Saturday, 24 November 2012

8 Species of Animals That Have Eyes Squint

Squint eyes occur in people and animals. In science it is known as (Esotropia). Esotropia is a form of strabismus, or "squint", in which one or both eyes turns inward. The condition can be constantly present, or occur intermittently, and can give the affected individual a "cross-eyed" appearance. Animals that have a squint your eyes a more difficult task than others to survive in life, and as such they still manage to survive. Some have better luck and be adopted by people who care about them even more loved.

1. Cross-eyed Snowy Owl

Cross-eyed Snowy Owllink

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large owl of the typical owl family Strigidae. The Snowy Owl was first classified in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who developed binomial nomenclature to classify and organize plants and animals. Until recently, it was regarded as the sole member of a distinct genus, as Nyctea scandiaca, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data (Olsen et al. 2002) shows that it is very closely related to the horned owls in the genus Bubo. The Snowy Owl is the official bird of Quebec.

snowy-owl crossed-eyedlink

For birders on the Vineyard (indeed, for birders everywhere), there's no such thing as the off-season. Birds are always in motion, and there is always the possibility of something interesting showing up. Island birders (along with observers across the rest of the northern U.S.) are currently enjoying an influx of one of the most beautiful and enigmatic birds in the world.
Snoweys look cross-eyed, but not much gets past their detection, especially a tasty rodent.

2. Cross-eyed Grizzly Bear of Katmai

The Cross-Eyed Grizzly Bear of Katmailink

The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear (Ursus arctos) that generally lives in the uplands of western North America. This subspecies is thought to descend from Ussuri brown bears which crossed to Alaska from eastern Russia 100,000 years ago, though they did not move south until 13,000 years ago.

Beach Grizzly Cross-eyedlink

The Cross-Eyed Grizzly Bear of Katmai 00link

Except for cubs and females, grizzlies are normally solitary, active animals, but in coastal areas, the grizzly congregates alongside streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds during the salmon spawn. Every other year, females (sows) produce one to four young (commonly two) which are small and weigh only about 500 grams (1 lb). A sow is protective of her offspring and will attack if she thinks she or her cubs are threatened.

3. Cross-eyed Jaguar Frank

Frank the cross-eyed Jaguar is a firm favourite with visitors to Delitzscher Zoo because of his rare eye conditionlink

The jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi syn. Herpailurus yagouaroundi) is a small-sized wild cat native to Central and South America. In 2002, the IUCN classified the jaguarundi as Least Concern, although they considered it likely that no conservation units beyond the mega-reserves of the Amazon basin could sustain long-term viable populations. It is probably extinct in Texas. Its presence in Uruguay is uncertain.

cross-eyed jaguarundilink

Frank, the cross-eyed jaguarundi, is pictured in a zoo in the town of Delitzsch. Germany's famous cross-eyed opossum, Heidi, faces competition, as another German zoo tries to steal her limelight by introducing their cross-eyed star to the public.

4. Cross-eyed Cheep Reggie

squid cheeplink

Sheep (Ovis aries) are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over one billion, domestic sheep are also the most numerous species of sheep.

cross-eyed cheeplink

Sheep are most likely descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia. One of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes, sheep are raised for fleece, meat (lamb, hogget or mutton) and milk. A sheep's wool is the most widely used animal fiber, and is usually harvested by shearing. Ovine meat is called lamb when from younger animals and mutton when from older ones. Sheep continue to be important for wool and meat today, and are also occasionally raised for pelts, as dairy animals, or as model organisms for science.

Hollywood remains a distant dream for the ram, affectionately christened Reggie, while he's stuck stranded on Streymoy, in the Faroe Islands.

5. Cross-eyed Opossum Heidi

Cross-Eyed Opossumlink

Opossums (colloquially possums) (Didelphimorphia) make up the largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, including 103 or more species in 19 genera. They are also commonly called possums, though that term technically refers to Australian fauna of the suborder Phalangeriformes.

Cross-Eyed Opossum Germany Heidilink

Heidi was a Virginia Opossum housed at Germany's Leipzig Zoo. In December 2010, the two-and-a-half year old, cross-eyed animal made international headlines shortly after a photograph was published by Bild. Since that time, Heidi had inspired a popular YouTube song, a future line of stuffed animals, and a Facebook page with over 290,000 followers.

opossum cross-eyed Heidilink

The zoo's new tropical wildlife exhibit opened to the public in July 2011, and Heidi was exhibited alongside two other opossums – her sister Naira and a male named Teddy.[3] International media has noted that Heidi was one of several animals either born or living in German zoos who have made headlines over the past few years; she followed in the footsteps of other German celebrity animals such as polar bears Knut and Flocke, as well as Paul the Octopus. Heidi was euthanised by the Zoo veterinary staff on 28 September 2011 after several weeks of struggle against an unspecified health condition.

6. Cross-eyed Cat Spangles

PD*57974296link

The domestic cat (Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus) is a small, usually furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal. It is often called the housecat when kept as an indoor pet, or simply the cat when there is no need to distinguish it from other felids and felines. Cats are valued by humans for companionship and their ability to hunt vermin and household pests.

PD*57974420link

Meet Spangles, the cross-eyed cat, who has become an internet sensation after his proud owner Mary Buchanan posted pictures of him wearing costumes online. Now the three-year-old feline has his own Facebook fan page at facebook.com/spangles09 where thousands of followers eagerly await daily pictures.
Spangles can so far be seen dressed in quirky costumes including a pirate, frog, tiger and unicorn.

7. Cross-eyed Gray Wolf

cross-eyed wolflink

The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a species of canid native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America, Eurasia, and North Africa. It is the largest member of its family, with males averaging 43–45 kg (95–99 lb), and females 36–38.5 kg (79–85 lb)

cross-eyed wolflink

Within the genus Canis, the gray wolf represents a more specialised and progressive form than its smaller cousins (the coyote and golden jackal), as demonstrated by its morphological adaptations to hunting large prey, its more gregarious nature and its highly advanced expressive behavior.

8. Cross-eyed White tiger

Cross-eyed White tigerlink

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to 3.3 metres (11 ft) and weighing up to 306 kg (670 lb). It is the third largest land carnivore (behind only the Polar bear and the Brown bear). Its most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underside. It has exceptionally stout teeth, and the canines are the longest among living felids with a crown height of as much as 74.5 mm (2.93 in) or even 90 mm (3.5 in)

crosseyed white tigerlink

White tigers - there is a well-known allele that produces the white tiger, technically known as chinchilla albinistic, an animal which is rare in the wild, but widely bred in zoos due to its popularity. Breeding of white tigers will often lead to inbreeding (as the trait is recessive). Many initiatives have taken place in white and orange tiger mating in an attempt to remedy the issue, often mixing subspecies in the process.

Monday, 19 November 2012

10 Coolest Displays of Topiary Art

A Topiary is an art form that involves trimming and training live plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees and shrubs to create a living work of art. Foliage that is trimmed into simple geometric shapes to form borders and fences are called hedges.

1. Beijing Olympics Topiary

Beijing Olympics Topiary

An incredible topiary display at the 29th Olympic Games in 2008. (Photo)

2. Shanghai's Century Park Musicians

Shanghai's Century Park Musicians

(Photo)

3. "Hedge Hogs" at Clarence House, U.K.

Hedge Hogs at Clarence House, U.K.

(Link | Photo)

4. Neiman-Marcus Dragon Topiary

Neiman-Marcus Dragon Topiary

(Photo)

5. Panda Topiary in China

Panda Topiary in China

From the Chelsea Flower Show in Xi'an, China. (Link | Photo)

6. Gravity-Defying Dolphin Topiary

Gravity-Defying Dolphin Topiary

(Link | Photo)

7. Row Boat Topiary

Row Boat Topiary

(Photo)

8. Lawn Furniture

Lawn Furniture

(Link | Photo)

9. Thailand's Amazing Owls

Thailands Amazing Owls

(Photo)

10. Topiary Gone Wild?

Topiary Gone Wild

(Photo)

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Banana Slug – Nature’s Giant Recycler

The Banana Slug – Nature’s Giant Recycler

Perhaps it is the mucus, perhaps the snake-like appearance or the habit of many species of slug to regard your garden and the carefully cultivated plants within as dinner – but the slug generally has a pretty bad press.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 2Image Credit Flickr User Jurvetson

So, if you just groaned in horror at the picture above, you are in good company. A lot of people don’t like slugs. The sight of them in a garden has been known to turn even the most mild mannered in to mad mollusk murderers. Yet the giant Banana Slug, the second largest in the world (after the European Limax), has more than just its size and resemblance to a certain yellow fruit as a claim to fame. This is one of the unsung champions of the forest, for the banana slug only eats dead organic material which they then turn in to soil.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 3Image Credit Flickr User Bill Bouton

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 4Image Credit Flickr User Tonx

It is the color which first attracts. Even those averse in general to slugs can find the banana variety compelling.  As a member of the mollusc phylum they have soft bodies and no obvious shell.  A single foot, the muscularity of which would shame a young Schwarzenegger, transports the slug, found on the western seaboard of the North America, from California all the way up to Alaska, via a system of rhythmic waves. To ensure this foot does not get damaged it also secretes a layer of mucus and it is on this layer the slug travels rather than the ground itself.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 5Image Credit Flickr User Snifette

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 6Image Credit Flickr User Franco Folini

The mucus has much more than just a single role, however.  Another purpose for this sticky secretion is to enable the slug to breathe.  They are pulmonates and this means that they only have a tiny pair of internal lungs. These are exposed to the outside via a pneumostone – have a look at some of these pictures and you can see it when it is open. The pneumostone collects moisture out of the air and extracts oxygen and is used when the slug is doing something particularly laborious and an extra supply is needed. Otherwise, the slime keeps the skin wet so oxygen can be breathed through it.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 7Image Credit Flickr User bgreenlee

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 8Image Credit Flickr User David Ifry

The hump on the back of a banana slug (Ariolimax columbianus) is called the mantle and that is also there for a purpose.  Underneath it are some rather important organs, the genitals and also the anus. It is the mantle which protects them. In some species, including the banana slug, this is where the mollusk will have a very small and flat shell.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 9Image Credit Flickr User eyesontheroad

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 10Image Credit Flickr User tnkntx

The two sets of feelers on the slug’s head help out in a sensorial manner. The top ones are used to detect light and the lower ones provide the slug with its sense of smell.  The slug can retract these feelers, but in case they are destroyed they can be replaced – they will simply grow back!

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 11Image Credit Flickr User Jacki Dee

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA         Image Credit Flickr User Wandering herpetologist

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 23Image credit Flickr User acaben

The Banana Slug can grow up to 25cm in length and although they are often yellow the color depends very much on their recent diet, the amount of moisture in their locale and the light. They can look like an overripe banana, with black mottling appearing on their skin and they can also come in shades of green and white. Although rare, almost white examples have been found too.  Their various colors also help as a form of camouflage – on the floor of the forest they can blend in completely.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 13Image Credit Flickr User Porkpie

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 15Image Credit Flickr User Random Truth

Yet when they are spotted by predators, the Banana Slug has yet another use for its mucus. It really doesn’t taste very nice and a slug will often be spat out by an animal before they can be chewed.  The mucus also contains an anesthetic which can make the predator’s mouth tissue numb, making chewing all but impossible. Not only that but the mucus will become stickier, making the slug the worst kind of chewing gum ever.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 16Image Credit Flickr User Random Truth

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 17Image Credit Flickr User randomtruth

Most animals learn the lesson once and move on.  However, raccoons have been seen rolling slugs in the dirt, to cover up the mucus. They can then be eaten. Some snakes and birds will also eat the slugs without complaint, not to mention the salamander above! Another interesting fact about slime is that it can be used, if the slug has climbed a tree, as a string which can safely and quickly transport the slug to the ground.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 14Image Credit Flickr User Vicki & Chuck Rogers

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 18Image credit Flickr User John Loo

As the banana slug travels (albeit very slowly) along the forest floor it sweeps up dead leaves and animal droppings (it also has a great fondness for mushrooms) in to its mouth, grinds them up. It deposits the digested remains, recycled soil humus, via its anus. As such it is called a detritivore, and the banana slug contributes greatly to the decomposition and the nutrient cycles of the forests in which it lives.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 19Image Credit Flickr User Gregory WIld-Smith

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 20Image Credit Flickr User Satorsphere

The Banana Slug is a hermaphrodite which means that they contain female and male organs. The mucus is used in the mating process as well – they leave another chemical in their slime which other slugs will find irresistible.  When they meet for mating purposes, banana slugs form a heart shape and exchange sperm. After they have laid their 70 or so eggs they will leave them to their own devices – banana slugs don’t do parenting.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 21Image Credit Flickr User A Poulos

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 22Image Credit Flickr User Anya

The Banana Slug can live to be a few years old and so will see a number of winters and summers. When the temperature gets to just below zero they will hibernate. They will also estivate during hot spells – burrowing in to leaves or soils and insulating themselves from the heat in the cool, surrounded by a bubbly layer of, you’ve guessed it, mucus.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 24Image Credit Flickr User Jadeilyn

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 25Image Credit Flickr User J Natali

Perhaps slugs will never make it on to your own personal list of charismatic creatures. The Banana Slug, however, cares not if we find it charming, captivating or compelling. It does, however, contribute to its own ecosystem in ways which belie the reputation of its phylum and should be treasured as such.

banana slug Ariolimax columbianus 26Image Credit Flickr User Bill Bouton

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