This is an artist’s reconstruction of an extinct marsupial lion — Thylacoleo carnifex. Artwork: Peter Schouten
Most species of gigantic animals that once roamed Australia had disappeared by the time people arrived, a major review of the available evidence has concluded.The research challenges the claim that humans were primarily responsible for the demise of the megafauna in a proposed “extinction window” between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, and points the finger instead at climate change. Read more
If you were a rat living in a completely virtual world like in the movie The Matrix, could you tell? Maybe not, but scientists studying your brain might be able to. Today, researchers report that certain cells in rat brains work differently when the animals are in virtual reality than when they are in the real world. Read more
Specifically the orangutans were using sticks to pry open pulpy fruits that have “Plexiglas needles” capable of delivering a painful jab covering them. Using the tools, the orangutans were getting past handling the prickly husk and into the nutritious fruit. From an anthropological viewpoint, tool use represents an aspect of culture, since the entire group participates in a behavior that has developed over time. One unique thing to clarify is that only Sumatran orangutans have been observed to use tools, not orangutans from Borneo. Read more
Two-Headed Shark Courtesy of Patrick Rice, Shark Defense/Florida Keys Community College
This is a shark fetus, with two heads. Sharks, according to Michael Wagner, MSU assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife, who confirmed the discovery, usually have only one head (I’m paraphrasing). Read more
Three college students were filming a short movie as a class project at Lough Foyle, a large tidal estuary in County Donegal, Ireland, when something very odd moved through the water in front of them, UPI reports.
“Looks like we have our own Loch Ness monster!” Conall Melarkey, a student at North West Regional College in Derry, Ireland, wrote in his posting of the video clip to YouTube.
Two Sabertooth cats circle a rhinoceros carcass in an underground cave. Artwork Mauricio Anton
A cavern in Spain may have lured ancient carnivores to their deaths by offering the promise of food and water, new research suggests.
The new study, published May 1 in the journal PLOS ONE, may explain how the carcasses of several carnivore species, including saber-toothed cats and “bear dogs,” wound up in an underground cavern millions of years ago. Read more
“Basically, the sperm whales had huddled together like logs, creating a protective wall against the orcas.” — Shawn Heinrichs
If killer whales lived on land, we’d be in trouble. Highly intelligent and social, the black-and-white marine mammals hunt in packs, launching coordinated attacks on other whales and sharks, and even wave-wash seals off Antarctic ice floats.
On April 18, a half-dozen orcas battled a pod of sperm whales off the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The unusual encounter is one of fewer than a dozen such recorded conflicts — and the first observed in the Indian Ocean. Read more
In a new book, Marina Chapman is claiming that after being kidnapped and left in the Colombian jungle, she was kept alive by capuchin monkeys, surviving on their discarded fruit and nuts, forgetting her name, and living as a monkey for years. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.