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5 Strange Sightings in the Peruvian Amazon

Posted by on Mar. 26, 2013 at 2:55 PM
BJ
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2 moms liked this

 

5 Strange Sightings in the Peruvian Amazon

By Douglas Main, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer | LiveScience.com - 23 hrs ago

Deep in the Peruvian Amazon lurk strange creatures and unique animals and sights, including spiders that make large spider-shaped decoys in their webs, unusually hairy caterpillars and atmospheric specters called solar halos.

These amazing finds were spotted by Jeff Cremer, marketing director for Rainforest Expeditions, an ecotourism company that hosts guests in the Peruvian Amazon and organizes trips to the jungle, as well as Phil Torres, a collaborating biologist.

Here are five of the stunning sights Cremer and Torres have spotted:

1. Spider-shaped decoys

As if spiders weren't frightening enough (to many, anyway), here's a spider that makes designs in its webs that look like spiders, but are much larger than the web-builders themselves. The animal is almost certainly a new species, said Torres, in a release from Rainforest Expeditions. It's thought that the spider-shaped design is a defense mechanism that is meant to distract or confuse predators, wrote Torres, who originally spotted the spiders.

"Because of the spider's behavior and appearance, I thought that it might be a new species," Torres said in the statement. "After contacting spider experts, we think it is likely in the genusCyclosa, which is known for piling debris in its web for defense against predators but has never been recorded to do it in such a defined pattern as this particular discovery."

2. Macaw clay lick

In the middle of the jungle is an exposed hillside with a special type of sodium-rich clay, upon which nine species of parakeets, parrots and macaws feed, according to Cremer. The trace minerals in the clay cannot be obtained anywhere else in the area or from their usual food sources, so the birds flock there in large numbers to ingest small amounts of clay, he said.

3. Basket cocoon

Inside the delicate mesh of a basketlike web, a young urodid moth larva waits to grow to maturity.

"This cocoon is unlike any other I've come across," writes Torres on the blog TheRevScience. "I couldn't find a lot of literature on these guys, but my best guess is the almost 1-foot-long (30 centimeters) silk string it hangs from and the detailed lattice structure would do well to protect against ants while minimizing investment in an all-encompassing cocoon as many moths have."

 

4. Bizarre puss caterpillar

This strange-looking chap is a larval form of a flannel moth, also known as a puss caterpillar. But don't be fooled by their soft-looking hair: Many flannel moth species' spiny hairs are poisonous.

The insect also resembles the toupee of a rather famous financier. "We found Donald Trump's wig in the Peruvian Amazon," Cremer joked.

5. Solar Halos

These amazing solar halos were spotted above the Tambopata River, and may be the most spectacular photo of the phenomenon ever photographed, Cremer said. These halos are caused by refraction and reflection of the sun's rays by ice crystals high in the atmosphere, in cirrus clouds.

Email Douglas Main or follow him @Douglas_Main. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook or Google+. Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
by on Mar. 26, 2013 at 2:55 PM
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usmom3
by BJ on Mar. 26, 2013 at 2:56 PM
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2-Headed Shark Fetus Netted by Fisherman

By Douglas Main, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer | LiveScience.com - Mon, Mar 25, 2013
  • A radiograph of the two-headed shark. (Photo By Journal of Fish Biology / C. M. Wagner et al)
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    LiveScience.com - A radiograph of the two-headed shark. (Photo By Journal of Fish Biology / C. M. Wagner et al)

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B.j. Philpott

You read this

When a fisherman caught a bull shark recently off the Florida Keys, he came across an unlikely surprise: One of the shark's live fetuses had two heads.

The fisherman kept the odd specimen, and shared it with scientists, who described it in a study published online today (March 25) in the Journal of Fish Biology. It's one of the very few examples of a two-headed shark ever recorded - there about six instances in published reports - and the first time this has been seen in a bull shark, said Michael Wagner, a study co-author and researcher at Michigan State University.

Technically called "axial bifurcation," the deformity is a result of the embryo beginning to split into two separate organisms, or twins, but doing so incompletely, Wagner told OurAmazingPlanet. It's a very rare mutation that occurs across different animals, including humans.

"Halfway through the process of forming twins, the embryo stops dividing," he said.

The two-headed fetus likely wouldn't have lived for very long in the wild, he said. "When you're a predator that needs to move fast to catch other fast-moving fish ... that'd be nearly impossible with this mutation," he said. [See the two-headed shark.]

Wagner said the description of the deformed shark may someday help better understand how these deformities arise in sharks and other animals.

Two-headed snakes and turtles can be bought from certain specialty breeders, and there is a small market for such creatures, Wagner said.

Several of the few examples of two-headed sharks available today come from museum specimens from the late 1800s, when deformed animals and other macabre curiosities fetched high prices, he said.

Another reason the two-headed shark likely wouldn't have survived: its small body. "It had very developed heads, but a very stunted body," Wagner said. There's only so much energy that can go into the body's development, and it went into the shark's double noggins, he added.

oredeb
by on Mar. 26, 2013 at 4:58 PM

 wow usmom, very interesting ! i love hearing about new spieces! i thought it was about bigfoot at first!

usmom3
by BJ on Mar. 26, 2013 at 7:32 PM
1 mom liked this

 Hahaha, My kids loved it & thought it was all way cool! So I thought other Mom's & kids would think it was way cool too!

Quoting oredeb:

 wow usmom, very interesting ! i love hearing about new spieces! i thought it was about bigfoot at first!

 

kirbymom
by Sonja on Mar. 26, 2013 at 8:08 PM

That is just freaky! lol  And I saw the one about the two headed shark. It was about a bull shark fetus. Although it seemed that it was a fluke just to create a stir. :)  

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