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Amber-trapped lizard fossils reveal ‘lost world’

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Scientists say this fossil dates back 90 million years



Amber-trapped lizard fossils reveal ‘lost world’

Lizards locked in amber for 99 million years give a glimpse of a “lost world”, say scientists.

The ancient reptiles are preserved in “superb detail” down to scales of skin, the tip of a tongue and tiny claws.

Two of the fossils are related to modern-day chameleons and geckos, revealing how features such as sticky toe-pads evolved.

The lizards inhabited tropical forests in what is now Myanmar during the Mid-Cretaceous Period.
Researchers in the US have published their assessment of the specimens in the journal Science Advances.

“The fossilised amber provides a view into a lost world, revealing that the tropics of the Mid-Cretaceous contained a diverse lizard fauna,” Dr Edward Stanley of the Florida Museum of Natural History told BBC News.

Claw of lizard

Some of the lizards are representatives of modern groups such as geckos, while others have no modern equivalent and eventually died out.

One of the fossils appears to be a transitional form between the “standard” lizard form and chameleons, said Dr Stanley.

“This ‘missing-link’ is roughly 80 million years older than the next oldest chameleon fossil, and shows that features like the chameleon’s projectile tongue was present deep in its ancestry,” he added.

“But its strange fused toes (adaptations for climbing along branches) evolved later.”

Snapshot of the past

The amber fossils were obtained by private collectors and were acquired by museums in the US. They have now been collated and studied for the first time.

“They provide details of external morphology, which is something that is pretty rare to find,” said Juan Diego Daza, of Sam Houston State University in Texas, who led the research.

“These fossils represent most of the diversity of lizards with a superb amount of detail.”

The whole picture

Soft tissues and internal organs – as well as bones – can persist in amber for millions of years.

“We can pretty much see how the animals looked when they were alive,” explained Prof Daza.

“They provide a really nice snapshot of the past. To me it is like going back in time and doing a lizard collecting trip when we can see what these animals looked like.”

Some of the smaller specimens are whole lizards but others are fragments of animals.

Together, they could resolve some of the gaps in the family tree between ancient reptiles and their modern relatives.

From one of the smallest and oldest to one of the largest

Ever heard of the Megalania?

Megalania is a giant lizard that used to live in Australia. Part of the Mega Fauna that used to roam the continent. In fact it was the largest land-living carnivorous lizard that ever walked the the planet. It was top of the food chain in Australia.

Megalania

Megalania has been extinct for tens of thousands of years.

It’s not the sort of animal you’d like to meet on a dark night, or bright day for that matter.

But one man from Sydney Australia claims to have come across one in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.

Reg Gilroy, a fossil hunter, claims one day while walking in the bush he came across a megalania. He wasn’t the only one. As this story says.



https://youtu.be/ujkT8izw5jc?t=8m48s


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Music to Soothe Cats

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Music to Soothe Cats

Would you believe this, music especially composed to help your cat relax.

This hour long compilation is specially designed to help soothe your cat in any situation.

Relax My Cat are experts in creating relaxing music to help calm your cat and help them sleep. Our music is composed in-house by our team of producers, and uses binaural technology designed to relax and calm your cat. If your cat has sleeping problems or anxiety problems or is even stressed during construction, fireworks or other loud noises, you should try our music.

Relax My Cat’s music will help to calm and soothe your cat or kitten in a variety of situations. Minimise separation anxiety, reduce hyperactivity, minimise fear of thunderstorms or fireworks, stop unwanted whining, comfort sick or injured cats and calm your cat on car journeys – Relax My Cat does it all!

Our music is based on feline vocal communication and environmental sounds that pique the interest of cats; it is written in a musical language that is uniquely designed to appeal to the domestic cat. All of the music is recorded on traditional instruments and the human voice. No actual cat, mouse, or bird calls are used (although it may sound like it).

Relax My Cat’s music is unique, and will help in a variety of situations as a substitute for medication. We have helped thousands of cats and kittens worldwide to sleep and reduce their anxiety. Music therapy for your cat can keep them calm, happy and healthy, and it is a great way to rehabilitate rescue cats – or just get your kitten or cat used to their new home.

Being re-homed is an incredibly stressful time for cats – as they have to get used to a lot of different sights and sounds, as well as their new family and any other pets in the household. We recommend that you play Relax My Cat during this time, and it will help reduce their heart rate and relax them while they explore their new surroundings. No more whining kittens – they will get used to your home in no time at all with the help of Relax My Cat’s music.

♫♫♫ Relax My Cat Music on iTunes:

Here’s a story about a ghostly cat from Ireland. The story of the Black Cat of Killakee.

 

 


New cattle mutilation mystery

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New Cattle Mutilation Mystery




New cattle mutilation mystery

From GainsvilleTimes.com

Kathy Cooper was tending to her cattle this week when she discovered another cow had been killed and mutilated — approximately one year from the first time it happened.

Cooper and her husband, John, have lost more than 20 cows on their 200-plus acre South Hall farm to a mysterious crime over the past year.

Despite their best efforts and help from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Georgia’s veterinary school, they are no closer to finding out who is killing their cows and removing only their udders and genitals.

“Detectives don’t have any clues what they do with these parts,” Cooper said. “It’s very obvious that’s what they’re after. That’s all they cut off.”

The 5-year-old cow Cooper discovered dead Monday exhibited the same surgically precise, almost spherical, incisions on its belly where its udders and milk bag had been cleanly removed.

Cooper found just one trace of whoever killed the cow left in the soft dirt caused by Monday’s rain, but no footprints leading anywhere.

“You could see where they went in there on their knees and elbows and lifted her tail up and just cut it off,” she said. “That’s the first sign of any kind.”

Cooper said the mutilated cows are typically found in a gully or wooded area rather than open pasture. The first week of May, seven cows were killed and mutilated on their property. Several more were killed last fall.

Cattle mutilations have been reported across the country with little explanation despite extensive studies. The mutilations are often attributed to a variety of causes, including everything from extraterrestrials and cults to natural predators and decomposition.

Col. Jeff Strickland of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office said investigators have been working on the case for the past year with little luck.

“This has been an ongoing investigation. At this time we don’t have any suspects in the case,” Strickland said.
“We’re going to continue to investigate the case and follow any leads.”

Strickland said there have been no other reports of cattle mutilations in the county.

“It is very bizarre and very unusual. We’ve had no incidents in the adjoining pastures owned by different people,” Strickland said.

Cooper said she is ready to catch whoever is behind this.

“It is a big thing to lose that many cows,” Cooper said. “That’s how we make our living.”

Cattle mutilations have been going on for decades all over the world.

This video reports some of them.




 


Maggie the dog made honorary primary school teacher

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Maggie the dog made honorary primary school teacher

From the BBC

A dog has become so successful in helping children to read, that she’ has become an honorary member of staff at a school in the British West Midlands.

The idea of getting pupils to read to dogs in order to improve their literacy (the pupils that is) was first tried out in the UK five years ago, but Maggie, a 10-year-old Shih Tzu, has become so successful that she now has her own staff badge at Earls High school in Halesowen.

Phil Mackie went along to meet Maggie, and Grace, another Shih Tzu, who’ is training to take over when Maggie retires.

Teaching Assistant Toni Gregory spoke on behalf of the two literary pups.

However, Maggie won’t start work until after she shares a bacon sandwich with the schools librarian.

Here’s another story about a dog. This time it’s a Silky Terrier. And this dog is a bit of a hero. It saved it’s owner from one of the world’s most deadliest snakes. An Australian brown snake.

Egypt pyramids scan finds mystery heat spots

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The discovery was made two weeks into the thermal scanning project

Egypt pyramids scan finds mystery heat spots

From the BBC

An international team of architects and scientists have observed “thermal anomalies” in the pyramids of Giza, Egyptian antiquities officials say.

Thermal cameras detected higher temperatures in three adjacent stones at the bottom of the Great Pyramid.

Officials said possible causes included the existence of empty areas inside the pyramid, internal air currents, or the use of different building materials.

It comes as experts search for hidden chambers within the pyramids.

The tombs of the pharaohs Khufu (Kheops), Khafre (Khephren) and Menkaure (Mycerinus) were built in the Fourth Dynasty, about 2613-2494BC.

‘Impressive’ anomaly

A team of architects and scientists from Egypt, France, Canada and Japan used infrared thermography to survey the pyramids during sunrise, as the sun heats the limestone structures from the outside, as well as at sunset when they cool down.

Cameras detected higher temperatures in three stones at the bottom of the Great Pyramid

In a statement, the Egyptian antiquities ministry said the experts had “concluded the existence of several thermal anomalies that were observed on all monuments during the heating-up or the cooling-down phases”.

“To explain such anomalies, a lot of hypotheses and possibilities could be drawn up: presence of voids behind the surface, internal air currents,” it added.

An “particularly impressive” anomaly was found at ground level on the eastern side of the Great Pyramid, also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, the statement said.

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damati (left) presented the findings on Monday

“The first row of the pyramid’s stones are all uniform, then we come here and find that there’s a difference in the formation,” Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damati said as he showed reporters the three stones showing higher temperatures.

Other thermal anomalies were detected in the upper half of the Great Pyramid.

The structure will be the subject of further investigation during the Operation Scan Pyramids project, which began on 25 October and is expected to last until the end of 2016.

Animal X knows that there are some ancient and scary cults in Egypt. There’s the ancient Cat cult and the scary creature known as the Salaawa, a werewolf type creature.

Here’s the Egyptian Cat Cult story.




Here’s the Salaawa story

 

 

Dolphins save family from shark

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Dolphins save family.

From Facebook.

Dolphins save family

Are dolphins telepathic? Can they read our minds? They can certainly scan our bodies.

Animal X Natural Mystery Unit studied some dolphins at Seaward.

 


Yowie sighting

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Yowie sighting

From WeirdAustralia.com

Stands like a human, seven feet tall, large hairy head, four tusks.

Yowie

During the early months of 1932, an unknown creature terrorised the inhabitants of Victoria’s high country. It was said to stand like a human being, about 7 feet tall, and had a large hairy head with four white tusks that “gleamed in the moonlight”. And if that wasn’t frightening enough, it was “razor clawed” and “swift and savage in attack”.

Not the kind of animal you want to meet travelling through the bush in the dead quiet of night. But, according to the Muswellbrook Chronicle of 1 March 1932 that’s exactly what one unsuspecting nighttime traveller encountered.

The sensational story appeared under the headline: Mystery Animal Attacks Victorian Settler, Has Four Tusks.

“Myrtleford, in the Mount Buffalo district, has a mysterious animal, which stands like a human being, and is described as being 7ft high, with a large round hairy head, carrying four tusks. Search parties tried to capture the creature, but an all-night search failed to locate it. That the animal does exist and that it is savage is vouched for by Mr. William Nutall of Myrtleford.

“He was returning home from Brighton with his sister and a companion, when, nearing Europa railway station, he alighted from his horse to adjust the saddle gear, the others riding on. Suddenly, he said, he was attacked by the strange animal. It snarled at him and charged, tearing his shirt to ribbons.”

While the startled rider’s horse managed to break free, poor Nutall was chased onto the railway line. Luckily, for Nutall, the animal was prevented from continuing the pursuit by a wire fence, through which the terrified man made good his escape.

Runs like a clumsy deer, lurks in shadows & leaps on passing horsemen
Perth’s Sunday Times on 28 February 1932 reported in Mystery Animal Roaming Mountain Ranges that: “A mystery animal, shaggy and powerful, is terrorising dwellers in the mountain ranges between Bright and Yackandandah. Already the bush prowler has made three attacks on wayfarers and prints of a giant have been found in soft soil.

“Among many theories he is described as a grizzly bear, an old man kangaroo and a gorilla. Five men have seen it and each has his own ideas. It is claimed it walks by night, it is seven feet high, it has a hairy head, razor claws, four white tusks, it runs like a clumsy deer, and it lurks in shadows and leaps on passing horsemen.

“It was first heard of about a month ago by one of the Cherry brothers, farmers at Running Creek, who was going home about ten o’clock on a still, moonless night. He came to a gate and bent from the saddle of a horse to lift the catch. The gate opened and then there was a grunt and a scuffle and a bulky beast leapt at the horse’s head. The horse bolted with Cherry clinging to its back.

“Next morning he went down to the gateway and examined the ground. In a jumble of footmarks he discerned prints that suggested the foot of a grizzly bear. Other men claim to have had similar experiences. Bushmen are scouring the country in search.”

The following day, The Daily News reported that a search by horsemen during the weekend discovered no clue as to the creature’s hiding place.

“Myrtleford, near which the marauder made his last appearance, is in a panic, and townsmen are not resting until he has been captured. He has appeared four times since February. Twice he has attacked horse men. Once he leapt at a jinker in which two men were driving, and once he was seen in a farm paddock.”

While no clue as to the creature’s hiding place was found, its footprints were.

“Mr. A. Wilkie, Curator of the Melbourne Zoo, who has been given an imprint of the mystery animal’s foot, believes the animal is a small American black bear, probably an escapee from a travelling circus. No Australian animal makes a footprint exactly like the one described. ‘Ordinarily,’ said Mr. Wilkie, ‘the American bears do not attack a man unless in a devil of a humor. When it rushes on its prey it makes a snorting noise, strikes the victim a paralysing blow on the back of the neck, and rips with its teeth and claws.’ Mr. Wilkie added the terror might be a Himalayan or Java bear. These types stand 5ft. high. They walk on all fours but attack from an upright position, striking with the fore-paws.”

The Advocate of Burnie in Tasmania also ran the story on the same day in Mystery Beast Haunts Country Districts. Seven Feet High!

“Fear still haunts the Myrtleford Ranges between Bright and Yackandandah, and at dusk an unknown ‘terror’ sends women and children — and men, too — hurrying to the safety of their homes and barred doors.

“The mystery beast, which is said to be seven feet high, shaggy, razor clawed, and swift and savage in attack with its four great tusks, which gleam in the moonlight, has been lying low over the week-end, but local inhabitants are convinced that it is still prowling the district!

“The ‘terror’ was first seen months ago by a farmer of Running Creek named Cherry. It attacked him one night with a grunt and a scuffle, leaping at his horse’s head. The man and horse fled, and the next morning the print of a huge paw, like that of a grizzly bear, was claimed to have been seen in the soil.

“Since then two more men have been attacked, and the climax was reached last Thursday night, when a drover named Nutall was pursued by the ‘terror,’ which he described as being something like a gorilla.

“Yesterday afternoon a party of three horsemen, armed with rifles, went out to look for the marauder, but found no traces.

“They came back before nightfall! Further search parties will be organised during the week.”

But they never did find that shaggy-haired creature that was said to stand like a human 7 feet tall, and possessed razor sharp claws and 4 fearsome tusks that gleamed in the moonlight.

Here’s a clip from an Animal X Yowie expedition in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales in Australia.





4 legged snake fossil found

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4 legged snake fossil found

By Jonathan Webb
Science reporter, BBC News

The snake’s legs were just a few millimetres long

A 113-million-year-old fossil from Brazil is the first four-legged snake that scientists have ever seen.

Several other fossil snakes have been found with hind limbs, but the new find is estimated to be a direct ancestor of modern snakes.

Its delicate arms and legs were not used for walking, but probably helped the creature to grab its prey.

The fossil shows adaptations for burrowing, not swimming, strengthening the idea that snakes evolved on land.

That debate is a long-running one among palaeontologists, and researchers say wiggle room is running out for the idea that snakes developed from marine reptiles.

“This is the most primitive fossil snake known, and it’s pretty clearly not aquatic,” said Dr Nick Longrich from the University of Bath, one of the authors of the new study published in Science magazine.

Tetrapodophis amplectus: Clinching the argument for terrestrial snake evolution?

Speaking to Science in Action on the BBC World Service, Dr Longrich explained that the creature’s tail wasn’t paddle-shaped for swimming and it had no sign of fins; meanwhile its long trunk and short snout were typical of a burrower.

“It’s pretty straight-up adapted for burrowing,” he said.

When Dr Longrich first saw photos of the 19.5cm fossil, now christened Tetrapodophis amplectus, he was “really blown away” because he was expecting an ambiguous, in-between species.

Instead, he saw “a lot of very advanced snake features” including its hooked teeth, flexible jaw and spine – and even snake-like scales.

“And there’s the gut contents – it’s swallowed another vertebrate. It was preying on other animals, which is a snake feature.

“It was pretty unambiguously a snake. It’s just got little arms and little legs.”
Deadly embrace?

At 4mm and 7mm long respectively, those arms and legs are little indeed. But Dr Longrich was surprised to discover that they were far from being “vestigial” evolutionary leftovers, dangling uselessly.

“They’re actually very highly specialised – they have very long, skinny fingers and toes, with little claws on the end. What we think [these animals] are doing is they’ve stopped using them for walking and they’re using them for grasping their prey.”

The 20cm snake lived about 113 million years ago, at the same time as many dinosaurs

That comparatively feeble grasp, which may have also been applied during mating, is where the species gets its name. Tetrapodophis, the fossil’s new genus, means four-footed snake, but amplectus is Latin for “embrace”.

“It would sort of embrace or hug its prey with its forelimbs and hindlimbs. So it’s the huggy snake,” Dr Longrich said.

In order to try to pinpoint the huggy snake’s place in history, the team constructed a family tree using known information about the physical and genetic make-up of living and ancient snakes, plus some related reptiles.

That analysis positioned T. amplectus as a branch – the earliest branch – on the the very same tree that gave rise to modern snakes.

Neglected no more

Remarkably, this significant specimen languished in a private collection for decades, before a museum in Solnhofen, Germany, acquired and exhibited it under the label “unknown fossil”.

It was there that Dr Dave Martill, another of the paper’s authors, stumbled upon it while leading a student field trip. He told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 they were principally visiting to see the museum’s famous Archaeopteryx fossil.

“All of a sudden my jaw absolutely dropped, when I saw this little fossil like a piece of string,” said Dr Martill, from the University of Portsmouth.

As he peered closer, he managed to spot the four tiny legs – and immediately asked the museum for permission to study the creature.

 

Here’s a snake that it was thought was dead.





Dense mayfly swarm causes crashes, closes US bridge

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Dense mayfly swarm causes crashes, closes US bridge
From the BBC

Piles of dead insects were seen strewn across the road

A dense swarm of mayflies caused motorcycle crashes and the overnight closure of a bridge in the US state of Pennsylvania.

The sheer volume of insects reduced visibility, and turned the road surface of the bridge over the Susquehanna River, in Lancaster County, into a treacherous, slippery mess.

Piles of mayflies up to 2ft (0.6m) deep were seen the morning after.

Immature mayflies live in water, before hatching as adults to mate in swarms.
The bridge was closed late on Saturday, reopening early on Sunday, police said.

The poor road conditions caused motorcycle crashes, but there are no reports of serious injuries

“It was like a blizzard in June, but instead of snow, it was mayflies,” Wrightsville Fire Chief Chad Livelsberger told LancasterOnline.

“They were getting in our mouth. We had to close our eyes. We had to swat them away. Even when we got back, it felt like bugs were crawling in you.”

Spectacular swarms of mayflies are not uncommon – last year one in Wisconsin became so big it appeared on local radar as rain.

NOAA – Mayfly Swarm

NOAA Mayfly Swarm

NOAA – Mayfly swarm

 

Here’s a video clip about animal plagues from Animal X Series 2. We see swarms of midges similar to the Mayfly swarms mentioned above. Also locust and mice.

 

This clip shows other animals that swarm.


Creepy ‘sea monsters’ falling from sky in Alaska.

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Creepy ‘sea monsters’ falling from sky in Alaska.

© AP creepy sea monster

As if these scary-looking creatures weren’t terrifying enough in the water, they’re now falling out of the sky in Alaska. For real.

Locals in Fairbanks have been finding lampreys, foot-long eel-like fish with horrifying teeth, around the town after dropping out of the sky.

One was found in a shop’s car park, while another was found in someone’s garden. Eww.

And why is this horror happening? We hear you cry. Well, it’s all thanks to the local birds, apparently.

According to Seattle’s CBS Local, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game explained what was happening on its Facebook page, writing: “Gulls are picking them out of the Chena River with their bills and then dropping the squirming critters while in flight.

“Arctic lampreys spawn in the Chena River, and live in the mud underwater as juveniles for several years. However, many lifelong Alaskans have never seen one of these fascinating fish up close because their body shape and feeding habits make them difficult to catch.”

They also posted more pictures of the creepy creatures. Look if you dare:

Lamprey latched on to the fish tank glass in Fairbanks ADF&G office.

Posted by Alaska Department of Fish and Game – Official on Wednesday, June 3, 2015


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