Sopranos superfans will be glad to know that the mafia is still alive and well — sort of. A temple in Bali, Indonesia has apparently been overrun by mafioso macaques that have been stealing tourists' items in exchange for food. New research suggests the unusual phenomenon is a learned behaviour, and goddamn is it a good one.
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Far up in the Langbian Plateau in southern Vietnam, a dense, dark forest gently breathes with a passing breeze. Billowing fog continually invades and shrouds the canopy. Thick, verdant moss blankets every rock and tree, and the landscape weeps with trickling rivulets of water. This gorgeous setting feels like it could host any number of magical beasts, and now, a team of researchers has revealed a new woodland creature that looks particularly at home. Behold, the elfin mountain toad.
As twilight descends, nocturnal bat species rouse from their daily resting places to feed, creating spectacular clouds as they pour out of caves en masse. But look closer at Jamaican fruit bat colonies as they emerge from sinkhole caves in Cuba, and you may catch a glimpse of a concurrent macabre ritual: As the bats erupt from the cave, a deadly curtain of Cuban boas hangs in their path, aiming to snatch the winged creatures mid-flight.
We hear stories about actors being cast as superheroes who have never picked up a comic book all the time, but Hugh Jackman took this a step further when he showed up for his Wolverine audition back in the late '90s for the first X-Men movie. He didn't even know wolverines existed — and he found out in the most delightfully awkward way.
Vaquitas are cartoonish-looking porpoises that swim around, bothering literally no one. These little guys, which only weigh about 54kg, are found in just one region in the world — the Northern Gulf of California. Their nickname — the "panda" porpoise — comes from the dark rings around their eyes, similar to that of the much-beloved bear. Sadly, over the years, vaquita numbers have plummeted dramatically due to unscrupulous fishing practices, and as a result, there are less than 30 left in the wild — according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), unless urgent action is taken, the porpoises could be extinct by next July.
Eight days ago, a one-eyed goat was born in the Indian state of Assam. Since then, this brave little fluff has become an international sensation for obvious reasons: Clearly, it's training to be in the X-Men.
Splash-back poison frogs (Ranitomeya variabilis) are generally devoted parents, with the amphibian dads taking on the bulk of the childcare responsibilities. But when the frog fathers skip out on their young, it's every tadpole for themselves, and that means a horrifying cannibalistic melee from which only one young frog emerges.
It seems like everything on this trash planet is doomed to go extinct before humans do, much to my chagrin. The woeful tale of New Zealand's yellow-eyed penguin is no different: The adorable bird — which even makes an appearance on the country's currency — is dangerously close to extinction, at least at one well-monitored mainland breeding ground. And it's (probably) all our fault.
The common ladybird is easily recognised by its signature red and black spotted shell. But when researchers at the University of Tokyo used a creative trick to make its carapace transparent, it revealed insect wing secrets that could impact development of robotics, satellite antennas and microscopic medical instruments — perhaps even a re-imagining of the folding mechanism of your umbrella.
We can't all be puppies — or even capybaras, for that matter. There's a whole world of critters whose inner beauty goes unnoticed. Perfectly snuggly critters like naked mole rats have been mocked and called things like "the stuff of nightmares" or "the most terrifying thing I've ever seen".
It's a scenario many women in the room are all too familiar with: You're sitting in the park, enjoying some R&R, when you spy a leery Y-chromosome carrier lumbering in your direction, clearly looking to test the pickup line he found on Reddit last night. You could run; you could start talking loudly and to no one in particular about your last menstrual cycle. Or, you could do as the female moorland hawker dragonfly does, and pretend to be dead.
Watch the behind-the-scenes footage of any effects-laden blockbuster film and you'll see actors running around in checkered body suits. Capturing the motions of a human performer is the most lifelike way to bring a digital character to life, but scientists at Stanford have come up with a less intrusive way to capture and study the motions of animals.