December 2011

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles, Endearing and Disappearing

Rescue and Breeding Efforts are Still in Danger

Travel along the lower gulf shores and you might be privileged to meet a Kemp's Ridley sea turtle. They're the smallest in this aquatic group and are considered the most endangered. Egg-laying is an amazing phenomenon and one that's guarded closely by both staff and volunteers representing the National Park Service. Luckily, with recent efforts, they may be making a comeback. Along with plenty of human nurturing and a little luck.

Komodo Dragons - Fierceness at Large

Lizard is Now the Largest Venomous Animal

Up until about 2009, it was believed that Komodo Dragons killed prey by transmitting bacteria in their bites. Now, researchers are convinced these ultra-large lizards also pack venom in glands. Regardless of the latest discoveries, these reptiles have always been deadly predators. Native to Indonesia, they're popular zoo attractions as well. While they may appear sluggish on exhibit, when tempted by a meal, they can move rapidly for short distances.

Polar Bears - Cold Weather Hunters

This Wily Species is Built for Preying

Since winter is upon us, polar bears come to mind when Wild Animal discussions come up. These astute predators are making the news lately in a couple of ways. First, a photo taken of an adult killing and consuming a cub immediately led some to hypothesize that global warming was turning these creatures to cannibalism. Additional unrelated reports are stating that, while once endangered, polar bears are now becoming dangerous nuisance animals.

Ravens Point At Things

Proving what everyone already knows: ravens are crazy smart!
In the earliest stages of childhood, before they know how to speak, human toddlers use what researchers call "deictic gestures." Your child may point at something she wants you to give her, hold up her arms to indicate that she wants to be picked up, or wave her empty sippy cup around to ask for more juice. These gestures are used as a sort of pre-language for children between the ages of nine and twelve months, and many researchers believe that they serve as the foundation for all human language.
 
And now it turns out that ravens do it, too!