12 Crazy Pangolin Facts: Meet the World’s Most Hunted Animal

KS Strange ScienceI had never heard of a pangolin before last week. What did I learn? These incredible creatures are the most hunted animal on the planet. They are also totally bizarre.

I’ve seen them described as medieval anteaters, modern-dinosaurs, walking pinecones, artichokes with legs, nature’s backhoe and armored Pokemon. Let’s go ahead and talk about why pangolins are so awesome (and weird).

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Pangolins are the most trafficked animal on the planet, which is why they need our protection. There are eight species of pangolin spread over two continents, Africa and Asia. All eight species range from Vulnerable to Critically endangered.

Their bodies are covered in heavy scales, which is one of the reasons they are traded illegally. According to CNN, “pangolins are trafficked by the thousands for their scales, which are boiled off their bodies for use in traditional medicine; for their meat, which is a high-end delicacy in China; and for their blood, which is seen as a healing tonic.

Last Wednesday, 182 nations of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) unanimously agreed to a total ban on international trade on all species of pangolin – a decision that received much praise around the world.

12 CRAZY PANGOLIN FACTS!

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1) Pangolins walk awkwardly on their hind legs, using their tail for balance.

2) When pangolins are frightened they curl up into a tiny, strong roly poly ball.

3) Even big cats in the wild have no idea what to do with them…

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4) Pangolins don’t have any teeth. Instead, they use their sticky tongue to eat insects.

5) A pangolins tongue can be longer than its body.

6) Speaking of insects, pangolins can consume more than 70 million ants a year.

7) Baby pangolins are carried on their mother’s tail or back.

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8) 20% of a pangolin’s weight is comprised of scales.

9) More than 10,000 pangolins are trafficked illegally each year.

10) Pangolins ears and nose have special valves that close when ants attack.

11) The pangolin’s large scales are made of keratin, like our nails.

12) Nobody knows how many pangolins are left or how long they live.

Sources: The Telegraph, World Wildlife Fund, World Pangolin Day & Nat Geo Wild.


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12 Crazy Pangolin Facts: Meet the World’s Most Hunted Animal

Hog-Nosed Shrew Rat Seems Like A Harsh Name For This Newly Discovered Mammal

KS Nature

Scientists in Indonesia just discovered a new mammal and they named it the hog-nosed shrew rat. Seems a little harsh, right? But I guess that’s to be expected when you find a rat with a little piggy face. đŸ€đŸ·

Hog-Nose Rat
This new species of rat is called Hyorhinomys stuempkei, or the hog-nosed rat. Credit: Museum Victoria

According to the BBC, the unusual creature was discovered on Sulawesi island by researchers from Australia, Indonesia and the United States. While the hog-nosed rat (Hyorhinomys stuempkei) shares many traits with other rats in the area, there are a few features that are unique to the species. It has huge ears for an animal its size, a long hog-like nose with forward-facing nostrils, and flat nails.

It also has ‘very long urogenital hairs.’ That means it has long pubic hair – a lot of it. I don’t know what you want to do with that information, but its written right there in the report.

Morphologically, the hog-nosed rat is most similar to a group of endemic Sulawesi rats known commonly as “shrew rats.” These are long faced, carnivorous murines, and include the genera Echiothrix, Melasmothrix, Paucidentomys, Sommeromys, and Tateomys.

Discovery of this new genus and species brings known shrew rat diversity on Sulawesi to 6 genera and 8 species. Researchers believe the physical diversity among these animals is ‘remarkable’ considering the small number of species currently known. The findings were published in this month’s Journal of Mammalogy.

Hog-Nosed Shrew Rat Seems Like A Harsh Name For This Newly Discovered Mammal

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 đŸ—œđŸ‡ș🇾 Happy Fourth of July!

 

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This Video of a Cuttlefish Changing Colors Will Hypnotize You – Plus Fun ‘True’ Cuttlefish Facts!

KS Strange ScienceWho needs a stress ball when they have this underwater footage? There are few creatures as unique and bizarre as the cuttlefish. This video, filmed by a diver with the Japan Marine Club, features a Pfeffer’s flamboyant cuttlefish, which uses chromatophores — color-changing cells in its skin — to alter its appearance 🐙

Cuttlefish are masters of camouflage – using their skin to communicate and evade predators – but, scientists know very little about how these animals disguise themselves so well.

Flamboyant_Cuttlefish
Metasepia pfefferi – also known as Pfeffer’s flamboyant cuttlefish

Below is a video courtesy of Ze Frank, EVP of Video for Buzzfeed, explaining fun ‘true’ facts about the cuttlefish. Try to ignore the fact that it sounds like it was narrated by Ron Burgundy 👹

This Video of a Cuttlefish Changing Colors Will Hypnotize You – Plus Fun ‘True’ Cuttlefish Facts!

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.’

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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.’

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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.’

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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.’

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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.’

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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.’

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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.”‘

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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 😁

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

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 Paranå 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

VIDEO: MIT’s Amazing (Slightly Creepy) Robotic Cheetah Can Now Run and Jump Over Hurdles

KS TechnologyMIT’s lifelike DARPA-funded cheetah robot has picked up a few new skills! The slightly terrifying 70 pound robotic creature can now land a running jump and gauge obstacles in its path at varying heights. The new viral footage shows the ‘cheetah’ running at 5 mph on a treadmill and on solid ground, jumping over various hurdles – some up to 18 inches tall!

Published on May 28th – In a leap for robotic development, the MIT researchers who built a robotic cheetah have now trained it to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously.

According to WIRED, MIT will hold a live demonstration of the robot’s running jump at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals in June, and present the findings from this latest round of tests at robotics conference in July.

The video below explains the technology behind MIT’s Cheetah and the latest testing process. Click here to watch the cheetah playing outside 🙂

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SLOTH VIDEO: Top 10 Reasons Sloths are Cooler Than You – Cute Overload

KS Naturebaby-slothSloths are drowsy tree-dwellers that spend most of their time eating and sleeping in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. These adorable, mysterious creatures melted the hearts of millions way before Kristen Bell lost it on Ellen. I’ve crafted what I believe to be the most comprehensive video list explaining why sloths are the coolest (and cutest) mammals on the planet 🙂 Click away!

10 – They Rock Baby Sloth Onesies

9 – They Get the Hang of Things

8 – They Give Great Hugs

7 – They Play Well With Others – In Buckets!

6 – They Enjoy Bath Time

5 – People Don’t Make Memes About You

Disney Sloths to the Rescue!

4 – They Eat Their Vegetables

3 – They Don’t Rush Through Life

2 – Celebrities Cry Over Them

1 – They Make This Adorable Sound

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Keeva the Baby Chimp Paired with Surrogate Mom for a Mother’s Day to Remember

KS NatureA baby female chimpanzee by the name of Keeva, born to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on March 12th, has been given the best Mother’s Day present – a new surrogate mom!

Once the Maryland Zoo realized Keeva’s birth mother couldn’t care for her, they teamed up with Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to find a surrogate mother to raise her properly. You can view the big announcement on the Maryland Zoo’s website and Facebook page 🙂

IMAGE: Facebook - The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Baby Keeva (IMAGE: Facebook – The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore)

The tiny primate was born at 2.6 pounds to first time mother ‘Carole,’ who has been with the chimp troop at the Maryland Zoo for 27 years. Unfortunately, Carole could not care for Keeva properly, and the Zoo was forced to make a tough decision.

“The birth seemed to be without complication and the baby appeared to be healthy,” stated Mike McClure, general curator at The Maryland Zoo. “However, it soon became apparent that Carole was not adapting to motherhood appropriately and we made the difficult decision to remove and hand-rear the baby while searching for a suitable home with a nurturing surrogate.”

Maryland Zoo staff felt it was important to familiarize Keeva with the sights, smells, and sounds of the troop. The infant spent several weeks in a behind-the-scences section of the Zoo’s Chimpanzee Forest, receiving round-the-clock care.

While Keeva was experiencing her first few weeks of life, the Zoo knew they needed to find her a surrogate. They worked with the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to find an adult female chimpanzee ready to take on the task. Luckily, they found an experienced surrogate named ‘Abby.’

“We know Abby has the instincts and skills to raise a baby chimp – she has been successful twice before,” noted Lee Ann Rottman, general curator of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “We have every reason to believe that she will raise Keeva as her own, when given the opportunity.”

Keeva is now 5 pounds, can hold her head up, has started to speak, and is beginning to teethe! But, it will be 4-6 months before she is introduced to Abby. She will be integrated slowly, as chimpanzees live in complex social groups with a strict hierarchal structure. We wish her the best of luck.

Humans tend to have a soft spot when it comes to chimpanzees. This is most likely due to the fact that they are our closest relatives, sharing 98 percent of our genes! Sadly, these great apes are endangered and still threatened by poachers, disease, and habitat destruction.

Keeva the Baby Chimp Paired with Surrogate Mom for a Mother’s Day to Remember