Nat Geo – In an Exorcist-style display of flexibility, owls can rotate their necks a maximum of 270 degrees without breaking blood vessels or tearing tendons.
To the untrained eye, it looks like a case of movie magic, but scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine now have data to explain the eerie skill that has baffled birders for years. (Check out National Geographic’s backyard bird identifier.)
Whereas people and other animals can simply move their eyes to follow an object or use peripheral vision to scan a room, owls must turn their heads for the same effect. These birds have fixed eye sockets, which means their eyeballs can’t rotate, forcing them to stretch their necks—a seemingly supernatural feat.“In the case of birds, their systems are designed to handle that amount of movement,” said Eric Forsman, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service, who was not part of the study.More
Rigged with a live camera, the Tundra Buggy roves the tundra in Churchill, Manitoba, tracking polar bears and other native species during daylight hours. Best viewed from 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. central time, this footage is brought to you courtesy of Explore.org, Polar Bears International, and Frontiers North Adventures. It is part of explore.org’s Pearls of the Planet series of live cams created to help people fall in love with the world again.
National Geographic –
Sarah, an 11-year-old cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo, set a new world speed record this summer during a shoot for National Geographic magazine. She first earned the title of world’s fastest land mammal in 2009 when she covered 100 meters in 6.13 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 6.19 seconds set by a male South African cheetah named Nyana in 2001. On June 20, 2012, Sarah shattered all 100-meter times when she posted 5.95 seconds. By comparison, Sarah’s 100-meter run was nearly four seconds faster than the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, whose fastest time for the same distance is 9.58 seconds. Sarah’s top speed was clocked at 61 mph.
Her run was photographed for a November 2012 National Geographic magazine article that will include never-before-seen high speed photographs and video of cheetah movement.
Cameras captured the record-breaking run on Sarah’s first attempt on a specially designed course certified by the Road Running Technical Council of USA Track & Field.
Sarah and the Cincinnati Zoo’s other four cheetahs in the Cat Ambassador Program regularly run at the Zoo’s Regional Cheetah Breeding Facility. The documentation of the run was supported in part by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative — http://www.causeanuproar.org — a long-term effort to halt the decline of big cats in the wild.
Cheetahs are endangered and their population worldwide has shrunk from about 100,000 in 1900 to an estimated 9,000 – 12,000 cheetahs today. The Cincinnati Zoo has been dubbed “The Cheetah Capital of the World” because of its conservation efforts through education, public interpretation, and the captive cheetah breeding program. The Zoo’s Regional Cheetah Breeding Center is one of only four similar facilities in the United States managed by the Species Survival Plan. In total, there have been 64 cheetah cubs born in Cincinnati.
Emperor penguins rocket toward an exit hole in the ice in the winning picture of the 2012 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, announced last Wednesday.
To get the shot—taken in Antarctica’s Ross Sea for a new National Geographic article—photographer Paul Nicklen used polar survival skills he’d learned as a child among the Inuit on Canada’s Baffin Island. Nicklen began by lowering himself through a hole in the ice and breathed through a snorkel while waiting for the penguins to return from foraging.
“They soared underwater like fighter jets in a dogfight,” Nicklen told National Geographic’s Luna Shyr. “Then they’d fly out, land, push down with their bill, and stand up, going back to that slow, waddling bird. It was a privilege to see.” (Get more behind-the-scenes details.)
In a statement, competition judge David Doubilet said “Bubble-Jetting Penguins”—which also took top honors in the Underwater Worlds category—”draws us in for a glimpse of the emperor penguin’s private world at the end of the Earth. I love this image, because it shows perfectly organized, infinite chaos. My eyes linger over it trying to absorb everything that’s going on here.” (See more emperor penguin pictures by Paul Nicklen.)
Now in its 48th year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is an “international showcase for the very best nature photography,” according to the website for the contest, run by London’s Natural History Museum and Wildlife magazine.
Each year an international jury of photographers judges tens of thousands of entries in 18 categories.
Eric Hosking Portfolio Award
Vladimir Medvedev was driving through Canada’s Jasper National Park when he spotted a red deer stag lying in the grass by the highway. The photographer pulled over and swiftly positioned his tripod and snapped this picture just as a truck thundered by.
After taking the picture, Medvedev left as quickly as possible to ensure the deer’s peace. “The stag may have been inconspicuous, but I wasn’t,” he said in a statement. “As long as I stayed there, he was no longer invisible. So I left straight away, so as not to betray his presence.”
The shot, titled “Life in the Border Zones,” won Medvedev the Eric Hosking Portfolio Award, intended for photographers aged 18 to 26 who submit portfolios of their best work.
Commended, World in Our Hands Award
“It was sobering to think how many sharks had been killed to produce this pile of fins for a soup that isn’t even healthy,” photographer Paul Hilton said in a statement about his picture, titled “The End of Sharks.” The image was a runner-up for the World in Our Hands Award, focused on the “relationship between people and the environment.”
An increasingly popular dish among the middle-class in China, shark-fin soup is responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of sharks annually, scientists say. Many sharks are taken solely for their fins and then thrown back in the ocean, where it takes several hours for the fish to die.
-Several factors could explain why chimps recently attacked a student at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden in South Africa.
-Male chimpanzees, which are very strong, often fight in the wild to defend or acquire territory.
-The chimpanzees at the sanctuary were also previously abused by humans.
Chimpanzees have made headlines in recent years for several unprovoked attacks against humans, the latest last week at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden in South Africa. The severely injured victim, University of Texas graduate student Andrew Oberle, remains in intensive care.
Oberle was mauled by chimpanzees as he gave a lecture to about a dozen tourists. The brutal attack prompted many to wonder what, if anything, provoked the animals? Experts suggest that multiple reasons could explain the attack. More
Clementine and Oliver
Photograph by Devan Sreedhar
Clementine and Oliver rest on a picnic table after playing in the dog park.
When you go outside, do the birdssound happy or angry when they see you? New research has found that at least one group of birds, ravens, remembers prior interactions with people and varies calls based on those earlier experiences.
So it’s not too far fetched to think that if you bothered a bird some time ago, the bird might unleash the avian version of swearing the next time you approach.
The research, published in Current Biology, adds to the growing body of evidence that birds remember the appearance and voices of individuals, along with their prior encounters with them. Last year we told you how crows don’t forget faces, for example.
We take such skills for granted in humans. In daily life, it’s a given that we remember the faces and voices of multiple known individuals. Other studies show that different mammals can do the same thing.
If you want a lifelong buddy, you might consider getting a horse since they remember their human friends and act accordingly. We humans can be pretty nasty and complicated with each other at times, but give a horse a carrot and a head pat for a while and you’ll receive near-guaranteed kindness in return. More
In true Disney-like fashion, the duck even has a name, “Dennis.” It apparently was less than a week old when tragedy struck, but 4-year-old Fred the dog saved the day. Fred’s owner, Jeremy Goldsmith, also was a good Samaritan, permitting the new feathered pet.
Dogs may not always take a shine to cats, but they do seem to hook up with all sorts of species. One of my favorite such stories in recent years was about a pregnant dog that nursed a hurt squirrel back to health. That was perhaps more motherly instinct.
In this case, Fred found orphaned Dennis and licked the little duckling clean. A friendship must have been forged in that moment, as the unlikely mates sleep together, play together and even go swimming in the local pond, according to the Daily Mail.
I’d probably do such romping too if I lived where they dwell. The animals and Goldsmith all reside at Mountfitchet Castle in Stansted, Essex, U.K.
Goldsmith told the Daily Mail, “It is amazing to see the two of them together. When we found Dennis he was quite frail, and he clearly would not have survived another day on his own.”
He continued, “Fred, who has always been extremely loving, went straight up to him and began to lick the little bird clean. Since then Dennis has not stopped following him around, and Fred has pretty much adopted him.” More
Feb. 15, 2012 – Last night’s winner at the Westminster Kennel Club show is Malachy, a four-year-old Pekingese. It marked his 115th overall Best in Show title.
The fluffy pompom of a dog named Malachy wobbled his way into the best spot beating out a Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, an Irish Setter, a Kerry Blue Terrier and a wire-haired dachshund.
The rectangular fluff of silver and black fur became the first Pekingese since 1960 to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
The handler of the 11-pound grey cloud of a dog is also his part-owner, David Fitzpatrick.
“Pekes,” as they are sometimes called, are of Chinese origin, dating back to the 8th century. The breed originated in China in antiquity, in the city of Peking. The breed was favored by the Chinese Imperial Court.
The dogs are also commonly called the “Lion Dog,” or “Pelchie Dog” due to their resemblance to Chinese guardian lions. More