It's a dangerous world out there, especially if you are a small insect. Insects have thrived on our planet for hundreds of millions of years, so they must be doing something right despite all the threats to their survival. With so many predators out to get them many animals have evolved chemical defences, making themselves distasteful or even toxic. Wood tiger moths protect themselves from multiple predators using different chemical defences. Choosing the right defence can be tricky as predators come in many forms, and from many directions.
Now the researchers from the Department of Biological and Environmental Science at University of Jyväskylä have shown that one moth species, the Wood Tiger Moth, has found a clever way around this. The moth, which is brightly coloured to signal to predators that it is not to be messed with, has not one but two defensive fluids. One of them is targeted towards bird predators, who may try to catch the moth on the wing. A chemical compound in it, pyrazine, has one of the most repulsive odors known and can make the bird refrain from consuming the moth before even tasting it.
The second type of fluid works against invertebrate predators, such as ants, on the ground. This defence is particularly handy in situations where the moth cannot flee due to low temperatures, or when it is coming out of its pupa and its wings are not yet fully extended. The research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences on September 27th, 2017, used a series of assays with live predators to reveal the first evidence of a single species producing separate chemical defences targeted to different predator types.
The scientists are studying this moth as part of a larger project to understand how predator-prey interactions can drive and maintain the evolution of diversity in both anti-predator defences and warning signals. Their findings highlight the need to take into account a diverse array of enemies when studying anti-predator defences, particularly invertebrates, which are some of the most abundant creatures in nature.
The work was conducted at the Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions from the Academy of Finland.
One of the most contagious of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, is chronic wasting disease (CWD) which affects deer and represents a risk to human health and the health of farm animals. There are many problems facing livestock managers in North America in the face of CWD, a research paper published in the International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, summarizes the efforts in disease surveillance and risk management of CWD and shows that past management strategies such as selective culling, herd reduction, and hunter surveillance have had only limited effectiveness. The summary points towards new advice for optimal, cost-effective strategies in aggressive disease control.
William Leiss of the University of Ottawa, in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues there and elsewhere in Canada and the USA, explain how CWD is a fatal neurodegenerative disease of various species of animals in the cervid family of mammals. This family includes deer, elk, reindeer, caribou, and moose. The team points out that CWD is endemic in both wild (free-ranging) and captive (farmed) populations of these species which further complicates disease control. The disease is most prevalent among deer species, affecting in particular mule deer, but also black-tailed deer and white-tailed deer.
Chronic wasting disease is closely related to so-called "mad cow disease," bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the equivalent disease in sheep known as scrapie and the human disease variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (variant CJD). These various diseases are caused by the misfolding of proteins or protein fragments, known as prions, which self-replicate, or propagate, in tissue, specifically brain tissue, and lead to cell death and the ultimate demise of the affected organ.
The team points out that disease surveillance in North America has provided some qualitative assessments of the overall risk of CWD in Canada and the USA. Animals in almost half of all US states and two Canadian provinces are afflicted. The first case outside North America was identified in South Korea in 1997 and while the European Union has strict rules and surveillance in place, an afflicted farmed reindeer was identified in 2016 by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and subsequently two wild individuals. The problem is thus likely to become an intercontinental one unless more research is done to understand the disease and find ways to control it.
A new risk control strategy has been proposed for CWD in North America in which controlled forest fires are lit in areas where vegetation and soil are heavily contaminated with the pathogenic prions shed by animal waste and carcasses.
People who abuse animals in England will now face up to five years in prison under a tough new crackdown.
The environment secretary, Michael Gove, said the tenfold increase from the present six-month sentence was needed to combat cruelty.
The move comes after a series of cases in which courts said they would have liked to impose tougher sentences if they had the option. These include instances when a man bought a number of puppies just to brutally and systematically beat, choke and stab them to death.
The new legislation will also enable courts to deal more effectively with ruthless gangs involved in organised dog fights, the Department of the Environment said.
“We are a nation of animal lovers and so we must ensure that those who commit the most shocking cruelty towards animals face suitably tough punishments,” Gove said.
“These plans will give courts the tools they have requested to deal with the most abhorrent acts. This is one part of our plan to deliver world-leading standards of animal welfare in the years ahead.”
Under the government’s plans, courts will retain the ability to hand out an unlimited fine and ban an offender from owning animals in the future but they will also have the ability to sentence the worst cases more harshly.
The move will bring maximum sentences for animal cruelty in England into line with Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The RSPCA’s David Bowles said: “We are thrilled that the government has responded to calls from the RSPCA and members of the public to toughen up sentences for the worst animal abusers.
“We now feel that those who commit these acts will soon be receiving sentences that reflect the seriousness of their crime and hope this will act as a real deterrent against cruelty and neglect.
“The RSPCA picks up the pieces of animal cruelty every day of the year. Our inspectors regularly rescue animals from horrific circumstances of mistreatment, brutality and neglect. It is only through the prosecutions that we take that many of the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Animal farts and poop are major contributors to global warming. It turns out we might have been underestimating just how much.
New research finds that previous estimates of methane emissions from livestock were off by as much as 10%. The new calculations take into account changes in the ways people are using and keeping livestock.
Methane is a natural byproduct of digestion, made by that microbes in an animal’s gut that breakdown and ferment the food we eat. A gas, methane is a principle component of farts, though it’s not the one that makes them smell—sulfur-containing molecules are the biggest culprit there.
Farts are funny. Global warming is not. Unfortunately, methane is a big contributor to the greenhouse effect, helping to trap heat within Earth’s atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Carbon dioxide usually gets the blame for global warming, but methane is about 85 times more powerful when it comes to trapping heat, although it breaks down faster than carbon dioxide.
Now, a new calculation of methane produced by cows, swine and other livestock shows we may have underestimated their inputs. Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Joint Global Change Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy say the previous figures, which served as a basis for the 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, were off by 11%.
Their NASA-funded study appeared today in the journal Carbon Balance and Management.
Led by USDA plant physiologist Julie Wolf, the group looked at the data underpinning the IPCC’s estimate. They realized that some of it dated back decades, meaning it didn’t take into account changes in land and animal use.
Shocking footage has emerged of mutant Hulk-like pigs which are being bred by Cambodian farmers.
The company, called Duroc Cambodia, appear to have genetically modified the animals who were kept in cages and the results have appalled critics.
Videos of the pigs show that they are unable to walk properly because of their freakishly large muscles.
The mutant pigs are understood to be being reared in the Banteay Meanchey province of the country and the farmers' Facebook page is littered with worrying photographs and videos.
They show the animals' bulging muscles and promote a range of services from buying pigs for pork to kits to start your own farm.
Duroc Cambodia offers a pair of prosthetic penises and boar semen to artificially induce a sow to those looking to create their own freak animals.
Concerned animal lovers have been left disgusted by the footage on the page and voiced their anger at the farmer.
Animal right group PETA have also condemned the practice, and said: 'Hulk-like pigs are the stuff of nightmares, not meals, and those who are genetically engineered are also likely to be born with painful health issues.
PETA said the pigs were deliberately bred to grow to an enormous size with 'heaping knots of muscle mass'.
By making the pigs bigger, the farmer can sell off more meat and ultimately make more money, but at the cost of the animal's welfare.
It bears a striking resemblance to a 2015 incident in South Korea and China when scientists created 32 double-muscled piglets.
PETA said: 'Pigs suffer even without this "Frankenscience". On typical pig farms, their tails are cut off, their sensitive teeth are ground down, and the males are castrated, all without so much as an aspirin.
'Then, even though we have a wealth of nutritious plant-based foods to eat, these intelligent, playful, sociable animals' throats are slit and their bodies are turned into pork chops or sausages.'
One of an Ohio family’s two pet dogs killed the family’s month-old child as the baby slept, according to a coroner’s report released this week.
The father of the child woke up to find the infant dead in a bassinet in the father’s bedroom, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. When he called police shortly after 6:00 a.m. on Sept. 20, he blamed the child’s death on one of the family’s dogs.
But two of the family’s dogs have been euthanized so authorities could figure out which canine killed the child. A necropsy of both dogs was performed to evaluate what was inside each of the dogs’ stomachs, according to 10TV.
Those results indicated that the dog that attacked the child was a light brown male pit bull or pit bull mix.
Both dogs were pit bulls or pit bull mixes. They were removed from the family’s home by a dog warden officer after the attack.
Knox County Coroner Jennifer Ogle told WCMH that the child had “suffered extensive blunt and crush force injuries with puncture injuries to the head resulting in his death.”
Before the child’s death, the month-old had been well taken care of and was in good health, the coroner found — and there was no trauma to the infant’s body beyond the injuries the dog inflicted.
Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer told the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum that the toxicology report — as well as the full autopsy on the infant — could take up to eight weeks, largely because of an influx in drug-related deaths in Ohio.