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Tiny Bird Mimics Other Birds’ Warning Calls to Confuse Predators

Despite its tiny size, the brown thornbill is quite capable of protecting itself in the wild. Its survival strategy is simple yet effective – it scares other birds away by ‘crying hawk’!

It seems that most birds use certain calls to warn their kin of impending danger, especially when hawks and other birds of prey are approaching. The thornbill is not only aware of this fact, but can reproduce the danger signals of several species, including the much larger pied currawong. Predators are fooled by the false alarm, and the thornbill earns its chicks a few extra seconds to escape.

The thornbill’s talent for mimicry was discovered by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU). “I am amazed that such a tiny bird can mimic so many species, some much bigger than itself. It’s very cunning,” said one of the researchers, Dr. Branislav Igic.

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Abandoned Chinese Village Reclaimed by Nature Becomes Tourist Attraction

It really doesn’t take long for Mother Nature to reclaim her territory, slowly obliterating all signs of human occupation, if we only allow it. Case in point is the abandoned Chinese village of Houtou Wan which, within a span of 50 years, has become a beautiful secret garden completely covered in lush vegetation.  

Houtou Wan village is located on one of the 394 Shengsi Islands of China’s Yangtze River. It used to be a thriving fishing town a few decades ago, but it was gradually abandoned as the number of fishing vessels outgrew the size of the bay and the population was forced to relocate. All but a handful of villagers left Hotou Wan in the last half century, leaving nature to work her magic on the settlement. The result is nothing short of breathtaking.

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Moss Viewing – A Strange Yet Increasingly Popular Japanese Pastime

A lot of people walk by moss all the time, without even giving the time of day, but in Japan, they actually have this thing call moss viewing that involves going on trips to damp places and staring at moss for hours, as a means of relaxation.

According to Takeshi Ueno, a plant ecology expert at Tsuru University, the activity is particularly popular among women, because “they are rich in emotions”. “They can innocently enjoy changes in the shapes and colors of leaves, for example, so they are well-suited to moss viewing,” Ueno, who usually leads the moss viewing trips near Lake Shirakoma, added.

It all started in 2013, when Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel in Aomori Prefecture introduced a one-night program that included an observation tour of the moss colonies in a riverside forest. It was an unsuspected success, and after the Bryological Society of Japan named the area around Lake Shirakoma a ‘precious moss-covered forest’, moss-viewing became a regular affair. The event has become so popular among female travelers that it is held about eight times a year.

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Harmless Caterpillar Mimics Menacing Snake Head to Fool Predators

Meet the Dynastor darius darius, a harmless caterpillar with astounding survival skills. In order to avoid being attacked by predators during its pupal stage (when the larvae transform into butterflies or moths), the helpless creature takes on the form of a rather menacing snake!

Native to Trinidad, the shape-shifting D. darius often mimics the head of a Gaboon pit viper, successfully fooling even the toughest of its predators. After it sheds its final layer of skin, the caterpillar enters its pupal stage, and its chrysalis takes the shape of a viper’s head. The transformation lasts 13 days, during which time this mimicry is its only line of defense. To make the appearance even more believable, the scary-looking chrysalis hangs on the underside of forest leaves at a carefully selected angle.

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Colorado Lake Becomes Giant Fish Bowl after Dumped Goldfish Multiply by the Thousands

Releasing pet fish into a lake might sound like a kind thing to do, but in fact, it is quite the opposite. Teller Lake in Boulder, Colorado, is making headlines for a bizarre surge in its goldfish population, after someone apparently dumped three or four of them in its waters a couple of years ago. The lake is now home to a whopping 3,000 to 4,000 goldfish that are putting its delicate ecosystem in danger.

The fish have multiplied beyond control – they’re eating up all the resources, spreading unnatural diseases, and threatening to overrun the lake’s natural species. Colorado wildlife officials say that humans are to blame.

“Dumping your pets into a lake could bring diseases to native animals and plants as well as out-compete them for resources,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) spokesperson Jennifer Churchill. “Everything can be affected. Non-native species can potentially wipe out the fishery as we’ve put it together.”

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8-Year-Old Girl Feeds Neighborhood Crows, They Thank Her with Gifts

8-year-old Gabi Mann, from Seattle, has some very unusual friends who shower her with gifts almost every day. Ever since she started feeding her neighborhood crows, they began returning the favor and bringing back all kinds of trinkets.

Gabi’s unique relationship with the neighborhood crows began in 2011, when at age four, she was prone to dropping food. Soon, the crows were always watching for her, hoping to get a bite of the crumbs she dropped. As she got older, she began to feed them consciously – she would share her lunch with them on the way to the bus stop. It wasn’t long before crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet her at the stop.

In 2013, Gabi started feeding the birds regularly, instead of sharing her scraps with them. Along with her family, she would fill the birdbath in the backyard with fresh water every day, cover the bird feeder platforms with peanuts and throw handfuls of dog food on to the grass. Soon, the crows automatically lining up on the telephone lines, waiting for their treats.

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Fascinating Amazonian Bird Mimics Toxic Caterpillar to Fend Off Predators

While most young birds rely on their parents for protection, the chicks of the Amazonian Cinereous Mourner have their own survival tactic. In order to avoid being eaten by predators, they actually mimic poisonous caterpillars!

On hatching, the chicks are covered with bright orange, spiky feathers that make them look like massive caterpillars that use bright colors to warn predators of their toxicity. And to make their camouflage even more effective, they even writhe about much like caterpillars.

“These traits give it a resemblance to a hairy, aposematic caterpillar,” said Dr. Gustavo Londoño, a biologist at the University of California. “Because predation is the main cause of avian nest failure, selection should favor strategies that reduce the probability of nest predation. The caterpillar we encountered measured 12 cm, which closely matches the size of the L. hypopyrra nesting. The striking morphological similarity is the caterpillars’ orange ‘hairs’ with white tips, which match almost exactly the nestling’s elongated orange downy feather barbs with bright white tips.”

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Fascinating Viper Uses Its Realistic Spider-Shaped Tail to Lure Prey

As if snakes weren’t scary enough on their own, some apparently have spiders for tails to raise the horror factor to infinity . The aptly named ‘spider-tailed viper’ has a bizarre arachnid-shaped appendage that it uses to attract unsuspecting prey.

According to science writer Ed Yong, the fearsome snake was formally described only nine years ago, in Iran. Its existence has been known since the sixties, but because only one specimen had been spotted, its tail was dismissed as a deformity. However, further investigations in the area revealed the tail was actually a defining characteristic of a whole new species of snakes.

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Amazing Alaskan Wood Frog Freezes Solid in Winter and Comes Alive in Spring

There are several creatures that possess a certain tolerance to subzero temperatures, but none as amazing as the Alaskan Wood Frog. This tiny amphibian can survive being almost completely frozen during winter, only to miraculously come back to life as soon as spring arrives!

For days, even weeks weeks at a time during its period of winter hibernation, over 60 percent of the frog’s body freezes;  it stops breathing and its heart stops beating. Its physical processes like metabolic activity and waste production come to a halt. “For all intents and purposes, they are dead,” said Don Larson, a Ph.D. student at Fairbanks, Alaska. As per his research, wood frogs can survive long winters where temperatures range between -9C to -18C. In fact, it can go through 10 to 15 freeze/thaw cycles over the course of a single season.

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Scientists Use Calvin Klein Perfume to Attract Jaguars

While camera traps have been used in ecological research for decades, luring animals towards these traps requires constant innovation. And you’ll never believe what they’re now using to attract wild jaguars – Calvin Klein Obsession for Men!

According to Miguel Ordeñana, a biologist with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and an expert on camera traps, the idea belongs to a Bronx Zoo researcher who tried a bunch of different scents before discovering the jaguar’s affinity for Calvin Klein. What’s special about the cologne is that its two main ingredients – civetone and vanilla extract – create a combination that’s irresistible to these big cats.
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Beautiful “Skeleton Flower” Turns Transparent When It Rains

The Diphylleia grayi is a beautiful white flower that turns transparent upon contact with water. When it rains, the clusters of lovely blooms magically transform into glistening, crystal-like blossoms. Because of this amazing phenomenon, the Diphylleia grayi is commonly known as the ‘skeleton flower’.

The plant generally grows on moist, wooded mountainsides in the colder regions of Japan and China. It is recognizable by its large, umbrella-shaped leaves that are topped with small clusters of pearly white flowers. While the plant is perennial, and can grow up to a height of 0.4 meters, the flowers bloom from mid-spring to early-summer in shady conditions. As the petals of these flowers are soaked in water, they slowly begin to lose their white pigmentation, turning completely transparent over time. When dry, they return to their original white version.

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The Double Tree of Casorzo – A Tree Growing on Top of Another Tree

Located between the towns of Grana and Casorzo in Piemonte, Italy, is a very unique tree – well, they’re actually two trees, one growing on top of the other. Locally known as ‘Bialbero de Casorzo’ or the ‘double tree of Casorzo’, this natural oddity consists of a cherry tree growing on top of a mulberry tree.

No one really knows how the cherry tree managed to take root and survive in such a bizarre position. Locals believe that a bird might have dropped a cherry seed on top of the mulberry tree, which then grew its roots through the hollow trunk to reach the soil below.

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Artist Specializes in Sculpting Nature with a Chainsaw

Mark Tyoe is a talented chainsaw artist and the co-owner of Wintergreen Knoll Chainsaw sculptures in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. He runs the business along with his wife Linda; together, they sell Mark’s unique chainsaw carvings that he’s been making since the 1990’s. Mark is really good at transforming a solid block of wood into a beautiful sculpture, using nothing but a chainsaw.

“Everything I do on my carvings is with a chainsaw,” he said. “I’m kind of a purist about using one tool.” A chainsaw is hardly the ideal tool for artists, so it’s really a wonder that Mark manages to use one to create such delicate details. He doesn’t grind or sand, and he doesn’t use screws, nails or paint.

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Tiny Fish Can Pick Up 300 Times Its Own Body Weight

The northern clingfish is a species of salt-water fish that truly lives up to its name. The remarkably strong fish has such high suction powers that it can pick up and hold on to stuff that’s almost 300 times its own body weight. It can easily outperform all sorts of man-made suction cups. Scientists are now actively studying the fish so they can mimic its design and create a new class of suction devices.

There are currently around 160 known varieties of clingfish in the world, each with its own unique characteristics. There’s a tiny one that sticks itself to the individual spines of sea urchins, a deep-sea variety with not much of a sucker, and a giant one that’s about the size of your forearm. One of the most well-known varieties is the northern clingfish, thanks to studies conducted by biologist and researcher Adam Summers, from the University of Washington.

Native to the Pacific Coast of North America, the northern clingfish lives in rocky intertidal environments, where strong waves and currents can toss them out at any moment. In order to survive in its natural habitat, the clingfish has evolved an adhesion disc that covers about a quarter of its belly. Using this disc, it can stick on to almost any surfaces.

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Brown Moor Frogs Turn Blue During Mating Season

The moor frog certainly cannot turn into a prince with true love’s kiss. But this seemingly uninteresting amphibian is capable of something quite spectacular – it changes color from a boring brown to an azure blue, just to be able to distinguish between genders during mating season. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures are really quite unbelievable – it looks they’re two different frogs.

A fully grown adult male moor frog is up to seven centimeters long and reddish-brown in color. But every year, between March and June, the frog exhibits chameleon-like tendencies. During this period, the frogs emerge from their winter hibernation and are naturally in the mood to procreate. They populate the ponds in the lowlands of Central and Southern Europe, completely filling the air with their mating calls. The sounds they create are similar to the noise of air released from a bottle under water.

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