Monthly Archive: January 2014

Jan 31

Extinct Animal: Trials of the Thylacine

You’ve probably heard of the Tasmanian devil. It’s a vicious, noisy creature that is sometimes seen spinning around in cartoons. It also has the distinction of being the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. A century ago, however, the Tasmanian devil didn’t hold that title. It was beaten in size by another Tasmanian resident, the thylacine. It …

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Jan 27

Bizarre Animal of the Week: Surinam Toad

It’s like a scene from a gruesome science-fiction film: strange, ugly creatures bursting out from the back of their disfigured mother and then starting to eat one another. But it’s not science fiction, it’s science fact – it’s just how the Surinam toad chooses to gives birth. The Surinam toad looks, upon first glance, like …

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Jan 24

The Urban Myths of Urban Foxes

If one British mammal has caused more controversy than badgers over the past few years, it must surely be the red fox. There has been quite a lot of anti-fox hype recently. If the media is to be believed, the population of urban foxes is rising and so, too, are fox attacks on small children. …

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Jan 19

Into the Abyss Part 3: A Monstrous Miscellany

Welcome to the final article of Deep Sea Week. To round off this celebration of the weird, wild and wacky denizens of the deep, it’s time for a monstrous miscellany – a look at some of the animals cut from previous articles that were just too downright extraordinary and intriguing to ignore. Blobfish The infamous …

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Jan 18

Animal Record Holder: Most Heat Resistant Animal

If we want to be precise, the animal that can withstand the highest temperatures is that tiny, near-indestructible creature called the tardigrade, which I covered a few weeks ago here.  It can survive at temperatures as high as 150°C, which makes it the ultimate winner. But that’s hardly fair – it’s already got several ‘extreme’ records …

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Jan 17

Into the Abyss Part 2: Deep-Sea Monsters

‘I cannot think of the deep sea without shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be crawling and floundering on its slimy bed.’ So wrote H. P. Lovecraft, American horror author who created the infamous Cthulhu and other monstrous creatures. And if he had ventured to the ocean abyss, he wouldn’t …

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Jan 16

Life Without the Sun: Giant Tube Worm

That all life on the planet can only exist thanks to energy given off by the sun was for a long time taken as a given. After all, plants – thought to the basis of all known food chains until relatively recently – can only grow and make food thanks to the light and heat …

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Jan 15

Into the Abyss Part 1: Deep-Sea Fishing

The deep sea makes up almost 80% of the space on our planet available for life. This makes it easily the largest habitat on Earth. So far, we have explored a mere 1% of this vast space. This is hardly surprising when you consider that there are barely a dozen submersibles in the world that …

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Jan 13

Bizarre Animal of the Week: Barreleye

The most unexplored habitat on Earth is the ocean deep. We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the very bottom of our seas. But from what little we have explored, we have discovered a very strange and mysterious world, filled with creatures that can boggle the mind. Take this …

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Jan 10

The Puzzling Problem of the Platypus

The year was 1799. George Shaw, eminent English zoologist of the British Museum, had just received a dried and most unusual animal specimen from Australia. This creature seemed to have so many strange qualities about it – the tail of a beaver, the bill of a duck, the body of an otter – that the …

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