What is Taxidermy?

” Taxidermy is the preserving of an animal’s body via stuffing or mounting for the purpose of display or study. Animals are often, but not always, portrayed in a lifelike state. The word taxidermy refers to the process of preserving the animal, but the word is also used to describe the end product, which are often called “mounts”. The word taxidermy is derived from the Greek words “taxis” and “derma”. Taxis means to “to move”, and “derma” means “skin” (the dermis). The word taxidermy translates to “arrangement of skin”. Taxidermy is practiced primarily on vertebrates (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and less commonly on amphibians) but can also be done to larger insects and arachnids under some circumstances. Taxidermy takes on a number of forms and purposes, including natural history museum displays, hunting trophies, study skins, and is sometimes used as a means to memorialize pets. A person who practices taxidermy is called a taxidermist. They may practice professionally for museums or as businesses catering to hunters and fishermen, or as amateurs, such as hobbyists, hunters, and fishermen. A taxidermist is aided by familiarity with anatomy, sculpture, painting, and tanning.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxidermy

 

Why Animals Have Different Life spans? By: Joao Pedro de Magalhaes

For the microscopic lab worm C. elegans, life equates to just a few short weeks on Earth. The bowhead whale, on the other hand, can live over two hundred years. Why are these life spans so different? And what does it really mean to ‘age’ anyway?

“In animal studies, maximum span is often taken to be the mean life span of the most long-lived 10% of a given cohort. By another definition, however, maximum life span corresponds to the age of which the oldest known member of a species or experimental group has died. Calculation of the maximum life span in the latter sense depends upon initial sample size.[1]

Maximum life span contrasts with mean life span (average life spanlife expectancy), and longevity. Mean life span varies with susceptibility to disease, accident, suicide, and homicide, whereas maximum life span is determined by “rate of aging”. Longevity refers only to the characteristics of the especially long lived members of a population, such as infirmities as they age or compression of morbidity, and not the specific life span of an individual.

Small animals such as birds and squirrels rarely live to their maximum life span, usually dying of accidents, disease or predation.

The maximum life span of most species is documented in the Anage repository.

Maximum life span is usually longer for species that are larger or have effective defenses against predation, such as bird flight, chemical defenses or living in social groups.

The differences in life span between species demonstrate the role of genetics in determining maximum life span (“rate of aging”). The records (in years) are these:

  • for common house mouse, 4
  • for Norway rat, 3.8
  • for dogs, 29
  • for cats, 38
  • for polar bears, 42 (Debby)
  • for horses, 62
  • for Asian elephants, 86

The longest-lived vertebrates have been variously described as

  • Macaws (A parrot that can live up to 80–100 years in captivity)
  • Koi (A Japanese species of fish, allegedly living up to 200 years, though generally not exceeding 50 – A specimen named Hanako was reportedly 226 years old upon her death)
  • Tortoises (Galápagos tortoise) (190 years)
  • Tuataras (a New Zealand reptile species, 100–200+ years)
  • Eels, the so-called Brantevik Eel (Swedish: Branteviksålen) is thought to have lived in a water well in southern Sweden since 1859, which makes it over 150 years old. It was reported that it had died in August 2014 at an age of 155.
  • Whales (Bowhead Whale) (Balaena mysticetus about 200 years) Although this idea was unproven at a time, recent research has indicated that bowhead whales recently killed still had harpoons in their bodies from about 1890, which, along with analysis of amino acids, has indicated a maximum life span, stated as “the 211-year-old bowhead could have been from 177 to 245 years old”.
  • Greenland Sharks are currently the vertebrate species with the longest known lifespan. An examination of 28 specimens in one study published in 2016 determined by radiocarbon dating that the oldest of the animals that they sampled had lived for about 392 ± 120 years (a minimum of 272 years and a maximum of 512 years). The authors further concluded that the species reaches sexual maturity at about 150 years of age.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_life_span

 

 

History of Life on Earth

Happy New Year, planet Earth!

According to the Anno Domini designation, the year is now 2014. But the Earth has been around a lot longer than that – about 4.567 billion years. The first evidence of life dates back to around 3.8 billion years ago. Homo sapiens first appeared on the planet around two hundred thousand years – or ten thousand generations – ago.

How’s that for perspective?

Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History, calls this perspective “deep time.” This is the story of our planet preserved in “the DNA of living things,” Johnson explains, as well as “in the fossils we find, in the geologic structures of our planet, in the meteorites we scavenge from the ice fields in Antarctica. Those things together give us an incredible manual for thinking about the planet.”

Why is this manual useful? We are facing a century that will be an incredibly challenging one for humanity. We now live on a planet with seven billion people, which is up from 1.7 billion people just three or four generations ago. So we have more people and a greater need for resources.

Fortunately, we have the bodies of extinct plants and animals that lived for the last three-and-a-half billion years. These fossils are not only a source of energy but also a source of knowledge about how this planet works. Over its history, the Earth has seen an incredible diversity of life – maybe as many as fifty million species. Johnson says we’re learning “as much about the evolution of life on Earth by looking at what happened in the past as we are at looking at the breakthroughs in genomics and DNA of living things.” Furthermore, Johnson sees the sequencing of the human genome as the vanguard for what will eventually be “the study of the genomics of all living things.”

We have the opportunity right now, Johnson says, to choose what our future will be. Our understanding of the diversity of life on this planet, he says, will be our guide. This story is being told at a current exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History called “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code.”

In the video, Johnson shares a unique perspective on deep time in the form of a timeline of life on this planet in just three minutes.

Transcript – Life on Earth is an amazing story. The planet forms around 4.567 billion years ago. The first rocks that appear to have any chemical evidence of life show up around 3.8 billion years ago. Then by 3.5 billion years ago we actually see evidence of these bacterial mounds. And we waited a long time before we see any life forms that are large. The first large life forms show up about 600 million years ago and they are sea floor organisms that are now extinct that looked like placemats believe it or not. After that there’s somewhere around 500 million years is an explosion of marine life, lots of diversification, the first organisms that were related to the different groups of marine animals you find today. It’s not until about 400 million years ago that the first life emerges onto land. The first little arachnid spider-like organisms, early plants that were only maybe a centimeter tall. Wait another 100 million years you get your first forest.

You get your first large bodied terrestrial animals. Things like giant millipedes and the first land living vertebrates evolving from fish. Sometime after that animals — four-legged animals finally learned how to eat plants. It took a while for the first terrestrial herbivores to appear. That happened somewhere around 300 million years ago. And then there’s a major extinction that happens at 250 million years ago. Don’t really know the cause but something to do with the perturbation of the Earth’s carbon cycle where we lose something like 90 percent of the species on the planet. When they disappear it’s like the near shave for life on Earth. But out of that grows the age of the dinosaurs. And for 150 million years we have a world that’s warm, a world that is so warm that no polar ice caps. And in that world a, a great diversity of animals that start to look familiar to you cohabit with the dinosaurs. We get the first birds. We get the first mammals. We still have these large dinosaurs and then at 66 million years ago an asteroid the size of Denver traveling 20 times the speed of a bullet crashes into the Yucatan Peninsula and causes a massive extinction of all animals that are larger than dogs on the planet.

How Do Bees Can See the Invisible?

“The survival of a bee colony depends on the bee’s ability to find flowers containing food. The bright color and sweet aroma of certain flowers act as natural attractants for bees. Bees use a combination of eyesight and sense of smell to identify flowers with the pollen and nectar they need to survive.

Bees are able to see blue, green and violet. They also have the unique capacity to see ultraviolet light patterns, which are invisible to the human eye. Bees use the color patterns found in the petals of flowers and the ultra violet light to determine the presence of both pollen and nectar. If the ultraviolet light is not present, bees become disinterested in searching for flowers.” https://www.ehow.com/about_6505858_do-bees-flowers_.html

Anyway, spring is in the air!! We’re all thawing out from winter’s chill, and for bees and flowers, this season is about one thing: Feeding and fertilizing. Bees are amazing social insects, and their relationship with flowers is one of nature’s coolest examples of “mutualism”.

What are the 20 Largest Birds of Prey?

These are the 20 biggest carnivorouse birds in the world. ( Some are already exitinct 🙁 ).

African Fish Eagle
You might notice that this bird bears a resemblance to the bald eagle of North America; in fact, the two birds are related … although this critter weighs about 8 pounds and is found in sub-Saharan Africa. They have wingspans greater than 7.5 feet. As you might guess, it feeds mainly on fish … and has specialized toes that can easily grip slippery prey. This eagle has quite a wide range, and serves as the national bird for 3 countries — Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Zambia.

Blakiston’s Fish Owl
Blakiston’s fish owl (Bubo blakistoni), the largest living species of owl, is a fish owl, a sub-group of eagle owls who specialized in hunting riparian areas.[2] This species is a part of the family known as typical owls (Strigidae) which contains most species of owl. Blakiston’s fish owl and three related species were previously placed in the genus Ketupa; mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data is equivocal on which genus name is applied for this species.[3] Its habitat is riparian forest, with large, old trees for nest-sites, near lakes, rivers, springs and shoals that don’t freeze in winter. Henry Seebohm named this bird after the English naturalist Thomas Blakiston, who collected the original specimen in Hakodate on Hokkaidō, Japan in 1883.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blakiston%27s_fish_owl

Verraux’s (vair-OOZE) Eagle
This bird is also known as the Black Eagle and is a large raptor found in the mountainous regions of Africa. From bill to the tip of tail, they can measure some 38 inches, and weigh more than 15 pounds. It’s recognized as a uniquely specialized bird, with its distribution and history focused on its favorite species of prey — the rock hyrax. That’s a squat critter which resembles a guinea pig.

Eurasian Eagle Owl
The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl that resides in much of Eurasia. It is also called the European eagle-owl and in Europe, where it is the only member of its genus besides the snowy owl (B. scandiacus), it is occasionally abbreviated to just eagle-owl. It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 75 cm (30 in), with a wingspan of 188 cm (6 ft 2 in), males being slightly smaller.[4] This bird has distinctive ear tufts, with upper parts that are mottled with darker blackish colouring and tawny. The wings and tail are barred. The underparts are a variably hued buff, streaked with darker color. The facial disc is poorly developed and the orange eyes are distinctive. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_eagle-owl

Great Grey Owl
As measured by length, this is the world’s largest owl species … and is found across the Northern Hemisphere. But their size is kind of a deception. While they can reach some 30 inches long, their large head, exceptionally long tail, and fluffy feathers conceal a body that is actually much lighter than that of other large owls … these critters only weigh a little over 4 pounds!

Crowned Eagle
The crowned eagle, also known as the African crowned eagle or the crowned hawk-eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) is a large bird of prey found in sub-Saharan Africa; in Southern Africa it is restricted to eastern areas. Its preferred habitats are principally riparian woodlands and various forests. The crowned eagle is the only extant member of the genus Stephanoaetus. A second species, the Malagasy crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus mahery) became extinct after humans settled on Madagascar.
At least 90 per cent of the diet is mammalian; the usual prey taken by populations shows pronounced regional differences. Throughout its range the principal prey items are small ungulates (such as duikers, chevrotains), rock hyrax and small primates such as monkeys. Birds and large lizards are barely taken.

Bald Eagle
The bird of prey is actually known as a sea eagle … and is recognized as a national symbol of the United States. They’re documents as building the largest tree nests of any animal species … which can be 13 feet deep and more than 8 feet wide! They can weigh nearly 14 pounds and have a wingspan of 7.5 feet.

Golden Eagle
The cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) is a large raptorial bird that is distributed through much of Eurasia. It is also known as the black vulture, monk vulture, or Eurasian black vulture. It is a member of the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards and harriers. It is one of the two largest Old World vultures, attaining a maximum size of 14 kg, 1.2 m long and 3.1 m across the wings.

Cape Vulture
This Old World vulture is native to southern Africa … They’re among the largest raptors on that continent, weighing about 24 pounds, with wingspans around 8.5 feet. Did you know these robust critters lay only one egg each year?

Harpy Eagle
It’s also known as the American Harpy Eagle … In additional to being one of the largest eagle species in the world, it’s also the biggest and most powerful raptor known in the Americas. The fearsome critters have a wingspan exceeding 7 feet … and the heaviest documented weight was some 27 pounds. Possessing the largest talons of any extant eagle, these birds will hunt larger prey including deer!

Philippine Eagle
The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), also known as the monkey-eating eagle or great Philippine eagle, is an eagle of the family Accipitridae endemic to forests in the Philippines. It has brown- and white-colored plumage, and a shaggy crest, and generally measures 86 to 102 cm (2.82 to 3.35 ft) in length and weighs 4.7 to 8.0 kg (10.4 to 17.6 lb). It is considered the largest of the extant eagles in the world in terms of length and wing surface, with Steller’s sea eagle and the harpy eagle being larger in terms of weight and bulk. Among the rarest and most powerful birds in the world, it has been declared the Philippine national bird. It is critically endangered, mainly due to massive loss of habitat resulting from deforestation in most of its range. Killing a Philippine eagle is punishable under Philippine law by 12 years in prison and heavy fines.

White Tailed Eagle
Considered a close relative to the bald eagle, this bird is a highly efficient hunter and scavenger. They’re found in Eurasia, in habitats of old-growth trees and open water. They can have wingspans of 8 feet, they can measure more over 3 feet long. They’re known to regularly steal food from others, and other raptors.

Steller’s Sea Eagle
Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) is a large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae that lives in coastal northeastern Asia and mainly preys on fish and water birds. On average, it is the heaviest eagle in the world, at about 5 to 9 kg (11 to 20 lb), but may be below the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) in some standard measurements.[3] It is named after the German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller.

Wedge Tailed Eagle
Measuring around 3.5 feet long with a wingspan of more than 9 feet, this is Australia’s largest bird of prey … and is named for its unique, wedge-shaped tail. The large raptor can fly for countless hours without once flapping its wings. They’ve been known to team up to take down larger prey like red kangaroos … and are the only animals known to attack hang gliders and paragliders — likely to defend their territory.

Bearded Vulture
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), also known as the lammergeier or ossifrage, is a bird of prey and the only member of the genus Gypaetus. Traditionally considered an Old World vulture, it actually forms a minor lineage of Accipitridae together with the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), its closest living relative. It is not much more closely related to the Old World vultures proper than to, for example, hawks, and differs from the former by its feathered neck. Although dissimilar, the Egyptian and bearded vulture each have a lozenge-shaped tail — unusual among birds of prey. In July 2014, the IUCN Red List has reassessed this species to be near threatened. Before July 2014, it was actually classed as Least Concern. Their population trend is decreasing.

The bearded vulture is the only known animal whose diet is almost exclusively bone (70-90%). It lives and breeds on crags in high mountains in southern Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Tibet, laying one or two eggs in mid-winter that hatch at the beginning of spring. Populations are resident. – Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearded_vulture

Griffon Vulture
It’s among the world’s largest vultures and true raptors, weighing close to 30 pounds with a wingspan around 10 feet. They’re mainly found in the higher elevations of the Himalayas, so they’re often called the Himalayan Griffon Vulture … but they’ve also been observed further south in Thailand and Singapore.

California Condor
The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. This condor became extinct in the wild in 1987 (all remaining wild individuals were captured), but the species has been reintroduced to northern Arizona and southern Utah (including the Grand Canyon area and Zion National Park), the coastal mountains of central and southern California, and northern Baja California. Although other fossil members are known, it is the only surviving member of the genus Gymnogyps. The species is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.

The plumage is black with patches of white on the underside of the wings; the head is largely bald, with skin color ranging from gray on young birds to yellow and bright orange on breeding adults. Its huge 3.0 m (9.8 ft) wingspan is the widest of any North American bird, and its weight of up to 12 kg (26 lb) nearly equals that of the trumpeter swan, the heaviest among native North American bird species. The condor is a scavenger and eats large amounts of carrion. It is one of the world’s longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 60 years.

Condor numbers dramatically declined in the 20th century due to poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat destruction. A conservation plan was put in place by the United States government that led to the capture of all the remaining wild condors which was completed in 1987, with a total population of 27 individuals. These surviving birds were bred at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo. Numbers rose through captive breeding and, beginning in 1991, condors were reintroduced into the wild. The California condor is one of the world’s rarest bird species: as of December 2016 there are 446 condors living wild or in captivity.

The condor is a significant bird to many Californian Native American groups and plays an important role in several of their traditional myths.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_condor
Andean Condor (an-dee-un)
Did you know this is considered to be the largest flying bird in the world … at least as measured by their combined wingspan and weight. That wingspan can exceed 10.5 feet … and they weigh in at about 25 pounds on average. They prefer South America’s Andes Mountains, where elevations can reach 16,000 feet. At those extreme altitudes, the birds only need flap their wings occasionally to cover great distances.

Eurasian Black Vulture
The cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) is a large raptorial bird that is distributed through much of Eurasia. It is also known as the black vulture, monk vulture, or Eurasian black vulture. It is a member of the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards and harriers. It is one of the two largest Old World vultures, attaining a maximum size of 14 kg, 1.2 m long and 3.1 m across the wings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinereous_vulture

16 Coolest Creepiest Spiders

Cave Robber
Until the year 2012, no one had ever heard of or seen a cave robber spider. That is until a team of scientists discovered the bizarre tiny creatures in some old forests of Oregon and California. The scientists did a whole bunch of research and finally declared these spiders were unique and brand new. The team had unearthed an entirely new species of spider. Cave Robbers were the first new family of spiders to be added to North America since way back in 1890. These type of arachnids prefer caves and densely darkened redwood forests.

Spiny Orb Weaver
These dazzling arachnids can grow up to 30 millimetres in diameter and can be found all over the world. Their name hails from the prominent spines that can be found all over their abdomens, which are typically shaped similar to that of a crab. These brightly colored spiders have a hardened exoskeleton which comes in a variety of color patterns including white, orange, or yellow with red markings. Lucky for us, spiny orb weaver spider bites tend to be relatively harmless to humans.

Goliath Birdeater
This gigantic breed of arachnid is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s biggest spider. They typically weigh around 6 ounces with leg spans of roughly 11 inches…that’s about the size of a puppy! Here’s an image of a little girl playing with what we certainly hope is a fake spider but if it’s real, the spider in question would have to be one of these disturbing Goliath Birdeaters. These giant spiders belong to the tarantula family and can be found in rainforest areas such as northern Brazil and southern Venezuela. These creepy crawlers have the ability to regenerate damaged or lost limbs, have fangs strong enough to pierce a mouse skull, and have a defense mechanism wherein they release tiny barbed hairs which are said to be extremely painful and leave the victim itching for days.

Happy Face Spider
Found in the rainforests of Hawaii, this crazy-looking spider is best identified through the strange patterns which decorate their yellow abdomens and form, you guessed it, a smiley face. However, there are a few of these incredibly bizarre-looking creatures who sport frowny faces or even ones that appear to be screaming. Sadly, this unique spider is listed on the endangered list.

Peacock Spider
This Australian species of spider is best known for their brightly colored circular flaps which appear on the abdomens of the males, which is highly reminiscent to a peacock’s colorful patterned fan used to attract mates of the other gender. These strange yet beautiful arachnids are gifted with extremely acute eyesight and when courting a female will vibrate their hind legs and abdomen to create a more dramatic and enticing effect.

Diving Bell Spider
Some call these fearsome fellas Water Spiders as they are the only completely aquatic spiders found on Earth, more specifically Europe, Asia, the United Kingdom, and Siberia. These strange arachnids survive inside ponds, slow moving streams, and shallow lakes. They have no gills to breath underwater so they build underwater retreats composed of silk filled with a giant air bubble. This pocket of air usually retains a bell-like shape with a silvery shine. Most of this peculiar spider’s time is spent inside that bell and occasionally jutting out to feed on whatever unfortunate small aquatic invertebrate happens to be swimming by.
Before we reveal number one, let us know in the comments below which one of these spiders you thought was the creepiest and don’t forget to subscribe! And now…

Black Widow
These fearsome spiders can be found worldwide. You can identify them by their all black coloring and bright red hourglass-shaped marking which lines their abdomens. Males are smaller and less venomous than their female counterparts, making their bite relatively harmless. On the other end of this spider spectrum, femme fatale black widows practice sexual cannibalism. This means a female will devour a male after mating with him. If she works up a ravenous appetite that is, hence why most male black widow spiders pick their mate based on how long ago she finished her last meal, which they can sense through chemicals in her web. These notorious spider queens have deadly fangs which contain neurotoxins. One bite from an angry female black widow could prove to be fatal to most humans, if left untreated.