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Monday, December 14, 2009

Dog Drinks Slow Motion

Have you ever observed closely how dogs drink water? Let's enter to the time warp and split seconds in thousand times to see clearly how dogs drink water.

The set up was not just in dog bow, not on pet feeder & waterer, not in fond or anywhere just outside, it's on the laboratory with the high definition camera was set.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No 10 Most Popular Cat Breed in US

The Sphynx (also known as Canadian Hairless) is a rare breed of cat known for its lack of a coat. As a hairless breed, the Sphynx can seem more alien than pet. Find out how this cat lost its fur!

- The Sphynx appears to be a hairless cat, although it is not truly hairless. The skin should have the texture of Chamois leather. It may be covered with very soft hair that is often described as peach fuzz. Because the sphynx cats have no hair to keep them warm they prefer to cuddle up against other animals and people, they even tend to cuddle up and sleep with their owners under the covers.

- While Sphynx cats lack a coat to shed or groom, they are not maintenance-free. Body oils, which would normally be absorbed by the hair, tend to build up on the skin.

- In 1966 a domestic cat gave birth to a hairless kitten in Toronto, Canada.

- This medium-sized cat breed is very active, playful with cat toys, extremely gentle and intelligent.

- Pricing on Sphynx usually depends on type, applicable markings and bloodlines distinguished by Grand Champion (GC), National, National Breed and/or Regional winning parentage (NW, BW, RW) or of Distinguished Merit parentage (DM).

It's the No. 10 of Animal Planet's Top 10 Most Popular Cat Breeds

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spider Silk as Artificial Muscle

Spider silk's unique ability to contract when wet is applied to produce artificial muscles.

Spider silk is renowned for its lightweight yet stronger-than-steel fibers, and now scientists are finding a new use for the fine, strong thread: as an artificial muscle.

Scientists at the University of Akron have developed two new ways to apply spider silk, and normal silk from silkworms, to artificial muscles. If refined and commercialized, scientists say the silk could be used in everything from robotics to microchip systems.

"No one thought about using spider silk as an artificial muscle," said Todd Blackledge, a professor at the University of Akron who studies spider silk. "But wrap a finger of drag line spider silk around your finger and dip it in water, and your finger will turn blue from the contraction of the fiber."

Scientists have known for years that some spider silk contracts dramatically, up to 50 percent, when it gets wet. The phenomena is known as super contraction. Scientists speculate that spiders use super contraction as a way to help tighten their webs when dew appears in the morning.

While powerful, super contraction generally only happens once; for a second contraction the fiber must be dried and manually stretched back to its original length.

Like human muscle, spider silk muscles would have degrees of movement, depending on the amount of water in the air around the muscle. High humidity would mean maximum contraction, low humidity would loosen the treads. Water breaks apart the hydrogen bonds inside the thin strands of protein, causing new, contracting bonds, to form. As the water evaporates the hydrogen bonds reform in their original positions.

While studying super contraction, the scientists found a second type of movement, known as cyclic contraction. Unlike super contraction, which generally is a one-time occurrence, cyclic contraction can instantly expand and contract as the humidity around the fiber changes, no drying necessary. While faster and more responsive than super contraction, cyclic contraction isn't nearly as dramatic; the fiber only shortens by 1 to 2 percent instead of 50 percent.

Video about Scientists experiment on Spiders Silk.

Essential Products on Cold Weathers at PetStreetMall

Those small numbers are fine with Blackledge, who notes that human muscle, despite its seemingly wide range of motion, only contracts between 10 and 20 percent. The new artificial muscle could be used in microelectromechnical systems (or MEMS) -- tiny devices that operate on very small scales to, for example, separate individual cells. All a spider silk, cyclic contraction-based spider silk artificial muscle would have to do in a MEMS system is open or close a tiny channel to separate individual cells.

A MEMS system would be a great first use for spider silk artificial muscles because not much silk would be needed. Despite decades of research and dozens of attempts to create artificial spider silk, no one has succeeded in creating an effective replacement. All the silk for an artificial muscle would have to be gathered by hand from real spiders, a fairly labor intensive task.

Luckily, says Blackledge, the same silk worm-based silk that goes into dresses and medical products also exhibits similar contraction properties as spider silk and could also be used for artificial muscles at tiny scales.

Scaling up spider silk for human limb-sized artificial muscles could be problematic, says Brent Opell, a professor at Virginia Tech. A single thread of drag line spider silk is very narrow, about five microns in diameter, and has a high surface area that lets it quickly absorb large amounts of water to quickly contract.

Stacking multiple fibers next to each other will likely slow the diffusion of water through the fiber and slow the speed of contraction.

While there are still multiple issues that still need to be resolved before any actual device using spider silk as an artificial muscle is built, the idea does have its merits, especially when compared to other artificial muscles out there, says Adam Summers, a professor at the University of Washington.

"Spider silk is a remarkably long-lived polymer that would last for tens of thousands of cycles," said Summers.

Other artificial muscles exist that are superior to spider silk in terms of speed or amount of contraction, says Summers, but often require high amounts of electricity or toxic chemicals for activation and break down after a couple hundred cycles.

Blackledge also only studied one of the seven different types of silk produced by one of the more than 40,000 species of silk-producing spider species. Other spider species could produce silk with much higher cyclic contraction percentages or super contraction that has a faster response time.


Animal Planet at Discovery Channel

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Parrots: exceptionally intelligent birds

  • All parrots’ eggs are pure white.
  • Parrots don’t have vocal cords, so they actually “trumpet” the sound by pushing air out of their trachea.
  • Wild parrots do not learn to talk, but the African Grey is the easiest to teach.
  • Parrots, when not nesting, live in groups known as flocks and are prone to squawking and screaming.
  • Parrots are zygodactyls i.e. they have four toes on each foot.
  • Most of the parrots build their nests in holes in trees, termite mounts, rock cavities or ground tunnels. Only a few build stick nests.
  • The vocalizations of some parrots can be heard for up to 1 mile.
  • While eating, parrots hold their food in one of their feet, which can be either left or right, making parrots left as well as right handed.
  • Parrots have a thick muscular tongue that helps them eat fruit, seeds, buds, nectar, and pollen.
  • Chocolate is poisonous to the Parrots.
  • The Owl Parrot is a bird that cannot fly.
  • Parrots are an endangered species.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Infraclass: Neognathae
Order: Psittaciformes

Parrots are fine-looking birds, mainly found inhabiting tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Grouped into two families, Psittacidae (true parrots) and Cacatuidae (cockatoos), they include as many as 350 species within their order. A parrot can be described as a bird with a strong curved beak, erect carriage, strong legs and clawed zygodactyl feet. Parrots can control the pitch of the sound by manipulating the shape and depth of the trachea. Experts say that when parrots talk, they are actually making variations on whistling.
Most parrot fossils were excavated in Europe. The earliest dates back to the Eocene, and are 50 million years old. Most of the complete skeletons were found in Germany and England. These birds are considered the great “parrot ancestors.” However, fossils of modern parrots—with the same bone structure and appearance as the ones we see today, are about 23 million years old.

There are actually two major groups of parrots: the psittacidae, and the cacutaidae. The latter has a movable head crest while the psittacidae have brighter, more vibrant colors. There are also enormous skeletal differences.
Some parrots are in danger of extinction. This includes the Spixs Macaw, of which only 7 survive in captivity. Naturalists once thought they had completely disappeared from the wild, but one was seen spotted flying in the South American rainforest. Breeding efforts have been stepped out to increase the parrots’ numbers.

Great Parrot Talent:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Megalodon: greatest fish predator ever lived

  • The greatest shark to have ever lived!
  • Megalodon was the largest carnivorous fish in history.
  • The Carcharodon megalodon comes from the Greek word for “big tooth”.
  • C. megalodon was certainly piscivorous as well just like other sharks.
  • This shark was as big as a bus at a length of 60 feet and estimated to weigh between 30-60 tons.
  • The largest tooth of Megalodon ever found measured 7 inches in slant length.
  • The weight is comparable to 7 large African elephants weighing 7 tons each!
  • The Swiss naturalist, Louis Agassiz, gave this shark its scientific name, Carcharodon megalodon in 1835.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Order: Lamniformes
Family: Disputed; either Lamnidae or Otodontidae
Genus: Disputed; either Carcharodon or Carcharocles
Species: C. megalodon

Carcharodon Megalodon was a giant shark that lived during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs of the Cenozoic Era, between 2 million and 16 million years ago. Little is known for sure about these giant predators because all that remains of their existence are fossilized teeth. C. megalodon was a warm water pelagic fish and it thrived in all the oceans of the world in its time. The teeth of this ancient shark have been excavated from many parts of the world, including Europe, North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, Malta and India.

There is evidence that C. megalodon preyed on whales, Cetotherium, and Odobenocetops, sirenians, dolphins, porpoises, pinnipeds and giant see turtles. The teeth from the megalodon shark are truly massive in both length and width. The largest teeth are as large as a man's hand and can weigh well over a pound. Another factor that greatly increases the value of a tooth is the degree of preservation. The vast majority of teeth that have become fossils have been destroyed by natural processes (erosion, chemical processes, etc.). Most megalodon teeth found have undergone quite a bit of destruction, with chunks of the tooth broken off, the enamel eaten through, or significant erosion wearing the natural features of the tooth.

Several hypotheses as to how an apex predator like C. megalodon suddenly became extinct after millions of years of existence. Factors such as abrupt global cooling of the Earth's climate coincided with changing ocean circulation, and shortage of food, have been known to cause demise of even dominant marine species.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rabbits: interesting rabbit facts and trivia

  • Rabbits are not rodents, they are lagomorphs.
  • A male rabbit is a buck, female rabbit is a doe and baby rabbit is a kit.
  • A group of rabbits is called a herd.
  • Rabbits groom themselves
  • A rabbits teeth never stop growing.
  • Rabbits have 28 teeth
  • Rabbits have a tiny "peg" tooth behind each incisor.
  • Rabbits can be litter trained
  • A pet rabbit can live as long as 10 years
  • Rabbits can purr similar to a cat
  • Rabbits cannot vomit
  • Rabbits can jump 36" and higher
  • The world record for the rabbit high jump is 1 meter.
  • The longest ears are 31.125 inches long.
  • Rabbits can suffer heat stroke
  • Rabbits do not hibernate
  • A 4 pound rabbit will drink as much water as a 20 pound dog
  • The only place a rabbit sweats is through the pads on its feet
  • Rabbits eat their own night droppings called cecotropes
  • Predators can literally scare a rabbit to death
  • When rabbits are happy, they will jump and twist, this is called a binky
  • Rabbits can see behind them without turning their heads, but have blind spot in front of their face.
  • The longest-lived rabbit was nearly 19 years old when he died.
  • Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae

Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are seven different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Cottontail rabbit (genus Sylvilagus; 13 species), and the Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi, endangered species on Amami ƌshima, Japan). There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha.

Rabbits are ground dwellers that live in environments ranging from desert to tropical forest and wetland. Their natural geographic range encompasses the middle latitudes of the Western Hemisphere. In the Eastern Hemisphere rabbits are found in Europe, portions of Central and Southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Sumatra, and Japan. The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has been introduced to many locations around the world, and all breeds of domestic rabbit originate from the European.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Monitor Lizards: the tropical predators

  • All monitor lizards are tropical reptiles.
  • The claws of monitors are long and sharp.
  • Monitor lizard jaws are very strong and once they bite something it is very difficult to get them to let go.
  • Monitors are carnivorous and will devour anything they are capable of dismembering and gulping down.
  • Monitors do not divest themselves of their tails, like some other lizards. Once lost, the tail of a monitor does not grow back.
  • Many species of monitor lizards hold their heads erect on their long necks, which gives them the appearance of being alert.
  • Monitors tend to swallow their prey whole, like snakes.
  • Monitor lizards lay 7 to 35 soft-shelled eggs, usually deposited in holes in riverbanks or in trees along water courses.
  • The Nile monitor often lays its eggs in termite nests.
  • Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world and belong to the family of monitor lizards.
  • Some are small reptiles of less than a foot in length, while the Komodo dragon, the largest living lizard, grows to 364 lb.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Scleroglossa
Infraorder: Anguimorpha
Family: Varanidae
Genus: Varanus

Monitor lizards or biawak are members of the family Varanidae, a group of carnivorous lizards which includes the heaviest living lizard, the Komodo dragon, with the crocodile monitor being the longest in the world. Varanidae is monotypic, containing only the genus Varanus. Their closest living relatives are the anguid and helodermatid lizards.

Monitor lizards are generally large reptiles, although some can be as small as 12 centimetres in length. They have long necks, powerful tails and claws, and well-developed limbs. Most species are terrestrial, but arboreal and semi-aquatic monitors are also known. Almost all monitor lizards are carnivorous, although Varanus prasinus and Varanus olivaceus are also known to eat fruit. They are oviparous, laying from 7 to 37 eggs, which they often cover with soil or protect in a hollow tree stump.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Armadillos: super armored animal

  • The armadillo is so heavy it will sink in water unless it inflates its stomach with air. Even then only its nose shows above the water.
  • All four young, always of the same sex, are identical quadruplets and developed from the same egg. Armadillos are the only mammals in which multiple young form from a single egg with any regularity.
  • Despite its short legs, the armadillo moves relatively quickly. With its strong feet and thick claws it can burrow with considerable speed.
  • A full grown armadillo is about the size of a large lunchbox, and weighs around 17 pounds.
  • Because of its naturally low body temperature, armadillos have been used in leprosy research that includes the development of a vaccine.
  • Many towns in Texas hold beauty pageants for armadillos. Contestants groom, show and race their pet armadillos.
  • The armadillo is covered with platelets on its midsection, has hornlike skin, stiff hoods on its shoulders and hips, and additional protection on its face, tail and feet. Only its abdomen is unprotected.
  • The armadillo eats ants, worms and other ground insects and is classified as a meat eater.
  • Fossil remains of extinct giant armadillos have been found in the Pleistocene strata of South America.
  • Armadillo flesh is palatable and is used for food.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Superorder: Xenarthra
Order: Cingulata

Armadillos are small placental mammals, known for having a leathery armor shell. The Dasypodidae are the only surviving family in the order Cingulata, part of the superorder Xenarthra along with the anteaters and sloths. The word armadillo is Spanish for "little armored one".

Armadillos are prolific diggers. Many species use their sharp claws to dig for food, such as grubs, and to dig dens. The Nine-banded Armadillo prefers to build burrows in moist soil near the creeks, streams, and arroyos around which it lives and feeds. The diet of different armadillo species varies, but consists mainly of insects, grubs, and other invertebrates. Some species, however, are almost entirely formicivorous (feeding mainly on ants).

Armadillos are often used in the study of leprosy, since they, along with mangabey monkeys, rabbits and mice (on their footpads), are among the few known non-human animal species that can contract the disease systemically. They are particularly susceptible due to their unusually low body temperature, which is hospitable to the leprosy bacterium.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Butterflies: fascinating butterfly facts and trivia

  • The original name for the butterfly was 'flutterby'!
  • Butterflies range in size from a tiny 1/8 inch to a huge almost 12 inches.
  • Butterflies cannot fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees.
  • The Brimstone butterfly (Gonepterix rhamni) has the longest lifetime of the adult butterflies: 9-10 months.
  • The caterpillars of some Snout Moths (Pyralididae) live in or on water-plants.
  • Many butterflies can taste with their feet to find out whether the leaf they sit on is good to lay eggs on to be their caterpillars' food or not.
  • People eat insects – called "Entomophagy"(people eating bugs), many bugs are both protein-rich and good sources of vitamins, minerals and fats.
  • Butterflies and insects have their skeletons on the outside of their bodies, called the exoskeleton (related to crabs and lobsters), keeping water inside their body to keep them from drying out.
  • Female butterflies usually are bigger and live longer than male butterflies.
  • A butterfly has compound eyes: each eye is made up of about 6,000 tiny parts called lenses, which let in light.
  • The female moth produces a scent that a male moth can smell a mile away.
  • Butterflies can’t hear, but they can feel vibrations.
  • Butterflies don't have mouths that allow them to bite or chew.
  • A caterpillar grows to about 27,000 times the size it was when it first emerged from its egg
  • The wings of butterflies and moths are actually transparent.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera

A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera. Like all Lepidoptera, butterflies are notable for their unusual life cycle with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and colourful winged adult form.

Butterflies are characterized by their scale-covered wings. The coloration of butterfly wings is created by minute scales. These scales are pigmented with melanins that give them blacks and browns, but blues, greens, reds and iridescence are usually created not by pigments but the microstructure of the scales. This structural coloration is the result of coherent scattering of light by the photonic crystal nature of the scales.

Both butterflies and moths belong to the order lepidoptera, a Greek which means scale wing.The iridescent scales, which overlap like shingles on a roof, give the wings the colors that we see. Contrary to popular belief, many butterflies can be held gently by the wings without harming the butterfly. Of course, some are more fragile than others, and are easily damaged if not handled very gently. Butterflies along with most moths have a long straw like structure called a proboscis which they use to drink nectar and juices. When not in use, the proboscis remains coiled like a garden hose.

Studies on the reflection and scattering of light by the scales on wings of swallowtail butterflies led to the innovation of more efficient light-emitting diodes. Researches on the wing structure of Birdwing (of Palawan, Philippines) butterflies led to new wide wingspan kite and aircraft designs. The structural coloration of butterflies is inspiring nanotechnology research to produce paints that do not use toxic pigments and in the development of new display technologies. Furthermore, the discoloration and health of butterflies in butterfly farms, is now being studied for use as indicators of air quality in several cities.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hercules Beetle: strongest of all

  • Hercules beetles, also called rhinoceros and unicorn beetles, are among the largest beetles in the world.
  • Pound for pound, Hercules beetles are the strongest animal in the world. Some can lift as much as 850 times their own weight.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Scarabaeidae
Subfamily: Dynastinae
Genus: Dynastes
Species: D. hercules

The male, about five inches (13 cm) long, is one of the largest insects known. Females often have a greater body length but are not as long overall. Males have black heads and a set of forewings that can be shades of green, brown or black, while females are entirely brownish black. A large horn projecting from its upper thorax (chest) and a smaller one from its head resemble pincers. They are mainly found in tropical rainforests in Central and South America, but live as far north as Mexico as well as on some Caribbean islands.

Hercules beetles have a total life cycle of about a year and a half. They live underground as larvae for ten to 16 months, but only live for three to four months as adults.
Adult Hercules Beetles feed on sweet fruits, tree sap, and decaying plant matter. Larvae develop in or around rotten logs and eat decaying wood. Hercules beetles are vulnerable in the wild due to destruction of forests and collection for the pet trade. They are also vulnerable as their natural range is very limited.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mouse: adaptable intelligent animal

  • The typical laboratory mouse runs 2.5 miles per night on its treadmill.
  • A rat can walk longer on desert than a camel without drinking water.
  • Mice have tails that are as long as their bodies.
  • Mice see best in dim light. Their eyesight is weak, but their other senses are acute.
  • Mice have teeth that never stop growing. Mice teeth can grow up to 5 inches a year.
  • Mice squeak at very high frequencies, often above the range of human hearing.
  • Mice can jump down 12 feet without injury; they also have a 12-inch vertical jump.
  • Mice explore their territory daily, showing no aversion to new objects (neophobia).
  • The female mouse ovulates every other day.
  • A baby mouse is called a pinky, or a kitten. A female is called a doe. A male is called a buck
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Superfamily: Muroidea
Family: Muridae
Subfamily: Murinae
Genus: Mus

The word "mouse" and the word muscle are related. Muscle stems from musculus meaning small mouse - possibly because of a similarity in shape The word "mouse" is a cognate of Sanskrit mus meaning 'to steal,' which is also cognate with mys in Old Greek and mus in Latin. Mice range in size from 11 to 21 cm (4 to 8 inches) long (including a long tail). They weigh from .25 to 2 oz (7.1 to 57 g). The coat color ranges from white to brown to gray. Most mice have a pointed snout with long whiskers, round ears, and thin tails. Many mice scurry along the ground, but some can hop or jump.

Mice are common experimental animals in biology and psychology primarily because they are mammals, mice also share a high degree of homology with humans. They are the most commonly used mammalian model organism, more common than rats. The mouse genome has been sequenced, and virtually all mouse genes have human homologs. There are other reasons for why mice are used in laboratory research. Mice are small, inexpensive, easily maintained, and can reproduce quickly. Several generations of mice can be observed in a relatively short period of time. Mice are generally very docile if raised from birth and given sufficient human contact. However, certain strains have been known to be quite temperamental. Mice (and rats) have the same organs in the same places, just different proportions.

Mice live for one to two years. They can start having babies at 6-8 weeks old and have 5-10 in each litter (pregnancy lasts 3 weeks). Babies are born hairless with their eyes closed. One mother mouse can produce over 100 babies a year.

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