It's been a week of weird finds for the Transportation Security Administration: A six-pack of nunchucks and other sharp objects -- and now a dog in a backpack.
"A dog was accidentally sent through the X-ray" at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin this week, the TSA said on its verified Great Lakes region Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon.
Animals need to be removed from carrying cases and the empty carrier sent through the screening machine, the TSA said.
"When traveling with any animal, notify your airline & know their rules," the agency said in its tweet.
This latest discovery comes after last month's find of a live cat trapped inside a suitcase at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
That cat -- with the unforgettable name of Smells -- was treated to a human-sized Thanksgiving feast after his ordeal.
Major airlines in the United States charge fees for traveling with a pet on board a flight -- sometimes in excess of the cost of airfare itself.
American Airlines and United Airlines charge $125 one-way. Southwest and Delta charge $95 one-way.
For decades, nobody knew where the remains of the last thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, were located. It turns out they were hiding in plain sight – at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), in the Australian island state, where they had been unidentified for more than 80 years.
About the size of a coyote, the thylacine disappeared about 2,000 years ago virtually everywhere except Tasmania. As the only marsupial apex predator that lived in modern times, it played a key role in the island’s ecosystem, but that also made it unpopular with humans.
European settlers on Tasmania in the 1800s blamed thylacines for livestock losses (although, in most cases, feral dogs and human habitat mismanagement were actually the culprits), and they hunted the shy, semi-nocturnal Tasmanian tigers to extinction.
The last known thylacine was an old female captured by a trapper and sold to a zoo in May 1936, according to a TMAG news release published Monday.
The animal died several months later, with its body transferred to the museum afterward. But the zoo kept no records about the sale because ground-based snaring was illegal – meaning the trapper could have faced a fine, the release said. That meant researchers and staff at the museum were wholly unaware of the significance of the thylacine in their collection.
“For years, many museum curators and researchers searched for its remains without success, as no thylacine material dating from 1936 had been recorded in the zoological collection, and so it was assumed its body had been discarded,” said Robert Paddle, a comparative psychologist from the Australian Catholic University, in the news release.
After being brought to TMAG, the thylacine’s body was skinned and its skeleton taken apart as part of an education collection, used by museum teachers to explain thylacine anatomy to students, and often transported outside the museum, according to the release.
During that time, most of the world mistakenly thought another thylacine that died at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart on September 7, 1936 was the last known individual of its species.
The mistake wasn’t realized until recently, when an unpublished museum taxidermist’s report was discovered. The report, dated 1936-1937, mentioned a thylacine among the specimens worked on that year – prompting a review of all thylacine skins and skeletons at TMAG, where the last thylacine was finally identified.
“It is bittersweet that the mystery surrounding the remains of the last thylacine has been solved, and that it has been discovered to be part of TMAG’s collection,” said TMAG director Mary Mulcahy. The remains are now on display in the museum’s thylacine gallery for public viewing.
In recent years, the Tasmanian tiger has reappeared in headlines due to ongoing – and controversial – efforts by scientists to bring back the animal through ancient DNA retrieval, gene editing and artificial reproduction.
Death metal fans might just have a new animal mascot. Some bats use the same vocal structures as death metal singers to make their unique vocalizations, a new study has found. Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark investigated the noise-making techniques of Daubenton’s bat, a small species of the winged mammal found across Europe and Asia. The study, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Biology, focuses on the different structures of the larynx — also known as the voice box — that bats use to expand their vocal range.
Vocal communication is essential for bats: They famously use sound to navigate their surroundings and locate their prey in a process known as echolocation. The flying critters also use sounds to communicate socially. And bats that use echolocation have an impressive, seven-octave vocal range to match their sound needs, the researchers said. By comparison, most mammals, including humans, have a vocal range of three to four octaves. Bats use extremely high-pitched sounds to echolocate, but employ low-pitched growls to communicate with each other.
The research team extracted the larynxes of five bats who had been euthanized and filmed the organs while applying air flow to mimic natural breathing. This allowed the scientists to directly observe the vocal membranes and ventricular folds, also called “false vocal folds,” vibrating at different frequencies. These are “the first direct observations” of these vocal structures in Daubenton’s bats, the researchers said.
“We identified for the first time what physical structures within the larynx oscillate to make their different vocalizations. For example, bats can make low frequency calls, using their so called ‘false vocal folds’ — like human death metal singers do,” said Coen Elemans, the lead study author and a professor of biology at the University of Southern Denmark, in a news release.
Ventricular folds, or false vocal folds, are located on top of the true vocal cords. Historically, these folds were thought to have no role in normal human speech — hence the term “false.” But studies have revealed that these folds are crucial for a few unique forms of vocalization, like the distinctive “growling” death metal singers use or the throat singing from vocalists in Mongolia and Siberia.
The folds are likely also the source of bats’ low-frequency growls, the researchers found. They didn’t directly observe the vocal cords vibrating or oscillating. However, the researchers wrote, “We venture to speculate that in bats, the ventricular folds have taken on the role of lower frequency vibrations.” Scientists still don’t know what exactly the bats are communicating when they use their death metal growls. “Some seem aggressive, some may be an expression of annoyance, and some may have a very different function,” said study coauthor and University of Southern Denmark biologist Lasse Jakobsen in the news release.
Brock Fenton, professor emeritus of biology at Western University in London, Ontario, told CNN that the study is an interesting first step into understanding bat vocalization. But there are over 1,400 known species of bats in the world — so a study focusing on just one species is limited in its application. Fenton especially called for future research on bats that make long sounds, in contrast to the Daubenton’s bat’s high-pitched but short-length calls, saying that was necessary context to understand the breadth of bat vocalizations.
An international team of scientists say they have new insight into how the very earliest animals survived after traces of what they described as the world’s oldest meal were found in a 550 million-year-old fossil.
Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) analyzed ancient fossils from the Ediacaran period following their discovery in Russia in 2018. The findings were published in the journal Current Biology this week.
Some of the oldest life on Earth is referred to as the Ediacaran biota. This group is based on the earliest fossils ever discovered, providing evidence of complex, multicellular organisms.
In a fossilized specimen of the slug-like Kimberella, the team detected molecules of phytosterol preserved in the creature’s gut. The chemical product, which is found in plants, suggested it ate algae and bacteria from the ocean floor.
Study co-author Jochen Brocks, a professor at the Australian National University, said the nutrient-rich algae may have contributed to Kimberella’s growth. “The energy-rich food may explain why the organisms of the Ediacara biota were so large. Nearly all fossils that came before the Ediacaran biota were single-celled and microscopic in size,” Brocks said, according to a press release.
The palaeontologists suggested that Kimberella was likely one of the most advanced creatures of the Ediacaran era with a mouth and a gut and digested food the same way modern animals do. “Scientists already knew Kimberella left feeding marks by scraping off algae covering the sea floor, which suggested the animal had a gut,” Brocks explained. “But it was only after analysing the molecules of Kimberella’s gut that we were able to determine what exactly it was eating and how it digested food,” he said in the news release.
Another organism called Dickinsonia, one of Earth’s earliest animals, was a less advanced creature, without a mouth or gut. It grew up to 1.4 meters [4’5 feet] in length and had a rib-like design imprinted on its body, according to the researchers. The Kimberella and Dickinsonia fossils were collected from cliffs near the White Sea in Russia’s north-west in 2018, by the study’s lead author, Dr. Ilya Bobrovskiy of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences. He completed the work as part of his doctoral thesis at ANU.
Dr. Bobrovskiy said the findings are helping scientists track the evolution of the earliest animals, and how they relate to their descendants today. He described the animals of the Ediacaran biota, which lived on Earth prior to the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ that led to the modern animal, as “the origin of us and all animals that exist today.”
” [They ] were a mixed bag of outright weirdos, such as Dickinsonia, and more advanced animals like Kimberella that already had some physiological properties similar to humans and other present-day animals,” he explained in the news release. “These creatures are our deepest visible roots,” he added.
Talk about monkey business.
A Texas woman entering the US told border officials the wooden box in her car was filled with beer. In reality, it was an endangered spider monkey she planned to sell. The 20-year-old woman pleaded guilty to smuggling wildlife into the US without first declaring and invoicing it, and fleeing an immigration checkpoint, after a monthslong investigation, according to a news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
She attempted to enter the US from Mexico through the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas, on March 21, the release stated. Officers noticed a wooden box with holes inside her car, which she claimed contained beer she had bought in Mexico.
However, when officers opened the box, they discovered a live spider monkey. Officers then referred the woman to a second inspection, but she sped off instead.
Later that day, officers discovered online sales listings for the spider monkey with the woman’s phone number, according to the release. The woman turned herself in on March 28, according to the release. The monkey was recovered and placed in an animal shelter in Central Florida.
The woman will be sentenced on January 25, 2023, the release noted.
“Smuggling in endangered species for commercial gain is a tragic crime against nature’s precious resources,” said Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge at Homeland Security Investigations San Antonio, in the release. “HSI takes every opportunity to join our federal, private sector and international partners to share our knowledge, experience and investigative techniques designed to protect and preserve threatened and endangered species.”
There are seven species of spider monkeys found across Central and South America, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Officials did not specify to which species the recovered spider monkey belonged.
A 4-year-old boy has miraculously survived after spending six days lost in an African wildlife preserve teeming with deadly predators.
The child had somehow managed to wander over 11 miles from his home in Asa, which is close to the edge of the Tsavo East wildlife preserve in Kenya.
He was found by pilot Roan Carr-Hartley, who works for the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an orphan elephant rescue and wildlife rehabilitation program based in Tsavo.
The boy had got separated from his brothers during a storm as they returned home from a day of herding livestock, Carr-Hartley told Newsweek. Asa’s local chief had contacted the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to ask if they could use their aircraft to help the 70-strong search party combing the area.
"A search party went out looking but couldn't find him, and began to follow tracks. They did an amazing job tracking him for countless days without food," Carr-Hartley said.
"It was an unforgiving environment for any person to be alone, let alone a child so young,"
“With no way of communicating with them while I was in the air,” the pilot wrote. “I had organised for the search party to walk with a white cloth tied to a long stick, which would make it easier to find them in the dense bush.
“After locating the group in this area I began my search. Four hours of scanning the sea of vegetation revealed nothing but an empty fuel tank and various animals, including hyenas and jackals.
“It was an unforgiving environment for any person to be alone, let alone a child so young. However, because of heavy rains, there was no shortage of surface water. This at least gave me some peace of mind that the boy would be able to find water”.
Late on December 3— five nights after the boy first went missing – the chief contacted Sheldrick Wildlife Trust again to say that the search party had found the boys tracks but they were an almost incredible nine miles from the village.
“After nearly a week of heavy rainfall, with no food and predators roaming the area,” the pilot wrote, “one can be forgiven for losing hope”
But eventually, Carr-Hartley made his miraculous discovery: “Off my left wing, I saw a tiny figure below me, surrounded by a mass of shrubs and trees. I could not believe my eyes, but there he was: a tiny boy surrounded by endless wilderness"
They’re invasive, destructive and now apparently responsible for a “large-scale” power outage in one South Florida city.
West Palm Beach ABC affiliate WPBF reports that an iguana was the culprit of an outage in Lake Worth Beach Wednesday.
It happened at the city’s Sixth Avenue substation, officials told the station.
The iguana’s tail hit the transformer, causing the lights to go out in the city’s southeast service area for about half an hour.
The iguana died after hitting the transformer, WPBF reports.
On another note with winter cold temperatures around the corner beware of the falling Iguanas from trees in Florida.
A 36-year-old man was shot Monday evening when he allegedly tried to steal a goat from its owner in San Marcos, sheriff’s deputies said.
The call was reported about 3:30 p.m. on Seeforever Drive near Colorado Hills Drive, the Sheriff’s Department said. According to Lt. Michael Arens, the 79-year-old man caught the younger man sneaking into his backyard to take the goat.
The intruder threw the goat into the front seat of a dune buggy on the property, Arens said in a news release. He said the homeowner had a rifle and confronted the intruder before he could start the vehicle.
The younger man charged at the homeowner and tried to grab the gun, Arens said. During a struggle for the firearm, the homeowner fired the rifle.
The intruder was hit in his stomach, Lt. David Collins said Monday night. The man was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered life threatening.
He was arrested on suspicion of robbery, battery, attempted vehicle theft and elder abuse, among other charges, sheriff’s officials said. The homeowner was not arrested.
Evelyn, a 46-year-old western lowland gorilla and the oldest gorilla in the history of the Los Angeles Zoo, has been euthanized after "experiencing health issues leading to a decline in her quality of life over the last couple of weeks,'' the zoo announced on Wednesday.
"We are heartbroken to share that animal care and veterinary staff made the difficult decision to euthanize'' the gorilla, zoo officials announced on Twitter.
Evelyn was an L.A. native, having been born at the zoo in 1976.
While western lowland gorillas can live 30 to 40 years in the wild, the zoo attributed Evelyn's longevity to the incredible care provided to her by our animal care and veterinary teams.''
"We are all so deeply saddened over the loss of Evelyn,'' Tania Prebble, one of the zoo's animal keepers, said on the Twitter thread announcing the gorilla's passing.
"Words cannot describe how much love and joy she gave everyone over her 46 years of her life. Personally, working with her these last 15 years has been a blessing. I will always cherish the one-on-one moments I had with her. She will never be forgotten by her gorilla family, human family, nor her adoring zoo family," Prebble said.
Zoo officials said Evelyn was known for her red hair and "independent and charismatic personality.''
In addition, officials said, "she provided a watchful eye over the newest youngster, Angela, and had been a wonderful family member to Kelly, N'Djia and Rapunzel.''
Evelyn made big news locally in October 2000 when she briefly escaped her habitat, apparently by means of some hanging foliage.
It prompted the zoo to be evacuated -- although a zoo official said at the time that gorillas are "gentle giants'' for the most part, and will not attack in most instances unless someone is aggressive toward them.
Evelyn was loose for about an hour and 15 minutes, and during her adventure, she "poked flowers, swatted at butterflies, played hide and seek with anxious zoo keepers and even went for a stroll to see orangutans, giraffes and elephants,'' as the Los Angeles Times reported back then.
With media helicopters starting to gather above, zoo workers eventually used a tranquilizer dart on Evelyn, rather than wait for her to go back to her habitat voluntarily. She eventually wandered into a men's room, felt the effects of the dart, and was returned to her habitat. No one was hurt.
Western lowland gorillas are an endangered subspecies of the larger western gorilla, and, in the wild, are native to forests and swamplands in central Africa.
Archaeologists have discovered what they’re calling the oldest narrative artwork scene in the world. While you might be expecting a painting of a graceful God or a victorious battle scene, it actually depicts a guy holding his penis as he’s being attacked by leopards. Men, eh?
The scene was found on a Neolithic bench in present-day Turkey at the archaeological site of Sayburç, which is around 11,000 years old. Along with the phallus-displaying man, the bench depicts another scene of a person shaking a rattle at a bull.
Both scenes depict a human facing up against a dangerous animal, suggesting the two pieces were crafted to complement each other and form a single narrative. The researchers note that the teeth of the leopards and the horns of the bull are emphasized to highlight the danger in the scenes.
“These figures, engraved together to depict a narrative, are the first known examples of such a holistic scene. This was a picture of the stories that formed the ideology of the people of that period”, Dr Eylem Özdoğan, study author and archaeologist from Istanbul University, said in a statement sent to IFLScience.
The scenes can be found in building a large communal structure that likely served as a space for celebrations and gatherings. To help people observe the center of the space it would have been lined with benches, which had these imaginative scenes carved into them.
It's unclear who is depicted in these scenes, although Dr Özdoğan believes that they were important individuals, like a mythical figure or a person from a historical tale.
When this artwork was created in the 9th century BCE, there was a huge shift occurring in this part of Eurasia. Laying on the outskirts of the Fertile Cresent, people of this land started to transition from a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settlements powered by stable agriculture.
This revolution is arguably one of the most important moments in the history of humankind. For the overwhelming majority of the human story, we were hunter-gatherers who constantly struggled to eat and survive, but the advent of agriculture suddenly gave populations access to reliable food supplies and even a surplus of resources. This snowballed into the formation of organized political structures, densely populated settlements, specialized labor, and the rapid advancement of technology and culture.
However, relatively little is known about this time as written sources are few and far between. That’s why archaeological discoveries like this one are so helpful in shining light on what early agricultural societies were like.
“Archaeological evidence can provide some insight into the traditions of the past societies but clearer evidence rarely survives, so this discovery is exciting,” explained Dr Özdoğan. “Sayburç has very clear evidence in this respect and has the potential to tell us a lot about the Neolithic society that we do not know, yet.” The new study was published in the journal Antiquity.