Beached Blue Whale
The largest animal on the planet is known to be the blue whale … and the carcass of one recently washed ashore at Agate Beach in Bolinas, California. The specimen measured around 79 feet long, with most of the body still intact. Experts still aren’t sure what killed the huge marine mammal … although it’s speculated it may have suffered a blunt force injury when it collided with a ship … scientists plan a full necropsy soon. Did you know that around 2,800 blue whales are thought to live off the California coast? That’s roughly a third of their population worldwide.
Bus Sized Beast
The fossil of a prehistoric beast the size of a bus were found recently in Russia. The creature had dinosaur-size proportions … but it was actually a sea dwelling reptile with an enormous skull, huge teeth, powerful jaws and two pairs of flippers. Related to plesiosaurs, these creatures are identified as pliosaurs (PLY-oh-sores)… They would have been the apex predators of the oceans during the age of dinosaurs, and were characterized by their ferocious, predatory nature. The unusually well preserved specimen was found on the banks of the Volga (VOL-guh) River and dates back around 130 million years. Measuring around 5 feet long, researchers have extrapolated the creature’s size to have been roughly the size of a bus. Pliosaurs were known to grow to lengths of 50 feet and weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Hard to believe given their great size … but pliosaurs were actually distant cousins of today’s turtles!
Macaque (muh-KAK) monkeys in Indonesia have taken on some human like behaviors … Our fellow primates have learned how to steal the belongings of tourists — and then hold the items until a ransom of food is paid! The unique — if annoying — behavior is only found with monkeys living around the Uluwatu (oo-loo-WAH-too)Temple of Bali … where the creatures have long been known to pilfer glasses, hats, cameras and wads of cash from visitors. Scientists conducting field research discovered that groups of monkeys that moved into the region would soon learn the macaques behavior … suggesting that it is learned as the newcomers observe the actions of the longer term residents. Some experts think the primates robbing and bartering behavior is indicative of a cognitive tradition among this species … one that is transmitted across generations of the animals as they learn from one another.
All You Can’t Eat
A couple in Texas witnessed a sight you don’t see everyday … not that you’d want to. While stopped by the side of the road, they watched in horror as a huge black snake regurgitated a smaller snake. Starting with the smaller snake’s tail, the black snake steadily ejected its victim … which emerged intact, wriggling, and still alive! The black snake slithered away as soon as it was relieved of its meal. Did you know, snakes are known for their ability to digest large prey. They’re also known to regurgitate a meal if they feel threatened. The larger snake likely ejected its prey because it was in a hurry to escape the couple … which may have made it a case of ‘eat and run’.
Goats in the Trees
While goats are known to climb hills and mountains, they’re not known to climb trees … except in southern Morocco. Experts say that up to 20 of the creatures will regularly climb thorny argan trees that are native to the region. It’s said that they spend up to three-quarters of their time ‘treetop grazing’. Some pictures displaying their behavior almost appear to be Photoshopped. But the goats are actually perched on the branches … displaying an amazing ability to balance themselves there … some 30 feet above the ground! As the goats forage in the trees, they spit out seeds to be dispersed on the ground. The seeds are contained in a pulpy fruit that surrounds the tree’s nut, and resembles a large green olive. The fruit itself is enough to entice the goats to climb the trees. But they don’t like the large seeds … so the animals spit them out. And it turns out to be a win-win for the local environment. As those seeds are spread some distance from the parent tree, it gives the seedlings a better chance of survival. Local herders are happy enough with the arrangement that they even prune the trees to make it easier for the goats to climb them!