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Orphaned Sea Lion Pups Get a Second Chance

This year, more than 3,000 sea lion pups have been abandoned by their mothers along California’s northern coast. Warmer ocean waters are affecting the food supply, and the mothers are moving farther north, perhaps unable to take their pups with them.

People can save some of these sea lion pups. The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, is doing what it can to nurse them back to health and then set them free into the wild north of the area where they were abandoned.

Click here to read more about the unprecedented number of starving sea lions in California: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150605-sea-lion-deaths-stranding-california-ocean-animal-science/

By: National Geographic.
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False apollo (Archon apollinus)

The False Apollo is a species of butterfly belonging to the Parnassinae Subfamily. The species is found in Central and Eastern Europe and West Asia. Like others of the family, they show considerable variation with four or five subspecies. Older individuals often lose their scales, especially on the forewings, and appear very transparent.The larvae feed on species of Aristolochia.

photo credits: Gideon Pisanty

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Best known as the “double sickle-clawed dromaeosaur”, Balaur was in fact more likely to be a flightless bird placed more crownward than Archaeopteryx. The new paper, freely available at PeerJ, outlines ample rationale for this placement: perhaps most noteworthy, the enlarged hallux–previously thought to be a second sickle claw to enable a predatory Balaur to murder everything in sight–is more parsimonious as a highly mobile digit whose main function was to aid in climbing.

My life restoration of Balaur shows it as the pheasant-sized, omnivorous bird that it probably was in its Hateg island environment of Maastrichtian Romania (70 million years ago). The male, top, displays to a female who is much more interested in examining some berries.

The Hateg basin has provided great insight into its floral composition, which differed from most other known Cretaceous environments in a number of ways. Most of the plant life here is based on the Lindfors et al. 2009 paper, which described Eurya-like Ericales seeds in the Hateg basin, so I based the foreground plant in the upper left on Eurya japonica. There is also a lot of evidence for seeds and berry material in the Hateg, including a fruit described as having a distinctly pitted endocarp wall characteristic for some drupaceous fruits (e.g. in the Rosacae; comprising several fragments of rather large endocarp). This isn’t too dissimilar from a modern raspberry or blackberry fruit, so the berry plant is based on something along those lines.

They also found abundant evidence of the Normapolles pollen grain, which they associate with the modern order Fagales that includes Betulaceae (birches), Rhoipteleaceae, Juglandaceae (walnuts) and related families. As such, I based most of the trees, including the central fallen log, on birches, beeches, and hornbeams.

You can read the research paper related to these illustrations for free here.

nytimes.com
An Ocean Mystery in the Trillions
Much is still not known about the bristlemouth, the planet’s most plentiful vertebrate. What’s more, the ocean, making up 99 percent of the biosphere, may hold untold undiscovered species.
By William J. Broad

Habitats on land — rain forests, steppes, woodlands, deserts, alpine meadows, all well explored over the centuries — make up less than 1 percent of the planet’s biosphere. Why so little? The band of life is narrow. Fertile soil goes down only a few feet, and even the tallest trees stretch up only a few hundred feet. Birds can fly higher, but must return to the surface for nourishment.

Water, however, is a different story. It covers more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface and goes down miles. Scientists put the ocean’s share of the biosphere at more than 99 percent. Fishermen know its surface waters and explorers its depths. But in general, compared with land, the global ocean is unfamiliar.

Which helps explain why scientists have only recently come to realize that the bristlemouth — a fish of the middle depths that glows in the dark and can open its mouth extraordinarily wide, baring needlelike fangs — is the most numerous vertebrate on the earth.

“They’re everywhere,” Bruce H. Robison, a senior marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, said of the bony little fish. “Everybody agrees. It’s the most abundant on the planet.”

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Père David’s deer - Elaphurus davidianus

E. davidianus is one of the few deer species extinct in the wild, yet alive in captivity. Easily identified by it’s long face and long tail, E. davidianus can grow as big as 115 cm high, and 220 cm long. 

The deer once roamed large parts of China, where it mainly fed on water plants and small grasses, which makes it a good swimmer. 

Animalia - Chordata - Mammalia - Artiodactyla - Cervidae - Elaphurus - E. davidianus

Photo-credits:
(x) Natgeo-foto (x) BBC nature
References:
(x)

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This is a “Penguin rover” used to study Emperor penguins in Antarctica.

It’s equipped with a spy cam to assist in studying these shy animals. Researchers found that approaching these emperor penguins normally would result in their heart rates rising, producing unreliable data.

This rover works very well, enough to even entice communication from the penguins. According to researchers the penguins were “very disappointed” when the rover didn’t respond, prompting the researchers to plan to have the rover playing penguin songs on it’s next trip.

(Via Cnet, Nature)

Hilarious Photos of Zookeepers Reenacting Jurassic World Scene With Animals

Since the release of Jurassic World, Tumblr users feminerds recreated an image of the original “raptor taming” scene (seen above) alongside three walruses and a photographer. Since then many zookeepers have reacted Chris Pratt’s, who plays Owen Grady, pose in said lethal scene. You may post your version of this moment under #JurassicZoo, #ZoorassicWorld, and #PrattKeeping.

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Wasp mantidfly (Climaciella brunnea)

The wasp mantidfly is a species in the huge family of Mantispidae (Mantidflies), which is a family of small to moderate-sized insects in the order Neuroptera (net-winged insects). Although the wasp mantidfly has grasping mantid-like raptorial front legs it is not closely related to mantids (praying mantises). Their front legs are used in the same way as a mantid’s, however, in catching small insect prey for food. C. brunnea has a very interesting life cycle. During their 3-4 week adult life stage, inch-long females may lay as many as several thousand short-stalked eggs, grouped on the underside of plant leaves. The eggs hatch and each tiny larva waits for a passing spider. The larva then boards the spider and rides around on it until the spider lays eggs. At this time the tiny mantispid larva crawls off the spider and into the egg sac, where it feeds on the spider eggs in the security of the silken spider egg sac.

photo credits: C. Hedstrom, Cheryl Johnson

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Steller´s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

The Steller’s jay is a jay native to western North America, closely related to the blue jay found in the rest of the continent, but with a black head and upper body. The Steller’s jay lives in coniferous and mixed woodland, but not in completely dense forest, and requires open space. It typically lives in flocks of greater than 10 individuals.They are omnivores; their diet is about two-thirds plant matter and one third animal matter. There are 17 subspecies from Alaska to Nica­ragua, 8 found north of Mexico. The Steller’s jay shows a great deal of regional variation throughout its range.

photo credits: wiki, birdnote, Mike Ross, Roy Hancliff

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Brachycephalus: miniaturized frogs 

Following nearly 5 years of exploration in mountainous areas of the southern Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, a team of researchers has uncovered seven new species of a highly miniaturized, brightly colored frog genus known as Brachycephalus.

These frogs are among the smallest terrestrial vertebrates, with adult sizes often not exceeding 1 cm in length, leading to a variety of changes in their body structure, such as reduction in the number of toes and fingers. In addition, many species of Brachycephalus are brightly colored, possibly as a warning to the presence of a highly potent neurotoxin in their skin known as tetrodotoxin.

Read more  -  Full Article

If Apes Go Extinct, So Could Entire Forests

Bonobo poop matters. Well, maybe not the poop itself, but what’s in it.

You see, bonobos eat a lot of fruit, and fruit contains seeds. Those seeds travel through a bonobo’s digestive system while the bonobo itself travels through the landscape. A few hours later, the seeds end up being deposited far from where the fruits were plucked. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where new trees come from.

But what if there were no apes? A new study published February 27 in the journal Oryx found that many tree and plant species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo rely almost exclusively on bonobos for seed dispersal. In the LuiKotale forest, where the study was conducted, 18 plant species were completely unable to reproduce if their seeds did not first travel through a bonobo’s guts. According to the paper if the bonobos disappeared, the plants would also likely go extinct.

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The 6th Mass Extinction on Earth has Begun

Troubling evidence recently released by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology, has  show a large increase in the number of species lost over the last century. The numbers above each bar represent the estimated values for extinct vertebrates. The image above shows that since the industrial revolution, species diversity has been rapidly declining in response to human activity including:

  • Destruction of habitats
  • Introduction of invasive species
  • Climate change
  • Destruction of ecosystems because of pollutants

Erlich and his colleagues do offer hope for the future. If rapid conservation efforts are undertaken now, then  such a dramatic ecological event can be avoided. It is more than likely that if such an even were to occur, the human race would suffer itself.

Source: ScienceAdvances