Woman finds two-headed viper in her flower bed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

 

Woman finds two-headed viper in her flower bed, state hopes to display it in a zoo

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A state agency has arranged for the care of a rare two-headed Copperhead snake found at a residence in Northern Virginia on Sunday night.

The venomous snake, a member of the viper family, is an “extremely rare” find in the wild, state herpetologist J.D. Kleopfer told USA TODAY. Kleopfer is a reptiles and amphibians specialist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

He said the snake is currently being cared for by an experienced viper keeper, with the hope that it will one day be put on display at a zoo.

Snakes with such a mutation find it difficult to survive in the wild, Kleopfer said. That’s in part because the two heads often want to do “two different things.”

This particular snake was young – about two weeks old, and small – about 6 inches long, according to Kleopfer.

Imaging provided some insight on the physical makeup of the snake: “Thanks to the Wildlife Center of Virginia we were able to determine that the left head has the dominant esophagus and the right head has the more developed throat for eating,” Kleopfer wrote in a Facebook post.

Copperheads often grow to 18-36 inches in length, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While they are not known for being aggressive, they do sometimes attack humans when disturbed.

Kleopfer said the “little guy” probably wasn’t much of a danger. At its age, he said the viper was mainly attacking insects.

The snake shouldn’t alarm anyone, Kleopfer said. It’s his goal to help the snake stay alive.

Stephanie Myers shared photos of the viper on Sunday evening. She said that the snake was found at her neighbor’s flowerbed in Woodbridge, Virginia.

“I wanted to look away but couldn’t stop looking at it. Plays trick on the eyes,” she told USA TODAY in a written message.

Among the hashtags in her Facebook post: #sohardnottolookatit, #nobodyhastimeforthat and #justlookingatthismakesmeswear.

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(Alpha Wolf/Poem) Within My Gaze

Within My Gaze

Within My Gaze

I see my picture

Upon T-Shirts, paintings and plates

Displayed proudly upon your walls

 

You think me to be cuddly

Domesticated easily like a lap dog hound

Only to the giant bear

Have I ever backed down

 

You come to my home

To sleep, laugh, and play

When was the last time

You ever seen me walking down your streets

 

More ignorant than the lamb I had this morning

My belly is grumbling as the dark is setting in

Do you now think I am so cute and cuddly

As I back you down

Your eyes glued, within my gaze

 

 

Mysterious great white shark lair discovered in Pacific Ocean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE NEWSPAPER)

 

Mysterious great white shark lair discovered in Pacific Ocean

Photo of Peter Fimrite
A scientific mission into the secret ocean lair of California’s great white sharks has provided tantalizing clues into a vexing mystery — why the fearsome predators spend winter and spring in what has long appeared to be an empty void in the deep sea.
A boatload of researchers from five scientific institutions visited the middle-of-nowhere spot between Baja California and Hawaii this past spring on a quest to learn more about what draws the big sharks to what has become known as the White Shark Cafe, almost as if they were pulled by some astrological stimulus.
The sharks’ annual pilgrimage to the mid-Pacific region from the coasts of California and Mexico has baffled scientists for years, not just because it is so far away — it takes a month for the sharks to get there — but because it seemed, on the surface, to be lacking the kind of prey or habitat that the toothy carnivores prefer.

But the researchers made a remarkable discovery. Instead of blank, barren sea, the expedition, led by scientists with Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, found a vast community of tiny light-sensitive creatures so tantalizing that the sharks cross the sea in mass to reach them.

The primary lure, scientists believe, is an extraordinary abundance of squid and small fish that migrate up and down in a little understood deep-water portion of ocean known as the “mid-water,” a region skirting the edge of complete darkness that could provide an immeasurably valuable trove of information about the ocean ecosystem and climate change.

“The story of the white shark tells you that this area is vitally important in ways we never knew about,” said Salvador Jorgensen, a research scientist for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and one of the expedition’s leaders. “They are telling us this incredible story about the mid-water, and there is this whole secret life that we need to know about.”

The researchers’ focus, a 160-mile-radius subtropical region about 1,200 nautical miles east of Hawaii, was essentially unknown to science until marine scientist Barbara Block, of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, began attaching acoustic pinger tags to white sharks 14 years ago.

Block discovered that the local sharks, known as northeastern Pacific whites, feed on elephant seals and other marine mammals in the so-called Red Triangle, between Monterey Bay, the Farallon Islands and Bodega Head, from about August to December. She also tracked their movements into San Francisco Bay and around Guadalupe Island, in Mexico.

But then, each December, the acoustic tags showed a mass movement out to sea that was as confusing to the researchers as it was surprising.

Block found that the sharks were leaving the food-rich waters along the West Coast to spend spring and most of the summer in a patch of open ocean about the size of Colorado, a place that looked in satellite images like an empty, oceanic Sahara desert.

She named it the White Shark Cafe even though she wasn’t sure whether the sharks went there for food or sex.

To find out, Block organized the month long expedition in April and May aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor, which was equipped with high-tech instruments, sail drones and a remotely operated submarine. Last fall, before departure, her team of scientists tracked down 36 local sharks using acoustic signals and fitted them with high-tech satellite monitoring tags with locator beacons programmed to pop off and float to the surface during the cafe expedition.

The scheme worked. The researchers got data from 10 of the 22 tags that floated up and signaled the Falkor that they had detached and were bobbing around ready to be collected, an exercise that Jorgensen called “a white shark treasure hunt.” The scientists also obtained recorded information on shark movements and behavior over the previous months from six other great whites through radio uplinks. The rest only transmitted their location or were not recovered.

A great white shark was seen chomping on the carcass of a whale on July 19, 2018 by the crew of an All Water Charter boat.

Video: All Water Charter

The data on the recovered tags documented highly unusual diving behavior at depths scientists had rarely before seen in white sharks.

On the way to the cafe, the sharks made periodic dives 3,000 feet deep, a surprising discovery given that the big fish normally wouldn’t be able to stay warm enough to digest food in such cold, pressurized depths. The sharks, researchers found, were using warm circular currents to get down the water column, suggesting they were following prey. Still, it isn’t clear what they were eating.

Know your great white sharks

Great white sharks, known scientifically as Carcharodon carcharias, are protected under state legislation that makes it illegal to fish for them. The trade in shark parts — mainly jaws and fins — is also illegal internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

They average 15 to 16 feet in length, but can grow much larger. The biggest white shark ever recorded was caught in 1939 and it was 21 feet long and weighed 7,300 pounds.

Starting in late summer and fall, an estimated 220 white sharks feed offshore of the Farallon Islands, Año Nuevo and Drakes Bay, but at least 20 have been documented over the years inside San Francisco Bay, including one seen devouring a seal in 2015 just a few feet off Alcatraz Island.

Female sharks typically visit the Gulf of the Farallones in alternate years, suggesting that their migration pattern is tied to a two-year reproductive cycle.

DNA testing has shown the sharks off the coast of California are genetically unique compared with other great whites.

Researchers tagged 37 great white sharks last year and have given them names including Torpedo, Scargirl, Sicklefin, OrcaFin and ShawShark Redemption. The oldest and longest studied shark is a 16-foot, 3,158-pound great white named Tom Johnson, which was first seen off the Farallon Islands in 1987.

The only reported fatal human-shark encounter off San Francisco shores occurred in May 1959, when 18-year-old Albert Kogler Jr. died after he was attacked in roughly 15 feet of water while swimming off Baker Beach.

Eleven people have been killed by sharks off the California coast since the first documented attack on a human in Pacific Grove in December, 1952. The body of a probable 12th victim was never found, so he isn’t counted.

Sources: Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station; Monterey Bay Aquarium; Schmidt Ocean Institute; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Once they reached their destination in late winter and early spring, the animals engaged in “bounce dives” down to 1,400 feet below the surface during the day and 650 feet at night, Jorgensen said.

In April, the male sharks started behaving very differently from the females, moving individually up and down the water in a V-shape as many as 140 times a day, Jorgensen said. The females, on the other hand, continued their previous behavior, diving deep during the day and shallow at night, he said.

The scientists still haven’t figured out the disparate gender behaviors.

“Either they are eating something different or this is related in some way to their mating,” Jorgensen said.

What’s clear so far is that, like the hidden community of specialized wildlife in the Sahara, the shark cafe is a swirling mass of tiny phytoplankton, fish, squid and jellies. They move up and down in a soupy layer deep under water, a kind of twilight zone just below where sunlight stops penetrating the ocean depths.

“It’s the largest migration of animals on Earth — a vertical migration that’s timed with the light cycle,” Jorgensen said. “During the day they go just below where there is light and at night they come up nearer the surface to warmer, more productive waters under the cover of darkness.”

It’s a surreal deep water world populated by bioluminescent lantern fish and other species that have evolved amazing adaptations to darkness, Jorgensen said.

Scientists in recent years have discovered hundreds of new species in deep water zones like this one. The uniquely abundant mass of fish draws all kinds of predators, like small cookie cutter sharks, which have evolved light-emitting organs called photophores on the underside of their bodies that act, to prey, like invisibility cloaks.

The white sharks aren’t the only large predators tracking the mid-water creatures. Squid-eating big eye tuna, blue and Mako sharks also frequent the cafe. Jorgensen said these larger fish may be what the white sharks eat, but there isn’t any definitive evidence of that.

“What we’ve learned through the progression of our research is that this mid-water layer is extremely important for white sharks,” he said. “They are swimming in these layers, tracking (prey) day and night. … It’s a game of hide-and-seek.”

Scientists say this little understood mid-water zone is a biological laboratory that, with more research, could lead to biomedical breakthroughs and yield clues to how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide and how species adapt to climate change. There is also concern that it is ripe for exploitation, particularly long-line and drift net fishing.

Triggered by some cryptic mechanism, the sharks leave their mid-ocean sanctum during the summer and begin to gather along the coast of California around August.

Block said researchers will not know whether the sharks were feeding, mating or doing both during their time in the White Shark Cafe until the analyses are completed.

“We now have a gold mine of data. We have doubled the current 20-year data set on white shark diving behaviors and environmental preferences in just three weeks,” Block said. This “will help us better understand the persistence of this unique environment and why it attracts such large predators.”

Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:[email protected]. Twitter: @pfimrite

Jan Mayen: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Arctic Volcanic Island

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Jan Mayen

Introduction This desolate, artic, mountainous island was named after a Dutch whaling captain who indisputably discovered it in 1614 (earlier claims are inconclusive). Visited only occasionally by seal hunters and trappers over the following centuries, the island came under Norwegian sovereignty in 1929. The long dormant Haakon VII Toppen/Beerenberg volcano resumed activity in 1970; the most recent eruption occurred in 1985. It is the northernmost active volcano on earth.
History Unverified discoveries

The first known discovery of the island was in 1614. There are earlier claims and possible discoveries: Some historians believe that an Irish monk, Brendan, who was known as a good sailor, was close to Jan Mayen in the early 6th century. He came back from one of his voyages and reported that he had been close to a black island, which was on fire, and that there was a terrible noise in the area. He thought that he might have found the entrance to hell.

The land named Svalbarð (“cold coast”) by the Vikings in the early medieval Landnámabók may have been Jan Mayen (instead of Spitsbergen, which was renamed Svalbard by the Norwegians in modern times); the distance from Iceland to Svalbarð mentioned in that book is two days sailing, consistent with the ~530 km to Jan Mayen and not with the ~1550 km to Spitsbergen.[1] The knowledge of Jan Mayen probably disappeared along with the Viking colonies on Greenland around the 14th century.

In the 17th century many claims of the island’s rediscovery were made, spurred by the rivalry on the Arctic whaling grounds, and the island received many names. According to Thomas Edge, an early 17th century whaling captain who was often inaccurate, William (sic) Hudson discovered the island in 1608 and named it Hudson’s Touches (or Tutches). However, Henry Hudson could only have come by on his voyage in 1607 (if he had made an illogical detour) and had made no mention of it in his journal.[1] Edge also suggested that Thomas Marmaduke, a Hull whaling captain, saw the island in 1612 and named it Trinity Island. There is no cartographical or written proof for either of these “discoveries”.

1614 discoveries and final naming

Jan Mayen was discovered in the summer of 1614, probably within one month by three separate expeditions. The English whaler John Clarke, sailing for a Dunkirk firm, had observed the island on June 28 while hunting Greenland right whales (now called Bowhead Whales) and named it Isabella.[2] In January the “Northern Company” (Noordsche Compagnie), modelled on the Dutch East India Company, had been established to support Dutch whaling in the Arctic. Two of its ships, financed by merchants from Amsterdam and Enkhuizen, reached Jan Mayen in July 1614. The captains of these ships (Jan Jacobsz May of Schellinkhout on the “Gouden Cath” (Golden Cat) and Jacob de Gouwenaar on the “Orangienboom” (Orange Tree), named it Mr. Joris Eylant after the Dutch cartographer Joris Carolus who was on board and mapped the island. The captains acknowledged that a third Dutch ship, the “Cleyn Swaentgen” (Little Swan) captained by Jan Jansz Kerckhoff and financed by Noordsche Compagnie shareholders from Delft, had already been at the island when they arrived. They had assumed that the latter, who named the island Maurits Eylandt (or Mauritius) after Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, would report their discovery to the States General. However, the Delft merchants had decided to keep the discovery secret and returned in 1615 to hunt for their own profit. The ensuing dispute was only settled in 1617, though both companies were allowed to whale at Jan Mayen in the meantime.[2]

In 1615, Robert Fotherby went ashore, apparently thinking it a new discovery and naming the island Sir Thomas Smith’s Island and the volcano “Mount Hakluyt”.[1][3] Jean Vrolicq, a French Basque whaler who was active in the Spitsbergen fishery at least as early as 1618, renamed the island Île de Richelieu.

Jan Mayen first appeared on Willem Jansz Blaeu’s 1620 edition map of Europe originally published by Cornelis Doedz in 1606. He named it Jan Mayen after captain Jan May of the Amsterdam-financed Gouden Cath, perhaps because he was by that time based in Amsterdam. Blaeu made a first detailed map of the island in his famous “Zeespiegel” atlas of 1623, establishing its current name.[2]

Jan Mayen as a Dutch whaling base

From 1614 to 1638, Jan Mayen was used as a whaling base by the Dutch Noordsche Compagnie, which had effectively monopolized whaling in most of the Arctic Sea over those years. It took ships about three weeks to reach the island from the Netherlands. By 1616, 200 men were seasonally living and working on the island and over 10 Dutch ships hunted in the bays of the island each year. By the 1620s, six whaling stations had been established (spread along the NW coast), with wooden storehouses and dwellings and large brick furnaces, and two fortresses with batteries to protect the stations.[2] Among the sailors active at Jan Mayen was the later admiral Michiel Adriaensz de Ruyter. In 1632, at the age of 26, he was for the first time listed as an officer and his last whaling trip was in 1635.

In 1632 the Noordsche Compagnie expelled the Danish-employed Basque whalers from Spitsbergen. In revenge, the latter sailed to Jan Mayen, where the Dutch had left for the winter, to plunder the Dutch equipment and burn down the settlements and factories. Captain Outger Jacobsz of Grootebroek was asked to stay the next winter (1633/34) on Jan Mayen with six shipmates to defend the island. While a group with the same task survived the winter on Spitsbergen, all seven on Jan Mayen died of scurvy or trichinosis (from eating raw polar bear meat) combined with the harsh conditions.

The Greenland right whale was locally hunted to near extinction around 1640 (approximately 1000 had been killed and processed on the island[2]), at which time Jan Mayen was abandoned and stayed uninhabited for two-and-a-half centuries.

19th and 20th century

During the International Polar Year 1882-83 an Austro-Hungarian expedition stayed one year at Jan Mayen and performed extensive mapping of the area, their maps being used until the 1950s. Between 1900 and 1920, there were also a number of Norwegian trappers, spending the winters on Jan Mayen, hunting white and blue foxes in addition to some polar bears. But the exploitation soon made the profits decline, and the hunting ended.

The first meteorological station was opened in 1921 by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, who annexed the island in 1922 for Norway. By law of February 27, 1930 the island was made part of the Kingdom of Norway. During World War II Jan Mayen was not occupied by Germans as continental Norway was in 1940, but still the meteorologists chose to burn down the station. In 1941, they returned with soldiers to rebuild the station. On 7 August 1942 a German Focke-Wulf Fw 200 “Condor”, probably on a mission to bomb the station, smashed into the mountainside of Danielsenkrateret near it in fog, killing all 9 crewmembers.[4] In 1950, wreck of another German plane with 4 crewmembers was discovered on the south-west side of the island.[5] In 1943, the Americans established a radio locating station named Atlantic City in the north to try to locate German radio bases in Greenland.

After the war the meteorological station was located at Atlantic City, but moved in 1949 to a new location. Radio Jan Mayen also served as an important radio station for ship traffic in the Arctic Ocean. In 1959, NATO decided to build the LORAN-C network in the Atlantic Ocean, and one of the transmitters had to be on Jan Mayen. By 1961, the new military installations, including a new air field was operational.

For some time scientists doubted if there could be any activity in the volcano Beerenberg, but in 1970 the volcano erupted, and added another three square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) of land mass to the island during the three to four weeks it lasted. It had more eruptions in 1973 and most recently in 1985. During an eruption the sea temperature around the island may increase from just above freezing to about 30 Celsius degrees (86 °F).

Historic stations and huts on the island are Hoyberg, Vera, Olsbu, Puppebu (cabin), Gamlemetten or Gamlestasjonen (the old weather station), Jan Mayen Radio, Helenehytta, Margarethhytta, and Ulla (a cabin at the foot of the Beerenberg).

Geography Location: Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the Norwegian Sea, northeast of Iceland
Geographic coordinates: 71 00 N, 8 00 W
Map references: Arctic Region
Area: total: 377 sq km
land: 377 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 124.1 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 4 nm
contiguous zone: 10 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: arctic maritime with frequent storms and persistent fog
Terrain: volcanic island, partly covered by glaciers
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Norwegian Sea 0 m
highest point: Haakon VII Toppen/Beerenberg 2,277 m
Natural resources: none
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: dominated by the volcano Haakon VII Toppen/Beerenberg; volcanic activity resumed in 1970; the most recent eruption occurred in 1985
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: barren volcanic island with some moss and grass
Society The only inhabitants on the island are personnel working for the Royal Norwegian Defence Force or the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. There are eighteen people who spend the winter on the island, but the population may double during the summer, when heavy maintenance is performed. Personnel serve either six months or one year, and are exchanged twice a year in April and October. The main purpose of the military personnel is to operate a LORAN-C base. The support crew, including mechanics, cooks and a nurse are among the military personnel. Both the LORAN transmitter and the meteorological station are located a few kilometres away from the settlement Olonkinbyen (English: The Olonkin City), where all personnel live.

Transport to the island is provided by C-130 Hercules military transport planes operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force that land at Jan Mayensfield, which only has a gravel runway. The planes fly in from Bodø Main Air Station eight times a year. Since the airport does not have any instrument landing capabilities, visibility is required, and it is not uncommon for the planes to have to return to Bodø, two hours away, without landing. For heavy goods, freight ships visit during the summer, but there are no harbours and the ships must anchor up.

The island has no indigenous population, but is assigned the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code SJ (together with Svalbard), the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) .no (.sj is allocated but not used) and data code JN. Its amateur radio call sign prefix is JX. It has a postal code, N-8099 JAN MAYEN, but delivery time varies, especially during the winter.

People Population: no indigenous inhabitants
note: personnel operate the Long Range Navigation (Loran-C) base and the weather and coastal services radio station
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Jan Mayen
Dependency status: territory of Norway; since August 1994, administered from Oslo through the county governor (fylkesmann) of Nordland; however, authority has been delegated to a station commander of the Norwegian Defense Communication Service
Legal system: the laws of Norway, where applicable, apply
Flag description: the flag of Norway is used
Economy Economy – overview: Jan Mayen is a volcanic island with no exploitable natural resources. Economic activity is limited to providing services for employees of Norway’s radio and meteorological stations on the island.
Communications Radio broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA (there is one radio and meteorological station) (1998)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 13 (Jan Mayen and Svalbard) (2000)
Transportation Airports: 1 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Ports and terminals: none; offshore anchorage only
Military Military – note: defense is the responsibility of Norway
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: none

5 Best places to visit in September in India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Best places to visit in September in India, here are 5 spots that you can’t afford to miss

Travellers, keep in mind that September is one of the best months to take a trip across India. Here are 5 spots that are perfect options for you.

TRAVEL Updated: Sep 09, 2018 12:52 IST

Asian News International
Best destinations for travel,Travel,Jaipur
Best travel destinations for September include Manali, Leh, Diu, Ziro and Jaipur. (Shutterstock)

September is probably one of the best months to travel almost anywhere in India. The weather is pleasant with the monsoon slowly starting to subside by the end of August, and there is cool weather needed for leisurely travel.

Be it the mountains up north, the south, or even the deserts of Rajasthan, this month is a better time to visit tourist spots rather than going during the travel boom at the end of the year. Here are some recommendations for you from Confirmtkt and Travelyaari:

* Jaipur

Jaipur is a city in Rajasthan is a good place to visit for a fam jam where you can savour the local culture. There is chaotic traffic but also lots to shop, street food to enjoy and you can top off your stay at one of the numerous palace hotels in the region.

* Manali

The romantic city is surrounded by mountains and is a good place to travel to this September. It is a honeymoon destination, trekking paradise, a hippie hangout and even a quick getaway from your work commitments.

* Ziro

Honestly, anytime would be perfect if you are planning to visit this place among the hills. September is when you can glimpse the essence of the place and there is only mild rainfall. The remote hillock town offers a handful of activities, one of them being the acclaimed Ziro music festival which is a must-attend.

Go on a biking trip to Ladakh. (Unsplash)

* Leh: A trip to Leh by road is one of its kind and makes for a memorable experience. There are many surprises along the way.

* Diu

Diu is a small beach city in the union territory of Diu and Daman. It is a serene destination which is recommended as the best alternative to Goa. It boasts of cheap liquor, beachside shacks, and seafood. You can also indulge in sightseeing at the lesser-known Portuguese colony.

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 11:01 IST

Humor Poem: Cats

Cats

 

4 Cats in the house, chaotic as that may sound

Mother-in-Law is scared of cats, doesn’t come around

2 Big ole males, 3 years apart, 2 different Breeds

Finally act like brothers, they don’t try to tear the house down

I used to have me some dogs but they have all disappeared

 

About two months ago we got a couple of kittens to raise

Been together since birth though different Mothers and Breeds

Finally the four are friends as together they romp and play

The kittens are Ladies or they would have been dead right away

Kittens are so tiny it is so much fun to sit and watch they play

 

 

Some Cultures believe that Cats are the Guardians of Hell

I can see why people think that by the way they eat their prey

No visitors ever come here twice with the cats out in the yard

Not with two Lions, one Tiger and a huge Black Panther on display

If we could just make it to our car, it would be we who run away

EKU researchers studying copperheads in the Gorge

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF WKYT NEWS RICHMOND KENTUCKY)

 

EKU researchers studying copperheads in the Gorge

By WKYT |
     

RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) — They’re a common snake found throughout the state. The copperhead snake is one that shows up quite often, especially across eastern Kentucky. Their habitat is best suited in these areas.

“The forest, the plateau, and mountains provide underground retreats. The forest has lots of organisms for them to eat and cover, and leaf litter that they blend in with,” said Dr. Stephen Richter, an EKU biology professor.

Richter is heading a research study in the Gorge area that’s aimed at learning more about copperhead snakes, their habitat, and how to minimize human-snake interaction. The group captures these snakes, insert a microchip, track their movements and collect data. Then, the snakes are recaptured.

“We learn about population size, body, growth-rates, sex ratios, just basic biology,” said Richter.

It’s this information that researchers can make areas of high human activity less attractive for copperheads. Richter says we just have to be more alert with our surroundings.

“Watch where you’re walking. If there is a downed tree over the trail which happens quite a bit, do not step directly over it, step on it. Look on the other side before you do. Just not putting your hands and feet where you cannot see and stepping too closely to an object where they might be hiding for cover,” said Richter.

Richter sais this is a joint research effort that involves EKU, the U.S. Forest Service, The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Louisville Zoo.

Rare teeth from ancient mega-shark found on Australia beach

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AFP)

 

Rare teeth from ancient mega-shark found on Australia beach

August 9, 2018
Fossil enthusiast Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country's famous Great
Fossil enthusiast Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country’s famous Great Ocean Road, when he spotted a giant shark tooth

A rare set of teeth from a giant prehistoric mega-shark twice the size of the great white have been found on an Australian beach by a keen-eyed amateur enthusiast, scientists said Thursday.

Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country’s famous Great Ocean Road some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Melbourne, when he made the find.

“I was walking along the beach looking for fossils, turned and saw this shining glint in a boulder and saw a quarter of the tooth exposed,” he said.

“I was immediately excited, it was just perfect and I knew it was an important find that needed to be shared with people.”

He told Museums Victoria, and Erich Fitzgerald, senior curator of vertebrate palaeontology, confirmed the seven centimetre-long (2.7 inch)  were from an extinct species of predator known as the great jagged narrow-toothed shark (Carcharocles angustidens).

The shark, which stalked Australia’s oceans around 25 million years ago, feasting on small whales and penguins, could grow more than nine metres long, almost twice the length of today’s great white shark.

“These teeth are of international significance, as they represent one of just three associated groupings of Carcharocles angustidens teeth in the world, and the very first set to ever be discovered in Australia,” Fitzgerald said.

He explained that almost all fossils of sharks worldwide were just single teeth, and it was extremely rare to find multiple associated teeth from the same shark.

This is because sharks, who have the ability to regrow teeth, lose up to a tooth a day and cartilage, the material a shark skeleton is made of, does not readily fossilise.

Fitzgerald suspected they came from one individual shark and there might be more entombed in the rock.

So he led a team of palaeontologists, volunteers, and Mullaly on two expeditions earlier this year to excavate the site, collecting more than 40 teeth in total.

Most came from the mega-shark, but several smaller teeth were also found from the sixgill shark (Hexanchus), which still exists today.

Museums Victoria palaeontologist Tim Ziegler said the sixgill teeth were from several different individuals and would have become dislodged as they scavenged on the carcass of the Carcharocles angustidens after it died.

“The stench of blood and decaying flesh would have drawn scavengers from far around,” he said.

“Sixgill sharks still exist off the Victorian coast today, where they live off the remains of whales and other animals. This find suggests they have performed that lifestyle here for tens of millions of years.”

 Explore further: The end-Cretaceous extinction unleashed modern shark diversity

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-08-rare-teeth-ancient-mega-shark-australia.html#jCp

Did cruise ship guards have to kill polar bear?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS AND FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Did cruise ship guards have to kill polar bear? Experts say maybe — but blame climate change

by Kalhan Rosenblatt / 
Image: TOPSHOT-NORWAY-ARCTIC-ANIMALS-POLAR-BEAR

A dead polar bear lies on the beach in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago on July 28, 2018. Norwegian authorities said the polar bear was shot after it attacked and injured a polar guard who was protecting a group of tourists from a cruise ship.Gustav Busch Arntsen / Scanpix via AFP – Getty Images

A German cruise line has received a wave of backlash after its crew members shot and killed a polar bear that had attacked a guard whose job it was to spot and prevent interactions with the animal.

The cruise, a Hapag-Lloyd ship called the MS Bremen, was traveling near the northernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, between mainland Norway and the North Pole, had intended to show the bears off to a group of tourists — and it appears guards on the vessel attempted to scare the bear off before resorting to lethal force, officials said.

Police spokesman Ole Jakob Malmo told the Associated Press that two members of the Bremen’s 12-man crew that set out ahead of tourists on Saturday first tried to ward off the bear “by shouting and making loud noises as well as firing a signal pistol, but to no effect.”

In a statement, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises had said the attack happened when a four-person bear guard team, went on land ahead of the tour.

“One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person,” the statement said. The guard who was injured is in stable condition, according to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises spokesman Moritz Krause.

Experts warn that, as climate change continues to shrink the polar bear’s habitat, the animals are finding themselves face-to-face with humans more often.

“With climate change there’s a lot less sea ice and bears have to spend a lot more time on land. There is definitely more chance of interaction between people and bears,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, senior biologist and senior species expert for the World Wildlife Fund.

“And this is not just for tourism. This is for communities, this is for industry, anybody operating and living in the Arctic has this chance of higher encounters so we have to be prepared in a preventive and proactive manner to prevent conflict with polar bears,” she noted.

Experts told NBC News that in most cases guards have and are able to use a host of methods to deescalate bear encounters before resorting to killing the animal.

“Deterrent methods are extremely successful,” said Brian Horner, the founder and director of LTR Training Solutions in Anchorage, Alaska, which includes bear-guard instruction.

Horner said there are several steps guards can take before killing the animal. A guard who sees a bear can first try to shoot a projectile firework that will cause a bang and scare the animal off, although this requires a precise shot in order to scare the bear backwards rather than forward. Guards also must take care not to start a fire with the flare, Horner said.

Guards can also use a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with blank rounds.

“All it does is make the shotgun make a really big bang. We like those, but our clients don’t like them because it’s 161 decibels, and if you’re not ready, you’re going to have an ear ache,” Horner said.

The next line of defense is rubber bullets before a final non-lethal option: bean bag projectiles. But they can be risky.

“When you’re using bean bags, you’re so close that if it decides it doesn’t like the bean bag, it’s going to run toward you,” Horner said of polar bears.

Klenzendorf said that there are specific rules of engagement that cruise lines are supposed to follow in the region where the killing happened over the weekend, and that polar bear guards are required to limit the chance of interaction between humans and bears. But even to the trained eye, in the Arctic, it’s not an easy task.

“It’s very hard sometimes in the arctic environment to actually see them,” Klenzendorf said of polar bears.

Horner agreed that it can be a challenge for bear guards to spot the animals.

“Polar bears are smart. They’re really smart … and they have to hunt a lot. Polar bears go from curious to interested quickly,” Horner said, adding that “polar bears are sneaky” and likely crept up on the guards.

Fortunately, Klenzendorf said, polar bear guards don’t often end up having fatal interactions with the animals.

“Given that it’s only been the second bear in 20 years of the cruising industry in Svalbard that has been killed, it shows there must be high standards that are being followed for interactions,” she said.

Baby Snake That Lived Among Dinosaurs Found Preserved in Amber

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GIZMODO)

 

Baby Snake That Lived Among Dinosaurs Found Preserved in Amber

The baby snake encased in amber.
Image: Yi Liu

Scientists working in Myanmar have uncovered a nearly 100-million-year-old baby snake encased in amber. Dating back to the Late Cretaceous, it’s the oldest known baby snake in the fossil record, and the first snake known to have lived in a forested environment.

Over 2,900 species of snake exist in the world, and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. These legless reptiles first emerged during the Cretaceous period, and they wasted little time, slithering to virtually every part of the planet by around 100 million years ago. The discovery of a baby snake fossilized in amber shows that early snakes had spread beyond swamps and sea shores, finding their way into forested environments. What’s more, these ancient snakes bore a startling resemblance to those living today—a classic case of evolution not having to fix something that ain’t broke. These findings were published today in Science Advances.

Artist’s conception of Xiaophis myanmarensis.
Image: Yi Liu

This remarkable fossil, along with a second fossilized snake specimen, were discovered at the Angbamo site in Myanmar’s Kachin Province. The second fossilized snake, also preserved in amber, only consisted of bits of scales and skin, but these remnants were clearly snake-like in appearance. Together, the fossils are offering fresh insights into the evolution of snakes and their global reach by the time of the Late Cretaceous.

Using uranium-lead dating, a research team led by Lida Xing from the China University of Geosciences and Michael Caldwell from the University of Alberta dated the fossils to about 99 million years old. A technique called synchrotron x-ray micro–computed tomographyallowed the researchers to get a close look at the tiny specimens inside the amber without having to break them apart.

The second fossil, dubbed DIP-V-15104, contains the discarded skin of a larger individual, featuring both dark and light patterns. This wasn’t enough for the researchers to identify the species.

Detailed x-ray view of the baby snake.
Image: Ming BAI, Chinese Academy of Sciences CAS

The baby snake, which was just a hatchling when it died, measured 47.55 mm (1.8 inches) in length, but it’s missing its head (for reasons unknown). The researchers were able to document nearly 100 vertebrae, along with bits of rib and other anatomy. It’s similar to other Cretaceous snakes, yet unique enough to warrant the designation of a new species, Xiaophis myanmarensis, where “Xiao” is the Chinese word for “dawn,” “ophis” meaning “snake” in Greek, and “myanmarensis” for Myanmar. Snakes have been found preserved in amber before, but this is the first time paleontologists have discovered a baby snake fossilized in this way.

Xiaophis myanmarensis is comparable in size and shape to some baby snakes observed today, like the Asian pipe snake. This fossil provides the earliest direct evidence showing that the growth patterns of snakes have remained unchanged for the past 100 million years. These two snakes are also the first Mesozoic snakes known to have lived in a forest environment, “indicating greater ecological diversity among early snakes than previously thought,” write the researchers in the study. Both fossils were found next to remnants of insects and fragments of plant materials associated with forest floors.

It’s not clear how this hatchling got stuck in a drop of tree sap, or how it lost its head, but its misfortune has turned into our scientific gain.

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