Category Archives: the strange and the beautiful

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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Filed under academia, human behavior, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

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

Roadkillus Commonus: spontaneous spiritual moments for animal lovers

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Filed under human behavior, the strange and the beautiful

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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Filed under human behavior, Phobia-inducing, rated NC17, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

The Borneo frog: it’s itsy bitsy and it crawled up the pitcher’s spout

Apparently, Dear readers, the author of BV is on a tiny animal kick. The newest addition to the list being Microhyla nepenthicola, recently discovered by researchers in Borneo. These little buggers live and breed  in the muck that accumulates at the bottom of pitcher plants that grow on the forest floor.

Neat trick, that, since the pitcher plant is carnivorous.  Perhaps even these tiny frogs are too big a bite for the pitcher plant to chew.

And perhaps the author’s love for these creatures of diminutive size is a reaction to the smallness she feels in the face of almost insurmountable personal hurdles, and a respect for their ability to adapt and persevere. Or perhaps that pop psychobabble should go the way of poor  Ornithomimosauria, long extinct and similarly toothless.

But the bottom line, dear readers, is that that tiny frog is damned cute, don’t you think?


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Filed under academia, exceedingly cute, the strange and the beautiful, tiny animals, Uncategorized

Tiny animals make BV smile

The author has been remiss, and has neglected to deliver promised entries. Well, dear readers, that is changing, starting now, with a new link I love.

Hooray, tiny animals has all of the squishy cutsiepoo appeal that the author of BV secretly loves in an alarmingly pre-adolescent way. Enjoy, and return for more posts.

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Filed under baby animals, exceedingly cute, links to love, marine life, the strange and the beautiful, tiny animals, Uncategorized

Fried Egg Jellyfish… pass the Tabasco.

Well, this is another post inspired by the Discovery Channel series Life. Unfortunately, Dear Readers, while the Fried Egg jellyfish (Phacellophora camtschatica) is strange and beautiful, it is also singularly boring. Terrible at cocktail parties.  Seriously. Even with the author of BV’s overactive imagination, she could find nothing more fascinating to write about about this behemouth  than the shape that its name implies. Which leaves her with nothing to say but pass the tabasco, and mind the tentacles.

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Filed under marine life, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Well, cockles thoroughly warmed

it’s ridiculous how easy it is to make the author of BV get misty these days. And before you even think it, bite your tongue. she is *NOT* pregnant. Just sensitive.

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Filed under exceedingly cute, the strange and the beautiful

Bejeweled Insects

Every so often, dear readers, the author of BV is struck positively speechless (shocking, I know) by an image from the animal world. In this case, these  include the  images of Miroslaw Swietek , Martin Amm, and Jens Kolk (see a sample of Swietek’s work, above, and photographs by Amm and Kolk, respectively, below)  and they are so exceedingly beautiful that for once, the author has nothing snarky or otherwise sideways to say about them. These photographers used a macro lens and flash in the wee hours of morning to catch “sleeping” insects wet with dew.  Follow the links above, and at the bottom of this page, and enjoy.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1260946/The-stunning-pictures-sleeping-insects-covered-early-morning-dew.html

http://seawayblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/insects-in-morning-dew.html

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Filed under backyard fauna, the strange and the beautiful

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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Filed under folklore, marine life, Phobia-inducing, rated NC17, the strange and the beautiful

Stars of our Stars:

Today, the author of BV would like you to contemplate the fact that there are stars beneath the ocean, glowing in shades of blue and red and green, constellations of… well, of jelly actually. But enough for the waxing poetic: turn your attention to these glowing beauties, and ask yourself: need all aliens come from above?

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Filed under marine life, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

You’d be Prickly, too

A rare Prickly shark ( Echinorhinus cookei) was recently “found” and displayed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, quite the coup for the eager grad student type who “found” the shark.

The shark was  “collected” in an area where the Monterey Bay Aquarium Supported research, by the unnamed graduate student (sorry, chum), who was documenting  daily migrations of prickly sharks from the deep waters of the canyon to the shallows of the canyon head where the specimen in question was… “collected” and quickly put on display at the aquarium.  

But as of the writing of this post, the Prickly predator has been returned to the wild, because after a mere 15 hours in captivity, staff scientists at the Monterey Bay aquarium noticed that the shark “appeared too bouyant to swim easily.”

The scientists tagged the prickly (and, apparently, gassy) shark, normally seen only in very deep waters,  before releasing him in waters about 250 ft deep.  They watched him swim off, clearly headed back for the deeper waters of the pacific rim.

Reports have yet to be confirmed, but some witnesses swear that they saw the shark flipping those scientists the bird as he swam out into deeper waters.*  

 

*please note: the author of BV is in favor of any and all humane efforts to learn more about the life in our oceans, and understands that the scientists’ intentions were pure. Nevertheless, she empathizes with the shark, who was kidnapped, stuck in a  tank, made a mini-media spectacle, and sent home all in the span of a day. As the title suggests, after this kind of Wednesday, you’d probably be prickly, too.

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Filed under human behavior, marine life, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

A Blog After My Own Heart

The author of BV deos not often direct her (few) readers to read other blogs, lest you intrepid souls desert me for greener fields. One suspects you may be a bit shifty that way. But today is something of an exception.

You see, a friend recently directed my attention to a blog after my own heart. Fuck you, Penguin  is in some ways BV’s doppelganger. BV’s dark and twisty evil twin. The heads to BV’s tails. The yin to BV’s yang. The… well, you get the point.

This clever monkey’s recent headlines include such stunners as:

 “The Marsupial Rampage Continues”

“Baby Flying Squirrels: a mini 9/11 in your hand”

and

Noone wants to hang out with eels

 

While the author writhes a bit in frustration that she didn’t think of the latter headline first, you, dear readers, should take a look, enjoy… but please… come back.

…it gets so lonely here without you.

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Filed under exceedingly cute, rated NC17, the strange and the beautiful

Cockatoo love song

 

Cockatoos are known for their intelligence, their vocality, their general precociousness. And this bird, apparently going by the nomiker S. Elvis, is no exception. One might wonder where he came up with this particular mantra, but then…

In the author’s humble opinion, it is likely that every woman (and a fair number of men) has had this experience: you’re having a nice evening with your significant other, watching some television, when said mate begins to harrangue you with demands to “RUB the bird!!! RUB the BIRD!!!”

 

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Filed under common household pets, human behavior, pink animal league, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

G.I. Joe: Proud Patriot Pigeon

 

It is not a frequent occurence, in the part of the country in which the author of BV was raised (and where the  spirit of the American nineteen-sixties still rules) for the US military to recieve much fanfare, or even much respect.  This is particularly true when you talk to the many animal rights supporters and activists that gravitate here, and who have much to say about the military’s animal welfare policies. The author herself is not always in concord with military policy.

Yet I will go out on a limb, here, in a blog dedicated on at least some level to cherishing and protecting the animals that populate our world, to say that whatever your politics, whatever your feelings about this or previous administrations, the men and women of the military deserve your respect and support, and yes, the dead deserve to be honored today, on memorial day.  Today, we mourn the fallen–without qualification or sneering, if you please.  

First enacted to honor Union soldiers felled in Civil War, Memorial Day was expanded  to include American casualties of any war or military action after WWI.  Anybody who has visited the American cemetary at Normandy can attest to the power of that memorial. And every country seems to have its own version of the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Indeed, there are many more unknown soldiers than you might even realize, because yes, there are animals among them. Take the Homing pigeon: many of these birds have flown and died in America’s history, including those that did so in WWII, after the holiday was expanded.  

The most famous of all American homing pigeons might just be G.I. Joe,  who flew for the United States Army Pigeon Service. Joe was one of 54,000+ pigeons in the Service, and in his official capcity he saved the lives of the inhabitants of the village of Calvi Vecchia, Italy, and those of the British troops who were occupying it it the time. 

The village, believed by Allied forces to be under enemy control,  had been scheduled for bombardedment no later than 18 October 1943. But in the nick of time Joe arrived at Army headquarters with the message that the British had triumphed there. Over a thousand people were saved by that freaking bird, if you’ll beg the author’s pardon.

G.I. Joe’s bravery was recognized by the Mayor of London in 1946, when he awarded Joe the prized Dickin Medal for gallantry.  Again, folkes, this is some freaking great pigeon. Makes you look  differently at the obnoxious objects swarming the trashcans downtown.

G.I. Joe was lucky; his story has a happy ending. He made it through the war, as so many young men and women did not, and lived out his retirement at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, alongside twenty-four of his brothers and sisters in arms. Ultimetely, Joe died at the Detroit Zoological Gardens  at the age of eighteen.  

The Cemetary at Normandy is filled with 18year old boys.  The author suspects that Joe would have liked to have saved them, too.

To Joe, and all of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services who haven’t made it home to roost: R.I.P.  

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Filed under backyard fauna, common household pets, human behavior, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized