Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A fisher has attacked a six-year-old in New England. The boy was not seriously hurt.
Fishers belong to the family mustelidae, which includes ferrets, weasels, badgers, wolverines and others. Though sometimes called "fisher cats," they aren't closely related to the cats. They are small carnivores—far too small to prey on humans. Rabies is the likely cause for an attack like this, and in fact the boy is being vaccinated against the disease.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The latest primate problem has occurred in South Carolina, where a zoo gorilla scaled a wall, threatened a few people, and beat the hell out of a kid who works at a pizza joint on the grounds. The kid's injuries are minor.
Despite the scary image, it's hard to get hurt by a gorilla. Most documented injuries—and there aren't many—happen when a zoo specimen escapes, panicks, and bites or hits people. There are probably some injuries in the wild, where hunters attack the big primates for the bushmeat trade. If so, these go unreported, because it's illegal to hunt gorillas; they're endangered.
Gorillas eat plants, insects, and an occasional bird egg. They don't eat meat and take no predatory interest in people.
Update: Gorilla Victim Sues
Related Post: Hercules the Gorilla Dies
Gorilla photos by Wayne Allison:
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The sponges (phylum Porifera) are rough masses of flesh. They're not built on skeletons, though they grow hard skeletal bits inside themselves. They are simple animals, their cells only a step or two removed from their evolutionary predecessors—microscopic protists that formed colonies. Their individual cells take on specialized jobs like digestion, but they change jobs when necessary. The cells do not form discrete tissues, which are masses meant for very specific tasks. The lack of tissues sets them apart from most other animals.
1. Some sponges excrete toxins to discourage predators. People who keep them in aquariums sometimes get a rash simply by putting a hand into the water. One such species is the fire sponge (pictured).
2. Some sponges poison the adventurous diner. They can paralyze, and possibly kill, a human.
More information on sponges.