Could toads be used to warn humans of impending natural disasters?

By David Derbyshire

Man's best friend? Scientists believe toads have a sixth sense

The toad has long been a favourite magical companion of witches and wizards. Now it seems that the humble amphibians may have picked up some magical skills of their own.

Scientists have discovered that common toads have a sixth sense about natural disasters - and can predict when an earthquake is about to strike.

In an extraordinary example of animal foresight, 96 per cent of male toads fled a breeding site 46 miles from the epicentre of the earthquake that hit L'Aquilia in Italy last year - five days before it struck

Three days before the quake, there were no breeding pairs left at the site, according to the study published in the Zoological Society of London's Journal of Zoology.

And there was no fresh toad spawn laid at the spot from the date the earthquake struck to the last significant aftershock of more than 4.5 on the Richter scale.

According to the researchers from the Open University, male toads would normally remain at the breeding site from the start of the mating season until spawning is complete.

They believe the toads were able to detect environmental changes missed by people - such as the release of gases or charged particles from the ground, before seismic events.

The coming earthquake appears to have prompted them to break off from breeding and evacuate the site.

Dr Rachel Grant, who was studying the impact of the lunar cycle on the toads when the earthquake struck, said: 'Our study is the first to document animal behaviour before, during and after an earthquake.

'Our findings suggest that toads are able to detect pre-seismic cues such as the release of gases and charged particles, and use these as a form of earthquake early warning system.'

Sixth-sense: Toads can come in all shapes and sizes, like this one which is 15 inches long and weighs nearly one kilogram

Dr Grant said she was 'very surprised' by the toads' unexpected disappearance for five days before the earthquake struck, and it was only after the event that a colleague suggested the two events could be linked.

She believes the amphibians could have evolved to evacuate an area when they sensed the changes associated with a quake.

Earthquakes can cause flooding, rock-falls or landslides which could devastate a population gathered in a single spot to breed, and the toads may have headed to higher, safer ground.

'An earthquake could wipe out a population in that area,' she said. 'This particular species are very dispersed and can live up to a mile or two from their breeding site. A landslide or flood could wipe out virtually 100 per cent of the males, and quite a lot of the females.

'A day after the earthquake, they all started coming back. The numbers were still lower than normal and remained low until after the last aftershock.'

Their exodus coincided with disruptions in the ionosphere, the uppermost electromagnetic layer of the Earth's atmosphere, which could be the result of the release of radon gas and gravity waves prior to an earthquake.

While earthquakes are a rare phenomenon, toads have been around on the planet for 450 million years - long enough to evolve a response to such potentially catastrophic events, she suggested.

The common toads studied in Italy are identical to the toads found in British gardens.

source: dailymail

Orca the dolphin killer: Families see astonishing attack as they enjoy nature trip

By Daniel Bates

The six-ton hunter chased the female dolphin through the waves before slamming into her, flipping her 30 feet into the air

This is the shocking moment a killer whale leapt from the sea to kill an exhausted dolphin.

The six-ton hunter had chased the female dolphin through the waves before swimming up under her and slamming into her, flipping her 30 feet into the air and breaking her back.

The dolphin died almost instantly and the killer whale, or orca

What makes this remarkable is that it was witnessed by a group of tourists – experts said a sighting of killer whales hunting a dolphin was 'almost unheard of'.

The drama happened at a seaside beauty spot called Black Rocks, in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

A tour party on a nature cruise were on a boat just 50 yards away when one of the female whales attacked the dolphin with her young pup.

Astonishing attack: The orca toys with the exhausted dolphin

Rob Hunt, boss of Explore Images, which arranged the tour, said the killer whale chased its prey after apparently singling it out.

He said: 'It chased it for several minutes, playing with it before flicking the unfortunate creature about ten metres into the air, breaking its back on her nose. 'I have never known anything like this before to be captured on film.

'This is mother nature at its most brutal, a rare occurrence that it was seen by humans, and even more rare that it was captured on camera. It is very real when you see these photos of just how fierce killer whales are.'

Fatal flip: The orca breaks the dolphins back- killing her almost instantly

The dolphin was a species known as the False Killer Whale or Pseudo Orca, because it shares similar characteristics to killer whales.

Marine mammal scientist Rochelle Constantine said: 'Pseudo Orca are dolphins with all the characteristics of an orca – except a lot smaller, and no match for the real thing.'

Last month a killer whale killed its trainer at Seaworld in Florida by pulling her into its pool.

source :dailymail

The truth behind the hyena's distinctive high-pitched laugh

By David Derbyshire

Study: Scientists have found a hyena's laugh carries important information to both friends and rivals about its place in the family hierarchy

Their high-pitched menacing cackle is nothing to boast about.

But it seems that is exactly what the hyena is doing when its distinctive laugh echoes across the savannah.

Scientists have found a hyena's laugh carries important information to both friends and rivals about its place in the family hierarchy.

They recorded the calls of a colony of 26 hyenas living in captivity in the U.S., comparing each animal's sound with its age and status.

It soon became apparent that the pitch and timbre of the hyena's laugh was a clue to its social standing.

The researchers found that the pitch reveals a hyena's age. Variation in the frequency of notes indicates whether an animal is dominant or subordinate.

Younger hyenas tend to have high-pitched 'giggles' while the dominant females of the group make a narrower range of sounds.

The cackles are usually produced when hyenas are squabbling over food. But the scientists say they may also be a sign of frustration or used to summon help.

'The hyena's laugh gives receivers cues to assess the social rank of the emitting individual,' said Dr Frederic Theunissen, who led the study at the University of California.

'This may allow hyenas to establish feeding rights and organise their food gathering activities.'

He said the laugh could also help hyenas fend off lions who often muscle in on their kills.

'A solitary hyena has no chance when confronted by a lion, whereas a hyena group often can "mob" one or two lions and get their food back,' he said.

source: dailymail

I know I lost the 'comfy cushion' bet, but can I please get up now?: Meerkats use their mate as a backrest

By Daily Mail Reporter

Meer-ly a backrest: Tourists at Taronga Zoo, in Sydney, Australia, watched in amusement when two meerkats used a fellow meerkat as a cushion

Need a comfy cushion to sit on to enjoy the afternoon sun? Simples!
This cheeky pair spotted a fellow meerkat dozing - and thought it was the perfect chance to secure themselves a comfortable backrest.

The unfortunate animal was lying down on its front when the opportunistic pair pinned him down against a wall.

The pinned down meerkat turned over and struggled for a while but then accepted its fate as it tired.

Then, using their friend as a cushion, the victorious mammals kicked back themselves and soaked up some rays.

The remarkable image was captured by 73-year-old photographer Charlie Summers at Taronga Zoo, in Sydney, Australia.

He said: 'The one who was pinned down was originally lying on its belly and one of the other ones was sitting next to it but on its haunches.

'Then all of a sudden the meerkat leaned back, pinning the prone one to the ground.
'As the prone animal struggled to get out of this predicament, another spied the situation and came over.

'It sat right next to the seated meerkat and joined in with the pin.'

Father-of-one Charlie, who watched with his wife Rita, said the meerkat on the bottom of the pile struggled at first before giving up.

He added: 'The unfortunate meerkat on the bottom struggled a bit and turned over but then seemed to accept its fate.

'It did struggle a bit but not to the point where it appeared it had made up its mind to escape.

'I certainly don't think the prone meerkat "volunteered" for the job.

'I have observed these animals on and off since 1980 and I have never seen behaviour this before - it was hard to take the picture because I was laughing so much.'

source :dailymail

The purrfect pair: Animal rescue workers handed two cats with SIX toes on each paw

By Daily Mail Reporter

Cat's whiskers: Animal rescue centre manager Andrew Stripe from the centre with Baby showing two of her paws with the six toes

These two rare cats astonished workers at an animal adoption centre today when they were handed in with an amazing six toes on each paw.

Cats usually have five digits on each of their front paws and four of the back feet, meaning siblings Pudding and Baby have an extra 12 toes between them.

Experts said although some felines can be born with extra toes, it is extremely rare to have extra digits on every paws - especially in two kittens from the same litter.

The nine-year-old cats were handed to the Blue Cross animal adoption centre in Cambridge after their owner developed an cat allergy and could no longer care for them.

Technically they are known as 'polydactyls' - the name given to animals and humans with extra toes - but otherwise Puddy and Baby are not hindered by their extra appendages.

Twinkle toes: A close-up of one of Baby's unusual paws

In America, polydactyl cats are affectionately known as 'Hemingway' cats after the famous author was given a six-toed feline by a ship's captain.

Centre manager Alan Maskell appealed for pet-lovers to offer the pair a home.

He said: 'Having extra toes doesn't hinder Puddy and Baby in any way - if anything they're probably lighter on their feet.

'They're a cheeky, affectionate duo and are looking for a loving home together.'

Maggie Roberts, Cats Protection's Director of Veterinary said the that the cats' extra toes were traditionally prized among sailors.

She said: 'It is usually a genetic condition which, in the majority of cases, causes no harm to the cat whatsoever.

'There is a legend among sailors that polydactyl cats used to be ship's cats and the extra toes helped them climb the rigging.

'It's a nice story, but these cats do not have a greater climbing ability.

Basically it's neither an advantage or a disadvantage to the cat - just an unusual quirk of nature.'

Paws for thought: Mr Stripe and Emma Laflin from the centre with Pudding and Baby, sibblings handed in after their owner became allergic

The world record for the cat with the most toes is Jake Contant from Ontario, Canada, who had 28 toes, with seven on each paw.

He was officially given his Guinness World Records title when he had his digits counted by a vet in September 24 2002.

Polydactyl cats are known by various names including 'mitten cats', 'thumb cats', 'Cardi cats', 'Boston Thumb cats' and 'witch's cats'.

Because the extra toes on the front paws are often opposable, some cats can use them to manipulate small objects and some owners believe this represents the next stage in feline evolution.

source: dailymail

The white bird that's a bit of a black sheep: Twitcher snaps an ALBINO blackbird

Light fantastic: The incredibly rare albino blackbird pictured by Fiona Crofts in her back garden

A householder snapped a very unusual visitor to her garden - a white blackbird.

Fiona Crofts spotted the rare albino bird sitting on the fence in her garden in Deeping, near Peterborough.

Avid bird watcher Fiona said in six years of 'twitching' it was the first time she had ever seen anything like it.

Fiona, 26, said: 'At first I thought it was a dove, so I ran to put my glasses on, but it wasn't until I got a closer look I realised it was actually a blackbird

'I couldn't believe it, I was quite shocked I've never seen a completely white blackbird before, that's for sure.'

Fiona watched and took photos of the bird for around five minutes before it flew away.

She said it must have been a fleeting visit, as she has not seen her feathered friend since.

Erica Howe, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said she was certain the bird was an albino blackbird, which are very rare in the wild.

But she said, being pale an interesting meant the bird did not have an easy time surviving in the wild.

She said: 'The problem albino blackbirds have is that they stand out quite a lot.

All white: Albinism occurs in more than 160 species of birds in Britain and tends to be genetic passed on from parents

'This means they are vulnerable to predators such as cats, foxes and larger birds of prey and are easily targeted.

'Albinism occurs in more than 160 species of birds in Britain and tends to be genetic passed on from parents.

'Nearly a third of albino birds in Britain are thrushes and blackbirds, but they are very rare.

'There are different levels of albinism in blackbirds. Some are completely white, while others have only a few white patches or feathers.'

source: dailymail

Now even dogs are going GaGa: Barking photos of canines dressed in pop star's most famous outfits

By Mail Foreign Service

Barking: Pancake models a custom-made copy of the blood-red lace outfit Lady GaGa wore to accept Best New Artist gong at the 2009 MTV awards

If you thought there was nothing more gaga than GaGa, you'd be wrong.

Decked out in blonde wigs, a space age mask and a red lace 'dress' accessorised with matching hat this collection of dogs are doing their best to be as avant-garde as the lady herself.

Not that any of them look particularly thrilled with their new outfits. Instead, each canine has put on his best poker face for the camera.

Booker poses for fine art dog photographer Jesse Freidin who used Polaroid film

The Doggie GaGa project was dreamed up by Jesse Freidin, an award-winning pet photographer based in San Francisco.

He was inspired by the pop star's extraordinary costumes and outre personality

'I took two of the last remaining packs of Polaroid film in the world and created an original celebration of creativity, originality and fearlessness,' he said.

'This is a toast to instant photography. Oh, and dogs.'

Dazzling: Gunther got this glittering creation, which the singer wore to perform at Glastonbury in June 2009

Freidin has not met Lady GaGa - yet. 'I'd love to,' he said. 'I hope she enjoys the pictures.'

The photographer dressed his dogs in five of Lady GaGa's most iconic outfits.

His models were a Boston Terrier, a Mexican hairless, a Shiba Inu and two Pit Bulls and each outfit was custom made.

Lady GaGa has recently been named as creative director for a new line of Polaroid products.

The real thing: Lady Gaga in a Kermit outfit for German TV and collecting her award at the VMAs

Iconoclastic: The singer poses in her mirror ball dress at Glastonbury last year

source: dailymail

Catch me if you can: How Wile E Coyote gave New York's finest the runaround

By Daily Mail Reporter

On the run: The coyote shortly after she was first spotted emerging from the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan

For a while it looked as though she'd outwitted the fire-power and resources of New York's finest but in the end there was no escape.

Dubbed Wile E Coyote, after the cartoon character, the 30lb female coyote was first spotted emerging from Holland Tunnel into Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon before darting into traffic.

The tunnel connects the island of Manhattan in New York City with New Jersey on the mainland.

Drivers and passersby alerted police and up to 20 officers were dispatched, some with tranquilizer guns, to catch the one-year-old female.
Scroll down for video report

Cornered? Officers with tranquilizer guns were sent out to catch the coyote

'I thought it was a little wolf,' said 18-year-old painter Demetrius Jones. 'It looked scared.'

At one point they thought she was cornered in the TriBeca neighbourhood but she made another break for freedom and wasn't spotted again until yesterday.

Officers tracked her down to an open air car park at the corner of Watts Street and the West Side Highway. She was spotted hiding under a vehicle.

This time they managed to fire a tranquiliser dart into her before she got away again. The coyote was then taken away in a pet carrier to a rescue centre.

Detective James Coll, of New York's Emergency Service Unit, said: 'Our unit trains for any number of eventualities in the community. We do come across some strange things in the city but this one of the things that make this city as great as it is.'

Laying low: The coyote looks out from under a car as officers move in to catch her

I'm off: The coyote darted through traffic and escaped the officers pursuing her

'I thought it was a little wolf,' said 18-year-old painter Demetrius Jones. 'It looked scared.'

At one point they thought she was cornered in the TriBeca neighbourhood but she made another break for freedom and wasn't spotted again until yesterday.

Officers tracked her down to an open air car park at the corner of Watts Street and the West Side Highway. She was spotted hiding under a vehicle.

This time they managed to fire a tranquiliser dart into her before she got away again. The coyote was then taken away in a pet carrier to a rescue centre.

Detective James Coll, of New York's Emergency Service Unit, said: 'Our unit trains for any number of eventualities in the community. We do come across some strange things in the city but this one of the things that make this city as great as it is.'

Animal welfare officials will observe the animal before deciding where to take it. It is not sure whether the coyote came via the tunnel from New Jersey or was trying to head out of the city.

I need back-up! First time round the coyote made good her escape but a day later officers captured the one-year-old

Armed with tranquiliser guns, 20 officers were sent out to capture the coyote. The female was taken to an animal rescue centre after her capture, right

It is the fourth time this year a coyote has been spotted in 'downtown' Manhattan.

In February, three coyotes were spotted on the Columbia University campus.

As unusual as it sounds, coyotes do live in New York City and in larger numbers outside the city limits.

The much-loved cartoon character Wile E Coyote

There is even an established coyote population in Van Cortlandt Park which lies in the Bronx, to the north of Manhattan.

After 'Wile E' has been assessed she may even be released there as other captured coyotes have been, says the Bronx Ink website.

In 1998, a statue was put up at one of the park’s entrances in honour of 'the first confirmed coyote sighting in New York City since 1946'.

A 2006 report on coyotes noted that they have 'been present in New York state at least since 1920, as they extended their range eastward after wolves became extinct in the eastern U.S. and southern portions of Canada'.

The professor who carried out the survey estimated there were between 20,000 and 30,000 coyotes living in New York state.

New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation explains on its website that coyotes are 'firmly establised in New York'.

Under the 'Coyote Conflicts' heading it adds: 'People and coyotes can usually coexist if the natural fear of people that coyotes have is maintained.'

It points out that across the U.S. there are only a handful of coyote attacks each year, while on average 650 people are hospitalised and one person is killed by dogs each year in New York State.

But for cat owners it adds the following, somewhat tricky, advice 'keep it indoors, or allow it outside only under supervision'.

This is because: 'Coyotes in some areas appear to become "specialists" at catching and killing cats.'

Furthermore, owners of small dogs have cause for concern: 'Very small dogs, e.g., small poodles, are viewed by coyotes as easy prey and are at risk to be killed year round.'

source: dailymail

Would dew believe it: The stunning pictures of sleeping insects covered in water droplets

By Daily Mail Reporter

Stunning: Droplets of water bead on the head of this blue dragonfly as it slumbers on a leaf

Glistening in the early morning, these insects look like creatures from another planet as dew gathers on their sleeping bodies.

Captured in extreme close-up, one moth appears to be totally encrusted in diamonds as it rests on a twig.

Dragonflies, flies and beetles also take on an unearthly quality as the water droplets form on them.

These remarkable photographs were taken by physiotherapist Miroslaw Swietek at around 3am in the forest next to his home.

Using a torch, the 37-year-old amateur photographer hunts out the motionless bugs in the darkness before setting up his camera and flash just millimetres from them.

Close up: Amateur photographer Miroslaw Swietek captured this common fly slumbering on top of a plant as the water condenses on its body

Bejewelled: This month looks like it has been encrusted in diamonds as it rests on a twig

Mr Swietek said: 'I took up photography as a relaxing hobby two and a half years ago and I particularly like taking pictures of insects and lizards.

'I photograph them in their natural environment in the forest next to my village.

'They all are covered in dew because I go to the forest in the morning at around 3am.

'At 3am to 4am insects are sleepy and taking photos of them is easy, but it is very difficult to find them.

Close up: The insects appear to be completely drenched in water as they rest while the sun is down

Shower time: Mr Swietek gets up at 3am to capture the insects while they are less active in a forest near his home

'You must be very fast taking the photos because the dew quickly disappears.

'It is very satisfying getting a good shot of an insect which I have had to hunt out.

'I have books which help my identify insects but because they are all covered in dew I find it almost impossible to know which types they are.'

Although insects do not 'sleep' in the same sense as humans, they enter a state of torpor where they are virtually immobile and much less sensitive to external stimuli.

Mr Swietek lives with his wife and teenage son in Jaroszow, a village in Poland around 30 miles from the city of Wroclaw

Clinging on: The amateur photographer searches for the insects using a torch and then sets up his camera and flash right next to them

Hobby: Another dragonfly enjoys an early morning wash. Mr Swietek only took up photography two and a half years ago

source: dailymail

Clash of the titans: Fossilised faeces points to fight to the death between shark and crocodile 15 million years ago

By Daily Mail Reporter

Clash: The fossilised faeces, or coprolites, is believed to have come from a prehistoric crocodile that was attacked by a shark

Palaeontologists have revealed ancient fossilised faeces which they believe points to an ancient fight to the death between a shark and a crocodile millions of years ago.

The 15 million year-old fossilised faecal matter, or coprolites, are each the size of a fist and bear clear impressions of prehistoric shark teeth.

Professor Stephen Godfrey, 50, who is curator of palaeontology at the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland, said the discovery is one of three of its kind in existence

He said: 'I have never seen anything like this before.

What we think has happened is that the prehistoric shark, which bears close relation to today's Tiger shark, has done of of three things.

'It began eating the turds, but then thought better of it or was just nosing about, bit into the faeces and for reasons unknown, did not ingest them.

'Or more interestingly it bit into the faeces-filled abdomen or dismembered intestines of a prey animals, alive or dead, leaving the tooth impressions in the faeces that subsequently sank to the bottom of the ocean and fossilised.'

The coprolites were discovered six years ago by a local collector along the western shore of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

Tussle: Experts say the shark either bit into crocodile faeces 15 million years ago or left the impression of its teeth after biting the reptile's abdomen

Professor Godfrey said: 'Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and the ranges are around 18 million years old.

'These fossils are around 15 million years old and are immediately recognisable in their colour, texture and density as waste.

'So I knew right away that this item was a coprolite but that it had shark tooth impressions.

'The tooth impressions were not vague, but clear crisp natural moulds of the original teeth.'

He added: 'We joke around here that this kind of research might have left us with a bad taste in our mouths.'

The fossil has been published in science journal Naturwissenschaften and will now be displayed at Calvert Museum.

Predator: The fossil is placed next to a rubber cast of the shark teeth. It was discovered by a local collector at Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

source: dailymail

Cat killed by car 'comes back to life' nine months after owner buries him

By James Tozer

Eight lives left: Angelo Petrillo and son Brandon with 'back-from-dead' cat Alfie

They say cats have nine lives - but no one seriously expects them to come back from the dead.

Yet that is what Alfie the ginger tom appeared to have done nine months after apparently being killed by a car.

Owner Angelo Petrillo buried what he believed to be his pet's battered body after a friend spotted it on the side of a road near his home.

Soon afterwards Mr Petrillo, 39, and his wife Katy moved house, along with their other cat Freddie, also a ginger tom. But a few days ago, they received a phone call from their former neighbour.

'They said a ginger cat had been trying to get into our old home, going up to the front and back doors, and they thought it was ours,' said Mr Petrillo, who works for an energy company.

'But we said Freddie was asleep with us so there must have been a mistake.

'Then they said the cat was climbing on to the conservatory and trying to get in the bedroom window, which is exactly what our two did.

'My wife and I looked at each other, and she said "Are you totally sure it was Alfie that you buried?", and I said "Yes, 100 per cent".'

Back where he belongs: Alfie at home after going missing for eight months

The next day, however, the neighbours said the cat had remained outside all night, meowing pitifully.

Mrs Petrillo, 35, a manager for a wine company, returned to the couple's old home a mile away - and immediately recognised the cat as Alfie.

The three-year-old had lost the collar he used to wear and had put on weight, suggesting someone else had been looking after him while he was being mistakenly mourned.

Mr Petrillo said: 'It was just unbelievable - the cat I had buried nine months earlier, the cat we spent about a month grieving over, was back, and my wife just couldn't believe what she was seeing.'

Just one mystery remains: Who was the ginger tom killed last summer and where is the family that looked after it?

Mr Petrillo had examined the body of the cat found beside a sliproad on the M62 near their home in Milnrow, Greater Manchester, last June and was convinced it was Alfie.

But nine months on, the family are overjoyed that he was wrong - everyone, that is, apart from their other cat, five-year-old Freddie. 'They're not getting on very well at the moment, but hopefully he'll settle in again,' said Mr Petrillo.

The couple are having both cats microchipped to ensure there is no confusion if either goes missing again.

source: dailymail

New species of gecko discovered in Cambodian mountain range

By Wil Longbottom

Discovery: The Cnemaspis neangthyi gecko has been found in an unexplored part of Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains

Blending perfectly into the green of the tree underneath him, this new species of exceptionally well-camouflaged gecko has been discovered by a team of scientists in a previously unexplored part of Cambodia.

The species, named Cnemaspis neangthyi, was discovered during a reptile and amphibian survey in the rocky foothills of the Cardamom Mountains.

Its unique combination of colour pattern and scale characteristics mean it is almost undetectable when it blends in to the rock crevices and trees on which it lives.

It was found during a reptile and amphibian survey led by Dr Lee Grismer, La Sierra University and conservation charity Fauna & Flora International (FFI).

A statement from the FFI said: 'Cnemaspis geckos have a relatively ancient body plan characterised by a broad flattened head, large forward and upward directed eyes, flattened body, long widely-splayed limbs and long inflected digits that help them to climb trees and hide within crevices.'

There are now 75 species of Cnemapsis known to science, of which 30 live in Southeast Asia.

FFI's biological surveys of the Cardamom Mountains have shown the area to be one of the most important areas for biodiversity conservation in Asia.

The area is home to more than 62 threatened animals and 17 threatened tree species, many of them unique to the region.

The Cardamom Mountains contain three protected areas - Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary and the Central Cardamoms Protected Forest.

This gecko has been named after Cambodian scientist Neang Thy, who heads the FFI research group, in recognition of his studies into the country's reptiles and amphibians.

He said: 'I am very happy and proud to have a species named after me. It gives me much pleasure and makes me feel my work as a herpetologist is being recognised.

'There are likely many more species to be discovered in the Cardamom Mountains.

'Maybe this will also help to involve Cambodian people more in the conservation of species, landscapes and habitats.

'If we do not do this, many animals in Cambodia may soon become extinct and we will not be able to show them to our children.'

The Greater Cardamoms cover over 2million hectares of forest, one of the largest remaining blocks of evergreen forest in South East Asia.

It is under increasing pressures from development, the FFI added.

source: dailymail

First picture of girl, 2, whose jaw was ripped off in horrific attack by family dog before father kills it with a kitchen knife

By Ryan Kisiel

Horrific attack: Taylor Leadbeater was mauled by a family pet, a French Bullmastiff, as she played in her bedroom. Her father wrestled the dog off her

A two-year-old is in a critical condition after she was horrifically attacked by her family dog.

Taylor Leadbeater has undergone facial reconstruction surgery and tissue from her cheeks following the vicious mauling.

The French Bullmastiff dog suddenly turned on her while she was playing with toys in her bedroom.

The dog attack on two-year-old Taylor Leadbeater occured in a house on Churchbury Road in Eltham on Monday afternoon

Her distraught father wrestled the dog off her, dragged it into the back garden and stabbed it to death with a kitchen knife.

Taylor was taken to hospital and has had 70 stitches put into her face after an operation. She is due to undergo another operation to deep wounds below her eye today.

Her parents, Gareth and Charlene Leadbeater and brother Ronnie, six, were at her side last night.

The male dog is not an illegal breed but had been kept at the family’s home with a female French Bullmastiff who is in season and an Alsatian.

Her grandmother Alison Leadbeater said her daughter had asked vets to put the dog down two weeks ago after it bit her brother Gary’s hand, but they had refused.

She said: ‘Taylor was playing with the drawers and toys in her bedroom and the dog suddenly snapped.

‘Her father Gareth heard him growl and grabbed the dog off of her, but it was too late.

‘Taylor has serious facial injuries and has already had 70 stitches following one operation. Her bone structure is fine, but there is a lot of damage to her face. She will have to have a lot of operations.’

Mrs Leadbeater said vets had offered to ‘retrain’ the dog after her daughter had asked for it to be put down because of its recent aggressive behaviour.

She claimed vets told the family that the breed was not illegal and not normally aggressive.

‘The dog was a family pet and had been fine for years’, she added.
‘He only started getting aggressive recently when he bit my son’s hand.

Charlene was worried about his behaviour and spoke to the vets as she was concerned about the children.

‘But they said they could retrain the animal and they could not put it down.

'The dog was lovely but turned into a killing machine because of how aggressive it was getting.'

A next-door neighbour told how his wife saw the incident.

The man told the Evening Standard: 'He was playing with the dog and he turned away and the dog bit the girl on the face.

'He chased the dog out into the garden and was punching and kicking it and that's where he stabbed it with a knife.]

'My wife saw that and started screaming. We haven't been living here very long and their dogs do bark a lot and don't get on with the other dogs in the street.'

The French Bullmastiff breed is not covered under the Dangerous Dogs act.

The family's other two dogs have been taken from their semi-detached house in Eltham, South London, and placed into police care while they are investigating. They are not described as dangerous.

It is understood the police received assistance from the RSPCA.

The incident comes amid growing concern about the use of dangerous dogs as status symbols and weapons.

Last week, Chrisdian Johnson, 22, was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 24 years, after using his powerfully-built pitbull-cross dog as a weapon to savage 16-year-old Seyi Ogunyemi.

As his slightly-built victim lay helpless on the ground, Johnson carried out a 'vicious murder' with a knife before fleeing the scene covered in blood.

Judge Christopher Moss, sentencing, told Johnson the dog had been used as a 'fearsome' weapon - 'trained to attack and bring down your prey'.

The French bullmastiff - also called the Bordeaux Bulldog - is a relatively short, stocky mastiff.

According to breeders it usually has a good and calm temperament. They are renowned for being extremely loyal, patient and devoted.

Fearless and confrontational with strangers, they make a first class watch and guard dog.

They can be aggressive to other dogs unless they are socialised from an early age. The breed is usually gentle with children.

source :dailymail

The antelope with his own web-site (and a spider who is very much at home)

By Mail Foreign Service

You and me forever: The antelope - his face also covered in cobweb - appears quite happy with his new friend

It's nature's version of the Odd Couple.

This Impala antelope has become a home for a contented spider.

The insect appears to have settled in the web after it became caught between the antlers of the small antelope as it walked through a national park.

Photographer Frank Solomon captured the bizarre image while on safari

Home sweet home: The spider perches happily near the Impala's antler

He said: 'This is the first time I have ever seen something like this, and I have spent most of my life in the bush.

'For me this was better than seeing a herd of elephant or a leopard in a tree because it was a truly one-off moment.

'When the friend I was with pointed it out all I could see was the Impala. I thought my friend was joking but upon closer inspection I noticed the web.

'I feel it is definitely one for the record books and a sight I will never forget.'

He added: 'The Impala was with one other male and about 12 metres from our vehicle.

'There was no behaviour to indicate he was aware of the web.'

Mr Solomon took the photo of the Impala in Kruger National Park, South Africa, which is home to around 110,000 of the small antelope.

The Impala in the picture is believed to be around two years old.

source: dailymail

Girl, 2, has her jaw ripped off in horrific attack by family dog

By Daily Mail Reporter

The two-year-old girl was attacked by one of her family's French Bullmastiff like the one pictured above

A girl of two was being treated in hospital for horrific facial injuries today after being attacked by a family dog in her home.

The toddler is understood to have lost her jaw and some facial tissue in the incident.

She is on a ventilator, but is said to be stable.

The incident happened on Monday at lunchtime when the animal - believed to be a French Bullmastiff - suddenly turned on the child at her family's home in Eltham, South East London

The girl's father immediately stepped in and killed the dog - one of three kept by the family - with a kitchen knife.

The girl is currently in King's College Hospital in south-east London.

The family also have a female French Bullmastiff which was in season at the time and police believe that may have caused the male dog to be more aggressive.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: 'We were called to the address by the London Ambulance Service following reports that a two year old child had been attacked by a dog.

'She was taken to hospital with facial injuries and is currently in a stable condition.

'It's believed that the dog was a family pet. The owner tackled the dog with a knife and the dog died at the scene.'

The animal is not a breed thought to be covered under the dangerous dogs act.

The family's other two dogs have been taken into police care but they are not described as dangerous.

The incident comes amid growing alarm that some breeds of large dog are being used by gangs as weapons or status symbols.

The French Mastiff - also called the Bordeaux Bulldog - is a relatively short, stocky mastiff.

According to breeders it usually has a good and calm temperament.

They are renowned for being extremely loyal, patient and devoted. Fearless and confrontational with strangers, they make a first class watch and guard dog.

The French Mastiff can be aggressive to other dogs unless they are socialised from an early age.

Despite their fearsome appearance, the breed is usually gentle with children. They need a calm, but firm owner who displays a natural authority over the dog.

source :dailymail

Ruby the lurcher rebuilt by 40 vets for £11,500 after being run over and left for dead

By Daily Mail Reporter

Fixed: Ruby all bandaged up after a series of operations following a road accident which have cost her owner £11,500

This lucky hound had the wag back in her tail today after being completely 'rebuilt' by a team of forty vets, nurses and students - at a cost of £11,500.

Three-year-old lurcher Ruby was run over and left for dead in a road collision.

The crash, near Cambourne, Cambridgeshire, left her with two broken legs, a broken sternum, a broken toe, a dislocated knee, ruptured ligaments, several skin wounds and internal bleeding into her lungs.

Vets initially feared Ruby would have to be put down, but determined owner Vanessa Gillespie, 40, refused to give up on her.

The pooch was transferred to the Queens Veterinary School Hospital at Cambridge University where she spent five weeks undergoing a mammoth course of treatment.

Experts at the Veterinary School based in Cambridge managed to repair the fractures on both front legs with four metal plates and screws during a nine-hour operation.

Two weeks later a soft tissue and orthopaedic team worked together during a seven-hour operation to cover wound and replace ruptured ligaments in the dislocated knee.

Vanessa, a jeweller from Therfield near Royston, Hertfordshire, said luckily Ruby, who was involved in the accident on January 26, was insured for treatment up to £10,000.

But she and her husband Richard Youngman, 41, a businessman, estimate they are still going to be around £1,500 out of pocket by the time all treatment is finished.

Mother of-one Vanessa, whose son Oscar is seven, said: 'Ruby was in a very bad way.

Her legs were so squished they looked like puddles.

'But because she did not have any head injuries the vets said if she could live through the next 24 hours she had a good chance.

'If she had not been insured we would have had to put her down.

'But she is doing brilliantly now. She has been on cage rest for a month and only allowed to noodle around the kitchen.

'Her legs will take about five months to heal totally but in herself she is happy, sweet-natured and an inspiration to the rest of us. It's absolutely fantastic.

'The doctor said he had never seen a dog so broken still so happy. Most dogs would not have survived but Ruby is a toughie.'

Dr Heidi Radke, an orthopaedic surgeon and one of the team of 40 professionals involved in Ruby's treatment and recovery, said the plucky hound should make a full recovery.

Big effort: The lurcher with 31 of the 40 strong team of vets who rebuilt her after she was left for dead in a car crash back in January

She said: 'Ruby is a fantastically cheerful dog. When she first came in she was unable to stand and could barely lift her head, but as soon as she felt a bit better she would try to wag her tail.

'Ruby is very special because her injuries were very severe and she has recovered particularly well.

'This was definitely one of our more expensive and long-term cases.' 'Every time she visits us now she gets hugely excited and greets every person she got to know during her stay in the hospital.' 'Ruby's walking well on both forelegs and the skin graft looks great.

'Her left knee, which was very unstable, will probably always be weaker than her right but I hope she'll be back to normal exercise in three months' time.'

source :dailymail

Who's a pretty boy then? Bird caught admiring its own reflection pool of water

By Daily Mail Reporter

Who's that then? The beautiful Nuthatch peers into its own reflection

This is the incredible moment a beautiful Nuthatch is caught admiring its own reflection using a pool of still water - as a mirror.

Photographer Mark Hancox waited for a month in a specially built hide just yards from the pool for the opportunity to get the perfect shot.

He snapped the bird as it balanced upside down on a rusty hook just millimetres above the pond at a private woodland in Hanbury, Worcestershire.

Mr Hancox, 48, of nearby Hartlebury, said: 'I had seen the Nuthatches foraging around in the area for a while and wanted to get a shot of one of them perching on something.

'They are distinctive because they are the only British bird to climb down trees head first and I wanted to capture this somehow.

'One of the birds flew onto a hook above a pool of completely still water and just bent forward.

'I thought it was going to take a drink of water but it remained completely still, almost transfixed, by its own reflection before it broke the surface of the water with its beak.'

The Nuthatch is often confused with Kingfishers because of their distinctive colouring but they are actually from the Woodpecker family.

Pucker up: The bird is mesmerised by what it thinks is looking back

They get their name by the way they wedge nuts and berries into crevices in trees and 'hatch' them with their powerful beaks.

There are around 130,000 breeding territories in the UK, mostly in the south, central and western areas.

They live all year round in woodland areas and communicate using a variety of whistles, trills and calls.

An RSPB spokesman said: 'The birds are not rare but stay in the woodland so can be difficult to spot.

'To see one in the open like this is quite rare because they move around very quickly and prefer to stay under cover of bushes and trees.'

source: dailymail

Corgi-napped! Dog owner, 92, does a Miss Marple to solve the mystery of her missing pet

By David Wilkes and Claire Ellicott

Reunited: Florence Bechelet with her pet corgi Coral

When 92-year-old spinster Florence Bechelet returned home from an outing to find her pet corgi missing, she presumed it had run away.

It was only when she heard the dog had been loaded into a waiting car by a woman with a walking stick that she thought she might need to do some Miss Marple-like detective work.

For the woman fitted the description of Miss Bechelet's ex-housekeeper and carer, 80-year-old Betty Lansdown, who just days before had given up the post after two and a half years.

Miss Bechelet, from St Ouen, Jersey, discovered that Miss Lansdown - who had said she was returning to England for a knee operation - had not left the island on the day she had announced.

Instead, she had booked into a hotel and stayed for an extra two nights so she could snatch the corgi, named Coral, before taking a ferry for England.

Miss Bechelet said: 'It was terrible. Betty had looked after me very well, I don't have a bad thing to say about her in that respect. But I always thought she had more time for the dog than me.'

In the style of Agatha Christie's spinster detective, Miss Bechelet managed to find a forwarding address in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, for her ex-carer and passed it to Thames Valley police.

Back home: Officers found three-year-old Coral with Miss Lansdown and arranged for its return to Miss Bechelet

Officers found the three-year-old dog with Miss Lansdown and arranged for its return to Miss Bechelet but this cost her £658 in travel costs.

She said yesterday: 'I have sent Betty the bill. If she doesn't pay it, I will have no option but to prosecute.'

Miss Lansdown said she would not pay.

She added: 'I took Coral because she had nobody there to care for her. Florence did not know where Coral was most of the time. I don't regret anything I did. I was very close to Coral and miss her very much.

'But I think Florence has learned from having lost her once and I hope she'll now take more care of her.'

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said they would be taking no further action.

source: dailymail