“Living in Harmony” seems to be on my mind lately. I see whats happening in the world today, everywhere when we don’t live together in “harmony”. Mandela defined harmony and lived his life accordingly to try to make lives better for all races. Living in Harmony, means co-operation, respecting one another no matter what their beliefs and doing our part in making our environments cleaner, respecting wildlife and bagging garbage and not throwing it our of your vehicle window like I witnessed here in Kelowna recently. I stopped and picked up the garbage. When was the last time you improved your environment. Hug your pets, your kids, recycled, hugged your partner, sex is irrelevant, told your parents or mate you loved them…whatever it takes to do something to make anthers’ life more bare able in the un-harmonized society we live in today. I don’t mean to sound preachy, but change won’t happen unless we make it happen. Harmonize. Like this picture where there is Harmony. The crocodile allows this little bird to help clean his teeth rather than kill it and eat it. That’s Harmony! Just my thought….
The article references a paper that’s just been published digitally by Dinets et al (2013). They describe mugger crocodiles at the Madras Crocodile Bank appearing to balance sticks on their snout and sitting under nesting egret colonies. Egrets use sticks to build their nests, so they spot some floating in the water, land next to them, and get a nasty shock when they try and pick one up. The paper describes this as a deliberate attempt by the crocodiles to mislead the egrets into landing within striking range, with the sticks as the tools in the ruse. It’s a compelling idea.
Seeing crocodiles with sticks, leaves and other vegetation balanced on their head isn’t new, we’ve all seen them doing it. We have a large saltwater crocodile who lives in a pool covered with Fistia spp, an aquatic plant that makes a fetching hat when he surfaces underneath one. I suspect many of us have wondered whether this plays any kind of functional role, or whether it’s simply the crocodile not caring either way whether it has plants on its head. I’ve seen crocodiles surface in such dense vegetation that they can’t actually see, and shake their head to clear them off. Other times they seem to sit quite happily without apparently noticing. If you were a bird and saw a nice bit of vegetation and didn’t recognise what was underneath it, you might think that crocodiles could learn to use this vegetation to increase their chances of catching prey. It’s certainly feasible, but proving it is another matter entirely.
The Dinets et al. study suggests that mugger crocodiles only balance sticks on their head and sit under egret colonies during egret breeding season. This certainly supports the idea that something deliberate is going on, although it’s still possible that it’s incidental; perhaps the crocodiles spend more time sitting under egret colonies during egret breeding season, and those that have sticks on their heads might get lucky when an egret gets fooled? To counter this, the authors point out that the area around the egret colony doesn’t have many sticks, suggesting that the crocodiles must bring them across to the colony for them to use as bait. Even if it is purely coincidental at first, crocs learn fast, and this might reinforce behaviour that makes sitting under a nesting egret colony with sticks on your head more likely.
I think it’s a great observation, even though there’s still a skeptical part of my brain wondering whether there might be another explanation. I’d love to see more work done on this, because a study like this opens up a whole set of really interesting questions. Science! What is true, though, is that crocodiles do some amazing and unexpected things, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were this cunning. We know that they’re capable of it.
Dinets, V., Brueggen, J.C. & Brueggen, J.D., 2013. Crocodilians use tools for hunting. Ethology Ecology and Evolution, in press. doi.org/10.1080/03949370.2013.858276
Memories of our family and childhood are what shape our personality and who we are. Whether we like it or not, our personality is formed by our parents, brothers, sisters, and the environment that we grew up in. For some interacting with their family feels like more bother than it is worth. They cut off ties with their families and make up pseudo families made up of chosen friends. This is OK as long as we realize that our past continues to affect who we are. We can only grow as people when we choose to confront our past. Only then can we move forward in our life.
I choose to Appreciate my past and those in it.
This ones for my Dad on his Birthday, November 25th. (died Oct 27th/10)
A warm kind passionate seeker of life, knowledge, a new restaurant, a good book, a good joke and always looking for an innovative way to keep his car clean! He devoted himself to caring for Mom as well. Her stability and care after his passing was first and foremost in his mind and financial affairs. This was a man of intense integrity, pride, strength and discipline.
My Dad was a good father, understanding yet still open minded as best he could without compromising his beliefs’. He taught my sister and I to not take what we had for granted and the importance of education and seeing the value in everything around us.
This man led by example and was well respected in his community. Being in the media business all his life he was a celebrity but never let it get to his head. Always humble and valued his loyalty to others and the loyalty of his friends. He was a Father us kids could go to when things went wrong.
My Father at times sacrificed his own comfort for his fatherly duties no matter how difficult it seemed. He would address the situation anyway.
Dad was a gentle man with the strength to provide the security and necessities for his family without hesitating to put his own safety on the line to protect his family.
This is how he taught us the importance of personal sacrifice.
Dads’ greatest quality was his unconditional love for his family. I miss that love and can only pray that I can be half the man he was.
I miss you Dad. I love you…thinking of you on your birthday!
At CrocTalk Conservation and Rescue I study the ability of an American Alligator to respond to simple commands. Come, back, stay, stop, down, up and of course, no. Also their ability to seemingly create a bond and my observations that prove it. So much more. In this clip Lucy McGator who is about 500 lbs(ish) and almost 11′ long, also has a jaw bite pressure of about 1500 lbs PSI. Lucy will come out of the water as I instruct her to and will take any food out of my hand showing that they can actually make a conscious choice. Taking the small piece of meat rather than the big piece of meat (me) as they have practiced for some 200 Million Years. This shows us they actually use that cerebral cortex in their brain which gives them the ability to remember, choose, think and relate to events repetitively…enjoy
Dinosaur mating is a mystery, but we can take clues from birds and crocodiles, says Professor John Long.
DINOSAURS WERE THE LARGEST animals to ever walk Earth, and they ruled the planet for more than 160 million years. The long-necked Argentinosaurus, with back vertebrae almost 2m high, possibly grew to 30m long and weighed up to 80 tonnes. Perhaps the ground really did shake for them when they mated?
So how did these giants do the deed, and what evidence do we have to reconstruct their sex lives?
The internet offers vague speculation. One website claims they probably didn’t have penises so must have used cloacal kissing, juxtaposing their massive bottoms together for the interchange of seminal fluid to the female, as do most frogs and many birds.
I disagree with this view, as evidence from living animals, close relatives of dinosaurs, implies they must have mated using copulation, and that males must have had very large and flexible penises.
Did dinosaurs mate like humans?
We now know with confidence that the meat-eating theropods, such as Tyrannosaurus and kin, were the group that gave rise to the first birds about 160 million years ago.
Crocodiles and their kin evolved from the last common ancestor with the dinosaur-bird group, so crocs can’t be regarded as “descendents of the dinosaurs” as some crocodile park ads would have us believe.
All male crocodiles have a penis and most primitive living birds also possess one, so it follows that dinosaurs must also have had a penis. The majority of living birds though have secondarily lost the penis. For them a mating is a simple, quick cloacal kiss where sperm is rapidly passed to the female.
So how did the dinosaurs do it? Biomechanics experts such as Professor McNeill Alexander of The University of Leeds claim that the weight of the male would have rested on the females hips to mount from behind as elephants do, but the resulting stresses would have been massive.
Professor Roger Seymour from the University of Adelaide studied giraffes mating and proved that the male’s blood pressure is roughly twice that of other mammals. Their hearts need be proportionately 75% larger due to the physiological constraints of the long neck and highly perched head.
Feathered Velociraptors mate in the illustration from palaeoartist Michele Dessi. (Credit: Getty)
How the largest animals mate
Bearing this in mind, he suggested that long-necked dinosaurs could only have mated in a particular way. A dinosaur with, say, a 10m-long neck would have seven times the normal mammalian blood pressure. So rear mounting is not a big problem if one keeps the neck horizontal.
Just imagine a 70-tonne giant sauropod fainting after loss of blood pressure to the head at the time of orgasm while mounting its mate. Yes, the earth would have most certainly shaken for them.
Recent molecular studies of the major bird groups find that ostriches and other primitive flightless birds are indeed the most ancient members of the living birds, with ducks and geese and some other waterbirds also very old lineages.
All these primitive living birds possess a penis, with ducks having the most bizarre types – a regular sized Argentine lake duck has a corkscrew-shaped organ with a brush on the tip that measures up to 42cm long.
Bizarre sex lives of ducks
Muscovy ducks can also explosively evert their penises in 0.3 second to 20cm long – roughly the same speed as driving at 70kph.
So, it’s quite likely their distant extinct ancestors, the meat-eating theropod dinosaurs, also mated using an eversible penis, most likely a terrifyingly large one.
For an animal the size of Tyrannosaurus (14m long) to mate effectively, the male organ would need be in the order of at least 2m long, and a lot more if it happened to be cork-screw shaped like a duck’s.
It’s not unlikely that one day palaeontologists will find a fossilised dinosaur penis. Extraordinary soft-tissue preservation in fossils are coming to light each year along with new fossil sites being discovered.
Greater detail can be resolved in fossils using new technologies, such as micro-CT and synchrotron tomography. Recently, 380 million-year-old fossil fishes from Australia were found to have complete sets of muscles preserved.
I truly believe the day will come, probably when we least expect it, when a remarkable new dinosaur fossil pops up solving the age-old mystery of how dinosaurs really did do the deed.
Professor John Long is a palaeontologist at Flinders University in Adelaide. This is an edited version of an article first published on The Conversation.
Dinosaurs that lived near the poles of the Earth didn’t necessarily hibernate in winter, say experts.
FOSSIL BONES UNEARTHED IN Victoria have revealed that dinosaurs which once lived in theAntarctic Circle were little different to those living in other climes when it came to staying active year-round.
During the Cretaceous Period (145-65 million years ago) Australia was much further South than today, and parts of it sat inside the Antarctic Circle. This meant that it would have experienced total darkness for many months of the year and perhaps frigid temperatures too.
A team of palaeontologists in Australia and the US, have disproved their own theory which proposed some Australian dinosaurshibernated to adapt to the extreme conditions of their near-polar habitat.
The ‘hibernation hypothesis’ was based on the presence or absence of tree-ring-like growth markings, called lines of arrested growth (LAGs), in cross sections of fossilised bones. LAGs can be used to determine the age of an animal; they form as a result of an animal’s slowed metabolic processes, such as those experienced during hibernation.
All but the smallest dinosaurs were found to have LAGs, the researchers revealed in the study published in the online journal PLoS One.
Dinosaurs stayed active
The physiology of these “polar” dinosaurs “strongly resembled” that of their warmer-clime cousins, says study co-author Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich at Monash University.
“Based on bone microstructure alone, we can say that the dinosaurs living near the South Pole were not physiologically different from dinosaurs living anywhere else in the world during that time,” she says. “This tells us something very interesting: that basically from the very start, early dinosaurs, or even the ancestors of dinosaurs, evolved a physiology that allowed an entire group of animals to successfully exploit a multitude of environmental conditions.”
Co-author Dr Thomas Rich of Museum Victoria in Melbourne, told Australian Geographic that being able to study additional fossils led to a “change in ideas”. He explains that their earlier investigations, published 13 years ago, relied on observations from just two species. The researchers had been trying to figure out when animals developed the ability to hibernate to cope with extreme cold periods.
For the new study, the researchers analysed bones from 18 species of dinosaur, mostly potoroo-sized hypsilophodontids (two-legged, plant-eating dinosaurs) that lived 112-100 million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous.
University of Queensland paleontologist Dr Steve Salisbury, who was not involved in the study, is not surprised by these findings. He explains that LAGs are not exclusive to hibernators. “Most exothermic animals – those that depend on environment for regulation of body temperature, such as crocodiles, turtles, various lizards – go through periods of faster growth and slower growth,” he says.
Dinosaur bone growth linked to seasons
Slower bone growth (and therefore, LAGs) is likely to occur during cooler seasons and when resources are in short supply. “Gradually evidence is emerging, and a better understanding of dinosaur growth and physiology is showing that [the hibernating dinosaur theory] was a good story at the time, but it probably doesn’t hold up today,” says Steve.
He adds that while the many months of darkness would have been an issue, climatic conditions were probably not as harsh as found near the poles today. “These dinosaurs existed when Australia was still connected to Antarctica and there was no Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica, which meant that warm tropical currents could circulate down to very high latitudes and that would have kept the continent much warmer than it is now.”
While the revelations discount the hibernation theory, they still don’t give the whole story about the differences in dinosaurs that lived around the poles and those that didn’t. “The new study doesn’t mean there was nothing unique about polar dinosaurs, but those qualities aren’t apparent in bone tissue,” says US co-author Holly Woodward at Montana State University.
Prehistoric crocodiles came in all shapes and sizes – Australian Geographic.PREHISTORIC CROCODILES SUCCEEDED in a dinosaur-dominated world by evolving diverse feeding strategies, says a new study.
Recovering from mass extinction
Crocodile jaw diversity
Coping With the Death of a Pet
Shock and disbelief are caused by the unexpected experience of this loss and I’m still trying to come to grips with my friend’s death. Carlos, my African Caracal, was not just a companion. He was an experience enjoyed by all who knew him. During my educational “talks” of both our African Wild Cats, Carlos, our Caracal and Cleo our Serval, Carlos would almost every time whack me in the back of the head with this simple smirk on his face. Sparked by my comment “right, Carlos?” would surely get a response from my 63 lb friend. I miss my friend. He loved his monkey too. Wouldn’t let anyone touch his monkeyI thought if I could help someone else with what I’m going through, I might be able to help myself through this as well as help others that may be going through the same situation recently.
For me I went through feelings of severe vulnerability. There are also feelings specific to sudden death that we all confront while engulfed in this grieving process.
- Shock. The initial news was devastating for me. Overwhelming. I felt so disconnected from any feelings other than numbness and that maybe it was a dream. This couldn’t be happening because he seemed so healthy.
- This unexpected death left me feeling “absent” from my surroundings and anyone trying to comfort me. It was as if I was the victim of a prank.
- Carlos was sedated at the time I was informed and after the news was the tough decision to “let him go” while he was not really conscious though I know for a fact he knew we were beside him giving him comfort. Caressing him with a closeness he wouldn’t allow if he were totally conscious. He did have attitude and only liked attention when he wanted it under his terms. I felt I was invading his privacy but it was for the last time so it was different.
- I felt guilty as I watched him peacefully passover. Then depressed by feelings of unfinished opportunities with him. Regretting things I hadn’t done with him and maybe if I only had told him how much I loved him everyday. Maybe things would have been different. Believing and wishing there was something I could have done to change the circumstances leading to his kidney failure. This though is not the “truth”, but the feelings are very real for me to this day.
- Today, I’m copying with dreams of Carlos. Witnessing our Serval Cleo, a friend of Carlos for over 10 years, sniffing around and gurgly chirping looking for some evidence that her friend is still present somewhere in our home.
- Daily, I smell Carlos. I know he is close by. Watching. Observing. Sending his energy to me through feelings of his presence. It is a strong presence too.
I know that I will come out the other side one of these days. But until then I need to spread Carlo’s love as much as I can through my social media sites to those who didn’t have the opportunity to have known my friend. One of my FB friends said about my grieving on FB…”take your time. We all grieve differently and do what I feel I have to do”. Thank you Lee. Appreciated.
So, here I am, spilling my guts. Crying while I write this in hopes of comforting my needs and thus possibly comforting others as well. You are not alone though I certainly feel that way. Lost. Empty. Feeling guilty. Alone. Yet blessed that I had know my friend Carlos, my Caracal for as long as I had. He changed my life, forever.
I’ll always love you Carlos and will always “keep a light on in my heart for you”
Good night, my friend.
Well, a wise man once said to me…”we can do together what I can’t do by myself”. With the sincerest gratitude a very heartfelt thank you to the following who gave their time, expertise, staff, materials and labour to all take part in the completion of Lucy McGator’s new pond. Delivered today by Luigi’s Towing, thank you Blair. Without Roland at Willex Metalworks this project COULD NOT have even been started. Thank you Roland and staff. Very big hearts! Pierre at Mission Electric for donating his time to install the heat wiring in the floor and Peter at Armaguard on Enterprise for donating his labour and incredible service spraying the urethane coatings (box liner) through out the pond. It’s times like this when the Kelowna community recognizes the importance of CrocTalk Zoo and it’s programs and STEPS UP to accomplish what seemed to be impossible. THANK YOU gentleman. You are my heroes!