Category Archives: Phobia-inducing

Honey Badger: who you calling honey mister?

Don’t make the mistake, dear reader, of judging a badger by its nomiker: this one’s no honey.  Named for their predilection for eating honeycombs pilfered from beehives, Mellivora capensis is also famous as a snake-killer. The honey badger uses its jaws to grab a snake behind its head and kill it, and can devour a snake measuring up to 5 feet in length  in a mere 15 minutes. 15 minutes. Piggy little honey badger.

The badger’s prey is hardly limited to honey and snakes, however. Consider the following list: earthworms, insects, scorpions,  porcupines, hares, ground squirrels, meerkats, mongooses, tortoises, crocodiles up to one metre in size, young gazelle and snakes (including venomous species),  lizards, frogs, small rodents, birds and fruit.  Goodness. (GAZELLE??? CROCODILES???)

National Geographic documentary,  “Snake killers: Honey badgers of the Kalahari”,  documented a badger snatching a meal out of a puff adder‘s mouth, after which he casually ate the purloined prey, and, insatiable, turned to stalk the deadly snake itself. This bold item managed to kill the snake, and even to begin eating it, but having been bitten, collapsed on the dead snake mid-chew. Cameramen were shocked, however, when the badger awoke 2 hours later,  finished his meal and went on his merry way.

Construction workers, take note: watch who you call honey. It may be the last thing you do.

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Chickcharnie

When sightseeing on the Island of Andros, dear readers, keep your eyes peeled for a creature that Bahamian folk tales describe as a three-toed elf, a red-eyed man-beast or a birdlike creature with a lizard’s tail and a fluffy mane, that likes to hang upside down from trees. Quite monstrous really. And carry flowers or bright bits of cloth, with which you will, if rumors are to be believed, be able to charm the creatures– so long as you treat them respectfully. This is something you will surely want to do.

Why, you might ask? Well, it’s quite simple really. If you piss these touchy lil’ buggers off they’ll make your head spin right around. Right on around. Dastardly.

… Of course, should you treat the elf with respect, you may be blessed with good luck for the rest of your natural life—a boon not to be sneered at, in the author’s humble opinion.

Of course, some doubting souls claim that Tyto pollens, an extinct species that is distantly related to the Common Barn-owl ( Tyto alba), is the origin of the chickcharnie myth. Tyto pollens was a large, flightless burrowing owl rumored to have been territorially aggressive, though it coexisted with humans. Rapid deforestation by white explorers in the 16th century led, sadly, to this creature’s extinction… or just to the chickcharnie’s retreat from common view…

Whichever version of the story is true,  the author is ready to chance it, as some good luck– and a beach vacation– would be greatly appreciated.

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Lonomia obliqua caterpillar: prickly little beast

In the rainforests of South America lives a fragile and lovely caterpillar–lonomia obliqua— that will kill you if you let it. Be warned, dear readers, that they are often found–or rather, go unnoticed– on the bark of trees, which provides perfect  camouflage for the nasty, homicidal little  lepidoptera.

There they lurk in unassuming wait for travelers to lean against their trees, and to unknowingly brush against one of their numbers. Scientists will tell you that the powerful anticoagulant venom is a defensive mechanism, but the author of BV knows different. Lean in close to your screen, now: they are in league with evil forces and poise dto take over the world. It’s all very hush hush.

Ahem. On a practical note, symptoms of Lonomia obliqua poisoning include “severe internal bleeding, renal failure and hemolysis.”  A lethal dose of the toxin is minuscule, among the lowest of all known toxins. Brush against two of these villains and you’re meat.

To wit: though the lonomia family is responsible for only .1 % fewer toxin-related deaths than are rattlesnake bites,  should you be injected by the caterpillar, it would only take one one-thousandth volume of venom (versus the average snakebite) to do its work. One shudders to think.

So dear readers, should you find yourself in a Brazilian rainforest, mind the trees, forget the snakes, and beware the caterpillars.

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Filed under Phobia-inducing, the insect world, the strange and the beautiful, tiny animals, Uncategorized

Tungara frog: foamy little freaks

It is a biological truth that in most cases of human canoodling some modest amount of various and sundry bodily fluids are produced. (Indeed, many female humans in the author’s aquaintence have had occasion to note that some male specimen seem to produce excessive saliva when mating rituals such as “necking” are undertaken. What is with that, anyway?)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, imagine your horror should you find that your mate had the habits of Engystomops pustulosus (formerly known as Physalaemus pustulosus.) When mating, the eager male frog positions himself atop the female and starts to pulse rhythmically (not to say monotonously, though some lady frogs might complain on that account). As a result, the female  releases a foam producing solvent which the male’s gyrations froths up into a giant, floating foam nest that protects the fertilized eggs “from dehydration, sunlight, temperature, and potential pathogens until the tadpoles hatch.”

Very creative. And very… well, unsavory, frankly. But if one is a Tungara frog, one might find such foamy emmissions quite provocative.  And the author suspects that should she look hard enough, she would find internet porn for that.

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Sea krait: love machine of the underwater world

If you are like the author, dear readers, you were inordinately excited by the release of the first installment of the “Life” series, a follow-up to “Planet Earth,” which aired on the  Discovery channel and its affiliates this sunday. And if you know the author at all (at all, I say), the three of you who read with any regularity (ahem) would immediately have recognized that the sea krait was destined to be the newest addition to the annals of BV.

Because it is impossible to ignore the single most prominent feature of these Hydrophiidae  : sea kraits Do. It. All. Day. Long. In more scientific terms, they “copulate. prodigiously. diurnally.” During which time the much smaller male is unable to disengage.

You read it right, dear readers. “Unable to disengage.”

No female sea kraits were available for comment (or their native reticence prevented them from kissing and telling), but we might imagine that this unique (ahem) situation has its benefits and its drawbacks:

 *First: the male is unable to claim fatigue and roll over before he gets the job done.  BUT:

*this leaves the female no option of… shall we say creative vocalization and a speedy retreat. NEVERTHELESS:

*there is no need for the female to long for just a bit more post-coital cuddling, AND

* she has no need to wonder if he’s going to call again. After all, dear readers, she  knew he was a snake when she picked him up.

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Join BV in Boycotting the Giant Hornet

 

The author of BV very rarely finds cause to protest the very existence of a member of the animal kingdom, but in the case of the Japanese Giant Hornet (vespa mandarinia japonica), she will make an exception. This bug  is very simply cheating at scrabble. Colloquially known as the “yak killer” (!! one shudders to think), this little thumb-sized monster’s 1/4 inch long stinger  is equipped not only with flesh-eating/ neurotoxic  venom, but also with pheremones proven irresistable to other hornets. Which  then join in the feast. The gist? You do not, dear readers, want to get stung by a giant hornet. Ever. Ever.

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Banana Slug: “hard” life.

 

To paraphrase Brittney Spears, this banana slug is not that innocent

To paraphrase Brittney Spears, this banana slug is "not that innocent"

Beloved by alumni of UC Santa Cruz, banana slugs seem to have a pretty good thing going. Sure, they’re slow and eat detritus on the forest floor. But they’re beloved.

 …Just, you know, not by each other. In fact, as one intrepid UCSC PhD candidate put it, slugs

are constantly in an evolutionary arms race where males try to manipulate females into doing what they want them to do (for example, NOT mate with a new male) and females are constantly trying to prevent males from manipulating them.

 This is all a very messy—and uncomfortably familiar—business.  But if, dear readers, you are thinking you have caught the author in a gaffe, and that that banana slugs have developed an interesting solution to the battle of the sexes by evolving into hermaphrodites, problem solved, no muss no fuss… well then you are sadly mistaken. Because as you are by now perfectly aware, the end of the story is almost never the end of the story.

 And Banana slugs are not the nice, neat, nonexistent Barbie-genitalia sporting spontaneous generators we might like to imagine in our PG science textbooks. No, indeed. In fact, slugs are Simultaneous hermaphrodites, which means that they have both male and female primary sex characteristics. And boy, do they ever: an eight-inch slug can have an eight-inch long penis.  

Some of the male readers in the audience are doing some fast math and a little creative visualization in their mirrors, but don’t get overly excited, boys. Because even if the idea that the slugs mutually penetrate souds like a pretty good deal to you, you might be less excited to learn that sometimes a slug will also chew it’s mates member off after the deed is done.

 Chew it right on off. It’s called apophallation. And no, it doesn’t grow back.

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Echeneis: stubborn little bastard of a fish.

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Isidore of Seville, who is, let’s face it, quite the hero for BV, named it the “delay,” for obvious reasons In the 1st century CE, Lucan wrote of it as  “…the sucking fish / Which holds the vessel back though eastern winds.” 

This little sucker was the echeneis, a small fish no more than six inches in length, which made its home in the Indian Ocean, and is said to have clung to ships and delayed their passage. When this fish latches on to a seagoing vessel, the most Shakespearean of gusts or invocations thereof would not move the ship, which would seemed to have become rooted to a fixed point in the roiling sea.

This fish, dear readers, reminds me of someone… another stubborn little bastard. Who could it be? ah, well. It’ll come to me…

In any case, Pliny the Elder elaborated, noting that it is used for making love-charms, and spells to slow litigation, and that it can be used to hold back the birth of a pre-term fetus until term. “This fish” says Pliny,  “is not eaten.”  “Some say,” says Pliny,” that “this fish has feet.” Pliny is loathe to believe this last tidbit. It’s not particularly that the presence of feet is more far fetched than the efficacy of its presence in charms and spells, but simply that “Aristotle says it does not.” And it’s simply quite gauche to argue with Aristotle—at least, it was in the 1st century.

AHA! I remember now: who could resemble an impedance to progress impervious to either reason or pathos?

Why, it’s the author’s writer’s block, of course- her worst enemy while adrift in the rough seas of dissertation.

 

yes, it’s one of those days folks. Send the life rafts… And mind the echeneis.

 

 

 
 

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Bovine rampage in Norway: Revenge of the Beef

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In 2002, a series of bizzare bovine incidents in the Norweigian countryside alarmed residents, and alerted us to the  possibility that cows are beginning to strain at the agricultural tether.

The first victim, 23-year old Stian Skoglund, was “bashed and trampled by a furious cud-chewer” according to one publication.  

The incident occurred when Skoglond noticed that one of the cows he was attempting to gather for milking appeared “uneasy.” Apparently under the delusion that he had psychic animal powers, Skoglond “made eye contact with the animal” and “tried to calm it.” Unsurprisingly, the cow “became provoked:”

 “The cow butted me and I fell,” Skoglund reported. Frightened, our failed animal mesmerist scrambled to his feet and tried to make a dash for it, but the cow, undettered, knocked him to the ground. Pleased with her work, she then began—according to the same  Norwegian  English- language publication—to  “hop and trample him,” ceasing only when her victim gave up the fight and played dead.

Skoglund suffered a shattered leg, several broken ribs, numerous lacerations, and multiple contusions. He later wondered whether the attack was done in retaliation for his part in hauling away the body of a calf that had died days earlier.

“Maybe,” quoth our budding animal psychologist, “it was her motherly instincts being aroused. I’ve also heard that I shouldn’t have made eye contact with her, that only provokes them.”  

No shit, Stian.

Other incidents include a 45-year-old farmer who was hospitalized after a cow charged his wife (The farmer found himself in this unfortunate position after he attempted to wave his arms and distract the cow from its attack on his wife), and a nearby farmer who was trampled to death by rampaging bulls.

But by far the most shocking occurrence, dear readers, was the incident of the cow who fell  from the sky and died, nearly taking a car full of Norwegian travellers with her.

The story begins like a joke, with four men traveling in a car and debating the source of “a large shadow in the sky.” Was it a bird? No. a plane? No. nor was it a caped adventurer. It fell to earth with a mighty thump, mere feet in front of the moving vehicle.

Driver Olav Kjeldstad reported that, having barely managed to avoid hitting the mysterious object, he stopped the car and he and his three passengers looked behind them to where a cow lay in the road; according to one passenger, the fallen bovidae bovinae “only managed a few moos before dying.”

Kjelstad admitted that he “was pretty shaken afterwards” but also admitted– with typical Norse pragmatism and an inborn appreciation for dramatic subgenre–  that “we had a laugh as well;” the entire situation, he said, “was tragicomic.”

Perhaps  Kjelstad should have loaned his well-thumbed Companion to Norse Drama to poor Stian Skoglund,  upon whom the subtleties of tragicomedy were clearly lost.

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Money Might Not, But Barnacle Geese Do (grow on trees)

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 Source: British Library Images Online Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission Manuscript description British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 36r

What medieval-inspired bestiary would be complete without the Barnacle Goose?  According to Sir John Mandeville, who wrote in the 14th century CE, this fantastic creature is–or was– a species of goose that grows on trees. Not in trees, mind you. On trees.

In his Travels, Sir John writes that

 I told them of as great a marvel to them, that is amongst us, and that was of the Bernakes. For I told them that in our country were trees that bear a fruit that become birds flying, and those that fell in the water live, and they that fall on the earth die anon, and they be right good to man’s meat. And hereof had they as great marvel, that some of them trowed it were an impossible thing to be.

We moderns might be inclined to trow it impossible, too. Yet is it possible that the barnacle goose finds its equivalent in recent college graduates, who find themselves suddenly adrift of the parental money tree, and must function on their own or perish?  Indeed, the author sees many subtle similarities. Barnacle goslings grow on trees that overhang bodies of water; the young birds hang from their sprouting-points by their beaks.  When the birds are “ripe,” they fall. The fortuitous ones, which fall into the water, float and find themselves well on their way to healthy, productive adult lives. But those that fall on land– or go to graduate school– face a harder fate. Some die. The 14th century besties apparently all died, as there simply aren’t many tree-growing geese running about these days.

Yet today’s hapless little geese, who unerringly choose graduate studies in something “esoteric” like “Medieval English” or “Philosphy,” may in fact return to the life-giving tree well into adulthood, until the tree at long last shouts:

“Enough already! how long does a dissertation TAKE, anyway?

sigh.

take it from the author of BV, dear readers. major in something useful, like billiards, or graft.

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Humanatee: A dying breed

seen here without a school, this humanatee may never find a home

The humanatee is an ancient, intelligent beast, most often found in large “schools,” though members of far-flung schools frequently gather together in large, gregarious groups called “conferences.” During these  sporadic expeditions, humanatees may demonstrate dominance by flashing the “TT” position. These strange creatures then show off to potential mates by uttering strange, unintelligible  sounds in rapid succession.

Infighting and promiscuous behavior is not uncommon in conferences.

But dear readers, the humanatee, contrary to appearances, is not its own worst enemy. The humanatee is among our worlds most endangered species, and though abundant, is seriously threatened by the rough economic waters currently plaguing our shores and those the world over. Worse, funding for conservation programs has recently been cut dramatically, leading some experts to wonders whether there is adequate habitat  in today’s academe for the humanatees.*

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Parasitic Wasps, part deux

A friend to BV has alerted the author to the following video, as a follow-up to a recent posting on parasitic wasps. His advice? Not to watch this while eating lunch.

Dear readers, heed this wise man’s advice. But *do* watch. The effects of the “wasp virus” may be among the more bizarre phenomena of the animal world. (And far more innteresting than the swine flu, anyway).

cheers, Isk, for the tip.

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“Viking Kittens iz Where its at” Indeed.

 

It is difficult to resist the lure of a theme. and the lure of the “crazy/cute/creepy cat video” theme is best compared, dear reader(s), to crack cocaine.

While naysayers (and I have one particular naysayer in mind, who will likely never read this post) might complain that “[he] hate[s] cats. And hates people who take pictures of their cats “in stuff.”” Even he has been known on occasion to succumb to the lure of a well-made kitty vid.

And this one, oh my darlings, is something that must be experienced to be believed. This is Viking Kittens, on their way to Valhalla… set to music of the Led Zepplin variety.

Follow the link below. Enjoy. 

http://www.dennyweb.com/viking_kittens.htm

 

NB: 

I have no remorse for posting this.  You may direct any and all complaints about refrains subsequently floating unbidden through your mind to  

 http://cinnabari.livejournal.com/

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Happy Birthday!!! Ibringyouthecreepy!!!

Yes, folkes, despite rumors that the author of BV was raised by (hyper-literate) wolves, she does, in fact, have a lovely human mother, who celebrated a birthday today.

Mama, for your birthday I bring you the creepiest cat video to grace our fair pages… so far.

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The Pop-Culture Guide to Swine flu

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The purpose of BV has always been to inform, and now the author feels called upon to clear up some misconceptions floating around about the swine flu epidemic. We’ll start with a brief “scene from a  paparazzi”:

******************************************************************************************************************************

[exterior, Day. A celebutant stands on the sidewalk in Los Angeles] 

photographer: “[Paris!]You worried about the swine flu Paris? It’s killing a lot of people in Mexico”

 Hilton:       [extended pause] …  “I don’t eat that.”

 *****************************************************************************************************************************

 

Some of you might be saying “well, Paris isn’t as dumb as she looks! This is a sign that we shouldn’t be eating pig!”  But you all may need to brush up on your Pulp Fiction: 

 

 

 

Besides, the swine flu, like all other flu varieties, is highly contagious but is spread primarily through contact with an infected individual. The CDC has a detailed brochure explaining the ins and outs of swine flu, including reasonable means of prevention and pharmaceutical options:  http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/pdf/brochure.pdf

…and this brochure is very clear that provided you heat them to the requisite internal temperature of 160 degrees, your beloved chops and belly are always…

 

 

 So Paris, you can go back to eating pork… hell, you can go back to eating, because despite your misinformation, the author of BV is here to tell you that just as you will not catch the avian flu from eating chicken, you will not get the pig flu from eating pork. 

But regardless of it’s charm, if you go around licking an infected pig’s  snout, you’re on your own, kid.

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