Saturday, December 23, 2006

Architeuthis - The Kraken - Giant Squid, even !! - - found

Formally called Architeuthis, the giant squid can grow up to 60 feet in length. Little was known until recently about the creature that inspired the myth of the "kraken," a tentacled monster blamed for sinking ships off Norway in the 18th century.

"Nobody has ever seen a live giant squid except fishermen," said team leader Tsunemi Kubodera of Japan's National Science Museum. The giant squid was caught on a baited hook laid 2,150 feet under the sea. Scientists captured it off the Ogasawara Islands, near Tokyo, on Dec. 4.

From: TOKYO (22 Dec. 2006) -- Its mass of reddish tentacles flailing, a giant squid fought a losing battle to evade capture in a video unveiled by Japanese scientists on Friday.Images of the squid -- a relatively small female about 12 feet long and weighing 110 pounds -- were the ultimate prize for zoologists at the National Science Museum, who have been pursuing one of the ocean's most mysterious creatures for years.Team leader Tsunemi Kubodera of the museum's zoology department said in an interview on Friday, "We believe these are the first ever moving pictures of a giant squid."The Japanese research team tracked giant squid by following their biggest predators -- sperm whales -- as they gathered to feed near the Ogasawara islands, 620 miles south of Tokyo between September and December.They succeeded in taking the first still photographs of a living giant squid in 2005, observing that it moved around in the water more actively than previously thought, and captured food by entangling prey in its powerful tentacles. The latest specimen, whose formalin-preserved carcass was displayed at a news conference at the museum in Tokyo, was caught on a baited hook laid 2,150 ft under the sea off the Ogasawara islands, on December 4, the scientists said.A squid about 22 inches in length had been attracted by the bait and the giant squid was hooked when it tried to eat the smaller squid, the scientists said.12/22/06 03:40 ET

Monday, December 18, 2006

New Beasts Discovered !

Wonderful new Weird Beasts !

More than 50 new species of animals and plants that have never been seen before have been discovered in a 'Lost World' on the island of Borneo in just 18 months, say scientists.
Among them are two tree frogs, a whole range of plants and trees and 30 brand new types of fish including a tiny one less than a centimetre long and a catfish with an adhesive belly that allows it to stick to rocks.

Bioluminescent Bacteria: Milky Sea

At a bioluminescent web site, "milky seas" are discussed. This is where bioluminescent bacteria in the trillion-billions and beyonds cluster together and can actually be seen from space. (See blue streak next to Ethiopia in picture above). These are miles across and dozens - maybe hundreds of miles long.
This makes them - in aggregate - one of the largest organisms on Earth.
This is even mentioned in Jules Verne's 20,000 leagues under the sea.
By the way, the bright streaks are the glowing lights of cities in tis area of the world - i.e. light pollution.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Aochan (the Snake) and Gohan (the Hamster): Pals

A rodent-eating snake and a hamster have developed an unusual bond at a zoo in Tokyo. October last year, when zookeepers presented the hamster to the rat snake, it refused to eat the rodent. The two now share a cage, and the hamster sometimes falls asleep sitting on top of his natural foe.

"I have never seen anything like it," a zookeeper at the Mutsugoro Okoku zoo said. (The hamster was initially offered to Aochan, the two-year-old rat snake, because it was refusing to eat frozen mice. )

As a joke, the zookeeper said they named the hamster Gohan - the Japanese word for meal.

"Aochan seems to enjoy Gohan's company very much," said zookeeper Kazuya Yamamoto.
The apparent friendship between the snake and hamster is one of many reported bonds spanning the divide between predator and prey.

Hurrah for Tommy the Cat!! Saves Gary Rosheisen of Columbus

Owner: Cat Called 911 To Help Him
(KDKA/AP) COLUMBUS A Columbus man who fell out of his wheelchair and was unable to call for help says his cat did it for him.Officers say Gary Rosheisen's cat Tommy was lying by a telephone on the living room floor when they arrived at the house Thursday.Fifty-year-old Rosheisen says Tommy must have hit the right buttons to alert authorities.Rosheisen suffers from osteoporosis and ministrokes that disrupt his balance. He says he wasn't wearing his medical-alert necklace when he fell.Police received a 911 call from the apartment, but no one was on the phone.Rosheisen says he tried to teach Tommy to dial 911, using a speed dial button. But he wasn't sure if the cat ever picked up the training.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bao Xishun, World's Tallest Man Saves Dolphins

Bao Xishun, 54, was recognized as the world's tallest man by the Guinness Book of World Records. In a picture below, he pulls plastic from inside a dolphin's stomach Wednesday (13 December 2006). In another photo, the herdsman from Inner Mongolia, observes the dolphins at their home in an aquarium in China's Liaoning province. He was called to help two dolphins after surgery on them failed.

New White Buffalo

Assiniboine Park Zoo Gallery
For White Buffalo in Shelbyville, KY that Chrispy took, see archives below.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tales of the Cryptids

Lots of fun weird beasts,

Saturday, December 09, 2006


"The octopus his big-hooded eye followed me, a single five-foot-long arm reached out, the incredible arm inched up past my wrist, it's suckers like cold kisses tasted my flesh with tens of thousands of chemoreceptors. I couldn't help feeling as if I were being studied, that a measured intellignece lay behind that intent eye and exploring arm." (1)

The octopus is a big-brained invertebrate - cognitive, behavioral, and affective. These are mollusks - but what creatures. Psycholgist Jenifer Mather studied an octopus vulgaris snatch some crabs, drag them back to a crevasse, cover the entrance with rocks, eat the crabs, and takes a siesta. They solve mazes, learn, remember. The brain wraps about the espophagus. They only spend 7% of their time hunting, and the rest of the time is engaged in recreation and communicating with others of their species. (2)

(1) slightly enhanced from a portion of "Through the Eye of the Octopus", Eric Scigliano, Discover, 2003, pp. 47 ff. (2) condensed from same article.