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A Fossil Snake With Four Legs. Snakes can famously disarticulate their jaws, and open their mouths to extreme widths. David Martill from the University of Portsmouth did his best impression of this trick while walking through the Bürgermeister Müller Museum in Solnhofen, Germany. He was pointing out the museum’s fossils to a group of students. “And then my jaw just dropped,” he recalls. He saw a little specimen with a long sinuous body, packed with ribs and 15 centimetres from nose to tail. It looked like a snake. But it was stuck in unusual rock, with the distinctive characteristics of the Brazilian Crato Formation, a fossil site that dates to the early Cretaceous period.

Snake fossils had been found in that period but never that location, and in South America but never that early. “And then, if my jaw hadn’t already dropped enough, it dropped right to the floor,” says Martill. “I looked even closer—and my jaw was already on the floor by now—and I saw that it had tiny little front legs!” It hunted there, too. Earth - Journey inside a giant spider. Monstrous dinosaur was larger than a T-rex, and a swimmer who ate sharks. New fossils found in the Moroccan Sahara shed new light on the menacing dinosaur Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. A study published in Science revealed that 95 million years ago, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was an adept swimmer and spent most of its time in water, devouring sharks and other marine animals.

This 50-foot dinosaur is the largest known carnivorous dinosaur — 9 feet longer than the ferocious T-rex — and weighed in at 44,000 pounds, according to Discovery News. This dinosaur would have been recognized by more than size. It sported a large multicolored sail, which jutted out from the animal’s back. “The sail must have played an important function — after all, this is a very, very big thing to carry around on your back!”

The conical teeth, Ibrahim pointed out, are also odd compared to those of other carnivorous dinosaurs. Other strange features included crocodile-like skull, small nostrils, bone structure that suggest aquatic life, stubby legs and long feet. Co-operative birds motivated by family ties. Co-operative birds motivated by family ties 7 July 2014, by Alex Peel Extraordinary co-operation by sociable weavers, which work together to build the largest nests in the world, is motivated by family ties, say scientists. New research, published in Ecology Letters, says the birds, which are found throughout southern Africa, are more likely to maintain the communal part of the nest if they have relatives living nearby.

Dr Rene van Dijk from the University of Sheffield, one of the study's authors, compares the scenario to having lodgers to stay in the family home. 'If the lodger isn't related to the family, he or she may pay rent, but they will not care too much about the upkeep of the house,' he says. 'However, if the lodger is a known family member, then you would expect them to maintain the house which he or she may stay in for a longer period and possibly inherit. Examples of co-operation can be seen throughout nature, no more so than in our own species. Sociable weaver bird and nest. Zebras for the win! Africa's longest land migration discovered. Morgan Erickson-Davis, May 29, 2014 With food and water scarce in many parts of Africa, many species migrate long-distances in order to survive.

A new study published in the journal, Oryx has found a new record-breaker for the continent’s longest tracked terrestrial migration: a huge group of zebras that traveled a total distance of 500 kilometers (300 miles). The journey took place between the Chobe River in Namibia and Nxai Pan National Park in Botswana, and was monitored by researchers from the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Elephants Without Borders (EWB), and Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The team placed GPS collars on eight adult plains zebras (Equus quagga), a widespread species known to travel great distances, and followed their journey over two years. Many of Africa’s other mammal species are famous for their migrations. Researchers collar the zebras tracked for the study. Citations: R. Wolves of the High Arctic – Research on the Arctic Wolves of Ellesmere Island. Nature Blows My Mind! Amazing leaf-mimicking animals. One of the best strategies for avoiding being eaten by predators is to hide in plain sight. But there's camouflage and there is camouflage. These species go beyond just blending into the background, they practically become one with it, disguising themselves so well as leaves that you could spend hours looking at a tree without realizing you're looking at more than just the tree itself!

Leaf-mimicking insects Insects are old hats at mimicking leaves to fool predators. In fact, the strategy may have begun as far back at 47 million years ago and hasn't changed a whole lot since then. After all, if you've already made yourself look like a leaf, the bulk of the evolutionary work is done. Sonja Wedmann of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat in Bonn, Germany, says, "This absence of evolutionary change is an outstanding example of morphological and, probably, behavioral stasis. " DiscoveringNewSpecies/CC BY 3.0 Hudson Museum of Natural History/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Adriatica! Anne Toal/CC BY 3.0. Why Dragonflies Would Make Brilliant Spies. From Wildlife Promise Dragonflies are the spies of the natural world. They already have the deceptive cover. They are not dragons. They aren’t even flies. These fascinating creatures have been around for over 350 million years, evolving impressive abilities & sharp senses to take over the world.

Vision: They Can Always See You An Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly. Have you ever tried to catch a dragonfly? Agility: They Are Masters of Flight Dragonflies are like helicopters. Efficiency: They Hunt with Accuracy A lion might only capture a quarter of the prey it pursues. Speed: They Fly Extremely Fast National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Gail Norwood managed to capture this rare in-focus image of a dragonfly in flight. Dragonflies are among the fastest flying insect in the world, clocking speeds of over 35 mph! Recruitment: Agent Training Begins Young Dragonflies begin their life in the larval stage, as an aquatic nymph. Dragonflies vs. Attract Dragonflies to Your Garden.

Wolves and Keystone Species

Discovery of First Pallas' Cat in Nepal | Snow Leopard ConservancySnow Leopard Conservancy. Pallas’ cat in Nepal (photo: NTNC-ACAP/SLC) Exciting camera trap images from our Nepal team shows Pallas’ cats, otherwise known as Manul, are living in Nepal! Even though they live in grassland and mountain steppe areas throughout Asia, until these images were taken, presence of the Pallas’ cat in Nepal was never suspected or even thought about.

In fact, there isn’t even a Nepali word for this species of cat. When Snow Leopard Conservancy program coordinator, Bikram Shrestha, discovered the images on camera traps that were set to capture data on snow leopards he was unsure what the strange cat was. With the input of small cat specialists Angie Appel, Jim Sanderson and Professor Karan Shah of Nepal’s Natural History Museum confirmation was made that it was a Pallas’ cat. An excerpt from Bikram’s report: Among eleven camera-trap locations, cameras installed in Aangumie Lapche and Praken, both locations above the main village of Manang, captured images of the Pallas’ cat. Unintended Discovery. 13 'How did you get that?' wildlife photos from Tin Man Lee. All photos: Tin Man Lee Tin Man Lee is a wildlife photographer who has racked up the awards in recent years, including the North American Nature Photography Association Top 10, and NANPA Expression magazine cover, as well as winning this year's grand prize in the highly prestigious Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International.

Looking at his images, it's no wonder they earn such recognition. His talent for capturing emotionally compelling moments of natural beauty is on par with the best professionals. Though wildlife photography is technically Lee's hobby, it is apparent that he pours his passion into this pastime. Here's how Lee makes his images, from the preparation and gear to the vision he puts into each image, to the goals he has for his wildlife photo work. MNN: How do you prepare for a trip to hang out with and photograph wildlife? Tin Man Lee: Wildlife photography is mostly unpredictable. What are your goals for photographing wildlife? Emotion is about empathy. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission > News > Blogs > NCWRC Blog - The Legendary Cat of the Mountains and the Swamps is Just That, a Legend.

Oct 31 Written by: 10/31/2013 10:56 AM Written by: Brad Howard Have you seen this picture in an email or on Facebook lately? We have! This photo has been passed around to numerous folks over the last month with claims that it has been taken in various locations across North Carolina. More recently, some attention was given to a few reports of “a black panther” in Stokes County. So, any report of a “black panther” or a “large black cat” is most likely mistaken identity since only the above-mentioned cats have a black phase and only one of those cats is native, the bobcat. The truth is the photo that is being spread around is of a rare melanistic phase leopard that is held in captivity in South Africa. Reports of large cats across North Carolina are quite common but no physical evidence exists to confirm any of these reports and most can be attributed to mistaken identity and of course, the potential of someone’s illegal exotic pet escaping does exist.

Will they return to the state one day? 22 Bizzarre Animals You Probably Didn’t Know Exist. Honey badgers and more: camera traps reveal wealth of small carnivores in Gabon (photos) Gabon has lost most of its big meat-eaters including lions, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs (although it's still home to a lot of leopards), but a new study focuses on the country's lesser-known species with an appetite for flesh. For the first time, researchers surveyed Gabon's small carnivores, including 12 species from the honey badger (Mellivora capensis) to the marsh mongoose (Atilax paludinosus). The team—made up of scientists from Panthera, the Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Stirling, and other institutions—utilized camera trap photos from 16 different studies, comprehensive field data, and visits to booming bushmeat markets to find out what small carnivores are still found in Gabon.

During the work, the researchers documented two species—the common slender mongoose (Herpestes sanguineus) and Cameroon cusimanse (Crossarchus platycephalus)—never before recorded in Gabon. They also greatly widened the known range for the Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon). Blue Butterflies ID Guide | Butterfly Rainforest Exhibit | Florida Museum. Climate change endangers elephants. Climate change endangers elephants 31 January 2013, by Harriet Jarlett By making new use of historical records, scientists have shown that climate change could have a greater impact on Myanmar's elephants' dwindling numbers than previously thought. Calves are most at risk from rising temperatures Hannah Mumby from the University of Sheffield, who led the study, found that the already endangered species faces further struggle as even the slightest temperature change can lower their chances of survival dramatically.

Climate change leaves the animals at risk of drought, disease and death as the heat causes freshwater supplies to dwindle, infectious diseases to spread faster and brings with it one of the biggest killers of elephants in Myanmar - heat stroke. The study found that elephants thrive at an optimum temperature of 23oC, and deviations from this leave them more vulnerable. She continues: 'We found that the youngest elephants, the calves, are quite susceptible to extremes.

Interesting? Hong Kong traders dry thousands of shark fins on roofs to avoid scrutiny. Jan. 3, 2013 - A worker collects pieces of shark fins dried on the rooftop of a factory building in Hong Kong.AP HONG KONG – Shark fin traders in Hong Kong have laid out thousands of fins on rooftops in what appears to be a move to escape public scrutiny of their industry. Thousands of the freshly cut fins were seen blanketing the roof of an industrial building in Hong Kong this week. Environmental campaigner Gary Stokes, who took the first photos of the drying on Jan. 1, said Friday that the traders usually dried their fins on the sidewalks. He suspected that the traders went upstairs to avoid pressure from concerned passers-by. Hong Kong is the world center of the shark fin industry, accounting for about half of global trade. Shark fins are popular in Asia where delicacies such shark's fin soup, which is mostly tasteless, are served at special occasions such as wedding banquets. Stokes said many of the shark fins coming into Hong Kong were being shipped to mainland China.

Feds crack alleged narwhal tusk-smuggling ring. Oregon's ban on killing wolves spurs nonlethal options. GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - As long as wolves have been making their comeback, biologists and ranchers have had a decidedly Old West option for dealing with those that develop a taste for beef: Shoot to kill. But for the past year, Oregon has been a "wolf-safe" zone, with ranchers turning to more modern, nonlethal ways to protect livestock. While the number of wolves roaming the state has gone up, livestock kills haven't - and now conservation groups are hoping Oregon can serve as a model for other Western states working to return the predator to the wild. "Once the easy option of killing wolves is taken off the table, we've seen reluctant but responsible ranchers stepping up," said Rob Klavins of the advocacy group Oregon Wild. "Conflict is going down. And wolf recovery has got back on track.

" The no-kill ban has been in place since September 2011. At the end of 2012, wolf numbers in the state had risen to 46 from 29 in 2011, according to state fish and wildlife officials. Documents Major Decline in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Last Large Forest Elephant Population. Forest elephants could be extinct in DRC within a decade if current slaughter continues NEW YORK ( Feb. 28, 2013 ) — The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) largest remaining forest elephant population, located in the Okapi Faunal Reserve (OFR), has declined by 37 percent in the last five years, with only 1,700 elephants now remaining, according to wildlife surveys by WCS and DRC officials.

WCS scientists warn that if poaching of forest elephants in DRC continues unabated, the species could be nearly extinguished from Africa’s second largest country within ten years. According to the latest survey, 5,100, or 75 percent, of the reserve’s elephants have been killed in the last 15 years. These numbers are particularly shocking as the OFR is considered the best protected conservation area in DRC. According to WCS, the primary reason for the recent decline in forest elephant numbers is ivory poaching.

In the early 1990s, before the civil war of 1996-2003, DRC was relatively calm. ‎ Common moth can hear higher frequencies than any other animal on Earth. A common little moth turns out to have the best ears in the animal kingdom. According to a new study in Biology Letters, the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) is capable of hearing frequencies up to 300,000 hertz (300kHz), which is 15 times the frequency humans can hear at their prime, around 20 kHz. "We are extremely surprised to find that the moth is capable of hearing sound frequencies at this level and we hope to use the findings to better understand air-coupled ultrasound," James Windmill co-author of the paper said.

"The use of ultrasound in air is extremely difficult as such high frequency signals are quickly weakened in air. Other animals such as bats are known to use ultrasound to communicate and now it is clear that moths are capable of even more advanced use of sound. " The researchers believe the greater wax moth, which is the only species in its genus Galleria, may have evolved such extreme hearing in order to avoid their major predator: bats.

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