A snake that thinks it’s a bird.

•November 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It’s a bird.

It’s a plane.

It’s a flying snake and I’m confused why it thinks it’s a thing of flight. (Identity crisis? or efficient technique borrower?)

As if snakes aren’t already enough of an evolutionary oddity without arms and such, this one can fly! Somewhere the species God is laughing at all you Ophidiophobes.

Flight here is more like a controlled fall but still, the effort is admirable. But, I think we all are stressed out enough about sea gulls crapping on our heads at the beach, this is just another added stress for jungle travel.

Check out the flying snake Chrysopelea here: (I apologize for the obnxious narrator).

I think the x-factor is obvious here. Chrysopelea is like this guy:

Image from fundraw.com

Minus the arms, legs and other humanistic qualities like an ego and a fear of hell.

Technically, this Indonesian flying snake is a “glider.” It uses its tummy muscles to push off tree bark and flares out its ribs to make its body a sort of wing/parachute.

This method of travel is efficient and it beats going up a tree, and then coming down a tree, choosing a new tree, and climbing up the tree and going down… -you get the picture.

Don’t worry the snake is only considered “midly venomous” which to me sounds like “mildy deadly,” but I’ve been assured the venom is too weak to hurt humans. So it’s no biggie if it lands on you scaring the bejesus out of you.

Yet, something is familiar about this x-species’ super identity.

Did you see the way it lands ungracefully, though impressively, on those tree branches, wrapping itself around the limbs as if an invisible hand meant it to be there to dislodge an enemy’s weapon or something badass-like?

I’ve seen that form before…

Aha.

It turns out this snake is not just a superhero, but a superhero accessory for a certain Dr. Jones:

Check out more superhero accessories here: Flying Snake Home Page

The poo poo eating, cancer fighting sand puppy

•November 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I hate to break it to you, but nature has won once again.

With our many technological advances we may consider ourselves finalists in the evolution competition:

up...up...up...up...there you go!

(Image from Software Creation Mystery)

But, we haven’t been able to ward of something like cancer.

This is where nature wins.

An unsuspecting character happens to have this skill, immunity to cancer. Please welcome…the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glabe):

Or sand puppy, desert mole rat, whatever you choose.

Image by Einer flog zu Weit. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps God had mercy and gave it cancer immunity due to the apparently very, short straw it drew on looks.

Yet, this beauty has more to offer than the ability to ward off cancer.

This eusocial mammal cannot feel pain either due to the lack of a specific neurotransmitter. I think this means that we all need to ask other crucial questions like: Does that mean it can’t feel love either?…

The East African native lives up to 28 years in underground systems and it uses those large protruding teeth to dig new tunnels and eat.

The diet: Well you know the typical tuber and its own FECES!

Naked mole rat eating...? Image from Zooillogix blog.

That’s right they eat tubers that weigh up to 1000 times their own body weight, which is a feat in itself. But when those are scarce, well they recycle. (See, they’re environmentalists too.)

The put back in what just came out: POOP.

Which goes to show you that super skills often come with super trade-offs (non-“wins”).

These thin-legged underground dwellers can’t see well but they can move backwards as fast as they go forwards, which has in humans, been proven to tone the rear.

Which may explain their confidence to go it in the nude like so many other super heros.

Case in point Mystique: Althought I’m pretty sure that’s not a fair comparison…in many ways.

Mystique

So the next time you think or meet a naked mole rat don’t be quick to judge.

Just remember that it in many ways has superhero qualities while it nakedly runs around backwards, painless, cancer-free and eating its own poo poo.

More naked mole rat action in the New York Times.

Bee Mating- Gladiator Style

•November 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Ok, this post really should be called Super AWFUL Bee Gladiator Foreplay.

But wait, don’t stop reading, it’s not kinky, Darwin would think it to be honorable- if that’s a hint.

The large Australian Dawson’s male bee is known to fight over females…to the DEATH, Gladiator style!

The bee is one of 250 species that belong to the Amegilla group of bees.

This specific bee is large and the females burrow in the ground rather than in hives, but when they come to the surface the fight begins!

dawsonbee1

Dawson's Bee. Image BBC.

The fight is brutal, the males topple each other stinging and biting.

The fights often end with many casualities, most of which are fatal. The BBC describes the results as  “mass murder” as the male bee fighting machines kill each other and sometimes the female through friendly-stinging.

I would say that this is unsuccessful mating, not to mention wooing, if the female is killed in the process. At least, I wouldn’t be impressed.

Plus, the mating (the good stuff) doesn’t even happen.

The fighting ensures that the biggest, baddest, male passes on the pollen of his loins, and he earns the honor to fight in the arena again. That is, if they haven’t all died first.

Remind you of anyone?

Image from gone else where wordpress blog.

This is all best explained by this video that I highly recommend that you watch. The whole thing. You can do it. Why? I would just like you note how during this bee brawl over the females, that a female is DECAPITATED. (Image BBC):

dawsonbee

Oops... What do we do now?

I think my dad put it: “Losing one’s head for a piece of tail. You have to be male to understand that logic.”

So apparently decapitation has long been on the male agenda as “head: willing to sacrifice, for piece of ass.”

This, I was not aware of, although maybe I should have been.

But that brings me to my conclusion: no matter the species, guys really are all the same.

Watch out, Watchmen!

•November 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Remember the Watchmen? Maybe not. Let’s review:

The Watchmen was a 12-part comic series published in 1986 and 1987. One of these characters, Doctor Manhattan, had an unforunate run-in with an “intrinsic field subtractor.” I am not sure what that is- a type of calculator? (subtract. ha.) Anyway, the U.S. government contracted some of his superpower work, dubbed him Mr. Manhattan.

Doctor Manhattan, by Dave Gibbons.

Interestingly enough he’s the only Watchman with actual super hero powers- I’m not sure what that says about the story…

And he always seems to be  naked. Not sure about that either, really.

Dr. Manhattan can control atoms, he can breathe in space, and he sometimes sees into the future. All good skills, sometimes.

Run-ins with “Intrinsic Field Subtractors” are more common than you would think. It happens in real life too and these instances may have inspired this nude, blue man.

I am pleased to present an example of such a run-in: the Australian earthworm, Terriswalkeris terraereginae:

Image from American Digest

 

 

Do you see where I’m going with this? This earthworm is BLUE. And not like a natural indigo or whatever color- true Doctor Manhattan BLUE. AND it’s naked! AND it seems to be the only worm that is blue among all his colleagues. (Coincidence…? I think not.)

This worm is luminescent and grows up to 2 meters long! (6 feet). It’s rare to get a glimpse of one of these, despite the size, but they are sometimes seen in construction sites and when rain has saturated the soil and it comes to the service.

How did it get so blue? The intrinsic calculator thing may be a safe bet…

Or is the gummy worm industry keeping something from us?

Little else is known but check out the science blog here for more wormy facts.

R.O.U.S.s Are Real!

•November 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

And you thought that rats were city-dwellers. Or the wise advisor to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Splinter). Now we know the truth.

A new discovery has once again proven that The Princess Bride is a story of truth and we should revere it. Folks, R.O.U.S.s are REAL. Our childhood nightmare has come true.

What’s an R.O.U.S you ask? If you have to ask your childhood was missing a significant chapter. Sorry. But I will explain.

What’s The Princess Bride you now ask? Really?  How can you not know? It’s only the best story ever written and subsequent movie that was actually up to par with the book. (See the link above)

R.O.U.S. = Rodent Of Unusual Size.

R.O.U.S. Rodent Of Unusual Size. Image from Flikr

The R.O.U.S. first made it’s appearance when Westley and Buttercup are tearing through the Fire Swamp and Westley is attacked. He fights back, stabs the beast and then it bursts into flames from a flame spurt!

Dramatic.

Well, a BBC expedition has recently discovered an R.O.U.S. in a dormant volcano in New Guinea.

The rat is truly R.O.U.S.-like. It measures at about 82 cm, for all you Americans that’s 32 inches! And for all you American again that’s almost three feet long (and I’m not sure if the tail is included)!

It’s been named, temporarily, the Bosavi Woolly rat. Researchers are probably still brainstorming for some super-rat name that reflects it’s bad-ass-ness. Like…

Bosavi Woolly Rat (Image BBC)

“R.O.U.S.”

The rat has no fear of humans either, like the R.O.U.S., which is a little disconcerting since it’s been living a reclusive life in the Mount Bosavi crater for eternity. Yet, as you can see by this photograph, it’s not quite as aggressive as the one in the story.

One scientist casually commented that he once had a cat of the same size.

Awesome.

Looks like cats will soon be obsolete to control our rodent populations because no one will know who’s who and who’s food in the alley way.

That’s if they make it over here. As of now, they’re only found in one volcano in New Guinea, and the Fire Swamp.

But did I miss something?  Was the R.O.U.S. misunderstood by Westley and Buttercup? Doesn’t this gold-medal winner for size kind of look cute, fuzzy and friendly?

Image from the Smithsonian

Image BBC

See the BBC report here.

The Kraken’s New Best Friend

•November 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It looks like the Kraken has dumped the giant squid as its BFF and has been hanging out  with the giant normura jellyfish.

 

Nomura Jellyfish

There are more than 200 species of nomura jellyfish and get this, they grow up to 500 pounds!

Just last week one got caught in a net of a Japanese trawler and brought that boat down! Don’t worry the three crew members were rescued.

Could this be nature’s ultimate revenge?

Image by Pierre Denys de Montfo

Probably not because jellyfish don’t have eyes and don’t really know where they’re floating. So a collision with a net is probably an accident.

But, the loss of nets to these creatures can have a devastating financial blow to fisherman. And even if the nets aren’t destroyed the catch are often poisoned thanks to the jellyfish’s stings. (Sabotage!)

Some researchers believe that the jellyfish are showing up in hordes in the Sea of Japan due to -but of course- global warming.

The fish that young jellyfish polyps eat are growing scarce, causing these jellyfish to take things into their own-tentacles.

There’s also word of a new warning system being developed so that nets can be pulled before ships are sunk. The system is probably someone telling someone else that they see a group of MASSIVE jellyfish.

Not that any of us support the economic downfall of a local industry, but there is something raw, dangerous and intriguing about nature accidentally fighting back.

Check out more jellyfish at National Geographic.

Pango- what?

•November 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

What has no external ears, no teeth, strong anal scent glands and can make a man succomb to the power of a woman?

The answer: A hummer like anteater- the pangolin:

 

Image by Verdammelt. Retrieved from wikimedia commons.

Yes, this picture is real and it is alive.

And it’s a mammal if you couldn’t tell.

This African species can come in three styles: the giant, the tree, and the ground pangolin and can measure up to six feet long, depending upon the type. The animal feeds on termites which they retrieve with a tongue that’s up to 16 inches long. To put that into perspective the average length of a human tongue is about four inches.

Like the GM Hummer, the outer armoring is ridiculously heavy. A pangolin’s scales make up about 20 percent of its body weight.

Image by George Norkus. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Unlike the Hummer, this creature is not useless and it serves purposes that don’t include guzzling gas and making the owner look really, really, needy for attention:

——->

Remember sonic the hedgehog? or a peel bug? That’s right the pangolin can roll itself into a ball and lash out with its razor-sharp scales. If it comes after you, watch out! Make sure you casually stroll away because it’ll kick into gear at about 3 mph. That’s if it hasn’t sprayed you with it’s anal glands first. RAWR!

Image uploaded by Apokryltaros. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Unfortunately, humans once again are making a mess of things. Apparently, its scales mixed with some tree bark can dispell evil spirits. (I’ll make sure to tell Harry Potter.) If a pangolin is buried near a man’s door a woman is said to have power over him. (That may be a better strategy for e-harmony.) They can also make rain and be eaten. Damn, this thing is useful. Oh and also, some people believe they look good as boots, jackets and bags- which out of all of these things, we can say is definitely not true.

 
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