The Toxin in “The Suicide Tree” Has Been Called the Perfect Murder Weapon

By now you know not to be fooled by nature’s wonders, right? The Cerbera odollam, for instance, is a perfectly beautiful, lush green tree. But, oh no. This unassuming plant isn’t called the “suicide tree” for nothing. It can accurately also be called the “murder tree,” too. Whatever you want to call it, just keep your distance.

Lethal Weapon Seed

The Cerbera odollam is a medium-sized hardwood tree, endemic to India and southeast Asia, that can grow up to 32 feet (10 meters) tall. Nothing remarkable there. It’s not like this tree is trying to kill you, but it can. Pretty easily too, no thanks to the excessively toxic chemical cerberin in its seeds.

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University of Queensland team discovers new bandy-bandy snake at Weipa in the north of the continent

SCIENTISTS searching for sea snakes never expected to stumble across this find.

In a chance discovery, a team of biologists were returning from a sea snake research mission when they found a new venomous snake species for Australia.

The team, led The University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Bryan Fry, uncovered a new species of bandy-bandy snake at Weipa on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula in the far north of the country.

Prof Fry said bandy-bandies were burrowing snakes so they were surprised they when found it on a concrete block near the sea edge, after coming in from a night of sea snake spotting.

“We later determined that the snake had slithered over from a pile of bauxite rubble waiting to be loaded onto a ship,” he said.

“On examination by my student Chantelle Derez, the bandy-bandy turned out to be a new species, visually and genetically distinct from those found on the Australian East coast and parts of the interior.”

The team found another specimen in its natural habitat near Weipa, and yet another killed by a car close to the mine.

Two more of the snakes were found in museum collections and a photo was found of another, contributing to a total of six observations in the same small region.

But Prof Fry said he feared the new species could already be in trouble and in danger of extinction due to mining.

“Bauxite mining is a major economic activity in the area, and it may be reshaping the environment to the detriment of our native plants and animals,” he said.

“The importance of such discoveries goes beyond simply documenting what is out there, as venoms are rich sources of compounds that can be used to develop new medications.

“Every species is precious and we need to protect them all, since we can’t predict where the next wonder-drug will originate from.

“The discovery of this enigmatic little snake is symptomatic of the much more fundamental problem of how little we know about our biodiversity and how much may be lost forever before we even discover it.”

Associate Professor Bryan Fry looking for snakes near Weipa, Queensland.

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Henry Sapiecha

Missing Indonesian woman found in belly of a giant python snake

WARNING: GRAPHIC

AN Indonesian woman has been found in the gut of a giant python after the swollen snake was captured near where she vanished while working her vegetable garden, police have said.

The body of 54-year-old Wa Tiba was found on Friday when villagers cut open the seven-metre python which was found bloated in the village of Persiapan Lawela on the island of Muna, offshore of Sulawesi.

“Residents were suspicious the snake swallowed the victim, so they killed it, then carried it out of the garden,” said local police chief Hamka, who like many Indonesians has only one name.

“The snake’s belly was slit open and the body of the female victim was found inside.”

The body of Wa Tiba was found when villagers cut open the seven-metre python. Picture: AFP

Some 100 residents, including worried relatives, launched a frantic search for the woman after she failed to return from her garden on Thursday night.

Hamka said villagers found the giant python lying about 30 metres from Ms Tiba’s sandals and machete, adding she was swallowed head first and her body was found intact.

The garden in which she disappeared was at the base of a rocky cliff, pockmarked by caves, and known to be home to a variety of snakes, Hamka added.

Giant python snakes, which regularly exceed six metres, are commonly found in Indonesia and the Philippines.

While the snakes have been known to attack small animals, attempts to eat people are rare.

In March 2017, a farmer was killed by a python in the village of Salubiro on Sulawesi island.

Originally published as Missing woman eaten whole by python

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Henry Sapiecha

The Pisonia Tree Lures and Murders Birds for No Apparent Good Reason

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Someone should tell that to the Pisonia tree, a ruthless plant that kills birds just for the heck of it. You may be asking, “Why?” Well, the tree should respond, “Why not?”

Oh Murder Tree, Oh Murder Tree!

If you didn’t think a plant — a tree, no less — could be a jerk, think again. Found in the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, the Pisonia tree fits the bill as one of the most unnecessarily cruel plants in the planet. While it’s not uncommon for plants to have built-in defense mechanisms, those things are usually there to keep the plant safe from preditors. But scientists have yet to uncover any benefit the Pisonia tree could possibly receive for luring birds in only just to murder them.

Here’s what happens at the crime scene: the Pisonia tree produces sticky seedpods that trap insects, luring in hungry birds with the promise of an easy lunch. These seedpods are so sticky that they’ll latch onto any bird that flies into them, either trapping it in the tree’s branches or weighing the bird down stosuch a extent that it’s completely unable to fly. As a result, you’ll see a blanket of bird carcasses littering the roots of the Pisonia tree. There are sometimes even mummified bird corpses up in the branches that look like, as Washington Post describes them, “macabre Christmas tree ornaments.”

Ecologist Alan Burger at the University of Victoria first heard of the Pisonia in the 1990s and went to the archipelago of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean to work out why these slaughterous trees seemed to kill just for the hell of it. Until then, no one had looked too hard into the Pisonia tree, but there were two main theories as to why they were bird-tormentors: either the tree’s roots got a nutrient bump from the dead birds, or the seeds attached to the dead birds because they required the corpse as fertilizer in order to grow. After 10 months of research with the Pisonia seeds, Burger published his findings in 2005.

The conclusion? Pisonia trees are just out & out ruthless. “The results from my experiments showed quite convincingly that the Pisonia derived no obvious benefit from fatally entangling birds,” writes Burger. But not only did dead birds not benefit the tree in any way, but the droppings of living birds would also help the trees survive by enriching the soil. It turns out, then, that killing birds isn’t necessarily the goal. Birds flying away from the tree with sticky seeds attached helps keep the tree species alive by spreading the seeds far and wide. It’s just one of those evolutionary whoopsies that the seeds sprout in clusters — heavy, self-sabotaging, bird-murdering clusters.

Curious for more of nature’s killers? Check out “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” The audiobook is free with a trial of Audible.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

Nile Crocodile kills pastor during mass lakeside baptism. Food for thought.

A lakeside baptism ceremony ended in disaster when a large nile crocodile leapt from the water and mauled the pastor to death, it has been reported.

Docho Eshete was allegedly grabbed by the crocodile soon after he started a mass baptism for 80 people on the shores of Lake Abaya in southern Ethiopia.Africa.

“He baptised the first person and he passed on to another one,” local resident Ketema Kairo told the BBC.

“Suddenly, this huge crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed onto the pastor.”

Pastor Docho was said to have been savagedly ravaged on his legs, back and hands.

As his horrified congregation looked on, local fishermen reportedly struggled to rescue him. It was said they succeeded only in using their nets to prevent the crocodile from taking the 45-year-old’s pastors body into the lake, near the city of Arba Minch.

The crocodile is believed to have escaped.

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Lake Abaya, Ethiopia’s second largest lake, is quite beautiful, but the Lonely Planet travel guide warns: “It has a very large population of crocodiles, which are known to be aggressive towards humans and animals because the lake has few fish, which is their preferred food option.”

It is more than likely that the reptile that killed Pastor Docho was a Nile Crocodile. Some Nile Crocodiles can grow to be up to around six metres (20ft) long while weighing as much as 1,000kg (1 ton), and some estimates suggest the species is responsible for more than at least 300 attacks on people in Africa every year.

It is believed to be responsible for more attacks on people than any other crocodile species, and it has been said that the Nile Crocodile causes the third highest number of large-animal-related human fatalities in the African continent, after hippos and lions.

One study has noted that for the Nile Crocodile, “an opportunistic, ambush style predator”, humans are “less powerful and slower in water than any similar-sized wild mammal and therefore a much easier prey.”

Henry Sapiecha

Possum tackles large snake: Mother saves its baby joey from grip of python

 

THIS possum reacted as any mother would after a python snatched her baby joey from her back, as the fight for life unfolded in a Queensland backyard.

Christine Birch Williams said the carpet python had been living in the courtyard of her property for quite some time, before trying to make a meal of the wandering possum’s baby, the Sunshine Coast Daily reports.

But the possum’s mother wasn’t going to let that happen, biting and scratching at the snake with the full force of her rage as the python tried to squeeze the life out of her offspring.

The pair of possums came out winners over the snake.
Picture: Christine Birch Williams

A debate has since raged among commenters on whether the resident should have intervened to save the possum instead of taking photos, or was it right to let nature take its course.

“As hard as this would be to watch … this is all a part of nature,” Mr McKenzie said.

“What would you do if you were there at the time? .

Henry Sapiecha

Tourists warned about feeding kangaroos after several attacks in NSW Australia

‘One woman got 17 stitches’: Kangaroos hopped up on carrots are seriously injuring tourists who get too close

They are the cute and cuddly icons of Australia, but kangaroos are viciously attacking people at a popular tourist spot, and a dependence on carrots is to blame.

“There are people getting kicked and scratched on most days,” tourist shuttle bus driver Shane Lewis said.

“One lady got 17 stitches in her face from her eye to her chin.”

Every week, thousands of people flock to the unlikely tourist destination of Morisset Hospital in southern Lake Macquarie, where big mobs of kangaroos can always be found on the grassy slopes.

It’s less than a two-hour train ride from Sydney and the travel blogs promise “adorable wild kangaroos” that are “tame enough to get close to and take photos with”.

But far too many tourists are dangling a carrot to get the perfect roo-selfie.

“The kangaroos see at least 2,000 tourists a week and they don’t need 2,000 carrots or bananas and bread, chips and biscuits,” Mr Lewis said.

“I’ve even seen some silly people feeding them McDonalds, KFC, corn chips, oats and there are some foods they are very aggressive for.”

Mr Lewis has made a business out of shuttling people from the Morisset train station to the kangaroos at the hospital, but wants more done to prevent people hand feeding them.

He said he did his best to educate people and warn them of the dangers and, over the past eight months, has been collecting photos of injured tourists to help convey the message.

“Once I show them the photos they usually pull their kids away and put their food away when they know what can actually happen,” he said.

“There was a guy who got his stomach gashed open and he wasn’t even feeding them but … they’d been to McDonalds 10 minutes before, so whether they still had the food smell on them I have no idea, but for some reason the kangaroo took to him.”

Carrots as bad as chocolate

According to the experts the kangaroos have most likely lost their fear of people, and have grown hungrier for the unnatural food being supplied to them.

“If they spy a carrot and they’ve been fed a carrot 100 times before by a tourist, then they’re going to come up and just try to take that carrot,” said Andrew Daly, an animal keeper at the Australian Reptile Park.

“And in doing so they can be quite spontaneously aggressive. They can kick, they can scratch with their front paws and do quite a bit of damage, especially when they’re trying to get those foods that they really like, or maybe addicted to.”

And if you thought a carrot was healthier for a kangaroo than junk food, think again.

“They’re both just as bad in different ways,” Mr Daly said.

“To a kangaroo a carrot is really, really high in sugar, so for us it’s quite healthy, but for a kangaroo it’s like having a chocolate bar.

“They can gorge or overfeed on them quite easily.”

And the result will not just be a fat and angry kangaroo.

Mr Daly said feeding kangaroos anything other than grass could cause them to develop deadly diseases.

“One in particular is called lumpy jaw and it’s where high sugar diets or any food that can be a bit abrasive in the mouth causes cuts and lesions and then a bacteria will get into those cuts,” he said.

“From there the disease develops and it’s generally fatal.”

Better signage, more education

There are signs zip-tied to traffic poles and nailed to trees at the Morisset Hospital issuing a warning to visitors.

“YOU HAVE ENTERED A WILDLIFE SANCTUARY. DO NOT FEED THE KANGAROOS!!”.

But the area is largely unpatrolled and the site is unregulated. There aren’t even public toilets.

Mr Lewis has called for more signage and has enlisted the help of local Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper who last night raised the issue in NSW Parliament.

“Despite several warning signs placed strategically throughout the area, people still come in droves and they feed the kangaroos processed foods,” he told Parliament.

“I was there only last week and saw tourists attempting to feed the roos corn chips.”

Mr Piper said he didn’t want to see heavy regulation imposed, but suggested erecting better signage in multiple languages and a greater presence of National Parks and Wildlife rangers to inform and educate visitors.

He also dismissed the idea of closing off the area, which has organically grown into Lake Macquarie’s biggest tourist drawcard.

“I don’t see how you can close off the area, you can attempt to discourage them, but I don’t think that’s going to be much good,” Mr Piper said.

“The fact is that the site is open to the public and it’s so heavily advertised, it’s well known, the genie is out of the bottle … it’s something we just have to manage.”

A tourist at Morisset Hospital feeding a kangaroo despite signage against it

Henry Sapiecha

Kangaroo wouldn’t hop – so zoo visitors in China stoned it to death

A kangaroo was stoned to death in a Chinese zoo – apparently for the same reason that a brown bear was once crushed to death by Russian videographers, and a shark in Florida was dragged behind a motorboat like a kite.

That is, to gratify a human.

The kangaroo – a 12-year-old female whose name is not known – was not hopping enough to amuse spectators at the Fuzhou Zoo in February, The New York Times reported, quoting Chinese media.

The kangaroo was not hopping enough to amuse spectators.

Photo: Dean Osland

So someone picked up a rock. Or it might have been a brick or slab of concrete, Agence France-Presse wrote. In any case, it wasn’t unusual for visitors to this zoo in south-east China to provoke the zoo animals with projectiles.

“Some adults see the kangaroos sleeping and then pick up rocks to throw at them,” a zookeeper told the Haixia Metropolis News, as reported by the Times.

Zoo employees tried to dissuade the crowd, the worker said, but “after we cleared the display area of rocks, they went to find them elsewhere.”

By the time zookeepers rescued the kangaroo from the crowd, AFP reported, her foot was almost severed.

Details of the attack were first exposed publicly this week, when Chinese television stations broadcast images of the kangaroo lying battered in its enclosure, and then hooked to an intravenous drip, on which she survived for several days before succumbing to internal bleeding.

One of the rocks had ruptured the animal’s kidney, veterinarians discovered after the autopsy, the ABC wrote.

Pics of the bricks that visitors hurled at kangaroos at the zoo in Fujian, killing one and injuring another. Zoo staff say visitors often throw objects at animals despite it being ‘prohibited’.

Had the attacks ended then, they might be no more sadistic than any other to occur at a Chinese zoo, which AFP reports are lightly regulated and therefore especially prone to abuse. Last summer, for example, investors involved in a dispute with a zoo in Jiangsu province released a donkey into the tiger pen, with predictable results.

But the Fuzhou stonings didn’t end with that death. Just a few weeks later, the agency wrote, visitors attacked and injured a five-year-old kangaroo for similar reasons. It survived.

In nearly every media interview, zoo workers stressed that it’s against the rules to bludgeon the animal, but people keep doing it anyway. Having apparently given up on the prospect of voluntary civility, AFP wrote, the zoo now plans to install more security cameras.

The zoo also plans to stuff and display the dead kangaroo – as a sort of memorial to whatever it might now symbolise.

Washington Post

Henry Sapiecha

GIANT PYTHON SNAKE: He’s off and racing in Australia

JOCKEY Masayuki Abe was given the fright of his life on Wednesday when a giant snake slithered onto the track in Cairns. North Queensland Australia

Abe posted the awsome snaps of the lerge python snake on his Facebook page

Abe was heading out to the track at about 5.30am when an attendant warned him that there was something on the track. Having ridden the track many times, Abe thought there might have been a kangaroo hopping around on the course.

“There are millions of Kangaroos on tracks in Cairns,” Abe told punters.com. “So off I went just cantering a lap and on the last corner he was there close to the inside track fence.”

The giant python makes its way onto the course proper at Cannon Park. Cairns North Queensland Australia

At first glance, Abe wasn’t quite sure if it was a snake because “I just never seen one that big before.”

“It looked like big crack on the ground in the dark.” he said.

“My horse didn’t even look at that, so I was fine, but in two seconds I realised that was what the gateman was yelling to me and I was so scared after that. I was hoping he’d be gone by the second lap, but he was still there waiting.”

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A jockey watches as snake makes its dash across the track.

Henry Sapiecha

YOU SEE ANY OF THESE CREATURES RUN FOR YOUR LIFE IN THIS VIDEO

DEADLY CREATURES YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

This list of scary deadly things will amaze you

Henry Sapiecha