Why don't all poison dart frogs look the same?
(Image credit: Flickr user William Wan)
Nothing says "STAY AWAY!" to a predator like a tasty-looking creature that's a little too flashy. Bright colors and crazy patterns are nature's skull and crossbones, a warning to the carnivorous to look elsewhere for meals. Toxic animals usually have uniform markings: Each member of a species looks the same. Monarch butterflies bear the same patterns; puffer fish all puff up in the same way. But there's one animal that ignores this advice completely: the poison dart frog. These deadly amphibians have developed endless combinations of shades and markings, making it a challenge for hungry birds and snakes to keep track of their patterns. If the idea of being visibly toxic is to be as obvious as possible, why would a single species of frog maintain such an extensive wardrobe? That's the question that had Mathieu Chouteau sweating in the Peruvian Amazon as fastened 1,800 clay frogs to rainforest leaves.
(Image credit: Flickr user MoleSon²)
Back in 2009, Chouteau, a biologist from the University of Montreal, became obsessed with this evolutionary puzzle. "For the longest time, I've been fascinated by the phenomenon of local adaptation," he says. But because the varieties of poison dart frog patterns are so many and, more importantly, occur so geographically close to one another, they struck Chouteau as particularly odd. He wondered whether different types of local predators were somehow responsible for the variations.
A vehicle at an impound lot in Kansas City had a surprise inside, but no one knew for almost a month. When an inspector went around to mark cars for auction on Monday, the puppy jumped up on the dashboard! Since the car was locked, lot employees called the police, who freed the puppy.
What is known is that the 1990 Chevy Suburban was towed because it was abandoned April 8 on an eastbound ramp to I-70 from Van Brunt Boulevard and was blocking traffic, Rotert said. Police got the call at 10:08 p.m. and it was towed to the city tow lot at 10:45 p.m. Neither police nor the tow truck driver saw a dog, nor did tow lot employees.
The doors on the car were locked. Typically, when a car arrives at the tow lot with locked doors, employees take pictures of the outside of the vehicle and keep the doors locked. Rotert said they do not try to break into locked cars.
The dog was taken to a veterinarian, who estimated the emaciated pup was 12 weeks old, although the female, now named Kia, was the size of an 8-week-old. She had apparently survived on fast food scraps and cigars, but no one knows if she had anything to drink. The owner of the car came by the lot on May 1st, but did not have a car key and never mentioned a puppy. Kia is expected to recover and will be sent to a foster home before adoption. Link -via Arbroath
(Image credit: The KC Pet Project)
The featured pets today are Buster and Stella! Here is a photo submitted by Neatoramanaut Lindsey Pfaff.
Enjoying everyday we can with a walk along Lake Michigan. Buster (the blonde) is a cancer survivor since treatment in October. 11 years old and gives his 3 year old sister a run for the money!
Thanks, Lindsey! If you want to show off your pet, send us a picture at email@example.com and we'll post it on Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly!
Your pup may tolerate the cherry vanilla ice cream that you serve, but why not offer him something more appropriate? Arrfscarf makes ice cream with flavors that dogs prefer: peanut butter bacon, chicken cheddar, beef brisket, pulled pork and gouda burger. No cat poop flavor, though, which strikes me as a major oversight.
Also: rabbit poop is the greatest food ever invented. Don't let your Friendbeast keep it from you. Matthew Inman made two panels illustrating how his dog views him and he views his dog. To see the latter, click on the link.
Ain't she a beauty? Our featured pet today is Trekker, sent in by proud owner and Neatoramanaut Marcia Wolfe. Those brown eyes just pull you in!
Live long and prosper, Trekker.
If you have a good-looking pet, or even an ugly one, send a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org and have your pet featured on Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly!
You can see the resemblance, can't you? This is a Megalopyge opercularis, or flannel moth caterpillar. It was spotted by photographer Jeff Cremer and biologist Phil Torres in the Peruvian rainforest. They look furry, and will become a fluffy moth as well, but don't touch it! Its "fur" is made up of venomous spines that can cause painful swelling that lasts for days. Link -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Phil Torres)
Pets may be the hidden victim of the sluggish economy. While humans can get food stamps to help them through a rough patch, but what about pets?
Enter Marc Okon, an entrepreneur who started a privately funded nonprofit called Pet Food Stamps that aims to help those already on government assistance to get free pet food:
The group has been swamped with more applications than his staff of a dozen people can readily process. Most applicants send letters detailing how they lost their jobs to outsourcing, their homes to foreclosure or their health to disease or accident.
"I just heard from a lady in North Carolina who has an autistic son whose only companion is a Jack Russell Terrier," he said. "It's cookie-cutter sadness. … Little details change but the gist of each story is the same."
Despite nominal improvements in the unemployment rate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture counts more than 47 million people in its food stamp program—nearly one out of every seven Americans.
This dog does not want any kisses from his man, and he goes to great lengths to make that perfectly clear. Maybe he has bad breath! The same guy, YouTube member inosemarine, has a great collection of videos showing this amazing dog doing extraordinary things, like calligraphy, wrestling, and even saving his master's life. -via Hypervocal
Manta rays are one of nature's most graceful and eerie animals. In Episode 2 of UnderH2O, we go underwater off the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii -- in the dark of night -- to film these enormous creatures. When conditions are right, manta rays flock to this special area in search of giant mouthfuls of plankton which they scoop up as they spin and loop around the divers.
Hit play or go to Link [YouTube] - Thanks Caroline!
After the jump, watch When A Volcano Erupts Underwater, also by UnderH2O:
The sushi at this bar tastes really fresh. But I'm uncertain about the meat sources.
-via WTF Japan Seriously
Creative people know a great muse when they find one. Ai Weiwei has 40 cats. Picasso had cats all through his life. Gustav Klimt had a cat who looked like him. And Dali had to be different: He's pictured here with his ocelot, Babou. See a couple dozen artists with their cats at Flavorwire. Link
You know how it felt when you found out your boss was paying a co-worker more money than you for doing the same job? In this excerpt from a TED Talk, Frans de Waal presents a classic experiment in which capuchin monkeys were confronted with such unfairness. You'll get a kick out of the way the monkey reacts. You can see the full talk called Moral Behavior in Animals, which covers empathy, reciprocity, and cooperation, as well as fairness, at the TED site. Link -via Viral Viral Videos
The neighbor's house was locked, but a troop of baboons didn't care because they just went in through the upstairs windows. Howard Fyvie and his friends in Betty's Bay, South Africa, called police and got access to the house when the owner could not be reached. It doesn't take long for this many baboons to do a lot of damage! -via Arbroath
In 2008, a wild coyote boarded a train at the airport of Portland, Oregon and took a seat:
[...] but wildlife specialists removed and released it before the train took off.
Even so, the sneaky interloper is forever immortalized in a song: Sleater-Kinney's "Light-Rail Coyote."
It was one of five animals known to have used public transit to get around, including a pigeon, a goat, a cat and a monkey. You can read about them at the link.
Body language isn't limited to humans - according to biologists Joyce Poole and her husband Petter Granli of ElephantVoices, elephants communicate with each other through elaborate gestures as well as sound:
Over the course of thousands of hours of observations, Poole came to understand and essentially translate what elephants were communicating to one another. She was also the first to discover musth in African elephants, a state of heightened sexual and aggressive activity in males, during which they display characteristic behaviors such as the gestures classified in the database as ear-wave, trunk-bounce-drag, head-toss, chin-in, and the distinctive musth-walk, a sort of elephant strut.
The image above of an elephant burying its tusk in the ground, shows that it has a sense of humor:
Poole recalls how elephants at play used to charge her car, appearing to trip and fall while tusking the ground (tusk-ground gesture) in front of her vehicle. “I used to think that they really did trip—no longer!” Poole said. “I have seen it enough times to know that pretending to fall over in front of the car is all part of the fun. It is one of the behaviors that led me to say that elephants have a sense of self and a sense of humor. They know that they are funny.”
Read the rest over at this neat article by Christy Ullrich over at NatGeo: Link - Thanks Marilyn!
Groupers hunt for small fish in open water, but sometimes they will beckon to a moray eel or a humphead wrasse to go hunting with them. Morays and wrasses will grab fish out of crevices and places a grouper can't reach -and if it flushes more of them out, the grouper can catch them. But what is weird is how the grouper recruits an eel, as observed by Alexander Vail from the University of Cambridge.
The groupers always summoned the wrasses and morays with a vigorous shimmy, but they also used a second, much rarer signal—a headstand, combined with head-shaking. Vail thinks it was a signal, one that said: “The prey’s in here, guys!”
When doing their headstands, the groupers always swam over the location of hidden prey that they had failed to catch. They only used the move when a moray or wrasse was nearby, continued to do so until one arrived, and stopped as soon as one did.
Most morays and all wrasses headed towards the grouper’s location when they saw the signal, causing the prey to break their cover. (The fact that the prey didn’t abandon their hiding spots beforehand shows that the headstand itself isn’t a hunting tactic.) And when the morays ignored the headstand, the groupers actually swum after their partner and either performed their “recruitment shimmy” or forcibly tried to push the eels in the right direction.
The researchers were impressed, but they caution that such cooperative behavior doesn't necessarily mean these fish have high intelligence. See videos of the tag teams in action at Not Exactly Rocket Science. Link
"Basically, the sperm whales had huddled together like logs, creating a protective wall
against the orcas." - Shawn Heinrichs
Photographer Shawn Heinrichs of Blue Sphere Media was on a boat off the southern coast of Sri Lanka when he saw something you don't see every day: a pod of sperm whales battling a pack of killer whales.
“We saw the water churning on the horizon,” said Shawn Heinrichs, a photographer and filmmaker who was in the area looking for blue whales. Heinrichs and his colleagues steered their boat toward the patch of white water. As they got closer, they saw an enormous dorsal fin slicing through the water — a killer whale trademark — and then noticed the group of sperm whales, clustered together in a defensive stance.
At that point, Heinrichs did what many of us would not do: He jumped in.
“I grabbed my camera and slid off the side of the boat,” he said. “There was a frothing, dark pile of shapes ahead of me. When I drifted away from the boat, the largest orca in the pod made a beeline for me but veered off at the last moment and dove deep.”
Nadia Drake of Wired has more: Link
Here we have a mind-blowing confluence of cute: a cat, dressed in a shark costume, riding a Roomba, chasing a duckling around. And if that weren't enough, the dog shows up, dressed in his own hammerhead shark costume. The top YouTube comment:
Art no longer has any meaning. This is the finale. The beautiful long take at the end, holding the tension, breaking the fourth wall, daring the audience with its audacity and self-relexivity. Beyond masterful. Simply breathtaking.
The only thing that could possibly beat this would be if a sloth, a koala, and a red panda were to have a picnic together. -via Tastelessly Offensive