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Animals

The cassowary is living proof that birds are living dinosaurs

The cassowary is further proof that birds are living dinosaurs.

Native to Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia, the flightless Cassowary bird can grow up to a whopping 7 feet tall and weigh as much as 120 pounds. It’s the third-tallest and second-heaviest living bird.

But even more dinosauric are the cassowary’s razor-sharp talons that it uses to defend itself. Known as the world’s most dangerous bird, the cassowary can quickly kill a human with one strike of its dagger-like feet.

Interestingly, the cassowary also lay bright green and pale green-blue eggs during the breeding season. That’s almost as fascinating as the bird’s turquoise neck, shark fin-shaped casque, and glossy feathers — such a neat-colored creature!

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Animals Technology

Watch a Chimpanzee using Instagram

This video of a chimpanzee scrolling through Instagram is eye-opening.

Touch is intuitive; the candy-colored screen all too addicting. 

Generation thumbs transcend humans.

Still, it is the ability to communicate and tell stories that released humans from the prison of biology. 

This video echoes what Yuval Noah Harari noted in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind on the difference between humans and other animals. 

We control the world basically because we are the only animals that can cooperate flexibly in very large numbers. And if you examine any large-scale human cooperation, you will always find that it is based on some fiction like the nation, like money, like human rights. These are all things that do not exist objectively, but they exist only in the stories that we tell and that we spread around. This is something very unique to us, perhaps the most unique feature of our species.

You can never, for example, convince a chimpanzee to do something for you by promising that, “Look, after you die, you will go to chimpanzee heaven and there you will receive lots and lots of bananas for your good deeds here on earth, so now do what I tell you to do.”

But humans do believe such stories and this is the basic reason why we control the world whereas chimpanzees are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
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Animals Nature

Valais Blacknose sheep from Switzerland

Strange-looking but cute — if you can even see their faces — the Valais Blacknose sheep is a type of mountain-breed sheep from the Valais region of Switzerland.

These fancy-looking lambs are called ‘luxury sheep’ for their magical faceless features, shaggy coats, and spiral horns.

Although they’re used for their wool and meat in Switzerland, the sheep are growing in demand in the UK as pets with a value of up to £10,000 each for newborns.

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Animals

Draco volans: The flying dragon lizard

Looking like the dragons out of a science fiction movie, Draco Volans are real-life flying lizards.

These mini flying creatures have developed the ability to glide up to 26 feet throughout thousands of years using their winglike extensions. So, they don’t actually fly, nor do they breathe fire.

But don’t get your hopes up about finding one as a pet. Located in Indonesia, the Draco Volan is nearly impossible to catch.

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Animals Nature

Mary River Turtle: Punk rock turtle who can breathe for 72 hours underwater

The Mary River Turtle is a remarkable creature for two main reasons.

It possesses specialized glands on its bottom that allow it to stay underwater for 72 hours—yes, it breathes through its genitals—two, the animal sports an algae-infused mohawk.

Named one of the world’s most vulnerable reptiles, the turtle lives in Mary River streams in southeastern Queensland, Australia. It uses the algae growing on its shell to camouflage itself from predators.

“We need to be a little bit more tortoise-y and a little less hare-ish,” best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell once said. While his message encourages people to slow down in this hyperspeed era, perhaps we need a little more punk in our lives too.

Rock on!

The Mary River Turtle
The Mary River Turtle
The Mary River Turtle
Photos: Chris Van Wyk

Of course, there’s always one band member who sports the bowl haircut (re Ringo of the Beatles). Here’s the Mary River turtle with algae strands on its body.

Photo: Chris Van Wyk
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Animals Nature

Pink sea urchins have self-sharpening teeth

Pink sea urchins house five teeth, each supported by a separate jaw in a circular arrangement at the center of their spiked spherical bodies.

But researchers at Northwestern have discovered that the teeth of pink sea urchins are specially equipped to self-sharpen themselves.

pink sea urchin teeth
Graphic: Cell.com

The enamel break bits off regularly to maintain sharpness, the same way a knife sharpens upon a blade.

“The material on the outer layer of the tooth exhibits a complex behavior of plasticity and damage that regulates ‘controlled’ chipping of the tooth to maintain its sharpness,” said Northwestern University Professor Horacio Espinosa.

The teeth continue to grow throughout life, helping the sea urchins ward off predators.

pink sea urchin teeth
pink sea urchin teeth
pink sea urchin teeth
Categories
Animals Travel

Why Western Australia’s Quokka is always smiling

The quokka is a marsupial from the smaller islands (e.g., Bald Island) off the coast of Western Australia.

The animal looks like a baby kangaroo and appears to be smiling at all times — it possesses a natural and cheerful grin.

There’s even a book dedicated to the so-called “world’s happiest animal” called The Quokka’s Guide to Happiness by wildlife photographer Alex Cearns.

Just take a look at these cuties.

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Animals Nature

The African Dung Beetle navigates Earth using the stars

Not sure what’s more amazing about the African dung beetle, one that it rolls immaculate balls out of other animals dung or that it navigates from home to manure piles and back via celestial cues.

“These clever insects use the polarized light of the moon to navigate in a straight line,” writes Popular Mechanics. “Their eyes cannot see individual stars but a group of stars together, like the Milky Way, is dense enough to create a luminous line for them to follow.”

No stars, no problem! When the sun gets blocked or is directly overhead, the beetle uses its antennae to perceive wind signals. This way it can roll across the desert without getting lost.

But entomologist and photographer Piotr (Peter) Naskrecki of the Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique believes the Kheper subaeneus beetles are more interesting for what they do for mother Earth. 

Few animals are as important to the African savanna ecosystem as the dung beetles and without their thankless toil the entire ecosystem would soon collapse, covered in a thick layer of waste. 

Piotr Naskrecki

Keep in mind that the gathered feces, in which the beetle rolls into big balls, often weigh more than the beetle itself.

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Animals Nature

Whose hoo: The Barred Owls of Central Park

The barrel owl isn’t known to travel outside the woods of the southeastern United States. But in 2020, anything seems possible.

Two owls, presumably boyfriend and girlfriend, have been discovered in New York’s Central Park. The star birds like to hide out in the hidden waters of The Loch.

Manhattan welcomes 270 plus bird species each year. But the rare arrival of the barred owl has brought birding fanatics out to photograph it. Check out some of the snaps.

Bonus note: Along with the ability to rotate turning their necks 270 degrees in each direction, these gorgeous raptures can also blend in with their environments.

Categories
Animals Nature

The Harpy eagle looks like a human in a Halloween costume

The Harpy Eagle is one of the largest species of eagles in the world, even bigger than the Bald Eagle.

Named after the Greek mythology monsters, the extremely rare animal is found through Central America and South America rainforests, particularly Brazil, where it’s known as the Royal Hawk. The magical creature even inspired the design of Fawkes the Phoenix in the Harry Potter films.

The bird has a wingspan of over 7 feet and nearly the identical claw size of a grizzly bear. So massive, some people think it looks like a human in a costume.

But this powerful raptor is not your worst nightmare, even if the animal can snatch a monkey or a sloth out of a tree for dinner (see video after the jump).

The Harpy eagle looks like a human in a costume
Photo: Twitter/@OrgPhysics