Crazy Rasberry Ants: New Species Of Ants

rasberry ants

Poor Texas. First it was killer bees, then fire ants. Now, it’s the Rasberry ants.The invasion of this new species of ants has scientists intrigued, businesses concerned and fire ants running for the hills, said Jerry Cook, an entomologist at Sam Houston State University. Cook and other scientists are at a loss to explain the fast and furious spread of the rapacious ant, which is named after exterminator Tom Rasberry, who discovered the ant in 2002.

The bug was discovered in Houston in 2002 and has quickly spread as far north as Louisiana and Mississippi within the last year.

“This is a species that we do not know much about. Presumably the ant came from the Caribbean through the Port of Houston,” Cook said. “We know the ant is in the Paratrechina genus and is capable of growing a population of billions and they need to eat. They especially like other bugs, like fire ants and honey bees.”

The population is growing so fast, and so large, that it is potentially an ecosystem disaster, according to Cook.“If the Rasberry ant can virtually eliminate a pain like the fire ant, what else is it capable of doing?” he said. “If bees are eliminated, plants will not be pollinated which could result to the lack of crops producing fruits and vegetables. That in turn becomes a major problem for the agriculture community. They could become more than a nuisance, they could become a danger”.


New Species In Danger Of Going Extinct

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A mouse found in the mountains of Madagascar, a lizard that can run across water and a flying frog have all been added to this year’s ‘red list’ of species in danger of going extinct. Every year the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) compiles a list of the animals and plants that are in danger of being lost forever.This year the list is longer than ever, with 17,921 species in danger of going extinct including well known mammals such as pandas, tigers and rhinos.

Recent additions to the list include the eastern voalavo, a newly-discovered rodent that lives in the mountain forests of Madagascar but is being driven out by slash and burn agriculture. The Philippine sail-fin water lizard, that has flattened toes to enable it to run across water, is targetted for the pet trade and local cosumption. Rabb’s fringe-limbed treefrog from Panama, that uses its huge webbed hands and feet to sail down from the canopy, is also in danger from deforestation.

Edwina Currie And Jo Brand Tell Of Pampered Pets For New Book


British celebrities including former MP Edwina Currie, actor Nigel Havers and comedian Jo Brand have revealed all about their pampered pets for a new book. The stars have written a few lines each about the relationships they enjoy with their animals to help raise cash for charity the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).

The ex-Conservative MP Edwina Currie revealed she has a “big and hairy” German Shepherd called Sheba, while bling-loving darts player Bobby George said he owns five Jack Russells named Visa, Twopee, Fiver, Gilda and Cash. Only Fools and Horses star John Challis, who played dodgy car dealer Boycie, has a cat called Fluffy and TV sports presenter John Inverdale has a “soothing and reliable presence” in the form of his goldfish Motivator.

Author Sheila Collins, 65, spent six months compiling the anecdotes from almost 100 celebs to raise money for PDSA.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work and I cannot thank the celebrities involved enough. Without them, there wouldn’t be a book at all,” the former secretary, from St Austell, Cornwall, said.

“I loved reading their stories. Some were hilarious and others very moving – it was, you might say, a roller-coaster of emotions.”

Jo Brand, who has four cats, wrote: “Their individual personalities are an absorbing distraction from household chores, answering emails and contemplating my navel.

“I admire their self-possession and self-assurance – from total indifference to suddenly seeking my undivided attention – a bit like my husband!”

The actor Nigel Havers said: “My favourite pet is called Hottie. She belongs to my PA and is technically a witch as she has five toes on her front paw.”I gave her a designer coat from Los Angeles but forgot to buy my wife or daughter anything – I was too busy thinking of the grateful kisses I would get from Hottie.”TV presenter Matthew Kelly said he is still coming to terms with the death of his Old English sheepdog, Cassie.The Stars in Their Eyes frontman said: “She and I shared something quite extraordinary – an unconditional and total love.

“I still miss her but am always thankful that she decided to share her life with me.”


Kids Mistake Leopard Cub For New Pet Kitten


It’s an age-old story: Kids find an adorable kitten, bring it home and plead “Can we keep it? Pleeeease?” But this time, the kitten wasn’t just any cat Children in the Indian village of Bhatvadar brought home a kitten one night last week and played with the fuzzy feline throughout the following day, the Times of India reports. That is, until the kitty growled. “It was only when we heard the cub growling that we realized it was not a kitten, but a leopard,” villager Bharat Sakat told the Times of India.

Leopards prowl across Africa and Asia, and a unique subspecies is native to the Indian subcontinent, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The striking, spotty big cats can weigh up to 200 pounds, sprint 36 miles per hour, and leap 20 feet forward in a single bound, the San Diego Zoo reports.

While they’re undeniably adorable, the powerful predators clearly don’t make great pets. Fortunately, the Indian villagers quickly figured out that they had a leopard on their hands. “Fearing that its mother might be nearby, we released it in the wild near where the children had found it,” Sakat said.

So the next time your kids come home with a kitten, whining “pleeeease,” remember that it could be worse.

New Species Of Frog Discovered: Smallest Indian Land Vertebrate

The India’s smallest land vertebrate, a 10-millimeter frog, has been discovered from the Western Ghats of Kerala by Delhi University Systematics Biologist, S D Biju and his colleagues.

frog smallest This tiny Indian frog sitting on an Indian 5 rupee coin is the smallest India frog. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Delhi)

Indian land vertebrates (all animals with backbone except fishes), comprises of 2,400 species including 218 frog species.

S D Biju and his colleagues discovered the tiny night frog living under leaf litter and among the roots of ferns in the humid rainforest of the Western Ghats of Kerala, a mountainous region in the western portion of India. Biju gave a new name for the frog, Nyctibatrachus minimus.

With adult males of barely 10 mm in length, Nyctibatrachus minimus is the smallest of all known Indian land vertebrates and compete with miniature frogs in other parts of the world, including Cuba, the Amazon and Borneo.

This frog can be found during nighttime (hence the common name of the genus- Nightfrog) and also can be heard (mating calls) from under the leaf litter during monsoon months, the ideal time for reproduction.

Biju has been working in the Western Ghats to find new species of frogs over the past several years, and his findings include the purple frog (Nasikabatrachus) and the first canopy frog (Philautus nerostagona) from India.

The discovery was published recently in the Journal Current Science.


Transgenic Songbirds Provide New Tool To Understand The Brain

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The ability to manipulate songbird genes may yield the molecular secrets of vocal learning and neuronal replacement.

You can learn a lot from an animal. By manipulating the DNA of mice, flies, frogs and worms, scientists have discovered a great deal about the genes and molecules behind many of life’s essential processes. These basic functions often work about the same in people as they do in “model” animals. But if you want to study more sophisticated cognitive processes such as humans’ ability to learn language from one another, you need a more sophisticated organism. For the first time, researchers have devised a way to alter the genes of the zebra finch, one of a handful of social animals that learn to “speak” by imitating their fellows.

After decades of studying the behavior and anatomy of vocal learning, scientists will be able to use the technique to explore vocal learning at the molecular level. The new tool, reported online in the September 28 issue of PNAS Early Edition, may also reveal secrets about exactly how, when and why some neurons are replaced in the adult brain.

Monkeys’ Grooming Habits Provide New Clues To How We Socialize

monkey groom

A study of female monkeys’ grooming habits provides new clues about the way we humans socialise. New research, published September 30 in Proceedings of the Royal Society, reveals there is a link between the size of the brain, in particular the neocortex which is responsible for higher-level thinking, and the size and number of grooming clusters that monkeys belong to.

The researchers, from the University of Oxford and Roehampton University, have shown that bigger brained female monkeys invest more time grooming a smaller group of monkeys but still manage to maintain contact with other members of their group, even though they have much weaker social bonds with them. In contrast, monkeys of species with smaller neocortices, and therefore less cognitive ability, live in groups with a less complicated social structure.

Brand New Pigmy Hippo

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A newborn Baby Hippo pygmy from Rotterdam’s Blijdorp Zoo, is no bigger than a head of lettuce! The pygmy hippo grows to just over 3ft tall – just one fifth of the size of the common hippopotamus and is the only other species of hippo in the world. Reclusive and nocturnal, the mammals are semi-aquatic and need to live near water to keep their skin moisturized and their bodies cool.


New Species Discovered In The Greater Mekong At Risk Of Extinction

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Leopard gecko. A bird eating fanged frog, a gecko that looks like it’s from another planet and a bird which would rather walk than fly, are among the 163 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region last year that are now at risk of extinction

A bird-eating fanged frog, a gecko that looks like it’s from another planet, and a bird which would rather walk than fly — these are among the 163 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region last year that are now at risk of extinction, says a new report launched by WWF.

During 2008 alone, scientists identified these rare and unique species within the jungles and rivers of the Greater Mekong, including a bird eating fanged frog that lies in streams waiting for prey, one of only four new species of musk shrew to be described in recent times, and a leopard gecko whose “other world” appearance – orange eyes, spindly limbs and technicolour skin – inspired the report’s title Close Encounters.

Ancient And Bizarre Fish Discovered: New Species Of Ghostshark From California And Baja California

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New species are not just discovered in exotic locales—even places as urban as California still yield discoveries of new plants and animals. Academy scientists recently named a new species of chimaera, an ancient and bizarre group of fishes distantly related to sharks, from the coast of Southern California and Baja California, Mexico.

The new species, the Eastern Pacific black ghostshark (Hydrolagus melanophasma), was described in the September issue of the international journal Zootaxa by a research team including Academy Research Associates David Ebert and Douglas J. Long. Additional co-authors included Kelsey James, a graduate student at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and Dominique Didier from Millersville University in Pennsylvania. This is the first new species of cartilaginous fish to be described from California waters since 1947.

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