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. ...new 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.