Himalayan Yeti ‘Mystery’

Himalayan Yeti ‘Mystery’ Looks Even Less Mysterious, Scientists Argue



Mystery solved? Not Yeti, but close.

A year ago, geneticists reported that RNA extracted from hair samples attributed to the Himalayan Yeti monster, a.k.a. “the Abominable Snowman,” were actually most similar to the 40,000-year-old genetic signature of a now-extinct breed of polar bear. They suggested there might be a yet-to-be-discovered bear species lurking in the remote Himalayan snows.

Now a different research team says the hairs were just as likely to come from a type of brown bear that’s common in the Himalayas.

The scientists behind the original study, led by Oxford University’s Bryan Sykes, are holding to their claims about the polar-bearish RNA. But Eliecer Gutierrez of the Smithsonian Institution and Ronald Pine, who’s associated with the University of Kansas’ Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, say there’s too much genetic overlap in the RNA results to rule out the Himalayan brown bear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayan_brown_bear

The analysis from Gutierrez and Pine was published online Monday by the open-access journal ZooKeys. http://zookeys.pensoft.net/browse_articles

Is an exotic bear out there?

Sykes’ results made a splash when they came out last year in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The project involved gathering up dozens of samples of hair that had been collected over the years by monster-hunters and fringe researchers known as cryptozoologists. Sykes and his team looked specifically at mitochondrial RNA extracted from the samples.

Most of the hairs matched run-of-the-mill species, ranging from cows and canines to humans. But two of the samples, from northern India and Bhutan, matched up with genetic markers from a 40,000-year-old polar bear fossil from Norway. That led Sykes to call for an expedition to seek evidence of such a species in the Himalayas.

Since then, other researchers have suggested that the results may have been affected by contamination, and that it’s too great a leap to assume there’s an exotic bear species waiting to be found. The newly published results echo those conclusions.

In an email to NBC News, Sykes said he stood by last year’s findings. He noted that the findings published in ZooKeys were “entirely statistical” in nature.

‘Getting off your butt’

“The explanation by Gutierrez and Pine might be right, or it might not be,” Sykes wrote. “The only way forward, as I have repeatedly said, is to find a living bear that matches the 12S RNA and study fresh material from it. Which involves getting off your butt, not an activity I usually associate with desk-bound molecular taxonomists.”

Sykes said “the real heroes of the piece are the people who actually went to the Himalayas, spoke to the local people, found these hairs, had the wit to keep a few, and then contributed them to the study.”

He noted that his book about the project, titled “The Nature of the Beast,” is set for publication in April. As for the expedition to the Himalayas, Sykes said he was “not in a position to comment.”

In addition to reviewing the yeti results, Gutierrez and Pine noted that the DNA signature of an Asian black bear in Japan was not closely related to those of the species’ mainland members. In a news release, Gutierrez said further study of Asian black bear diversity “would surely yield exciting results.”

The study by Gutierrez and Pine is titled “No Need to Replace an ‘Anomalous’ Primate (Primates) With an ‘Anomalous’ Bear (Carnivora, Ursidae).”

First published March 16th 2015, 9:01 am

Stop Killing Our Wolves !








Center for Biological Diversity

Donate NowHelp Stop Wildlife Services, Give Now

Help Stop the Government’s Rogue Wildlife-Killing Machine

Dear Rusty,

We’ve learned that last month Wildlife Services, the animal-killing program in the federal Department of Agriculture, used a sniper in a helicopter to gun down 19 wolves in Idaho’s Lolo Pass.

The Center and our partners have just filed suit to halt Wildlife Services’ war on wildlife in Idaho. This is a huge task and we need your help. Give to our Stop Wildlife Services Fund today and we’ll use your donation to rein in this rogue program.

Wildlife Services operates like a black-ops agency for wildlife, carrying out a secret war with little accountability. Considering itself exempt from most environmental rules, the program kills as many as 3 million native animals a year — in addition to wolves they destroy bears, beavers, otters, foxes, prairie dogs, coyotes, mountain lions, birds and other creatures. Over the past 15 years they’ve spent a billion dollars to wipe out wildlife.

Help us end this slaughter with your donation to the Stop Wildlife Services Fund.

photo-Keep politics out of wolf recovery

Keep politics out of wolf recovery


Wildlife Services are contract killers, always willing to do the dirty work of special interests, especially those in the meat industry and corporate agriculture. In Idaho they destroy wolves and other predators to appease ranchers and big-game hunters. They have no regard for maintaining the integrity of nature and no respect for the decades-old struggle to return wolves to their homes in the once-wild West.

We must end their secret war on wildlife. Please give to the Stop Wildlife Services Fund today.


For the wild,

Kierán Suckling
Kierán Suckling
Executive Director
Center for Biological Diversity

P.S. One great way to guarantee our success against Wildlife Services is to become a sustaining member with a recurring monthly or quarterly gift. Help us by enrolling in our sustainer program today.Please share this message with your social networks:

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This message was sent to rgcorros@gmail.com.

Planet’s strongest material found:

For many years, spider silk has won the prize for being Earth’s strongest material, but no more. The teeth of the common limpet, a sea snail, beat out the silky stuff, being tougher than kevlar and stronger than spider silk.


Common limpet description

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Mollusca
Class Gastropoda
Order Archaeogastropoda
Family Patellidae
Genus Patella (1)

The common limpet is a well-known seashore species . It has a conical shell, the outer surface of which is greyish-white. Shells situated higher up on the shore tend to have taller shells than those on the lower shore (3). The underside of the muscular ‘foot’ on which the limpet moves around is yellow, orange or brown and often has a green or greyish tint .

Common limpets begin their life as males, becoming sexually mature at around 9 months of age. Most individuals undergo a sex change, typically becoming female at 2 or 3 years of age, although some remain as males (3). Spawning takes place once a year, usually from October to December, although the timing varies around the British Isles


photo-Limpet Teeth

Limpet Teeth

8 Extraordinary Facts About The Clever Octopus

In defense of the octopus, 8 extraordinary facts about the clever cephalopod

While the octopus is all too frequently cast aside as an odd slimy thing only good for dinner, these remarkable animals are some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet.

They’re not cuddly; they don’t have fluffy fur and big eyes and make us weak in the knees with cooing. Few swoon for the octopus. But if affection were commensurate with traits that are nearly supernatural in their power to wow, octopuses might be the world’s favorite animals.

But alas, instead they inspire legends of sea monsters like Kraken and Lusca, and give form to fictional villains like Ursula and Doc Oc. They incite cringing, not fawning. So with that in mind, allow us to present some arguments for why we think the graceful and brilliant unsung undulating creatures of the sea should be revered rather than vilified.
1. They are magicians

Just like a magician uses smoke and mirrors to make things appear and disappear, so does the octopus – but rather than employing mechanical devices to perform its trick, the octopus uses biology. Using a network of pigment cells and specialized muscles in its skin, the common octopus can almost instantly assume the colors, patterns, and textures of its surroundings. The camouflage is so expertly done that predators pass without notice. Watch one in action here (shown in reverse), it’s astounding.

Octopus camouflage

2. They have the coolest escape mechanism

Another trick worthy of a magician or something dreamed up by Q for James Bond is an octopus’ inky cloud that upon release, obscures an aggressor’s view and allows the cephalopod to slip away. And if that weren’t nifty enough, the ink – mostly a mix of pigment and mucous – also contains a compound that irritates the eyes and dulls an attacker’s sense of smell, making the escape artist even harder to follow.
3. They’re Olympian in speed and agility

When threatened, octopuses propel themselves by expelling water from their mantles, reaching speeds as high as 25 miles per hour. Whoosh. They also have agility that is a wonder to behold: They can squeeze their soft bodies into the teeniest of cracks and holes, making a circus contortionist look feeble in comparison.
Watch this: Octopus Houdini escapes boat via tiny hole!

4. They’re smarter than the average bear

CUNY biology professor Peter Godfrey-Smith says that octopuses are, “probably the closest we’ll get to meeting an intelligent alien.” While Aristotle called the octopus, “a stupid creature,” researchers say they have developed intelligence, emotions, and even individual personalities. The crafty cephalopod can navigate through mazes – and resist them if they’re not feeling cooperative. They, solve problems and remember solutions, and take things apart for fun. They can play fetch! They can unplug drains, disconnect wires, escape from labs and will even collect shells and other objects to build fortresses, or “gardens,” around their lairs.
5. They have far-reaching brains

This one is crazy: Two-thirds of an octopus’ neurons do not reside in their head, rather, in their arms. Which is to say, an octopus’ arms can take on a variety of independent tasks while their owner is attending to other matters. And if one of those arms becomes detached, researchers have found that the severed arm can crawl away on its own and even grab hold of food and direct it to where the mouth would be if the arm were still attached.
6. They can regenerate lost limbs

Lose one of those smart arms to a predator? No problem! The handy-dandy octopus can just grow a new one with no permanent damage. If only we were so lucky.
7. They have a lot of heart(s)

Yes, hearts – three of them in fact. Two work to transport blood beyond their gills, while number three keeps blood circulating for the organs. And oddly enough, heart number three shuts down when the creature is swimming, which explains why they are more prone to hiding than feeling quickly; swimming exhausts them.
Watch this octopus steal a video camera and make a short film:
octopus steals my video camera and swims off with it (while it’s Recording)

8. They’re as old as the hills

And maybe even older. The oldest known octopus fossil comes from a creature that lived 296 million years ago, during the Carboniferous period – it is displayed at the Field Museum in Chicago. It displays the classic eight arms and two eyes, and possibly an ink sac as well. As Smithsonian notes, “long before life on land had progressed beyond puny pre-dinosaur reptiles, octopuses had already established their shape for the millions of years to come.” In terms of seniority, they totally dominate us young’uns.
Bonus: They defy common language

You say octopi, I say octopuses? While octopi has become standard in common usage, it’s not etymologically correct. Octopi was borne out of the incorrect notion that the word comes from Latin; but in fact it comes from the Greek, októpus, meaning “eight foot.” Technically the plural is octopodes, but as the Grammarist points out, “octopus has been in English for centuries and is now an English word when English speakers use it, so there is no reason not to pluralize it in the English manner. Which would mean: octopuses.

For more, see: 8 Unbelievable octopus videos

Michigan’s bald eagles full of illegal flame retardants

The most contaminated birds on the planet: Michigan’s bald eagles are full of illegal flame retardants

Bald Eagle

CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Wikimedia

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a mouthful to pronounce, and apparently also a mouthful for the iconic bald eagle in the Great Lakes region. A recent study looked at Michigan’s bald eagle population and found that they are the most contaminated birds on the planet based on banned flame retardant chemicals found in their livers. While the population of bald eagles in the region is stable, the compounds that they’re exposed to have shown, in other birds, to impair reproduction, development, disrupt hormones, and even cause weird behavior.

Well, at least the most iconic animal in the United States won’t catch on fire too easily…

Wikimedia/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

More than four decades ago, companies started putting PBDEs into furniture cushions, electronics and clothing in an effort to slow the spread of flames if they catch fire. The chemicals quickly built up in people and the environment, and despite a phase-out starting in the early 2000s PBDEs are very persistent and have been found in the air, the dirt and also in people all around the planet.

The bald eagles were most likely exposed to leached chemicals that ended up in water, and then in the fish that they eat. Because they are at the top of the food chain, they naturally tend to accumulate higher concentrations than living things lower down. This also makes them early warning indicators for these types of pollutants.

And who else is at the top of the food chain? That’s right, you and me.

Environmental Health News writes: “PBDE concentrations were “among the highest found in liver tissues of any wildlife,” the authors wrote, with one eagle measuring 1,538 parts per billion PBDEs in its liver. Americans have some of the highest levels of PBDEs in their bodies worldwide, with studies of U.S. breast milk finding median PBDE concentrations of about 30 ppb, though the types of PBDEs vary.”

Via Journal of Great Lakes Research, Environmental Health News

37 Photos of Ridiculously Happy Animals Guaranteed to Make You Smile

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dl-cade/37-photos-of-ridiculously_b_6809710.html?utm_hp_ref=tw&utm_content=buffer02c15&utm_medium=social&utm_source=plus.google.com&utm_campaign=bufferSmile, it’s the weekend! But just in case you had a rough go of it this week and your glass feels more like it’s half-empty than half-full, here is a collection of 37 adorable photos featuring animals so ridiculously happy they’re guaranteed to send you off into the weekend smiling.

Seriously, if we were in a punny mood we’d call it a smiley back guarantee. So scroll down and just try to keep a grin from spreading across your face as you do… we dare you!

photo-Huffington Post @ link above

Huffington Post @ link above

For more smiley animal goodness, click here and go browsing through the happiest animals on 500px.

This article was originally published on the 500px ISO blog.

Follow DL Cade on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dlcade

WWF protect species – symbolic species adoption

Dear Rusty,You can have an extraordinary, positive impact on our natural world. When you help WWF protect species, you contribute to a thriving, healthy planet.Animal populations are disappearing at an alarming rate. But even in the face of threats like poaching, deforestation and pollution, we’re creating a better future for wildlife every day—thanks to support from people like you.

Wildlife of all shapes and sizes inspires us, but we focus our efforts on the species whose protection also supports the survival of other species, or helps us protect whole landscapes or marine areas.

You can help make a difference with a symbolic species adoption for animals like these:

Giant panda




Sea turtle

Polar bear



Protecting these species contributes to a thriving, healthy planet for people and all living creatures—from forests that slow climate change and filter water to oceans that provide more than one-sixth of food for the human population.

You have a choice: Will you help us protect species? Please take a moment to make a donation to WWF.

Sincerely yours,

Terry Macko
Senior Vice President, Membership

Polar bear plush and gift bagP.S. You can help WWF give species the protection that they need with a symbolic animal adoption. When you donate $50 or more to WWF, you can choose to receive a plush likeness of your favorite species as a thank-you gift. Each comes with a photo, adoption certificate and information card.In addition to protecting wildlife and habitats, your donation supports WWF’s work with local communities and conservation projects around the globe. Donate now.

Illegal marijuana cultivation is devastating


Christi Turner

Scattered throughout California’s public forests, authorities found 315,000 feet of plastic hose, 19,000 pounds of fertilizer and 180,000 pounds of trash on more than 300 illegal marijuana plantations in 2012 alone.

The tally comes from a new video by the U.S. Forest Service, describing the extensive and alarming damage caused by “trespass grows” hidden within the state’s public forested land. According to the video, the nation’s high demand for weed and paradoxical policies are exacting an “overwhelming” price on the environment, to the point where trespass grow investigations now comprise the bulk of Forest Service law enforcement work in the region, which includes California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

But for a moment, put aside the fact that the crop in question is marijuana. For Rick Fleming, director of the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew and a devoted trespass grow cleanup partner in the Sierra region featured in the film, it might as well be illegal corn or strawberries.



Chemicals and waste

Chemical herbicides and pesticides and large tanks of liquified natural gas (for cooking) are among the more dangerous waste collected during a trespass grow cleanup. Photo courtesy of Rick Fleming.
“They’re killing our animals, trashing our forest and destroying our water supply,” Fleming said of the illegal growers. “It’s not so much a political issue as it is just trying to preserve public lands.”

Since 2008, Fleming has been organizing volunteer crews to work with the Forest Service and local law enforcement to clean up illegal grow sites. In 2013, the Forest Service and law enforcement officials removed nearly one million marijuana plants across hundreds of sites in California. “Sometimes it’s 10,000 plants (at a site). Sometimes it’s 50 plants,” he said. “That doesn’t matter so much for us. What matters is the infrastructure that’s left,” like makeshift reservoirs filled with diverted water from streams.

But for Fleming’s volunteer cleanup crews, the most remarkable thing is always “just how much trash – tons and tons of trash.” Among the waste typically hauled out: tents, sleeping bags, stoves, propane tanks, clothing, food packaging, even discarded weapons.


Trespass growers dig makeshift reservoirs, or holding ponds, to store illegally diverted water for irrigating their marijuana plants. Photo courtesy of Rick Fleming.
The thousands of pounds of herbicides and pesticides used by trespass growers pose another threat; most of them are applied in dangerously high doses, and some of them have even been banned in this country. California’s Eastern District U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner notes that his office is “increasingly charging marijuana growers not only with drug crimes, but with environmental crimes,” including dozens of indictments of trespass growers on public lands in 2012 and 2013.

Mourad Gabriel, wildlife pathologist and another trespass grow cleanup expert in the film, has been tracking the harmful effects of some of the toxins on Pacific fishers, small carnivorous mammals already being considered for the endangered species list now being pushed to the edge by pesticide poisoning.

And what about those hundreds of thousands of feet of hose? In a state plagued by drought, trespass growers illegally obstruct and divert water, sometimes from miles away. At about 6 gallons of water per plant per day over 150 watering days, a trespass grow site with 10,000 plants diverts 60,000 gallons of water per day, or 9 million gallons in a season. Herbicides and pesticides added to irrigation water seep into the ground and back into the local water supply, causing everything from algal blooms to total ecosystem destruction. In the coho salmon habitat of Humboldt County’s Mattole watershed, hundreds of trespass grow sites threaten to undo millions of dollars of habitat preservation efforts.


Garbage from a trespass grow site, including large rolls of plastic irrigation pipe, is packed and ready to be hauled away. Photo courtesy of Rick Fleming.
How could this all happen? The answers, of course, reflect the fact that we aren’t dealing with illegal plantations of corn or strawberries after all – but a contentious, high-value substance, and during a historic moment when societal views are shifting in its favor but regulations lag behind. In a video report by Dan Rather released last October, U.S. Representative for California’s 2nd District Jared Huffman said that ultimately the problem stems from the conflict between state and federal law.

In February, Huffman and 17 other members of Congress, including Colorado’s Jared Polis and Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, urged President Obama to demote marijuana on the federal Controlled Substance Act, or remove it altogether. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I substance – the strictest classification, higher than cocaine or methamphetamine. “Classifying marijuana as Schedule I at the federal level perpetuates an unjust and irrational system,” wrote the congressmen. With marijuana now legal for recreational use in two states and for medical use in 21 states and D.C., not to mention the trespass grow dilemma, “This makes no sense.”


Illegal growers left an animal hide to dry, presumably after it was killed for disturbing the grow site. Photo courtesy of Rick Fleming.
In the video report, Huffman emphasized that as long as it’s a federal crime, there won’t be the option to create effective institutions to regulate and tax marijuana. Until it is decriminalized, so that growers can raise their crops without hiding them deep in public forests, he said, the environmental devastation will continue. Federal regulations could create environmental and public health standards for marijuana agriculture and provide transparency for consumers who want assurance that their weed is clean and “green.”

There are, of course, less environmentally harmful ways to get weed, like growing your own. But even homegrown or indoor-grown pot brings hidden environmental costs – including six times more energy consumption than the pharmaceutical industry, according to a major national study. But perhaps this cost is preferable to the other extreme.

“It’s really different than deforesting the forest and killing the animals and contaminating our water supply,” Fleming said. “It’s supposed to be a forest. It’s supposed to be public lands.”

Christi Turner is an editorial intern at High Country News. She tweets @christi_mada.

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Help Count Frogs

Officials Looking For Volunteers Michigan To Help Count Frogs
#Michigan #Frogs – Michigan Officials Looking For Volunteers To Help Count Frogs – Officials of the state of Michigan are looking for volunteers to help with the annual frog and toad survey, which is entering its 20th year. Scientists have reported a decline in amphibian populations worldwide since the 1980s, caused by pollution, habitat loss, disease and collection.

photo-Officials Looking For Volunteers Michigan To Help Count Frogs

Officials Looking For Volunteers Michigan To Help Count Frogs

The annual survey conducted by Michigan is performed along a state-wide route network, with each route containing 10 wetland locations. Volunteers that have signed up to join the survey visit the locations three times every spring season, which is the time of the year that is the breeding season of frogs and toads.

During this time, it is more likely for people to hear the frogs and toads than to see them. They listen for the calls being made by the frogs, identify from what species the calls are from, and make an estimate on how many of that specific kind of frog species is in the location.

Upper Peninsula volunteers may hear the mink frog’s call, which sounds like a horse walking on a stone road. Volunteers in west Michigan, on the other hand, could listen to the Fowler toad’s call, which sounds like a bleating lamb.

Readmore: Michigan Officials Looking For Volunteers To Help Count Frogs


Weasel-riding-woodpecker picture Twitter prompts weighty debate
#Tweet #Apps – Weasel-riding-woodpecker picture prompts weighty Twitter debate – It’s that age-old story: weasel meets bird, weasel falls in love with bird, weasel won’t let bird go – even when it flies off. This extraordinary picture taken by amateur wildlife photographer Martin Le-May has caused some chin-scratching among ornithologists everywhere.

photo-weasel riding woodpecker

weasel riding woodpecker

Is it possible for a woodpecker to carry a weasel on its back? Apparently so. Wildlife presenter Steve Backshall told Radio 1’s Newsbeat: “For the bird to be able to fly is pretty extraordinary, but not unheard of, so I have no reason to doubt it.”

The image of the wide-eyed bird and its stowaway was taken at Hornchurch country park in Essex, where Le-May was hoping to show his wife Ann a green woodpecker.After hearing “distressed squawking”, he spotted the bird with the small mammal on its back, and took a series of photographs as the startled pair flew past.
Weasel-riding-woodpecker picture Twitter prompts weighty debate
When the bird landed near him, he believes the weasel became distracted and the woodpecker seized its opportunity, “gathered its self-respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight”.