Bites at Animal Planet

Monster Week

13 Jan

Fossils of Giant Ancient Crocodile Found in Tunisia

This is a massive discovery, both literally and figuratively. Paleontologists in Tunisia have found the fossil remains of the world's largest sea-dwelling crocodile, a species that before now had be completely unknown.

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The group, lead by Federico Fanti of the University of Bologna and supported by the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, have named this new species Machimosaurus rex, or M. Rex for short. From the fossils they found, they have estimated that this prehistoric beast measured up to 30 feet long and weighed over 30 tons. The skull alone is five feet long. Their complete findings have been reported in the journal, Cretaceous Research.

"It's just big. It's almost the size of a bus," said Fanti to the Washington Post about the crocodile. "It definitely was at the top of the food chain at the time, at least in this particular locality."

The fossil was found just inches below the surface on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Tunisia.

While the sheer size of this crocodile is impressive, this discovery also rattles preconceived notions about mass extinctions during the Jurassic Period. While the group of crocodiles M. Rex belongs to were thought to have gone extinct 150 million years ago, these new findings show that M. Rex actually lived 130 million years ago. 

Fanti said that while previous studies hypothesized a mass extinction of marine reptiles between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the discovery of M. Rex proves otherwise.

"That's leading us to consider the mass extinction theory is wrong and that we should better understand what's going on at the end of the Jurassic period," Fanti said.

M. Rex may be extinct, but there are still some monster crocs out there, just like the one Jeremy Wade came face-to-face with!

28 Oct

Surfer Finds Large Prehistoric Shark Tooth

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Solon Kelleher from thedodo.com)

Remnants of the largest species of shark to have ever lived are now resurfacing — nearly 2.6 million years after the animal went extinct.

Several Megalodon teeth have been collected over recent weeks on the beaches of North Carolina. One of those teeth was found in Surf City by a man named Danny Bland, and it's about as big as a human hand.

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"I felt like I was a lottery winner," Bland said in an interview with WITN-TV. "I'm the first one to touch that since it fell out of his mouth back in the day."

While it's common to find shark teeth on the beaches of North Carolina, finding Megalodon teeth is much rarer. However, recent stormy weather and beach renourishment projects have caused some of the ancient fossils to be kicked back up into the currents, according to WITN.

Continue reading >

13 Oct

Is This the Jersey Devil or Just a Well-Timed Halloween Prank?

 

Jersey-devil
Facebook/NJ.com

A Little Egg Harbor Township man is claiming that he spotted the fabled Jersey Devil in Galloway, N.J., while driving home from work.

"I was just driving past the golf course in Galloway on Route 9 and had to shake my head a few times when I thought I saw a llama," he wrote in an email to NJ.com. "If that wasn't enough, then it spread out leathery wings and flew off over the golf course."

Dave Black snapped several photos as the creature flew off, only one of which came out. He shared that one with NJ.com, claiming it was real and not something he had Photoshopped, according to the news outlet.

According to NJ.com, Black said one of his friends suggested that it could have been an owl carrying and flying away with some sort of animal, but Black says the animal he saw was about the size of a deer.

Continue reading >

23 Jul

Gorilla Has Had it Up to Here With People Watching Him

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Ameena Schelling from thedodo.com)

This gorilla's tired of being stared at all day — and he's not afraid to show it.

A recent video, which was filmed at the Denver Zoo, shows an angry gorilla snapping at a zoo visitor. The visitor, Ryan Higley, stands in front of the glass as the great ape snacks on some lettuce, and the gorilla watches him right back out of the corner of his eye, seemingly annoyed.

At one point Higley lets out a kind chuckle — and the gorilla jumps p, slamming his fist into the window.

980x.jpg-5YouTube/Trent and the Lioness

It's not the first time an ape has shown his frustration in a zoo — even Higley's seen it before. A video he posted several months ago, also taken at the Denver Zoo, shows an angry silverback charging a crowd of chattering visitors, seemingly trying to chase them away.

Continue reading >

8 Jul

Flood Leaves 'River Monster' Stranded in Fence

Dodo Circular

(Guest post by Solon Kelleher from thedodo.com)

In May, waters around Dallas rose above normal levels. The Trinity River, which runs through the city, had retained so much rainfall that its depth more than doubled to 40 feet by the end of the month. Among the destroyed homes and human lives lost, wildlife were also affected by the rising waters.

Andrés Ruzo, a geoscientist and National Geographic explorer, captured this image of a recently deceased fish who'd gotten carried away by the floodwater — and, sadly, lodged in a fence.

Andrés Ruzo/National Geographic

The fish is part of a 100,000-year-old species. And even though he has a bit of a monstrous appearance, he's of course not a river monster at all. He's a juvenile longnose gar, a freshwater fish with a sizable population of over 100,000 adults in North America. Though other subspecies of gar can reach up to 10 feet long, this particular fish is 2 feet, which is about the subspecies's average size.

In his post on National Geographic's website, the photographer noted that, "Living fossils like the gar are a reminder that our buildings and byways are a very recent arrival to this ancient landscape."

The gar fittingly earned his name from the Anglo-Saxon word for "spear". However, the species far predates any Anglo-Saxon language. These creatures have swam on Earth for the past 100,000 years without any significant evolutionary changes.

Continue reading >

11 Jun

Rare 17-Foot Oarfish Washes Up On California Coast

 

A rare Oarfish washed up on the coast of South Catalina Island earlier this month, CNN reports.

These mysterious sea-serpents almost exclusively swim 1,000 to 3,000 feet below the surface, in the darkest depths of the water. The fish was found early morning June 1 by two conservationist from the Catalina Island Conservancy, and was measured at about 17 feet long, relatively small considering these creatures can reach lengths of 50 feet.

The Oarfish was found dead with its tail missing, and it is unclear exactly how it died. This marks the fifth time in one year that an Oarfish has washed up on California's coast, and the second time it has washed up on Catalina Island. The last time was in 2013 and the carcass measured at about 18 feet.

The Giant Oarfish was first discovered in 1772 by Norwegian biologist Peter Ascanius, and has been the subject of many legends and tales.

To learn more about giant sea creatures, check out our Top 10 Biggest River Monsters, or some of the videos below! 

 

Continue reading >

24 May

Gulf of Mexico Diver Stumbles Upon Great White Shark (VIDEO)

A charter captain diving in the Gulf of Mexico got quite the surprise when a great white shark snuck up on him, Discovery News reports.

Grayson Shepard was coming up from 90 feet down during a hunt for lionfish when he spotted the shark about 22 feet underwater.

“He was docile, not aggressive at all,” Shepard told the Tallahassee Democrat. “But it’s like your worst nightmare. I felt totally helpless. It was like it saw me before I saw it. That spooked me.”

Learn more about Great White Sharks in the video below:

Watch the full episode of Swimming With Monsters: Shark as part of Monster Week.

This post is part of our special MONSTER NEWS coverage for MONSTER WEEK! Check out related articles here and watch video highlights -- and tune in all week through May 25 for Monster Week, only on Animal Planet.

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22 May

Meanwhile in Australia, It's Raining Spiders

Spider-webs
Reuters/Daniel Munoz

In case you missed the story this week, it's raining spiders in Australia -- millions and millions of spiders. And not only are the residents of Goulburn, New South Wales, dealing with these critters falling on them from the sky, they have a sticky situation with all the webbing left behind.

So what's happening? LiveScience called on Rick Vetter, a retired arachnologist at the University of California at Riverside, who said residents were most likely witnessing a very common form of spider transportation. Called ballooning, it entails a spider intent on migrating to new digs climbing up high, releasing its silk, and then jumping.

Continue reading >

21 May

Scary, Loud Human Frightens Sweet, Snuggly Bear (VIDEO)

When a Scandinavian brown bear came charging out of the woods toward one Swedish hunter, the man screamed as loud as he could muster in that moment and frightened off the bear.

Swedish-bear
Photo: YouTube image

Ralph Persson, a hunter and outdoorsman, told media outlets that he simply attempted to make himself very big and scream as loud as possible to frighten the animal.  And it worked! AMAZING! Watch the encounter:

Persson did say however that he probably got a little too close to the bear -- and notes that people should be respectful of wildlife and stay a safe distance.

 

It's MONSTER WEEK! Get a few stories of animal attacks that did not end so fortunately.  Watch sneak peeks from the program MAULED, airing tonight at 8/7c, only on Animal Planet. DON'T. WATCH. ALONE.

 

This post is part of our special MONSTER NEWS coverage for MONSTER WEEK! Check out related articles here and watch video highlights -- and tune in all week through May 25 for Monster Week, only on Animal Planet.

20 May

Man Bitten By Shark Near South Carolina

Sandshark(musikanimal wikimedia commons)
A sand shark, like this one pictured, bit a man off the coast of Sullivan's Island. (Photo by MusikAnimal/Wikimedia Commons)

Beachgoers in Sullivan’s Island, SC are on alert after a sand shark bit a man last week.

Officials say that the 30-year-old man was bit on the foot Friday afternoon. He was taken to an area hospital, where he received stitches and was later released.

While the incident was relatively minor, it has raised concerns over the amount of sharks in the region. According to the Post and Courier, a study conducted last year revealed that Sullivan’s Island and neighboring Folly Beach were some of the riskiest places for shark attacks in the continental United States. The study also showed that individuals there were 35 times more likely to be attacked by a shark compared to the rest of the Carolinas.

The town issued a statement, urging residents to exercise caution when swimming or engaging in any water sports. Fortunately, South Carolina hasn’t suffered a fatal shark attack since the 1850s.

Want to get up close with sharks (from the comfort of your own computer or device)? Check out incredible shark videos on our website!

This post is part of our special MONSTER NEWS coverage for MONSTER WEEK! Check out related articles here and watch video highlights in anticipation of Monster Week, starting May 17, only on Animal Planet.

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