With parrots, we skirt the edges of the human lifespan.
Macaws, for example, can live some 60 years in the wild. But some have sailed past the 100-year mark, most notably Charlie, who was reportedly owned by Winston Churchill.
Taught to spew obscenities against Hitler and the Nazis, Charlie was a fixture at a British garden center for years.
As with giant tortoises, it can be difficult to substantiate birth dates for centenarian parrots—and researchers have cast doubt on Charlie’s provenance—so the exact details are murky.
The bowhead whale is second only in size to the blue whale—but it’s apparently No. 1 among mammals in terms of sheer lifespan.
Scientists have discovered at least three of the whales are 135 to 172 years old, with a fourth clocking in at 211 years old.
They figured this out by studying the creatures’ eye lenses, and by finding ivory and stone harpoon points buried in other whales.
Those tips haven’t been used since the 1880s. These discoveries doubled the known lifespan for the creatures.
When British explorers happened upon Kangaroo Island—south of what today is the city of Adelaide—the animals took them by surprise.
Unlike the wild ‘roos of the mainland, who knew to keep their distance, these creatures were utterly tame and approachable (so much so that the arriving crew reportedly slaughtered 31 for a giant kangaroo stew).
The reason the animals were unaccustomed to humans (and tragically unfamiliar with their bad habits) was because no humans lived there. Aboriginals had once inhabited the island, but they’d abandoned it at least 2000 years prior, for reasons unknown.
After a couple of centuries of life alongside human settlers, the animals here are understandably a little more wary—but the humans, for their part, have gotten a lot more respectful. Which means that today, this one of the most incredible places to get up close and personal with some very interesting creatures out in the wild.
The best way to meet them is to tour with a local company like Exceptional Kangaroo Island.
Experienced guides are familiar with the animals and their habitats—so they can probably find you a tricky-to-spot echidna and point out where a koala is likely to be hiding in the crook of a tree—but they also ensure that you won’t bother the animals in the process.
(And in lieu of kangaroo stew, they serve fantastic lunches that highlight the local produce.)
A selection of wonderful little illustrations found in a Fifteenth Century Book of Hours attributed to an artist of the Ghent-Bruges school and dating from the late 15th century.
In the pages without full borders the margins have been decorated with an array of different images depicting flowers, birds, jewellery, animals, household utensils and these superb rainbow-coloured ‘grotesques’.
See more images via Rainbow coloured beasts from 15th century Book of Hours | The Public Domain Review.
Overall winner: Red night by Roberto García Roa (University of Valencia), taken in Madagascar
A Malagasy tree boa perches in a tree.
The Malagasy tree boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis) is a non-venomous snake species endemic to Madagascar.
Large individuals have become difficult to find in some areas surrounding human settlements.
Fires produced by humans and poaching are only some of the threats faced by the snakes.
Photograph: Roberto García Roa/2019 British Ecological Society photography competition
Photo: This Crucifix Frog looks a little Frowny by Dr. Paul Stewart
by Becky Crew
LOOK AT THIS fat little guy. No one has more personality than this warty, ping-pong ball of a guy.
He’s a crucifix frog (Notaden bennettii), native to western New South Wales and south-western Queensland.
The crucifix frog (often called a toad) is decorated with a striking black, red, and green cross-shaped pattern that runs all the way across its bright yellow back, as you can see below.
Looking at the back of the crucifix frog, you can see how its name came about. (Image Credit: Dr Paul Anthony Stewart/Flickr: Paulhypno)
Obviously these colours wouldn’t do much to help the crucifix frog camouflage against the blackish flood plains it lives on – quite the opposite, they’re there to make the frog stand out.
The crucifix frog is one of the only species of Australian frog to employ aposematism, which is the use of bright patterning to ward off predators.
Now read more via The crucifix frog with a grumpy frown – Australian Geographic.
Enchanted, by photographer Matthew Smith, shows a White’s seahorse, commonly found beneath the boardwalk in Mosman, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales.
White’s Seahorse is a relatively common species in the Sydney area. It is normally seen holding onto the nets of swimming enclosures.
The species was named after named after John White, Surgeon General to the First Fleet.
Photo Supplied: South Australian Museum
Standing 16 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing 20 tons, Paraceratherium was one of the largest mammals to ever walk the Earth.
That may seem pretty puny by dinosaurian standards, but, at the American Museum of Natural History and other institutions that house reconstructions of the 34-23 million year old animal, the hornless rhino towers over every other beast. Only a few extinct elephants have come close to its impressive stature.
As is often the case with the large and fossiliferous, though, it’s too easy to get wrapped up in the nature of the beast and forget the history that assembled the creature before us. University of Manchester historian Chris Manias recounts the tale in a new paper.
In the case of Paraceratherium, the great rhino only emerged after years of toil, study, and, most importantly, collaboration between researchers who were independently drawn to the remains of the same giant.
Before the rhino could get a name or start casting shade over museum halls, the titan had to be discovered.
The British paleontologist Clive Forster-Cooper had the honor.
Curious about fossils regularly found by England’s Indian Geological Survey among the Bugti Hills of Baluchistan, Foster-Cooper organized a 1910-1911 expedition to see the fossils for himself.
The work was more difficult than Forster-Cooper had hoped. In the age of imperial paleontology, he took the traditional route of hiring unskilled local workers who he frequently groused about to his esteemed colleagues elsewhere.
Not only were the local Nawab people suspicious of the paleontologist’s true motives – who would be travel all the way out there for old bones? – but Forster-Cooper complained that he had to fire three workers for “idleness and insubordination” and did not trust the remaining three with anything more than rudimentary digging around.
Above: The Behemoth is a beast mentioned in Job 40:15–24. Suggested identities range from a mythological creature to an elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros or crocodile.
Some creationists believe it to be a description of a sauropod due to its tail being described as like a cedar tree.
Metaphorically, the name has come to be used for any extremely large or powerful entity.
Peter’s Deviant Art Website:
From deep inside caves to the bottom of the ocean, wildlife photographer Danté Fenolio seeks out the creatures that don’t want to be found.