Monthly Archives: March 2009

Long Eared Jerboa: exceedingly cute rodent of the big-eared variety

part mouse, part moth- the "wingspan" of these ears is longer than the rodent's body

part mouse, part moth- the "wingspan" of these ears is longer than the rodent's body

The author of BV is invoking her writerly prerogative, and stretching the parameters of the pink animal series to includeEuchoreutes naso,  a nocturnal rodent which is not properly speaking pink, but is replete with  long tail, long hind legs, and exceptionally large, exceptionally adorable, shell-pink  ears.  One Dr. Baille, a member of the Zoological society of London,  told BBC that “the long-eared jerboa is a bit like the Mickey Mouse of the desert, cute and comic in equal measure.”  The Author of BV is forced to agree.
  

Native to China and to desert habitats of Trans Altai Govi  & Gobi Deserts in Mongolia, the long-eared jerboa is considered endangered, and due to its rarity, is  little understood. Dr. Baille explains in the BBc interview that he took part in an expedition to study the long-eared jerboa funded by ZSL’s “Edge” program, which focuses on conserving  endangered and “evolutionarily distinctive” animals, and that it was on this expedition that he and his colleagues caught these adorable little buggers on tape, for what may well be the first time (see film clip, below).

 

and may we just say, in our official capacity,  “awwwwwww.”

 

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Pink Fairy Armadillo

the diminutive pink fairy armadillo, pictured here in captivity, is considered thretened in the wild.

the diminutive pink fairy armadillo, pictured here in captivity, is considered threatened in the wild.

The next member of our pink animal brigade is the pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus), a diminutive member of genus Chlamyphorus native to South America.  At about 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches long (excluding the tail), the pink fairy armadillo is the smallest of the armadillo family.

It is not difficult, therefore, to see how the pink fairy armadillo earned its name: it is tiny (as are fairies), and yes, pink. But where do they get these names? A baby pink fairy armadillo is called a ‘pup,’ (okay)  the females are called ‘zeds’ and males ‘listers’ (eh?); and  a group of pink fairy armadillos is called a ‘fez’. Yes, a “fez.” Like one of these things:

fes

… proving that scientists are sometimes stranger than the animals they study.

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pink elephant: not just a figment of your imagination

this rare pink elephant, probably an albino, was recently spotted in botswana
The next pink animal to grace our fair page is this charming little pink elephant. Scientists say that he is probably an albino, but the discerning readers of BV (all several of you. ahem.) will likely join the author in her suspicion that his coloring is a direct result of the night of debauchery that concieved him.

Of course,  this rosy-toned pachyderm is *so* cute that  the author hopes you will not hold his inillustrious conception against him, and will cross your fingers, pray, and/or do an interpretive dance for  his survival under the hot african sun, which, experts caution, may lead to blindness and skin problems for the calf.  

We’re behind you, little pink elephant. And we will likely see you tonight after a tipple or two.

cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nwNPaYoTY8
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7951331.stm

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pink amblycorypha katydid

 

This Pink amblycorypha katydid gave his bride a gift, but she wishes he katy-didn't

This Pink amblycorypha katy-did give his bride a gift, but she wishes he katy-didn't

It has been brought to the author’s attention that the Pink Dragon Millipede is not the sole pink specimen  in the insect world; the pink amblycorypha katydid is equally pink, and no less charming at cocktail parties. In accordance with this discovery, the author would like to introduce a short run of “pretty in pink,” a series on roseate  members of the animal world. Whether their behaviors are as rosy as their hues remains to be seen.

The second member in our series (following the Dragon Millipede, naturally) is, as noted above, the pink amblycorypha katydid, a romantic soul and a genetic anomaly belonging to the species western round-winged katydid (Amblycorypha parvipennis). Like other katydids, this specimen  (should it prove to be a hetero male secure enough in his masculinity to wear pink)  will provide a “nuptial gift” of a  spermatophore, a nutritious little ball of ejaculate, to his loving bride.

What the author of  BV would like to know is: will that little love-token be equally pink, and mightn’t the female katydid prefer something by way of a box of chocolates?

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Pink Dragon Millipede: Dangerous Beauty

dragon_millipede

 

The Pink Dragon Millipede (Desmoxytes purpurosea) may look like the lastest pokemon character or Sanrio creation, but you wouldn’t want one on your keychain.  

Why not? Because the Pink Dragon Millipede, a recently discovered species native to Thailand, is one of nature’s most outrageous examples of aposematism, the display of vivid coloring and other physical signals that the candy-colored, snack-sized morsel in question is packing a poisonous whallop.

What is the toxic flavor of the day for Pink Dragon Millipedes? Cyanide, easily recognized by the odor of bitter almonds that linger around the shockingly-hued insects.   

 Mmmmmmmm. Cyanide.

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Emu: summer lovin’ happens so fast

this emu is already looking for another mate

this emu is already looking for another mate

 Any number of men with whom the author of BV is aquainted might feel a twinge of envy when they learn of the prodigious attributes of the male Dromaius novaehollandiae; during breeding season, males experience an increase in luteinizing hormone and testosterone. The result? Their testicles double in size, and the birds switch from boxers to briefs.

But in one of mother nature’s canny twists, it is the males who are  saddled with the biological clock. At first, the trade-off might not seem so bad:  the pair mates every day, and the female is still responsible for laying the very large, thick-shelled, dark-green eggs.  

Yet the tide soon turns: the male, brain addled by regular sex with a willing mate,  turns broody after his mate starts laying, loses his apetite, and settles in to incubate the eggs before the laying period is even finished. From the moment he first settles down on those eggs, he will not eat, drink or shit for eight weeks while the eggs incubate.  He loses weight, surviving on stored body-fat and any stray drops of morning dew that he can reach from the nest.

This is because infidelity is widespread amongst  emu, and once the male starts brooding, the female  starts looking for greener pastures, refusing  to bring her erstwhile schmoopy  a beer, make him a sandwich, or tend to his swollen testicles, preferring to sow her wild oats with other, more mobile males. 

To be fair, some females stand by their man, defending  the nest until the chicks start to hatch, but most of the shameless hussies leave to nest again;  for  a female Emu, a good summer fling may mean multiple nests with multiple mates.

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Gouldian Finches: female finches practice sex bias

female finches exhibit classic signs of "pussy control" (see link, below)

female finches exhibit classic signs of "pussy control"

Ever wished for a more palpable measure of a date’s long-term potential? Some visible sign telling you whether he will leave the toilet seat up? Gouldian finches can’t commiserate: females can judge a male  just by looking at his head.  

A new study in the journal Science has found that females produce more healthy offspring when they  mate with males of similar coloring to their own, and that as a result, females demonstrate pronounced sex bias towards compatibly feathered studs.

In a strange twist, moreover, female finches have the ability to control  the sex of their offspring, and when the female finche mates with a male of a different head colour, they tend to produce more male offspring.  According to Sarah Prkye, lead scientist on this study, males are preferred in this circumstance because male birds are more likely to survive incompatible  parents than are females.   The mechanism of this control is not known.

“It is pretty amazing,” says the unfortunately named director of this sex study,  “to think that the female herself has so much control – subconsciously of course – over this basic physiology.”  The author of BV submits that Dr. Pryke is perhaps a tad naive: these birds are not acting on subconscious instinct: they are simply living by the motto that  if brother didn’t have good ‘n’ plenty of his own, in love [they] never [will] fall.  

This conclusion is borne out by Pryke’s own admission that

“Females really don’t want to mate with a male with a different head colour” but because “there simply aren’t enough compatible males,”  the unmatched females eventually  “use this control to make the best of a bad situation.”

We feel ya, sisters.

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7953467.stm

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African Bat Bug: insectus sex-offenderus

the african bat bug, seen here in it's mug shot,  is a convicted sex-offender

the african bat bug, seen here in its mug shot, is a convicted sex-offender and occasional drag artist

One would not wish to be a female bat bug. Male bat bugs (blood-sucking insects of the family Cimicidae) have developed the disconcerting  habit of ignoring females’ conventional girlie bits, instead using  their sharp penises to stab target  females in the stomach, injecting sperm directly into the bloodstream.

In response, females have developed “paragenitals,” which guide the offending male’s piercing member into reservoir of spongey immune cells. But this is far from the end of the story.  

According to a report from National Geographic,* scientests who ventured into dangerous bat caves in East Africa to study the bugs  were surprised at what they found ” We ended up uncovering a hotbed of deception,” says  evolutionary biologist Klaus Reinhardt at the University of Sheffield in England; “nothing like this exists anywhere else in the animal kingdom.”

Because  the rampant males aren’t just targeting females; there are, according to the same study, “documented cases of males performing the same injurious sexual acts on other males,” to less reproductive avail and the considerable confusion of their victims. 

So, what’s a bat bug to do? In this case,  male bat bugs have developed their own “female” paragenitals to avoid the assaults; not to be outdone, certain exceedingly clever female bat bugs have developed the ability to mimic the paragenitals of  males to improve their own defenses.  the author of BV attempted to make contact with someone who could shed light on this tangled web , but Julie Andrews, star of the hit film “Victor, Victoria,” was unavailable for comment.

This, dear readers, is not mere gender-bending, its survival drag. 

  

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070925-bat-bugs.html

Cf. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084865/
      http://www.livescience.com/animals/070920_genderbender_bug.html
      http://www.bioedonline.org/news/news.cfm?art=3613
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cimex_pilosellus

 

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Puli Dogs: hirsute canines

this mid-air mass of moving dreadlocks is actually a puli dog on an agility course
flying mop? animate dryer lint? This mid-air mass of moving dreadlocks is actually a puli dog on an agility course

 

The Puli, a medium-sized Hungarian herding and livestock guard dog,  may not fit the mainstream aesthetic bias towards dainty, long-haired lapdogs, but  its long, corded coat, which looks like locks (“dreadlocks”), make it virtually waterproof, not to mention closer to Jah.  
yet some Puli spokesdogs insist that wheras rastafari dreadlocks symbolize the Lion of Judah, and among some hindu  Sadhus and Sadhvis locks are an expression of disdain for profane vanity,  most Pulis are not religiously or politically affiliated: they are simply rockin’ their own version of the “natural.”

 

 

Puli's locks are not a race thing; black and white dogs alike sport the curly coils.

its not "a race thing:" black and white alike sport the curly coils.

 

 

cf. http://www.akc.org/breeds/puli/index.cfm
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puli
     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreadlocks

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Star-nosed Mole: a face only a mother could love

a face only a mother could love?

a face only a mother could love?

 

The star nosed mole (Condylura cristata) looks like something out of a science fiction novelist’s wildest  imagination:  the star of tentacles is seen nowhere else  in the mammalian world, and  covered with minute touch receptors known as Eimer’s organs,  which some speculate are used to detect electrical activity in prey animals. Though there is little, if any, empirical support for this contention, the story of how the startling probiscus develops is equally fantastic:  

 

 The tentacles are not present when the mole is born, appearing only as swellings on the face around the nose.  Yet shortly after birth these fleshy protrusions start to break free,  curling backwards from the snout to curl pinkly around the nostrils.

…Of course, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this bizzare adaptation, and the incredibly sensitive nasal tentacles do serve a practical purpose: that is, they allow the animal to detect and capture extremely small prey items, which they then eat… at a decidedly fantastic speed: Nature gives this animal the title of fastest-eating mammal, citing the mole’s ability to identify and consume prey within  120 milliseconds.  One might say, with little exageration, that its nose allows the mole to eat faster than a speeding bullet.  

This animal, native to North America, is truly stranger than any fiction written on that continent.  

 

 

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Dumbo Octopus: if disney did cephalopods

the dumbo octopus is among the most adorable of cepholopods

the dumbo octopus is perhaps the most adorable of cephalopods

 

Dumbo octopuses (genus Grimpoteuthis) are so called because their ear-like fins and head-like bodies  recall the disproportionate ears of Walt Disney’s flying elephant of the same name (the resemblance is more apparent in the specimen represented in figure 2, below).  Like its namesake, the dumbo octopus “flies” through the water by means of flapping those remarkable ears ( and by pulsing their arms and shooting water through their funnel).

Retiring by nature, perhaps as a result of being teased by unkind fish in schools (ba-dum-bum),  they avoid the spotlight,  living at typical depths of 100-5,000 meters (though the most deeply traumatized  can be found at 7,000 meters). 

 Alas, little has changed for the dumbo octopus since its school days; many of the  37 species  are still poorly understood.

 

figure 2: the resemblance to Walt disney's "Dumbo" is apparent

figure 2: the resemblance to Walt Disney's "Dumbo" that earned genus Grimpoteuthis its common name is easily recognized in this image

 

Cf. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/blueplanet/factfiles/molluscs/dumbo_octopus_bg.shtml

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Sea Anemone

figure 1: the sea anemone, sublime and strange

figure 1: clustered sea anemones, sublime and strange

Sea anemones (order Actiniaria) are marine predators named after the terrestrial anemone (a member of the Buttercup family).  When we think of sea anemones, we typically recall their beauty, their stinging poison, and the symbiotic relationship of certain species with clownfish, which are immune to the anemone’s neurotoxin.

 The internal anatomy of  a sea anemone is fairly simple, but the exterior– particularly the waving, colorful tentacles– is famously alien and even sublime in appearance, as in figure 1, above.

 Yet life teaches us that  for every instance of the sublime on earth, there is a corresponding example of the profane, and the sea anemone aptly demonstrates this truth (see figure 2, below).

 

figure 3: the sea anemone, in all of its earthy profanity.

figure 2: the sea anemone, in all its profane glory.

 

Cf.   http://www.actiniaria.com/
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_anemone

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Early Birds

This baby bird hatched early, but into a good nest.

This baby bird hatched early, but into a good nest.

Baby birds are among nature’s most amazing creatures.  Newly hatched chicks range from helpless to remarkably independent, depending on  species. The most helpless newborn chicks (nature’s true early birds) are called altricial, and are typically born tiny, blind and naked; need help thermoregulating; and must be brooded for longer than chicks who had more time in the egg. Yet as tiny and fragile as they are, incubated and underweight, these remarkable creatures grow and thrive under the care of attentive parents– much like their human counterparts. The major difference between early birds and early babies is quantifiable in neither Linnaen nor Darwinian terms;  while we can only speculate as to whether parental avian pairs  “love” their brood, there can be no doubt that the early human baby of which the author of BV is thinking  is loved, and his arrival, while precipitous, much celebrated. 

To HD and his lovely Wife, congrats on the birth of your baby bird!

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Lobster

 

"See... he's your Lobster!"

"He's her Lobster!!!"

 

I’d like to take a break from my organized, logical pursuit of truth in the animal kingdom to talk about something decidedly disorganized and illogical: Marriage. There can be no more appropriate object for today’s topic than Lobsters, which comprise family Nephropidae, sometimes also Homaridae, and are indisputably the most devoted lovers amongst marine crustaceans; “It’s a known fact that lobsters fall in love and mate for life…You can actually see old lobster couples [walking] around their tank… holding claws.” Today is a day for celebrating  two lobsters who have decided to make it official:

to EW and PP, whom I love like family, felicitations on finding, keeping, and cherishing your lobster. I have no doubt that I will see you when you are old and spiny, still holding claws as you walk around your tank.

Much Love,

~sj

 

Cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyvRjF0NBeM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQQ8kXfn9Iw&feature=related

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The Author Apologizes…

The Author apologizes for her tardiness in posting this weekend. Full installments of BV will return with the workweek. For the interim, the author submits for your perusal the picture  below.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2000003.stm

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2307-featherless-chicken-creates-a-flap.html

http://www.manningworldnews.com/archives/000268.php

http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/chickens-without-feathers-naked-hot-weather-sunburn

33052_3_468

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