Animal Life news stories

California Beach Enlists Plastic Coyotes to Scare Away Sea Lions
1st November 2017 | | Animal Life

When marauding sea lions manage to waddle up swim stairs and make their way onto the boats, they can cause significant damage. If enough of the blubbery interlopers decide to congregate aboard a single boat, they can sink it. And while fun to look at and photograph, these highly intelligent beasts can be rowdy, surly and aggressive toward humans. They love being the life of the party, but when you ask them to leave, they trash the place and then chase you away.  Newport Beach, California, has found an absurdly brilliant and apparently effective solution: Forty dollar plastic coyotes from Wal-Mart.

Exotic African Birds Seen in Florida for First Time in Decades
31st October 2017 | | Animal Life

What’s black and white all over and definitely doesn’t belong in Florida? A showy non-native Sub-Saharan African songbird that could possibly threaten the state’s native birds. In the last month, three different South Florida birders have spotted pin-tailed whydahs, the first such sightings in decades. While no one is suggesting the sightings mark the arrival of the state’s next invasive species, their appearance in the wild has set off a few alarms.  Some scientists theorize that the birds may have been “blown” to Florida by the recent Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico, where they normally colonize. Because they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, whydahs are considered a parasitic species.

Octlantis: the Bustling Octopus Community Discovered off Australia
31st October 2017 | | Animal Life

In the briny waters of Jervis Bay on Australia’s east coast, where three rocky outcrops jut out from piles of broken scallop shells, beer bottles and lead fishing lures, a clutch of octopi gambol among a warren of nearly two dozen dens. Welcome to Octlantis. The bustling community belies conventionally held notions of these cephalopods, once thought to be solitary and asocial.

Fossil Scimitar Cat with ‘Steak Knife Fangs’ Found in Yukon
30th October 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

Rare fossils found in the Yukon Territory have scientists sinking their teeth into the mysterious history of a once formidable predator  — the Scimitar Cat.  According to new research published in the journal Current Biology, the fossils suggest the now-extinct animal once ranged across the Northern Hemisphere.  Only about 20 fossils have ever been found of this cat in Alaska or the Yukon over the last century.

Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant in Norway Doubles as Marine Research Center After Hours
30th October 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

Europe’s first underwater restaurant “Under”, which can also be read as “Wonder” in the native tongue, sits along the rocky Norwegian coastline, its sleek monolithic form half sunken into the sea with one part directly resting on the seabed.  Its panoramic acrylic windows resemble a periscope, and offer spectacular views of the submerged world.  After hours, the restaurant will serve as a marine biology research center for studying fish behaviour and marine life, and it is hoped that over time the restaurant’s submerged portions will also serve as an artificial reef for mussels.  Article contains a link to a slideshow of images.

Scores of Octopi Observed Walking Out of the Sea on the Coast of Wales
30th October 2017 | | Animal Life

Dozens of the eight-legged creatures have been witnessed crawling out of the water at New Quay beach in Ceredigion, Wales, UK, confounding observers. This is a trending BBC News video article.

Newly Discovered Marine Sponge Species Already Threatened by Deep Sea Mining
30th October 2017 | Animal Life, Earth

A newly discovered species of sponge, Plenaster craigi, has turned out to be the most abundant species on the ocean floors. Its habitat is dominated by polymetallic nodules the size of grapefruits that have been formed over millions of years found in most big oceans at depths of over 4,000 meters.  Researchers from the University of Gothenburg have found that as deep sea mining companies remove the nodules in order to extract the metals, the sponges will probably disappear entirely from the affected areas.

The Brilliant World of New Zealand’s Cave-Dwelling Glow Worms
29th October 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

Say hello to Arachnocampa luminosa, a bioluminescent larval fungus gnat species endemic to the craggy limestone cave systems of New Zealand. Article contains a time-lapse video.

Insectageddon: Flying Insects in Germany Have Declined by 75 Percent in 27 Years
29th October 2017 | | Animal Life

Such a steep decline in flying insect biomass is cause for concern. Insects are a vital part of our food web, from being a source of food for birds to being pollinators for our crops. As insects decline, so do their ecosystems, and that has a ripple effect that reaches every organism on the planet.

China’s Dinosaur Sported a Bandit Mask and Striped Tail
28th October 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

An extinct dinosaur called Sinosauropteryx from China known to have lived between 133 and 120 million years ago had a bandit mask pattern in the feather on its faces, fossil analysis has shown.  Researchers were able to discern the dinosaur’s colour patterns, showing that also it had a banded tail and counter-shading – where animals are dark on top and lighter on their underside.

Female Birds that Were Once Silent Are Now Singing Like Males
28th October 2017 | | Animal Life

For the first time, female dark-eyed juncos have been found to burst into song in the wild.  Although many female tropical birds sing, singing females are rare among northern temperate songbirds. However, the behaviour is now becoming more common, and climate change may mean it becomes even more widespread.

Explore the Secret Lives of Animals in These Marvelous Maps
27th October 2017 | | Animal Life, Tech

A new book entitled Where The Animals Go considers how sophisticated tracking technology and the data it collects can improve conservation strategies.  But the book also features several historical maps, including the one that uses repurposed data to demonstrate just how much technology has transformed animal tracking and will continue to influence the way we think about and protect animals—from ants to owls to elephants.

How Eleanor the Sea Turtle Coped with a Tropical Storm
27th October 2017 | Animal Life

Eleanor the sea turtle was caught in a tropical storm raged off Florida’s west coast for 4 days.  Her GPS device had tracked her movements for those 4 days, revealing surprising findings, but unfortunately, the storm that Eleanor survived destroyed almost 90 percent of the nests on the beach where she and several hundred other female turtles had laid their eggs.

First Nations Fight to Protect British Columbia’s Rare Sacred Spirit Bears
27th October 2017 | Animal Life, Humans

Spirit bears, also known as Kermode bears, are among the world’s rarest ursines, found only in the remote archipelago of British Columbia. They’re a subspecies of the black bear, born white when two dark-furred parents carry an obscure genetic mutation. The Canadian government estimates there are 400 spirit bears in the province, and hunting them is illegal.  Old stories, handed down about the bears from one indigenous generation to the next for thousands of years, since the last Ice Age gripped the world and glaciers licked the edge of the rainforest.

For Endangered Animals in the US, a Wildfire or Hurricane Can Mean the End
26th October 2017 | | Animal Life, Earth

When a wildfire swept through Arizona, all but 35 rare red squirrels disappeared. After California’s wildfires raged, and three coastal hurricanes destroyed habitats in the Southeast US, so did other near-extinct animals whose populations are teetering.

Medieval Love of Viking Red Squirrel Fur May Have Helped Spread Leprosy in UK
26th October 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life, Humans

Scientists have found evidence that the medieval taste for the beautiful fine fur of red squirrels, traded with Viking Scandinavia, may have been a factor in the spread of leprosy in the UK.

News stories covering Animal Science, bacterial life, DNA.