Bites at Animal Planet


5 Aug

RARE Wild Animals


Long time readers know that I'm a naturalist National Wildlife Federation, one of Animal Planet's R.O.A.R. partners, and I sometimes highlight NWF's work in my Animal Oddities posts. In this post I want to give a shout out to a fellow conservation organizations, Rare.  Rare looks for proven conservation solutions and trains local leaders to inspire communities to adopt them and make them their own through its signature Pride campaigns. They are pretty awesome. 

And it just so happens that a lot of the species Rare works to protect through these campaigns are pretty odd. Here are two of the most unusual species they work with:

Leaf Cutter Ant
The Leaf Cutter ant is considered a delicacy in parts of South America.  During its reproductive season the Leaf Cutter ant’s abdomen swells and it flies around in a sexual flurry only to be caught and grilled by the local people.  An average nest of leafcutter ants contains over 5 million ants.  They are also known as 'parasol' ants because of the way they carry leaves above their heads.  The ants can carry over 50 times their own body weight.

Here's Jeff Corwin exploring these awesome ants.

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11 Jul

Could Sloths Hold the Cure for Cancer?

Just a few days ago, Vice News posted a 20-minute documentary about the rainforests of Panama and how they might hold the cures for diseases such as malaria, Chagas, and even breast cancer. Among the plants and animals highlighted in the documentary, the sloth, everybody’s favorite slow-moving critter, was one of the most important. But how could the laziest creatures of the animal kingdom possibly hold the cures for fatal diseases -- even cancer?


Photo Credit: Thinkstock

The answer lies in their hair, which is especially adapted to carry algae which can only be found on the backs of sloths. Hair is usually smooth, but the hair of a sloth is cracked to accommodate the growth of algae and fungi. On average, a sloth could be carrying up to 85 different kinds of fungi whose compounds could help in fighting diseases. In the documentary, sloths are called, “little pharmacies,” and it isn’t far off from the truth.

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3 Jul

Roo and Penny: Unlikely Best Friends

Alicia Williams, a client services receptionist at Duluth Animal Hospital in Georgia, has a habit of rescuing animals that are in bad situations. Roo and Penny are two of Alicia's rescues that have developed a very strong bond with one another.

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6 Jun

What Could Kill a 9-Foot Great White Shark?

Eating-sharks-250For all those thinking the sharks may be the greatest predator in the water, new findings might cause a bit of alarm. There's something out there eating 9-foot great white sharks.

As part of a new shark tracking program, scientists tagged a healthy 9-foot female great white shark off the Australian coast. Then, four months later, the tracking device was discovered by a beach comber about two-and-a-half miles from where the shark was originally tagged.

When the scientists reviewed the recovered device, they found a rapid temperature rise - from the mid-40s to the high-70s - and a 1,900-foot change in depth. Both can be explained by the animal "living" within the stomach of something much larger. To date, this is all the information scientists have.

Is there a giant creature out there feasting on great whites? Watch the video below and decide.

Could it be megalodon?

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6 May

Rare And Elusive Goblin Shark Found Off The Coast of Key West

Capt. Moore took photos of the shark and submitted his find to NOAA soon after. (Photo by Captain Carl Moore)

As a shrimp fisherman, Captain Carl Moore has his sights set on finding seafood to feed the hungry masses around the Gulf Coast. But while fishing 10 miles off the coast of Key West last month, Moore found something more sinister inside his net—an 18-foot Goblin shark.

Like its name depicts, the Goblin shark is known for its elongated snout, uniquely shaped head and jagged teeth. While it can be found around the world in the Pacific, the Goblin shark is a deep-sea dweller that lives in depths of up to 5,000 feet, making it difficult to spot, according to NBC News.

This image of the Goblin shark illustrates its unique characteristics, such as its elongated snout. (Photo from ThinkStock)

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2 May

Sixty-ton Whale Lands on Canadian Shores, Could Explode


It's problem enough that a 60-ton whale carcass landed on the shores of a small fishing town in Newfoundland, but residents have legitimate concerns over the possibility that the carcass could explode. As explained by The Atlantic, during decomposition, gases such as methane build up inside the carcass. In this particular case, the whale ballooned to nearly double its size.

As of today, it appears that the whale has shrunk in scale and an explosion may not be imminent. How do we know? Marine science communicators at Upwell and Southern Fried Science created a site that provides status updates. You can check it out here.

For now, citizens of the small town will just have to deal with the stench and hope it doesn't impact their tourist season.

For more on the actually quite interesting history of whale explosions, check out The Atlantic's article.

See more Monster content on Monster Week! Starts May 18 at 8PM E/P!

5 Mar

Whale Says Hello And Smacks Tourist Off The Coast Of Mexico

Chelsea was on the receiving end of a "greeting" from a whale off the coast of Mexico. (Photo taken from YouTube user Jordyn R)

Whale watching can be a blink-or-miss experience compounded by long stretches of staring into the open water, waiting for something to happen.

But it’s safe to say Canadian tourist Chelsea Crawford got her money’s worth, after receiving a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a whale off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, according to the Huffington Post

Watch what happens in this video uploaded by YouTube user Jordyn R:

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27 Dec

Piranhas Injure 70 People in Argentina

Palometa piranhas, similar to the fish seen in the photo, attacked 70 swimmers in Argentina Christmas Day. (Photo Credit: Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images)

A piranha attack on a group of innocent swimmers sounds like something out of a B-rated horror film, but it was the unfortunate reality for dozens of beachgoers in Argentina on Christmas Day.

A pack of piranhas attacked 70 swimmers, whose injuries ranged from small bites, to the loss of fingers and toes, according to ABC News. Local officials say that while an isolated attack can be common, one of this scale and magnitude is unusual. They blamed the attack on a pack of palometa, a piranha species that is “big, voracious and with sharp teeth that can really bite,” as reported by BBC News.

We reached out to River Monsters host Jeremy Wade, who gave us his take on what could’ve motivated the piranhas to snap. He thinks it’s likely that the fish were defending their nests from humans:

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26 Nov

Two Aussies Find Snake On Windshield, Hilarity Ensues

Aussie snake
A snake hangs out on a car windshield. Welcome to Australia! (Photo Credit: YouTube/Ben Lehmann)

Let me start this entry with a disclosure: I have never been to Australia. But what I do know about Australia from working at Animal Planet (RIP Steve Irwin) is that it’s a colorful country filled with tons of diverse wildlife. Like snakes!

See what happens when two Aussies find something a little out of the ordinary creeping on their car windshield. Our thanks to YouTube user Ben Lehmann for uploading!

WARNING: These videos are filled with explicit language that is NSFW. If you have headphones, now would be the time to use them.

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30 Oct

Animal Oddities: Zombies vs. Animals: Who Would Win?


From David Mizejewski, Animal Oddities

Between Halloween and the latest season of The Walking Dead, the zombie craze is in full-force.

Zombies are scary. We humans are evolutionarily pre-programmed to abhor the dead bodies of our own species. It's a natural reaction that helps healthy individuals avoid picking up potentially fatal pathogens. The thought of being eaten alive is another totally natural fear, and when it's your own species doing the eating, it's somehow even more terrifying.

So, when you're lying in bed after watching The Walking Dead, unable to fall asleep with the vague anxiety of half-rotten corpses getting you in the dark, remember this: if there was ever a zombie apocalypse, wildlife would kick some serious zombie [butt].

Photo by Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

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