You can call me Mono - it's a pleasure to meet you. Here you'll find updates from a Master of Science (Zoology) student at Melbourne University, Australia. This is a mismatch of a place; expect updates from within Uni and from out of it. I post about both zoology and its domestic cousin, animal science, and mix photos and pictures with lengthy discussions.
The Asian black-spine toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) is a close relative of the cane toad, which has caused widespread destruction in Australia’s north-east. And in April this fellow spotted in a Melbourne backyard, which is the first sighting of the species outside of ports and airports in Australia.
It’s a huge risk to Australian flora and fauna, and if more animals are found in Melbourne they could become an equivalent destructive force spreading from the south. DEPI has conducted a thorough search, but were unable to find any more, though this may only be due to cooler weather, as the species prefers tropical temperatures.
If you live in Melbourne, and particularly around the Sunbury area, please keep your eyes out. If you think you have spotted one of these toads, take a photo immediately, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can call DEPI on 136 186. Please be sure to do so!
"Let me just check my Facebook real quick."
Photo Credit: Wild Life Sydney Zoo
Found at work last night… gotta love the weird things at my job! We think it was a wasp… HEY! SCIENCE SIDE OF TUMBLR? HAlp?
At a guess, I would say it’s the giant ichneumon wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus). I’m guessing you’re in the US?
This little lady (yes, it’s a female) is showing off her ovipositor! That long and seemingly terrifying piece of nope is not a stinger, it’s just how she lays her eggs. They lay their eggs in the tunnels created by another wasp species, and it just needs to be long so she can actually reach. Males don’t have these.
For the record, this species is considered harmless to humans.
Little rhino baby!
This is Kipenzi, a Southern White Rhino calf at Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria, Australia. And on the 30th of May, she celebrated her first birthday!
Kipenzi has been hand-raised since birth. Veterinary teams worked around the clock to care for her, including through bouts of colic.
Over the last few months, Kipenzi was given fence-to-fence contact with other rhinos, and has been developing a relationship with her mother, Sisi. Now, daily sessions of actual contact in the same pen are being supervised, with the length of time slowly increasing. The introduction process is going well, but still needs a lot more work.
Full image link →
Every scientist makes dumb mistakes. Sometimes, they’re really dumb mistakes.
Charles Darwin tried to fit this egg into a box that was too small, and he cracked it. That’s right. Charles Darwin also made stupid mistakes. So don’t feel bad.
Olive python (Liasis olivaceus) at a waterhole in Mount Isa’s East Leichhardt River, Queensland.
Wheel-running is probably not a welfare concern!
Hey guys, check this out!
There is a lot of concern about exercise wheels in the cages of captive small animals (like mice and rats), because people tend to view the behaviour of wheel running as unnatural. It’s thought to be a stereotypy (a repetitive movement or action with no discernible benefit).
But this new study suggests that actually, wheel-running has absolutely no connection to captive behaviours at all! Why not?
Well, researchers placed a wheel in the wild, and found that wild animals spent just as much time on it that captive animals did. Originally, researchers added food to the protective cage where the wheel was found to encourage animal visits. Then they removed the food, and although the number of visits decreased, the number of visits that included a bout of wheel running actually increased by 42 percent, which suggests that the reason for the visit was actually to run on the wheel.
That’s right - in the absence of a food reward, wild animals do in fact run on these wheels!
And that means that wheel-running cannot be considered a stereotypic behaviour, because it’s not dependent on a food reward, and it was comparable in bouts between wild and captive animals.
It’s possible that it’s simply a play behaviour. That is awesome, and reassuring for small animal owners (and researchers who rely on behaviourally sound animals).
Full image link →
Could this be a new jellyfish species?
I posted just recently about a new jellyfish species, but this is a pretty cool case!
This bright purple jelly washed up on shore on Wednesday morning at Coolum beach, Queensland, Australia. The oral arm tentacles are about a metre long, and ‘covered in microscopic mouths’.
It’s being analysed by CSIRO’s marine biologist Dr. Lisa Gershwin, who believes the jellyfish may be a thysanostoma (of the Family Thysanostomatidae, and of the Class Scyphozoa, the ‘true’ jellyfish), but also says that those species tend to be brown or beige. She expects to find several other differences after putting the animal under a microscope.
It is rare to find thysanostoma in Australia, and much less off Queensland’s south-east coast, as they typically prefer warmer tropical waters.
They’re cute, they’re fluffy, and they may help fight E. coli infections on the beach!
Border collies have been found to be effective at keeping seagulls away from beaches, limiting the gull droppings found there - and gull faeces is a source of E. coli, which can cause abdominal cramps and diarrhoea in humans, and is a leading cause of beach closures.
On the shores of Lake Michigan in the US, border collies were patrolled along 200 metre stretches, and researchers found that bacterial levels were lower in the areas where dogs had kept gulls away.
Personally, I’d be very interested to know what carry-over effects this has on the gull population. Do they breed less? Eat less? Is there a risk to other species? I’d like to know.
Photographer Ingo Arndt captures this image of a mother brown bear in Lake Clark National Park, on the south coast of Alaska.
Coastal brown bears can grow to 750 kgs thanks to a mild climate and a protein-rich ecosystem, with a pretty impressive range of food sources.
Arndt captured this image using a camera attached to a remote-controlled, four-wheeled buggy. This bear was about 50 cm from the lens for this particular photo.