strange behaviors

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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Posts Tagged ‘new species’

Celebrating Psychedelica: Live on The Leonard Lopate Show

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 7, 2017

Swims like a drunken sailor. (© David Hall/seaphotos.com)

I was a guest this afternoon on “The Leonard Lopate Show” on WNYC in New York, talking about species discovery.  The interview runs about 13 minutes and listening to it is definitely better than a sharp stick in the eye. (A courageous listener called in to tell one of the other guests that he didn’t like the sound of her voice. Thank goodness, I didn’t have a call-in segment.)

At one point, I talked about a favorite new species from 2009 named psychedelica. Here’s the background, from my previous post on the discovery:

Once again, science makes my day. Researchers have discovered a wonderful new fish in shallow water off the Indonesian island of Ambon, much visited by great naturalists of the past including Alfred Russel Wallace. And this one just makes you want to keep looking and looking, even in the same places everybody else has looked before, because Mother Nature is such a relentless joker.

University of Washington scientist Ted Pietsch has dubbed the discovery Histiophryne psychedelica because, well, just look at that face. Or consider its swimming behavior, which also suggests that it has been dabbling in mind-altering drugs. It doesn’t so much

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Conservation and Extinction, New Species Discoveries, Species Seekers Almanac, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Beetle Like a Book of Prayers

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 2, 2014

Neolucanus baongocae,  named by the discoverer after his daughter, Nguyen Bao Ngoc

Neolucanus baongocae, named by the discoverer after his daughter, Nguyen Bao Ngoc

A researcher in Vietnam reports the discovery of a beautiful new stag beetle from Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park in the Central Highlands.

I’m posting it here because the colors and patina remind me of an old leather-bound volume illuminated by medieval monks and rubbed smooth by devoted handling through all the centuries since then.

But self-reproducing.

Ain’t nature frickin’ grand?

The genus is Neolucanus, and entomologist Nguyen Quang Thai fashioned the species name baongocae after his daughter, Nguyen Bao Ngoc, which is also a lovely thing.

The description appears in the journal Zootaxa.

Posted in Biodiversity, New Species Discoveries, The Species Seekers | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Strange New Brazilian Porcupine Discovered

Posted by Richard Conniff on December 19, 2013

New South American porcupine (Photo: Hugo Fernandes-Ferreira)

New South American porcupine (Photo: Hugo Fernandes-Ferreira)

The big news in species discovery this week is the first new tapir species since 1865–an animal that can weigh in at 240 pounds.

But this one is quirkier.  Here’s the report from a web site that snarks it up amusingly, or idiotically, depending on your point of view.  The author seems to think the new species is some sort of bizarre cross between a porcupine and a monkey.   It’s really just a porcupine, not a “monkey pine”:

Biologists from the Federal University of Paraíba in Brazil have discovered a new species of porcupine that – to the uninitiated – basically just looks like an amazing, pug-nosed, spiky monkey.

With a prehensile tail, these Coendou porcupines are very similar to most internet writers we know: nocturnal, solitary, prickly, and slow-moving. Found only in Central and South America, the monkey-pines live in trees, where they spend their nights collecting leaves and fruit for food. Their tail operates as a fifth hand for balance in the treetops; unfortunately, they’re incapable of jumping, and have to climb all the way down if they want to venture into a new tree.

This new species of monkey-pine is called the Coendou baturitensis, or the Baturite porcupine. According to this paper in Revista Nordestina de Biologia, “[t]he name refers to the locality of origin, a forests on a mountain range similar to the Brejos de Altitude of the Brazilian Northeast.”

Sadly, the Baturite monkey-pine probably wouldn’t make the greatest of pets, as it is still covered in sharp, tri-colored quills. Cuddle with caution.

Here’s a more detailed (and less fanciful) report from Sergio Prostak at Sci-News.com.  The new species is from the Brazilian state of Ceará, right out on the easternmost tip of the country.

Posted in Species Classification, The Species Seekers | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Spectacular New Dolphin Species Discovered

Posted by Richard Conniff on October 29, 2013

This new species somehow managed to go unnoticed.

This new species somehow managed to go unnoticed.

Just the other week I was talking about how giant species unknown to science keeping turning up, and now a pretty one–and a pretty big one, at that–has turned up in sight of land, off the coast of Australia.

Here’s the press release from the Wildlife Conservation Society, and also check out a few more lovely photos below:

A species of humpback dolphin previously unknown to science is swimming in the waters off northern Australia, according to a team of researchers working for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Biodiversity, The Species Seekers | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

New Petrel Hiding in Plain Sight

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 7, 2011

People have this notion that there’s nothing left to discover, other than a bunch of obscure insects.  So it’s lovely when a big, spectacular new species turns up hiding in plain sight  That’s what just happened within sight of crowded beaches in Chile, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.  Noted ornithologist Peter Harrison caught the new species on camera:

“This is the first new species of storm petrel discovered in 89 years, and the first new species of seabird discovered in 55 years –- and if we had won the lottery we could not feel better,” Harrison said in an interview

“We believe this is a relic population that was completely missed by Darwin himself, who sailed along that very coast a century ago,” Harrison said.

“And guess what? There are thousands of them in that area, which is plied by cruise ships, cargo vessels and fishing boats, all within sight of crowded beaches.”

Researchers at the University of Chile in Santiago are analyzing collected blood samples and feathers to learn more about the birds, where they breed and if they migrate to wintering grounds elsewhere.

“Important discoveries usually happen in remote places like Borneo or the Amazon forests,” said Garry George, chapter network director for Audubon California.

“Not this time,” he said. “This bird has been under everyone’s noses in a popular area for decades.”

Posted in Biodiversity, The Species Seekers | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »