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Top 5 animals going extinct because some guy can't get it up

Madagascar's tortoises are being wiped out by a "tortoise mafia" that authorities are powerless to stop. One reason: their shells are prized as an aphrodisiac in some parts of Asia. You might ask, "well, what hasn't been touted as the hidden folk-medical secret to letting old men impregnate everything in a five-mile radius?" The answer is: hardly anything. Here are four more animals endangered by the myth that some part of their bodies contains the secret to irresistible tumescence:  Tigers and their penises Is this a tiger penis being smuggled into New Zealand? You be the judge. All five remaining subspecies …

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Over 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea

Researchers found more than 1,000 new species in New Guinea over the ten years from 1998 to 2008, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund. Previously unknown species -- including an 8-foot river shark, a frog with fangs, and pink dolphin -- were discovered at a rate of two a week. But New Guinea could lose half its forest to logging by 2020, and already some of these new species are so rare that they went onto the endangered list as soon as they were discovered. The WWF report, which the organization put out to mark its …

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Sexually frustrated dolphins go on murderous rampage

A major threat to the world's porpoises comes from an unexpected quarter: Dolphins who aren't getting any. Dolphins sometimes kick the crap out of porpoises just for funsies -- they don't really compete for food, and science has not yet established the existence of dolphin racists, so it wasn't clear that there was any rhyme or reason to the vicious watermammal-on-watermammal attacks. But now it turns out that the aggro dolphins are mostly young males, so conservation expert Mark Cotter theorizes that this is basically aquatic Fight Club. Get ready for some science talk: Young male dolphins don't have thumbs. …

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The oceans may be going extinct

Ocean ecosystems are taking a faster nosedive than anyone predicted. Without urgent action, coral reefs and entire fish species could disappear in a generation. Why is this happening? Do you really need to ask? Hint: It rhymes with shmarbon shmioxide. CO2 in the atmosphere increases the temperature of ocean water, throwing off the pH and making the oxygen-hogging algae population explode. Result: OCEAN DOOM. Our options for approaching the problem are pretty much: Massive changes to our stewardship of the planet, including reducing carbon emissions, halting overfishing, closing unsustainable fisheries, and nipping pollution in the bud, OR A terrible revenge …

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73 million sharks are dying for something that tastes lousy

As shark's fin soup becomes more popular in China, shark fishermen are killing as many as 73 million sharks each year in order to harvest their fins. It’s not because the fins are delicious, because they aren’t, says a local restaurateur. It’s just because people want to look rich. Shark's fin soup signals status, and as China's middle class grows, more wedding parties and business people are choosing to serve the dish. It’s basically like giving out Jordan almonds as wedding favors -- they don’t taste like much but it looks classy to give them out. Only imagine a scenario …

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Take a look at what we’ve done to fish populations

This image from Information is Beautiful (click to embiggen) shows the biomass of popularly-eaten fish (bluefin tuna, striped bass, all the ones you normally see in restaurants) in the northern Atlantic. On the left is 1900 -- look at all that blue! Blue means 11 or more tons of fish in a given area. On the right is 2000. It is ... distinctly not blue. Not a single part of the North Atlantic shows more than three tons of fish. Of course, 2000 is 11 years ago now, which a) makes me feel really old b) means fish stocks are …

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Haley Barbour pins the BP oil spill on a sad bird

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour thinks the disastrous economic effects of the Gulf oil spill were the fault of BP, where “BP” stands for “brown pelican”: So people saw on TV the same brown pelican coated with looked like 3 inches of oil, I mean, looked like a chocolate pelican. And they showed it every hour, every day, 24 hours a day for weeks and weeks and weeks. And the news media, particularly 24-hour cable TV, gave citizens the impression the whole Gulf Coast was coated in oil. People deduced from that that it was unsafe, unpleasant, don’t want to go …

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MyConservationPark is a Facebook game that’s actually good for something

MyConservationPark is a Farmville-style Facebook game that lets you administer a nature preserve, juggling animals, plants, structures, and people to protect the habitat of endangered wildlife. But this isn't just a whole new way to annoy your Facebook friends with environmentalism; it also makes a difference in the real world. Fifteen percent of any in-game purchase goes directly to conservation groups. Sure, maybe you shouldn't be spending your money on Facebook games, but who are we to judge? You have to get through your work day like everybody else, so you might as well be helping save gorillas or whatever …

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The frogfish is the world’s most efficient invasivore

It's still hot to be an invasivore, chowing down on invasive species to help balance the ecosystem. Cleveland even had a food festival showcasing ways to prepare the delicious-sounding invasive plant garlic mustard. (This is going out on a limb, but ... maybe use it as a condiment?) But the lionfish is a particularly pesky (and potentially tasty) species, with its own "eat this fish to local extinction, please" campaign from NOAA. Well, this frogfish clearly read our piece about a "menu for invasivores," which included lionfish ceviche. And he decided to skip the slicing and marinating and just inhale …

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Climate change will cause Finding Nemo to lose hearing, die

Would Finding Nemo's Nemo have found his dad if he couldn't hear? Probably not! Which is why it's so sad that all of the Nemos out in the ocean (technically, they're called "adorable baby clownfish") are going to lose their hearing, and therefore their sense of when it's time to swim as fast as they can away from predators. Obviously it's all humanity's fault. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means higher ocean acidity, which interferes with the Nemos' ear bones. Scientists found that Nemos reared in water simulating the predicted carbon dioxide concentrations for 2050 and 2100 had no …

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