Social media was ecstatic – just look at this video of an orangutan bottle-feeding a tiger cub. Tens of millions of people tuned in to watch this “cuteness overload”… but the truth behind this is not cute at all. It’s actually quite saddening. We’ll discuss why, after the video.
Giant pandas love to feast on bamboo – it’s their favorite food, and they easily make quick work of it, using their powerful jaws to peel the plant’s tough bark and get to its tender core. But even though the pandas love it, their stomachs don’t – a new study has revealed that the panda’s stomach is not adapted to a completely herbivorous diet, and still craves for an omnivorous meal, like other bears.
With bee numbers dropping dramatically in the last years, it’s time to take some drastic measures, and a White House task force including participation from more than a dozen federal agencies has concluded that limiting pesticide use may be the last resort we have to maintain bee numbers.
California’s record drought has completely dried off large swaths of rivers, including the San Joaquin River, which means that juvenile salmon can’t actually reach the sea. In a desperate effort to save an entire generation of hatchlings, authorities are transporting them by truck, on the highway.
A turtle named Akut-3 was fitted with a new, custom made 3-D printed jaw by doctors at the Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation centre at Pamukkale University in Denizli, Turkey. The reptile was found badly injured at sea and brought to the center for rehabilitation. At first, the doctors healed the turtle’s wounds and hand fed her, but they knew they had to turn to something more drastic if the animal was to ever fend for herself in the wild again. They turned to a company in Turkey known for custom made prostheses, gave them a detailed CT scan of the turtle’s skull, then received a new beak made out of medical-grade titanium. The prosthesis perfectly fit Akut-3, who is aptly named like a cyborg.
We use the word “humane” to describe kind behavior and sympathy towards others, but the term might falsely lend some to believe that this is an exclusive human quality. Far from it. Rats too are kind, sympathetic and as “humane” as any human. For instance, when their peers are in danger of drowning, rats will come to their aid to save them. Even when a tasty treat, like chocolate, is offered instead the rat will most often than not choose to help his dying friend. To hell with chocolate!
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which includes 229 organizations worldwide, has launched an ambitious plan to save some of the most vulnerable species from extinction. The project (SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction) will build on already existing efforts, deepening the conservation work done at the accredited zoos and aquariums. To mark this decision, today, 15 May, all the zoos and aquariums
Though it’s a deep ocean fish, the slender opah is actually fully warm blooded – the first of its kind discovered so far. This remarkable insight was made by accident after researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dissected the fish and noticed its blue and red blood vessels were located inside the gills, rather than in the fish’s swimming muscles. Tuna or sharks, which both have the same vessels but not arranged in the same way, cool their blood once it reaches the gills for oxygen reloading. The opah’s vessels are interwoven inside the gill like a net, which means the the veins that carry warm blood away from the hot muscles are interwoven with the arteries that carry cold blood in from the gills. This makes all the difference. Running so close to each other, the warm blood from the heart heats the cold blood from the gills. This way the Opah is 5 degrees Celsius warmer than its surroundings waters!
The proportions of fake animals, the subject of long and heated debates in the scientific community, have been revealed by researchers at University of Manchester. The team used X-rays and CT scans to look inside 800 animal mummies, some of which were more than 3,000 years old. Only a third actually contained an animal skeleton. Another third contained only fractions of a complete skeleton, sometimes just a single bone. The rest were all mud casts, filled with twigs or other organic material, made to look like a real animal was inside. So, is this an exposed elaborate scam routine performed over the millenniums? Not quite – the researchers believe something more innocent is at play.
Graphene – the one atom thick sheet of carbon arranged in a hexagon lattice – is the strongest material known to man, and spider silk is one of the strongest found in nature, second only to limpet teeth. Heck, why not combine the two? Sounds silly, but it surprisingly worked when Nicola Pugno of the University of Trento, Italy sprayed spiders with both graphene particles and carbon nanotubes. The spiders weaved silk infused with the materials, and in some cases the silk was 3.5 times stronger than its natural counterpart. The resulting fiber is tougher than “synthetic polymeric high performance fibers (e.g. Kevlar49) and even the current toughest knotted fibers,” according to the paper published in Materials Science, which obviously entails a lot of real-life applications, industrial or otherwise.