Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Unlikely BFFs Part XXII: Bobcat and fawn edition

These unlikely best buds have been rockin' the internet and warming hearts for a week or two now. During the recent Jesusita fire near Santa Barbara, this fawn and bobcat kitten lost their homes. The bobcat was found near Arnold Schwarzenegger's ranch, all dehydrated and sad and near death. When the good people at Animal Rescue Team brought the kitten in, she ran to the fawn and a beautiful friendship was born. Animal Planet, (where I picked up this story), is quick to point out that the rescue organization doesn't usually pair wild animals of different species together, but was out of room due to the many fire-related animal refugees. If you can help out some animals displaced by the blaze, read the original article and check out the sites listed below. Any amount helps!

Animal Rescue Team

Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network

FINALLY, Japan creates supercute, superglowing green primates

Once again, my BFF Sarah did all the legwork for this story and just forwarded it my way so that I could do as little work as possible and still give this blog weekly updates. EXCELLENT. And what a story it is!

Scientists in--where else?--Japan have genetically engineered glowing monkeys. Sure, they glow green only under a special light, which is probably not available to you and I--NO, not even at Spencer's Gifts. Notice the 4-pane split screen photo I selected for this story (because I love split screen photos; check 'em out, each pane is so different, all with their own lil' glowing marmoset personalities!). The photo shows just a tantalizing glimpse of what their specially glowing hair roots, blood, and skin look like under the aforementioned superscientific light. How did this miracle occur? Through the careful splicing of a jellyfish gene into the wee embryonic monkeys. While this innovation may seem like the perfect accompaniment to Japan's recent crop of robot models/teachers or the Deadhead who just wants to keep reliving that magical LSD trip at the circus, these little dayglo primates were actually bred to study Parkinson's and ALS. Read more in the wonderfully named Yahoo news story Green Glowing Monkeys Have Green Glowing Babies.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Waterskiing Squirrel!

If you're like me, you enjoy watching local news for the awkward banter between newscasters, the low-rent commercials for businesses you'd never previously known existed like Cell Phone Galaxy and Big Ed's Grab'n'Go Liquor Depot, and--of course--for that vital last five minutes of news, where instead of helping our friends and neighbors to better understand Conflict in the Mideast or How the Economy Works, they do a heartwarming, undercover investigation on what your dog goes when you're at work all day, or how a cat in Fayetteville, AR seems to be nursing a baby raccoon as its own kitten. I live for that crap. And so must you, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this blog. Therefore, you have probably already seen a waterskiing squirrel. Waterskiing squirrels are a fuzzy, daredevil staple of late Friday night news programs during the summer. But you know why that is? Because they're awesome. Finally it's nice outside, and in the spirit of spring/summer making its way to Minneapolis, I present you with....

Twiggy, the Waterskiing Squirrel. Don't forget to wear your life jacket!

"The Superb Lyre Bird"

Drew told me about this creature a week or two ago, and up until now I have been too busy doing boring crap to look it up. It's the lyre bird! They're famed--according to BBC host David Attenborough--for their beautiful song. And it's true; it's hypnotic! Just like those little plastic birds where you rest the bird (well, its tiny little underside sensors) in the palm of your hand and it begins to warble. You know the ones--you used to be able to find them in the tacky lawn ornament/gift departments of WalMarts and plant nurseries, AND YOUR PARENTS WOULD NEVER BUY YOU (me) ONE. Anyways, it's like that, but as Attenborough goes on to explain, it's EVEN MORE COMPELLING because the lyre bird likes to throw a few surprises in there for his listening audience, namely sounds the bird has picked up from living in a jungle, surrounded apparently by BBC and National Geographic photographers who set things on fire a lot. Watch/listen for yourself!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

This graduation season, give the gift of SLOTH

This week's featured post on baby sloths comes courtesy of my best friend Sarah, and once again, the Zooborns website!!! Sure, everybody knows that sloths love to party (courtesy of a certain SNL sketch), but did you also know that the little ones are totallllly cute? (I needed to think of a word besides adorable or heartwarming. The English language does not have enough. No--never enough for this blog.) This fellow above is a Bradypus sloth who lives at the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, the world's only sloth sanctuary. They give injured or orphaned sloths a home, and are all about sloth education efforts. Here's a video of some baby sloths at the sanctuary:

Check out the Aviarios site's adoption program!

Adopt me! The perfect gift for that someone special.

More incredible features of the site include: A volunteer program that you don't have to spend a ton of money to participate in! An opportunity to sleep with sloths living, sleeping, and playing around you!! That's right, there's a small, veeeery affordable boutique hotel at the sanctuary. Seriously, nearly any one of my friends (HINT STRONG HINT) could afford this as a nice gift for me, as say, a birthday gift, or even a Thursday gift. There is also a section entitled "Sloth Magic" where you can read stories about sloth's effects on people's lives. Seriously, this is good stuff. Sloths 4EVA!!!

Aye-aye, I love you!!

Whenever I have seen baby aye-ayes while google imaging stuff, I have always kind of thought they might not be exactly 100% real. You know, like, that gross human dog thing that sometimes comes up, or other similar photoshop nightmares. Not that baby aye-ayes are nightmares--oh no!!! They are weird-lookin', to be sure, but they are also kinda cute in a freaky way. Just the way I like 'em!

Read the article Second Aye-Aye Ever Born in North America at And definitely watch the video. "Meep!" he says. Meep. Just straight up heartwarming. Meep. Photos below from the Zooborns article. Thanks to Sarah for sending me this.

Meep! They are endangered, and only two US zoos have these little guys as part of breeding programs: the Denver Zoo, where this wee little fellow was born, and the San Francisco Zoo. Meep meep meep. I love him.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Giant amphibian of the week: giant salamanders

"Heeeeey ladiiiiiies!!!!!" That is what this guy is saying.

They can grow to just under six feet long. They live in China, Japan, and ahhhhhhhhh--what's this???--the eastern United States. Wow. So close, but yet so far. Thank God there is an extensive system of great lakes and rivers throughout this country so that giant salamanders can get wherever the hell they want and take up residence in our brooks and ponds, where they will set up giant underwater Club Meds for their brethren in giantness, giant otters and giant turtles. Maybe giant rabbits, too, but I guess they'd probably have to be outfitted with scuba gear, and frankly I don't really know how much giant rabbits would be into that.

These are the biggest known amphibians living in the world today (like how I left that window open just in case they find a bigger one, say, living in the New Jersey sewers or something? That's professionalism.) They can live up to fifty years in captivity, which I figure is long enough to teach one how to talk. Check out this charming family anecdote, once again from Wikipedia:

The male fertilises the eggs externally by releasing his sperm onto them, and will then guard them for at least three months, until they hatch. At this point, the larvae will live off their noticeable stored fat until ready to hunt. Once ready they will hunt as a group rather than individually.

Just imagine, oversized, pudgy gangs of these things, patrolling our waterways! Hunting together, and then later bro-ing down for a round of underwater flag football! That's what giant, freaky underwater family is all about.

I love how people always pick up giant animals like that. It's like, "Just me 'n' my buddy, Rod the Giant Salamander, hangin' out before the big game!"

Giant reptiles part XXIV: giant turtle edition

Another Maley suggestion. Check this guy out! He can grow up to six feet in length, which means he could totally party with those huge South American otters, but not really the giant toads, because they are big, sure, but scale-wise, it just wouldn't work. But whatever, right? The otters and turtles could go to Wisconsin Dells together, or like, to the movies, or say a record store. Sadly, the Cantor's giant soft-shelled turtle is endangered. It was last seen in Cambodia six years ago, but I mean, when you find out that Cantor's turtles spend 95% of their life buried and unmoving, with only eyes and mouth visible, only surfacing twice a day to breath, it's really not all that surprising that no one sees them all thaaaaat often. Scientific fact: the other 5% of their life is spent water skiing and eating Bugles brand snacks.

Solenodons: cuddly, near-prehistoric, poisonous shrew creatures

Special thanks to my friend Maley for suggesting the three awesome/freaky animals featured in this week's critter roundup on OMG What is that???. They are truly weird, in the best possible way. Take for example, the solenodon. Their name sounds like a prehistoric dinosaur type, which is funny because according to Wikipedia, the species resembles "very closely those that lived near the end of the age of the dinosaurs." Hmm. But that's not all. Besides looking totally bizarre, check out this little pearl of knowledge from our friends over at Wikipedia:

Solenodons have a few intriguing traits, two of them being the position of the teats (2) on the female, almost on the buttocks of the animal, and the second being the venomous saliva that flows from modified salivary glands in the mandible through grooves on the second lower incisors.

Yes, that's right. This is one of NORTH AMERICA's, and the world's only venomous mammals. The only existing subspecies now live in Haiti and Cuba, although they were once prevalent throughout North America. They no longer are, because they're endangered. :-(

Monday, 4 May 2009

Study suggests pterosaurs not just scary, also kinda gross

National Geographic is reporting that a recent University of Tokyo study contends that pterosaurs--previously the largest prehistoric creature believed to have taken to the sky--actually might have been simply too heavy to fly. The findings are based on a study of modern birds that shows anything heavier than 90 pounds, with a wingspan greater than 16.7 feet, just straight up couldn't flap it's giant, terrifying wings fast enough to keep the bird/winged reptile/pegasus in the air.

So what do they think pterosaurs did with their wings? Did they just bumble along on the ground running into stuff and screeching? NO. They think they might have swam. Gross. Just imagine: you're at the beach, splashing around with your friends and suddenly you see a ripple in the water and THIS THING swimming at you. In the sky, fine. In the water, hellz no. I don't care what pterosaurs got up to when they were flying around. Just keep 'em out of my swimming pool.

That being said, the whole rest of the article is all like, "Well here's a theory I kind of thought up while standing in line at the coffeeshop, but on second thought it doesn't really make any sense. But I'm saying it anyways because I'm a scientist. Even though it doesn't really make any sense, just so ya know." Read more in this National Geographic article, including reasons why hell, who knows, maybe they could fly! like really light bone density and wacky atmospheric conditions.


My friends Pete and Sarah showed me this video last weekend and it is a strong contender for Most Adorable Creature of All Time. You got some tough competition now, Binkie.

Binkie, original cutest animal ever

This video is of a slow loris named Sonya who lives with some people in Russia, where it is both legal and ADORABLE to keep slow loris at pets. I love Sonya. I love her owners. Hell, this video makes me love everything.