Intersect #2 – The Watering Hole

 

John Wells, quirky off-the-grid homesteader, keeps a blog documenting the goings on around his property and takes footage ranging from skinning a rattlesnake to the blooming of his palo verde tree. One of his more recent experiments came from submerging a camera in a watering bucket and capturing the entrance of various visitors. The result resonated with people and garnered Wells a short burst of internet fame. The result can be seen above. As he notes, the bees were indeed rescued.

Discovery from the Otter Side

While this is an amazing story, the urge to not post all the otter jokes is a fight I may lose.

Sherlotter Holmes and John Beaverson

All joking (briefly) aside, the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology just published findings about the otter species Siamogale melilutra as described by Wang et al. Skeletal pieces from three individuals were recovered in western China and used to characterize the ancient otter who outguns the giant river otter of today in size (approximately 50 kg to the giant otter’s 34).

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Giant River Otter. Photo Credit: Ernane Junior, Your Shot, National Geographic

While the specimens had elements reminiscent of both otters and badgers, a few distinctive features allowed researchers to place the animals firmly in subfamily Lutrinae, home to 13 current day otter species. However the paper notes the mixture of characteristics, described in some other genera as well, lead to some interesting questions about the ways in which the two may be related.

On the tail of this amazing find, I share an interesting otter fact which upon learning some years ago, quickly escalated their status in my heart: sea otters have loose folds of skin under their arms they use as pockets for storing food and rocks to use as tools.

I will close with the following video as it would be an otter shame not to:

Speck of Science 11/29/16 – The Bathing of the Tortoise

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A photo of Jonathan dated at around 1886 – Wikimedia Commons

Jonathan, a 184 year old tortoise touted as perhaps the oldest living land animal, seemed a little surprised at times in this video released by the St. Helena government.

The solid scrubbing appeared to be an attempt to renew the vim and vigour of his shell, as Joe Hollins, the vet who did the deed stated: “It is purely for aesthetic reasons.  We want visitors and tourists on the Island to witness the tortoises in their true form, without the obstruction of moss and lichen on their shells.  There is so much interest in Jonathan, St Helena’s most famous animal resident, and we want all who visit him to see him at his best.”

In recent years, Hollins also oversaw an overhaul of Jonathan’s diet, which seems to have increased his overall well being. Sounds like Jonathan has a pretty savvy ally and friend.

 

David Attenborough Says Hello

David Attenborough’s voice was the seminal soundtrack to my development as a biologist. It was his narration I heard in my head extolling the wonders of the living things I saw during my scuba dives, fieldwork, and time spent outdoors.

So it may amuse you that it is not the news that Sir Attenborough plans on narrating a decade-later follow up to BBC’s Planet Earth that excites me, but rather the discovery that this video of the renowned naturalist himself providing commentary of the beginning of Adele’s “Hello” exists:

#flipphone y’all