at the supernatural look for werewolves in unshaven pariahs, but far more often they are found in the soccer moms whooping enthusiastically from the bleachers- the man who never misses a single meeting of his book club, people with pockets full of bandages and snacks and a spare coat for everyone. 

Another concept: Vampire social circles tend incredibly exclusive. There are a thousand and one blood clans and most of them have upwards of twenty rivalries they’ve been nursing for centuries. Debts unpaid, ancient dueling accidents- points of contention arise over the changing values of eras and how someone was turned.

Out of this isolation, most vampires live in pockets of time; here a slice of Victorian London, there, a coven dating back to the Islamic Golden Age. Clinging to the familiar, though new blood always saturates even the oldest lines in the end, and brings those ideas with them- as much as they complain, yearn for the times when the world made sense, many do so discreetly checking smartphones, from the comforts of electric lighting and air-conditioned houses

Some are forced to set aside rivalries by sheer virtue of everyone else in their respective circles has died or moved on, leading them back to each other- but of course, they don’t forget their old grudges. 

30 Day Retrosaur Challenge part 17 - Apex Predator

Living during the mid Cretaceous, Praedonius (meaning ‘the pirate’, due to the sail-like ridge running along its back) was a very successful predator due to its versatile hunting behavior. It could surprise its prey in an ambush, chase down and exhaust quarry while running on all fours, and was an adept swimmer, able to chase aquatic and semi-aquatic prey, like Duck-Billed Goliaths. When large prey was scarce, it would resort to foraging for small fry.

It did face stiff competition when other invasive tyrant species moved into its territory. That being said, it did have a mutually beneficial relationship with some True Tyrants, such as Akrodon. For instance, Praedonius would swim behind a herd wading of duck-bills in order to chase them onto the land, where an Akrodon is laying in wait. Or vice versa, with Akrodon chasing them into the lake. By working together, both predators had a higher rate of success while hunting.

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psychoinnocent  asked:

So I'm sure you've gotten a similar question before but if not: what kind of research did you do when you decided on the settled forms for Dæmorphing? Like did you go through an animal encyclopedia or decide on a general family before going into specifics? I'm curious since I'm working on a HDM crossover and I underestimated how much thought had to be put into it haha

I did a RIDICULOUS amount of research for the settled forms of the main human characters of Dæmorphing. (Main characters include the Anifamilies but not the Valley new-frees, to give some perspective.) 

I never picked a family before going into specifics. I left everything on the table, which is why I think I ended up with some really fun forms like four-eyed butterflyfish for Tidwell and cabbage white butterfly for Melissa. For me it was super important to avoid stereotypes of what a character’s dæmon ought to be, given that a major theme of Dæmorphing is the disconnect between what people believe about animals and what they’re actually like.

I’m making it sound simpler than it is, but my method is this, more or less. 

1. Come up with a list of personality traits for the character. I don’t mean preferences like “hates mornings” or “likes math.” I mean patterns of behavior like “values privacy” or “can’t stay focused on one thing at a time.” Don’t forget exceptions and caveats like “lazy, except when it’s a project she’s doing for herself, not one she’s been asked to do.”

2. Organize the list into useful categories. By “useful” I mean things you can translate into animal behavior together. Put social traits into a category. Put boundaries and privacy into a category. Put work ethic traits into a category.

3. Translate the traits into animal behaviors. Often it’s not a one to one thing but a group of traits. Say you have traits like “values privacy,” “gets angry when people touch his stuff,” and “defensive.” All of those add up to an animal that lives alone on a territory it defends against all comers. But caveats are important too. “Gets angry when people touch his stuff, except his friends,” might suggest an animal with more porous territorial boundaries, or maybe an animal that defends a territory with a mate or a social group.

4. Find an animal that has all of those traits. This is the really hard part. There’s gonna be a lot of blind alleys. I usually start with one really unusual animal behavior to filter on, and then go from there. My starting point with Eva, for example, was that she’s super tough and can survive even the most extreme adversity. That pretty much cut me down to animals in the desert, tundra, deep sea, and mountaintops. But you will find animals that are perfect except for one thing and it will drive you crazy. I nearly picked eyelash viper for Marco because they’re territorial, they’re ambush predators, they have extravagant courtship displays, they use manipulative behaviors to hunt, and they have sensitive passive senses – but they’re just too solitary for him. It wasn’t working. So I had to move on.

In terms of where I do my research, well, it depends on the stage of research. Wikipedia is always great as a jumping off point, if you need to assemble a list of burrowing animals, for example. There’s lots of freely available articles on Google Scholar, if you’re willing to wade into the weeds of scientific language (I am.) I often find that zoo websites have really good information about animals. I’m also a big fan of UMichigan’s Animal Diversity Web, and for more specific groups of animals, Ultimate Ungulate and Primate Info Net

I’m also happy to give you advice as long as you come to me with specific questions like “Hey, do you know of a burrowing animal that is also an active chase predator?” rather than broad ones like “What dæmon does X character have?”

Species 1: SciVac

Part 2: Biology


The anatomy of a SciVac begins with their integumentary system, consisting of the protective layer surrounding the gooey innards of the SciVac. The SciVac’s hide has a rough, grainy texture and is structured much like microscopic chain-mail, with all of the skin cells surrounded by a small calcium-web that provides a function similar to the mesodermal skeleton of echinoderms, if on a much smaller degree than Earth echinoderms.

The muscular system of a SciVac is much like Earth life in the way that it relies on pulling the bone rather than pushing like the life on some other planets. The number of muscles is far smaller in SciVacs (and in general the group of life SciVacs belong to), with the SciVacs lacking a majority of the intricate facial muscles that humans possess, and similarly they lack many small muscles in the extremities that humans also have. This ends up being offset by the body of a SciVac allowing far more room for any individual muscle, meaning that even considering the general size (with most SciVacs standing around 7 feet tall) they’re far stronger than any Earth creature of their weight, with powerful grasping hands and strong beaks for breaking the strong skin of their planet’s natives. SciVacs are well known for having especially powerful legs, with the back legs capable of springing themselves easily up to 10 feet into the air.

The skeletal system of SciVacs is similarly Earth, with a fair mix with the features of an insect’s exoskeleton. Strong and cylindrical, the bones contain various notches and grooves on their sides which muscles connect to, allowing the muscles to easily pull bones. These bones also are thick, with small layers of spongy material to absorb impacts even in the event of a crack. The skull of a SciVac is solid, with one tube-shaped bone connected to the neck, that opens to the eyes, vents, and beak. This design is carried onto the back portion of the body, which is again one solid bone surrounding several vital organs from harm. The middle body is reasonably earth-like, with a spine (in this case running along the top and bottom of the chest area) connecting to several ribs in order to allow room for childbirth, breathing, and large meals.

The life cycle of the SciVac begins with a distinctive larval stage, born live from the mouth of the parent through said parents tongue-genital opening. This larva is then transported to the communities local spawn-pool where they’ll be cared for by the community (although some people choose to raise their young in private pools, often with close friends and family, but this can stunt their social growth later in life). At this point in their lives the SciVac are notably far less intelligent than human young, and are the equivalent of a small frog in terms of intellect. The young will spend about 3-4 human years living within these pools (note: SciVac young breath air, they simply have porous skin and have evolved to fish through water) learning basic hunting and social behaviors with their fellow larvae, very simple things, collecting masses of energy which they store until their metamorphosis. The larvae have many of the features that adult SciVac have - with a very similar head shape, the basics of their limbs, the basic placement of organs, and the same three-body-section anatomy.

The metamorphosis of a SciVac is more like that of an Earth amphibian than and Earth insect, lacking any distinct cocoon stage and instead gradually morphing from larvae to adult. The process will take a shockingly short amount of time considering the sheer size of the adult SciVac, which is why it takes several years just to store enough energy to start the metamorphosis. Once the larva has stored enough energy, and the amount of food present shows that they can afford to metamorphosize, they will begin the change. Firstly they develop their strong legs, rotating the joints into a pillar-erect structure, and begin to test their legs out under water as they develop further. Then they shift the location of their body-sections, losing their neck as the head slides up further along the body, and they begin to grow distinct fingers on their hands as their body stretches out. Eventually they resemble a squat adult, and are capable of moving fully on land. The final stage of development happens when the SciVac are about 10 years old, which is when they grow their brighter colouration and will begin to ovulate and produce functioning sperm (as opposed to just the digestive/seminal fluid).

The adult stage in the SciVac life cycle happens at around 10 years of age, once the middle-form develops reproductive capabilities. This also comes with the development of the SciVac’s adult colouration, with bright oranges and reds covering the abdomen and spines in order to show the adults sexual availability. Adults will develop very little over their lifetime until they begin to reach elderly age, when things such as the calcium web begin to break down and they become wrinkly, with sagging skin. This stage lasts until around 120 years of age, which is the expected lifetime of a SciVac.

The reproductive system of a SciVac differs very little from SciVac to SciVac, as they have only one gender which possess two different gametes. During copulation the “tongues” will extend and stretch out over copulation, with once SciVac accepting the other SciVac’s small gametes, which will travel into the chest area and fertilize an egg, which will slowly develop into a fetus, which grows out of the spongy tissue on the walls of the “womb” until being birthed out of the tube of the parent.

Being obligate carnivores (much like Earth cats) the SciVac eat only the consumers found on their planet.The SciVacs consume plenty of protein and fats in their diet, and find the taste of things such as sugar very sour, being unable to taste sweets (again, much like Earth cats). SciVac foods most often consist of large quantities of meat, most often being the softer, squishier portions of the animal - such as the shoulder or back muscles. While the SciVac don’t eat plants, they do on occasion spice their meats with flavored “leaves”, or drugs as many SciVac meals contain mild alkaloids or even hallucinogens.

The digestive systems of SciVacs are very simplistic, not only due to their carnivorous nature, but also because some of the digestive process is done outside of the body in a similar vein to Earth spiders. The process begins when the tongue pierces the flesh of the food and begins to pump a digestive fluid inside. This fluid is derived from the SciVac equivalent of seminal fluid and is capable of breaking down the flesh of the food greatly in order to make it more appetising. This fluid has no effect on other SciVacs, and almost no effect on that of the SciVac’s close relatives - this means that cannibal SciVacs are unheard of since a SciVac cannot properly digest a fellow SciVac. Once the food has been softened it is put through what resembles an intestine that gradually gets thinner - this is filled with digestive acid and biles which further help the digestive process by crushing and dissolving food before it reaches the SciVac “liver” - which helps to remove toxic ingredients from their food - before getting passed to an intestine (which has little difference from how mammal intestines function) that then passes it’s food through a rectum on the underside of the animal (between the two front legs).

The urinary system is quite simplistic, it simply acts as an extension of the “liver”, which passes water to the kidneys for blood treatment. The kidney is placed above the heart, and intersects many large vessels, filtering waste products from the blood and storing them in a second kideny chamber until the SciVac wishes to urinate.

A SciVac’s circulatory system is fairly different from that of a human’s. The heart consists of two starfish-shaped muscles directly next to each other face to face, one receiving blood and one pumping it out. Rather than being the sole force in terms of pumping blood, the starfish-arms taper off for a long time, pumping like an undulating worm in order to force blood continuously (as by the time one pump has reached it’s end, another pump has already began). There are also several pumping-points which provide the blood with extra push. This system of undulation means that SciVacs lack distinctive veins and arteries, with the only difference being if they go towards the heart or away from it. Blood will eventually end up heading towards the heart, once the blood has delivered its supplies to the body through what is effectively capillaries, and go through the second seastar-shaped organ. This organ will pump the blood through the lungs, providing it with oxygen, and then bring it back to the first seastar-organ.

The respiratory system is relatively simple. Five vents on the top of the head can bring in and out air through the use of a series of muscles that pull on the bag that the lung consists of, forcing the air in, and force it into the bookcase-like lung that is connected to the SciVac capillaries. This system is much like Earth tetrapod lungs, but with the omission of the diaphragm, instead opting for the lung themselves to be opened.

The nervous system of the SciVac is remarkably Earth-like, a trend that’s noted throughout most sapient species within the known galaxy. The nervous system consists of bunches of fibrous “nerve-veins” made up of tightly packed nerve cells that are strung together throughout the body much like the circulatory system (although much thinner, as they do not carry any liquid in them) and are connected to brains (one of which consists of the parts of the brain that take in information and process it such as for the eyes or tongue, and the other of which deals with more complicated (such as managing the endocrine system) and conscious (such as reasoning) matters).

The typical behaviours of the SciVacs are reasonable and knowing the basics of their biology should make most things about them apparent. They are, as a species, prone to bursts of energy or longer periods of idling about or only slow movement. Some other common behaviors include promiscuousness as a stress response, great fears of heights of any kind, and a lifelong love of the water. It’s also been noted that modern SciVacs often become “addicted” to caring for pets or plants - which likely stems from their young providing them with joy when cared for far more than human children, due to the environmental differences, and having what the brain often thinks as another child around at all times can leave SciVacs on a “parenting high”.

There are several subspecies of SciVac, mostly characterized by differences in beak shape, size, and coloration. The majority subspecies is the Greater Continental SciVac, known to be the first SciVac population the G.C.SciVac has a large size, simplistic beak shape, and an orange coloration to their hides (although this does vary between individuals as with humans races). Several other major SciVac populations include the Island SciVacs, who are known for longer beaks and smaller sizes as well as a significantly larger amount of yellow in their coloration, the Northern SciVacs, who have thicker bodies, hooked beaks, and a more desaturated coloration to them.

SciVacs come from a group of running predators that have descended from a collection of arboreal troop hunters - in a similar fashion to the evolution of humans. Once the world of SciVacs got over their most recent ice-age equivalent (which, technically, should be called a “moist age”, but I will not) the lush forests retreated farther back and so did the competing group of life on the SciVac homeworld, which left the SciVac ancestors to radiate into powerful group predators. This eventually lead them on a path of intelligence that lead to the SciVacs. 


s1 DOT zetaboards DOT com/Conceptual_Evolution/single/?p=3068500&t=8097513


The large, leisurely Aragorn insists on “scent-rolling time” prior to every treadmill session. He used to shock the trainers and students with spontaneous “surprise-rolls” while the treadmill was running at full speed. Making it stop before he could get hurt, was quite a challenge, so we decided to allow him this little privilege…
Photos: Rooobert Bayer

“My cat likes climbing trees!” It’s a good thing cat trees and cat shelves are a thing.

“My cat likes digging!” It’s a good thing you can provide them with a dig box.

“My cat likes hunting!” It’s a good thing there are many, many toys designed to encourage a cat’s natural hunting behavior.

“My cat likes scratching the trees!” It’s a good thing scratching posts are a thing, they even come in as wide of a variety as trees.

“My cat likes the fresh air!” It’s a good thing you can open a screened window for them, or build a catio.

“My cat likes to play with other cats!” It’s a good thing you can get another cat, or harness train them so they can go out and see their friends in a controlled setting.

“My cat doesn’t like using the litter box!” It’s a good thing you can experiment with litter types, box styles, box sizes, and box placement until you find something that sticks.

Maze enrichment with Renfield!

Today I thought I’d make Renfield, my Kenyan sand boa, work for his supper, so I introduced him to this, the coolest piece of cardboard I’ve ever seen. I found out that he actually does ok in mazes and that, more importantly, sometimes he makes this face.

This is a long post with a lot of pictures of my snake’s hunting behavior and images of a frozen/thawed pinky mouse, so if you’re ok with words, hit the cut for more! If you’re not interested, here’s the thoughts I have on this activity.

There’s been a lot of talk about enrichment lately, which is good, because your pets deserve to not be bored. Enrichment works best when you make decisions based on their wild behavior or by recreating safe scenarios they might encounter in a natural setting. I like this feeding puzzle because in the wild, sand boas hunt in animal burrows, which can be very maze-like with side chambers and disused tunnels. Laying down a scent trail and giving Renfield a bit of a maze to crawl through seemed like a relatively stress-free way to challenge him. In the future, I plan to use use this type of feeding puzzle in the dark with something over top of it so that it more closely resembles burrow conditions. (Renfield is quite happy to eat in the light, however. Renfield is happy to eat, period.) I think that this is a good option for him! I also found him using it like a hide; normally he stays burrowed to digest, but when I went to lift the labyrinth out of the tank, I found him hiding beneath it. He has two fake rock hides but now I’m wondering if he wouldn’t enjoy a flat hide on top of his substrate, like a nice flat piece of slate or a chunk of bark. 

Read more to see this sausage in action!

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The Frogfish, also known as an Anglerfish, uses a small appendage that functions as a rod and lure to attract prey (see the small white tuft).

Frogfishes are extremely camoflaged to their surroundings, allowing them to lure their prey in closely enough to snatch them using a vacuum created by their mouths, which can expand twelve-fold in volume in as little as 6 milliseconds, faster than any muscle can contract.

Scientists still do not know how these creatures are able to move their jaws so amazingly fast.