Thailand Authorities Make Grisly Tiger Seizure

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The Thai Navy seized two tiger carcasses and 45 pangolins, and arrested eight traffickers who had planned to smuggle the animals across the Mekong River into Laos, TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, said today.

“Navy officers followed two cars carrying the traffickers in Ponpang village in the Rattana Wapi district of Nongkai Province on April 26, and made the arrests as they were attempting to transfer the slaughtered tigers and live pangolins to a boat,” TRAFFIC said in a statement accompanying photos released to the media.
Eight people were arrested including a Vietnamese woman and her Thai husband. Several others in the boat fled upon sighting the navy officers.

Tigers Chopped in Half

The two tiger carcasses, chopped in half, and the 45 pangolins, two of which were dead, were found inside the two cars, the statement added.The Navy and Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division have sent the tiger carcasses to Thailand’s Department of National Parks for DNA testing.”TRAFFIC lauds the Thai authorities for carrying out these DNA tests. Determining the origin of these tigers is crucial if authorities hope to end this tragic trade,” said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Acting Director Chris R. Shepherd.

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Fish With Human-Like Teeth

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Pacu fish, cousins to the piranha and known as “frugivores,” have human-like teeth that can crack nuts and fruits.They and many other kinds of species of fish with weird teeth are featured in “Hooked”.

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Also known as the “Vampire Fish,” The Payara earns its “vampire” nickname with a set of two-inch daggers thrusting up from its bottom jaw.

(source)

Smuggler Caught With 14 Birds In Pants

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Given away by bird poop on his socks, fancy pants here was charged Tuesday in California with smuggling exotic Asian songbirds from Vietnam into the United States by strapping them onto his legs. Droppings on Sony Dong’s socks and feathers peeking out from under a pant leg tipped off a Los Angeles International Airport inspector in March, who arrested the 46-year-old. Dong wore an elaborate set of leggings with buttoned cloth wrappings, which held more than a dozen birds (pictured), the Associated Press reported.

Inspectors had flagged Dong for inspection because he had abandoned a suitcase of 18 birds in the L.A. airport in December 2008. He had returned to Vietnam in February to collect more songbirds, which included red-whiskered bulbuls, magpie robins, and shama thrushes.

The animals sell for up to U.S. $400 each in the United States, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Thom Mrozek told the Associated Press. “They’re rare and there are collectors who are willing to pay top dollar for these things,” he said.

(Related: “900 Oven-Ready Owls, 7,000 Live Lizards Seized in Asia.”)

The birds, now in quarantine, may be donated to a zoo. Dong, who was charged with conspiracy, is currently free as a bird on bail.

(source)

Seven Of The Biggest Beasts Of All Time

We all know about the size of dinosaurs, of course, but how about a rodent the size of a bull, a sea scorpion bigger than a man, a frog as large as a beach ball, a penguin the size of a small adult human, a 1,000-pound ground-sloth-like marsupial, and a shark that may have grown longer than 50 feet and weighed up to 30 times more than the largest modern great white?

1. Biggest Snake Fossil Found in Colombia Coal Mine

Illustration of Titanoboa cerrejonensis by Jason Bourque/ Released by Nature
The biggest snake that ever lived (that we know about) was a massive anaconda-like beast that slithered through steamy tropical rainforests about 60 million years ago feasting on primitive crocodiles, National Geographic News reported today.”Fossils discovered in northeastern Colombia’s Cerrejon coal mine indicate the reptile was at least 42 feet (13 meters) long and weighed 2,500 pounds (1,135 kilograms),” contributor John Roach reported.he snake would have killed its prey by slow suffocation — wrapping around it and squeezing, just like a modern python or boa. Only this snake was twice the size of today’s largest constrictors

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Humans would stand no chance against one of these giant snakes, said Hans-Dieter Sues, paleontologist and associate director for research and collections at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. “Given the sheer size, the sheer cross section of that snake, it would be probably like one of those devices they use to crush old cars in a junkyard.”
Precloacal vertebra of an adult Green Anaconda dwarfed by a vertebra of the giant boid snake Titanoboa cerrejonensis (photo credit Kenneth Krysko) and (lower photo) comparison of a vertebra of Titanoboa with the body of a live Python regius (photo credit Jason Head)

2. Bull-Size Rodent Discovered — Biggest Yet

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Bird Of Paradise

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Divas of the avian world, elaborately feathered birds of paradise, like this ribbon-tailed species, practice elaborate courtship rituals.

There are more than three-dozen species in the family Paradisaeidae, more commonly known as the birds of paradise. Most are distinguished by striking colors and bright plumage of yellow, blue, scarlet, and green. These colors distinguish them as some of the world’s most dramatic and attractive birds. Males often sport vibrant feathered ruffs or amazingly elongated feathers, which are known as wires or streamers. Some species have enormous head plumes or other distinctive ornaments, such as breast shields or head fans.

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Males put their bright colors and unusual ornaments to good use when they display for females. Their elaborate dances, poses, and other rituals accentuate their appearance and put on a phenomenal show for both female birds and any humans lucky enough to be in the vicinity. Such displays can last for hours, and in many species they consume a significant part of the male’s time.
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Weird New Animals From Antarctica's Deep Seas

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May 16, 2007—Hundreds of new species of deep-sea animals, such as the baby isopod Ceratoserolis above, have been discovered during expeditions in the waters off Antarctica. Ceratoserolis is just one of 585 new species of isopod—a type of marine crustacean related to wood lice—found during the Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity Project, or ANDEEP, trips between 2002 and 2005. Researchers aboard the German research vessel Polarstern in the Weddell Sea also brought up heart-shaped sea urchins, carnivorous sponges, and giant sea spiders the size of dinner plates.

We were astonished by the enormous biodiversity we found in many groups of species, said Angelika Brandt, a marine biologist at the University of Hamburg in Germany. The project has made a major contribution to the Census of Marine Life (CoML) programme, a global collaboration among thousands of researchers who aim to make a detailed record of all ocean life by 2010.

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Animal Thefts From Zoos On The Rise, Officials Say

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In the dark of night, thieves armed with wire cutters and cages are snatching endangered species from zoos and private collections throughout the world. Last month about 50 exotic birds were stolen from a private collection in the United Kingdom. In December a pair of prized African gray parrots were snatched from Australia’s Adelaide Zoo.

And last year a rare chuckwalla lizard was taken from the Oklahoma City Zoo in the United States.

John Hayward, a former police officer who runs Britain’s National Theft Register—a database of stolen animals—said thefts of exotic and endangered species are on the rise. “If anybody wants [an exotic animal], chances are they’re not going to go into the tropical rain forest to try and find one,” he said. “It’s far easier to break into somebody’s private collection or zoo and steal one.” Of England’s 60 zoos, he added, 5 were targeted last year by a criminal gang who took some 200 animals, most of which were exotic birds, small primates, and rare reptiles.
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Weird New Animals From Antarctica's Deep Seas

crustacean-picture

May 16, 2007—Hundreds of new species of deep-sea animals, such as the baby isopod Ceratoserolis above, have been discovered during expeditions in the waters off Antarctica. Ceratoserolis is just one of 585 new species of isopod—a type of marine crustacean related to wood lice—found during the Antarctic Benthic Deep-Sea Biodiversity Project, or ANDEEP, trips between 2002 and 2005. Researchers aboard the German research vessel Polarstern in the Weddell Sea also brought up heart-shaped sea urchins, carnivorous sponges, and giant sea spiders the size of dinner plates.

We were astonished by the enormous biodiversity we found in many groups of species, said Angelika Brandt, a marine biologist at the University of Hamburg in Germany. The project has made a major contribution to the Census of Marine Life (CoML) programme, a global collaboration among thousands of researchers who aim to make a detailed record of all ocean life by 2010.

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Strange New Species Found On Great Barrier Reef

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A gelatinous “creature” pictured floating in the water column off Lizard Island in northeastern Australia is actually a colony of smaller animals called salpae.

These sac-like filter feeders can either float as individuals or can form long chains as they drift through the ocean feeding on plankton.

In September 2008 researchers led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science released photos of unusual animals–including the salpae seen above–found while surveying coral reef biodiversity as part of the ten-year Census of Marine Life.

(source)

''Lost World'' Of New Species Found In Indonesia

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The golden-mantled tree kangaroo is just one of dozens of species discovered in late 2005 by a team of Indonesian, Australian, and U.S. scientists on the island of New Guinea.

The animal is the rarest arboreal, jungle-dwelling kangaroo in the world, the researchers say. This was the first time the mammal was found in Indonesia, making it only the second site in the world where the species is known to exist.

The kangaroo was discovered on an expedition in the Foja Mountains of Indonesia.

The National Geographic Society, Conservation International, and the Biology Research Center of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences supported the expedition.

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This is the first photograph ever taken of what scientists are calling New Guinea’s “lost” bird of paradise.

The bird known as Berlepschs six-wired bird of paradise had been collected only once in the wild since its discovery more than a century ago. Its precise home range was unknown until now.

(source)

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