Greenland shark could have lived for up to 400 years, scientists say

Aug. 11, 2016: This undated photo shows a Greenland shark slowly swimming away from a boat, returning to the deep and cold waters of the Uummannaq Fjord in northwestern Greenland during a tag -and- release program in Norway and Greenland.

Aug. 11, 2016: This undated photo shows a Greenland shark slowly swimming away from a boat, returning to the deep and cold waters of the Uummannaq Fjord in northwestern Greenland during a tag -and- release program in Norway and Greenland. (Julius Nielsen via AP)

In the cold waters of the Arctic, a denizen of the deep lurked for centuries. Now scientists calculate that this female Greenland shark was the Earth’s oldest living animal with a backbone.

They estimated that the gray shark, part of the species named after Greenland, was born in the icy waters roughly 400 years ago, and died only recently. That conclusion puts the entire species at the top of the longevity list.

Using a novel dating technique, an international team of biologists and physicists estimated the age of 28 dead female Greenland sharks based on tissue in their eyes. Eight of the sharks were probably 200 years or older and two likely date back more than three centuries, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

Until now, that record holder was a bowhead whale that hit 211 years old, according to study lead author Julius Nielsen and AnAge, an animal longevity database .

The oldest of the Greenland sharks examined was nearly 16.5 feet long (5 meters) and estimated to be 392 years old when it was caught around four years ago. But that calculation comes with a huge margin of error — plus or minus 120 years — due to the newness of the dating technique, said Nielsen, a marine biologist at the University of Copenhagen.

That means the shark was probably born sometime between 1500 and 1740 with the most likely birth year 1620.

“It’s an estimate. It’s not a determination,” Nielsen said. “It is the best we can do.”

Even at the lowest end of the margin error, the shark would have been 272 years old when it died, and still would be the longest-living animal with a backbone, Nielsen said. Other experts agreed.

Joao Pedro Magalhaes, a University of Liverpool aging researcher, said because the study is based on an indirect measurement he wouldn’t necessarily concentrate on exact numbers, especially when they exceed 400 years, where the upper end of the margin of error goes.

“But the study is convincing enough for us to say that these animals live way longer than human beings and possibly longer than any other vertebrate,” said Magalhaes, who runs the longevity database and wasn’t part of Nielsen’s team.

Some animals without backbones live longer. An ocean quahog, a clam, lived 507 years and two different types of sponges are said to survive for 15,000 and 1,500 years.

While not surprised that Greenland sharks live a long time, “I’m really shocked by the magnitude of that longevity,” wrote Christopher Lowe, director of the shark lab at California State University Long Beach. He wasn’t part of the study, but praised it as creative and compelling.

Greenland sharks love cold water — preferring temperatures near freezing — and are all over the Arctic. The cold water and the slow metabolism that comes with it might have something to do with their long lives, Nielsen said. Lowe, in an email, said “the rule of thumb is deep and cold = old when it comes to fishes.”

“I don’t know why they get as old, but I hope someone will find out,” Nielsen said.

For the age estimates, he uses a complex and indirect system that combines chemical tracking, mathematical modeling and growth measurements. He focuses on the shark eye lens. Those form while the shark is still developing inside the mother’s uterus and measures of carbon in them won’t change after birth, so it gives a good, rough sense of when the shark was born.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shark expert Allen Andrews said the dating method “is novel and is likely robust” but he said there are still a number of uncertainties.

Whale as old as the Titanic spotted in Pacific

File photo of orcas off the coast of Washington. Neither is 'Granny,' but photos of her leaping from the water are at the Orca Network link in the summary.

File photo of orcas off the coast of Washington. Neither is ‘Granny,’ but photos of her leaping from the water are at the Orca Network link in the summary. (NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center via AP)

Whale watchers off the coast of Washington saw a welcome sight last week—a killer whale nicknamed “Granny” who is believed to be an astonishing 105 years old, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Granny’s more formal name among scientists who have studied her for decades is J2, and a post at the Orca Network uses both names in the original post about her sighting: “J2 Granny (oldest southern resident orca) looking gorgeous. She and J27 spent more time out of the water than in it!” The link includes multiple photos of her leaping from the water.

Female orcas typically live about 50 years, notes a post at the NOAA, but a rare few have been been known to reach 100. Granny appears to be in this category, or at least close to it.

As the Chronicle explains, researchers who first spotted her in 1971 pegged her age at 60. The Orca Network tells KIRO-TV that the margin of error is 12 years, meaning she could be a youthful 90.

Given the playful new images, she’s doing pretty well for a creature who, if the older figure is correct, entered the ocean around the same time as the Titanic and made it through two world wars, notes the Charlotte Observer.

Why, she’s even the honorary mayor of Eastsound, Washington, and you can read her June “mayoral address” here. (Researchers have found humpback whales deliberately save other creatures from killer whales.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Whale as Old as the Titanic Spotted in the Pacific

Colorado man suffers ‘vicious’ croc attack at Costa Rica beach resort

  • GettyImages-94168077.jpg

    MALELANE, SOUTH AFRICA – DECEMBER 09: A crocodile lies in wait by the 13th green during practice before the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club on December 9, 2008 in Malelane, South Africa. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) (2009 GETTY IMAGES)

An American surfer was in serious but stable condition after he was attacked by a large crocodile at a popular tourist beach in Costa Rica on Friday, according to an emergency responder who credited the man’s friend for fighting off the reptile with his bare hands.

Pat McNulty, who works as a consultant and is a certified trained lifeguard in Tamarindo, a northwestern town favored by surfers and eco-tourists, said the man was crossing a river with the friend when the crocodile struck.

“It was a vicious attack, and he was bitten several times in the leg as well as the head,” McNulty told the Associated Press by phone from Costa Rica. “They were able to get him free, swim him to safety and then trained lifeguards responded … and we administered first aid and called an ambulance.”

McNulty said he accompanied the victim, who remained lucid after the attack, to Liberia, the provincial capital, where he underwent surgery. He declined to give specifics about the man’s injuries other than to say he suffered lower leg trauma and his condition was serious but stable.

“His friend saved his life … and then we the lifeguards helped keep him alive,” McNulty said. “It was a very traumatic scene, and all individuals attending him did a tremendous job.”

Costa Rican media reported that the victim suffered partial amputation of his right ankle and most of his calf muscle was stripped.

McNulty said he was familiar with the man before the attack because Tamarindo is a small town where everyone knows everyone else. He declined to identify him publicly by name but described him as a surfer from Colorado who maintains a residence in the village. Family members were traveling to be with him, McNulty added.

The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica said in a statement that it was aware of the case, and that consular officers help U.S. citizens when they are injured overseas but declined to comment further citing privacy considerations.

Earlier, Costa Rican press reports claimed the man was from Arizona.

Community, wildlife and tourism officials met after Friday’s attack to consider strategies for relocating crocodiles and making sure there’s proper signage to keep people safe.

McNulty said a few months ago there was a “minor incident” in which a smaller croc bit a person.

“We live in a country where there’s large crocodiles, and people take for granted that when you go into a river that you’re safe,” the lifeguard said. “But the fact of the matter is that you need to be aware of your environment … We’re in their world.

Hyena meets Tasmanian devil: Ancient ‘hypercarnivore’ unearthed

An illustration showing the size comparison of Australian marsupials, including a newly described extinct species of carnivorous marsupial, Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum.

An illustration showing the size comparison of Australian marsupials, including a newly described extinct species of carnivorous marsupial, Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum. (Karen Black/UNSW)

A newfound extinct marsupial “hypercarnivore” from Australia — one that researchers say looked like a cross between a Tasmanian devil and a hyena — was about twice as big as Australia’s largest living flesh-eating marsupials, a new study finds.

Named Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum, the predator is just one of a bevy of what scientists said were “strange, new animals” found in a fossil-rich site Down Under.

Although scientists have so far discovered only a single lower molar tooth of this predator, they deduced from the animal’s tooth that “almost certainly it was a very active predator with an extremely powerful bite,” said study lead author Mike Archer, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. [Image Gallery: 25 Amazing Ancient Beasts]

Judging from the size and shape of this fossil molar, the researchers suggest W. tomnpatrichorum was what scientists call a hypercarnivore. This term “generally refers to a predator that is larger than a cat whose diet is at least 75 percent meat,” Archer told Live Science. “These are animals that specialize in killing and eating other animals, although they probably wouldn’t pass up a juicy bit of fruit from time to time.”

The scientists estimated that this hypercarnivore weighed at least 44 to 55 lbs. (20 to 25 kilograms). In comparison, Australia’s largest living carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian devil, weighs only about 22 lbs. (10 kg).

A changing landscape

Back when W. tomnpatrichorum dwelledin the forests of northwest Australia during the late Miocene period, which lasted from about 12 million to 5 million years ago, Australia was beginning to dry out.

“Although Whollydooleya terrorized the drying forests around 5 million years ago, its own days were numbered,” Archer said in a statement. “While it was at least distantly related to living and recently living carnivorous marsupials such as devils, thylacines and quolls, it appears to have represented a distinctive subgroup of hypercarnivores that did not survive into the modern world. Climate change can be a merciless eliminator of the mightiest of mammals.”

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  • Wipe Out: History’s Most Mysterious Extinctions

  • Australia’s Struggling Marsupial: Photos of the Tasmanian Devil

Much remains a mystery about the animals from the late Miocene of Australia; fossils of land animals from this period are extremely rare because of Australia’s increasing aridity back then, the researchers said.

“Fortunately, in 2012, we discovered a whole new fossil field that lies beyond the internationally famous Riversleigh World Heritage Area fossil deposits in northwestern Queensland,” Archer said in a statement. “This exciting new area, New Riversleigh, was detected by remote sensing using satellite data.”

Exploring Australia

This discovery “reminds us about how much of the Australian continent remains virtually unexplored,” Archer said. “Much of remote, northern Australia has yet to be explored for potentially even more exciting paleontological deposits.” [6 Extinct Animals That Could Be Brought Back to Life]

But these regions tend to be difficult to reach, Archer said. “We can’t get vehicles anywhere near this area, hence we have to use helicopters, and they’re very expensive,” he added. The scientists began to carefully explore New Riversleigh in 2013 with the help of a grant from the National Geographic Society.

The new species’ molar was one of the first fossil teeth unearthed from an especially fossil-rich site in the area, which study team member Phil Creaser discovered. This fossil-rich locale was named Whollydooley Hill in honor of Creaser’s partner, Genevieve Dooley. The species was, in turn, named after Whollydooley Hill, as well as Tom and Pat Rich, “who are well-respected research colleagues,” Archer said.

All in all, the site is yielding “the remains of a bevy of strange, new, small- to medium-sized creatures, with W. tomnpatrichorum the first one to be described,” Archer said in a statement.

One strange feature of these fossil teeth is that they were often worn down, Archer said. This suggests there was abrasive dust in the hypercarnivore’s habitat and that the plants some of these animals were eating in the late Miocene may have been tough and drought-resistant, he said.

Not alone

Previous research did unearth medium to large-size late Miocene animals in Australia, but “those deposits give almost no information about the small to medium-sized mammals that existed at the same time, which generally provide more clues about the nature of prehistoric environments and climates,” study co-author Suzanne Hand, a professor in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales, said in a statement.

In contrast, “the small to medium-size mammals from the New Riversleigh deposits will reveal a great deal about how Australia’s inland environments and animals changed between 12 [million] and 5 million years ago, a critical time when increasing dryness ultimately led to the ice ages of the Pleistocene,” study co-author Karen Black, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of New South Wales, said in a statement.

All in all, W. tomnpatrichorum‘s large size is an early sign of the trend toward gigantism seen in many lineages of Australian marsupials, Archer said. “These new discoveries are starting to fill in a large hole in our understanding about how Australia’s land animals transformed from being small denizens of its ancient, wet forests to huge survivors on the second most arid continent on Earth,” Archer said in a statement.

The Whollydooley site also contains signs of windblown sand grains, which are absent from the older nearby Riversleigh World Heritage deposits. These windblown sand grains suggest “that at least two aspects of a drier Australia were taking shape — less water and more wind,” Archer said. “Today, windblown sand grains are a normal part of every deposit forming in almost the whole of the continent.”

In the future, “we have to raise funds to continue the remote exploration and dissolve the bone-rich blocks that we recover during these explorations,” Archer said.

The scientists detailed their findings in the July 30 issue of the journal Memoirs of Museum Victoria.

Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

School-bus-size giant squid may be lurking deep in the sea

On Oct. 1, 2013, a 30-foot-long giant squid washed ashore in the Spanish community of Cantabria.

On Oct. 1, 2013, a 30-foot-long giant squid washed ashore in the Spanish community of Cantabria. (Enrique Talledo, www.enriquetalledo.com)

Steeped in mystery, the elusive, deep-sea-dwelling giant squid, with eyes the size of basketballs, may be larger than it has gotten credit for. In fact, the monster cephalopod may grow to be longer than a school bus, researchers say.

Specimens recognizable as giant squid (Architeuthis dux) have been found washed up onshore since at least 1639. However, these sea monsters — which some people say inspired the legend of the giant kraken, though not all scientists agree — are so elusive that they were largely thought to be mythical until they were first photographed alive in their natural environment in 2004.

Ever since giant squid were discovered, there has been considerable speculation as to how large they can get. In a previous analysis of more than 130 specimens, scientists said that none exceeded 42 feet (13 meters) in length. Suggesting that giant squid could grow larger was “a disservice to science,” they said.

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Still, prior studies estimated that hundreds of thousands of giant squid may live in the ocean, which would suggest that there are plenty of chances for giant squid to grow larger than previously suggested, said Charles Paxton, a fisheries ecologist and statistician at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Now, a statistical analysis from Paxton suggests that giant squid may plausibly reach 65 feet (20 m) in total length. This new study extrapolated the maximum sizes this species might reach by both examining a variety of categories of data and examining as much data taken directly from specimens of the creature as was available.

“I’ve been interested in the last few years about investigating the hard science behind sea monsters,” Paxton said.

The data Paxton analyzed included 164 measures of mantle (body) length; 39 measures of standard length, which included the lengths of their bodies as well as the lengths of the longest of their arms; and 47 measures of total length, which included the lengths of their bodies as well as the lengths of the tentacles. (Tentacles are squid limbs that often end in teeth and hooks, and are usually significantly longer than squid arms.)

Paxton also examined 46 instances where beak, or mouth, size was measured along with mantle length. He found that beak size could help predict mantle length, confirming previous studies.

All in all, Paxton found that it was statistically plausible that giant squid could have mantle lengths of about 10 feet (3 m) and total lengths of 65 feet, “and that’s a conservative analysis,” he said.

“I am extrapolating here, and extrapolation can sometimes be a bit sketchy,” Paxton said. “But I think these are fairly safe extrapolations. I genuinely think that giant-squid size has been underestimated.”

Paxton noted that there are claims that giant squid can grow to be 100 feet (30 m) long. “I don’t think giant squid can get that big, but while a measurement of a giant squid total length of 19 meters [62 feet] can be questioned, I’d say it certainly wasn’t impossible,” Paxton said.

Some scientists have suggested that squid parts may stretch over time, leading to overestimates of the animal’s size.

To help resolve that question, “there are people in New Zealand and Spain who fairly regularly collect specimens of giant squid, and I’d like them to see just how stretchy they are postmortem,” Paxton said.

Another study, reported in 2015 in the journal PeerJ, suggested that it’s human nature to exaggerate the sizes of the ocean’s giants. The study found that people overestimate measurements for whales, sharks and squid.

As to why giant squid might grow as large as they do, “perhaps it makes them less likely to be eaten by sperm whales,” Paxton said. “It’d be interesting to find out if they do ever reach a size where they cannot ever be eaten by sperm whales.”

Paxton detailed his findings online May 17 in the Journal of Zoology.

Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Stranded, rarely seen beaked whale has strange fang

The beaked whale was found washed up on Waitpinga beach in southern Australia.

The beaked whale was found washed up on Waitpinga beach in southern Australia. (South Australian Museum)

A dead whale that washed up on a southern Australia beach has something peculiar in its mouth: a sharp and pointy fang, say the researchers who examined it.

The whale, identified as a Hector’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon hectori), was found south of Adelaide on Waitpinga beach in February. For the past 25 years, the South Australian Museum has done necropsies (an animal autopsy) on “as many [stranded] whales as it can from its shores,” but the museum’s researchers didn’t expect to find anything unusual when they examined this particular whale — a female juvenile, said Catherine Kemper, a senior research scientist in mammals at the South Australian Museum.

Instead, the researchers found an “intriguing” fang, which has never been seen before in a Hector’s beaked whale, Kemper told Live Science in an email.

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It’s possible that the tooth is vestigial — that is, much like a human’s appendix or wisdom teeth, it was useful in an ancestor, but isn’t useful anymore, she said. Or, maybe it’s an evolutionary throwback, also known as an atavism, meaning it was present in ancestors, but still pops up from time to time, much like a human baby born with a tail, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“All whales are derived from animals that had more teeth,” Kemper said. “What’s happened with time is [that] some of them have evolved. They have lost teeth because they have specialized their feeding to not need them.”

However, it’s difficult to say exactly what is going on, largely because scientists know little about beaked whales, said Nicholas Pyenson, a curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, who has not seen the new specimen.

Case in point — this is only the third Hector’s whale the museum has collected, Kemper told ABC.

“Beaked whales, they’re among the most mysterious groups of whales,” Pyenson told Live Science. Some beaked whale species are only known to science because their skulls have washed ashore, he said.

“They’re hard to see in the wild, they live off shore, Pyenson said. “They dive very deep into the ocean and don’t surface too much.”

Yet, beaked whales are some of the most species-rich groups of whales, Pyenson said. And although scientists don’t know much about them, they’re famous for their weird teeth, he said.

For instance, the male strap-toothed whale (Mesoplodon layardii) has teeth that curve up and over its snout, preventing it from opening its mouth more than a few inches, Pyenson said. Other whales have extremely long teeth that might be used for male-male sparring, “which we infer happens deep underwater because you find scars all along the bodies of males that wash up,” he said.

Without more specimens, it’s hard to say whether this whale’s pointy fang is a common variation, an evolutionary throwback or something else, Pyenson said.

“It’s definitely weird, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a throwback, because these [whales] already have teeth, [this one] just seems to have had an extra, strange tooth,” he said.

Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Watch a scuba diver give a giant shark a huge hug

diver shark

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It’s difficult not to feel your spine-tingle when you spot the scary fish make a beeline for a scuba diver.

But an amazing clip shows a brave scuba diver, swimming in the North Atlantic waters near Florida, cuddling up to a shark.

In a jaws-dropping twist, the diver reaches out and begins affectionately stroking the shark, which has since been nicknamed Blondie.

Instead of bearing a row of sharp teeth, Blondie almost gives a friendly smile to the camera as she swims through the ocean.

Adorably, Blondie nuzzles into the diver while he’s stroking her face.

Since the jawesome clip was posted online, there’s been speculation over what breed of fish features in the footage.

While some internet users have speculated whether or not it’s a harmless nurse shark, others are adamant that it’s a lemon shark.

Lemon sharks swim the subtropical Atlantic waters of Africa and America and often feed on smaller species of fish.

The International Shark Attack File notes that the lemon shark has carried out ten unprovoked attacks on humans, none of which were fatal.

The surprising video is a dramatic contrast to the terrifying footage of a shark knocking a paddleboarder into the sea which emerged last month.

In the shocking clip, Maximo Trinidad is seen surfing off the west coast of Florida when the spinner shark suddenly torpedos towards him.

The paddleboarder is sent sprawling backwards, almost landing on top of the predator.

As the shocked surfer clambers back onto the board, he screams with delight: “I got it on film!”

Maximo told CBS New York: “He landed on the side of my board and then I had to like jump over him so I won’t get bitten.

“It’s just a matter of a couple of feet. I mean, I could have ended up on top of him.”

The resilient surfer said his encounter should not prevent people from enjoying the ocean, and that people should remain aware of their surroundings.

The video was uploaded to Youtube by Maximo with the caption: “During lunch break and decent surf building with strong offshore winds I had an unexpected encounter of a spinner kind.”

Irate beaver ‘takes man hostage’

A seemingly harmless beaver.

A seemingly harmless beaver. (J. Kyle Keener/Logansport Pharos-Tribune via AP)

A rogue beaver struck terror into the heart of a man making his way home late at night in the Latvian city of Daugavpils, according to a local newspaper report picked up by Latvian Public Broadcasting.

The man, identified only as Sergei, says the beaver ran out of some bushes and suddenly bit him. He fell over as he tried to fight the rodent off and was bitten again as he tried to get up.

In what USA Today describes as a “Kafkian nightmare,” Sergei phoned police as the beaver “held him hostage” and refused to let him get up, only to have his plea for help allegedly dismissed as a prank call.

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Sergei managed to persuade an initially disbelieving friend to come to his rescue, but the friend was pulled over by police for speeding. Cops—after breathalyzing the friend—accompanied him to the scene and discovered he had been telling the truth about the hostile beaver.

Animal welfare officers were called and the man’s ordeal ended with him receiving 15 stitches, though the beaver is still at large. Latvia’s TV.Net reports that authorities in Daugavpils are taking the incident seriously, though it is “quite difficult to choose the measures which should be taken” to prevent similar attacks by beavers, which can become increasingly aggressive when they seek out new homes in spring.

(This man was killed by a beaver after he tried to take its photo.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Irate Beaver ‘Takes Man Hostage’

Deer hunters face unwanted competition as feral hog explosion thins herds

This photo, provided by LouisianaBowhunter.com, shows a herd of wild hogs feasting on a deer fawn.

This photo, provided by LouisianaBowhunter.com, shows a herd of wild hogs feasting on a deer fawn.(LouisianaBowhunter.com)

Deer hunters are facing competition from a source that is mean, relentless and out of control.

The explosion of feral hogs across the U.S. is threatening the deer population — spreading disease, dominating the food chain and even, on occasion, killing and eating fawns. In Louisiana, where there are an estimated 700,000 wild hogs, hunters and wildlife officials say they are taking a toll on the whitetail deer herd.

“They are in the marshes and beaches of Louisiana all the way up into the hills and piney woods and swamps,” Jim LaCour, state wildlife veterinarian for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, told FoxNews.com. “They’re in every habitat in the state.”

“If you start to see hogs in your hunting area, you are absolutely not going to see deer.”

– hunter Justin Lanclos

“They’re very adaptable and also highly destructive,” LaCour said.

LaCour described the feral pigs, which can weigh up to 500 pounds, as “opportunistic” eaters — omnivores that feast on anything crossing their path, including deer fawn, other piglets and dead animals.

LaCour said hogs carry many diseases, such as leptospirosis, which can infect or kill other animals, like deer, as well as humans.

“Hogs are the sport utility vehicle for disease and parasites — they move them across the landscape,” he said. “That bacteria [leptospirosis] can cause abortion in the deer – and it can kill adult deer or people.”

Their presence is also detrimental to the land, forcing wildlife officials to carry out aerial gunning in certain areas “because they tear up the marsh and that leads to coastal erosion.”

Hogs were first introduced to North America by Spanish settlers. The breed most commonly seen in Texas is a mixture of those hogs and Russian boars brought over more recently for sport hunting, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Some speculate the population boom is due to relatively recent cross-breeding in the wild. Others, like LaCour, say the popularity of hog hunting in the 1980’s and early ’90’s led humans to move the feral pigs from confined, geographically isolated areas into places they had never been before.

Wild hogs can reproduce by the time they are 6 months old. Feral sows can have two litters per year averaging six piglets per litter, according to wildlife experts. Statisticians have determined that 75 percent of the population must be harvested to maintain a static population — prompting Louisiana and other states to adopt liberal hunting policies when it comes to killing the hogs. Texas has the highest rate of feral hogs to date, according to environmentalists.

For deer hunter Justin Lanclos, the very sighting of a feral pig means trouble.

“If you start to see hogs in your hunting area, you are absolutely not going to see deer,” said Lanclos, a 33-year-old bowhunter from Sulthur, La.

“Deer are extremely smart and elusive,” Lanclos told FoxNews.com. “They just don’t like to occupy the same area as hogs.”

Lanclos, the owner of retailer Louisiana Bowhunter, said he recently received a photo showing a herd of hogs — or sounder — running off with a whitetail fawn. The image, believed to have been taken in Louisiana, has since gone viral on social media.

“We’ve got other photos of feral hogs carrying fawns,” noted LaCour. “If the hogs are coming through a field and they happen to come across it, they’re going to eat it.”

Researchers in Nepal confirm first case of TB in a rhino

(Deborah McCauley)

(Deborah McCauley)

Researchers at a wildlife conservation preserve in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, have announced the first confirmed case of tuberculosis (TB) in a young female Asian One-horned rhino. This discovery is the first infectious disease discovered in the rhino population and a crucial step in the fight for rhino conservation.

The discovery has been published in a paper in Emerging Infectious Disease and is the result of research that began in 2012. The research called on experts and organizations that included the Veterinary Initiative for Endangered Wildlife (VIEW), the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC).

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Although poaching has been eliminated altogether since 2013, Chitwan National Park still saw 31 rhino deaths due to unknown circumstances over the past five years. Until recently, the inability to pinpoint the cause of these deaths was due to a lack of having proper systems in place to investigate the culprit.

Researchers discovered that the organism responsible for causing TB in the rhino is part of the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Complex (MTBC) group. It is a close relative of organisms that cause TB in humans and cattle. They also noted that in 2014, the World Health Organization reported 9.6 million new TB cases each year in the world’s human population.

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Deborah McCauley, founder and executive director of VIEW, told FoxNews.coml that the discovery of TB in rhinos will fuel debate about how to best serve the human and animal populations that could potentially be affected. In the case of the rhinos, poaching and habitat encroachment are often at the top of the intervention lists, but disease, the third issue, has the potential to be the greatest threat, she said.

“We have suspected for several years now that disease was the missing piece to the conservation puzzle,” explained McCauley, via email. “Now that we have firm evidence of TB, we can help the parks to understand the risk of TB and other diseases threatening precious, endangered species in order to help prevent further spread.”