Saturday, 29 May 2010

Empire An The Camel Spiders

Soldiers who have served in the Middle East have been sending back scary pictures of a beastie called "the camel spider". It is rumoured to be faster than 25mph, poisonous, hairy, and able to tackle small animals and unafraid of humans. This picture in particular seems to show that the spider is HUGE. Actually the truth is ...

What are they?
Camel spiders are not spiders. They are sometimes called "wind scorpions" but they are not scorpions either. They are a different species of arthropod called solipugids which are not venomous or have silk-making capacity. The name 'camel spider' may come from their often being found on corpses of camels which has lead to the myth that they actually can kill camels. In truth, they will use the body of a camel to prey upon other insects that gather around carrion. Also, it has been said that the camel spider will use the hair it collects to build a nest. Whether or not it will use human hair collected from sleeping soldiers is also not confirmed.

Where are they found?
They are found in the Middle East, in the desert and also in desert regions in Mexico and the United States. They hunt mostly at night when the sun is down and would otherwise overheat their bodies. They are shade-loving so often they will follow in the footsteps of a moving person leading to the myth that they pursue humans. They also have been seen tracking vehicles for the same reason.

Okay,how big are they really?
Camel spiders have a leg-span of 5" but are not "as big as dinner plates" as rumoured. They also are not as fast as 24mph but are extremely fast, with a maximum speed of 10mph (athletes can typically run at 23mph). It is their speed that also gives them the name "wind spider". As you can see in the video, this helps them overcome all kinds of prey including lizards, rodents and occasionally birds.

Are they dangerous?
Like most creatures smaller than us, camel spiders do not attack humans unless provoked. When they do choose to fight they have formidable jaws that can render a painful bite. However, this is not poisonous. Instead the camel spiders will crush their prey into tiny bits and suck in the juices. Camel spiders are sometimes encountered by humans because they are attracted to light at night and so occasionally venture into tents or wander around fireplaces.

Singly in The World - Incredibly Chicken Lived 18 Months Without a Head

This fat chicken called Mike lived 18 months without its head. Do you believe this? Many people just can't believe it. At first, I didn't believe it really happened.
I saw someone posted a link about Mike the headless chicken on Shoutwire. I followed the link and checked it out. I was full of doubts after reading that. Then, I came back to Shoutwire and read the comments to find out that most people don't believe it either.

To clarify it, I made a search on Google and found some great links. Mike the headless chicken even has its own official website. OMG! So, it must be real I thought. After reading some articles on Guiness World Records website and Wikipedia, I finally believed that Mike the headless chicken was real.

Mike's story from Longest List

In Fruita, Colorado, on September 10 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen was sent out to kill a chicken for dinner. His mother-in-law loved to eat the neck, so Mr. Olsen tried to chop off as little of the neck as possible. With a swing of his axe, off came the head. The chicken, now known as 'Mike the Headless Chicken', started to run around as chickens do, but never stopped.

Mike the Headless Chicken became famous and began doing tours. Mr. Olsen charged 25 cents.

Mike was fed a mixture of water and milk with an eyedropper, and occasionally he was fed corn.

Mike finally died in 1947, after living for 18 months. He started choking in the middle of the night, and since the Olsen's left the syringes they used to clear his esophagus at the sideshow, they could not save him.

So, how a chicken can live without its head? How is this possible?

Scientists found out that the axe blade had missed Mike's jugular vein, and a clot had saved it from bleeding to death. Because Mike's owner had aimed the axe so high, most of the brain stem was left at the top of the spine. One ear had also survived. So, Mike could still hear and think.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Dog is Man's Best Friend

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Fish With "Hands" Found to Be New Species

New, Pink, and Rare
Using its fins to walk, rather than swim, along the ocean floor in an undated picture, the pink handfish is one of nine newly named species described in a recent scientific review of the handfish family.
Only four specimens of the elusive four-inch (ten-centimeter) pink handfish have ever been found, and all of those were collected from areas around the city of Hobart (map), on the Australian island of Tasmania.
Though no one has spotted a living pink handfish since 1999, it's taken till now for scientists to formally identify it as a unique species.
The new-species determinations were made based on a number of factors, including number of vertebrae and fin rays, coloration, the presence of scales and spines, and proportional body measurements, according to review author Daniel Gledhill of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO.
All of the world's 14 known species of handfish are found only in shallow, coastal waters off southeastern Australia, the review notes.
Even among the previously known species, the fish are poorly studied, the review authors add, and little is known about their biology or behavior.
See Spot Walk
The previously known spotted handfish, seen above in a file photo, is found on sandy sediments at the bottom of Tasmania's Derwent Estuary and adjoining bays. The fish use their fins to walk along the seabed, where they eat small invertebrates such as worms and crustaceans.
Perhaps the best studied species of the handfish family, the spotted handfish is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature—meaning it's "facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future."
Handfish's slow movements and tendencies to stay within tightly confined habitats would seem to make the fish easy targets for predators. But researchers think handfish have a secret weapon: a toxic skin that kills most attackers. (Related: "Venomous Fish Far Outnumber Snakes, Other Vertebrates, Study Says.")
Anecdotal stories suggest predators may die within an hour of eating a handfish, said CSIRO fish taxonomist Gledhill.
Seeing Red
The red handfish, a previously known species, is listed as vulnerable in Australia, where it's found only around the southern island state of Tasmania.
Not much is known about handfish, because their populations are low and they are not often seen in the wild. But researchers suggest handfish lay fewer eggs than most other fish species, which means their long-term survival is a concern.
Handfish also tend to stay very close to home, so they don't adapt well to new places, said fish taxonomist Gledhill.
Also Available in Purple
Newly described as its own species, the Ziebell's handfish typically has yellow fins, as seen above in a file photo, but the species can also appear with a mottled purplish coloration. Ziebell's handfish is found only in small, isolated populations off Tasmania and is listed as vulnerable in Australia.

Today all handfish are found only around southeastern Australia. But about 50 million years ago the animals likely inhabited regions around the world, the CSIRO scientists note. Fossils of the curious creatures have been discovered in the Mediterranean, for example.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Big Slimy Snails

Giant African Snails are the largest species of snails on the planet, with a shell that can grow up to 30 cm long and 15 cm in diameter.
Native to the tropical forests of Ghana, Africa, Giant African Snails live in tropical conditions, with no natural enemies. That, combined with the fact each snail can lay up to twelve hundred eggs per year, makes their large population, a problem. wherever a colony of these giant snails settles down, all other species of tree snails go extinct. Their insatiable appetite for any kind of plants and fruits, makes Giant African Snails pests, in their homeland. Just so you can get an idea, these things eat even the stucco and paint, buildings.
Like all snails, GAS are hermaphrodite and very prolific. Just one pair of snails can turn into an 8 to 10 billion colony, in their 5-7 year life span. Another half cycle like this, and we’re looking at 16 quadrillion giant crawlers. It’s a scary image, especially since they can bury themselves for up to 6 months, if the climate isn’t right for them
While they’re regarded as parasites, in Africa, in the Western World, Giant African Snails are some of the most coveted pets on the market, because of their intelligence and ability to reproduce sounds. Actually, I’m pulling your leg, people just like them because their huge, slimy and hard to come by.


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