Scientists have unraveled the genome of the coelacanth, a rare and primitive fish once thought to be extinct, shedding light on how closely it’s related to the first creatures to emerge from the sea. The coelacanth, a fish that can reach up to 5 feet long and lives in deep ocean caves, had only been seen in fossils and was thought to have gone extinct some 70 million years ago. That was until 1938, when fishermen from the Comoros islands off the coast of Africa captured one in a net. A second coelacanth species was discovered off the Indonesian island of Sulewesi in 1997.
The coelacanth’s genome shows “that the lungfish, and not the coelacanth, is the closest living relative to the ,” according to an abstract of a study published in the journal .”The lungfish-coelacanth question has gone back and forth over the years; the lungfish answer is not new, but this is a much better, bigger data set so it does tip the balance a bit,” researcher John Hutchinson, professor of evolutionary biomechanics from the Royal Veterinary College, “The most striking feature of this ‘living fossil’ is its paired lobe fins that extend away from its body like legs and move in an alternating pattern, like a trotting horse.
Other unique characteristics include a hinged joint in the skull which allows the fish to widen its mouth for large prey; an oil-filled tube, called a notochord, which serves as a backbone; thick scales common only to extinct fish, and an electrosensory rostral organ in its snout likely used to detect prey.
“The analysis of the genome also shows that the coelacanth’s genes evolved very slowly, an apparent confirmation of what paleontologists have long believed — that the fish has changed little in the past 400 million years.
“If you think about it, this might be correlated to the fact that the coelacanth lives in a rather extreme and stable environment,” Professor Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, from the University of Uppsala in Sweden and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, told the BBC.
“It lives several hundred meters down in the ocean, and it may also be in an environment where it doesn’t have a lot of competitors. So maybe it adapted to that environment a long time ago and it doesn’t have a huge need for change,” he said. …
Archive for the ‘Cryptozoology’ Category
Posted by Xeno on April 18, 2013
Posted by Xeno on March 28, 2013
A Thai man was caught in an airport trying to pick up 54 ploughshare tortoises. There are perhaps 400 ploughshare tortoises in the wild.
It’s tough enough for a species to fend off extinction without having smugglers as natural predators. In Thailand, a species-selling hub, it’s even tougher, especially when someone is trying to sell off MORE THAN 10 PERCENT OF ALL OF YOU.
Last week, a Thai man was caught trying to pick up luggage at an airport. That luggage was filled with 54 ploughshare tortoises, orAstrochelys yniphora. Since there are estimated to be as few as 400 wild ploughshare tortoises in the wild, that means the operation was an attempt to move more than 10 percent of the species. On top of that, 21 radiated tortoises, another endangered species, were being smuggled, too. A woman who the luggage was registered to was also arrested.
The tortoises were probably supposed to be sold as (really, really) exotic pets, the animal trafficking watchdog site Traffic says. That’s actually more common than you’d even think. The same day, Thai airport authorities made an arrest in an attempt to smuggle 300 Indian star tortoises and 10 black pond turtles.
In the last three years, according to Traffic, Thai authorities have found 4300 tortoises and turtles being smuggled like this. Just get a normal pet, guys.
Posted by Xeno on March 20, 2013
Ocean explorers have finally achieved one of their most alluring but elusive goals: video footage of the legendary giant squid (Architeuthis dux)in its natural deep-sea habitat. Scientists say that the spectacular film, captured during an expedition off Japan’s Ogasawara archipelago, answers enduring questions about the enigmatic invertebrate.
The 6-week mission was funded by the Japan Broadcasting Commission (NHK) and the US Discovery Channel, and took place in July. It is only now being discussed publicly, as the two companies prepare to broadcast documentaries that include the footage later this month.
The squid was first glimpsed using a specialised camera system, called Medusa, which the team deployed from a ship and left suspended about 700 metres down in the water. Later, researchers came face-to-face with one while in a submersible. “It was so beautiful that I have no words to explain it,” says zoologist Tsunemi Kubodera of Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science, who was in the submersible.
… The camera system was developed by Edith Widder, a deep-sea explorer and founder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, Florida. She thinks that the key to its success was a focus on the squid’s sense of sight. To avoid bright lights that might scare the squid away, the system uses a low-light camera with a dim red light, because few deep-sea animals see light with such a long wavelength.
In hopes of drawing the animals in, Widder used a different sort of light. Although very little sunlight penetrates to the deep sea, many deep dwellers produce a bioluminescent light. Past research by Widder suggests that the bioluminescence can act as a sort of burglar alarm, among other functions1. The idea is that the bioluminescence produced by some prey when they are attacked may serve to attract larger predators — such a giant squid — that will then eat the attacker.
Widder and her colleagues therefore fitted Medusa with an electronic device that mimicked the bioluminescence that jellyfish produce when attacked to serve as a lure. It worked: Medusa first encountered a squid during its second deployment, igniting jubilation on the ship. “I just was blown away,” says Widder,” I couldn’t have been happier.”
Medusa ended up encountering a squid five times, culminating with a full view of one apparently attacking the camera system in a manner consistent with the alarm hypothesis. The squid was about 4 metres long, although giant squid can grow as large as 10 metres or more.
During a dive about a week after the first Medusa success in their Triton submersible, Kubodera and pilot Jim Harris had a face-to-face encounter. Once they had taken enough low-light footage, they turned on the sub’s bright main lights, expecting to spook the squid. Instead, the animal continued to feed on bait tied to the sub. For 18 mesmerising minutes the pair watched as the huge animal’s skin shifted between unexpected gold and silver metallic hues….
Posted by Xeno on March 17, 2013
It’s been gone since 1983, but the Lazarus Project has brought it back to life.In 1983, the world lost one of its weirdest frogs. The gastric-brooding frog, native to tiny portions of Queensland, Australia, gave birth through its mouth, the only frog to do so (in fact, very few other animals in the entire animal kingdom do this–it’s mostly this frog and a few fish). It succumbed to extinction due to mostly non-human-related causes–parasites, loss of habitat, invasive weeds, a particular kind of fungus. There were two subspecies, the northern and souther gastric-brooding frog, and they both became extinct in the mid-80s sometime.
Except–what if they didn’t?
Taking place at the University of Newcastle, the quest to revive the gastric-brooding frog became known as the Lazarus Project. Using somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), a method for cloning, the project has achieved the major step forward of creating an early embryo of the extinct frog. Essentially, they found a related frog–the great barred frog, which also lives in Queensland and has cool eye markings, like it’s wearing sunglasses–deactivated its eggs, and replaced them with eggs taken from the extinct frog.
Even though the gastric-brooding frog has been extinct for decades, it’s possible to do this because individual specimens were kept preserved in, believe it or not, everyday deep freezers. When going through somatic-cell nuclear transfer, the eggs began to divide and form into the early embryo stage.
The embryos didn’t survive much longer than that, but it was confirmed that these embryos contain genetic information from the gastric-brooding frog–that yes, in fact, they have brought it back to life. The researchers are confident that this is a “technical, not biological” problem at this stage to breed gastric-brooding frogs to adulthood. This is a big step forward for the worldwide attempts to revive extinct animals–the Lazarus Project researchers will soon meet with those working to revive the woolly mammoth, dodo, and other extinct beasties to share what they’ve learned.
Oh, and in case you were wondering: the gastric-brooding frog lays eggs, which are coated in a substance called prostaglandin. This substance causes the frog to stop producing gastric acid in its stomach, thus making the frog’s stomach a very nice place for eggs to be. So the frog swallows the eggs, incubates them in her gut, and when they hatch, the baby frogs crawl out her mouth. … Read more
Posted by Xeno on March 12, 2013
The three-year-old tortoiseshell has her own Facebook page and a YouTube video that’s been viewed over a million times, and appeared on the Today Show last week. (Watch National Geographic cat videos.)
One look at this cat and you can understand why: One half is solid black with a green eye—the other half has typical orange tabby stripes and a blue eye.
How does a cat end up looking like that? Leslie Lyons, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who studies the genetics of domestic cats said she’s never seen a cat exactly like Venus.
“She is extremely, extremely rare,” Lyons said. “But you can explain it and you can understand it.”
Is Venus a Chimera?
Many reports about Venus refer to the cat as a “chimera.” In mythology, a chimera is a mishmash monster made up of parts of different animals. A feline chimera is a cat whose cells contain two types of DNA, caused when two embryos fuse together.
Among cats, “chimeras are really not all that rare,” Lyons said. In fact, most male tortoiseshell cats are chimeras. The distinctively mottled orange and black coat is a sign that the cat has an extra X chromosome.
But female cats, said Lyons, already have two X chromosomes so they can sport that coat without the extra X. That means Venus is not necessarily a chimera.
To find out would require genetic testing, said Lyons. With samples of skin from each side of the cat, “we can do a DNA fingerprint—just like on CSI—and the DNA from one side of the body should be different than the other.”
Cat’s Blue Eye Another Mystery
If Venus isn’t actually a chimera, then what would explain her amazing face?
“Absolute luck,” Lyons said. One theory: perhaps the black coloration was randomly activated in all the cells on one side of her face, while the orange coloration was activated on the other, and the two patches met at the midline of her body as she developed.
Cat fanciers who are transfixed by Venus’s split face may be missing the real story: her single blue eye. Cat eyes are typically green or yellow, not blue. (Take a cat quiz.)
A blue-eyed cat is typically a Siamese or else a cat with “a lot of white on them,” she explained.
Venus appears to have only a white patch on her chest, which to Lyons is not enough to explain the blue eye.
“She is a bit of a mystery.” …
Posted by Xeno on March 12, 2013
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/images/news/201211/n_34749_4.jpg” />The leggiest creature on Earth lives in California. But it’s not a movie star or a model. In fact, it’s smaller than a human pinky finger. It’s a 3-centimeter-long (1.2-inch) millipede with 750 legs.
First seen by government scientists in 1928, Illacme plenipes—”the acme of plentiful legs”—keeps such a low profile that for the rest of the 20th century the species was thought to be extinct. Then University of Arizona entomologist Paul Marek spied one near Silicon Valley.
Marek and colleagues’ new paper—published Wednesday by the journal ZooKeys—offers the first scientific description of Illacme plenipes, including insights into its strange anatomy.
For one thing, females have up to 750 legs, and males have more than 550. Most other millipede species have between 80 and 100 legs apiece, Marek said. For another thing, Illacme plenipes can spin silk from long hairs that cover its back, thereby creating its own “clothing.”
“It’s the coolest millipede I’ve ever heard about,” Marek added.
(New species pictures: Giant millipede among Borneo finds.)
Illacme plenipes has “kind of had a mythical status among millipede people,” Marek said.
So in 2005, an intrigued Marek—then a doctoral student—began searching for the legendary invertebrate in a foggy 2.8-square-mile (7.3-square-kilometer) area outside San Francisco.
Over three years Marek and his team turned up 17 specimens, each clinging to sandstone boulders. Though they suspected more millipedes might be found, the team stopped collecting specimens in 2007, so as not to potentially deplete the species in the wild. …
Because these burrowing arthropods live deep underground, their legs have adapted to include claws. Marek and other researchers hypothesize that these talons may help Illacme plenipes cling to subterranean rocks.
Other surprising anatomical features include massive antennae (relative to the scale of its body), which the millipede uses to feel its way through the dark; a jagged and translucent exoskeleton; and body hairs that produce a sort of silk that may help Illacme plenipes adhere to the undersides of boulders. And unlike in other millipedes, the mouth of this species is specifically structured for piercing and sucking plant tissues.
Posted by Xeno on March 12, 2013
Talk about an odd bird—a bald eagle with white spots has been seen in Washington State.
Photographers Chris Teren and Traci Walter snapped the bird feeding on the Nooksack River, near Bellingham (map), on January 6. (Also see “‘White,’ Albino-like Penguin Found in Antarctica.”)
“It was chaotic, with eagles flying and calling everywhere, then in came this eagle. It didn’t take me long to figure out what we saw was something very special,” Walter told National Geographic News by email.
“I was so excited, but I contained myself and focused on this eagle, and wound up with some great shots. I have seen a couple leucistic animals before, and figured that’s what was going on.”
Indeed, the animal likely has leucism, according to Andrew Griswold, an expert on bald eagles and director of ecotravel for the Connecticut Audubon Society.
Leucism is a mutation that prevents melanin, or pigment, from being produced in parts of an animal’s body. In the case of birds, the pigment is absent from some feathers.
Another condition that creates white coloration in animals is albinism, which occurs when an animal produces no melanin at all throughout its entire body. (See pictures of albino animals.)
Bald eagles on the cusp of adulthood have similar mottled feathers, but in this case, the bird has the telltale golden eyes and beak of an adult, added Teresa McGill, a wildlife photographer with McGill’s Nature in Motion. The pure-white head is also a sign of adulthood.
“This is an extremely mature eagle, [and it's] not just going through its change of plumage. Beautiful!” McGill said by email. …
Posted by Xeno on March 12, 2013
A baseball-sized snail with an insatiable appetite for hundreds of plants including cocoa and papaya has been seized and destroyed by Australian officials, who said it posed a huge threat to local agriculture.
The animal was found creeping across a Brisbane shipping container yard and identified as a giant African snail, an East African pest capable of growing up to 30 cm (12 inches) long and one kg (2.2 lb) in weight.
It is known to eat 500 different species of crops, fruits, native Australian plants and even other giant African snails, according to an Australian government website.
“Giant African snails are one of the world’s largest and most damaging land snails,” said Paul Nixon, acting regional manager at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, in a statement.
The snail can lay 1,200 eggs a year, tolerates extreme temperatures and has few natural enemies in Australia. It also carries parasites that can infect humans with the disease meningitis, which can in some cases be fatal.
The last major Australian outbreak of the snail was in 1977, when 300 giant snails were exterminated in Queensland in an intensive eight-month campaign of community education, baiting and snail collection.
The snail was destroyed and officials inspected the container yard and found no evidence of additional snails, eggs or snail trails. They will continue surveillance into next week.
“Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements and responsive system has so far kept these pests out of Australia, and we want to keep it that way,” Nixon said.
Posted by Xeno on February 28, 2013
Have frames from the infamously secretive Erickson Project video leaked, showing Bigfoot’s face in the most compelling evidence since the Patterson film? Maybe… A screen capture allegedly grabbed from the infamous Matilda footage claims to show Bigfoot s face A screen allegedly grabbed from the “Matilda” video claims to show Bigfoot’s face Dr. Melba Ketchum, the woman behind the controversial DNA study into Bigfoot, has been working with a group of people calling themselves “The Erickson Project”. The project’s claim to fame? They swear that they were actually able to sneak up on a sleeping Sasquatch and capture ultra clear video evidence of the creature. While that evidence has been teased for quite awhile, having been seen and even verified as genuine Squatch evidence by the likes of Finding Bigfoot head honcho Matt Moneymaker, the only clip that has ever come to light was a very inconclusive bit of footage that cuts away without ever showing us the money shot – Matilda’s face. According to our friends over at the Bigfoot Evidence blog, the complete footage is so enticing that Erickson has offered to sell it at the price of one million dollars, with rumors that the Discovery Channel may have even purchased it already. With eyewitness statements from Moneymaker, interest from Discovery, and a seven figure price tag, you can’t help but wonder just how convincing Matilda’s face is. Well, if the recent leaks of what are purportedly frames from the Erickson footage are to be believed, the answer might be “not very”. In fact, “Matilda” might just be a painted and re-touched Chewbacca mask. The frames were posted by Bill Munns on the Bigfoot Forums along with a pointed request for those who have seen the Matilda footage to verify it and somehow prove that the creature’s face is not just a mask. From the post:
With this posting, I cordially suggest the following:
1. If anyone wishes to publicly acknowledge that this is their footage, I invite them to do so, and if they are correct, I’ll acknowledge it to be true.
2. If anyone feels the video frames show a real creature and not a Chewbacca mask, I welcome their analysis of why we should consider that to be so.
3. If anyone has seen the “Matilda” footage, I invite you to let us know if this is or is not the footage you call “Matilda”, because maybe what I’m looking at isn’t her, and I welcome being corrected if that is so.
4. If my display of this chart causes anyone to feel that they should file some type of civil action against me, please have your lawyer contact me at email@example.com so we can set an appointment for my receiving the service of papers, and we can discuss the matter on the public record, in a court.
For the record, I will confidently and clearly offer an appraisal of evidence as being something real, if I truly find the evidence leads to that conclusion, and my appraisal of the PGF as being real supports that position. But as much as we must support what we find to be real or valid, we must also reject or discount what we find to be false or fake. Our obligation is to find the truth, and I think it’s time we all knew the truth about this “Matilda” thing. I finally decided it’s time I did my share to get the truth out. If what Munns says is true, this comes as another blow to a Bigfoot project claiming “definitive evidence” that has already seen several hits to it’s credibility, whether it be the refusal of science journals to even touch the project or the paper’s citing of an April Fools joke in it’s references. On the other hand, the leak might just be viral marketing for Star Wars Episode VII.
Posted by Xeno on January 3, 2013
The news just keeps coming and even more details have surfaced. Ed Smith now claims that “Daisy“, the Bigfoot, has now been moved to an “examination area” where it could take up to 72 hours to conduct the examination. A press release is expected to happen within the 48 hours. Details about the creature’s weight, height, hair color and gender is still unknown at this time. Here’s what Smith posted this morning via the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center Forums:
It appears that an unprecedented event is in motion, having been on the inside of this operation and now observing from the outside is a defiant change.
So here is what I know: “Daisy” has been moved to a examination area about 12 miles from the capture site at 3:17 this morning after being properly sedated. The capture site and examination area are on private property leased and or owned in order to conduct research and operations of this type. This was confirmed by a source in the Quantra Group.
Here is what I don’t know: The weight height hair color gender or location of capture. Or the health of the specimen.
Nor the actions leading up to the capture of the specimen.
Here is what I’m speculating: the examination team is continuing to assemble, examination should take 72 hours.
If they go by the plan then a decision about release or storage in a repository will be made with in 48 hours after the examination is completed.
If release is chosen then a press release should be forth coming after the examination is competed, if the specimen is sent to the repository then a press and information release would happen with in 30 to 90 days thats by the operations plan.
Reasons for moving the specimen to a repository include health issues, prolonged examination and on the darker side private investment group interests. …
Bigfoot is an alien drone. As soon as the reptilians realize it is captured, they will make it invisible and discredit the people who thought they’d captured it. They will do this by eating the bigfoot hunters and replacing them with alien look-a-likes that exhibit slightly bizarre behaviors.
I do think they exist based on the expert testimony of Jimmy Chilcutt a fingerprint technician at the Conroe Police Department.
… highly regarded by agents of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and state and local law enforcement agencies…
… in doing what comes naturally — being careful and thorough — he ended up rocking his own skepticism about one of the most sensational tales that routinely show up in the tabloids.
Chilcutt’s quest to squeeze more information out of fingerprints led him to develop a rare expertise in nonhuman primate prints. He tried to use his special knowledge to debunk alleged evidence of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch.
But his examination of alleged Bigfoot footprint castings didn’t lead to the conclusion he had expected. He now believes that — while some of them are fakes — some are the genuine prints of a reclusive animal that has yet to be documented and studied. – link
This is what keeps me on the lookout for scientific proof ( see Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science ) while others dismiss all Bigfoot sightings as hoaxes. I’ve dressed up in a bigfoot outfit myself and had a horror film maker film me in the woods. Even if I had a realistic costume and got the walk down so it looked real, I would not have been able to carve the very fine detail onto the fake feet in a way that would fool a real fingerprint expert into believing they were real. Look at the detail on your fingerprints… Could you carve a non-human primate fingerprint realistic enough to fool an expert onto a fake bigfoot foot? I couldn’t. Take a good look again at your own finger prints and what a steady hand it would take to make those almost microscopic parallel lines that nature gave us so we can hold onto tree limbs when it rains.