Like a Phoenix rising from the dead? Sightings lure scientists in search of Tasmanian tiger

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Scientists will set up more than 50 camera traps to try and catch actions of the Tasmanian tiger 

It has been more that 80 years since the last Tasmania tiger died in captivity, but some suspect it continues to exist. Among those is a team of Australian scientists preparing a field survey on the very northern tip of Queensland in hope of catching the nocturnal creature in action.

It has been more that 80 years since the last Tasmania tiger died in captivity, but there are a few individuals who suspect this carnivorous marsupial still roams the Australian outback after dark. Among those are scientists from James Cook University, who are preparing a field survey on the very northern tip of Queensland in hopes of catching the nocturnal creature in action.

The thylacine, more commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger, was hunted to extinction by European settlers, who feared that the striped, wolf-like animals posed a threat to livestock. But in the decades since the last known specimen died in a Hobart Zoo in 1936, there have been thousands of reported sightings and whispers of the tiger’s survival have continued to circulate.

In 2005, local magazine The Bulletin offered a AU$1.25 million reward for the capture of a live and uninjured Tasmanian tiger. In 2013, investigators from Britain’s Centre for Fortean Zoology set out to find the animal, claiming to have gathered compelling evidence of its existence, including eye-witness accounts and droppings that it may have left behind. And tracking the Tasmanian tiger has even become a tourist attraction of sorts, with lodges, such as Tassie Tiger Lodge, running expeditions in search of the elusive predator.

For the James Cook University researchers, the motivation came from lengthy discussions with people in far-north Queensland claiming to have spotted the animals in the wild. One of the witnesses is an employee of the local parks service, and the other is a frequent camper and outdoorsman. The descriptions of the animals at two separate sites include detail on eyeshine color, body size, shape, and animal behavior and are inconsistent with other large-bodied animals in the area, the scientists say.

The researchers are convinced that these accounts could be the real deal, and as soon as next month, they will venture into the field and set up more than 50 camera traps in prospective sites. While the hope is to catch the Tasmanian tiger in action, the scientists say that the survey will also be useful in gathering data on other mammal species in the area, where wildlife populations have experienced severe decline in recent years.

Source: James Cook University

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Henry Sapiecha

In the Philippines: You can even get a massage from a bunch of massive python snakes

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At Cebu City Zoo in the Philippines, they’re trying to make the zoo more “interactive” — you can now get a massage from four 20ft Burmese pythons. The massage consists of simply putting the pythons — totally 250 kilograms (550 pounds) — on top of you and letting them sliver all over your body.

In case you were wondering, yes, a Burmese python is totally capable of killing you through constriction, and can deliver a pretty mean bite as well. But the zoo feeds each of the pythons “ten or more chickens” prior to each massage in order “to curb any hunger pangs.”

I should note that, according to Wikipedia, “Burmese pythons are opportunistic feeders…they will eat almost any time food is offered.” On the plus side, the massage is free.

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Henry Sapiecha

WATCH: Deadly snake trying to swallow a python in backyard

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A GOODNA Queensland Australia woman got a shock while hanging out her washing when she spotted a rare sight; a snake eating another snake.

The 1.8 metre Eastern Brown snake was making a meal out of a slightly smaller python at an Eric St home and the rarely seen spectacle drew a small crowd.

By the time snake catchers Sally and Norman Hill arrived, after being called by the woman who made the discovery, the python was clearly dead but it took the Eastern Brown hours to finish his meal.

The call for help had come in around noon on Monday but the team from N&S Snake Catcher Ipswich, also Goodna residents, had been out on another job and didn’t arrive until just after 1pm.

Even they were shocked.

“It’s very rare to see,” Sally said.

“We’ve never seen an Eastern Brown eating a carpet python before. We stood there watching for hours, it was fascinating.

“Even the snake’s temperament was very calm considering there were so many people standing around watching.”

Woman in hospital after Australia Zoo snake bite

It’s not unusual for an Eastern Brown to eat other snakes, but it’s not something that many people actually see happening.

Sally and Norman have been working with snakes for more than 25 years and started a snake catching business after Norman finished up working at Australia Zoo when Steve Irwin died.

Since 2015 they’ve been answering calls for help from Ipswich residents and although they’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of snakes around, they never expected yesterday’s call out to be so eventful.

“We were on another job so it took us about half an hour to 40 minutes to get there,” Sally said.

“We thought that by the time we got there he might have finished eating it but it did take a while.

“The venom would have killed the python straight away.”

Eventually the Hills made the decision to pick up the Eastern Brown, still with a mouthful of python, and put it in a bag to finish eating before releasing it later that night.

Norman said in the past 12 months there’s been a significant increase in the number of snakes seen around the Ipswich area.

“We’ve caught about double what we did last year,” Norman said.

“We’re assuming it’s related to all the development. Years ago I used to go and drop snakes off in the areas where they are building all the new homes.”

With snake sightings on the rise the snake catchers have warned that while it may look easy to approach a wild snake, doing so without the proper experience can be disastrous.

“If you do come across an eastern brown, call a snake catcher. Don’t try to catch it yourself,” Sally said.

“Snakes will be threatened because we are bigger; we are like monsters to them and make them feel threatened.

“If they feel threatened, they will attack and if you’re not quick, if you hesitate you will get bitten.”

Eastern Brown snakes are highly venomous, considered one of the world’s most dangerous snakes and are responsible for the majority of snakebite deaths in Australia.

A bite from an Eastern Brown will cause paralysis and blood clotting.

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Henry Sapiecha

Pythons caught fighting while hanging from roof in Queensland Australia

The strength of two male carpet pythons was on display as they hung from the roof of a south-east Queensland home last week, battling it out for the affections of a nearby female.

Footage of the males intertwined was sent through to Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7, who posted it to their Facebook page on Sunday night.

two carpet pythons fighting & hanging from roof image www.pythonjungle.com

The two carpet pythons were found hanging from a Queensland roof. Photo: Becky Beale/Facebook

Snake catcher Max Jackson said it was an amazing display of strength that indicated the start of breeding season.

“Most snakes, particularly pythons, begin to move around a bit more to search for females at the start of breeding season,” he said.

two pythons were wrapped around themselves while hanging from their tails image www.pythonjungle.com

The two pythons were wrapped around themselves while hanging from their tails. Photo: Becky Beale/Facebook

“When two males cross paths during this time, it is common for them to have combat, it is pretty gentle, just wrestling, it is a simple matter of overpowering the other one.

“This is a particularly impressive one, they are using so much stretch using their tails to hang there.

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“There is a chance there might be a female in that roof, they must be able to smell a female around there somewhere.”

Mr Jackson said it was easy to tell the pythons, who he estimated weighed about 15 kilograms each, were males fighting because of how much they were moving around.

“You can tell they are two males – when they mate they don’t twist away like they are,” he said.

“When two snakes mate, they can crawl up each other,

“They can stay still for up to two days, it is a pretty minimal movement for that period of time.

“There is lots of effort going into this, they generally only last about 10 minutes and mating is quite a lot longer than that.”

Mr Jackson said he had never seen footage like it before.

“Generally they fight on the ground, but I guess maybe they started on the roof and started falling off,” he said.

“Breeding season has definitely begun now, so this male-to-male combat may be a common sight throughout the coast over the next couple of months.”

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Henry Sapiecha

The colourful killer of snakes snake with the scorpion sting could take your pain away

This snake is a freak. It boasts the largest venom glands in the world. It eats king cobras for breakfast. And it has a scorpion’s sting. But that’s not what has scientists excited.

“We have found the wildest snake toxin ever, from the venom of the most outrageous snakes,” Bryan Fry said. “It does something no other snake has ever done.”

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The super-powerful venom of the long-glanded blue coral snake could inspire new pain treatments for humans. Photo: Tom Charlton

The Queensland University venomologist is talking about the aptly named long-glanded blue coral snake of south-east Asia – and its unusual venom which takes hold with lightning efficiency.

A reptile with electric blue stripes and neon-red head and tail, it grows up to two metres long. Its venom glands extend to a good 60 centimetres – about one-quarter of its body length.

“On the scale of weird, this one goes to 11,” Dr Fry said. “It’s a freaky snake.”

Described as “the killer of killers” due to its taste for young king cobras, this snake is unique among snakes because, like scorpions, its venom causes its prey to spasm.

young king cobra snake is no match for the long-glanded blue coral snake image www.pythonjungle.com

A young king cobra is no match for the long-glanded blue coral snake.

ooovenom glands of the long-glanded blue coral snake are up to 60 centimetres long image www.pythonjungle.com

The venom glands of the long-glanded blue coral snake are up to 60 centimetres long. Photo: Bryan Fry

Exactly how it does this has been discovered for the first time. The results, published in the journal Toxins, could lead to improved pain management for humans.

“This venom hits a particular type of sodium channel that is important for the treatment of pain in humans,” Dr Fry said.

Dr Bryan Fry holds a king cobra image www.pythonjungle.com

Dr Bryan Fry holds a king cobra. Young king cobras are often prey to the blue coral snake

With colleagues from Australia, China, Singapore and the US, Dr Fry identified six unusual peptides in the venom of the blue coral snake that can switch on all of its prey’s nerves at once. This immediately immobilises its victim.

So what does a paralysis-inducing venom have to do with improving the treatment and management of pain in humans?

Dr Fry said the research showed that the venom used receptors which were critical to pain in humans. Learning about how these worked could enable improved pain treatment and management.

“It’s also the first vertebrate to do this via sodium channels,” Dr Fry said. “So from a drug development perspective, this is interesting as this animal is evolutionarily-speaking closer to us than a scorpion. Which means it might be more amenable to us.”

While the length of the long-glanded blue coral snake’s venom glands was known, the way the venom worked hadn’t been studied. And given there are related species, there could be as many as 200 variations of the peptides in total.

“It’s a great example of why studying the really weird animals is a great path for biodiscovery and you can’t get any weirder than this snake with the longest venom glands in the world,” Dr Fry said.

“You can’t predict where the next wonder drug came from so you need to protect what you have.”

www.newcures.info

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Henry Sapiecha

Python Snake makes a meal out of a small kangaroo

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A PYTHON won’t need a feed for a while after eating a kangaroo north of Bundaberg Queensland Australia this week.

Deepwater woman Sherril-lea Wallace said she knew something was amiss when her dog started going off and her horses were staring in the direction of the commotion about 10am on Wednesday.

“Hubby and I went to investigate and found a mother roo giving her distress call and calling for her baby,” she said.

Disturbed by the couple, the mother roo fled, which is when they saw the snake wrapped around the joey, already dead.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

After Spider Sex, Female Eats Mate To Ensure Bigger Spider Babies

Male dark fishing spiders pass on nutrients to their offspring after being cannibalized by the mating female

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For the males of many spider species, sex equals death. The dark fishing spider is one of many arachnid species where the female cannibalizes the male after sex, and new research suggests these male spiders have evolved ways to turn their post-coital demise into a good thing for their kids.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Gonzaga University found that the offspring of dark fishing spiders that cannibalized their mates were about 20 percent bigger and 50 percent longer-lived than the children of females that didn’t get to dine on their partners. Cannibalizing females also produced almost double the children as those who missed out on the opportunity to eat their mate.

The researchers don’t yet know what conferred these benefits to the offspring, but it appears to be more than the females getting a hearty meal after sex. When females were given a cricket to eat after sex, their offspring didn’t see the same benefits as those whose mother had eaten their father. It’s possible males carry some kind of nutrient or nutrients that they pass onto their children when consumed, but further study is needed to know for sure.

More The Antechinus Isn’t The Only Suicidal Sex-Crazed Animal Out There

What does appear clear is that males looking to reproduce will initiate behaviors that will kill them, even if the female doesn’t end up devouring them. Let’s go back to the mechanics of spider sex. “They insert one of their two reproductive organs, it expands, and it kind of locks into the female,” Gonzaga researcher Steven Schwartz explained to Vocativ. The expansion of that organ, the pedipalp, can have lethal consequences for the male.

“You’ve got to put everything into it,” he said. “And everything into it involves expanding that pedipalp to its maximum, which then has a drastic effect on the rest of the body, i.e. the male curls up its legs and dies. The male that put everything into it were the ones that won. They fertilized the most eggs, and of course that would be passed on, that effort.” That kind of reproductive self-destruction ensures the most offspring in the long run, which also means the best chance of their genetics spreading throughout the population. Survival of the fittest genes can also mean the death of the males who carry them.

But still, why wouldn’t male spiders have adapted to father offspring with multiple females, as is the case with so many other species? “If a male didn’t die in the process of mating, he would potentially go on to reproduce with additional females, which would benefit him, but they don’t,” Schwartz said. “So when you have the development of these weird behaviors, the question comes up, ‘Okay, how is that maintained in the population? How is that better than an alternative mating strategy?’”

The answer likely lies in what’s known as first-male sperm precedence, where the first male to mate with a female fertilizes the majority of her eggs. This biological reality creates a strong incentive for males to mate exclusively with females who have not yet had sex with other spiders in order to pass on their genetic material, and it also means there’s less good reason to live on and seek out other potential mates. This also means males have good reason to pursue larger mates – females can be nearly twice as big as males – as larger females can produce a greater number of offspring. But that also means the males are at even greater risk of being consumed by their large, hungry mates.

More This Cart-Wheeling Spider Is One Of The Top New Species

There’s no single explanation for why sexual cannibalism is so widespread among spiders, so there’s also no single reason behind how male spiders appear to have adapted ways to make the most of their fates. In at least some species, escaping a female’s clutches before being devoured also means passing along less reproductive material. For many male spiders, ensuring lots of children means having sex long enough to be devoured.

“Like I tell my students, all life needs to do two things, survive and reproduce,” Schwartz said. He recalled a recent conversation where someone pointed out these male spiders weren’t surviving. “No, they survive, they survive and reproduce, and if the act of reproduction causes their death, it doesn’t matter. They reproduced. They did those two things, survived and reproduced. In terms of reproducing, those genes, that individual genetic information is passed onto the female in the form of sperm and lives on in the next generation in their offspring.” It might well be more accurate to say life needs to survive until it reproduces. Anything after that is irrelevant.

After all, a male that has lots of big, healthy, long-lived offspring is going to pass on far more genes than one that survives but only produces relatively few offspring with multiple females. That the first male in that example dies right after sex is irrelevant, because evolution doesn’t care about the survival of an individual. It just “cares” about which genes get passed on from generation to generation, as that determines which adaptations endure in the species.

Evolution can be scary it seems.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

HUNTING FISHING SPIDER ATTACKS & EATS FISH IN THIS VIDEO

A Fishing Spider eat fish, after hunting it.
What is more frightening: the spider, or the commentator’s accent?

About The Fishing Spider

Dolomedes  is a genus of large spiders of the family Pisauridae. They are also known as fishing spiders, raft spiders, dock spiders or wharf spiders. Almost all Dolomedes species are semi-aquatic, with the exception of the tree-dwelling D. albineus of the southwestern United States. Many species have a striking pale stripe down each side of the body (…)

(…) Rather than hunting on land or by waiting in a web, these spiders hunt on the water surface itself, preying on mayflies, other aquatic insects, and even small fish. For fishing spiders, the water surface serves the same function as a web does for other spiders. They extend their legs onto the surface, feeling for vibrations given off by prey. [Read More on Wikipedia]

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Henry Sapiecha

OCTOPUS ATTACKS & EATS A LARGE CRAB IN VIDEO

OCTOPUSSY GETS CRABS VIDEO

A female tourist was quietly watching a crab on the beach in Yallingup, western Australia, this week, when suddenly … an octopus emerged out of the water to take away the crustacean under a rock.

The walker filmed the assault. She recalls her surprise on her Youtube account, where its video, shared on Reddit: “this is the best and most unexpected video I ever shot,” she wrote.
The few images that spread rapidly on the internet via social networks.

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Henry Sapiecha

GREAT EDUCATIONAL VIDEO DOC ON SNAKES

Except for the polar regions and a few islands, snakes have spread throughout the world. Religion has endowed snakes with mystical powers, invoking human emotions from reverence to outright fear. Though snakes are well-known among us, most of us find it difficult to accept their presence whether seen or not seen. Yet snakes are one of the great success stories of the natural world, having thrived on earth for a hundred million years longer than humans. Though snakes share a profound similarity in design, they are exquisitely well-adapted to the environment they live in. As long as snakes are not interfered with, there is no reason to believe snakes will not survive a hundred million years more.

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Henry Sapiecha