Thursday, 2 July 2015

Nyah! Nyah! How Goldfish Eluded Huge Predator for Years

by Tia Ghose, Senior Writer | July 01, 2015 06:29pm ET

Talk about survival instincts.

A goldfish that was meant to be fish food found a hideout and lived in a tank with its predator for seven years, according to Japanese news reports.

The goldfish was tossed into the tank of an arapaima, a massive, predatory fish native to South America. But instead of going quietly to its fate, the plucky goldfish swam into a filtration unit in the tank at Japan's Shima Marineland aquarium. Workers discovered the lurker after a routine cleaning.

Will animals of the future only be safe in captivity?

Science editor

28 June 2015 
From the section

David Shukman goes in search of lemurs in their natural habitat

Look ahead towards the middle of the century and much-loved animals such as lemurs, rhinos and tigers will only survive in some form of captivity.

And extinction will be even more of a threat than it is now.

An overly bleak and pessimistic view? Maybe.

But after reporting on the state of wildlife in Madagascar this past week, I cannot see how many of the most iconic creatures will be able to roam in their natural habitats for much longer.

I don't mean a future necessarily confined to zoos, but one in which lives are led in special zones guarded by fences and patrols and CCTV. Free, but only up to a point.

The reasons are obvious: growing populations and the thirst for resources and the black market for animals all mean that humans and animals are increasingly competing for territory and survival. And the animals usually lose.

As we picked our way through the remaining pockets of forest in Madagascar, I heard that less than 10% of the original cover is left.

And those remaining stretches of jungle - the sole habitats for the country's famous lemurs - are under constant attack as local people seek to create farmland or hunt for fresh meat.

Dagger-like canines of saber-toothed cats took years to grow

New research technique assigns ages to Smilodon fatalis developmental events, shows rapid canine growth but overall delayed dental maturity

Date: July 1, 2015

Source: American Museum of Natural History

New research shows that the fearsome teeth of the saber-toothed cat Smilodon fatalis fully emerged at a later age than those of modern big cats, but grew at a rate about double that of their living relatives. The findings, published today in the journal PLOS ONE and based on a new technique that combines isotopic analysis and x-ray imaging, for the first time provide specific ages for developmental events in Smilodon, notably in their teeth. The study estimates that the eruption rate of S. fatalis's permanent upper canines was 6 millimeters per month--double the growth rate of an African lion's teeth. But the extinct cat's dagger-like canines weren't fully developed until about three years of age.

"For predators such as big cats, an important determinant of an individual's full hunting ability is the time required to grow their weapons--their teeth," said Z. Jack Tseng, a National Science Foundation and Frick Postdoctoral Fellow in the American Museum of Natural History's Division of Paleontology and a coauthor on the new paper. "This is especially crucial for understanding sabertoothed predators such as Smilodon."

S. fatalis lived in North and South America until going extinct about 10,000 years ago. About the size of a modern tiger or lion but more solidly built, the cats are famous for their protruding canines, which could grow to be 18 centimeters (about 7 inches) long. Although well-preserved fossils of S. fatalis are available to researchers, very little is known about the absolute ages at which the animals reached key developmental stages.

Dolphin leaps into boat, injuring woman in California

A Californian man has described the extraordinary moment when a dolphin jumped into his boat, crashed into his wife and broke both of her ankles.

He and his family were watching a pod of dolphins when one of them suddenly leapt aboard, says the OC Register.

Dirk Frickman described scenes of chaos when the dolphin knocked him over and landed on his wife's legs.

He said he managed to keep the animal alive by splashing it with water until he steered the vessel back to shore.

"I was letting go of the wheel every 30 seconds to a minute and slowing down and pouring water on her," Mr Frickman told the Californian news site.

The dolphin was bleeding from several cuts on its tail and nose, which it received as a result of the unexpected jump. Photos provided by Dirk Frickman to the media show the dolphin lying inside his blood-splattered boat.

Newly discovered 48-million-year-old lizard walked on water in Wyoming

Earliest known member of 'Jesus' lizard group may have flourished in once-tropical habitat

Date: July 1, 2015

Source: PLOS

A newly-discovered, 48-million-year-old fossil, known as a "Jesus lizard" for its ability to walk on water, may provide insight into how climate change may affect tropical species, according to a study published July 1 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jack Conrad from American Museum of Natural History.

Modern relatives of the Jesus lizard live in an area stretching from central Mexico to northern Colombia, flourishing in the higher temperatures found at the equator. Members of various animal, plant, fungal, and other clades currently confined to the tropics or subtropical areas are often found in fossil records at mid-to-high latitudes from warm periods in Earth history.

The 48-million-year-old fossil, recovered from the Bridger Formation in Wyoming, is the first description of a new species, named Babibasiliscus alxi by the author, and may represent the earliest clear member of the Jesus lizard group,Corytophanidae. This group, which includes iguanas and chameleons, remains poorly understood, due to the small number of fossils available for study.

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