Why Octopus Arms Don’t Get Tangled Up

Octopus

Unlike humans, octopuses are not constantly aware of the location of their arms.  So with eight limbs in motion, it’s a wonder how their arms don’t get tangled up together.

According to researcher Guy Levy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “We thought about it and we said, ‘How is it possible that the arms don’t grab each other?'”

Levy and his colleague Nir Nesher conducted a series of experiments with octopus arms. They observed that the suckers on the octopus arm would grab objects within its reach, but it would not grab anything with octopus skin. Their studies suggested that octopus skin has a repellent chemical. The sucker on an octopus arm can “taste” this repellent, so it does not grab on to it.

According to Roger Hanlon, of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, “In fact, many of the sensory neurons known to occur in cephalopod suckers have unknown functions. The authors have widened our view of octopus sensory perception and provided some stimulating research questions to pursue.”

For more on this study, including a podcast, visit the NPR website.

To learn more fun facts about octopuses, see Animal Fact Guide’s common octopus facts page.

Baby Giraffes at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens experienced a baby boom this spring!

Giraffe babies at Busch Gardens.

Three giraffe calves were born in March to mothers Bititi, Tequiza and Celina at Busch Gardens. Photo by Busch Gardens.

There were three reticulated giraffes born on March 12, 14, and 18 to mothers Bititi, Tequiza, and Celina.  At birth, the two female calves were 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed over 100 pounds.  The male calf was more than 6 feet tall and weighed nearly 150 pounds! The females will eventually grow to be about 16 feet tall, and the male will be 18 feet tall. (Giraffes are the tallest mammals on earth!)

Within an hour of being born, all the calves were standing up. And within two hours, they were all nursing!  For now, the babies will reside behind-the-scenes, but in the coming weeks they will be on view on Busch Gardens’ Serengeti Plain.

For more information, visit the Busch Gardens website.

To learn more about giraffes, visit our giraffe facts page.

Lincoln Park Zoo Welcomes Baby Crowned Lemur

Crowned lemur baby

Crowned lemur mama Tucker is keeping her baby close to her at Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo.

A baby crowned lemur was born on April 14 at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago! Tucker, the mother, is keeping her newborn very close to her, so the gender and size of the baby have not been determined yet.

“Tucker is an experienced mother and the infant is healthy, nursing and growing,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “We’re ecstatic to welcome our first crowned lemur infant who we hope will shed light on this threatened species.”

In the wild, lemurs inhabit the forests of Madagascar. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), crowned lemurs are considered threatened because of forest loss due to slash-and-burn practices, habitat fragmentation, charcoal production, mining and other environmental impacts from humans.

Learn more about the crowned lemur baby at the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Crowned lemur

Meerkat Pups at Memphis Zoo

Memphis Zoo welcomed two male meerkat pups on February 27. Photo by Laura Horn, courtesy of Memphis Zoo.

Say hello to Billy and Rico, the two meerkat babies born on February 27. Photo by Laura Horn, courtesy of Memphis Zoo.

Two meerkat pups were born on February 27 to first-time mother Sunny at the Memphis Zoo. The babies, named Billy and Rico, are both male.

“It’s really adorable to see how the whole group takes care of the young meerkats,” said Melanie Lewis, Cat Country keeper. “The visitors love them as well. They’re front and center in the exhibit. They’re not shy at all.”

Learn more about Billy and Rico at the Memphis Zoo website.

To find out more about meerkats, visit our meerkat facts page.

Bouncing Baby Klipspringer at Lincoln Park Zoo

Baby klipspringer makes her first leaps and bounds at Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo is celebrating the birth of a female baby klipspringer (Afrikaans for “rock jumper”) on March 30.

According to Curator of Mammals, Mark Kamhout, “The klipspringer calf is healthy and eating well and, as a result, has almost doubled her weight since birth. Currently, the calf is being hand-reared by our animal care staff after the mother was unable to provide adequate care.”

The team will provide around-the-clock care for the little antelope until she is ready to navigate the terrain of the klipspringer habitat.

Watch a video of the baby klipspringer here:

In the wild, klipspringers inhabit central and eastern Africa. They are dwarf antelope, reaching an average of  24 pounds.

Learn more at the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

klipspringer1

Endangered Gibbon Born at Adelaide Zoo

White cheeked gibbon baby

Pictured here is an endangered white-cheeked gibbon newborn snuggling with older sister, Nhu, at the Adelaide Zoo. Photo by Helen Whitford.

Proud parents Viet and Remus at the Adelaide Zoo welcomed a baby white-cheeked gibbon on April 13.

White-cheeked gibbons are critically endangered due to deforestation and poaching.  In the wild, these primates inhabit Laos, Vietnam, and Southern China.

For more information, visit the Adelaide Zoo website.

Otter Pups at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Otter pup at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Fuzzy face! Pictured above is one of the Oriental small-clawed otter pups born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo recently. Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia welcomed two male Oriental small-clawed otter pups on January 24.

“The pups have been in the den to date and we have been monitoring them via a video camera, to ensure they are growing and developing well,” said Senior Keeper, Ian Anderson.

“Emiko and Pocket are being really attentive parents, we are really happy with their nurturing behaviours, as they are both first-time parents so it is a big learning curve for them.”

One of the otter pups is named Kali, which means “river” in Indonesian. You can suggest a name for the other pup on the Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Facebook page!

Otter family

Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Otter family

Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

San Diego Zoo Gorilla Baby

On March 12, Imani, an 18-year-old gorilla at the San Diego Zoo, gave birth to a 4.6 pound baby via caesarian section. The infant was treated for pneumonia and other complications after birth at the animal hospital.

But 12 days later, baby and mama were reunited!  Imani immediate cradled her baby in her arms and has been doting on the newborn ever since.

n this photo taken on Monday, March 24, 2014, and provided by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 12-day old baby gorilla is physically introduced to her mother, Imani, for the first time at the San Diego Zoo. (AP Photo/San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Matt Gelvin)

In this photo taken on Monday, March 24, 2014, and provided by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 12-day old baby gorilla is physically introduced to her mother, Imani, for the first time at the San Diego Zoo. (AP Photo/San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Matt Gelvin)

Tiny Tyrannosaur Fossil Discovered in Alaska

A fossil of a small tyrannosaur that lived 70 million years ago was recently discovered in northern Alaska. The pygmy dinosaur, called Nanuqsaurus hoglundi (which means “polar bear lizard”), is believed to be a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

N. hoglundi was much smaller than the T. Rex. Its skull measures 25 inches as compared to the T. Rex‘s 60-inch skull.  Researchers have postulated that the pygmy tyrannosaur’s smaller stature was an adaptation to the cooler Arctic climate. Although the Arctic would have been much warmer in the Cretaceous Period than it is today, bouts of cold temperatures would have caused variations in the food supply.

Below is an illustration of the relative size of N. hoglundi (A) as compared to its larger cousin T. Rex (B and C). Although N. hoglundi was only about half the size of the T. Rex, it still was an impressive 23 feet from head to tail.

Tyrannosaurs

Nanuqsaurus hoglundi (A) as compared to T. Rex (B and C) and other species. The scale bar equals 1 meter. Courtesy PLoS.

Learn more at Discover Magazine and Smithsonian.

Echidna Puggle Gets a Helping Hand

Echidna puggle

The team of vet nurses at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been caring for this baby echidna for the past couple months. Photo by Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales, Australia has been hand rearing a baby echidna (called a puggle) over the last couple of months.

The little puggle was found at the side of the road. It is believed the mother was hit by a car.

“The puggle is now approximately four months old and responding very well under the watchful eye of the vet nurses,” said vet nurse, Jodie Milton.

“It’s feeding well and gaining weight steadily, so we’ll be able to wean it in about three to four months’ time and start introducing it to solid food.”

Normally, echidnas live in their mothers’ pouches for 2-3 months and then move into a secluded burrow for up to a year. So it is very rare to see an echidna puggle.

“It will be some time before the puggle will be able to fend for itself, but until then it’s in safe hands,” said Jodie.

For more information about the little puggle, see the Taronga Western Plains Zoo website.

Learn more about echidnas at our short-beaked echidna facts page.