Juliane Koepcke (born 1954), also known by her married name Juliane Diller, is a German Peruvian mammalogist. As a teenager in 1971, Koepcke was the lone survivor of the LANSA Flight 508 plane crash, then survived eleven days alone in the Amazon rainforest.
- "Juliane Koepcke - survived a 10K foot freefall from an airliner" | 2012-10-20 | 10 Upvotes 5 Comments
The M44 cyanide device (also called a cyanide gun or cyanide trap) is used for the killing of coyotes, feral dogs, and foxes. It is made from four parts: a capsule holder wrapped with cloth or other soft material, a small plastic capsule containing 0.88 grams of sodium cyanide, a spring-powered ejector, and a 5-7 inch stake. To install the trap, the stake is first driven down into the ground, and then the capsule is put in the holder, screwed onto the cocked ejector, and secured to the stake. The wrapped capsule holder is smeared with scented bait to attract coyotes and make them bite and pull on it. (The use of a bite-and-pull action makes the trap less likely to be set off by non-canine wildlife.) When the trap is triggered, the spring propels a dose of sodium cyanide into the animals's mouth, and the sodium cyanide combines with water in the mouth to produce poisonous cyanide gas. In addition to the cyanide, the capsule contains Day-Glo fluorescent particle marker (orange in capsules used by the Wildlife Services, and yellow in capsules prepared for other users).
- "M44 (Cyanide Device)" | 2019-08-09 | 70 Upvotes 22 Comments
Tardigrades (), known colloquially as water bears or moss piglets, are a phylum of water-dwelling eight-legged segmented micro-animals. They were first described by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773, who called them little water bears. In 1777, the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani named them Tardigrada, which means "slow steppers".
They have been found everywhere, from mountaintops to the deep sea and mud volcanoes, and from tropical rainforests to the Antarctic. Tardigrades are among the most resilient animals known, with individual species able to survive extreme conditions—such as exposure to extreme temperatures, extreme pressures (both high and low), air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, and starvation—that would quickly kill most other known forms of life. Tardigrades have survived exposure to outer space. About 1,300 known species form the phylum Tardigrada, a part of the superphylum Ecdysozoa. The earliest known true members of the group are known from Cretaceous amber in North America, but are essentially modern forms, and therefore likely have a significantly earlier origin, as they diverged from their closest relatives in the Cambrian, over 500 million years ago.
Tardigrades are usually about 0.5 mm (0.02 in) long when fully grown. They are short and plump, with four pairs of legs, each ending in claws (usually four to eight) or sucking disks. Tardigrades are prevalent in mosses and lichens and feed on plant cells, algae, and small invertebrates. When collected, they may be viewed under a low-power microscope, making them accessible to students and amateur scientists.
- "Tardigrades" | 2013-09-07 | 14 Upvotes 2 Comments
Zoopharmacognosy is a behaviour in which non-human animals apparently self-medicate by selecting and ingesting or topically applying plants, soils, insects, and psychoactive drugs to prevent or reduce the harmful effects of pathogens and toxins. The term derives from Greek roots zoo ("animal"), pharmacon ("drug, medicine"), and gnosy ("knowing").
An example of zoopharmacognosy occurs when dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. However, the behaviour is more diverse than this. Animals ingest or apply non-foods such as clay, charcoal and even toxic plants and invertebrates, apparently to prevent parasitic infestation or poisoning.
Whether animals truly self-medicate remains a somewhat controversial subject because early evidence is mostly circumstantial or anecdotal, however, more recent examinations have adopted an experimental, hypothesis-driven approach.
The methods by which animals self-medicate vary, but can be classified according to function as prophylactic (preventative, before infection or poisoning) or therapeutic (after infection, to combat the pathogen or poisoning). The behaviour is believed to have widespread adaptive significance.
- "Zoopharmacognosy" | 2014-08-07 | 32 Upvotes 6 Comments
The following are two lists of animals ordered by the size of their nervous system. The first list shows number of neurons in their entire nervous system, indicating their overall neural complexity. The second list shows the number of neurons in the structure that has been found to be representative of animal intelligence. The human brain contains 86 billion neurons, with 16 billion neurons in the cerebral cortex.
- "List of Animals by Number of Neurons" | 2020-05-25 | 12 Upvotes 1 Comments
The Venus' flower basket (Euplectella aspergillum) is a glass sponge in the phylum Porifera. It is a marine sponge found in the deep waters of the Pacific ocean. As other glass sponges, they build their skeletons out of silica, which is of great interest in materials science as they do not require heat to form their glass latices, which in some ways makes their properties superior to manufactured fiber optics. As other sponges, they feed by filtering sea water to capture plankton.
The sponges are often found to house glass sponge shrimp, usually a breeding pair, whom are typically unable to exit the sponge's lattice due to their size. Consequently, they live in and around these sponges, where the shrimp perform a mutuallistic relationship with the sponge until they die. This may have influenced the adoption of the sponge as a symbol of undying love in Japan, where the skeletons of these sponges are presented as nuptial gifts.
- "Marine glass sponge that builds silica skeletons" | 2020-07-12 | 26 Upvotes 3 Comments
The British pet massacre was an event in 1939 in the United Kingdom where over 750,000 pets were killed in preparation for food shortages during World War II. It was referred to at the time as the September Holocaust, and later sources describe it as a "holocaust of pets". In London alone, during the first week of the Second World War around 400,000 companion animals, about 26% of all cats and dogs were killed.
No bombs were to fall on the UK mainland until April 1940.
Similar events happened in mainland Europe, for example, the killing of millions of farm animals in Denmark due to the lack of imported fodder for them.
Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by living organisms. It is a form of chemiluminescence. Bioluminescence occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, microorganisms including some bioluminescent bacteria, and terrestrial arthropods such as fireflies. In some animals, the light is bacteriogenic, produced by symbiotic bacteria such as those from the genus Vibrio; in others, it is autogenic, produced by the animals themselves.
In a general sense, the principal chemical reaction in bioluminescence involves a light-emitting molecule and an enzyme, generally called luciferin and luciferase, respectively. Because these are generic names, luciferins and luciferases are often distinguished by the species or group, e.g. firefly luciferin. In all characterized cases, the enzyme catalyzes the oxidation of the luciferin.
In some species, the luciferase requires other cofactors, such as calcium or magnesium ions, and sometimes also the energy-carrying molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In evolution, luciferins vary little: one in particular, coelenterazine, is found in 11 different animal phyla, though in some of these, the animals obtain it through their diet. Conversely, luciferases vary widely between different species, which is evidence that bioluminescence has arisen over 40 times in evolutionary history.
Both Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mentioned that damp wood sometimes gives off a glow. Many centuries later Robert Boyle showed that oxygen was involved in the process, in both wood and glowworms. It was not until the late nineteenth century that bioluminescence was properly investigated. The phenomenon is widely distributed among animal groups, especially in marine environments. On land it occurs in fungi, bacteria and some groups of invertebrates, including insects.
The uses of bioluminescence by animals include counterillumination camouflage, mimicry of other animals, for example to lure prey, and signaling to other individuals of the same species, such as to attract mates. In the laboratory, luciferase-based systems are used in genetic engineering and biomedical research. Researchers are also investigating the possibility of using bioluminescent systems for street and decorative lighting, and a bioluminescent plant has been created.
- "Bioluminescence" | 2022-06-12 | 13 Upvotes 8 Comments
St. Cuthbert's beads (or Cuddy's beads) are fossilised portions of the "stems" of crinoids from the Carboniferous period. Crinoids are a kind of marine echinoderm which are still extant, and which are sometimes known as "sea lilies". These bead-like fossils are washed out onto the beach and in medieval Northumberland were strung together as necklaces or rosaries, and became associated with St Cuthbert.
In other parts of England, circular crinoid columnals were known as "fairy money." Pentagonal crinoid columnals were known as "star stones", and moulds of the stems left impressions which were known as screwstones. In Germany, the columnals were known as Bonifatius pfennige (St Boniface's pennies) and in America they are known as Indian beads.
- "St. Cuthbert's Beads" | 2022-08-31 | 36 Upvotes 11 Comments
Octopolis and Octlantis are two separate non-human underwater settlements built by the gloomy octopuses. The first settlement, named Octopolis by biologists, was found in 2009. The individual structures in Octopolis consist of burrows around a piece of scrap metal. In 2016, a second settlement was found, named Octlantis, which instead of burrows, has dens and is built with seashells.