Bites at Animal Planet

Nature

25 Feb

Life After Death for a Whale

Whale Fall (After Life of a Whale) from Sweet Fern Productions on Vimeo.

 

It's easy to feel sad after a death. It's permanent, after all, right? Maybe not.

Death might be permanent on the individual level, but if you step back and look at things in the big picture, it's not so black and white. The beautiful animated short from Sweet Fern Productions above shows exactly how a dead whale "lives on" by feeding the other species that share its ecosystem.

The food web connects all of us to all of the other life surrounding us. And Earth is teeming with life. When any organism dies, its individuality might go away but its body and its energy simply shift into other life forms, and that's a pretty cool thought. 

Whale RIP

Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation. 

24 Feb

Octopus Takes Out Crab On Land (VIDEO)

We’re going to cut to the chase and let the woman recording this video introduce it:

“THERE’S AN OCTOPUS EATING A CRAB!!”

The footage, captured in western Australia by YouTube user Porsche Indrisie, shows a crab walking across rocks, minding its own business, when BOOM! An octopus comes out of nowhere, lands on the crab, and then drags it down into the depths of the unknown.

And with that, we’ll end things with Porsche’s words: “HOLY SH*T!”

23 Feb

Meet the Bobbit Worm and Get Ready for Nightmares

Bobbit Worm - Dinner time from liquidguru on Vimeo.

There are some creatures that are hard to believe aren't CGI creations from a sci-fi horror film. The bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois) is one of them.

Bobbit worms are giant invertebrates that lie in wait under the sand on the sea floor for an unsuspecting victim to swim or crawl too close. When that happens, they launch themselves upwards at speeds almost too fast for the human eye to see, grab their victim, and drag it to its death under the sand.

14217679648_2502427ddf_z
Photo by Rickard Zerpe via Flickr Creative Commons.

Bobbit worms' terrifying mouth parts look like an unholy cross between the mouth of a Predator from the Schwarzeneggar movie and a sarlaac from Star Wars (although fortunately, they don't hunt humans for sport or take thousands of years to digest their prey).

They can grow to lengths of over 9 feet. They are venomous. They got their common name from the fact that because they attack their prey with such speed and force they often cut the fish in half, similar to a what abused wife Lorena Bobbitt did to her husband's man-parts. 

Here's another video showing the full body of a bobbit worm that was discovered lurking in an aquarium tank to add to the nightmare-fuel.

 

 Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation.

 

21 Feb

Who Knew? Crocodiles Like to Play - and Give Each Other Piggy Back Rides

Crocodile-fun-BLOG
Photo: Jeff Foott

Leisure and happiness? This is far from usual crocodile demeanor, isn't it? 

Contrary to popular belief, crocodilians are quite the playful bunch: crocodiles, alligators and caimans. The three species piggyback their mates frequently from place to place like the two above. 

According to an article in National Geographic, they also blow bubbles, play with flowers and snap up stream, which are only a few of the 15 playful behaviors zoologist Vladimir Dinet observed over his 3,000 plus hours of research. 

The zoologist is the forerunner on crocodilian play research, observing how crocodiles engage for enjoyment. Not that any other scientist hasn't ever noticed that crocodiles play, but Dinet is the first person to actually write about it. His published piece is titled, quite rightly, "Play Behavior in Crocodilians."

Continue reading >

19 Feb

Big Cat Plays in the Snow, Melts Hearts (VIDEO)

With the bitter cold winter keeping most of us indoors, it’s heartwarming to see someone outside enjoying the snow.

Meet Nala, a 5-year-old Norwegian Forest Cat/Maine Coon mix with a love for the outdoors. The fluffy feline lives in Norway and looks to be her happiest outside frolicking in the snow, enjoying snowball fights with her owner.

Continue reading >

17 Feb

Seal Takes On Octopus in Canadian Waters (VIDEO)

It looks like Snuffy got his revenge.

No sharks were involved, but an unlucky octopus found itself on the wrong end of a seal in Ogden Point, located in British Columbia, Canada. Watch the footage from a man credited as Thomas Anderson-Roffey by UPI:

You can also take a look at some amazing photographs of the encounter, posted to Facebook by Bob Ianson.

Continue reading >

14 Feb

Pangolin Plays in Mud and it's Adorable

 

How adorable is this pangolin playing in the mud? If you've never heard of a pangolin, you're not alone. These fascinating creatures are not well-known outside of their native ranges in Africa and Asia.

Unfortunately, pangolins are in real trouble. All eight species are threatened with extinction. From conservation initiative savepangolins.org:

"Pangolins are hunted for food, for use in traditional medicine and as fashion accessories, and for a rampant illegal international trade in scales, skins, and meat. There is high demand for nearly all of their body parts, principally from China. The large-scale illegal trade in Asian pangolins is drastically driving down their numbers throughout Southeast Asia. Rapid loss and deterioration of available habitat places added pressure on the dwindling numbers of remaining pangolins."

Pangolin

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help pangolins. It begins with spreading the awareness about them and a great way to do start is to join Save Pangolins on Facebook and Twitter.   

Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation

 

11 Feb

Study Finds Cockroaches Have Distinct Personalities

Cockroach-personalities-BLOG-500w
Photo: iStockphoto

They may be unwanted pests in your home, but perhaps once you learn that cockroaches show signs of having distinct personalities, you'll think twice about pulling out that shoe.

Researchers at the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium set out to study the behavior of these creepy crawlers. They studied American cockroaches by placing radio tags on each one. They then placed the insects into an enclosed dark setting so that they could track their movements, according to an article in Mother Nature Network. After observing the cockroaches for a week, the scientists began to notice distinct personality types. In their research, they described the two groups as "bold or explorers" while the others were "shy or cautious."

Isaac Planas Sitjà, a researcher from the university, told Mother Nature network, "Shy individuals are those that spend more time sheltered and explore less the arena or the surroundings. Instead, bold individuals are those that spend most part of the time exploring the surroundings and spend less time sheltered."

What do these two personality types mean for the longevity of the seemingly indestructible cockroach? Bolder cockroaches are more likely to go out in search of food - a risk that makes them more susceptible to predators. The more cautious cockroaches are more likely to stay hidden, which if crumbs or other food sources are scarce, they may not flourish. However, having two distinct types will ensure that at least part of the population survives.

To learn more about the study, click on over here.

To watch a woman overcome her fear of cockroaches, watch the video below:

Can't get enough? Check out the cockroach live cam on APL!ve!

21 Jan

Meet Mini-Moby the White Porpoise

Mini Moby 2

Meet Mini-Moby the white harbor porpoise. Named after Moby Dick, the famous fictional white whale from the Herman Melvin book of the same name, Mini-Moby is an exceptional animal in more ways than one.

First, the condition that causes his white coloration is very rare. Mini-Moby is leucistic. Leucism is a genetic condition that causes an animal to lack pigmentation and appear white or mostly white (albinism is similar, but causes a total lack of pigmentation). Mini-Moby is mostly white with some darker coloration on his fins. Harbor porpoises are normally a gray color.

Second, harbor porpoises are special because they have made a remarkable comeback in the last few years in the San Francisco Bay, where they were absent for decades.  The return of the species is a notable wildlife recovery success story in these times where the news about wildlife populations is usually bad. Here's a great video about the recovery.

Here's an excerpt about the work biologists are doing to study these harbor porpoises, Mini-Moby in particular, from an upcoming book by my National Wildlife Federation colleague Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, NWF's California Director. NWF is partnering with and supporting Golden Gate Cetacean Research's work on harbor porpoises.  

Mini Moby 1“If it seems like making these connections from pattern identification would be an extremely time-consuming endeavor, then you are understanding the process. It requires an insane level of attention to detail. Sometime nature cuts the researchers a break with a very distinct looking animal. Take for instance, Mini-Moby. It’s a cetacean anyone can be trained to recognize. Mini-Moby is an albino porpoise first spotted in the Bay in 2011. He’s pretty hard to miss,” observes Bill, “he’s definitely the most recognizable porpoise in the Bay Area, if not the entire coast of California.” Almost entirely white, black accents decorate his dorsal fin and blowhole as if he donned the porpoise version of a tuxedo.

 
In the past 100 years, only a small number white porpoises have been documented worldwide, ranging in causes from true albinism to leucistic (reduced pigmentation) to hybridization with another animal. A GGCR paper, “First Record of Anomalously White Harbor Porpoises from the Pacific Ocean” characterized Mini-Moby’s condition as leucistic and also noted these animals appear to have a normal life span and despite their unique color don’t appear to be ostracized by their peers. Since Mini-Moby has proved social with other porpoises, he’s also employed as a natural marker for their research to track movements of his porpoise companions over time.

Continue reading >

10 Jan

Wasp vs Tarantula - Who Will Win?

 

My pal Bryan Hughes from Rattlesnake Solutions LLC was recently out in the desert looking for rattlesnakes and came across this epic battle between a large wasp and a tarantula.

The common name for this wasp species is tarantula hawk. As you can see in the video above, it is well-named.

Tarantula hawks specialize in preying on the large spiders that give them their common name. Well, the females do at least. Male and female tarantula hawks actually feed on flower nectar. The female hunts tarantulas so that she can provision her young with a living host upon which to feed.

Wasp
Photo by Ken Bosma via Flickr.

When she finds a suitable victim, a battle like the one in the video ensues. If she's lucky, the female wasp lands a sting to the spider, which doesn't kill it but rather paralyzes it. She then hauls it off to a nest burrow where she lays an egg on it. 

When the wasp larva hatches, it burrows into the still living spider and feeds on the arachnid from the inside out until it pupates and eventually emerges as an adult wasp.

Gruesome, yes, and pretty horrible for the spider, but still it's an evolutionarily genius way to provide an ample food source for your offspring without having to dedicate time and energy to directly feed them while they grow to adulthood.

Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation.

 

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