Sunday, September 23, 2007

Baby Moose Part 1

Casper Kelly sent this from an email that was making the rounds. Originator is unknown.

Baby moose 12 hours old

This one was not even a half a mile from our house. The mother
picked a small quiet neighborhood and had her baby in the front yard at
5:30 am. We were out bike riding when we came upon the
pair. The lady across the street from this house told us she saw it
being born. We saw them at 5:30 pm. So the little one was 12 hours
old. What an awesome place we live in to see such a site.

Baby Moose Part 2

Baby Moose: Part 3

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Amazing Deer Rescue!

This one was sent to me by Casper Kelly from an email received.
Last Saturday morning, my buddy Bo Warren and I were trolling for stripers in the Chesapeake Bay. We were 1½ miles offshore in about 80 feet of water contemplating why the fish weren't biting. We looked back to check our gear and saw something odd in the water. Was it a seal?

Can't be, we don't have seals around here. On closer look, it turned out to be a buck that was WAY off course. He was desperate and barely staying afloat. I've seen deer swim a river or bayou before. When you see that, the first thing you notice is that they are powerful swimmers. Their head and shoulders are out of the water and they make surprisingly good headway. This critter was just keeping his nose up and looked like he'd been swimming all night long. In fact, he was so worn out that he swam toward the boat probably thinking it looked enough like land to him. When he got closer though, he wasn't sure what to make of the two dudes on board, and backed of f. So , since the fish weren't biting, we thought we'd give this buck a hand. Turns out Bo grew up around cows and was really handy with a bowline. He lassoed the deer on the first shot!

Bo grabbed his neck, I grabbed the flank, and we barreled over backwards into the boat. Before I knew it, Bo was on top of him and had him tied up just like a calf. We hit the gas and ran him to the closest beach - Kent Point . I beached the boat and we carefully unloaded the deer onto the sand.

The whole time we kept thinking he was going to kick the hell out of us. He never did though, he was totally spent. We untied him and jumped back. Too weak to stand, he just sat there quivering. We even picked him up again and put his feet underneath him, but he still couldn't walk. Don't know if he made it or not, but I think his chances were vastly improved.

Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)

(c) 2007, Tom Lera

The Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), the brilliant bird found in the cloud forests of Central America, was sacred to the Mayans and figures prominently in their artwork and legends. The name "quetzal" is from Mayan quetzalli which means "large brilliant tail feather" Today the Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala, and name to the Guatemalan currency.
Despite its legendary history, the Quetzal is in danger of extinction, partly due to hunting of the bird for food and trade, but mainly due to destruction of its elevated habitat to clear land for subsistence agriculture. Some countries, such as Costa Rica, have managed to preserve the Quetzal's (as well as other species) habitat by setting aside land for national parks to promote eco-tourism.
The Quetzal, reputed to be the most beautiful bird that exists in the American continents, belongs to the Trogan family. The iridescent color of its plumage appears green or blue, according to the changes of daytime light. It lives in the mountainous, subtropical, humid regions. The vegetation of the territory it inhabits is quite dense and rich in humus. In this habitat, the Quetzal searches for an old tree trunk situated in a tiny forest clearing to make its nest. Finding them together in the jungle is a rare experience as the birds do not make a lot of noise and they sit very quietly on the branches looking for insects. (see photo)
From February through April, the hen lays one or two eggs. Both the hen and cock take turns during the 18-day period of incubation. The male Quetzal enters the nest, always leaving his beautiful tail plumes outside so as not to injure them. The female doesn't have this problem, for her tail feathers are very short. After the birth of the nestlings, their parents feed them with worms, insects, and larvae. The adults will eat forest fruits. The young can fly 20 days after birth, and abandon the nest to fly freely through the skies.

Coatimundi (Nasua nasua )

(c) 2007, Tom Lera

The Coatimundi (Nasua nasua ) is a member of the raccoon family (Procyonidae); a diurnal mammal native to South, Central and south-western North America.
The Coati is a raccoon-like carnivore but is more slender and possesses a longer snout. It is a nosy, busy little creature with an insatiable appetite. The Coati is gregarious and noisy as it travels about in groups of from 6 to 24, holding its tail almost erect and chattering with others.
This grizzled gray-brown mammal grows 30 to 55 inches long and stands 8 to 12 inches high at the shoulder. It can weigh from 10 to 25 pounds. Males are almost twice as large as females.
The Coati has a long snout that is white near the tip and around the eyes, which often have dark patches above. The Coati has small ears, dark feet and a long, thin tail (as much as 2 feet long) with 6 or 7 dark bands.
Coatis are diurnal, spending most of the day foraging for food, which includes insects, lizards, roots, fruits, nuts and eggs. They are very fond of fruit, especially the manzanita berry and are very easy to see in the jungle foraging for food.
Coatis apparently mate in early spring and deliver a litter of 4 to 6 young after a gestation period of about 11 weeks. The female educates and feeds the young from the den site, usually a rocky niche in a wooded canyon.
Natural enemies include jaguars, hawks, eagles and humans.

Sharp-nosed bat

(c) 2007, Tom Lera
From my good friend Tom Lera:

Sharp-nosed Bat (Rhynchonycteris naso)
These are common bats and fairly easy to see roosting over or beside water during the day. A distinctive feature is the way that they roost in groups of anything from 3 to 45 in a line one above the other about 2 to 4 inches apart.
They roost on the lower side of a large branch, the steep face of a bank, below a bridge or, as in this photo, on the lower side of a leaning tree trunk. From a distance they look like a vine wrapping around a branch, but as you get closer you see that they are bats.
The natural enemies of the Sharp-nosed bat are hawks, falcons and herons.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Maybe you got a copy of this email? If not (and whether it is real or photoshopped, it is still scary) here it is.

Seems a sheep farmer was puzzled about the disappearance of some sheep on his farm. After a few weeks the farmer decided to put up an electric fence. About a week later, this is what he found! This is a Python & they're extremely aggressive & have a few teeth that they use to hold their prey while they wrap around them & then constrict. (Note: The wires are 10 inches apart.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Simmons the Cat: A Poem by Chrispy

I looked out the door at Simmons, my cat,
and shouted out loud, "What is that!
Simmons, how could you! Eek! It's a rat!"
There is was, out the door, on the mat,
head lolled over, just a big dead rat.
Next to it, my twitching tailed cat,
licked its gray paw. On haunches he sat.
Then he looked at me, then at the rat,
waiting for a reward, a stroke, or a pat,
A sweet, gentle, "Good, Kitty. Good, Cat."
I wondered, how Simmons, who was really so fat,
could have ever even caught that big old rat.
I ran inside, shoved aside my gardener's hat,
and took my pair of gloves out to remove the rat.
But when I returned, I saw the hurt on my tomcat,
my gosh, I'd never seen Simmons so sad,
and he was just about to run - to scat,
when I realized I'd hurt Simmons the cat,
by rejecting that bloody thing - that rat.
So I bent low, said, "Here, Kitty, Here, Cat."
And he bebopped over to me like a hepcat,
purred, meaowed, and lept over the mat,
and upended. Feet in air, he wallowed on the rat,
begging me to pet him - Simmons the cat.
I did. I stroked his fur, behind the ears - like that,
and ignored the blood and the rat gut splat,
and instead said, "Yes you are, you're a good kitty cat."
Well, Simmons smelled like a bitter muskrat,
or maybe a bit like a skunky polecat.
Still he deserved a stroke after that combat,
with a rodent so big, wow! That dirty rat.
Simmons acted like a teenaged brat,
but never had I had a loving like that -
not by a woman, a beast, a dog or a cat,
than I did that day by Simmons the cat.
Well, finally he was tired (because he was lazy and fat)
and scuffled off, though I'm not sure where at.
I scooped up the dead body - that bloody rat.
So, when I dug it out, and plopped it in a hole,
into a dark place, a grave as black as a bat,
well, me and the rat, we had us a brief chat.
Well, dear rodentia, goodbye, you filthy old rat.
Just then I burst out, laughing at that,
and how silly I was - even more than the cat,
and smiled at life's weird pleasures - at
love, life, and Simmons - my faithful old cat.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Deer: Submitted by Caspar Kelly

First, be very careful because, yes, deer can imprint. Bringing a deer in the house is like the worst thing to do. Except feeding it while is in there. We learned this, and hope others will learn from our experience.

This whole tale is long and has good and bad.

The only reason we were concerned at all was that it was laying in the grass and weeds we mow and we thought it was dead. I had been out earlier with Gryffyn (one of our special dogs-for-autistic-children doing some drills, and it wasn't there. When my husband went out later he called me. "Come look."
I immediately thought that something was wrong by the tone of his voice.

"Is it something dead?"

He said yes, it's a fawn.
Sure enough it was lying there not moving a muscle. We pondered what could have happened and assumed something had attacked it, although all our dogs were up. Still, it wasn't bloody, but sometimes injuries don't show. Then all of a sudden I saw it breathe. It wiggled its nose and its ears, but it was rigid and wouldn't move when we touched it.

We assumed that maybe it had a disease. We keep penicillin here, so i said, let's try to shoot it with some. We call the vet to find out what to do and he says, call the game warden.

Well we live in the deer capital of the world and it took almost a half hour to find someone to talk to about wildlife. Of course if you were to catch more than your share of fish the game warden is right on top of you!

We put it in a box and brought it in to call. When i picked it up i could tell it was responsive and alert and i could feel the heart beating pretty strong, but it wouldn't stand or lift it's head.

Now we know that's what baby deer do. Their only defence is that they don't move and they are hard to see -unless of course they are lying on the lawn. The good part is that, it takes awhile to imprint -- longer than 20 mins -- and we didn't touch it much with our hands.

We placed it in a box and picked it up with a towel. We did not feed it or shoot it with meds (we keep a lot of meds for the farm animals and special dogs). The nature advisor said that the mom left it to go eat and would likely return. She said to just place it back on the edge of the woods near where we found it, keep the dogs away and wait until night, when the mother would likely return. So we laid it in tall grass, snapped a few pics and waited.
Sometime later, the mom deer came bak and reunited with the fawn.

Still, with all the concerns aside how often do you get to hold a baby deer -- even if it is with a towel. It weighed barely 5 pounds.

Weird Suriname Frog

This remarkable-looking toad may be a new species to science. It belongs to the genus Atelopus, and was discovered during a survey of the Nassau plateau in mid-2006 by Surinamese scientists Paul Ouboter and Jan Mol.

June 4, 2007

PARAMARIBO, Suriname - A toad with fluorescent purple markings and 12 kinds of dung beetles were among two dozen new species discovered in the remote plateaus of eastern Suriname
The expedition was sponsored by two mining companies hoping to excavate the area for bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum, and it was unknown how the findings would affect their plans.

Scientists discovered the species during a 2005 expedition led by the U.S.-based nonprofit Conservation International in rainforests and swamps about 80 miles (128 kilometers) southeast of Paramaribo, the capital of the South American country, organization spokesman Tom Cohen said.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Weird Two Toned Lobster: 2007 (Rhode Island)

Updated:2007-06-02 19:54:44
Two-Toned Lobster Caught Off Rhode Island
ABC News
(June 2) - Fishermen are scratching their heads at a rare catch off Rhode Island.

A half-brown, half-orange lobster is the talk of the town in Little Compton, R.I. The unique-looking crustacean was caught off the coast of Newport. Lobster aficionados say the chances of catching a two-toned lobster is one in 50 million. By comparison, the odds of finding a blue lobster are about 1 in a million.

In fact, the lobsterman who caught it thought someone was fooling with him. When a similar two-toned lobster was caught off the coast of Maine last year, Bette Spurling of the Mount Desert Oceanarium’s told the Associated Press that lobster shells are usually a blend of the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Those colors mix to form the greenish-brown color of most lobsters. The two-toned lobster caught off Rhode Island apparently had no blue in half its shell. Bernard Arseneau, a former manager at the oceanarium's lobster hatchery, said lobsters also have a growth pattern in which the two sides develop independently of each other. ABC News reported that the two-toned lobster was heading to an aquarium for all to see.

Weird Red & Green Lobsters: Newfoundland 2006

Two-Toned Lobster Saved From Dinner Plate
Animal Half Green, Half Orange
POSTED: 9:15 am EDT June 13, 2006


A two-toned Canadian lobster's unique colors saved it from a date with a dinner plate.
The lobster, which is half orange and half green, was caught last week by a Canadian fisherman off Newfoundland. The lower right part of the lobster's body and its upper claw are orange, the color a lobster turns when it is cooked. The fisherman who caught the lobster, Kirk Tulk, said he's been told the unusual coloring may be due to a protein deficiency in the lobster's body.
Greg Stroud, an interpretation specialist at the Marine Center in Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland, said the strange color pattern is a genetic defect.

Stroud said the two-toned lobster will be housed at the Marine Center for the rest of the year.
He said the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans will be taking a look at the colorful crustacean. The lobster doesn't have a name yet, so the center may hold a contest for naming rights.

(no pix - sorry. -Chrispy)

Weird Red & Green Lobsters: 2006

Maine lobsterman pulls up rare lobster
July 14, 2006

BAR HARBOR, Maine --An eastern Maine lobsterman caught a lobster this week that looks like it's half-cooked. The lobster caught by Alan Robinson in Dyer's Bay that is a typical mottled green on one side; the other side is a shade of orange that looks cooked.

Robinson, of Steuben, donated the lobster to the Mount Desert Oceanarium. Staff members say the odds or finding a half-and-half lobster are 1 in 50 million to 100 million. By comparison, the odds of finding a blue lobster are about 1 in a million.

Robinson, who has been fishing for more than 20 years, said he didn't know what to think when he spotted the odd creature in his trap. "I thought somebody was playing a joke on me," Robinson said. "Once I saw what it was ... it was worth seeing." Bette Spurling, who works at the oceanarium, said lobster shells are usually a blend of the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Those colors mix to form the greenish-brown color of most lobsters. This lobster, though, has no blue in half of its shell, she said.

Bernard Arseneau, a former manager at the oceanarium's lobster hatchery, said lobsters also have a growth pattern in which the two sides develop independently of each other. The oceanarium has received only three two-toned lobsters in its 35 years of existence, staff members said.

(A rare two-toned lobster is seen in this Thursday, July 13, 2006, photo taken in Bar Harbor, Maine. AP Photo/The Daily News, Abigail Curtis)

Weird Red & Green Lobsters: 2001

Fishermen Catch Mutant Lobster
Creature Displays Christmas Colors
November 6, 2001

PORTLAND, Maine -- A Christmas surprise came a little early for two Maine lobstermen.
Charlie Weber and his son Chris caught a half-red, half-green lobster in their traps.
Charlie said that in the 45 years he's been a lobsterman, he's never seen anything like the striped crustacean. Biologists said that the lobster has a genetic mutation called bilateral symmetry, which makes it look as if somebody painted each side with a perfect line down the middle. Chris said that he wants to give the lobster to an aquarium so that it can be put on display.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Calico Lobster !

This story goes back a while, but basically a Portland, Maine, vessel brought in an unusual calico with an orange and yellow shell with black spots spread randomly, weighed more than 3 pounds.

It was weighed at 3-1/2-pound, male, and estimated it to be about 12 years old. It was released back into the wild. It was one of 1,500 others caught that day.

Parisi said he saw a similar shell about 12 years ago on a lobster that weighed about 1 pound.

Robert Glenn, a senior marine biologist with the state Division of Marine Fisheries in New Bedford, said it’s extremely rare," he said.

William Adler, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, said they can show up with blue, yellow or orange shells, but calicos are "pretty rare."

The most rare are albino lobsters, which are all white and do not turn red when boiled. Glenn said lobsters’ shells are often one color, or sometimes bicolored.

Many times lobstermen will call an aquarium and donate unusual lobsters, but whether they are taken depends on the color of the shell and how much space the aquarium has in its tanks. Sometimes businesses will try to keep them going in a (tank) to show off on display.

Anthony Ciarmetaro, owner of Captain Vince, said he has seen several calicos, several blue lobsters and several bright red ones.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dog Becomes Surrogate Mother for Tigers !

Huani feeds the tiger triplets and her own puppy at the Paomaling Zoo in Jinan, China.

A Chinese dog has become the surrogate mother of tiger triplets born at a zoo in the country's eastern Shandong province. The mongrel bitch called Huani is suckling the tiger cubs, imaginatively named One, Two and Three by staff at Jinan Paomaling Wild Animal World, because their mother rejected them shortly after birth 10 days ago.

The zoo manager, Chen Yucai, said Huani is expected to nurse the tigers for about a month, or until their appetites outpace her milk supply. Mr Yucai said it was common for Chinese zoos to use dogs as surrogate mothers for rejected tiger cubs. Zoo staff have previously put dog urine on the fur of rejected cubs to make the surrogate think she is nursing her own pups.

However, this time the zoo did not need to because Huani, who has nursed tigers before, did not seem to mind caring for the cubs. "The family is getting along well and seems to enjoy each other," Mr Yucai said. A spokeswoman for London Zoo said staff try to match an abandoned animal with a mother of the same species with young of a similar age wherever possible.
In the 1990s, an Asiatic lion at the zoo abandoned her cub and staff successfully placed it with another lion that had given birth to two cubs. The spokeswoman said the cub was placed in the surrogate mother's litter so it would acquire her smell and be accepted by her. Although the cub was initially reluctant to take on the new mother, the 'adoption' proved successful.

If a mother of the same species cannot be found, staff at London Zoo will try to find a companion animal for the abandoned young. Staff once placed an abandoned tiger cub called Harry with an Akita hound, which he lived with for about nine months. The spokeswoman said it was preferable for the abandoned cub to imprint - the process by which an animal learns the characteristics of its parents - on a four-legged animal rather than a human being.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eerie Ocean Life 7

(May 17) - Carnivorous sponges, blind creepy-crawlies adorned with hairy antennae and ribbed worms are just some of the new characters recently found to inhabit the dark abysses of the Southern Ocean, an abode once thought devoid of such life.

A 'Cradle of Life'

Recent expeditions have uncloaked this polar region, finding nearly 600 organisms never described before and challenging some assumptions that deep-sea biodiversity is depressed. The findings also suggest that all of Earth's marine life originated in Antarctic waters. Scientists had assumed that the deep sea of the South Pole would follow similar trends in biodiversity documented for the Arctic. "There are less species in the Arctic than around the equator," said one of the study scientists, Brigitte Ebbe, a taxonomist at the German Center for Marine Biodiversity Research. "People assumed that it would be the same if you went from the equator south, but it didn't prove to be true at all." The findings, reported this week in the journal Nature, provide a more accurate picture of creatures in the southern deep sea and shed light on the evolution of biodiversity in the deep ocean, including ancient colonization dating back 65 million years.

Eerie Ocean Life 6

Recent expeditions in the antarctic have uncovered some 600 new organisms never described before. A newly found isopod is shown here.

Eerie Ocean Life 5

A pink polychaete worm is shown here. "The Antarctic deep sea is potentially the cradle of life of the global marine species," said scientist Angelika Brandt.

Eerie Ocean Life 4

This spindly sea urchin has house guests: Sponges, made up of millions of single-celled animals, have attached to the urchin's branches. Weird Southern Antarctic Ocean Urchin.

Eerie Ocean Life 3

This serolid isopod can flatten its body to increase surface area and keep from sinking into the fine-grain sediment on the sea floor. Southern Antarctic Ocean Creature.

Eerie Ocean Life 2

Some of the deep-water isopods have eyes, suggesting they evolved from species that once lived in shallower seas where sunlight penetrated. Antarctic Souhern Ocean Creature.

Eerie Ocean Life 1

This "deep-sea spider" dines on bits of food that sink to the sea floor. characters recently found to inhabit the dark abysses of the Southern Antarctic Ocean, an abode once thought devoid of such life.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Squirrel Pix

In our yard, Kentucky.

{c) Chris Perridas, 2007

Squirrels with Plague !!

'Black Death' Found in Denver Squirrels By Patrick O'Driscoll, USA TODAY

(May 11) - A rash of squirrel deaths from plague in the middle of Colorado's largest city has heightened surveillance for the deadly but curable disease.

(the "Black Death" disease that killed millions in 14th-century Europe.)

One human case has been reported in the USA this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 49-year-old man in San Juan County, N.M., was hospitalized last week and is recovering.

Denver's last outbreak in rodents was nearly 40 years ago. So far, 13 squirrels have been found dead in or near City Park, an urban playground 2 miles from the state Capitol. Two infected squirrels and an infected rabbit were found dead in Denver suburbs.

(Plague bacteria are carried by fleas that infect wild rodents, rabbits and cats)

City workers this week caught 17 squirrels for testing. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reports 10-20 people a year catch plague in the USA. On average, one in seven dies.

"Among pets, dogs are resistant but cats are highly susceptible. "Right now is a good time to keep cats inside."

Spider Blood Fluoresces: Bioluminescence

SPECIAL GLOW. Enoplognatha ovata glows when bathed in ultraviolet light.
Fluorescence under ultraviolet light seems to be a widespread trait among spiders, say researchers who have done the first broad survey of spiders for this property.

The researchers tested blood from representatives of 10 diverse families and found that while under ultraviolet (UV) illumination, all samples glowed blue to human eyes, says Susan Masta of Portland State University in Oregon. In a wider survey of 19 spider families, at least one species from each family displayed glowing hairs or some other external fluorescence.

Masta says that the project began serendipitously when she and her colleagues turned off the lights while calibrating an instrument that illuminated a spider with UV light. The UV made bits of the spider's body fluoresce—that is, absorb one wavelength and emit another. Some of the emitted wavelengths fell within the range of human vision, and Masta noticed spider hairs glowing in the dark.

Masta and her colleagues found that hemolymph, the spider version of blood, fluoresced even in species that have no external fluorescent body parts.

Oh, no, a Spider: Part 2

May 7, 2007 - ALBANY, Ore. (AP) - These guys weren't exactly Snap, Crackle and Pop.

What began as a faint popping in a 9-year-old boy's ear - "like Rice Krispies" - ended up as an earache, and the doctor's diagnosis was that a pair of spiders made a home in the ear.

"They were walking on my eardrums," Jesse Courtney said.

One of the spiders was still alive after the doctor flushed the fourth-grader's left ear canal. His mother, Diane Courtney, said her son insisted he kept hearing a faint popping in his ear - "like Rice Krispies."

Dr. David Irvine said it looked like the boy had something in his ear when he examined him.
When he irrigated the ear, the first spider came out, dead. The other spider took a second dousing before it emerged, still alive. Both were about the size of a pencil eraser.

Jesse was given the spiders - now both dead - as a souvenir. He has taken them to school and his mother has taken them to work.

"It was real interesting, 'cause, two spiders in my ear - what next?" Jesse said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. )

Oh, no, a Spider: Part 1

A woman went to her doctor complaining of headaches - and was told there was a spider living her ear.

From Tuesday June 11, 2002 ...

The arachnid had even spun a web in the woman's ear canal during its brief stay.

The 33-year-old, from Athens, felt a sharp pain in her ear while out riding a motorbike.

She went to her doctor who after a brief examination broke the astonishing news, Greek television station Private Star reported.

Dr Evangelos Gollas said: "When I examined the patient, I was surprised to find a spider's web and then, I saw there was movement.

"The spider found itself in her ear, and because the temperature is ideal there, it stayed."

The woman did not need to surgery to remove the spider and was not injured.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cat adopts Mouse

Ten days ago, the cat gave birth to five kittens in China.

"She stays in the box all day long, taking care of her babies, but three days ago, my colleague found a small mouse playing with the kittens," said a spokesperson for the store in Shijiazhuang city.

"The cat was protecting the mouse, and would become alert if anyone came too close."
The store staff threw the mouse out once, but immediately the cat ran to bring it back and let it play with her kittens.

Experts say it's quite exceptional, but that maybe the cat became lenient after becoming a mother.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Halobacteria, Retinal, and Chlorophyl: A Purple Earth

Early Earth Was Purple, Study Suggests
By Ker Than: 10 April 2007 10:41 am ET

The earliest life on Earth might have been just as purple as it is green today. Ancient microbes might have used a molecule other than chlorophyll to harness the Sun’s rays, one that gave the organisms a violet hue. Chlorophyll, the main photosynthetic pigment of plants, absorbs mainly blue and red wavelengths from the Sun and reflects green ones, and it is this reflected light that gives plants their leafy color. This fact puzzles some biologists because the sun transmits most of its energy in the green part of the visible spectrum.


DasSarma thinks it is because chlorophyll appeared after another light-sensitive molecule called retinal was already present on early Earth. Retinal, found in the plum-colored membrane of a photosynthetic microbe called halobacteria, absorbs green light and reflects back red and violet light, the combination of which appears purple.

Primitive microbes that used retinal to harness the sun’s energy thus tinting some of the first biological hotspots on the planet a distinctive purple color. Latecomers, microbes that used chlorophyll, could not compete directly with those utilizing retinal, but they survived by evolving the ability to absorb the very wavelengths retinal did not use,

"Chlorophyll was forced to make use of the blue and red light, since all the green light was absorbed by the purple membrane-containing organisms,” said William Sparks, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland

The researchers speculate that chlorophyll- and retinal-based organisms coexisted for a time, but after a while the balance tipped in favor of chlorophyll because it is more efficient than retinal.

Retinal has a simpler structure than chlorophyll, and would have been easier to produce in the low-oxygen environment of early Earth, DasSarma said. Halobacteria, a microbe alive today that uses retinal, is not a bacterium at all. It belongs to a group of organisms called archaea, whose lineage stretches back to a time before Earth had an oxygen atmosphere.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Squid Found

A great cephalopod blog site can be found here.
It's a Girl: Atlantic mystery squid undergoes scrutiny by Janet Raloff
Three weeks ago, while working the waters south of Key West, Fla., a chartered fishing boat hauled in a surprise: the fresh carcass of a huge squid unlike anything that the people on the boat had ever seen. In fact, according to marine biologists, the gelatinous creature is unlike any known in the Atlantic Ocean.
The fishing boat's captain sent the squid's decomposing body to the Mote Marine Laboratory, headquartered in Sarasota, Fla., where cephalopod specialist Debra A. Ingrao has been studying it. When the specimen arrived on Feb. 22, Ingrao promptly sampled its DNA.
"Most squid are 2 feet long or less," Ingrao notes.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Beautifyl White Peacock

Casper Kelley saw this image and sent it to my attention. It is a white peacock !

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Odd Couple in Georgia: Motherless Lamb Attached to Dog

Here's an exclusive for you Weird Beast Readers!! This sent to me by a writer colleague! Due to a fatal accident, a new-born lamb became motherless. This report relates the tale behind the great photo.

"Yes, Chrispy, that's the motherless lamb. However, the dog is not the adopted mom -- that would be P___ who feeds him and holds him while he works on the computer! The lamb is living in the house and follows the dog and sleeps near her. The lamb likes to snuggle. "

~Casper Kelley

Friday, March 02, 2007

Orangutans and Tigers: Inseparable

CISARUA, Indonesia - A pair of month-old Sumatran tiger twins have become inseparable playmates with a set of young orangutans, an unthinkable match in their natural jungle habitat in Indonesia's tropical rainforests.

The friendship between 5-month-old female baby primates Nia and Irma, and cubs Dema and Manis, has blossomed at the Taman Safari zoo where they share a room in the nursery.
After being abandoned by their mothers shortly after birth, the four play fight, nipping and teasing each other, and cuddling up for a shared nap when they are worn out.

"This is unusual and would never happen in the wild," said zoo keeper Sri Suwarni

"When the time comes, they will have to be separated. It's sad, but we cant' change their natural behavior," she said. "Tigers start eating meat when they are three months old."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Newly Discovered Antarctic Beasts

(1)This psychedelic octopus was also found in the frigid waters off Antarctica, one of the world’s most pristine marine environments.

(2)These deep-sea sea cucumbers, all moving in the same direction, were abundant in the area explored.

(3)The collapse of the 5,000-year-old ice shelves over the last dozen years gave the scientists a unique opportunity to see new species, such as this amphipod crustacean.

(4)Explorers off the coast of Antarctica found fast-growing sea squirt settlements, which apparently started colonizing the area only after ice shelves collapsed.

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