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Strange/Rare Fauna Reports

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Not a Hoax, One-Eyed Kitten Had Bizarre Condition
By Terrence Petty
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Oregon (AP)?A photo of a one-eyed kitten named Cy drew more than a little skepticism when it turned up on various Web sites, but medical authorities have a name for the bizarre condition.

?Holoprosencephaly? causes facial deformities, according to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health. In the worst cases, a single eye is located where the nose should be, according to the institute's Web site.

Traci Allen says the kitten she named Cy, short for Cyclops, was born the night of Dec. 28 with the single eye and no nose.

?You don't expect to see something like that,? the 35-year-old Allen said by telephone from her home in Redmond in central Oregon.

Allen said she stayed up all night with the deformed kitten on her recliner, feeding Cy a liquid formula through a syringe. She says she cared for the kitten the next day as well, until it died that evening.

Allen had taken digital pictures that she provided to The Associated Press. Some bloggers have questioned the authenticity of the photo distributed on Jan. 6.

AP regional photo editor Tom Stathis said he took extensive steps to confirm the one-eyed cat was not a hoax. Stathis had Allen ship him the memory card that was in her camera. On the card were a number of pictures _ including holiday snapshots, and four pictures of a one-eyed kitten. The kitten pictures showed the animal from different perspectives.

Fabricating those images in sequence and in the camera's original picture format, from the varying perspectives, would have been virtually impossible, Stathis said.

Meanwhile, Cy the one-eyed cat may be dead, but it has not left the building.

Allen said she's keeping the cat's corpse in her freezer for now, in case scientists would like it for research.

She said one thing's for certain: ?I'm not going to put it on eBay.?

> Click to View

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?Blood-sucking creature? killing sheep in Fujairah

Salah Al Debarky
24 November 2005

FUJAIRAH ? Rumours of a blood-sucking vampire-like creature preying on sheep have turned the sleepy Fujairah suburb of Sakmakam into a favourite hunting ground for scoop-seeking journalists.

And it's not just hordes of journalists from both print and electronic media who are making a beeline for the suburb nestling at the foothills, but also car-loads of cops and officials from Fujairah Municipality seeking to unravel the mystery.

Ask the residents about the 'vampire,' and pat comes the reply: "The creature takes the sheep by the neck, sucks the blood and leaves them dead."

Some, however, contest the 'vampire' theory, stating that it was more likely an Arabian leopard or wolves doing the damage, a view shared by the police too.
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Noted by Kevin Stewart:
'Zombie worms' found off Sweden

18 October 2005

A new species of marine worm that lives off whale bones on the sea floor has
been described by scientists.
The creature was found on a minke carcass in relatively shallow water close to
Tjarno Marine Laboratory on the Swedish coast.

Such "zombie worms", as they are often called, are known from the deep waters of
the Pacific but their presence in the North Sea is a major surprise.

A UK-Swedish team reports the find in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Adrian Glover and Thomas Dahlgren tell the journal the new species has been
named Osedax mucofloris, which literally means "bone-eating snot-flower".

"They look like flowers poking out of the whale bone. The analogy goes a bit
further because they have a root system that goes into the bone," Dr Glover, a
researcher at London's Natural History Museum, told the BBC News website.

"The part of the animal that is exposed to the seawater is covered in a ball of
mucus, so they are quite snotty. That is probably a defence mechanism."

Global distribution

Scientists have recently begun to recognise the importance of "whale fall" to
ocean-floor ecosystems.

When the great marine mammals die and drift down to the sea bed to decay and
disintegrate, they provide a food resource for a host of different organisms.
Finding these locations to study is not easy, though.

In October 2003, Glover and Dahlgren sank the remains of a dead, stranded minke
whale in 120m of water and monitored what happened to the carcass over a period
of months using remotely operated vehicles.

In August 2004, the team was able to recover a bone from the skeleton.

To their astonishment, it hosted a type of marine worm previously only thought
to exist at great ocean depths - down to almost 3km in the Pacific on the bones
of gray whales.

Glover and Dahlgren say there are remarkable similarities between the worm
species, despite being separated by two ocean basins and more than 2,500m in the
water column.

Hunting impact

Osedax worms are about 1-2cm in length.

They root themselves to the whale bones which they then plunder for oils with
the help of symbiotic bacteria. The worms' flower-like plumes pull oxygen from
the water.

Their reproductive system is extraordinary - certainly in the case of the
Pacific Osedax.

"The female Pacific worms keep males inside their tube as a sort of little harem
that fertilises eggs as they are released into the water column," explained Dr

"We're not sure what's happening with the reproductive biology of the Swedish
worms yet. We've only got females; we haven't found any males. It's a bit

Scientists have established that all of the Osedax species so far identified
appear to be closely related to vestimentiferan tubeworms, which are found only
at the volcanic cracks in the ocean floor called hydrothermal vents.

This has given rise to the theory that whale falls may act as "service stops",
or hopping points, that allow some lifeforms to move around the ocean floor.

What concerns researchers is that the commercial hunting which so devastated
whaling populations would also have severely curtailed this activity by reducing
the incidence of whale fall.

It may even have led to the extinction of some bottom-dwelling organisms that
depended on this rare but concentrated nutrient supply.

Glover and Dahlgren, who is affiliated to Goteborg University, intend to study
their North Sea worms further in the laboratory.
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'New mammal' seen in Borneo woods 

Richard Black
Environment Correspondent, BBC News website 
Tuesday, 6 December 2005

In the dense central forests of Borneo, a conservation group has found what appears to be a new species of mammal.

WWF caught two images of the animal, which is bigger than a domestic cat, dark red, and has a long muscular tail.

Local people, the WWF says, had not seen the species before, and researchers say it looks to be new.

The WWF says there is an urgent need to conserve forests in south-east Asia which are under pressure from logging and the palm oil trade.

The creature, believed to be carnivorous, was spotted in the Kayan Mentarang National Park, which lies in Indonesian territory on Borneo.

The team which discovered it, led by biologist Stephan Wulffraat, is publishing full details in a new book on Borneo and its wildlife.

"You don't find new mammals that often, and to do so must be extraordinary," said Callum Rankine, head of the species programme at WWF-UK.

"We've got camera traps there, which are passive devices relying on infra-red beams across forest paths," he told the BBC News website.

"Lots of animals come past - it's much easier than pushing through the forest itself - and when an animal cuts the beam, two cameras catch images from the front and back."

Not a lemur

So far, two images are all that exist. But they were enough to convince Nick Isaac from the Institute of Zoology in London that the animal may indeed be new.

"The photos look most like a lemur," he told the BBC News website. "But there certainly shouldn't be lemurs in Borneo."

These long-tailed primates are confined to the island of Madagascar.

"It's more likely to be a viverrid - that's the family which includes the mongoose and civets - which is a very poorly known group," Dr Isaac said.

"One of the photos clearly shows the length of the tail and how muscley it is; civets use their tails to balance in trees, so this new animal may spend chunks of its time up trees too."

That could be one reason why it has not been spotted before. Another could be that access to the heart of Borneo is becoming easier as population centres expand and roads are built.

The WWF says this is the heart of the issue. It accuses the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia, which each own parts of Borneo, of encouraging the loss of native jungle by allowing the development of giant palm oil plantations.

Last week Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, chief minister of Sarawak, the larger Malaysian state on Borneo, said that such claims are unfounded and part of a smear campaign.

He told the BBC News website that palm oil plantations are mainly sited on land which had previously been cleared for cultivation or are in "secondary jungle".

But the WWF says species like the new viverrid - if new viverrid it be - are threatened by such development.

It is concerned that other as yet unknown creatures may go extinct before their existence can be documented.

The group is planning to capture the new species in a live trap so it can be properly studied and described.

[photo at URL]
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16 horses are found dead near Calhan

October 23, 2005

CALHAN - The discovery Saturday of 16 more dead horses in eastern El Paso County
has left ranchers worried and investigators puzzled over who or what is killing
the animals.

In all, 22 horses and one burro have died under mysterious circumstances in the
past two weeks in the same area. There is still no explanation for the deaths of
the seven animals found Oct. 11.

?I?ve never, never seen an animal die like that,? said William DeWitt, the
lifelong rancher who owned the horses found Saturday. ?It certainly wasn?t

DeWitt was speaking of a horse that looked as though it died before it hit the
ground. It was on its stomach, legs bent, and nose in the dirt. The head was

?At first, I thought he was still alive,? DeWitt said.

El Paso County Sheriff?s Deputy Andy Prehm said investigators found no signs of
trauma and could not speculate what might have killed the horses, including some
young ones. It was also too early to say whether the deaths were connected to
those of the seven animals found less than two miles away. The latest horses
were found between Calhan Highway south and Calhan Road, south of Judge Orr

All the horses found Saturday were within about 50 yards of each other, causing
investigators and John Heikkila, the veterinarian investigating the case, to
speculate about lightning, Prehm said.

?There are no signs of foul play, but these were sudden deaths,? Prehm said.

Rancher Ned Sixkiller, who was part-owner of the six horses and one burro found
Oct. 11, discovered the horses Saturday and reported them to De-Witt.

?I was on my way to pick up some salt I had left, and I couldn?t believe it,?
Sixkiller said. ?Our deal was bad enough.?

Investigators think the horses had been dead from three days to a week, Prehm

?It?s a mystery to me,? De-Witt said. ?I never saw anything. . . . You wonder
why and how.?

DeWitt said he checked the horses after the Oct. 10 snowstorm, and after
Sixkiller?s horses were found dead. He could not estimate what the horses were
worth; they were not insured.

Kris Bunting, an area property and horse owner, said residents have been buzzing
about the deaths.

?It?s real scary,? she said. ?Horses in this community are an important part of
our lifestyle.?

People have been wondering whether it?s a person, or people, who hate horses or
animals, she said.

Signs are still posted in many stores offering a reward for information about
the shooting death of a horse found Sept. 18 near Ellicott.

?We?ve been waking up every morning and seeing how our horses are,? said Rick
Hahn, who lives near Calhan. ?I mean out here, our horses are like family pets.
This doesn?t make any sense.?

Heikkila said tests so far have not revealed what killed the animals found on
Oct. 11.

?Essentially, we got nothing definite from the histology (tissue tests) or blood
work,? Heikkila said Friday.

The horses discovered Oct. 11 appeared to have entry wounds similar to bullet
holes. But exams and X-rays revealed no bullet fragments or slugs. Investigators
have not speculated what caused the wounds.