The scariest and most fascinating thing about the ocean is that you never really know what’s underneath you. Here’s some footage of the very rare “black sea devil” anglerfish swimming about at a depth of 600 meters. It uses a “flashlight” on its head to attract its prey and is one of the cuter fish in existence…
You Seen My Goat? by Robert Rafalat and Alex Kirkland
On 9 September 2007, a giant isopod was scooped from the waters of Baja California and transported to Toba Aquarium on Japan’s east coast. Home to some 25,000 sea creatures from 1,000 species, Toba Aquarium has a pretty extensive collection, but their new isopod made an instant impression. Named “No. 1″, this huge, pill bug-looking crustacean stretched almost a foot long, weighed over 2 pounds, and was the first of the aquarium’s eight giant isopods.
In the wild, giant isopods are enthusiastic and voracious scavengers, feeding off whale, fish and squid carcasses, and sometimes even slow-moving live prey, such as sponges and sea cucumbers, and even a sluggish fish or two, if they’re really lucky. Sometimes they’ll even have a go at an underwater cable, because when you’re a giant isopod, almost anything could potentially be a meal. In captivity, they’ve got things even easier, receiving hand-fed meals of horse mackerel.
No. 1 got pretty used to his cushy lifestyle at Toba Aquarium, and became a real hit with the public. But then, on 2 January 2009, something strange occurred. No. 1 nibbled on a hearty 50-gram chunk of mackerel before pushing the rest away and embarking on the world’s most bizarre hunger strike.
By the time that you’ve finished looking through the entirety of this massive group show curated by Ryan Travis Christian, you’ll have more thoughts than you previously had on the quacking creature. Whether those thoughts are good or bad is completely up to you. Just know that there’ll be more.
“They told me that I was getting a ticket for not stopping for a duck… But it scared me. I’m a woman. This huge duck scared me.”
Police in Ft. Lee, New Jersey dressed one of their own up in a Donald Duck costume for a decoy program to catch drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians. Needless to say, it confused a lot of motorists who might have been under the assumption that the mascot was just trying to hitch a ride into the city to harass some tourists in Time Square.
Instead of just walking into a flock of emperor penguins to identify those birds tagged with RFID chips, researchers in the Antarctic drive this adorable lil’ remote controlled dude into the huddles, so that the penguins won’t get stressed.
The first act of sex on earth happened about 385 million years ago between two primitive bony fish in an ancient Scottish lake. The fish did it sideways—like two square dancers—rubbing their genitalia together like cheese graters
Somehow this cat managed to get wedged between a garage door and its frame down in Flagler Beach, Fl. According to the police captain who helped with the rescue: “There was no damage to the garage door and the cat walked away on its own.” Good enough.
Look at this tiny little fighter pilot. This is the pygmy falcon, (Polihierax semitorquatus), Africa’s smallest raptor bird. Native to several regions in Africa, including southern Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, this compact killer only grows to about 20 centimeters long (a bit less than 8 inches), which makes it only slightly larger than a house sparrow. But don’t let this guy’s small stature and extreme fluff fool you – it doesn’t just hunt insects, lizards, snakes and mice, it also hunts other birds, striking them down in mid-air and ripping them from their nests.
And speaking of nests, the pygmy falcon sure knows how to live in style. They’re too busy dive-bombing the shit out of their prey to worry about domestic matters like building a nest, so they move into other species’ nests instead. In southern Africa, the pygmy falcon population lives and breeds in the enormous homes of the sociable weaver bird (Philetairus socius), the largest and arguably most elaborate structures built by any bird on the planet. Sometimes these nests will stretch 7 meters across and can easily weigh more than a ton. They basically look like someone threw a big, golden-brown haystack in a tree and it stuck. Sometimes they’re so big, they snap the branches and collapse all over the place.
Built like the bird equivalent of an apartment block, the sociable weaver’s nest can house hundreds of pairs of birds from several generations. They’re sectioned off like honeycomb with over 100 little chambers connected by a complex system of tunnels and entrances, and lined with plant matter, fur and cotton. They even have their own heating and cooling systems, with internal chambers retaining the heat to keep everyone warm at night, and the cooler rooms arranged around the edge of the structure to be used as a shady refuge during the day. These nests can be occupied for over a century before they start to decay.
Inside, the pygmy falcons can be quite sweet for the miniature assassins that they are, occasionally living in what’s known as polyandrous relationships, which means the chicks are cared for by three, sometimes four adults, including both parents. The reason for this congregation of babysitters could be for added defense, or maybe they just enjoy the warmth of all that collective fluff.
The pygmy falcons aren’t the only ones who take advantage of the hospitality of the aptly named sociable weavers – Kalahari tree skinks (Trachylepis spilogaster) also gather around their colossal nests, feeding, nesting, and basking in the sun. And a study conducted by Australian researchers earlier this year found that although lizards are one of the pygmy falcon’s absolute favorite foods, they appear to have absolutely no effect on the tree skinks’ population near the weaver nests. None. In fact, they report that, “We observed skinks on all trees with active pygmy falcon nests, while we observed no skinks on three trees without pygmy falcon nests.” WTF are you doing, lizards?
While it’s not clear why the pygmy falcons aren’t eating the Kalahari tree skinks to oblivion, it could be because they’re hunting and eating everything else, including the skinks’ other predators, so are inadvertently protecting them. If you’re going to be protected by something, it might as well be a communal-living puffball of death.
—Bec Crew / @BecCrew
A new report from the Living Planet Index states that world wildlife populations have been reduced to half of what they were 40 years ago. The population of wild mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish is down by an average of 52%, while the population of freshwater species is down 76%. No word on house pets and zoo animals, because nobody tracks that sort of thing, but those numbers are probably holding steady.