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November 2010

Predators Of People

Mon 29th November 2010 (0 comments)
Bengal Tiger

Bengal Tiger

As humans, we are relatively lucky in the sense that we are not generally seen as prey by other animals. The world however, is not without it's man-eaters which are animals that prey on humans as part of their diet, actually hunting and killing them rather than simply scavenging remains. Although there are a number of different species that have a bad reputation including wolves, sharks and Komodo dragons, it is three of the world's largest cats which appear to be our most feared and ferocious predators.

The biggest and most powerful of the world's felines is the tiger, which is responsible for the deaths of more people than any other large cat. Native to the tidal mangrove forest of the Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal, a population of around 600 Bengal tigers is known to attack and kill up to 250 people every year, actively entering villages during daylight hours in search of food. Although they are not the only species of tiger to live close to people, they are the only man-eating tiger species remaining.

Swarms Of Immortal Jellyfish

Thu 25th November 2010 (0 comments)
Turritopsis Nutricula

Turritopsis Nutricula

A small species of jellyfish native to the warmer, tropical waters of the Caribbean has developed a unique way of rendering itself potentially immortal. The 5mm long Turritopsis Nutricula is unlike any other member of the jellyfish group as it is able to revert back to it's younger form (once it has become sexually mature) through a biological process known as transdifferentiation. Despite Turritopsis Nutricula first being discovered in 1883, it's unique abilities were not unveiled until much later in the 1990s.

Although it is thought that Turritopsis Nutricula will only do this if it faced by life-threatening circumstances including being starving or physically wounded, this little jellyfish completely transforms it's existing cells into their younger state, turning itself into a small blob-like polyp which in turn becomes a polyp colony. This colony then spawns hundreds of identical jellyfish which are nearly perfect copies of the original adult. It is thought to be able to repeat this process indefinitely, meaning that it can technically live forever.

British Wildlife In The Winter

Mon 22nd November 2010 (0 comments)
A Freshwater Otter

A Freshwater

Technically speaking, the British winter usually includes the months of December, January and February but for animals coping with the extreme changes in conditions, winter can last for much longer. Animals have had to not only adapt to be able to survive (including the freshwater otter that has to change it's diet when the water freezes), but also must prepare themselves for the hardships ahead ensuring that they are in the best possible condition when the first frost appears.

Some animals even try to avoid the winter completely such as birds that migrate to warmer climates further south and other animals that hibernate. Despite the fact that a number of British species seem to sleep through the cold, only three of our native animals actually hibernate which are frogs, dormice and hedgehogs. Animals such as insects and reptiles do not really hibernate but instead enter a state of torpor, where their bodies slow down dramatically but they don't experience the sheer drop in body temperature and heart rate that is associated with true hibernation.

New Mammalian Discoveries

Mon 15th November 2010 (2 comments)
The Chinese Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey

The Chinese Golden
Snub-Nosed Monkey

When 2010 was first made the Year of Biodiversity, who would have known that such a wealth of knowledge into the lives of other animals would come to light. Thousands of new species were discovered last year but it is quite rare today that new mammalian species are being documented, particularly in areas where their native habitats are severely under threat.

So it was a real surprise when during this year's Myanmar Primate Conservation Program, a new species of snub-nosed monkey was reported by local hunters who had never seen the animal before. After further investigation, researchers found that this new species of snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) was unique from others not only by it's upturned nostrils, but also the fact that they are usually only found in China and Vietnam and have never been documented in Myanmar before.

The Affect Of Black Magic On Owls

Thu 11th November 2010 (2 comments)
Brown Wood-Owl

Brown Wood-Owl

More and more of our Avian species are becoming more vulnerable in the wild, and none more so than the owl. Out of the 30 owl species that are found on the Indian subcontinent (most of which are endangered), 15 different species have been recorded in a recent report as being illegally trapped and traded across India, primarily for use in the black arts.

The use of owls of all shapes and sizes in black magic is commonplace among Indian shaman, who prescribe the use of owls and their body parts including their claws and feathers, as part of ceremonial rituals and in medicines. People are thought to be superstitious of owls in India due to their screeching calls, and they are also said to be associated with bad omens.

Tragedy Strikes Pilot Whale Pod

Mon 8th November 2010 (0 comments)
Mother and Calf

Mother and Calf

Tragedy has struck one of Britain's largest and most elusive marine mammals as a pod of 33 pilot whales was found beached off the coast of County Donegal in North East Ireland, at the weekend. The pod of both adult females and their young was found to be stranded and lifeless on Rutland Island near Burtonport on Saturday, although they were said to have been seen by locals in the area, a few days before.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) claims that it knew nothing of the whale's presence in the area until after the disaster had occurred, which they have said to be one of the largest mass whale deaths in Irish history. This pod of Pilot whales is thought to be the same one that was seen off South Uist in the Outer Hebrides just last week, when reports came in of a closely bonded pod of 30-40 individuals.

Meerkats Tricked In The Kalahari

Thu 4th November 2010 (0 comments)
Common Drongo

Common Drongo

Recent studies looking into the behaviours of Drongos in the Kalahari desert in Africa, have revealed some remarkable findings. The scientists conducting the analysis watched in amazement as these crafty birds mimicked the alarm calls from other species in order to trick other animals into thinking that a dangerous predator was in the area, making them run away and leaving the Drongo free to steal their food.

Although the Common Drongo has been observed taunting a variety of hungry animals, it appears to favour pestering meerkats above all else. The Drongos have been seen following them around until they unearth a decent meal, at which point the bird will start mimicking the alarm calls made by other species, startling the meerkats and sending them running off to hide, leaving the Drongos with their hard-earned lunch.

The Deadly Ten

Mon 1st November 2010 (2 comments)
A Mosquito

A Mosquito

We all have some idea about which animals are ok to be close to and which should be avoided at all costs, but how many of us actually know what the most dangerous animals in the world are, and more importantly, which creature is the deadliest of them all. Here are our top ten:

  1. Mosquito
    Despite being the smallest animal on this list, it is by far the most deadly. They feed on blood so transfer parasites easily between animals. Found in a variety of habitats around the world. They are responsible for more than 2 million human deaths every year.