animals: August 2010 Archives

275x250.jpg A council has splashed out a whopping £190,000 on building a fancy bridge designed to help dormice cross the road safely.

The high-wire walkways were built across a busy new 4.6 mile road in the Rhondda Valley so the construction didn't upset the local rodent population.

Three interconnecting tubes - suspended from 20ft wooden poles - are said to offer dormice a way of crossing the road where they would have once used trees.

The move has been branded a wast of taxpayers money by some… who also now suggest the chicken crossed the road for a council handout.

275x250.jpgResearchers have discovered a new species of micro-frog on Borneo island which only grows to the size of a pea.

The tiny amphibians - catchily dubbed Microhyla nepenthicola - measure between 10.6-to-12.8mm long and were found in the Kubah National Park.

While specimens are already held by many museums around the world, they have previously been misidentified as juveniles of other species.

Now scientists say the frogs are a distinct micro-species and the smallest frogs found anywhere in found in Asia, Africa or Europe.

In fact they're so small the frogs were only found when researchers heard their "harsh rasping note" call at sundown -- much the same way Cheryl Cole was discovered.

275x250.jpgThey many not look quite like Pamela Anderson in a red swimsuit, but dogs are being trained to work as lifeguards on Italian beaches.

Dozens of the pooches are currently undergoing training which will see them taught how to jump from helicopters or boats and save stranded swimmers.

In total the Italian Coast Guard uses 300 lifedogs - mostly golden retrievers and labradors - which each work with a human lifeguard.

Bosses say the dogs are great for taking inflatable rubber rings to swimmers who are in distress and act as an "intelligent lifebuoy".

The dogs are credited with saving the lives of some of the 3,000 people rescued each year -- not bad considering they can only swim doggie paddle.

275x250.jpg Beaches on the English Channel were closed after a killer crocodile was seen swimming in the sea… and then it turned out to be a chunk of wood.

The alert had been raised by holidaymakers when they spotted the 12ft 'croc' swimming in the port of Boulogne, France, yesterday.

As a result a major search involving lifeguards, firefighters and even the army was launched in a bid to find the beast, and swimmers were advised to keep out of the water.

But today red-faced coastguards have revealed there was no crocodile and the razor-sharp toothed creature spotted was actually a chunk of driftwood. Oops.

275x250.jpgAncient birds once lived in South America which used their powerful beak to jab prey like an agile boxer, according to a new study.

Experts say the ninety-pound flightless bird used its unusually large, rigid skull—coupled with a hawk-like hooked beak—for to fight like Muhammad Ali.

The agile creature - dubbed terror bird - is said to have repeatedly attacked and retreated, landing well-targeted, hatchet-like jabs until it made a kill.

Paleontologists say the birds evolved 60 million years ago and grew up to 7-foot-tall but because they no close analogs among modern-day birds their life habits have been shrouded in mystery.

But after using CT scans and advanced engineering methods to study they bird they know how it operated… and are pretty glad the only had fossils to work with.

275x250.jpgDog owners have stopped calling their pets names like Patch, Scamp and Lassie - and naming them after soap stars, it has been found.

Researchers discovered the days of dogs being called Shep, Lady or Blackie are long gone, with the number of pooches called Roxy, Alfie, Max and Molly is on the rise.

Names Roxy, Alfie and Max are familiar to fans of EastEnders while Molly is currently a character in Coronation Street.

The trend was found after a report was carried out looking at 80,000 names given to pets in the past 30 year.

But will the soap star naming of pets continue, or will traditional dog names like Rover return? See what we did there.

A police officer in the US was trapped in his squad car for more than three hours when 50,000 bees landed on the vehicle.

Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Jenkins had been called to a broken down lorry in North Carolina in the early hours of the morning.

However, when he got there he found the cargo - 60 boxes of bees had escaped - and as he approached they all swarmed towards him.

The officer ran back towards his car and managed to get inside but the thousands of bees proceeded to land on his car trapping him inside and forcing him to call for help.

He probably asked for a 'swat' team to come and free him in a 'sting' operation. 

275x250.jpgExperts claim humans didn't hunt woolly mammoths into extinction, but that the hairy giants died out because of climate change.

It had been thought the last woolly mammoths died out 4,000 years ago after  years of over hunting by pre-historic humans and retreating to northern Siberia.

But now scientists from Durham University claim their demise was more to do with rising temperatures and loss of vegetation it lived on.

They claim that at the end of the ice age, the grasslands woolly mammoths lived on were replaced by forests as carbon dioxide levels increased.

This left the mammoths with nothing to eat and means trees effectively killed them off… why couldn't they just leaf them alone?

Scientists who analysed video footage of orangutans amassed over 20 years, claim the creatures are able to explain things to each other, and humans, via mime.

The boffins say they found 18 occasions in which orangutans used "elaborated gestures of pantomime" to get what they wanted.

Examples ranged from rubbing a leaf on their forehead and then passing it to a human as an instruction to clean them, to holding an object over their head because the want an umbrella passing to them.

Professor Anne Russon said the finding could offer new insight into the evolutionary origins of human language.

Which is all well and good… but what we want to know is when will the world's first inter-species charades tournament take place.

275x250.jpgAn Arctic explorer has been savaged by a polar bear which grabbed him by the head while  he was sleeping.

Sebastian Plur Nilssen says he woke up to find the bear's jaws around his head as it lifted him up and dragged him out of his tent on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.

The 23-year-old's screams quickly alerted his expedition partner who reached for his gun -- but not before the polar bear was 25 metres away.

By then the bear had already pierced Nilssen's lung with it's teeth and was shaking him around 2.5m in the air in a bid to stun him.

Which you'd think was a bit unnecessary… I'd be pretty stunned already if I was woken up like that.

275x250.jpg A gorilla appeared to be having great fun with a Nintendo DSi XL games console which had been accidentally dropped into a US zoo enclosure be a clumsy gamer.

The young butter-fingered computer game fan had been fiddling with his handheld console when he slipped and dropped it at San Francisco Zoo.

Unfortunately for the poor lad, the game dropped into the gorilla enclosure and, being bright red, soon attracted the attention of the big apes.

One picked it up and started playing with it but staff soon persuaded him to give it back in exchange for an apple. That's the fruit… he wasn't upgrading to a laptop.

A clumsy kiwi bird with two broken legs is being given rehabilitation treatment -- including treadmill sessions.

The runtish bird was originally taken to vets when it was found in a bad condition in New Zealand in December.

Dubbed Piwi, the bird had a broken leg that had healed badly and vets were left with no option other than to re-break it and straighten it.

But shortly after it was taken to a wildlife park for rehabilitation the dopey bird somehow broke it's other leg resulting in a visit to Massey University's Wildlife Ward.

Once there it was given rehabilitation treatment including 'running' on a treadmill… and it didn't even need to pay an excessive gym joining fee.

275x250.jpgScientists have discovered the 105 million-year-old fossil of a creature which looks like a cross between a cat and a crocodile.

Palaeontologists in Tanzania, who unearthed the previously unknown croc, say it had mammal-like teeth and lived between 144 and 65 million years ago.

It's claimed the find suggests crocodiles were once far more diverse than they are today and dominated ecological niches in the Southern Hemisphere.

Dubbed Pakasuchus kapilimai experts say the cat-sized croc also had a extremely flexible backbone and was much smaller than crocodiles of today

In fact they say it's head would have fitted into your hand… though we're not sure about experts who would suggest putting a crocodile's head in your hand.

275x250.jpgA frisky kangaroo which has previously harassed female joggers in an Australian town, is said to be at it again.

The randy roo has now been spotted following women as they move around the outback town of Tennant Creek.

In the latest incident the 2m tall creature bounded along behind a woman who was out on a 5km outback walk, before circling her in a predatory manner.

The woman said it was clear what the kangaroo wanted because "his male pride on full alert" and she was desperate to get away.

She added that the macropod was well-endowed… though we are not asking how she knew he was bigger than average. You never saw that on Skippy. 

275x250.jpgA paintball course in Montana has been forced to shut down -- because it was proving too popular with bears.

The grizzly and black bears were said to be attracted to the area by the smell from paintballs which have been fired.

It turned out the paintball resort had used organic paintballs which included vegetable oil, which the bears thought was food.

Some particularly hungry bears had even been caught munching on unexploded paintballs which had been found on the ground.

Bosses say they are now looking for a paintball which won't attract bears… or give them blue teeth.

275x250.jpgScientists now believe the iconic Triceratops dinosaur - complete with three facial horns - 'never really existed' and was merely a young Torosaurus.

It had previously been thought the Triceratops and Torosaurus were two distinct types of dinosaur albeit with similar physical characteristics.

But now experts think dinosaur skulls underwent extreme changes throughout their life and that what's commonly known as a Triceratops was simply a juvenile form of a Torosaurus.

John Scannella and Jack Horner at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman say that as a Torosaurus aged its horns changed shape and orientation while its frill became longer and thinner.

However all is not lost for those who grew up as fans of the Triceratops (like most boys) -- as a result of the find Torosaurus will now be abolished as a species and specimens reassigned to Triceratops.

275x250.jpgResearchers say they've discovered the world's oldest creature, the tadpole shrimp, which is the same now as it was 220 million years ago.

Two colonies of the tadpole shrimp 'Triops cancriformis' have been found in Scotland which experts say is a massive wildlife discovery.

The tiny crustacean had been thought to be extinct before it was found at Caerlaverock on the Solway Firth after heavy rain.

The tadpole shrimps live in temporary water pools and when the water dries up the adults die but leave eggs behind which can remain dormant for years.

Comparisons with fossil finds show the shrimp is almost identical now to how it was when dinosaurs roamed the Earth… and boffins double checked by asking Bruce Forsyth.

275x250.jpgA 6ft long boa constrictor has escaped from an Essex home and is now said to be on the loose in the local area, police have warned.

Experts say Diego the pet snake - who slithered out of a bathroom window in Barnfield two days ago - could pose a danger to children and small animals.

Police have conducted searches in the area but have so far been unable to find the snake, as a result they are now warning anyone who sees it to call 999.

Leaflets have also been distributed to neighbours warning them to be on the look-out for the baseball-bat thick creature, which kills prey through asphyxiation.

It's thought warmer weather could have prompted the snake to go out hunting… though after one night out in Essex, we'd have though it would have gone home.

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