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Bizarre Creatures

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Cynic, Sep 7, 2005.

  1. Cynic

    Cynic Well-Known Member

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    [font=Times New Roman, Times, serif][​IMG][/font]
    By David F. Salisbury
    Published: February 2, 2005

    [font=Times New Roman, Times, serif]T[/font]he star-nosed mole gives a whole new meaning to the term “fast food.”
    A study published this week in the journal Nature reveals that this mysterious mole has moves that put the best magician to shame: The energetic burrower can detect small prey animals and gulp them down with a speed that is literally too fast for the human eye to follow.

    It takes a car driver about 650 milliseconds to hit the brake after seeing the traffic light ahead turn red. In only half that time, the star-nosed mole, operating in the Stygian darkness of its burrow, can detect the presence of a tasty tidbit, such as a small insect larva or tiny worm, determine that it is edible and gulp it down.

    “Most predators take times ranging from minutes to seconds to handle their prey,” says Kenneth C. Catania, assistant professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt, who directed the study of the mole's foraging speed. “The only things I've found that even come close are some species of fish,” he says.

    [​IMG]

    The secret to the star-nosed mole's impressive foraging ability is the star-shaped set of appendages that ring its nose. Its fleshy star makes the mole one of the oddest looking members of the mammal kingdom. Despite its distinctive appearance—and the fact that it ranges from Canada, down through the Eastern United States as far as Georgia—people rarely see star-nosed moles because they live only in marshes and wetlands.

    Catania, working with laboratory assistant Fiona E. Remple, captured the elusive moles' feeding behavior with a high-speed video camera that records 500 frames per second, more than ten times faster than a normal camcorder. Because they live in darkness, the moles have very poor eyesight. So they continually survey their environment by repeatedly touching the objects around them with their star appendages. Timing the moles' actions, the researchers found that after touching a small piece of food it took them only 230 milliseconds to identify it and eat it.
    The researchers were surprised to discover that the unusual mole is not just a super-fast forager, but that it is moving almost at the speed limit set by its brain and nervous system. The star-nosed mole takes about 25 milliseconds to decide whether an object is edible. From this, it takes about 12 milliseconds for a signal to travel from the mole's star appendages to its brain and another five milliseconds for the mole's muscles to respond to signals from its brain.

    This leaves only eight milliseconds for the mole's brain to make an identification. Given the split millisecond timing, it is not surprising that it frequently makes mistakes. In a series of trials where the researchers set out worm sushi for the moles, they found that one third of the time the moles actually started to move in the wrong direction and had to suddenly reverse themselves, a sequence that the researchers call a double-take.

    The researchers conclude that “This inefficient behavior suggests that the moles are operating at, or near, the limit set by the speed which the mole's nervous system can process touch information.”


    [​IMG]


    http://exploration.vanderbilt.edu/news/news_mole.htm
     
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  2. Cynic

    Cynic Well-Known Member

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    Well, this isn't a mammel but oh well.

    -http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/octopus/chameleons.html

    [​IMG]

    When it comes to changing color, octopuses are the ultimate chameleons. In the blink of an eye, they can blend into the background -- or advertise their presence with bursts of bright color. Some even put on light shows with glow-in-the-dark tentacles!

    The secret behind their color capability is special skin cells called chromatophores. Each chromatophore consists of three bags of pigment. By squeezing or expanding the bags, octopuses can change the color displayed by each cell, allowing millions of subtle combinations. And since each cell is controlled separately, they can create remarkably sharp displays. In addition, reflective coatings under the cells help enhance the effect.

    Octopuses don't use this ability just to camouflage themselves. They also use color to display their mood, researchers believe. In many species, for instance, white signals fear, red shows anger, while brown suggests relaxation.

    [​IMG]

    But some octopuses produce even more colorful displays. In 1999, scientists announced that they had accidentally discovered an octopus that has glow-in-the-dark tentacles.

    The capture of the bioluminescent octopus was a big surprise for Edie Widder and Sonke Johnsen of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Florida. Although bioluminescence is common in squid and cuttlefish, it is extremely rare among octopuses. Indeed, it was previously known only from two species, where bioluminescence appears as a glowing ring around the mouths of breeding females -- glow-in-the-dark lipstick, perhaps?


    What made the light-producing abilities of the newly discovered octopus, Stauroteuthis syrtensis, particularly surprising was where the light came from: the suckers. The researcher's first clue that there was something odd about the octopus came when they brought one into a shipboard laboratory during a research cruise in the Gulf of Maine. First, they noticed that its suckers weren't very sucker-like: they didn't stick to anything. Even more surprising, when they turned out the lights, they discovered bright blue light where the suckers should be. Later studies revealed that although the suckers still had sucker-like traits, many of the muscles had been replaced by light-producing cells.

    Widder believes that the change from sucker to light organ may have occurred during colonization of the deep open ocean by an octopus that was originally a shallow-water bottom-dweller. Once the suckers were no longer useful for clinging to the bottom, their only remaining value may have been for communication or attracting prey. In this case, the researchers say, the prey is small crustaceans that may flock to the suckers "like moths to a flame."
    Bioluminescent Octopus:
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

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    Hee, I love star-nosed moles :D They're so cute!
     
  4. EnhancedSpirit

    EnhancedSpirit High Priestess

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    I love Octopi, I wish I culd set up a salt water tank. There is an Octopus at the fish store around the corner. He is hand tamed. And they will give him jars with his food in it, he has to unscrew the top of the lid to get to the shrimp. And he will crawl out of the tank to reach your fingers. He is sooooooooo cute.
     
  5. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Cynic; what I'd like to know is where did you get a picture of my Mum in law?

    :jam: Very interesting!
     
  6. Cynic

    Cynic Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    A mid Cambrian scene, a reconstruction of the famous Burgess Shale site in what is now British Columbia, Canada. In the foreground a swimming Laggania cambria has captured a hapless trilobite. On the sea floor from left to centre respectively are a solitary specimen of the proto-annelid Wiwaxia and three specimens of the lobopod Hallucigenia. Note in both animals the defensive array of spines. Further to the right is the lobopod Aysheaia with its anterior prongs around the mouth, as well as the protoarthropod Opabina, a close relative of Laggania. Descending to the sea floor are two individuals of the basal arachnomorph Marrella. Also visible in this scene are sessile epifauna in the form of the deuterostome Dinomischus (yellow) and the hexactinellid sponge Vauxia (blue). Image and (modified) caption from here. Image originally from The Crucible of Creation by Prof. Simon Conway Morris.
    http://www.palaeos.com/Paleozoic/Cambrian/Cambrian.htm

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    http://www.trilobites.info/species3.html
     
  7. Cynic

    Cynic Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    It's half lion, half tiger, and completely real. Now thanks to a cameo in the 2004 cult movie Napoleon Dynamite, the liger has leaped into the limelight, prompting fans to ask, What are they really like?


    The faintly striped, shaggy-maned creatures are the offspring of male lions and female tigers, which gives them the ability to both roar like lions and chuff like tigers—a supposedly affectionate sound that falls somewhere between a purr and a raspberry.

    Weighing in at about a thousand pounds (450 kilograms) each, they typically devour 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of raw meat in a meal.

    "For the most part they're really laid back," said Jason Hutcherson, vice president of Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, Georgia. "They like to swim and play in the water."

    The drive-through wildlife park is believed to have the country's largest concentration of ligers, housing ten of the massive cats.

    Since 1999 the park has bred its male lion and female tiger many times, producing about 24 cubs.

    Not all of them have been healthy, though.

    "We've had 3 out of 24 that, for all practical purposes, were normal but developed as they grew older some kind of neurological disorder," Hutcherson said.

    Autopsies didn't reveal what caused the cubs to develop "head shakes," so park staff "chalked it up to a genetic defect," Hutcherson said.

    Accredited zoos frown on the practice of mixing two different species and have never bred ligers, says Jane Ballentine, a spokesperson for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, based in Silver Spring, Maryland. "Keeping the two species separate has always been standard procedure," she said.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/08/0804_050804_ligers.html
     
  8. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Wow ! Now that's some beast.:D
     
  9. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Crazy Diamond

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    So many odd creatures. But it seems the odder they are, the more fascinating and beutiful.
     
  10. Flappycat

    Flappycat Well-Known Member

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    Mammal "kingdom"?

    Kay Pee Cee Oh efF Gee esS: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Domestic dogs (sub-species) are lupine (species) canines (genus), which are canid (family), carnivorous (order) mammals (class), and this makes them a type of vertebrate (technically a sub-phylum, but you can't have everything) animal (kingdom).

    By the way, just to clear the air of a pretty common bit of confusion, skunks are mephits! There's a difference between a mephit and a mustelid! My species is going to be the skunk. Something many find interesting about them is that they have specialized glands underneath their tails which they use to spray potential predators with a nasty-smelling musk. The result is that skunks are generally peaceful creatures and tend to be bold, even around humans who make the mistake of leaving their rucks open...or even kept secure with something less than a banksafe, really.

    In any event, their stripes are an interesting piece of adaptation. The reason I find it interesting is that it works both as camouflage and as a flag to keep innocent, heavy-footed herbivores from making the mistake of stepping on them, possibly crushing their bodies. Hidden in the bushes, the skunk disappears, its dark coat vanishing against the earth with its stripes, rather than giving them away, actually helping to break up their outline; however, out in the open, the skunk's highly contrasting colors are an unmistakable and unique flag to any creature that might be wandering about. I feel that these completely contradictory uses of the skunk's markings make it interesting and unique among mammals.
     
  11. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    OK. I'll bite. I -- and just about everyone else -- have always assumed mephits were mustelids. Do I need an update?
    And what's bizarre about skunks? Are'nt scent glands pretty common in mustelids and viverrids?
     
  12. Original Freak

    Original Freak I am the ORIGINAL Freak

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    I think everyone knew this one was coming...I love these little guys.

    The Duckbilled Platypus...

    [​IMG]

    It lays eggs like a bird or a reptile (this makes it a monotreme mammal)
    The males have poison like a snake in spurs on their hind legs. The poison can kill a dog and cause extreme pain in people.
    They have a bill like a duck.
    They have a tail like a beaver.
    They have webbed feet like a duck.
    <LI>The mother's milk comes out through glands on her skin and the babies lick it off of her fur. The platypus is only found in Australia and its island state, Tasmania.
     
  13. Druidus

    Druidus Keeper of the Grove

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    Someone already did hybrids, but I thought I'd add a few of my own:

    Liger:

    [​IMG]

    Tion/Tigon:

    [​IMG]

    Leopon (Male Leapard + Lioness):

    [​IMG]

    Jaglion:

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Druidus

    Druidus Keeper of the Grove

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    Jaguelep (Jaguar and Leopard):

    [​IMG]

    Marozi (Bit of controversy here. No real pictures exist, only paintings. Some believe the Marozi is a natural lion/leopard pairing. Marozi means "Spotted Lion".):
    [​IMG]

    Mutants:

    Blue Tiger (Some reports exist of wild sightings, especially in China):

    [​IMG]

    Black Tiger:

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Cynic

    Cynic Well-Known Member

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    Could a Mod please change the title to "Bizarre Creatures"? I was just going to show mammals, but I got stuck after finding the mole, so I moved onto the octopus and onto species of the cambrian period.
     
  16. Druidus

    Druidus Keeper of the Grove

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    King Cheetah:

    [​IMG]

    The king cheetah is no longer regarded as a mutant, but as evolution at work. The cheetah family, for millenia burdened with a small gene pool due to an ancient plague, are finally splitting again. This is a very recent change, and the darker patterning allows king cheetahs better camouflage in less open areas. King cheetahs tend to prefer more wooded areas, while normal cheetahs stick to the plains.
     
  17. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

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    Sorry Cynic... I tried to change it but it won't let me. :eek: I think supermods can...
     
  18. Cynic

    Cynic Well-Known Member

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    Doh! Oh well. Thanks though.
     
  19. Mister Emu

    Mister Emu Emu Extraordinaire
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    done.
     
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  20. Cynic

    Cynic Well-Known Member

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    These are the creepy crawlies and monsters of the deep you've been waiting to see. Starting with the first really deep ocean zone - the Mesopelagic...

    Life in the Deep

    [​IMG]

    Many species of deep ocean fish have special adaptations to living in extremely high pressure, low light conditions.
    Viper fish(Mesopelagic - found at 80-1600 meters - about a mile down) are some of the most wicked looking fish dredged up from the depths. Some of them are black as night all over with light organs (called photophores) in strategic places on their bodies, including one on a long dorsal fin that serves as a lure for the fish it preys upon. Some viperfish (and many other deep ocean fish species) don't have any pigment (color) at all - they're "see through". They also have enlarged eyes, presumably for gathering as much light as possible where there is little or no light at all. The light organs create lights by using a chemical process called bioluminescence. Other deep ocean fish, such as the the gulper eel have a hinged skull, which can rotate upward to swallow large prey. They also have large stomachs which can stretch to accommodate a fish much larger than itself. The gulper eel is particularly well-known for its impossibly large mouth - big enough to get its mouth around (and swallow!) creatures much bigger than itself. Fish that live down here must adapt to a very low food supply, eating only "scraps" that sink down from above, or sometimes eating each other.


    http://www.extremescience.com/deepcreat.htm


    [​IMG]



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