Car Sized Turtles Used To Roam Free Around South America

The fossils of a huge car sized turtle has been located in South America, after scientists had spent weeks during early February 2020 excavating a known area of rare fossils in present day Colombia. A paleontologist from the University of Zurich has already confirmed this would be the biggest turtle ever found, and is most likely the largest species of turtle to ever exist.

A beast that would have lived between 5 to 10 million years ago, the colossal sized beast measures 9 and a half feet. This would mean the turtle would have been the size of a midsize car, just imagine that walking up towards you. The turtle has been named in Latin as Stupendemys Geographicus, and is a freshwater turtle that was over 100 times larger than its closest relative that is still alive today. The closest relative would have been the big headed amazon river turtle, which is local to Brazil.

Weighing over 2,500 pounds this giant turtle had a horned shell, which indicates it was a male, as the female fossils found do not have horned shells. Horns are extremely rare in turtles, researchers believe they could have been used to during male on male combat. This would have been a perfect way that they could protect their massive skulls when fighting.

The researchers also found bite and puncture marks on the fossils, which indicates that the gigantic alligator predator known as the Purussauras probably hunted them down. The turtles themselves would have lived off a diet of fish, snakes, and mollusks. It is an incredible find that shows what type of turtles would have roamed around Colombia and Venezuela during the late Miocene epoch. This was a period in time where temperatures were starting to cool towards a series of ice ages.

This is not the first giant turtle species ever found, the first specimen, was found in 1976 in Venezuela. However, knowledge of how these giant turtles lived stalled because the fossils found was not complete enough. That has all changed now with the recent discovery.

The World’s Greatest Mouse Catcher

When it comes to the high stakes of mouse catching, you may have guessed it, cats do indeed rule the game. Towser holds the world record for catching the most mice ever, she was so good that her mouse catching skills are inscribed in the Guinness Book of Records. Her official mouse catching count is 28,899 mice, which is a feat no other cat has matched so far.

A long-haired tortoiseshell cat that was born on April 21, 1963, and lived 24 whole years around a Scottish distillery in Glenturret. The location was a well-known area of premium whiskey production, as a result, there was quite a bit of waste and mice running around. This is because of the barley stores used for whiskey production, they attract mice like bees coming to the honeypot. Located on the banks of the Turret River, in a secluded location, it was the perfect place for mice populations to thrive. In fact, the distillery had once been a place for illicit brewers, distillers and smugglers who wanted to avoid paying the taxes to England. This means that Glenturret is known to be one of or not the oldest distilleries in Scotland. And Historically the Glenturret distillery did not like to use poison or toxic vermin control products, so they turned to a feline guard to be their four legged mouse control expert.

Of course, nobody really knows the exact amount of mice that Towser caught during her whole life but according to a study who observed the cat’s hunting patterns and prowess for several days: an estimation was able to be made. The final count used statistical information to make the calculations, as Towser averaged 3 mice catches per day or more.

Towser is a folklore and local legend even has a bronze statue in the town which is in her honor. And if that was not enough there is also a small paw print on the label of every bottle of Fairlie’s light highland liquor. After her passing the distillery elected several other cats to be her successor, and even some were part of the same research group, but none of them were ever able to match her mouse catching skills. To put it simply Towser was the best of the best.

There Is An Californian Island With 150 Bison Living On It

On California’s Santa Catalina island there is a herd of over 150 bison living peacefully, they regularly feature in debates of environmental protection and economic expansions. Strangely enough though, as you can imagine, the bison is not a swimmer and the herd did not end up on this island naturally. Bison are native to the great plain regions of the United States. The farthest their natural habitat ever reached was Northeastern California, nowhere near Los Angeles at all.

But if you jump on a boat and take an hour-long ride from the luxurious beaches of LA then you will find an island filled with bison. The great shaggy bisons living out in the middle of the ocean. Twenty-two miles off the coast, Santa Catalina Island has long been a safe place for marine biologists and tourists – along with the occasional history buffs. That is because in 1924, The Vanishing American was filed on the island and they had scenes that required bison.

So the crew brought a small herd of 15 bison with them for the filming, but in what would only be described as animal cruelty today – they left them on the island and never brought them home. What happened was the funds behind the film dried up and they didn’t have the money to pay to transport the animals back to the Great Plains. Fortunately, the island did have a supply of grass and the bison seemed quite happy living there. Their herd grew to over 150 strong and even needed people to do some population control to keep it in check.

Don’t worry the bison was not killed, just periodically removed the island if the herd became too big. During 1924 and 1996 a grand total of 59 bison were added also to improve herd genetics. And well this worked extremely well, too well most researchers would say. Because after that time over 2000 bison have needed to be removed. In 1987 the bison population peaked at 527, but researchers have since kept it down to 150.

The area is managed by the Catalina Island Conservancy and they have a strong passion for conserving the endangered species. Therefore they want to let the bison stay, and also it has become a tourist attraction so there is an appeal to keeping them there. But the bison are not that friendly for the island’s wildlife, they eat all the plants. The island is home to endangered plant species as well, this is causing a dilemma on what to do. For the moment the debate continues and no one really knows what to do.

Giraffe Only Sleep 30 Minutes Every Day

If you like your beauty sleep and lazy Sundays, well, you better hope that you are not a giraffe. Giraffes are one of the only mammals that you will probably never catch sleeping. This is because despite being the tallest animal on the whole planet, they have the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal. The giraffe is known to sleep just 30 minutes per day.

The worst part is when they do sleep it is only for a couple of minutes at a time. In fact up until the 1950s, researchers even went so far as arguing that the giraffe does not sleep at all. They put forth the argument that giraffes do not lie down at all, and therefore, they must not sleep.

When it comes to the answer, it simply makes a lot of sense. The giraffe is a prey animal, meaning it is constantly being hunted by tigers, lions and other big cats or packs of wild dogs. However, being the tallest animal on the planet means it is quite difficult to lie down and get up. A giraffe cannot get up quickly if it does decide to lie down. It poses a problem when it comes to sleeping, a long nap or sleep where the giraffe lounges in the sun would be an extreme liability. The lion for example, an apex predator of Africa, will rest up to 20 hours a day. Sure this is because they are not being hunted, but cats can also immediately spring into action if needed.

Another problem is drinking water, usually, a giraffe neck is still too short to reach the ground. Meaning they need to constantly be mulching plants to ensure they intake enough water each day, again, it is another logical reason why giraffes should not be sleeping. After all when it comes to mother nature, it is survival of the fittest.

Some pictures are roaming the internet of giraffes in funny positions that lie on the ground or wrap their neck in all strange ways on the ground. But if you look closely and study the surroundings of the photo, you will notice that all of these pictures have been taken in enclosed areas. This means they are giraffes in captivity, in a zoo or a safari, undoubtedly somewhere where the giraffe’s natural behaviour may have slightly changed due to feeling relatively safe. In the wild a giraffe has never been seen sleeping more than 5 minutes at a time.

At full stride a giraffe can run up to 35 miles per hour, which means they are not an easy target, but if they are lying down on the ground then well the predator would be catching them sleeping – so to speak.

Bears Are Considered One Of The Most Intelligent Land Mammal

Classic characters of folklore and held in complete awe by most Native American Indian tribes the bear has had a complicated relationship with humans. They have been feared, trapped, hunted and displayed on zoos. Sure we cannot deny that the bear is an apex predator of great size and strength, but it is undoubtedly the bear’s undeniable intelligence that causes the creature to be something we fear and revere at the same time.

Many wildlife biologists are certain that the bear is one of, if not the, most intelligent land mammal on Earth – especially of North America. Their brain is the biggest and most intriguing considering how big they are compared to any other land mammal. When it comes to the animal kingdom we consider their intelligence to be compared with those of higher primates. Bears are known to be social animals, they have hierarchies and even structured relationships.

Biologists and researchers have already noticed that bears even go as far as sharing resources. The polar bears, who many believe are lone warriors that walk around the ice as a solitary hunter, actually are part of the community. They are a group of polar bears and never lose track of their other members.

Zookeepers know that bears are smarter than dogs, and we have seen them complete complex tasks such as opening locks and doors. This shows that bears can learn and process information, not to mention that circus bears have been taught to ride vehicles or even play musical instruments.

Of course the real cunning and legendary stories come from poachers and hunters – the bear is an amazing skill of evading capture and staying alive. The animal seems to always be able to avoid humans during hunting season. Many believe the grizzly bear has self awareness and regularly covers its tracks to conceal themselves from hunters.

Another indication that bears are intelligent is that they are omnivores like humans. Omnivores are generally much smarter thant specialized eaters, this is because following a varied diet means that you have to remember a great amount of information about food. A grizzly’s memory is so good that it can remember food sources they found over 10 years ago.

Even The Great Whites Run From The Orcas

There happens to be one predator that makes the Great White shark swim away in terrifying fear. To think something can scare this apex predator, a 16-foot long torpedo that is nearly entirely made up of razor-sharp teeth. This means it has little to fear, only it does fear one species in the sea: the killer whales.

Salvador Jorgenson from the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been tracking the dreaded white sharks for many years. He started by shooting many of them with electronic tags that he could follow their movements around the Southeast Farallon Island throughout Californian waters. This is a known hunting ground for the white sharks due to the seal population on the island. In 2009 they tagged 17 great whites and they watched them spend several months circling the island.

Abruptly the hunting ended on November 2 of that same year, when two pods of orcas rolled through the waters. They simply swam past the island in the early afternoon, but in the little space of eight hours, all 17 of those great white sharks had quickly left the area. And they were not dead, the research team picked up their tags a while later in waters miles away. They had fled Farallon completely and many of them did not return for over a month.

And this was far from a one-off, Jorgenson recorded the same thing happening over and over again. The orcas would appear and the sharks would leave. It is true orcas do also eat seal, so maybe the sharks did not want to deal with the competition but it seemed very unlikely as the sharks would swim off nearly immediately. Killer whales do have many social skills that sharks lack, which allows them to hunt in packs. This means they have become quite effective at hunting great whites and kill them in very ingenious ways.

Some orcas will drive them to the surface and then proceed to karate chop them with their tails, others have even been witnessed turning the sharks upside down to induce them into the paralytic state. Orcas have been recorded killing the fastest shark the Makos and also the biggest the great whites. But it is the great whites where the killing becomes a little morbid, the killer whales appear to love the shark’s livers.

This has led to them slicing them up and squeezing out their livers like toothpaste. They don’t even rip them apart at all. The funny part is that the orcas don’t tend to stick around for long, so in the long run, it is the seals that are the true winners. Two predators square off and the seals have time to repopulate their numbers!

Scientist Breaks Bank With Data Roaming Charges While Tracking Eagles

Local scientists in Russia were busy researching the migrating patterns and habits of the Russian eagles. Unfortunately for them they did not expect the eagles to decide on some of the birds deciding they wanted a vacation in Iran and Pakistan. The SMS transmitters they had attached to the birds suddenly incurred huge data roaming charges.

One bird who is a steppe eagle known as Min, decided who would rack up the bill and flew from Southern Russia to Kazakhstan via Iran. What happened was Min racked up a huge backlog of SMS messages when the bird was out of network range in Kazakhstan. The eagle then very unexpectedly flew straight into Iran, where the huge backlog of messages were sent.

In Kazakhstan the price of an SMS is just 15 roubles, which is around 30 US cents, but as soon as Min went into Iran the charges went up to 49 roubles per message. In a matter of hours the bird used up the research team’s tracking budget that was intended for all of the birds. Now the researchers were volunteers at the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Novosibirsk, so they did not have a big budget to begin with.

One solution was the open up a crowdfunding appeal to the public, which they aptly named: Top Up the Eagle’s mobile. This kind of worked and they were able to raise 100,000 roubles but there was still a hefty bill to pay. Luckily for the team Megafon, Russia’s biggest mobile carrier, got wind of what was going on and offered to cancel their debt. They also switched the scientists over to a mobile plan that made more sense.

This was great news for the team, as their SMS messages deliver the bird’s coordinates as they migrate which allows the team to take satellite photos and confirm if the birds are in safe locations. Power lines are the main problem which cause many eagle deaths every year, the eagle is an endangered species in Russia and Central Asia.

With Megafon’s help the research team has been able to continue saving eagles.

Bodega Cats Of New York

All across the boroughs of New York City, there are over 10,000 little Bodegas stores, it is a term that comes from Latin American Spanish which means a small neighborhood store. Across New York’s five boroughs there are many of these stores. They sell food and goods, an important part of each community, and also a place where you can see a famous Bodega cat. If you are lucky you may even get to pet one.

These working felines are actually protecting the store from vermin. They may be lounging around or greeting customers asking for cuddles, but actually, these cats are killing machines. They are sworn to a duty of clearing out the store from rats and mice, or other vermin, and in the process making sure the store owner does not get hit with a hefty fine. Vermin are a major issue in New York which is why the city is so quick to impose a fine on store owners, mostly because as you know rats spread diseases quickly.

And the internet loves them. There are photos and pages everywhere talking about different bodega cats. Nestling in a shopping basket or lounging on a countertop, definitely, these kitties look very cute. Some of them now even have their own Instagram pages, the internet has caused the simple bodega cat to become a famous tale and something to see when you visit New York City.

But the big question is, are these cats actually legal? Well, that is the problem the city’s Department of Health and Hygiene faces because cats do fall under a prohibition. Cats should not be on a premise where food and drink are sold. The law states that cats may shed hair or excrement around the edible products and thus cause a violation of safety regulations. The fines for keeping a bodega cat can range up to $2000, but still, store owners do it.

Many argue that cats are far less a health hazard than rats and are actually a much safer solution than using chemicals. Exterminators use toxic and poison which sometimes causes vermin to drop dead in small places that take the store owner ages to find. Just having a cat on the premises is known to deter small vermin. And well there is an emotional attachment to the Bodega cat, it is a cultural thing, that many New Yorkers would never choose to give up.

Cats Hired To Deliver Mail

Over the centuries, humans have always looked for new ways to deliver messages. We started by running messages from one place to another, and then it was via non-stop horseback riding and at one point carrier pigeons were quite successful. In Alaska and Canada, there is a history of delivering mail by dog sleds. We can even find evidence that in Alaska, there was an attempt of using reindeer to deliver written letters.

History is filled with stories of how people communicated and delivered messages across vast distances. We had the Pony Express from East America to West America, and birds delivered many messages in ancient Greece. In fact, the way we communicate has shaped society, just think of the impact of the telegram on the telephone to the internet and email.

One story that is pretty crazy though, is the time that cats were thought to be a good idea to deliver mail. Cats, unlike dogs, don’t really care about pleasing you and have a mind of their own, so why would they seem like a good animal to deliver mail? Some cats even go where they are not supposed to go, just to annoy their owners. With the general personality of a cat being feline indifference and their love at lazing around in the sun, you would wonder why anyone would think this was a good idea. But the city of Liege in Belgium did, and they even got to the point of hiring over 30 cats just for the purpose of deliveries.

In the 1870s, you may have seen cats running around the streets of Liege with messages attached to their necks. Of course, the messages were in waterproof bags, this way the city of Liege and its surrounding cities could easily communicate with each other – at least that was the plan. Some feared the cats would be attacked and robbed by their dreaded nemesis: the dog.

Did the endeavor work at all? No, not really, it was scrapped after a little time. One particularly smart cat seemed to get the drift of the game and did deliver his message in under 5 hours. Most were not interested in delivering messages at all and simply went back to their own home, following their instincts of asking their owners for tuna.

When Against A Raging Bushfire The Echidnas Will Simply Go To Sleep

In the tinder-dry Australia which is currently so much on the news due to the huge bushfires raging the country, one animal has figured out a survival technique that has fascinated biologists for decades. Wildfire can tear through any sort of vegetation in minutes and grow at terrifying speeds, the fires incinerate nearly everything in their path and leave behind a black desert of char.

Most animals have a fear of fire that is ingrained in their brain, this will lead them to try to outrun the blaze for survival. There is however one strange anteater that has a very peculiar tactic when it comes to surviving the fires, it just does nothing and goes to sleep.

The short-beaked echidnas, which look like bigger hedgehogs that lay eggs and survive off eating insects with their massive sticky tongues, can enter a hibernation technique which is referred to as torpor. This is a state that many animals can enter, it is used to conserve energy. When the echidnas enter torpor, they can reduce their metabolic rate and lower their body temperature massively.

Torpor also lets them survive massive fires, it is one of the reasons the creature is still alive today as its ancestors were able to survive. It was first discovered in 2013 after the terrible fire that swept all through the Warrumbungle Nation Park, Julia Nowack a biologist from the University of New England studied the aftermath the fire had on the local wildlife. And she noticed with her colleagues that the prickle insect eaters were still running around quite normally, they were among the survivors as if nothing had happened.

Echidnas can do this because of they when faced with fire they burrow down into the ground, and because they enter a state of torpor, they do not need as much oxygen to survive. Torpor also allows them to save precious energy while they wait for insects to return to the areas burnt down by the fires. It is odd because most examples of torpor being used to survive extreme regions are in places where it becomes very cold, during a deep freeze food can be scarce and it takes even more energy to just keep the body warm.

As it seems the echidnas have figured out how to apply this strategy to survive extreme heat.