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Tag archives for Tales of the Weird

Spiders Take Control as Birds Fade From Guam

As bird populations plummet worldwide, will Earth become the Planet of the Spiders? Research on Guam, a 30-mile-long U.S. island in the Pacific, found that arachnid populations increased as much as 40-fold in the wake of insect-eating birds being eaten into oblivion by invasive brown treesnakes.

Animals Inspire New Breed of War Robots

Apart from being four-legged animals, what do a cheetah and a pack mule have in common? They’ve both inspired what may be the next generation of war machines.

Venom From the Banana Spider Could Be the New Viagra

Shortness of breath, excessive salivation, tremors, and an intensely painful erection are all indications of being bitten by a highly venomous arachnid commonly known as the banana spider. So toxic is Phoneutria nigriventer, a member of the Ctenidae family of wandering spiders, that its bite has been known to kill people. The spider is a…

Disease-Spreading Ticks on the Move as Climate Changes

One more reason to be nervous about climate change: Tick species are on the march. The blood-sucking, disease-spreading parasites are expanding into new territories as wildlife populations, forest habitats and weather patterns change across North America, biologists have found. “This year’s mild winter and early spring were a bonanza for tick populations in the eastern…

For Roosters Comb Size is Big Cue for Sex

The hen with the largest comb gets a bigger dose of sperm, and thus more chicks, according to research published this week. Roosters have figured out what poultry breeders know — combs are a reliable indicator of a hen’s ability to produce more eggs.

The World’s Weirdest Penis

It is without doubt one of the strangest things I have ever seen in my life, says zoologist Lucy Cooke. She’s describing her first sighting of the bizarre four-headed penis of the echidna, a spiny, termite-eating, egg-laying mammal found in Australia.

Are we Wired to Be Envious of One Another?

Envy may be a deadly sin, but is it hard-coded into our genes? A Spanish economist thinks it may be part of our evolutionary inheritance. There are powerful evolutionary reasons for being envious, according to a Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) researcher who has tried to understand the economic causes and consequences of the envy.…

America’s 5,000 Backyard Tigers a Ticking Time Bomb, WWF Says

With more tigers in captivity in the U.S. than survive in the wild, the United States needs a centralized federal database to monitor the big cats, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said this week. “Weak U.S. regulations could be helping to fuel the multimillion dollar international black market for tiger parts,” WWF said in a statement…

Unicorn Antelope Captured in Sacred Forest

For the first time in more than ten years, there has been a confirmed sighting of one of the rarest and most enigmatic animals in the world, the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) from the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said today. “The Government of the Lao People’s…

Eight-foot Sharks Netted in Potomac River

Two big sharks were fished out of the Potomac River this week. Is the U.S. capital swimming with predators? By David Braun The Potomac, fondly nicknamed the “Nation’s River” because it flows through Washington, D.C., is known for its hazards and treacherous currents. But if you can navigate those, and slip past the politicians, there…

One Fish we Should Eat into Extinction (Locally)

Good news for seafood eaters–the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) not only endorses, it encourages the eating of lionfish, a tasty species apparently flourishing in the Atlantic Ocean. “A new study looking at how to curb the rapid growth of lionfish, an invasive species not native to the Atlantic Ocean, suggests that approximately 27…

River Where Jesus was Baptized Unsafe for Baptisms?

The Jordan River, famous for the baptism of Jesus Christ and countless pilgrims since, is now so toxic that baptisms in its filthy water pose a health risk, according to a Middle East environmental group. Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) called on regional authorities last week to halt baptism in the Lower Jordan River…

Praying Mantis Catches Hummingbird Picture

I’ve heard of birds eating spiders and spiders eating birds–but who knew that praying mantises can catch hummingbirds! The photo here proves mantises can turn the tables on birds. It was submitted to National Geographic Magazine’s “Your Shot” feature and was picked as one of the “Daily Dozen” images featured on September 2. Photo by Sharon Fullingim, published…

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…

Devil’s Bible Darkest Secrets Explained

It’s a mysterious book that in its day was believed to contain all human knowledge. But why did medieval people believe that the author sold his soul to the devil to be able to write it? The “Devil’s Bible,” a behemoth volume weighing in at 165 pounds, believed to have been produced by a single monk…