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Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:16 pm

Prehistoric Predators With Supersized Teeth Had Beefier Arm Bones

ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2012) — The toothiest prehistoric predators also had beefier arm bones, according to results of a study published recently in the journal Paleobiology.

Saber-toothed tigers may come to mind, but these extinct cats weren't the only animals with fearsome fangs.

Take the false saber-toothed cats -- also known as nimravids -- and their catlike cousins, a family of carnivores called the barbourofelids.

These mammal groups lived millions of years before cats came to be, and had knife-like canines along with well-built arm bones, said Julie Meachen, a paleontologist at the National Science Foundation (NSF) National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina.
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:54 pm

World's First Iridescent Mammal Discovered

THE GIST

* Golden moles are the first known iridescent mammals, aside from the "eye shine" of nocturnal mammals.
* The moles are completely blind, so the iridescence likely serves a function other than communication.
* The microscopic structure of the hairs may facilitate the mole's movement underground through dirt and sand.


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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:01 pm

Not a creature, but it's alive... We have one of the bigger species on the Big Island. I didn't know that's what the name meant haha...

New Stinky Flower: Our Amorphophallus Is Smaller, but It Stinks Like Its Big Cousin

The new species, collected on two small islands off Madagascar, brings to about 170 the number of species in the genus Amorphophallus, which is Greek for "misshapen penis" because of the shape of the plants' flower-covered shaft, called the inflorescence or the spadix, says Greg Wahlert, a postdoctoral researcher in biology.

The 4.5-foot-tall plant, Amorphophallus perrieri, began reeking Friday, Feb. 3 as it approached the peak of its bloom in a campus greenhouse. A day later, Wahlert began cutting down the plant in stages so the spadix, the surrounding leafy spathe and other parts could be pressed, mounted and submitted to the National Museum of Natural History in Paris as part of the process of designating the plant a new species.
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:18 pm

Arion, go take some pics!

Treasure Trove of Wildlife Found in Peru Park

Fifteen researchers participated in the inventory focusing on plant life, insects, birds, mammals, and reptiles. The discovery included: thirty undocumented bird species, including the black-and-white hawk eagle, Wilson's phalarope, and ash colored cuckoo; two undocumented mammals -- Niceforo's big-eared bat and the Tricolored Bat; as well as 233 undocumented species of butterflies and moths. This expedition was especially important because it was the first time that research of this scale has been carried out in Bahuaja Sonene National Park since it was created in 1996.
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:30 pm

Spider Web's Strength Lies in More Than Its Silk

While researchers have long known of the incredible strength of spider silk, the robust nature of the tiny filaments cannot alone explain how webs survive multiple tears and winds that exceed hurricane strength.


Reporting in the cover story of the Feb. 2, 2012, issue of Nature, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Politecnico di Torino in Italy show how spider web-design localizes strain and damage, preserving the web as a whole.

"Multiple research groups have investigated the complex, hierarchical structure of spider silk and its amazing strength, extensibility and toughness," says Markus Buehler, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT. "But, while we understand the peculiar behavior of dragline silk from the 'nanoscale up'--initially stiff, then softening, then stiffening again--we have little insight into how the molecular structure of silk uniquely improves the performance of a web."

The spider webs found in gardens and garages are made from multiple silk types, but viscid silk and dragline silk are most critical to the integrity of the web. Viscid silk is stretchy, wet and sticky, and it is the silk that winds out in increasing spirals from the web center. Its primary function is to capture prey. Dragline silk is stiff and dry, and it serves as the threads that radiate out from a web's center, providing structural support. Dragline silk is crucial to the mechanical behavior of the web.
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:44 pm

Discovered: The mini-meleon that is one of the smallest reptiles on the planet

Balanced on the tip of a scientist's fingernail in Madagascar, the-three centimetre reptile is no bigger than the flies that form his average-sized cousin's lunch.

Scientists discovered four new species - called Brookesia micra - on a small islet just off the main island.


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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:46 pm

Two New Species of Horned Dinosaur Named

Two new horned dinosaurs have been named based on fossils collected from Alberta, Canada. The new species, Unescopceratops koppelhusae and Gryphoceratops morrisoni, are from the Leptoceratopsidae family of horned dinosaurs. The herbivores lived during the Late Cretaceous period between 75 to 83 million years ago. The specimens are described in research published in the Jan. 24, 2012, online issue of the journal Cretaceous Research.

"These dinosaurs fill important gaps in the evolutionary history of small-bodied horned dinosaurs that lack the large horns and frills of relatives like Triceratops from North America," said Michael Ryan, Ph.D., curator of vertebrate paleontology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, lead author on the research. "Although horned dinosaurs originated in Asia, our analysis suggests that leptoceratopsids radiated to North America and diversified here, since the new species, Gryphoceratops, is the earliest record of the group on this continent."


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Unescoceratops koppelhusae (upper right) and Gryphoceratops morrisonii (lower left), new leptoceratopsid dinosaurs from Alberta, Canada. (Credit: © Julius T. Csotonyi)
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:00 pm

Bizarre "King of Wasps" Found in Indonesia

A new species of giant, venomous wasp has been found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, scientists say.

The two-inch-long (five-centimeter-long) black insects are shrouded in mystery—all of the wasp specimens caught so far have been dead.

"I'm not certain any researcher has ever seen one alive, but they are very bizarre-looking," said study co-author Lynn Kimsey, an entomologist at the University of California, Davis, who co-discovered the insect.

"It's the extreme version of the [larrine wasp] subfamily they belong to."

Larrine wasps typically dig nests for their eggs and larvae in open, sandy areas. The adults grow no longer than an inch (2.5 centimeters)—making the newly discovered Megalara garuda the "king of wasps," according to the study authors.

Wasp Males' Spiky Jaws

Female M. garuda wasps look like most other wasp species, but the males grow long, sickle-shaped jaws.

The males' flattened faces and large, spiked jaws may be clever adaptations to protect a nest that contains vulnerable larvae, she suggested.


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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:57 am

Yutyrannus, a giant tyrannosaur with feathers

Meet the largest feathered animal in history – an early version of Tyrannosaurus rex, clad in long, fuzzy filaments. This newly discovered beast has been named Yutyrannus huali, a mix of Mandarin and Latin that means “beautiful feathered tyrant”. And its existence re-opens a debate about whether the iconic T.rex might have been covered in feathers.

“This is a tremendously important fossil. Paleontologists have been waiting for a gigantic feathered theropod to turn up for some time,” says Lindsay Zanno from the Field Museum. Larry Witmer from Ohio University, agrees. “The big thing is the one-two punch of being huge AND feathered,” he says.

Yutyrannus was discovered Chinese palaeontologist Xing Xu, who is no stranger to feathered dinosaurs. Xu is somewhat of a rock star among dinosaur-hunters. Despite having no initial interest in palaeontology, he has discovered more than 30 species. These include the four-winged Microraptor, and little tyrants Dilong and Guanlong – early tyrannosaurs covered in simple fuzz. Like most other feathered dinosaurs, these animals were small. Dilong was the size of a large dog, and Microraptor the size of a chicken.

Yutyrannus breaks that rule. It weighed in at 1,400 kilograms (3,100 pounds), and was at least 7 or 8 metres in length. That’s 40 times bigger than Beipiaosaurus, the previous record-holder for largest feathered dinosaur (and another Xu discovery).

Xu found three skeletons of the new creature in China’s Liaoning Province. Judging by the size and the state of their bones, one of them was an adult, and the others were a decade or so younger. Except for one missing tail, they are almost complete, and in very good condition. That alone is cause for celebration. Dinosaur-hunters are often forced to describe new species based on tantalising fragments from a single skeleton; three complete ones is a jackpot.

All three specimens had long 15-centimetre feathers. Each is unevenly covered, but between the three skeletons, it’s likely that Yutyrannus was feathered from head to toe. These aren’t the flattened vanes that help most modern birds to fly. At this stage of their evolution, feathers were simply long filaments, better suited for insulation or displaying to peers, and similar to the plumes of today’s flightless emus and cassowaries.


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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Thu May 24, 2012 11:34 pm

Neat.

Top 10 new species of 2011 named by conservation group

By Thomas H. Maugh II
May 23, 2012
Top 10 lists are standard fodder for media: the 10 best dressed, the 10 best-looking, the 10 most wanted, etc. But the International Institute for Species Exploration, headquartered at Arizona State University, has a new take on such lists. For the last five years, the institute has been issuing a top 10 list of the quirkiest, most bizarre and just plain interesting new species discovered the previous year. This year's list was released Wednesday, on the 305th birthday of Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, who created the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications.

Scientists have so far discovered and named nearly 2 million species, but researchers estimate that there are at least 8 million species living on Earth, and some say the number could run as high as 100 million -- although most think the max is somewhere around 12 million. Every year, about 15,000 to 20,000 new ones are classified. This year's list includes a sneezing monkey, a venomous jellyfish, an underworld worm and a fungus named for a TV cartoon. "The top 10 is intended to bring attention to the biodiversity crisis and unsung species explorers and museums who continue a 250-year tradition of discovering and describing the millions of kinds of plants, animals and microbes with whom we share this planet," said entomologist Quentin Wheeler, who directs the institute.

And, drum roll please, this year's top 10 list:

-- Sneezing monkey. A snub-nosed monkey found in the mountains of Myanmar, Rhinopithecus strykeri is named in honor of Jon Stryker, founder of the Arcus Foundation. Believed to be critically endangered, it has mostly black fur and a white beard, and it sneezes when it rains.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species01

-- Bonaire banded box jelly. This strikingly beautiful but highly lethal jellyfish looks like a box kite with a colorful long tail. Found on the Dutch island of Bonaire, it is named Tamoya ohboya because a teacher in a citizen science project thought a victim might scream "Oh boy!" when stung.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species02

-- Devil's worm. Only 0.02 inches long, these nematodes were discovered at a depth of 0.8 mile in a South African gold mine and are the deepest-living multicellular organisms on the planet. It was named Halicephalobus mephisto from the Faust legend because it survives at high pressures and temperatures.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species03

-- Night blooming orchid. This rare orchid from Papua New Guinea has flowers that open around 10 p.m. and close early the next morning. Named Bulbophyllum nocturnum, it is the only orchid known to bloom at night.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species04

-- Parasitic wasp. This tiny parasite from Spain cruises at just a half-inch off the ground looking for ants, into which it inserts an egg in less than 1/20th of a second.


Kollasmosoma sentum
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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species05

-- SpongeBob SquarePants mushroom. This new species of fungus, named Spongiforma squarepantsii, looks more like a sponge than a typical mushroom. From the island of Borneo in Malaysia, the mushroom is unusual in that its fruiting body can be squeezed like a sponge and still bounce back into shape.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species06

-- Nepalese autumn poppy. This tall, yellow poppy from Nepal lives at altitudes above 19,800 feet. Named Meconopsis autumnalis because it blooms in autumn, it is thought to have been collected before, but not recognized as a distinct species.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species07

-- Giant millipede. This giant millipede from Tanzania's Eastern Arc Mountains is about the length of a sausage and is called the "wandering leg sausage," hence the name Crurifarcimen vagans. At 6.3 inches long, it is the world's largest millipede; it has 56 rings, each bearing two pairs of legs.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species08

-- Walking cactus. This fossil of an extinct group known as Lobopodia looks more like a cactus than an animal, with its wormlike bodies and multiple pairs of legs. Named Diania cactiformis, the 520-million-year-old specimen was found in Cambrian deposits in southwestern China.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species09

-- Sazima's tarantula. This iridescent hairy blue tarantula is the first new species from Brazil to be named to the top 10 list. It is called Pterinopelma sazimai and is found on "island" ecosystems on flattop mountains.


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http://species.asu.edu/2012_species10
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Fri May 25, 2012 12:17 am

More neat top 10 new species from the Arizona State University International Institute for Species Exploration over the past few years...

2008

2009

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Name: Opisthostoma vermiculum
Common Name: None
Family: Diplommatinidae
How it made the Top 10: This species represents a unique morphological evolution in its manner of shell twisting. Most gastropod shells tightly coil according to a logarithmic spiral and have an upper limit of three coiling axes. The shell of O. vermiculum, however, possesses four different coiling axes - the most for any known gastropod. In addition, the whorls detach three times and reattach twice to preceding whorls in a fairly consistent manner, which suggests that the coiling strategy is under some form of strict developmental-gene control. Opisthostoma vermiculum appears to be restricted to a single limestone karst.

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Name: Leptotyphlops carlae
Common Name: Barbados Threadsnake
Family: Leptotyphlopidae
How did it make the Top 10: This is the world's smallest snake with a total length of 104mm (4.1 inches).

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Name: Hippocampus satomiae
Common Name: Satomi's Pygmy Seahorse
Family: Syngnathidae
How it made the Top 10: This is the smallest known seahorse with a standard length of 13.8mm (0.54 inches) and an approximate height of 11.5mm (0.45 inches).

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Name: Phobaeticus chani
Common Name: None
Family: Phasmatidae
How it made the Top 10: This is the world's longest insect with a body length of 35.6cm (14 inches) and a overall length of 56.7 cm (22.3 inches).

2010

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Name: Aiteng ater
Common Name: Aiteng
Family: Aitengidae
How it made the Top 10: Its discovery has resulted in a new family, Aitengidae. Although it shares nearly all characteristics with sacoglossans, it exhibits unusual eating habits. This sea slug eats insects, whereas nearly all sacoglossans eat algae and a few specialize in gastropod eggs.

2011

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Name: Caerostris darwini
Common Name: Darwin's bark spider
Family: Araneidae
How it made the Top 10: This orb-weaving spider builds the largest orb-style webs that are known to science. Webs of this species have been found spanning rivers, streams and lakes with “bridgelines” reaching up to 25m in length and total web size reaching up to 2.8m2. The silk spun by these spiders has an average toughness of 250MJ/m3 with the highest measured at 520MJ/ m3. This makes it, “the toughest biological material ever studied, over ten times stronger than a similarly-sized piece of Kevlar” and more than two times stronger than any other known spider silk. The unusual behaviors of this new species will allow us to understand size dimorphism, mate guarding, and self castration (among others). Also discovered in association with Darwin's bark spider was an undescribed symbiotic fly species.

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Name: Tyrannobdella rex
Common Name: None
Family: Praobdellidae
How it made the Top 10: This T. rex leech was discovered feeding from the nasal mucous membrane of a little girl in Perú. It is unusual because it is the only known species of leech with a “single armed jaw with such large teeth.”

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Name: Psathyrella aquatica
Common Name: Rogue mushroom
Family: Psathyrellaceae
How it made the Top 10: First report of a mushroom species fruiting underwater.

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Name: Saltoblattella montistabularis
Common Name: Leaproach
Family: Blattellidae
How it made the Top 10: This new species of cockroach exhibits unusual morphology. It has legs that are highly modified for jumping. Prior to its discovery jumping cockroaches were only known from the Late Jurassic. This extant cockroach has jumping ability that is on par with grasshoppers. In addition to the leg modifications, it has hemispherical shaped eyes that protrude from the sides of the head instead of kidney shaped and the antennae have an additional fixation point to help stabilize them during jumping.
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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:10 am

Anglers' extraordinary find is no sea monster, but a giant squid

Al McGlashan, a prominent big-game fisherman in Australia, ventured to sea Friday in search of tuna and swordfish. The highlight, however, was the bizarre discovery of a fresh giant squid carcass.

Giant squid are elusive, mysterious denizens of the ocean's darkest depths, believed to have spawned ancient tales of sea monsters. To find even parts of a dead specimen is rare, but to find a specimen largely intact and still with its bright-orange coloration is extraordinary.


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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:28 pm

'Superbird' Dives 150 Ft Underwater in 40 Secs
If speed diving were an Olympic sport, the imperial cormorant would definitely medal. Dubbed "Superbird" by avian experts, the South American sea bird was videotaped diving 150 feet underwater in 40 seconds.


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Re: Creatures & Monsters, Real & Imagined

Postby sdsichero » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:04 am

Scientists Discover New Cave Spider Species… with Claws!

Meet Trogloraptor, fearsomeness incarnate. The creature more than lives up to its name—it is, in fact, an eight-legged showcase for scientific novelty. The spider somewhat resembles the brown recluse, famed for its flesh-necrotizing venom—but at four centimeters, Trogloraptor is about twice as large. In fact, this spider is an entirely new critter—just look at those legs, each ends in a curved, scythelike claw. Citizen scientists and arachnologists have uncovered these spiders in the caves of southwestern Oregon and old-growth redwood forests. As they report in ZooKeys, the discovery of Trogloraptor is a taxonomic wonder that establishes a new family, genus and species in the spider family tree.


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