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Fri, 10 Jul 2020
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Blue Planet

What a mass of rotting reindeer carcasses taught scientists

© Olav Strand
In August 2016, 323 wild tundra reindeer were killed in a freak lightning event on Norway's Hardangervidda plateau.
In August 2016, a park ranger stumbled upon 323 dead wild tundra reindeer in Norway's remote Hardangervidda plateau. They had been killed in a freak lightning event. But instead of removing the carcasses, the park decided to leave them where they were, allowing nature to take its course - and scientists to study this island of decomposition and how it might change the arctic tundra ecosystem.

Over the years scientists observed the bloated, fly-infested bodies turn into dry skeletons. The latest paper, published by the Royal Society in June, looked at the creation of a "landscape of fear", as top predators such as wolverines, golden eagles and arctic foxes took advantage of the carrion.

"The landscape of fear framework has provided a better understanding of animal decisions in relation to food and safety trade-offs, predator-prey relationships and how communities are structured across trophic levels," it concluded.

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Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills 7 cows in Nigeria

The cows killed by lightning

The cows killed by lightning
Lightning has reportedly killed at least seven cows at Elepo village, Ifon Osun in Orolu Local Government area of Osun State, southwest Nigeria.

Naija News learned that all the cattle were killed where they were being kept after returning from the grazing field at the Elepo village when the incident happened.

An anonymous resident of the area described the incident as sad and very unfortunate, saying it has caused panic and fears within the community.


1-year-old girl dies in pit bull attack at July 4th party in Joliet, Illinois

A baby girl from Aurora died from dog bites early Sunday after a dog got loose in a Joliet home.

The parents of 17-month-old Marley Wilander put her in a playpen in an upstairs room of a friend's house while they attended a Fourth of July party, according to a statement from Joliet police.

Sometime during the night, two pit bull mix dogs got out of the basement of the home in the 1800 block of Cumberland Drive, police said. About 1:30 a.m. July 5, the homeowner heard noise upstairs and found one of the dogs biting the baby.

Black Cat

Tiger mauls zoo keeper to death in front of horrified visitors in Zurich, Switzerland

Another Siberian tiger,

Another Siberian tiger, Sayan, in the big cat enclosure at Zurich Zoo after the zookeeper’s shocking death
A tiger has mauled a zoo keeper to death in front of shocked visitors.

Keepers rushed to the 55-year-old woman's aid at the Zurich Zoo after people watched in horror as the tiger attacked her inside the big cat enclosure.

They managed to lure the Siberian tiger, named Irina, away from the female keeper but it was too late to save her, and she died from her injuries.

'Sadly all the help came too late. The woman died at the scene,' Zurich police spokeswoman Judith Hoedl said.

Hoedl said an investigation has been launched into why the keeper was in the enclosure at the same time as the tiger.


Antarctic leopard seal carcass found on beach in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

LONG WAY FROM HOME: The carcass of a young leopard seal was found on the beach at Cape Recife in Port Elizabeth recently

LONG WAY FROM HOME: The carcass of a young leopard seal was found on the beach at Cape Recife in Port Elizabeth recently
The carcass of a leopard seal was found on the shores of Cape Recife beach last week — only the ninth recorded sighting of the species in SA since 1946. The last one was found in 2019 in Milnerton near Cape Town.

According to Bayworld marine mammals curator Greg Hofmeyr, the sighting was very rare.

Hofmeyr said leopard seals were normally found in the pack ice around the Antarctic, which is about 4,000km away.

Hofmeyr said: "We really don't know what would bring a leopard seal this far but it is possible that young animals such as this one could get lost and swim out of their range.

Eye 2

Alligator attacks 75-year-old woman in Okatie, South Carolina

A 75-year-old Callawassie Island woman is recovering in an area hospital after being attacked Friday night by a 10-foot alligator, officials say.

The woman was trimming plants near the edge of the gated community's pond when the gator latched onto her leg and pulled her into the water, S.C. Department of Natural Resources spokesman David Lucas said Sunday.

A man passing by on a golf cart was unaware a gator was involved but saw the woman in obvious distress in the pond.

"He ran to the pond and jumped in," Lucas said. "He got his arms around her and pulled. He felt resistance at first but thought that was her weight."

Eye 2

Body found minus hands after crocodile attack in Sabah, Malaysia - 7th for the state in 2020

croc attack
A frantic search for a man who went missing while swimming in a river ended after the search party found his body, minus both his hands, today.

Sukrien Yusoff, 24, is believed to be the latest victim of crocodile attacks, bringing the number of casualties to seven across the state this year.

His body was found at around 11.05am by villagers about 2kms downstream from where he was attacked by a crocodile at about 1.45pm on Friday.

The latest crocodile attack occurred at Kg Kalabakan in Tawau.


Spearfisher killed in shark attack off Fraser Island, Australia

Shark attacks
A 36-year-old spearfisher has died after being bitten by a shark in waters near Fraser Island, off the Queensland coast, on Saturday afternoon.

The Sunshine Coast man had been swimming in waters off Indian Head, on the island's north-east, when the attack occurred.

Paramedics and an RACQ LifeFlight rescue helicopter rushed to the site just after 2pm on Saturday.

An off-duty doctor and nurse gave the man first aid after he made it to the nearby rocky shore at the base of the large headland.


Rare Sowerby's beaked whale dies after becoming stranded in Wicklow Harbor, Ireland

The male Sowerby's beaked whale was spotted in distress in Wicklow Harbor on Saturday.
The male Sowerby's beaked whale was spotted in distress in Wicklow Harbor on Saturday.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) said that a male Sowerby's beaked whale was spotted in distress in Wicklow Harbor on Saturday morning after it had appeared to lose its bearings.

A rare whale has died after it became stranded in an Irish harbor on Saturday.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) said that a male Sowerby's beaked whale was spotted in distress in Wicklow Harbor on Saturday morning after it had appeared to lose its bearings.

Sowerby's beaked whales are normally found in the North Atlantic and the one found in Wicklow Harbor was unable to survive in the shallower waters of the Irish Sea.


Better method to find the age of dogs in 'human years'

By mapping molecular changes in the genome over time, UC San Diego researchers developed a formula to more accurately compare dog age to human age — a tool that could also help them evaluate how well anti-aging products work.

If there's one myth that has persisted through the years without much evidence, it's this: multiply your dog's age by seven to calculate how old they are in "human years." In other words, the old adage says, a four-year-old dog is similar in physiological age to a 28-year-old person.

But a new study by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine throws that idea out the window. Instead, they created a formula that more accurately compares the ages of humans and dogs. The formula is based on the changing patterns of methyl groups in dog and human genomes — how many of these chemical tags and where they're located — as they age. Since the two species don't age at the same rate over their lifespans, it turns out it's not a perfectly linear comparison, as the 1:7 years rule-of-thumb would suggest.
Dog to Human Years
© Cell Press
To calculate your dog’s age in “human years” based on epigenetics, find the dog’s age along the bottom axis and trace your finger straight up until you reach the red curve. Then trace your finger straight over to the left to find the corresponding human age.
The new methylation-based formula, published July 2 in Cell Systems, is the first that is transferrable across species. More than just a parlor trick, the researchers say it may provide a useful tool for veterinarians, and for evaluating anti-aging interventions.