There are 34 species of tenrec, a small omnivorous animal endemic to Madagascar and parts of mainland Africa. The tenrec female has 29 teats and can give birth to up to 32 young per litter, more than any other mammal. Pictured above: lowland streaked tenrec.
Like many mammals, sheep have highly reflective eyes due to a unique tapetum lucidum, making their eyes glow white when the darkness is broken with light. This shepherd got quite a shock when he decided to snap a photograph of his flock.
Wolves and humans have a prehistoric relationship - and it’s complicated, to say the least. Between the 1600s and the mid 1960s, nearly every wolf in the lower 48 states was completely wiped out; the eradication of wolves was largely encouraged by government-issued bounties and extermination programs, carried out by farmers and ranchers who saw wolves as threats to their livestock and families.
But after the gray wolf received protection by the Endangered Species Act in1974 and populations started once again spreading across the United States, a funny thing began happening. The wolves - unable to find and therefore breed with other wolves due to scarcity of individuals - ended up breeding with coyotes instead.
And now, there exists a huge amount of confusion about some of these populations; wolves and coyotes are hybridizing at a rate faster than can be detected through scientific studies or can be managed by wildlife conservation laws and programs. How much DNA of an endangered species does an organism need to have before we consider it endangered itself? How can we enforce laws and regulations to manage - or restrict management - of population growth?
We spent four months working on this video and it’s the most comprehensive episode we’ve ever made for The Brain Scoop. We even got the grossometer back in there. I hope you like it- and please do share!
The Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) is a subspecies of ringed seal (Pusa hispida). They are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 320 individuals. The only existing population of these seals is found in Lake Saimaa, Finland (hence the name).This seal, along with the Ladoga seal and the Baikal seal, is one of the few living freshwater seals.
The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is a small mammal native to East and Southern Africa in the same family as the hyena. Unlike many of its relatives in the order Carnivora, the aardwolf does not hunt large animals. It eats insects, mainly termites – one aardwolf can eat about 250,000 termites during a single night, using its long, sticky tongue to capture them. It is nocturnal, resting in burrows during the day and emerging at night to seek food.
Unlike seals, whales, and other such marine mammals, sea otters do not have blubber (a thick layer of subcutaneous fat) to keep themselves warm in cold ocean waters. Instead, sea otters are insulated by a remarkable coat of fur. At 150,000 strands of hair for each square centimeter of skin, the sea otter’s fur is the densest of any animal in the world, and keeps cold water from even touching the animal’s skin. The fur must be kept scrupulously clean in order to retain its insulating properties, and so sea otters spend a great deal of their time grooming and washing. Their skin is so loose that the otter can easily reach and groom every square inch of its body. The fur will also trap air bubbles between the outer “guard” layer and the undercoat, which not only helps keep the otter warm but will aid in buoyancy. In fact, a newborn sea otter’s fur will retain so much air that, after careful grooming by its mother, the baby literally cannot sink; it bobs in the water like a cork.
The slow loris’ huge eyes and soft fur make it incredibly cute and appealing to humans, but these features also cause people to think the slow loris makes a tempting pet. The exotic pet trade in slow lorises is now one of the biggest reasons behind their decline. The little primates are popular pets in Indonesia, and are frequently smuggled out to Japan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Russia, and even as far as the US to be purchased by unwitting owners. Many of these “pet” slow lorises have their teeth clipped or pulled in order to neutralise their toxic bites, which risks infection and death for the animal. It is also difficult for the average person to replicate the loris’ complex diet, meaning that these “pet” lorises are often malnourished and/or obese. They are also very prone to stress and shock, as well as sensitive to light. And finally, as slow lorises do not breed well in captivity, almost all of the animals purchased as pets have been taken from the wild. As many as 95% of these hapless animals will die of infection or improper care.
It should also be noticed that many “cute” behaviours displayed by “pet” slow lorises are actually misinterpretations by humans; the popular video of the slow loris raising its arms to be tickled, for example, most likely is actually a frightened loris displaying its venom glands as a form of defense, not a pet enjoying human attention.