Lion makes a stunning kill in front of shocked tourists

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Two lions enjoy the massive kudu kill. (YouTube/World News)

Most tourists on safari spend hours driving around in hopes of catching big game doing something exciting.

This was not one of those days for a group of tourists visiting South Africa’s Kruger National Park last Friday.

Carolyn Dunford, who is completing a research internship at the park, was part of a lucky caravan of tourists who came upon a lion going in for kill right in the middle of traffic.

“I think I had been driving for about 45 minutes and at about 7:45 a.m., I saw a group of cars crawling along,” Dunford told the Daily Mail. “I pulled up with them and there were the two lions walking towards me. One of them saw the kudu [type of large antelope] in the bushes and I saw the lion crouch.”

As traffic slowed, many reportedly rolled down their windows to get a closer look. Dunford grabbed her camera and began taking a series of action shots as the lion pounced.

“The kudu burst from the bushes and the lions chased it into the cars,” Dunford recalled. “The first lion grabbed onto its back and the second came in and grabbed its throat. They both tackled it.”

Dunford said after spending the past year studying the wildlife at Kruger, she’s leaned that it’s all part of the “circle of life.”

Check out the full action here. 

Originally posted here

Surfer Mick Fanning attacked by shark on live TV

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A surfing champion survived a shark attack on live TV.

Australian Mick Fanning was competing Sunday in the finals of South Africa’s J-Bay Open when a familiar-looking fin popped up behind him.

“I was just sitting there, I was just about to start moving and then I felt something grab…get stuck in my leg rope,” the 34-year-old Fanning told FoxSports. “I instantly just jumped and he kept coming at my board. I was just kicking and screaming.

“I saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth. I punched him in the back!”

– Mick Fanning

“I saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth. I punched him in the back!”

The J-Bay Open ended in a cancellation with Fanning and his finals opponent, Julian Wilson, splitting the points and prize money.

The World Surf League said there were two sharks and that Fanning and Wilson were rescued by jet-skis, according to the BBC.

“We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today,” a statement from the WSL began. “Mick’s composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our Water Safety personnel was commendable – they are truly world class at what they do.”

Originally posted here

Dinosaur egg treasure trove found in Japan

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File photo. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Researchers have discovered fragments of fossilized dinosaur eggs in Southern Japan, according to a June 29 report in the journal Cretaceous Research. The 90 eggshell fragments once housed five different types of dinosaurs, all of them small.

“We know from the eggshells that small dinosaurs were roaming Japan’s landscape in the Cretaceous,” Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary and study co-author, told Foxnews.com. “Many of the bones known from Japan are from larger dinosaurs, but we now know (from the eggshells) that small dinosaurs were also an important part of the ecosystem.”

While dinosaur eggs have been discovered in hundreds of fossil sites elsewhere and just recently in nearby China, finding them in Japan is a rarity, where only 20 dinosaur fossil-yielding sites have been discovered in the past 37 years.

“There are not many rocks in Japan that are the right age to contain dinosaurs, plus much of the landscape is covered in vegetation so the rocks and the fossils they contain are usually hidden,” Zelenitsky explained.

Adding to dinosaur hunters’ woes is the fact that most rocks in the region are volcano-compressed, making them dense and need to be broken apart by hand.

Taking these factors into account, it makes the discovery of the egg fragments — which are tiny to begin with — all the more remarkable.

The rocky, 65 square-foot site where the eggs were discovered came to researchers’ attention in 2006, when an amateur fossil enthusiast led a team to the riverside location in Tamba City’s Kamitaki area. Slightly smaller than a tennis court, the site has since produced a multitude of fossils, not only from dinosaurs, but from prehistoric frogs and lizards as well.

Given the aforementioned volcano-compressed rocks and their small size, it would’ve been hard to distinguish bits of fossilized egg from the sediment. As it turns out, researchers combing the area were literally walking on eggshells — a lot of them.

“Only later when people from the museum looked more closely at the rocks from the site did they find tiny pieces of eggshell,” Zelenitsky recalled.

After separating the eggshells from the rock, researchers from the University of Calgary, the University of Hyogo, Museum of Nature and Human Activities, Hyogo, and Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology pored over the samples with a microscope to determine what kind of dinosaur eggs they’d found.

“If we look at the eggshells with a microscope, we can see the tiny structures that make up the eggshell,” Zelenitsky said. “These eggshell structures reveal the type of dinosaur or animal that laid the eggs.”

While some of the 110 million year–old eggs belonged to ancient birds, most of them belonged to small meat-eating dinosaurs called theropods, a group which counts T. rex as one of its luminaries. In fact, a few of the eggs discovered weighed in at between one and five ounces, making them some of the smallest theropod eggs found to date. On the other end of the spectrum, a few of the eggs belonged to ornithopods, which were large plant-eaters.

Researchers are hoping this find is just the tip of the iceberg and could lead to discovering the first preserved dinosaur nesting site on the islands.

Originally posted here

Rare fossils of 400-million-year-old sea creatures uncovered

 

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An artist’s interpretation of Aegirocassis benmoulai, a remarkably well-preserved 480-million-year-old arthropod known as an anomalocaridid. (Copyright Marianne Collins | ArtofFact)

Morocco’s vast, rocky deserts were once covered with oceans teeming with life during the Ordovician period, about 485 million to 444 million years ago, a new study finds. But these stunning animals, now fossilized in mineralized splotches of violet, yellow and orange in the desert rock, would be unknown were it not for the tenacious work of a Moroccan fossil collector and a broke graduate student.

The Moroccan formation, known as the Fezouata Biota, holds some of the oldest known marine animals on Earth. It’s home to more than 160 genuses, including an armored, wormlike creature (Plumulites bengtsoni) and a giant, filter-feeding arthropod (Aegirocassis benmoulae), according to the new study.

During the past few years, these newfound Fezouata fossils have rewritten evolutionary textbooks. A batch of horseshoe crab fossils show that the critters are about 25 million years older than was previously thought. What’s more, the horseshoe crab fossils are incredibly complex, suggesting their ancestors evolved far earlier, said study lead researcher Peter Van Roy, a paleontologist at Yale University. [See photos of the extraordinary Fezouata Biota fossils]

In other cases, the Fezouata Biota shows that some animals survived the Cambrian, a period that lasted from about 541 million to 485 million years ago. For example, it was thought that anomalocaridids, an ancestor of modern-day arthropods such as butterflies and spiders, lived and died during the Cambrian.

But according to the Moroccan fossils, “they were still in existence 25 million years later, and they were flourishing and a major part of the ecosystem,” Van Roy told Live Science.

Given the scarcity of Ordovician fossils, the Fezouata Biota sheds light on life that swam around during that period of ancient history, Van Roy said. In fact, fossil findings hint that two well-known events — the Cambrian explosion, the sudden emergence of animals and the great Ordovician biodiversification event, — in which animals diversified and the number of marine genuses quadrupled — may be the same event.

“What is emerging now is that actually these are not separate events, but that they are just two pulses in the same large-scale diversity dynamic,” Van Roy said.

But getting to this point has been a long and storied path, he added.

Strapped for cash

Mohamed Ben Moula, a local fossil collector, discovered the exceptional remains at the Fezouata Biota in 2000. Researchers have known about the area since the 1950s, but Ben Moula was the first to find fossils with fossilized soft tissues, a rarity in the world of paleobiology, Van Roy said.

In 2002, as a doctoral candidate, Van Roy was put in touch with Ben Moula, who invited him to the Fezouata Biota. Van Roy, a poor graduate student, didn’t have enough money to rent a car, so he persuaded a taxi driver to take him on a roughly 8-hour trip (4 hours by road, 4 hours on unpaved desert) to the site.

The visit paid off. Van Roy found some fossils with soft-bodied remains. He returned the next year, and learned that fossil collectors — there were many — had uncovered troves of detailed Ordovician fossils.

But they were selling them for at least $2,200 (2,000 euros) apiece. Van Roy was beside himself. Ordovician fossils are rare. It’s unclear why, but it could be that the ocean’s geochemistry was less conducive to fossils during that time, he said. Or maybe people are just looking in the wrong places. Regardless, the fossil collectors had struck a gold mine, and they weren’t going to part with their treasures cheaply.

Furthermore, they didn’t believe Van Roy was a scientist. “They thought I was another guy collecting stuff,” he said. So, he asked his friends and family members for loans and bought as many specimens as possible.

In 2006, Van Roy finished his doctorate and gifted Ben Moula with a copy of his thesis. It was then the fossil collectors realized he was a researcher. “Suddenly everything completely changed,” Van Roy said. “I started getting specimens for free.”

Special specimens

Also in 2006, Ben Moula figured out that the Fezouata Biota had two pivotal layers filled with fossils. After that, fossil findings skyrocketed, Van Roy said.

In one instance, Van Roy learned that Ben Moula planned to sell nearly 100 well-preserved horseshoe crab fossils. [Dangers in the Deep: 10 Scariest Sea Creatures]

“I was feeling really despondent,” Van Roy said. “I had been able to find some myself, but this was much better. I was thinking, ‘there is no way that I am going to be able to afford this.'”

Ben Moula noticed, and offered to sell him the whole lot for 2,000 euros, instead of 2,000 apiece. Van Roy hesitated, but Ben Moula insisted, saying he admired scientific work. Now, Ben Moula saves all of his exceptional fossils for Van Roy, and tells him exactly where he found them so the scientist can properly study each specimen.

“[Mohamed Ben Moula] is absolutely brilliant,” Van Roy said. “He really understands the fossils. He’s never been to primary school,” but can identify different fossilized arthropods and their body parts, a feat that even some paleobiologists struggle to do, Van Roy said.

Several Fezouata Biota fossils now grace the pages of major scientific journals. The first known fossil of a machaeridian with preserved soft tissue was described in a study published in the journal Nature in 2008. Researchers had debated the anatomy of the machaeridian for about 150 years, with some calling it a barnacle (a type of arthropod) and others deeming it a mollusk. The newfound fossil proved it was a segmented worm, Van Roy said.

Van Roy and his colleagues have also published studies on arthropods such as anomalocaridids, cheloniellids and marrellomorphs.

The new findings will be published online July 8 in the Journal of the Geological Society.

 

Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Originally posted here

This Texas centipede is the stuff of nightmares

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Texas Redhead centipede. (Photo courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department)

Chilopodophobes, look away. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department came across a giant redheaded centipede on a broom in Garner State Park and posteda photo of the creepy-crawly to Facebook last week.

It might just show up in your worst nightmares: The “Texas Redhead” centipede has a long black body, red head, and yellow legs it uses to grab prey like lizards, snakes, and toads, while a pair of “modified legs” operate as a set of fangs that allows it to inject a toxin, reports KHOU.

“There are so MANY REASONS to love living in Texas. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM,” a woman wrote on Facebook in response. “Tell me this is a toy broom,” a user wrote on Twitter, to which the department responded, “Full size broom.” “As far as invertebrates go, the giant redheaded centipede is one bad dude,” according to a piece in Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, which labels the centipede “one of Texas’ most terrifying critters.” Still, humans don’t truly need to fear them.

“Bites are usually rather mild, resulting in a sharp, painful sting that is sometimes accompanied by swelling, usually subsiding after a few hours,” per the magazine, though in rare cases, muscle tissue damage, kidney failure, and heart attack can result.

But “downright terror is probably an overreaction.” Live outside Texas? That doesn’t mean you’re safe. The species is found in seven other states, reports theWashington Post: Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona.

(A “centipede from hell” was just discovered in Croatia.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: The Internet Encounters This Centipede, Freaks Out

More From Newser

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Video captures the magical moment a whale spouts a rainbow

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Is this whale a magical sea creature? (YouTube/MGmedia)

Witnessing a whale breach is lucky enough, but one person captured a once-a-lifetime moment on film of a large sea mammal performing a little magic with light.

While sailing with off the coast of Newport Beach, California, this footage was captured of a humpback whale blowing rainbows from its blowhole with an aerial camera.

The video, posted to YouTube by MGmedia, says captain Royce Hutain steered the boat while two others captured the shot.

The allusion worthy of a fairy tale is created by the whale’s water spray passing through the sun’s rays which reflect a spectrum of light—but the scientific explanation isn’t as exciting as imagining a magical whale living under the sea.

Take a look at the mesmerizing footage filmed on July 5.

Originally posted here

Navy diver who lost two limbs in shark attack goes on quest for ‘Joan of Shark’

Paul de Gelder lost two limbs in a 2009 shark attack when he was an Australian Navy clearance diver. Unbowed, he continues to dive with sharks to learn more about them. He stars in Discovery Channel’s Shark Week special, “Bride of Jaws,” about the the quest to find and re-tag “Joan of Shark,” which, at 16 feet, is the largest female Great White shark to ever be tagged.

FOX411: Can you take us through the attack?

Paul de Gelder: So, I’m what’s called a Navy clearance diver. It’s basically a bomb disposal diver. We’re in Sydney Harbor, a place where I’ve dived a hundred times before, and we were doing a counterterrorism exercise. It’s pretty boring. It sounds exciting, but it’s pretty boring. All I was doing was swimming along, acting like an attack swimmer. I was on the surface on my back and a bull shark came up from underneath me, and grabbed me by the hamstring and the hand in the same bite. I tried to fight it off, as you would want to do, which was useless. There was nothing I could do. It didn’t blink at me. I know because I was trying to poke it in the eyeball, and it took me under and it started tearing me apart. I thought this is it. I’m dead. There is no way I can get out of this. And the next second I was free. I don’t know how. Maybe it was swimming away swallowing or swimming away spitting me out because I tasted crappy, but I just started swimming for my safety boat. I took the first stroke and saw that my hand was gone. My medical training kicked in. In the military we do a lot of hard-core intense training, so I was cognizant enough to know I needed to keep that wound above my heart to stop the bleeding. I tried to swim as fast as I could in a pool of my own blood to get to the safety boat, and my buddies in the boat provided first aid and kept me alive. I’m really lucky.

FOX411: What did you do to get back in the water with sharks and why?

de Gelder: I was in the hospital for nine weeks; I went back into the ocean after three months. I love it. I love diving. I love being in the ocean. I grew up around it. It has a big draw on me. So, I wasn’t going to let the things that I’m afraid of stop me from doing the things that I love.

FOX411: So, you weren’t afraid of being attacked by another shark?

More on this…

  • ‘Shark Week’ expert reacts to NC shark attacks

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  • North Carolina beaches hit with six shark attacks this month

de Gelder: What’s the chance of it happening twice? To be honest, I’m probably less scared now than I was before. You come that close to death you kind of realize there’s just nothing left to be afraid of.

FOX411: Tell us about your show “Bride of Jaws.”

de Gelder: Our goal in this show was to find [Joan of Shark] and re-tag her with a satellite tracking device. With that we can track in real time where’s she going, what time of year she’s going there, we can predict what she’s doing — if she’s breeding, feeding, eating or dropping her pups and we can work to protect those areas so that fishermen don’t go through and kill these young Great White Sharks before they reach sexual maturity, drop their own pups and keep the cycle going, because they’re in decline. I don’t want to explain to my kids and grandkids ‘Hey they were great, but we wiped them out.’

FOX411: There have been several shark attacks already this summer. Is there any way swimmers can be safer in the water?

de Gelder: There’s a lot of ways you can protect yourself. To reduce the already low risk of being attacked by a shark you can do certain things. You cannot swim either hour outside of dusk and dawn, which are prime shark hunting periods, because it’s low light. They’re ambush predators so they use the low light conditions to attack fish. Unfortunately, that means they can’t see too well and if they come in contact with a human they may take a bite, but they’re not attacking. You know humans are not on the menu. It’s an exploratory bite and from everything that’s happened in the last couple of weeks, they don’t want to eat us, they’re just taking a bite and then they move on.  If you stay away from the mouths of rivers and inlets, where a lot of bull sharks travel in and out, if you stay away from piers and wharfs where fishermen are fishing and attracting sharks in. You factor all that stuff in and stay abreast of all the reports and you’re drastically reducing your chance of coming in contact with a shark.

‘Bride of Shark’ airs on Discovery July 7.

Diana Falzone is a FoxNews.com reporter. You can follow her on Twitter @dianafalzone.
 

Originally posted here

Woolly mammoth clones closer than ever, thanks to genome sequencing

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An artist’s illustration depicts a herd of woolly mammoths. (Mauricio Anton/PLoS)

Scientists are one step closer to bringing a woolly mammoth back to life.

A new analysis of the woolly mammoth genome has revealed several adaptations that allowed the furry beasts to thrive in the subzero temperatures of the last ice age, including a metabolism that allowed them to pack on insulating fat, smaller ears that lost less heat and a reduced sensitivity to cold.

The findings could enable researchers to “resurrect” the ice-age icon — or at least a hybridized Asian elephant with a few of the physical traits of its woolly-haired cousin, said study co-author Vincent Lynch, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago.

“It won’t be that long till we’re technically able to do it, but whether we should is a different question,” Lynch told Live Science, referring to cloning a mammoth. “I don’t think we should.” [6 Extinct Animals That Could Be Brought Back to Life]

Cold-adapted creature

The mammoth DNA was extracted from the hair of two mammoths found in Siberia several years ago. One mammoth died about 20,000 years ago, and the other died 60,000 years ago. (The shaggy beasts flourished on the ice-age tundra, but most of them died after the glaciers melted, by about 10,000 years ago. A few holdouts survived on Wrangel Island off Siberia until about 3,700 years ago.)

Because mammoths and Asian elephants shared a common ancestor roughly 5 million years ago — a blip, in evolutionary time — the team was able to compare the genome of the ice-age beasts with their modern-day cousins, the Asian elephants. [How to Bring the Woolly Mammoth Back (Infographic)]

“They’re really closely related,” Lynch told Live Science.

They found that several unique mammoth genes helped the cold-loving creatures survive. These included genes for their shaggy, curly, heat-trapping fur, as well as for their small ears and short tails, which lose less heat than the big ears and tails that keep elephants cool.

The pudgy ice-age pachyderms also had genetic differences from the Asian elephant in the way they stored fat and processed insulin, the hormone that regulates how the body uses blood sugar for energy, according to the study, which was published July 2 in the journal Cell Reports. Because fat is insulating, the animals’ chubby physiques helped them weather the Arctic tundra, which could routinely plunge to minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the study.

Mammoths and elephants also had different temperature-sensing receptors in the body. In the mammoth, the receptors were essentially turned down, like a dimmer switch. That likely made the shaggy creatures less sensitive to both heat and cold, Lynch said.

Bringing mammoths back

The new findings bring the world closer to a cloned mammoth, but don’t expect a genetically authentic version of the beast to come roaring back to life anytime soon.

Instead, researchers will first try to create a cold-resistant hybrid between an Asian elephant and a woolly mammoth, said George Church, a geneticist at Harvard University who is not involved in the current study.

Sequencing the genome is not the hardest part of the process; assembling a whole genome from scratch that actually functions like natural genetic material is more difficult, said Church, who is working on a project to bring the extinct creatures back to life.

Instead of trying to create a 100-percent authentic mammoth, Church’s team is using a genetic cut-and-paste tool called CRISPR to splice a handful of mammoth genes into Asian elephant cells.

“We thought we’d just make the changes that are most likely to lead to an animal that looks, behaves and is adaptable to the cold like a mammoth,” Church told Live Science.

Modifying Asian elephants with mammoth genes could help the modern-day subtropical creatures live in colder locales, “possibly extending the geographical range of an existing endangered species northward to areas at much lower risk of conflict with humans,” Church said.

 

Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Originally posted here

Sturgeon jumps on boat, kills girl, 5, and injures two others

Published July 05, 2015

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Florida officials are investigating a sturgeon strike that killed a 5-year-old girl and injured her mother and older brother.

All three were on a boat on the Suwannee River in Dixie County Thursday night when a huge sturgeon jumped out of the water and smacked into them.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this time,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission regional director Andy Krause said. “This is a terrible tragedy.”

A spokeswoman for the agency said many details are still under investigation, theGainesville Sun reported Saturday.

Wildlife officials identified the dead girl as Jaylon Rippy of Trenton, Fla.

She was airlifted to a Gainesville Hospital, along with her mother, Tanya Rippy, 31, and her 9-year-old brother Trevor.

 

The boy suffered a broken arm, WCJB-TV reported Saturday.

The mother sustained injuries to her face mostly around her eyes, the station said.

The Sun said Jaylon’s father, who was on the boat, was not injured.

WCJB reported that Jaylon and her family were on a friend’s boat. The sturgeon hit them as they were helping the friend take the boat out of the water near the Joe Anderson Boat Ramp in Fanning Springs.

Wildlife officials said Jaylon is the first fatality recorded from a sturgeon strike on the Suwannee River. Several others have been injured by jumping sturgeon this year.

The most recent incident took place Friday when a Sanderson couple was struck while boating on the Sante Fe River heading eastbound from the Suwannee. Colleen Harvey, 42, and her husband Charles, 41, were taken to the hospital.

The fish are known for leaping more than 7 feet above the water. They can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds and can cause serious injuries.

The Sun said sturgeon usually return from the Gulf to the Suwannee in the spring and that low river levels this year are causing the sturgeon to jump more frequently than in recent years. The newspaper said scientists can’t explain why the fish jump but they are confident the fish are not trying to attack boaters.

WCJB said family friends have established a fundraising page on GoFundMe to help the Rippy family raise money to defray funeral and medical costs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Originally posted here

 

Alligator kills 28-year-old Texas man during late-night swim

A man has died after an alligator attacked him during a late-night swim at a Southeast Texas marina.

Police in Orange, near the state line with Louisiana, say 28-year-old Tommie Woodward was swimming in a bayou early Friday morning when the attack occurred.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies and a Texas game warden found his body nearby about two hours later.

Police said the man was swimming with a woman, but Justice of the Peace Rodney Price told KFDM-TV in Beaumont that she only jumped from a dock after the man screamed for help.

Price says a sign warns people not to swim in the area and that the man was bitten soon after he jumped in.

The woman was not hurt.

Originally posted here