Friday, April 16, 2010

Blob Fish Demands Human Sacrifice

30 relatively unknown fish species make up the family Psychrolutidae. The most famous of the group, Psychrolutes marcidus, happens to be the aptly named Blob Fish. At the depths these fish inhabit off the Australian and Tasmanian coasts, water pressure is immense. The Blob Fish has solved this problem by ditching the gas bladder most fish utilize for buoyancy control...instead the whole body has become a gelatinous mass just slightly less dense than water. The Blob Fish is one lazy species; it almost completely lacks muscle definition, and lives by floating just above the sea floor, gobbling up morsel passers by. The Blob Fish could be more exciting than we know...its close yet not as ugly relative Psychrolutes phrictus apparently breeds in aggregations on the sea floor, where individuals guard their nests of up to 100,000 (or more!) eggs.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Flat-headed Cat

Cats hate's like a rule. But one cat swims in stark contrast to its relatives, Prionailurus planiceps, the Flat-headed Cat. This secretive cat lives in forested areas of Indonesia and Malaysia. How secretive are they--only two captive individuals were known in 2008 (400 captive Cheetah are known in North America alone). The Flat-headed is one of only two cat species with webbed feet, the other being the Fishing Cat. But Prionailurus planiceps has more complete webs, indicating more adaptation to an aquatic lifestyle. This beast will eat whatever small animals it can catch and kill, perhaps as large as rats or chickens. That's pretty good for an animal with a maximum weight of 5 pounds. Weirdly enough, it's one of only cats unable to retract the claws....and, of course, individuals have particularly flat heads. The picture below appears to come from a motion sensor camera, which makes it particularly cool.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Another new 'human' species?

I turned around again and another species popped up! Meet Australopithecus sediba. Article here.

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