Friday, October 30, 2009

2-Headed Snake

AP has video on a 2-headed snake discovered in Illinois. They misidentify it as a watersnake, though. It's a juvenile ratsnake.

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Minnesota River Monster Tale

I guess the moral to this story is that corncob wine and river monsters don't mix.

In any case, it doesn't sound like anything reptilian. Actually, except for the size, it sounds like one of the lampreys, though the native species in the Red River barely reach a foot in length, if that. But then, the corncob wine might have incited a little exaggeration...

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Sperm Whale Pics

Some interesting images of a sperm whale eating a squid have been taken. (News source.)

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Loch Ness Film Online

An alleged 1936 Loch Ness monster filmed sighting is now available online, as part of a film collection by the National Library of Scotland. Pertinent clip is at 8.42 minutes. (News source.)

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Florida Panther Census

Wildlife officials suggest the Florida panther population is increasing, though note that they are difficult to census. (News source.)

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Just in Time for Halloween

I've added a brief article to BioFortean Review:

Goosefoot, the Cumberland Dragon

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Giant Pliosaur

Another large fossil discovered in the UK. (News source.)

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Mystery Felines

A black panther is roaming Luxembourg. (News source.)

A Wisconsin columnist writes about a 1949 lion flap. (News source.)

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Giant Beavers

New research suggests that giant beavers ate aquatic vegetation rather than tree bark/tissue, as modern beavers do. (News source.)

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Mr. Loch Ness

A general article on a Loch Ness monster eyewitness, here.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nantiinaq Stories

Some interesting Bigfoot-related tales from Alaska, here.

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Fruitadens

Interesting news about North America's smallest known dinosaur, here.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Giant Canadian Snakes: A Published Article

There is an excellent paper recently published on the examination of a large snake skin found in Manitoba. ("A shed skin from a large individual (>2m; Fig. 1) was collected ca. 100 meters from the shoreline of northern Lake Martin in southern Manitoba. The shed was found in a crotch of a tree near the ground.") Investigator John Warms provided the specimen for testing, and it was confirmed as a Boa constrictor shed. While the particular findings were not unexpected, the authors note "Molecular phylogenetics allows definitive tests on purported cryptozoological specimens. While such analyses cannot dispute the existence of legendary beasts, it can shed light on individual claims." This paper shows how a proper objective scientific methodology can be very beneficial to cryptozoological investigations of alleged specimens.

Giant Canadian Snakes and Forensic Phylogenetics
Brian I. Crother, Mary E. White, David Gardner, and John Warms
Contemporary Herpetology 2009(2): 1-4

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Largest Orb-Weaver

The largest orb-weaving spider has been described from Maputaland (in coastal South Africa) and Madagascar. The female of Nephila komaci has a legspan up to 12cm. (News source.)

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Kansas Cougar Photographed

KS Dept. Wildlife has confirmed a cougar photographed by a deer hunter in Trego County. (News source with images.) [via Ron Schaffner]

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Golden Eagles Hunt Reindeer

BBC filmmakers took footage of golden eagles attacking a reindeer calf in Finland, behavior which was anecdotal but never confirmed before now. (News source with video.) [via Kevin Stewart]

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Great Pumpkin Starfish

An echinoderm biologist discusses Astrosarkus, a giant pumpkin-colored starfish that he described in 2003, on his blog, The Echinoblog. Includes a link to the first video taken of the species live. What is particularly fascinating is that he discovered specimens of the new genus/species in a couple of museums where they were unrecognized as distinctive.

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The Politics of Jaguar Conservation

An interesting article here, on the political disputes and legal controversies surrounding the Arizona-New Mexico Jaguar Conservation Team.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Last Hunt for Maryland Darter?

The small Maryland darter (a fish) is being hunted by biologists, to see if they can rediscover it. It hasn't been seen in about twenty years. (News source.)

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rapid Sightings: Keys to Visual Recognition

A recently published paper notes that people who see an animal first use shape, then texture, to quickly identify it. Color isn't a primary character used in identifications. (News source.)

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Rediscovered Bird

The Banggai crow, known previously from two specimens collected in 1900, has been rediscovered on an Indonesian island. (News source.)

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Herbivorous Jumping Spider

I think we saw a report on this a year or so ago, but it's back in the news: a jumping spider prefers to eat specialized leaf tips and drink nectar. (News source.)

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Nightbeasts

There's a whole slew of low-budget Bigfoot-related (mostly horror) flicks coming out. One, Nightbeasts, stars Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame. Trailer can be seen at this site. Plot looks like it might be a bit light and the brief glimpses of costume apes aren't particularly noteworthy, but the cinematography (as the site notes) looks far better than seen in most sasquatch flicks.

I really do think it's possible to put together a Bigfoot film with good suspense, an interesting plot, and depth of characters, (not to mention the chance to include some gorgeous backwoods scenery), but for some reason, most of these pics are in it for the cheap thrills.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect Recovery

A paper on this rediscovered insect:

The recovery programme for the Lord Howe Island Phasmid (Dryococelus australis) following its rediscovery
Nicholas Carlile, David Priddel and Patrick Honan (2009)
Ecological Management and Restoration 10(s1): s124-s128

Abstract:

"Until its rediscovery on Balls Pyramid in February 2001, the Lord Howe Island Phasmid or Stick Insect (Dryococelus australis) was thought to be extinct. It disappeared from Lord Howe Island soon after the accidental introduction of the Ship Rat (Rattus rattus) in 1918. In this paper, we report on the recovery actions undertaken for this critically endangered species since its rediscovery. Monitoring of the small surviving population on Balls Pyramid has shown it to fluctuate between about 9 and 35 adult individuals. As a safeguard against extinction, two adult pairs were removed from Balls Pyramid in February 2003 to establish captive populations in Melbourne and Sydney. Although all four founders bred readily in captivity, one pair died only a month after capture. The second female would have also died soon after capture had it not been for veterinary intervention using novel untested techniques. The single surviving pair bred successfully but the hatch rate of eggs was poor. For the next generation, both fecundity and hatch rates were low. The lack of knowledge regarding the specific husbandry requirements of this particular species undoubtedly contributed to these problems. Careful management, together with a cautious scientific approach, eventually led to all problems being resolved. Presently, there are more than 700 individuals and 14 000 eggs in captivity. Approximately 80% of incubated eggs are expected to hatch. To establish additional captive colonies, adults and eggs have been sent to other institutions, both within Australia and overseas. Now that the species is reasonably secure in captivity, the opportunity exists to reintroduce this iconic insect back onto Lord Howe Island, but this can occur only after the introduced rodents have been removed. A programme to eradicate both the Ship Rat and the House Mouse (Mus musculus) from Lord Howe Island is currently being developed."

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The Gold Bug

A bacterial species, Cupriavidus metallidurans, has been determined by Australian researchers to detoxify gold complexes, forming gold biominerals, which may contribute to the growth of gold nuggets. (News source.)

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Normandy Nessie

A Florida witness claims to have seen a strange snakelike creature twice in a deep water canal along Normandy Road at Madeira Beach. (News source.)

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Retrovirus and CFS

A newly discovered retrovirus may (or may not) be involved with chronic fatigue syndrome. (News source.)

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bigger than the Komodo Dragon

A fossil monitor lizard larger than the Komodo dragon (but not as large as Australia's Megalania) was found on the island of Timor in Indonesia. (News source.)

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Sea Worm Rediscovery

A species of sea worm not seen since 1913 on an Irish beach, has been rediscovered off the coast of Spain. (News source.)

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Glowing Mushrooms

NG has a gallery of photos of new luminescent mushrooms.

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Lemur Refuge

The highly endangered greater bamboo lemur has been found in an eastern Madagascar location where it had been thought extinct. (News source.)

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Chipmunk vs Toad

Chipmunks apparently have a taste for frog (or toad) legs... (News source.)

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Giant NJ Leech Described

It's been known for several years, but finally the researchers have named and described the giant NJ leech as Haemopis ottorum. (News source.)

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Floresiensis May Be Moved

Peter Brown, who originally described Homo floresiensis, is considering moving the species to its own genus, and expecting further controversy. (News source.)

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