Tabloid Thursday: Planking is Dangerous


As usual, the bulk of so-called “news outlets” have missed the most interesting part of an amazing story. Science Magazine, Practical Fishkeeping and the BBC are all reporting that a new study has found that some species of zooplankton actually leap out of the water to avoid predators. The tiny copepods can jump as much as 60 times their own body length. They are only a tenth of an inch long, but still.

This is all fairly amazing. Until recently, it was generally thought that zooplankton mostly just floated around, incapable of real evasive action in the event that predators attacked. Now we see that some of these microscopic animals have a fairly advanced and successful escape mechanism.

It also helps to explain the high survival rate of these specific copepods. These particular copepods do not migrate to darker waters during daylight hours, so they should be easy targets for predators. However, their ability to jump out of the way of danger has allowed them to stay close to the surface without acting as an all-fish-can-eat buffet.

But why do none of these stories mention the terrifying part of this story? They have left out a bit that you can only find from Weekly World News and Tabloid Thursday!

Perhaps it is just to prevent mass hysteria that the story is being suppressed, but we can’t live with the thought that others might be saved, if only they knew the truth about the flying plankton. The “fact” of the matter is that they are not leaping just to escape predators; they are out for blood! The copepods have developed a taste for human blood and are now leaping onto unsuspecting fishermen and sucking them dry. Of course, given their minuscule size, it must take hundreds if not thousands of them to drink all of a fisherman’s blood. However, Weekly World News is “reporting” that “There have been 27 fishermen that have died from the flying plankton over the last few weeks.”

Don’t believe everything you read though. For the first time ever, we have some cause to doubt Weekly World News. They acknowledge that the copepods are 0.1 inch long and can jump 60 times their body length, but they also say that the copepods can “jump ten feet of the water.” Even if we are generous and assume that they mean “ten feet out of the water,” the math seems a bit squiffy. 0.1 in. x 60 = 10 ft? Sounds about right, never mind. Or do they mean that they can jump 10 feet vertically and travel laterally for 60 times their body length? That makes sense too.

EDIT:

Weekly World News is also reporting that a couple of bottle-nosed dolphins have taught themselves to fly, using their fins as wings. Not just leap out of the water, actually fly. But since they quote a “NASA expert” as saying that dolphins learning to fly is ” not completely surprising,” we decided that it really isn’t news-worthy.

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Tuesday Video Lunch: Crows Have Hobbies Too


Crows again!? These birds are beginning to freak me out. First, I read about how they are ganging up on the British to steal their cheeseburgers. Then, we looked at how crows have learned to use automobiles as automatic nutcrackers (AND wait at the pedestrian crossing to collect the food.) Finally, on this week’s Video Lunch, we bring you the most terrifying crow news of all: they like to go fishing. Well, not fishing exactly, but the principles are all there. Crows prepare a special rod and then stick it into holes in tree trunks. The grubs inside the hole bite the stick in defense, then the crows reel them in!

Let’s review:  Crows like fast food, cars, and fishing. Next thing you know, they will be watching television and joining our bowling leagues. Watch out, humans! The crows are gaining on us!

Podcast: Super Bowl Predicting Animals, Mink Sonar, and Hangovers, So Please Listen Quietly.


Hey guys, welcome to Animal News: The Hangover-cast.  We’re pretty hung over today, so we’re softly, slowly, holding you closer, tiny dancer.  Enjoy!

Blinding Speed!


In our most recent podcast I boldly asserted that there was an insect so fast that it goes (temporarily) blind. Turns out that I wasn’t lying. The insect in question is the tiger beetle.

Just look at those muscular legs.

These silly little critters apparently run in a series of fits and starts because they actually move so quickly that their eyes do not collect enough light to create an image of what is around them. They sprint, they go blind, they stop, look around, repeat.

Scientific representation of the phenomenon in question.

All of this at an amazing 4.1 miles per hour. Fine, don’t be amazed. That doesn’t seem very fast. It’s only 171 body lengths per second. WHAT!? Usain Bolt manages just over 6 body lengths per second when he is at top speed. If he were covering 171 of his own body lengths every second, he’d break the sound barrier! (That is not hyperbole, people; Bolt would be running at a stupid fast 748 miles per hour.) People think ants are awesome because they can lift 8 times their body weight, but the tiger beetle is the scale equivalent of an insane rocket car.

For more information about these silly little speed demons and for the sources for the above image and statistics, check out Goodheart’s Extreme Science Blog.

Podcast: Baby Bird Vomit, Tycho’s Moose, and Getting Blitzed


So, here’s the lowdown on this cast:

Some insects can jump high and run fast and cutely nomnom carrots. But we’re not impressed. But maybe if they had eyestalks or a badass lion’s mane…even Sherlock Holmes would be impressed.

Insects are ok but they don’t really know how to crew up for a day-long bender like a lushy moose. No one knows this better than Per Johansson and Tycho Brahe. Moose/Elk/Red Stag/Whatever, keep your shit together, don’t you know how this ends?  Fanged deer will hunt you down, dig your grave and maybe a car will run you both down. Maybe we use the podcast as therapy for long history of vehicular cervicide for both us and Kristin’s dad.

Animal News is talking about drinking and getting drunk tonight.

Enjoy it.

“I know what it is to eat a carrot.” says Jake matter-of-factly.

“Rabbits don’t have souls.” says Kristin accusingly.

“Where was his drunk moose wingman?” says Matt bafflingly.

Learning How Others Talk: An Animal Story Review


Today, at my job, I’m doing storytime.  Storytime involves some of the most soulcrushingly boring stories, broken up over 8 weeks of time.  It’s pretty brutal.  This two months, the story is about animals, so I’ve decided to reproduce it, in full, so that I can fully complain about it.

Learning How Others Talk, Part 1:

One day, Grandma went out to see her friends.  A stranger walked into the house.  The dog barked, “Help! A stranger is in the house! Woof, Woof.” The cat meowed, “Help! He’s going into the bedroom. Meow, meow.”  The goldfish said, “Oh! He’s taking the vase. Blub, blub.”  They couldn’t understand each other.

Okay.  Let’s just get this out of the way. I think it is irresponsible for an old woman, who apparently lives alone, to be taking care of all of these pets.  I appreciate that two of them don’t need to be taken care of as much, but seriously, the dog alone would be hard for this apparently frail woman to take care of properly.  She could be a spry old woman, but from her pictures, she is pushing 250 years old.   Also, there is no evidence of this stranger coming in from anything other than a basic understanding that this old git didn’t lock her doors.

Secondly, I know it is difficult to believe this, but dogs, cats and goldfish don’t just use their respective sounds as punctuation.  They don’t have fully formed thoughts in English and then convert them to barking by going woof woof.  Also, fish (at least pirhanas) are now know to make a diversity of sounds.  Blub blub, is the sound of escaping air, which, as far as I can tell, is not what any fish would be able to produce. 

Learning How Others Talk, part 2:

They said, “Let’s learn how to talk to each other.”  They started to learn.  The dog said, “Fish, I’m stronger than you. Blub, blub.”  The goldfish meowed, “Cat, I can swim faster than you. Meow, meow.”  The cat barked, “What a suprise! You two are great! Woof, woof.”

Look, I get it.  This story is about learning how to communicate and learning how to understand each other.  This, however, is not how this works.  If they, collectively, are able to communicate to each other that they are 1. unable to talk to each other, and 2. that they should learn how to talk to each other, what the fuck more do they need to learn.

These animals have just experienced what should have been a somewhat traumatic event.  They have just had their home invaded, but all concern for safety and their batty owner not locking the doors or whatever has been completely disregarded so that they can compare attributes?  That doesn’t make any goddamn sense.

And, the attributes that they compare aren’t even that good.  Sure, the dog is probably stronger than the goldfish.  It’s also bigger by a factor of 800% at least.  Relatively, however, if you stuck it’s head underwater, the fucking goldfish would murder it.  The goldfish may be a faster swimmer than the cat underwater, but take away the water, and you have a snack for the cat, prepared and ready.

And now, apparently, all you have to do to speak someone else’s language is to finish everything wtih a particular phrase.  So, apparently, my nonsense Spanish is finally validated. Yo voy a shoestoreo is now a valid sentence, because the ending sounds Spanish?  And I actually looked up how to conjugate the verb for that sentence-o, so maybe this one is better to demonstrate what I am talking about-o.

Learning How Others Talk, part 3:

Many days later, the dog meowed, “What do you want to do this afternoon? Meow, meow.”  The cat said, “I want to swim. Blub, blub.”  The goldfish barked, “I want to sing. Woof, woof.”  They were very happy to talk to each other.

“Many days later?”  What?  How does that make any sense?  There was a thief in the first part of this story.  These animals picked up each others langugae within minutes of the thief leaving, and they haven’t been using this apparent superpower for anything other than asking what they’re going to do after teatime?  These animals could go to a zoo and talk to a fucking whale.  They could get centuries old animals to talk about what they have seen that has changed their life, and they use it for the lowest imaginable purpose. It’s infuriating.

I’m super psyched that they were happy to talk to each other, but weren’t any of them worried that Grandma hasn’t appeared in several days.   How do these animals eat?  The dog might be able to deal, and the cat could eat the goldfish, but Grandma is either there, and they don’t give a fuck about her, or she isn’t there, and she is currently being murdered in her “friends” basement.

Learning How Others Talk, part 4:

One afternoon, Grandma was looking for her vase.  The dog barked, “Grandma, a stranger took your vase.”  The cat meowed, “Grandma, he took the vase.”  The goldfish said, “Grandma, he took the vase.”  But she didn’t understand them.  They said, “Grandma has to learn how we talk.”

Oh, hey, drama.  Where the have you been for the last two parts? Oh, you’re just popping by?  I understand, I wouldn’t want to be in this story either.

Look, another indeterminite time later, our Grandmother has appeared again.   She has finally realized, after days and days, that someone invaded her private space and took her stuff.  However, the animals know who did it, they have the ability to speak to each other now, and they try to do the exact same thing that they did with each other, with nary a blah blah after everything that they say.   Also, the goldfish is so unoriginal that he merely repeats what the cat said.

Also, this is actually the end to the story.  The resolution is just a moment of brutal storytelling.  The animals have the ability to communicate to everyone but the one person who could do something.  However, they are left on this cliff of unknowing, waiting to try to talk to Grandma.  And even if Grandma finally learns that they can talk, the instant that she talks to another person, the independence that she has cultivated will be taken away, because she believes that animals can talk to her.  She will live the rest of her days in an institution, haunted by dreams of animals talking in English to her, making her insane.  Her gift will be her curse, and she will be so withdrawn from society as to be dead to it.

This is what I teach to children.  I just don’t get to add my own parts to the story.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Internets Update! Animal Sex Man Honey!


Howdy everybody!

It’s been 30 days since our last (first) internets update, so let’s do another one.  This is once again a summation of all the search terms that people have come to this site from.

owl gif 12
gross parasites 4
animals do before earthquake 4
animal news podcasts 4
animal news podcastr 3
pictures of animals reacting on disaster 3
animal news the podcast 3
wwwdogbites owner before an earhtquake 2
beastly humans 2
wake up animal 2
animal news podcast 2
demonic owl gif 2
badass owls meme 2
demon owls 1
hookworm kimchi 1
why are owls hipster 1
bee puns 1
matt butler podcast 1
hipster salmon 1
smiling falcon 1
bee puns hipster owls 1
cat and owl gif 1
animal podcast, matt butler 1
fly zapper animated gif 1
why do animals freak out before earthquake 1
complete sequencing of genomes of four important representative species in inner mongolia, china 1
animals earthquake 1
hookworm parasite 1
hawkward owl 1
owls gif 1
hipster owl 1
do animals freak out before disaster? 1
animal sex man honey 1
winnie the pooh owl meme 1
hookworm 1
toxoplasmosis and pig 1
what did maryland animals do before the earthquake 1
hawkward 1
animal story of the week aug 29 1
highlarious animal news 1
do animals really freak out about earth quacks 1
animal fuck 1

So, what have we learned?

Owl gifs are apparently very important to our audience.  Hawkward (owl) got two, owl gifs got 12, demonic owl gif got 2.  Impressive.  Also, Winnie the Pooh owl meme was a scattershot one, but I’m glad you found us, person who was looking for the rule 34 of that one.

Natural disasters, of which I can now add torrential rain to, because it is super floody around here right now, have been pretty impressively well represented.  I think the main reasons for this are obvious.  1. We use words like freaked out to describe animals, instead of agitated.  Animals do before earthquake was one of my favorites.  Also, I do not know if “animals really freak out about earth quacks” but I’ll be damned if we don’t intend to find out.

Parasites. Gross, gross, disgusting parasites. Yeah, the people searching for that stuff are more hardcore than I am. I’m gonna go throw up.

And, I’m back. We have the general looking for podcasts about animals ones.  We have now been described for the first time as highlarious, so that’s awesome. Matt Butler Podcast has made the list again, which I think underestimates the importance of Kristin Ingram Podcast and Jake Crabbs Podcast.  You guys better google the fuck out of those terms.

And then we have the weird ones. “Animal Fuck.” Sure. “Animal Sex Man Honey.” No thank you, that sounds like it involves sex with bees, but please tell me more. “Hipster Salmon,” which should be on the codpast, but hasn’t been yet. “wwwdogbites owner before an earhtquake” which might be my favorite search of this one.

Until next month, Animal Sex Man Honey!

Matt

Update:  Last time, I mentioned that searching for ‘disturbing and gross animal podcast’ would probably be a jackpot for us.  I just checked. We’re number one (and two).

What became of the haberdashers? (For MEN ONLY!)


Women of the world, please do not read this post, it is for MEN ONLY. Here is a link to more suitable reading for the fairer sex.

Alright, now that it is just us guys, I have to warn you of something. We men are becoming obsolete. New technology is making it possible for women to open their own stuck jars, kill their own bugs, and even program their own TiVos. We male specimens are becoming more and more useless.

“Don’t worry,” you say to yourself, “men will never be phased out entirely, eventually all of the females go baby crazy and then we males will be in demand for our seed. Indeed, we are entering a golden age of manhood! Thanks to Women’s Liberation, the ladies now can do all of the work while we laze about and make ourselves available for reproduction! Like a bee drone, the man of the future will exist only to lie around, gorging himself on honey until he is required for mating. Glorious days lie ahead!”

As tempting as a life of honey and sex sounds, the cottony cushioned scale (a gross little agricultural pest) has started a revolution that could see the end of males altogether. According to a National Geographic article, many of the females of this species of insect have become self-fertilizing (almost.) A parasitic clone of the female’s own father develops within the insect and fertilizes the eggs. So male cottony cushioned scales are no longer necessary and will likely die out in the near future. It is only a matter of time before human women find out about this and decide to give it a try. You know how they are about trendy health crazes.

So guys, before your wives and girlfriends find out about this evolutionary development, make yourself seem useful. Clean the gutters, get things off the top shelf for her, clean your shaving scum out of the bathroom sink. In short, do something to show that men are still good for SOMETHING. We all have to work together here guys or we’ll go the way of the Betamax.

You Don’t Know What to Think About Orca (Videos)


Oh my goodness, this thing is the most precious thing ever! Look, it’s dancing.

 

So, it would seem that orcas can express themselves through dance but not through empathy.

 

Here, it’s playing with a dog. Not the kind of playing that ends up with snapped spines and internal bleeding, either. The nice, cute kind.

 

Annnnnd here we see what orcas do with their giant, complex hunting brains. They get together and plan plot conspire.

 

Somewhere between Let’s Kill Em All and Free Willy is what should respect for smart, majestic and cruel, vicious animals. Also, in that same spot is this video.

 

Payback’s a BITCH isn’t it, Pelican?!

The Harris’s Hawks of the Desert will Cooperate to Destroy Us All


Howdy everybody! It’s Matt again.

I guess I am making a habit of this, but I needed to tell you guys about this one.

Check this out. I’ll wait.

Holy shit, right? I mean, come on, how can you not be psyched about that kind of news story. It’s about a pack of raptors that have been trained to display their natural behavior where people can see it, and actually go straight home afterwards, without being recaptured or restrained. It’s absolutely insane, but in the best way possible.

Look, I know I’m a huge fan boy for this right now, but seriously, imagine having that job. You wake up in the morning, feed the birds, weigh them, and then, you go out and help them display their gifts to the people who come out to see them. Then, you go take them back to their mews, and you keep them healthy and protected.

In a funny coincidence, I have actually been to the reserve that is mentioned in this story. I didn’t know about the falconry demonstrations at the time, but I was completely enthralled by the desert wildlife on display. There were a lot of different insects and other creatures that were at the place. If you are ever in the Phoenix area, I would suggest going to check it out. Then, you can go to the Crocodile Cafe, which is both an obscure movie reference, and a real place, which is delicious. Wear sunscreen though, cause the sun is literally two inches off the ground there.

If you haven’t checked it out, we have a new podcast about bees, and if you haven’t heard our falconry podcast, get on it.

UPDATE: It’s literally two minutes later, but I wanted to say one more thing.

So, I recently have been mining my childhood for nostalgia, because I have been on this weird going back to the US tear, and I wanted to check something out from my childhood. So I started reading Animorphs again. First off, when I was a kid, that shit was no where near as dark as I think it is now. The first book features multiple vicious murders, and the morphing is described in the most insanely grotesque way possible. It’s awesome.

But, I had forgotten about the one person who got trapped in a morph, and what morph he was eventually trapped in. That’s right, Tobias, the sullen emo kid from the broken home, was morphed into a Red Tail Hawk. It’s one of those things that I think spurred my addiction to falconry, that lay dormant in me until I started looking it up recently. So now I have two children’s books that I read that prominently featured falcons used in falconry, My Side of the Mountain, and Animorphs.