True or False? Weird Creature Features

True Or False?   I love reading weird creature features, oddball things in press releases and scientific articles.  Must be from watching too much PBS.   It’s creatures gone wild.  If you can separate fact from fiction leave your comments at the end of the articles.

SQUID JIGGIN’ – Scientists have gained a rare glimpse into the sex life of the mysterious deep-sea squid.  Squid are bizarre creatures; I’ve seen them while snorkeling.

By studying footage taken by underwater vehicles, US researchers have found that this rarely seen creature will often engage in same-sex mating.

They believe this is because encounters with potential mates in the dark depths are rare, and the squid may be unable to tell the sexes apart.

The species that was observed is called Octopoteuthis deletron, a tentacled beast that measures about 12cm-long (5in), with impressive hook-lined arms. It was recorded between depths of 400m and 800m (1,300-2,600ft).

Until now, little was known about this creature’s sex life, apart from the fact that the male uses a long, penis-like organ to deposit spermatophores, complex structures containing millions of sperm, onto a female, which are then absorbed into her tissue.

But by studying footage of this deep-sea squid, they were able to find out much more.

Indiscriminate insemination

“We did not observe two animals mating, but we found evidence of mating – sperm packages on males and females.  Going through hours of video, we found that both males and females carry sperm packages.

Octopoteuthis deletron (MBARI) The sperm packages can be seen as white dots on the the dorsal arms of this female

“As the locations of sperm packages were similar in both sexes, we concluded that males mate with males and females.”

The finding surprised the team.  The researchers found equal numbers of female and male squid that had had sperm packages deposited on them, indicating that same-sex mating was as frequent as encounters between squid of the opposite sex.  The number of sperm packages that had been deposited also suggested that these animals were promiscuous, the researchers said.

This unusual behavior, they said, may be explained by the fact the squid is boosting its chances of successfully passing on its genes in the challenging environment it lives in.

In the Royal Society paper the team writes: “In the deep, dark habitat where O. deletron lives, potential mates are few and far between.

Following the study, the researchers now hope to use genetic techniques to determine the paternity of the sperm packages, so as to find out whether more than one male is trying to deposit its sperm on the males and females.

 

WEASELS Derogatory terms such as weasel-faced, weasely bastard, weaseling your way in, may go the way of the Dodo bird due to recent discoveries that weasels are successful breeders and may be much smarter than dogs.  “The stigma attached to being weasel-faced may quickly be a memory,” said a hopeful spokesman for the Plastic Surgeons Society of America.

SHARKS – Six Woebegong sharks will be tagged with monitoring devices, allowing scientists to follow their movements around Lake Woebegone in spite of rabid protests by lake users.  Leading the study is Dr. Brandon Wheter.  “It’s the classic chicken-and egg question.  Our project will prove which did come first – the lake or the shark.  Anyhow, they don’t bite.”

PORCUPINES – Porcupines have been crossing roads and becoming road-kill since automobiles have been invented.  Generations of these needly creatures have simply not learned, putting natural selection theories in question.  As a consequence, the species is being devastated as more vehicles take to the road.  In a baffling turnaround, PETA plans to actually spend some money on animal protection by breeding porcupines with a super-porcupine gene that has extremely sharp needles.  When a vehicle tire hits a porcupine, the tire will explode, likely causing an accident.  The accident report is then red-flagged to PETA lawyers where a class-action suit for animal cruelty plans to be filed against car manufacturers.

“We hope to bring those responsible for the carnage to justice,” said a PETA spokesperson.  “There are thousands upon thousands porcupines run over annually.  If it was any other animal it would be considered a form of genocide.”

An irate Ford Motor Company official said, “We were hoping a behavior modification program for these creatures would be instituted first.  Now we have no choice but to install better tires, adding to consumer costs.”

DOG TELEGRAPH – Acoustic researchers and thousands of volunteers in Canada and the U.S. have collaborated in a ground-breaking four day study to prove the ‘dog telegraph’ theory. Most people are aware if one dog barks in your neighborhood another will quickly begin.  It was widely believed the barking stopped after a few minutes.  However, the barking simply went on out of earshot of human hearing range.  In the project, volunteers equipped with recording equipment spread out nationwide to record times and locations.  Data was inputted into computers and scientists were stunned to find barking continued in a ‘chain-like’ manner, sometimes at the speed of sound.  Due to dog’s excellent hearing they can easily pick up distant sounds.   Oddly, when the barks echoed to the Mexican border the barking inexplicably stopped.  A Mexican government official in Tijuana stated, “The Americans did not allow us to participate in the project.”

One dog telegraph lasted the entire four days driving all testers crazy. Occasionally, ‘circle-pattern barking’ returned to the initiator who responded with a different frequency and a short burst in acknowledgement.  The next step is attempting to translate these bursts by tone, volume, and length.   Habitual initiators may be tracked down and muzzled.  “Perhaps, someday, we will be able to all have a peaceful night sleep,” said a volunteer who chose not to be identified.

FISH CONSERVATION BREAKTHROUGH – Overfishing, by-catch waste, and fishing for banned species are serious issues finally being enforced.  The ingestion of micro cameras with transponders into various species of fish via their food sources is state-of-the-art technology.   When fish are caught, the equipment is regurgitated due to differences in water pressure, into nets, on boat decks, or on cleaning tables, and activated.  The micro-cameras send pictures to satellites of fishermen and the ships.  With enough cameras documenting a catch site the pictures are ID’d by International Fish Police for enforcement.  Fishermen involved in the test project were surprised and concerned at the results and “vowed to fillet any participating fish.”

TAGGING – Creatures of all types have been tagged by scientists for at least fifty years now and a disturbing trend is emerging.  In the animal world, procreation is dependent on males displays of colors or specific behavior to females in order to select a breeding partner.  Of all the methods of tracking animals, the creature with an ear tag, radio collar, or leg bands now appears to be winning the prized mate.  A peacock with a few feathers

missing, or a rocky mountain ram losing a ritual head-butting previously had no chance in hell of mating.

With the simple addition of a man-made device these creatures are now seen as better prospects, leaving the strongest and best breeders ‘standing at the altar’ so to speak.  The tags, or what have you, may be seen as status symbols in the species. The worry is that feeble creatures now can successfully breed, much like pierced males creeping around Mary Kay conventions.  “It’s a worrisome reverse-Darwinian slide,” said Dr. Gloria Rasging of the Animal Behavior Institute.  A move is afoot to replace tagging with distinctive fur-trimming and/ or fur dyeing.

WOLF in sheep’s clothing – timber wolves in Banff Park were drugged and dressed in sheep’s clothing and monitored for several months.  Their packs at first thought them strange but after some time the dressers assumed a specific behavior during long winter nights.  Their behavior demonstrates that wolves, intelligent mammals, do enjoy an occasional distraction.  “We don’t understand it yet, considering they can’t dance very well,” said a Parks Canada employee.

ZEBRAS  – Only three types of Zebras exist.  Each breed has specific striping patterns.  During a soccer game in Kenya, referees were stampeded by hostile zebras.  The referees, unable to obtain proper soccer referee uniforms, wore striped NFL linesman patterns and were forced to flee for their lives into bleachers.  Locals, familiar with zebras, believe this ‘fourth striping pattern’ could have stirred the beasts into a mating frenzy.  The referees, unwilling to give up the free shirts are now protecting themselves by wearing hockey pants obtained in a container shipment of miscellaneous clothing from a Canadian charity.  A league spokesman said, “It wasn’t their best officiated game, but they didn’t deserve this.”

 

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 31 (UPI) — A South African woman said her pet, Brullie a giant bullfrog, has become the first frog in the world to be outfitted with an artificial leg bone.  Anne Mearns, 62, said she adopted the 25-year-old Brullie after he was injured by a dog near her home outside of Johannesburg in 1984.

“Frogs are famous for their legs, so the thought of Brullie being left lame broke my heart. I knew without surgery he would never move again, so I to rushed to the vet and begged him to operate,” said Mearns, a wildlife expert. “The vet eventually agreed operating free of charge.” He  cut open Brullie’s leg and inserted a tiny steel rod over the snapped right leg bone.

“It was a nervous few hours while we waited for him to come around after the op, but he’s healing and hobbling about the garden. The x-rays suggest he’ll be as good as new,” Mearns said.

Anne Meares, Darling’s Restaurant, the veterinarian, a steel manufacturer are being sued by Edward Alben’s estate.  Mr. Alben choked and died on what was assumed to be a frog leg, but what was actually the steel pin in Bullie.   “Being at the top of the food chain has its risks,” said a surgeon, munching on the delicacy in another restaurant.  “Poor Bullie, no one loved him but me,” said Ann.

WHALING NEWS – The Japanese research vessel Shonan Maru No. 2, which has been monitoring Sea Shepherd activities in the Antarctic was subject to attack today by Bob Barker, former game show host and anti-whaler.  The Bob Barker attack started at about 2030 hrs. and lasted until 2220.  Bob deployed a zodiac boat repeatedly toward the Shonan Maru No. 2. Activists with him on board the zodiac boat hurled smoke bombs and deployed ropes aiming to disable the Japanese vessel’s rudder and propeller.  In a statement to the Japanese whalers from the war room of his Zodiac, Mr. Barker said, “Come on down.  Remember Truk Island.”

FALSE KILLER WHALES and KILLER WHALES/ORCAS don’t meet that often in the wild but when they do it can be a bloody spectacle.  Marine biologists aren’t quite sure why but they strongly assume the Killer Whales are striving to protect ‘their reputation’.  Akin to identity theft, the Killer Whales resent encroachments on their territory and status in the oceans.  “Elvis impersonators aren’t always appreciated in our world either,” said a biologist.

BELUGAS – Amazing underwater photos show beluga whales gathering around divers at Arctic rehabilitation farm.  These whales are not endangered but under threat from pollution and loss of habitat.   Many are so badly toxified that dead ones are classified as toxic waste according to EPA standards.  Appearing at a rehabilitation station may be a plea for help.  Workers at the station are now forced to develop eight-step programs and various diet changes for the creatures.  “We caused the problem and we must provide programs to detoxify them.”

SNAILS – The iron-encrusted shell of a snail that lives near deep-sea volcanic vents could inspire better armor for soldiers and vehicles, researchers say.  The scaly-foot snail, discovered in 2003 near hydrothermal jets on the floor of the Indian Ocean, has a unique three-layered shell that withstands forces that would break other snail shells.

The U.S. Army and Department of Defense is pleased with the research so far and will continue to fund it.  General Forest, heading the project says, “Getting through a battle unscathed is the goal of all military men. Whether sacrificing speed is a good trade off, remains to be seen.”

A military critic begs to differ.  “Now troops will have to be equipped with special boots to follow vehicles through the resulting slime paths.  It just never ends.”

MARINE  MARATHON — On 95 acres of ocean floor near the Seven Mile Bridge, a seagrass meadow damaged by boaters is Exhibit A in an environmental group’s project.  An initial report on the restoration work at Knights Key Bank — the foundation’s pilot project funded with $45,000 in private donations — shows some success repairing the important marine habitat.

But the program, is being criticized by other environmental groups that carbon footprints due to grass mowing would mitigate any marine benefits.  “Until we wean enough teenagers from video games to cut the grass the project is doomed.”

FISH – The trendy spa treatment of feet-feeding fish may be over.  Customers dip their feet into a tank of fish that eat dead skin cells has burgeoned world-wide.  The treatment, which allows Garra rufa fish, imported from Malaysia, to nibble on dead skin and costs $30 for about 20 minutes, and “tickles”.   Unfortunately, these fish are related to piranhas and ‘rogue’ genes in the species have begun to surface.  Injuries resulting from affected fish have been anywhere from lacerations to traumatic toe devouring.  One victim said, “…the ‘tickling sensation’ associated with the treatment grew to that pain/pleasure sensation.  Before I knew it, I saw my toenail floating.” Another rogue fish bit a man’s private parts after he stepped in the water naked at a hot spring club in Dalian, Liaoning province.  The man, who had visited the spa for a “special water treatment”, sat in the water for half an hour without realizing the special fish were nibbling on his privates instead of the dead skin.  The manager of the club saw the man bleeding as he stepped out of the water and rushed him to a nearby hospital.

TAGGED ANIMALS – Another issue looms regarding tagging and drugging of animals.  Seems research programs that include being drugged by wildlife researchers can be a nightmare, causing them permanent harm.  Being abducted, poked, and prodded can result in undergoing severe PTSD, wacky stories, and ostracing in humans as well as animals.  “They can never truly be part of the herd after what we do to them,” said an unnamed researcher, who claims he was once abducted by Boorania Three aliens.

FISH LAW – A Danish television journalist was found guilty today of killing 12 guppy fish and violating animal protection laws by pouring shampoo into an aquarium for a report, the Glostrup court said.

Lisbeth Koelster, a television presenter on the Danish public channel DR1, said she poured a “very diluted” amount of shampoo into a fish tank on a 2004 episode of the consumer affairs show she hosted to demonstrate the level of toxic material in a brand of anti-dandruff shampoo.  After three days, all but one of the fish were dead, the court said in its ruling.  A veterinary practitioner who saw the show pressed charges for causing unnecessary suffering to animals, an offense under Danish law.

Judge Thomas Lohse said Koelster had “deliberately committed an act of cruelty to animals” and violated animal protection laws. He acquitted her however of violating laws on experimenting on animals.  But the judge said he had decided not to hand down any sentence since an unreasonable amount of time, “four-and-a-half years,” had passed between the date the complaint was filed and the trial.

“The allegations are this experiment caused the fish’s fear and suffering … but expert witnesses told the court on May 12 that this was not the case,” he said.
Koelster, known for her specialty fish breeds claims her latest fish mutations are Koi with hair-like’ cresting.  “If the stuff worked, I planned to invite several buyers over and my fish had to look their best.”

MARINE TLC -Tourists feed fish milk from the bottle. Fish crowd round as they battle each other to be bottle fed from tourists at a Chinese theme park. Visitors to the Nanjing People’s Park pay five yuan to feed the fish a milk mixture.  Bottle feeding is usually associated with young mammals and it is highly unusual for fish to feed in this way. Manatees, also known as Sea Cows are being brought in to supplement the fish’s diet and growing demand for milk.  “The Sea Cow is nubah-one and a vewy solitawy animal.  Perhaps feeding the fish can benefit both species,” said the park operator.

WHALE PENIS – In the competition among luxury cars makers the latest exotic option is whale penis leather seats.  Ridiculous? Bad taste?   I guess if you’re some billionaire oligarch with no taste, it can work. Dartz car manufacturer doesn’t think so.  “Here at Dartz, we know what women want.”   This drew protest from many environmental groups including Greenpeaceand the WWF.  PETA’s  Pamela Anderson had no comment.

MORE FISH – The “humanoid” carp are attracting attention in the town of Chongju in the center of the country where they live in a small pond.  They are believed to be hybrid descendants of two carp species – the carp and the leather carp, also known as a tangerine fish.  Both fish are females and more than three feet long. They appear to have distinctive human noses, eyes and lips.

“My fish have been getting more and more human for the past couple of years,” the owner said.

Demand is certain to grow among aquarium hobbyists who are attempting to breed fish faces with those of relatives or friends.  “My father fainted when he saw the one that looks like my departed mother.  She drowned three years ago.”

AGAIN WITH THE FISH – This is the second time in recent months that carp have made headlines in Asia. Last November a shoal of the fish in Changsha, in China’s Hunan Province turned on a duck who landed on their lake looking for food.  The Koi carp took exception to the intruder and fought back, bunching together into a seething mass to assert their authority, forcing the duck to fly away.  Koi carp are breed for their fanciful colors and fins.  Ducks, unlike other creatures, cannot discern danger from bright color displays.  Biologists plan to post warning signs around the lake.

SEAL – “Bangwuli,” a popular sea lion that has his own show at Seoul Zoo, is about to retire, zoo officials said Friday. According to his trainers, Bangwuli is showing a lack of concentration and often ignores orders during the show. The sea lion is 20 years old out of a life expectancy of up to 25 years.
The zoo has decided to cancel all his shows.  Park Chang-hi, the trainer who has been with Bangwuli for five years, was quoted as saying, “I suspect my colleague, Bum Ho, who will retire next year has been spending too much time with Bangwuli.”

Mother’s Milk – Researchers at China Agricultural University have developed cows that can produce milk with same benefits of human breast milk.

A herd of 200 bovines have been genetically modified by State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the Beijing-based university, and their milk, which has the same “characteristics” of human milk, will be available for consumption in two years, with a mass-market projection of ten years.

Li Ning, director of the Laboratories tells The Times of India that the development “will make the “healthy protein contained in human milk…affordable for ordinary consumers.”

Human breast-milk contains antibodies, and the perfect proportions of protein, fat, carbs, minerals, and vitamins (except D and K) required for a human infant to grow, but its value for adult humans has not been proven, however, however, it has been used to boost the immune system of adults for thousands of years (ancient Egyptians mixed it with honey and used it as a medicinal elixer).

Aside from the health benefits, though, there’s the matter of taste: “The [genetically modified] milk tastes stronger than normal milk. Within 10 years, people will be able to pick up these human-milk-like products at the supermarket.”   Is that mooing I hear from the baby’s room?

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