A gigantic ancient sea turtle fossil piece was found in New Jersey back in 2012. After doing a little research, it was discovered that the other half of that same bone was found over 100 years ago and was being housed at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University. The puzzle was complete. Now they can say with a relative degree of certainty that the turtle the humerus came from was roughly about 10 feet long! Watch the video above to learn more.
This week is the best week of the year. It’s SHARK WEEK! A week that the Discovery Channel dedicates entirely to one of the ocean’s most feared and misunderstood predators. I usually spend shark week glued to my TV, only leaving to eat and sleep. But this year I am working full time so I will have to miss out some. Lucky for me, Shark Weeks from years passed are available for instant play on Netflix. Any posts I make this week will be dedicated to sharks everywhere.
Shark Week runs from today, August 4th, through Saturday, August 10th.
Visit Shark Week’s page on the Discovery Channel website for more shark-tastic information and fun!
As some of you may recall, back in June one of the subjects of my recurring Weird Wildlife Wednesday post was an extremely endangered cetacean known as the Vaquita. I recently came across this article at TakePart.com about a single simple way that biologists are saying they could be saved. Check it out at this link!
The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), a member or the Crocodilians, is definitely weird compared to some of its more commonly known relatives. If the elongated snout weren’t funny looking enough, the males possess a rounded growth on the tip of their snout.
They are found in rivers of areas mostly in and around India. When they are fully grown, they eat primarily fish, but the young also feed on other invertebrates. They are long lived animals and can grow as long or longer than 13 feet. Fun fact about their reproduction: their eggs are the largest of any crocodilian species.
Unfortunately, these guys are listed as critically endangered and nearly went completely extinct back in the 1970’s. Now they are making some slow recovery. As with a lot of reptiles in that region of the world, they are hunted for suposed medicinal purposes. They are also a vistim of habitat loss. Captive breeding and release is a challenge when decent release sights are in short supply.
Here’s some news from my neck of the woods. Peregrine Falcons were once on the brink of extinction due to the use of the pesticide DDT which caused thinning of their egg shells. Now, because of conservation efforts and the banning of DDT in the United States, their numbers have been bouncing back quite successfully. In California, the raptors are now threatening other endangered shorebird nesting areas. Because of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will not allow any more chick rescues from San Francisco Bay Area bridges. This will undoubtedly result in several chicks falling and drowning in the water below. It sounds brutal, the USFWS says it is now time for nature to take it’s course.
This is a controversial issue, especially to those who worked so hard to save the species from extinction. When a species has been so close to extinction, it is often difficult to really know when it is time to step back and let them fend for themselves again. Who’s to say that something else won’t cause their numbers to decline again?
The Vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is this weeks Weird Wildlife Wednesday species. This is the smallest member of the cetaceans, toping out at around 4.9 feet long and is also the most critically endangered with populations potentially fewer than two-hundred individuals. Unlike some other more well known cetacean species, these guys tend to be more solitary, typically in groups no larger than four individuals. Little is known about the life history of these animals because of their low numbers and illusiveness. This is also the reason why there are so few pictures of them alive.
One of this biggest threats currently for this little cetacean is entanglement in fishing gear. Being endemic to and only found in the Gulf of California, Mexico, it is thought that pesticides flowing from the Colorado River may be posing a threat to Vaquitas as well.
Check out this video. Very interesting research and findings!