Saturday, November 29, 2008

Willow Creek Tourism

A travel profile here, focusing on the 50th anniversary of the coining of Bigfoot.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Search Continues for IBWs

Ivorybill woodpeckers are not forgotten... some still go out searching for them. (News source.)

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Pennsylvania: Serval Shot

An escaped serval was shot in Chester County raiding chickens. Some have tried to point to this feline as the one responsible for the recent Lancaster County "cougar" fiasco, but that's unlikely. (News source.)

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Big Cat Sightings

Sightings of a cougar from the Camden area of SW Arkansas... (News source.)

A feline sighting reported in the Fenland region of the UK... (News source.)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Photosynthetic Sea Slugs

An interesting relationship between Elysia chlorotica and algae... (Research news.)

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Deep-Sea Squid Vid

This video (captured by an ROV camera at an off-shore drilling site in the Gulf of Mexico) is worth watching for the sheer strangeness of the deep-sea squid.

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Dolphin Puzzle Solved

Gray's Paradox, which suggested that dolphins swim faster than they should be able to, has been evaluated and solved. Dolphins are stronger than Gray first thought. Details here.

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Italian Big Snake Story

An old story of a big reptile in Italy is noted by the Irish Times.

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Big (House)Cat

After sightings of a "lion" in Virginia, officers responded to a call from a woman who saw an unknown animal sleeping in her backyard. Turned out to be a big housecat. (News source)

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Fossils may be Protist-Tracks

Oceanographers have discovered large protists (Gromia sphaerica) roaming the bottom of the ocean near the Bahamas, making tracks that look similar to certain fossil grooves. (This species of protist was described back in 2000.) (News source.)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Feline Sightings

A big black cat is reported from Milford, MI. (News source.)

A cougar is taped on a surveillance camera in Manitoba (and it's an actual cougar, not a big housecat, for once). (News source.)

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New Dolphin Identified

A new paper presents evidence for a new species of cetacean, the Southern Australian bottlenose dolphin. (News source.) Species has not yet been described.

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Water Monster Rumors

Small "water monsters" subject to rumors and stories (and online videos) from North Jakarta (Indonesia) have been identified as aquatic isopods. (News source.)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recent Extinction of a New Fossil Penguin

Examination of fossil penguins found in archaeological sites on New Zealand suggest that a newly discovered species went extinct after Polynesian settlers arrived there. Another species, the extant yellow eyed penguin, then took over its territory. (News source.)

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Cougar Killed in Georgia

A deer hunter killed a cougar near West Point Lake, in Georgia. GA DNR thinks it was a released captive. (News source.)

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Rediscovered Pygmy Tarsier

A Texas A&M anthropologist has rediscovered a pygmy tarsier in the wilds of Lore Lindu National Park, Sulawesi. "The pygmy tarsiers, furry Furby/gremlin-looking creatures about the size of a small mouse and weighing less than 2 ounces, have not been observed since they were last collected for a museum in 1921. Several scientists believed they were extinct until two Indonesian scientists trapping rats in the highlands of Sulawesi accidentally trapped and killed a pygmy tarsier in 2000." (News source.)

Not specifically noted, it appears they mean
Tarsius pumilus, according to the EDGE site. (Which notes, "Some researchers doubted the continued existence of Tarsius pumilus or in fact that it ever represented a separate species, as only two specimens were ever found and it had not been unambiguously identified in the wild since 1930.")

The anthropologists notes on
NG: "There have been dozens of expeditions looking for them—all unsuccessful. I needed to go and try to see for myself if they were really there or if they were really extinct."

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Monday, November 17, 2008

More on UK Mystery Animal

A 4-foot tall hairy creature continues to be seen in the UK, near the Epping Forest. (News source.)

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Another Sea Lion Found

Another of the California sea lions that escaped a St. Kitts facility has been located, this one in Antigua. (News source.)

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Alleged Mountain Lions

Shirley, Massachusetts, has had some mountain lion sightings. (News source.)

Sightings (noted here and here) in Mississippi continue.

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Another Fuzzy Video

A black "panther" video was taken in Wisconsin -- it's just a dark-colored housecat. Doesn't look anything like a cougar or any melanistic exotic feline. (News source.)

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

OOP Slug

A "Chocolate Arion" slug, almost five inches long, was found outside of its range, up in Canada. Canadian authorities aren't concerned, as the habitat isn't conducive for a slug invasion. (News source.)

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Feline Bonanza

Feline sightings from all over:

Two Minnesota hunters say they found a two cougars feeding on the doe they tracked down after shooting. (News source.)

A big feline ("mountain lion") was reported in the Richmond, Virginia, area. (News source.)

Black panther sightings in California here.

A "panther" was reported from near Canton, Ohio. (News source.)

A Mississippi couple reported seeing a cougar cross the road in front of them. (News source.)

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Coupan?

An Australian mystery animal with a long fluffy tail was chased by a witness' dog:

"'It was as big as the dog (big) but skinnier and very muscular and it had very small ears close to its head and a large dark face.
"'It was the reddy gold colour of a setter.
"'It moved like a cat not a fox/dog and I am sure that if it had been a dog Zak would have approached it very differently as he is friendly, submissive and very polite in his dealings with other dogs'" (News source.)

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wanstead "Bear"

A UK man was fishing near Wanstead when he saw a hairy bear-like creature.

"'I looked over and saw this strange, dark figure that resembled a bear. It was hunched over and I could see it had a really hairy back. I think it must have heard me and scampered off into the bushes after a couple of seconds.
"'It was getting dark but I still managed to get a good look at it. It was about 4ft tall, so it was too small to be human, but not the right shape to be a deer, it didn’t have long legs or anything like that.'"

A park keeper in Wanstead doubted the sighting. (News source.)

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OOP Sea Lion

A sea lion turned up on a Dominica beach. It was one of five sea lions that escaped from a hodling facility in St. Kitts. (News source.)

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Fiber Optics in Sponges

Spicules in many sponges transmit light deep into the organism, allowing them to grow larger and providing a home for other creatures inside the sponge. (News source.)

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New Flying Lemurs

Genetic and morphological characters show that the colugos in Indonesia represent several new species. (Eurekalert.)

"Scientists had recognized just two species of these enigmatic mammals, the Sunda colugo and the Philippine colugo. However, the new findings show that the Sunda colugo, found only in Indochina and Sundaland, including the large islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and Java, actually represents at least three separate species."

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Ice-Nesting Mystery

A father/son team tracked down the bird species responsible for some mysterious nest built directly on the glacial ice in the high Andes. (News source.)

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NOVA Program on H. Floresiensis

PBS is airing a show on the "hobbit" on November 11. Details.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Boss Snakes Book Sighting

My v.p. (Adam) pointed out a familiar title in a stack of herp books in this winning reptile-themed pumpkin carving contest photo over at iHerp. So, congrats to Rebecca, and thanks for picking up the book!

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Another VA Cougar Sighting

Another mountain lion sighting comes from Chesterfield, Virginia. (News source.)

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Not a Circus Panther

Stories of black panthers had Canadian officials checking local circuses for missing felines. (News source.)

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1931 New York "Ape" Sighting

From the news: "In June 1931, Nassau County police officers armed with shotguns combed the woods of Albertson, searching for what newspapers called an ape-like animal that was frightening residents. The animal was described as four-feet tall with a chest covered in brown hair."

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Fossil Debate

Speculation that strange geological imprints in Arizona rocks were dinosaur tracks is causing some debate. (News source.)

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Manatee Dies in Delaware River

A dead manatee was found floating in the water at Neshaminy State Park. It is being necropsied to determine cause of death. (News source.)

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Two New Small Mammals

A new bat (Mormopterus francoismoutoui) and elephant shrew (Elephantulus pilicaudus) have been described in Journal of Mammalogy. Via Kevin Stewart, the abstracts are as follows:

Specific Status of Populations in the Mascarene Islands
Referred to Mormopterus Acetabulosus (Chiroptera: Molossidae),
with Description of a New Species


S. M. Goodman, B. Jansen Van Vuuren, F. Ratrimomanarivo, J.-M. Probst, and R. C. K. Bowie
Journal of Mammalogy, 89(5):1316–1327, 2008

On the basis of molecular and morphological evidence, Mormopterus acetabulosus, hitherto considered an endemic to the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius and La Réunion), is shown to comprise 2 closely related taxa. The holotype of M. acetabulosus is from Mauritius and the new taxon described herein is from La Réunion. M. acetabulosus from Mauritius is notably larger than members of this genus from La Réunion, and several soft-part and cranial characters distinguish these 2 taxa. This conclusion is supported by examination of mitochondrial DNA control region data for 141 bats, which shows these 2 groups to be reciprocally monophyletic, separated by an average of 5.01% uncorrected sequence divergence. Two nuclear intron regions (7th intron of the beta fibrinogen gene and thyrotropin) also were included, but showed limited genetic variation and no fixed differences between the 2 taxa. These 2 species of Mormopterus are common on Mauritius and La Réunion, often living in caves or synanthropically, and are not considered a conservation concern.

A New Species of Elephant-Shrew (Afrotheria: Macroscelidea:
Elephantulus) from South Africa


H. A. Smit, T. J. Robinson, J. Watson, and B. Jansen Van Vuuren
Journal of Mammalogy, 89(5):1257–1269, 2008

Elephant-shrews (also called sengis, order Macroscelidea) are small-bodied insectivorous mammals with a strictly African distribution. Fifteen species currently are recognized, of which 9 occur in the southern African subregion. On the basis of molecular, cytogenetic, and morphological evidence, Elephantulus edwardii, the only strictly South African endemic species, is shown to comprise 2 closely related taxa. The new Elephantulus taxon described herein is from the central Nama-Karoo region of Western Cape and Northern Cape Provinces. Important genetic distinctions underpin its delimitation. Sequence data from the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene and the hypervariable control region as well as 7th intron of the nuclear fibrinogen gene show these 2 taxa to be reciprocally monophyletic. They are separated by 13.8% sequence divergence (uncorrected) based on the 2 mitochondrial segments, and 4.2% based on the nuclear intron sequences. In addition, fixed cytogenetic differences include a centromeric shift, heterochromatic differences on autosomal pairs 1–6, and the number of nucleolar organizer regions. The new species has several subtle morphological and phenotypic characters that distinguish it from its sibling species E. edwardii, the most striking of which is the presence of a tail-tuft, as well as the color of the flanks and the ventral pelage. The abundance, detailed distribution of the new form, and its life-history characteristics are not known, and further studies clearly are needed to determine its conservation status.

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Strange Fossil

Researchers have found a strange 8-armed creature, Eoandromeda, in fossils from Australia and China. (News source.)

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Extinction Via Pathogen

Two native rat species on Christmas Island were extinct less than a decade after the introduction of the invasive black rat, but it wasn't competition that killed the species off. The black rat carried a pathogen for which the two native rats were not immune... (News source.)

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Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton, whose literary repertoire included a few cryptofiction-ish novels, has died of cancer. (News source.)

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Warbler Wars

An interesting case of the Townsend's warblers apparently taking over hermit warblers range through interbreeding has been shown genetically (Eurekalert).

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Python vs Cockatoo Photos

An Australian woman took a series of photographs of a wild python swallowing a cockatoo. (News source.)

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Tennessee Cougar Alleged

Tracks found in western Tennessee have some people thinking "cougar." (News source.)

Now, looking at the enlarged version of the tracks (at the news site), it doesn't look that much like a cougar track. The claws are prominent and the shape is wrong. It's probably a dog. See this nice little brochure for more details on distinguishing tracks.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

The 1910 Catawampus

Details here on an old catawampus story, with description of the odd animal that was shot.

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