zoology

Science Art: Jupiter's Rings by LORRI, 2007.

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The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter’s ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).

This processed image shows a narrow ring, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) wide, with a fainter sheet of material inside it. The faint glow extending in from the ring is likely caused by fine dust that diffuses in toward Jupiter. This is the outer tip of the “halo,” a cloud of dust …

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SONG: Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)

SONG: “Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “NASA Windbots Could Explore Gas Giant Jupiter”, Sky News, 24 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Windbots to explore Jupiter – the bumpier the ride, the better..”

ABSTRACT: The planet Jupiter is 35 light-minutes from Earth (give or take a couple of minutes depending on where in its orbit the planet is).

So a robot floating in the turbulent winds of Jupiter would take that long to send a mes…

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Science Art: Doree, Zeus, Faber by Edward Donovan

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Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning.

I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.):

John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil ey…

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Science Art: Her Majesty's Cochins; Imported in 1843, published 1904.

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These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.

This picture is from The Asiatics; Brahmas, Cochins and Langshans, all varieties, their origin; peculiarities of shape and color; egg production; their ma…

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Science Art: Soaking Up the Rays of a Sun-Like Star, by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, 2015.

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This is an artist’s impression of a planet just discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission that’s gotten the folks at SETI all excited.

It’s the most Earth-like planet yet discovered. Kepler 452b sits in the “Goldilocks” zone around its star, not too hot and not too cold, and is about the same size (or is a little larger) and made of something like the same stuff as the planet we’re sitting around on right now. It takes 365 days to orbit around its sun, too. NASA’s calling it ou…

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SONG: "Kavachi"

SONG: “Kavachi”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “Deep-Sea Cameras Reveal a ‘Sharkcano'”, National Geographic Explorers’ Journal, 9 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Live Sharks Discovered Inside A Live Volcano.”

ABSTRACT: There’s nothing I didn’t like about the process of writing this. If I was influenced by anyone in the making of this song, I guess it was The Residents, although the basic structure of it was unabashedly ripped off… myself. For about, oh, 15 ye…

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Science Art: Paper Wings, by Nicole Frost.

21 June 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen These are paper sculptures of birds’ wings – four specific categories of birds’ wings. As explained by their creator: This is my paper sculpture of the basic structural differences of the wing types in birds: High Lift, Elliptical, High Aspect/Soaring, and High Speed. Some of the most important differences were the inclusion of wing slots and the alula. That’s a lot of little snips done just right. I found this on Clip Its Wings Art (via Scientific Illustration). Would kinda like to see some more….

We don’t have to protect the Eastern Cougar any more. There aren’t any left.

18 June 2015 // 0 Comments

The Guardian has more on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s official extinction verdict: The agency said on Tuesday the four-year review, which included information from 21 states and eastern Canadian provinces and hundreds of reports of sightings dating as far back as 1900, showed cougars are seen every so often in the US east, but they are likely Florida panthers or mountain lions that have wandered from the western United States, or which have been released or escaped from captivity. Eastern cougars were declared endangered in 1973, even though the last known records were tied to one killed by a hunter in Maine in 1938 and another in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1932. Government wildlife managers believe the bulk of eastern cougars – which averaged from 6ft to 8ft long (1.8m to 2.4m) and weighed from 105 to 140 pounds (48kg to 63.5kg) – disappeared in the 1800s with the arrival of European immigrants […]

No more moldy bats!

1 June 2015 // 0 Comments

White-nose syndrome is the fungal disease (you might recall) that’s killing bats. Millions of them. But now, National Geographic is giving us hope that a bacteria might be able to stop white-nose in its tracks: The treatment is based on a bacterium that inhibits fungal growth, and was originally studied to see if it could slow the ripening of fruits and vegetables. Researchers are in their second year of trials with little brown bats and Northern long-eared bats, and the results look promising, says Sybill Amelon, a wildlife biologist specializing in bats with the U.S. Forest Service in Columbia, Missouri. Amelon and her team released about 15 treated bats back into the wild on May 19. The treatment helps all but the most heavily infected bats. If they’re treated early enough, the bacteria can kill off the fungus before it gains a foothold in the animal. But even bats already showing signs of white-nose syndrome […]

A new hybrid super-termite… made in Florida.

31 March 2015 // 0 Comments

PopSci reports on the PLOS One study on what happens when two invasive exotic species combine forces: The two termite species, which originated in separate areas of Asia, spread across the world by hitchhiking in cargo holds. There are only three places in the world where both species have a foothold: Hawaii, Taiwan, and South Florida, but usually the ants’ mating seasons don’t overlap. In Florida, the Asian subterranean termite mates in February, months before the Formosan. But in both 2013 and 2014 researchers observed both species mating at the same time, producing large broods of hybrid termites. The researchers note in the paper that both years had warm winters in Florida, hinting that climate change could have forced the change in mating season. Hybridization between invasive species is a very rare occurrence according to the researchers, who are waiting to see if the first generations of hybrids can reproduce. If they can, the worst […]

Science Art: Vespertilio Formosus

1 March 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen A mouse-eared bat, from Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, as found on the Biodiversity Heritage Library. It falls between a rather pleasant-looking bush pig and a pair of possums in the original source. But neither have such natty headgear.

Science Art: Nest of the Honey-Wasp Attacked by Jaguar, 1916

28 December 2014 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen From Marvels of Insect Life: A Popular Account of Structure and Habit, edited by Edward Step, found in the BioDiversity Library. This is probably not exactly the book Dylan Thomas was thinking of (but it might have been) when he wrote about receiving gifts for Christmas including “books that told me everything about the wasp except why.” One bit of why – according the caption, the jaguar here isn’t interested in honey (and I doubt these paper wasps have any). He wants to eat their grubs. Protein on the go.

Dancing to the beat makes fiddler crab sexual… failures.

8 December 2014 // 0 Comments

New Scientist turns our human expectations upside down once in the world of fiddler crabs. They seem musical (thus the name, after all), and they use that rhythm to win mates. But on closer inspection, the better they dance, the less of a catch they are for the opposite sex: In the cut-throat world of sex, where animals try to get noticed rather than blend in, this synchronised mating dance is unique. So why do the crabs do it? … One theory is that this coordination may be a special brand of crustacean camaraderie, with groups banding together for the greater good. But this romantic ideal just doesn’t have legs, according to Australian National University researchers led by Andrew Kahn, who found that mavericks dancing to their own tune get twice as much attention from females as their conformist neighbours. This means that crabs are probably not waving together on purpose, because animals are unlikely […]

New poison dart frog discovered. Tiny. Cute. Poisonous. But tiny. And cute.

27 September 2014 // 0 Comments

National Geographic reveals the newest Panamanian sensation to enter the world of science: A new species of poison dart frog so teeny it can fit on a fingernail has been discovered in a rain forest in Panama, a new study says. Scientists found the toxic, electric-orange amphibian in a single hilly area near the Caribbean coast, according to a study published this week in the journal Zootaxa. … [V]ery little is known about the newfound frog’s behavior, although the discovery of an adult with a tadpole stuck to its back suggests that it cares for its young.

Science Art: Tadarida teniotis Rafinesque.

6 July 2014 // 0 Comments

This is a bat from Tajikstan. According to the 2002 State of the Environment Report, it’s a rare bat. The European free-tailed bat. No, he doesn’t look very free in that image. Looks a little oppressed, to tell the truth. Follow your tail, rare, worried bat. Be free.

Science Art: Polar Bear – POV Cams (Spring 2014), by the USGS

29 June 2014 // 0 Comments

As the U.S. Geological Survey puts it: This video was edited and compiled from raw footage recorded by a camera equipped radio collar that was put on a female polar bear in the Beaufort Sea during April 2014 by the US Geological Survey. The video, which is the first ever from a free-ranging polar bear on Arctic sea ice, shows an interaction with a potential mate, playing with food, and swimming at the water’s surface and under the sea ice. These videos will be used by the US Geological Survey in research to understand polar bear behavior and energetics in an Arctic with declining sea ice. Note: Some creative license has been taken to make this footage easier to follow and understand, including playful language that helps describe the polar bear’s actions. Let’s hope this footage, while delightful, does not become too historically significant.

Animals are people too.

20 June 2014 // 0 Comments

Or so says National Geographic-profiled biopsychologist Lori Marino, an expert in the brains of “lesser” animals: Formerly a full-fledged research scientist who found measuring the braincases of dolphin skulls utterly absorbing, Marino has become a self-described “scientist-advocate” for all animals, large and small. While she’s continuing to do research (for instance, she’s doing a comparative study of pig and dog intelligence), she’s also devoting herself full time to the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, which she founded four years ago. It’s the only organization, she says, that is solely dedicated to bridging the gap between the academic world and the animal advocacy movement. … “Just look at the case with Tommy,” she says, referring to the chimpanzee whom the Nonhuman Rights Project attempted to free last December. Tommy’s lawyer, Steven Wise, had argued that New York State’s habeas corpus provision should apply to this chimpanzee “petitioner” too. “It’s true, the judge ruled against Wise,” Marino […]

Elephants really never forget… their enemies’ words.

20 March 2014 // 0 Comments

Nature reveals proof that elephants recognize individual humans – including the languages used who did them wrong: Biologists Karen McComb and Graeme Shannon at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, guessed that African elephants (Loxodonta africana) might be able to listen to human speech and make use of what they heard. To tease out whether this was true, they recorded the voices of men from two Kenyan ethnic groups calmly saying, “Look, look over there, a group of elephants is coming,” in their native languages. One of these groups was the semi-nomadic Maasai, some of whom periodically kill elephants during fierce competition for water or cattle-grazing space. The other was the Kamba, a crop-farming group that rarely has violent encounters with elephants. The researchers played the recordings to 47 elephant family groups at Amboseli National Park in Kenya and monitored the animals’ behaviour. The differences were remarkable. When the elephants heard the Maasai, they […]

Guild Salute: Michael Hearst, Songs for Unusual Creatures

21 February 2014 // 0 Comments

Michael Hearst! Composer! Writer! Player of atypical instruments! Science fan! You are compiling instrumentals based on wonderful animals, like the glass frog, the magnapinna squid, and, as performed below by The Kronos Quartet, the aye-aye: You are a man of science, wonder and music. The Guild salutes you! Here’s more about him in his own words, talking about the making of his album and some of the musicians (Margaret Leng Tan!) he got involved with the project: [I heard him on The Takeaway]

Elephants empathize.

19 February 2014 // 0 Comments

Science magazine reaches out with new research showing that elephants don’t just mourn their dead, but also try to comfort those in anguish: The study “is the first to investigate responses to distress by Asian elephants,” which “is inherently difficult to assess because one has to wait for opportunities to arise spontaneously,” says Shermin de Silva, a behavioral ecologist at the Uda Walawe Elephant Research Project in Sri Lanka. It would not be ethical to intentionally create stressful situations for the animals as a test, she notes—which is why, until now, researchers have had to rely on well-documented but anecdotal observations of wild and captive elephants to back up claims that they reassure each other. Joshua Plotnik, a behavioral ecologist at Mahidol University, Kanchanaburi, in Thailand, and Frans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University in Atlanta, got around this problem by comparing Asian elephants’ behaviors during times of stress to periods when little upset […]

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