Did you know that fire ants have the ability to pile up on one another to form impressively high towers if they ever need to escape a container? David Hu, a professor of biology and mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, has been studying how fire ants create their tall swirling ant structures.
Watch a video about Hu’s fire ant tower research from the New York Times:
You can also listen to an interview with Hu on PRI’s “Science Friday” hosted by Ira Flatow:
Film still from “Last of the Longnecks.” Courtesy of Iniosante Studios.
The IUCN has recently reclassified giraffes from a species of least concern to one vulnerable of extinction. Giraffe populations in Africa have declined 40% since 1985. All nine subspecies of giraffe are officially in trouble.
Iniosante Studios has spent the last three years documenting the situation in their film, “Last of the Longnecks,” which has helped bring global awareness to the plight of giraffes and instigated a reclassification by the IUCN. To obtain accurate figures for the IUCN, more than a dozen researchers combed the savannas in trucks, wandered trails on foot, flown in aircraft, and studied remote cameras.
“We’ve been working alongside the researchers in our film for the past three years to sound the alarm,” said Ashley Scott Davison, the film’s director. “Until recently, few people were even aware of the situation facing giraffes. This reclassification by the IUCN is pivotal to get the public to take action for our planet’s tallest animal.”
Ten years ago, the BBC debuted it’s amazing series, Planet Earth, which documents beautiful, intriguing, and rare moments of life on Earth. Planet Earth II promises to capture even more amazing moments, taking advantage of significant advances in filming technology. Similar to the original series, Sir David Attenborough will narrate.
President Obama signed a law on Monday declaring the bison as America’s national mammal. For those bald eagle fans, don’t worry! The bald eagle remains the national animal (and national bird) of the United States.
The new law, called the National Bison Legacy Act, creates an additional designation for a special native mammal in America. Animals are classified as mammals when:
they are warm blooded vertebrates
they possess hair or fur, and
they nourish their young with milk produced by mammary glands
The bison is an excellent choice for the honor of national mammal. Bison once numbered in the millions in the United States. Their range stretched from Canada to Mexico.
Many Native American tribes relied heavily on bison as a source of food and clothing, and they considered it of great spiritual significance. When white settlers spread into the Great Plains, they decimated the bison population, and the bison nearly went extinct.
Due to conservationist efforts starting in the early 20th century, the bison was saved from extinction. But they are still classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. You can help in their preservation by adopting a bison via the Defenders of Wildlife or donating toward the purchase of prairie land for reserves at the American Prairie Foundation.
A Hoffman’s two-toed sloth was born on March 24 to mother Grizzly and father Teddy. The little one only weighed 186 grams (6.6 ounces) at birth and wasn’t nursing regularly. So the animal care team at Busch Gardens decided to hand-nurse the baby via syringe every two hours. Currently, the baby is healthy and under 24-hour watch.
The animal care team feeds Grizzly’s baby by syringe. Photo by Busch Gardens.
A Linne’s two-toed sloth was born on April 2 to mother Daisy and father Mario. Weighing 550 grams (19.4 ounces) at birth, the baby is currently healthy and being cared for by its mother. The animal care team is monitoring closely.
The animal care team checks Daisy’s baby, who is still under her daily care.
Watch a video below of the two baby sloths:
One interesting fact about two-toed sloths is that they actually have three toes. (All sloths have three toes per foot.) But two-toed sloths have only two claws per foot. For more interesting sloth facts, see our article about the brown-throated three-toed sloth.
Eaglets are on the way! You can witness live and up close the moment the chicks hatch on the D.C. Eagle Cam. The nest (and camera) is located in the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. The eagle parents have been named Mr. President and the First Lady in honor of their location.
If you want to try and guess the hatch dates/times of the eggs, use hashtag #dceaglecam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with your prediction (Eastern Standard Time). For more information, visit Eagles.org.
The sea lion was eventually rescued by SeaWorld San Diego’s Animal Rescue team. They observed that the pup was very small for her age.
“It was also a little bit shocking to see how small the pup was,” said Jody Westberg, one of SeaWorld’s animal coordinators, who went to the rescue. “A micro-pup. Very small in body length, and very malnourished.”
The animal care team is now working to rehydrate the pup and get her back in the water.