First Known Venomous Frogs Uses Spiky Faces To Deliver Deadly Headbutt

KS Strange ScienceDon’t try to butt heads with these little guys – it just might kill you! The first known venomous frogs have been discovered Brazil. They use small spines on their head, and a vicious head thrash, to inject their potent venom. Yikes! 🐸

Corythomantis greeningi. CREDIT: Carlos Jared / Butantan Institute
Corythomantis greeningi. CREDIT: Carlos Jared / Butantan Institute

Poisonous frogs are nothing new, but ‘truly’ venomous frogs are. Traditionally, venomous creatures bite, sting or stab you to do their damage, while you have to bite or touch poisonous critters to feel their effects. I suppose the venomous variety are a bit more proactive with their toxins. 🐍

“Discovering a truly venomous frog is nothing any of us expected, and finding frogs with skin secretions more venomous than those of the deadly pit vipers of the genus Bothrops was astounding,” co-author Edmund Brodie, Jr., of Utah State University said in a press release.

Brodie and his colleague Carlos Jared of Instituto Butantan in São Paulo, Brazil, study Corythomantis greeningi (Greening’s frog) and Aparasphenodon brunoi (Bruno’s casque-headed frog). Jared learned the frogs were venomous the hard way after a Greening’s frog ‘stung’ his hand, which resulted in excruciating pain that spread up his arm – lasting five hours!

According to NBC News, a single gram of the venom from the more toxic frog species, Aparasphenodon brunoi, could kill more than 300,000 mice, or about 80 humans, while a gram of the venom from Corythomantis greeningi could kill more than 24,000 mice, or about six humans.

The frogs release a white, toxic mucus from glands in their skin when they feel threatened. Then they use the spines on their skull to drive the toxins into its enemy’s flesh. No thanks…


First Known Venomous Frogs Uses Spiky Faces To Deliver Deadly Headbutt

Humpback Whales, Camel Racing, and a Sauna in the Sky: View the Winners of National Geographic’s 2015 Traveler Photo Contest

KS_LOGOs2_PopCultureThe winners of the 27th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest have just been announced! 🎉

First place went to Anuar Patjane for his photo of divers swimming with a humpback whale and her newborn calf off the coast of Mexico. He won an eight-day photo expedition for two to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal. Not a bad deal!

Winner of the 2015 Traveler Photo Contest. Credit: Anuar Patjane
Winner of the 2015 Traveler Photo Contest. Credit: Anuar Patjane

The 2015 Traveler Photo Contest judges reviewed nearly 18,000 photographs, and ten pictures won top prizes. Photographers entered pictures into four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments. You can view the top ten below – click here to browse all of the entries and pick your favorites!


Newly Discovered Wendiceratops Dinosaur Displays ‘Gnarly’ Hooks and Horns

KS NatureWhen you think epic horned dinosaur you probably think Triceratops – well, think again! Triceratops had a cousin that lived 79 million years ago, making it one of the oldest horned dinosaurs. It’s known as Wendiceratops pinhornensis, and its unique hooks and horns give paleontologists clues about how horned dinosaurs evolved.

Source: Secret Location/PLOS ONE
Source: Secret Location/PLOS ONE

The dinosaur’s fossilized bones were discovered on the Pinhorn Provincial Grazing Reserve in Alberta by Canadian fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda in 2010 – hence the name Wendiceratops pinhornensis!

While the name might be cute, there is nothing dainty about this 1-ton, 20-foot long dinosaur. It features two large horns on its brow, one horn on its nose, and a highly-decorated frill around its neck that literally curls in on itself giving it the appearance of hooks. Paleontologist David Evans, from the Royal Ontario Museum, explains that this dino’s frill makes it unique.

“The frill is sort of ornamented by a pretty spectacular wave of gnarly hooks that project forward,” Evans says.

Scientists recovered over 200 different bones from virtually all parts of the skeleton (from four different individuals) including multiple, well-preserved pieces that contribute to the fancy ornamented frill. But it’s not just the frill that makes this animal special – it’s the large horn over its nose, which is the earliest occurrence of a prominent nose horn in this dinosaur family.

Michael Ryan, a paleontologist with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, says “beyond its odd, hook-like frill, Wendiceratops has a unique horn ornamentation above its nose that shows the intermediate evolutionary development between low, rounded forms of the earliest horned dinosaurs.”

Not only does Wendiceratops help scientists understand the early evolution of skull ornamentation – its crazy frill projections and horns make it one of the most striking horned dinosaurs ever found. Wendiceratops pinhornensis is now on display at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.

For more information check out Ryan and Evans’ description of their dinosaur in PLOS ONE.

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Newly Discovered Wendiceratops Dinosaur Displays ‘Gnarly’ Hooks and Horns

Hades Centipede Discovered in the Deepest, Darkest Caves of Croatia

KS Strange ScienceIn Greek mythology Hades is god of the dead and king of the underworld. Now, Hades is the deepest cave-dwelling centipede known to man.

Hades Centipede
The Hades centipede (Geophilus hadesi) – named after the god of the underworld. IMAGE: J. Bedek

Geophilus hadesi, better known as the Hades centipede, lives in three caves in Croatia’s Velebit mountains. Scientists collected three specimens of the Hades centipede at different depths in the caves and spotted one at a shocking 3,600 feet below the surface.

Members of the Croatian Biospeleological Society discovered the centipede and published their findings in the journal ZooKeys.

Unlike most species of centipede, which occasionally take shelter in caves, Hades spends all of its life underground and has learned to adapt. The centipede has “exceptionally elongated antennae, trunk segments and leg claws.” This makes Hades one of the cave’s top predators 🐛

“When I first saw the animal and its striking appearance, I immediately realized that this is a new, hitherto unnamed and highly adapted to cave environment species,” said Pavel Stoev, the study’s lead author, in a statement. “This finding comes to prove once again how little we know about the life in caves, where even in the best prospected areas, one can still find incredible animals.”

But, Hades isn’t alone! According to mythology, Hades is not only ruler of the underworld, he is also husband to Persephone. Geophilus persephones (named after Persephone, queen of the underworld) is the only other known cave-dwelling centipede. A match made in hell ❤️

Hades - Hercules

Hades Centipede Discovered in the Deepest, Darkest Caves of Croatia

These Red, White, and Blue Creatures Don’t Need July 4th Costumes!

KS NatureThis weekend Americans will be celebrating our country’s independence, but these creatures are one step ahead of us! Check out nature’s version of the good ol’ red, white, and blue 🗽🇺🇸 Happy Fourth of July!



Father’s Day Has Gone WILD: Nature’s Top Animal Dads

KS NatureThis weekend is Father’s Day, but we should take some time out to celebrate more than just our human dads. National Geographic crafted an adorable list of the top animal dads. Enjoy! 🐧🐸🐦

7) ‘Emperor penguin fathers endure below-freezing temperatures and forgo food to incubate their eggs. After the female lays a single egg, her mate rests it on his feet and covers it with a flap of skin (above, a penguin protects its chick using the same skin flap)… For four months the males huddle together, not moving much, while the females fill up on seafood in the ocean. The females eventually return to help feed the newly hatched chicks.’


6) ‘Cockroaches may get a lot of bad press, but you can’t call them deadbeat dads. In species that feed on wood, the parents use the material to build nests and find food for their larvae… Cockroach fathers will even eat bird droppings to obtain nitrogen, a necessary part of their diet, and carry it back to their young (below, German cockroach babies emerge from an egg). Wood-feeding cockroaches are also tidy parents, sweeping nurseries clean of dead cockroaches and fungus to shield their families from infection.’


5) ‘The barking frog—named for its throaty, dog-like call—guards his brood after the female lays her eggs under rocks or logs in the U.S. Southwest. The frog hangs out by the eggs for several weeks, wetting the eggs with his urine if they dry out… In other frog species, males carry their larvae on their backs or swallow their newly hatched tadpoles to shelter them in special mouth sacs giving the offspring a safe haven to develop.’


4) For most birds, females are stuck with child care, but not so for the South America’s greater rhea (below, chicks nestle into their dad’s back feathers at Washington D.C.’s National Zoo). Females mate with several males during the breeding season, and several birds will lay their eggs in a nest created by a male. The male then incubates up to 50 eggs for six weeks and cares for the newly hatched young. The dads aggressively guard the babies, charging at any animal—even a female rhea—that approaches. The male rhea at the National Zoo, a second-time father, keeps his chicks from meandering too far away with a rapid clacking of his bill, according to zoo officials.’


3) ‘Male marmosets in South America not only carry, feed, and groom their twin babies (pictured, a baby black-tailed marmoset with its mother in a Tokyo zoo), they may even act as “midwives” during birth, grooming and licking the newborns. Marmoset dads may be so involved because of the high cost of birth for the mother, whose unborn babies eventually make up 25 percent of her body weight—equal to a 120-pound woman giving birth to a 30-pound infant.’


2) ‘Talk about back-breaking work—the male giant water bug (pictured below in California) literally totes around his brood of about 150 eggs until they hatch. After a courtship of sparring and grasping, these ferocious insects mate, and the females cement their fertilized eggs to the males’ backs with a natural glue… The daddy water bug fiercely protects his eggs and periodically exposes them to air to prevent them from growing mold.’


1) ‘Seahorses are a type of fish in which the males actually get “pregnant.” The female seahorse deposits her eggs in the male’s specialized pouch, and the male carries up to 2,000 babies during its 10- to 25-day pregnancy. “They’re fascinating—males have more or less become females, [almost] transgendered,” said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in the U.K. “They’re devoted fathers.”‘


I should also take a second to honor MY dad, the wonderful and amazing RICHARD KRYSTIAN! Happy Father’s Day to the best man I know. Raising me wasn’t easy 😁




Father’s Day Has Gone WILD: Nature’s Top Animal Dads

Bio-Inspired Robot Given Insect Vision to Hunt Like a Dragonfly

KS TechnologyA bio-inspired robot is under development at the University of Adelaide that has insect vision. In hopes of improving robot visual systems, researchers have applied the way insects see and track their prey. Insects have this amazing ability to detect and follow small objects against complex backgrounds, which is no easy task.

In a new paper published in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface, researchers describe how the abilities of both insects and humans can be applied in a model virtual reality simulation, allowing artificial intelligence to literally ‘pursue’ an object. Lead author of the study, Mechanical Engineering PhD Student Zahra Begheri, explains the human connection.

“Consider a cricket or baseball player trying to take a match-winning catch in the outfield. They have seconds or less to spot the ball, track it and predict its path as it comes down against the brightly coloured backdrop of excited fans in the crowd – all while running or even diving towards the point where they predict it will fall… Robotics engineers still dream of providing robots with the combination of sharp eyes, quick reflexes and flexible muscles that allow a budding champion to master this skill,” she said.

Dragonflies have excellent vision, making them the key insect for this project. They have the ability to chase mates or prey in the presence of distractions, like swarms of insects. They can do this despite their low visual acuity and tiny brain. According to Bagheri, the dragonfly chases prey at speeds of up to 60 km/h, capturing them with a success rate of over 97%.


How do you convince a robot to view the world like a dragonfly?

A team of neuroscientists and engineers have developed a unique algorithm to emulate the visual tracking system found in flying insects. Instead of trying to center the target in the robots field of view, this “active vision” system locks on to the background and waits for the target to move against it. This keeps the background from being a big distraction and gives the robot time to adjust its gaze, rotating towards the target, keeping it front and center.

Dr Steven Wiederman, who is leading the project, is currently transferring the algorithm to a hardware platform… a bio-inspired, autonomous robot. DUH DUH DUH!

Bio-Inspired Robot Given Insect Vision to Hunt Like a Dragonfly

Seven New Teeny Tiny Mini-Frogs Discovered in Brazil – Some are the Smallest Ever

KS Nature

These newly discovered mini-frogs are so small they barely fit on your fingernail – but, they do come in some flashy colors!

Brachycephalus (Anura: Brachycephalidae) is a remarkable genus of miniaturized frogs that call the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest home. The first Brachycephalus species was found in 1824, but most of the species have been discovered over the past 15 years.

The seven new species live on seven distinct mountaintops in south eastern Brazil. Their habitats are known as ‘cloud forests.’ Each species is cut off from one another due to dips and valleys with varying climates that act as environmental barriers.

Brachycephalus are a group of frogs known for their bright colors and miniscule size – some are the smallest terrestrial vertebrates on record (less than 1cm). Their tiny frog anatomy has shrunk to their size, but one thing has changed. These amphibians typically have three toes and two fingers, instead of the five toes and four fingers found in most frogs.

Their skin is what sets them apart. They vary in color and texture; some are rough and bumpy, while others are quite smooth. Their bright colors alert predators to the poisonous toxins in their skin. Those with brighter colors often reflect higher levels of the deadly chemical tetrodotoxin.

The severe isolation experienced by these frogs has produced 21 known species of Brachycephalus – and a new study has pushed that count to 28.

Brachycephalus comes in a variety of bright colors IMAGE: MARCIO R. PIE, CC BY SA
Brachycephalus comes in a variety of bright colors IMAGE: MARCIO R. PIE, CC BY SA

Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil, led researchers into the remote misty rainforest in search of these tiny critters. Following extensive fieldwork, treacherous hikes, and hours of sifting through dirt and leaves, they found a surprising seven new species of Brachycephalus!

Marcio Pie’s findings were published June 4 in the journal PeerJ.

Seven New Teeny Tiny Mini-Frogs Discovered in Brazil – Some are the Smallest Ever

This Adorable Video of a Baby Otter Learning to Swim Will Make Your Day – Maybe Your Week

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterBaby otters are a lot of work. But, if its as cute as this little thing, its probably totally worth it! Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has a new resident; an orphaned southern otter pup known as Pup 681. Watch as her handlers try to teach her to swim 🙂 SO FLUFFY!

The tiny newborn was discovered orphaned on a California beach in September. She spent the first four weeks of her life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium trying to survive. Once her health improved, she was moved to Shedd in Chigaco.

As of November, Pup 681 weighed just under 6 pounds and was 23 inches long – and raising her hasn’t been easy! Stranded sea otter pups require extensive round-the-clock care. Six to eight animal care experts work on a rotating schedule in order to provide care and attention 24 hours a day, all week long. During this crucial period, she is taught how to develop certain behaviors, such as grooming, feeding, and foraging, as well as regulating her body temperature and swimming.

 “It truly takes a village to rehabilitate a young sea otter. Our animal care team is teaching the pup how to be an otter,” said Tim Binder, vice president of Animal Collections for Shedd

Hopefully this is a chance for the world to learn a little more about the otter population, which is constantly under attack. According the the Monteray Bay Aquarium, sea otters once thrived from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest of North America through Alaskan and Russian waters and into Japan before hunters nearly exterminated them in the 1700s and 1800s. Shedd Aquarium wants Pup 681 to raise awareness and melt people’s hearts.

“This rescued animal provides an opportunity for us to learn more about the biological and behavioral attributes of this threatened species and to encourage people to preserve and protect them in the wild,” said Binder.

This Adorable Video of a Baby Otter Learning to Swim Will Make Your Day – Maybe Your Week

Insane Frog Births: These Babies Greet the World From Mom’s Mouth and Mom’s BACK!

KS Strange ScienceI’d like to introduce you to two very special amphibians. One gives birth through its mouth, and was brought back from the dead. The other has given me terrifying nightmares since I was a kid. This is mainly due to the fact that it gives birth to live young from its back. Scroll down if you dare.

The Gastric-Brooding Frog

Gastric-Brooding Frog

The gastric-brooding frog is famous for two reasons; it gives birth out of its mouth, and it was literally brought back from extinction.

This unique species of frog is native to Queensland in eastern Australia. The female swallows her fertilized eggs and incubates them in her stomach for roughly six weeks. Don’t worry, she doesn’t digest them! Chemicals released by the eggs tells her stomach to stop producing acid and she stops eating. Around 20 to 25 tadpoles hatch inside her and the mucus from their gills continues to keep the acid at bay. Over the next six weeks, as the hatchlings grow and her stomach bloats, mom’s lungs collapse and she is forced to breathe through her skin. She then ‘vomits’ out her fully formed frog babies.

The gastric-brooding frog went extinct in 1983, but researchers in Australia brought it back! Click here to learn more about the “Lazarus Project” and ‘de-extinction’ technology 🙂

 The Suriname Toad


The Suriname sea toad is flat and gives birth out of its back! The female toad’s offspring develop from eggs to frogs underneath her skin. No joke, the video below could actually make me vomit, so I’m just going to leave it below for your creepy viewing pleasure.

This species is famous for its reproductive abilities. The female Suriname toad can carry up to 100 eggs in her back – forming an irregular honeycomb design.

The male toad produces a sharp clicking noise by snapping the hyoid bone in its throat, which attracts a nearby partner. The female rises from the floor –> the male mounts her back –> they begin flipping through the water –> the female releases eggs with each flip –> the male fertilizes them before he helps embed the eggs in her skin.

Once the eggs are implanted, a film forms over them, creating protective pockets (gross). Four months later, the fully grown frogs punch their way through the skin to freedom.

Insane Frog Births: These Babies Greet the World From Mom’s Mouth and Mom’s BACK!