Skip to content Skip to site navigation



Are more colorful lobsters a bad sign?

A rare-but-getting-less-rare calico lobster. (Photo courtesy of AP/New England Aquarium, Tony LaCasse.)

Weird things are happening to lobsters.

In June, we brought you the story of a blue lobster, Old Blue (a name I gave him just now), found by a fisherman in Nova Scotia who'd never before seen a blue lobster in his many years of lobster-hunting.

The odds he finds another one are getting better every day.

Reports of odd-colored lobsters used to be rare in the lobster fishing grounds of New England and Atlantic Canada. Normal lobsters are a mottled greenish-brown.

But in recent years, accounts of bright blue, orange, yellow, calico, white and even split lobsters -- one color on one side, another on the other -- have jumped. It's now common to hear several stories a month of a lobsterman bringing one of the quirky crustaceans to shore.

It's not clear why there are more reports of colored lobster. It could be that more people have cameras to back up their tall tales. But it's also possible that overfishing is to blame.

Read more: Animals, Food, Pollution


This weird artificial jellyfish is made from the cells of a rat

Watch the video below, and consider this: "Genetically, this thing is a rat," Harvard biophysicist Kit Parker told Nature News.

But, we hear you saying, that is not a rat! It’s a jellyfish! Sorta -- but it's made from silicone and the muscle cells of a rat's heart. When the resulting "medusoid" (“jellyfishy”) creature is put into an electric field, the muscles cells contract, the silicone pulls the structure back into its original shape, and the artificial jellyfish swims.

Read more: Animals


Baby gorillas have figured out how to dismantle hunting snares

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian's National Zoo

In the forests of Rwanda, mountain gorillas sometimes get caught in snares that were intended for game like antelopes. Adult gorillas can often escape; younger ones aren't always so lucky. But staff at the Karisoke Research Center recently observed young gorillas finding and dismantling the traps before anyone could get caught, reports National Geographic News:

On Tuesday tracker John Ndayambaje spotted a trap very close to the Kuryama gorilla clan. He moved in to deactivate the snare, but a silverback named Vubu grunted, cautioning Ndayambaje to stay away, Vecellio said.

Suddenly two juveniles -- Rwema, a male; and Dukore, a female; both about four years old -- ran toward the trap.

As Ndayambaje and a few tourists watched, Rwema jumped on the bent tree branch and broke it, while Dukore freed the noose.

It looks as if the gorillas have trained themselves to disarm the traps, possibly by observing the actions of the conservationists, who regularly search out and destroy traps on the reserve in which they work.

Read more: Animals


Here is a very, very gross picture of mayflies

My first thought when looking at this photo (posted by Reddit user ILikeWhereThisIsGoin, who probably doesn't) was "oh, a lawnmower must have exploded! Look at all those grass clippings. All those perfectly innocuous, not-alive grass clippings." But no, that's just thousands and thousands of mayflies. Still perfectly innocuous, in the sense that they won't hurt you, but WOW a lot more gross.

Read more: Animals


Farmer spends $100,000 on waterbeds for cows

Even on a small, family-owned dairy farm, life as a milk cow looks not so great. I mean, you do spend a lot of time standing around in a stall with devices attached to your nipples. That's cool if it's your thing, and if there are enough of you who feel that way, I should maybe try to market my manuscript 50 Shades of Hay. But most of us look at that scenario and think "jeez, you could at least get them some fancy furniture, maybe a massage now and then." Which may be why the Van Loon Dairy just spent $100,000 on 300 waterbeds for its cows.


Tiny squid may be killing themselves by having too much sex

Photo courtesy of LiveScience.

Sure, marathon three-hour sex sessions may SOUND like a good idea, but if you’re a 2.8-inch long cephalopod, the nonstop boning may tire you out so much that you can’t feed or protect yourself, says a new study about the sex life of the southern dumpling squid.

"Dumpling squid live fast and die young, mating with multiple partners during their yearlong lives," LiveScience reports. They can get it on for up to three hours at a time, leaving participants so exhausted they can barely find food, escape baddies, or go at it again.

Franklin and her colleagues put a group of squid through an endurance test. One day, they had the squid swim against the current, measuring the time they could keep on pushing through. The next day, they put males and females together. Like Olympic athletes, the squid immediately looked around and figured out who to hook up with.

Read more: Animals


‘Canopy Meg’ wants you to care about the rainforest

Meg Lowman climbs trees for a living. A botanist by training, she wanted to study the rainforest canopy. The only way to get answers, she says, was to get up there herself. So back in the 1970s, using her own makeshift equipment, she figured out how.

“It’s amazing to me to think that only in the last 40 years have we explored the tops of trees,” says Lowman, the director of North Carolina’s Nature Research Center. Walking down a rainforest trail, it may seem like there’s a lot going on, but that’s really only a small slice of the whole picture, she says. “It’s almost like going to the doctor and if he checked your big toe and said ‘Oh, you’re perfectly healthy.' It’s just such a small part of the whole body of the forest.”

Unfortunately a lot of what she’s found up there isn’t nearly as fun as the process she uses to discover it.

Read more: Animals


Mayor Stubbs, cat, celebrates 15 years in office

Talkeetna, Alaska, isn't going to the dogs. It's going to the cats -- or really, one cat, which has been mayor of the town for 15 years.

Mayor Stubbs was voted in by a write-in effort when locals got fed up with their human rulers.

Read more: Animals


Meet the parasitic crustacean named after Bob Marley

Photo by John Artim, Department of Biology, Arkansas State University.

This little guy, a parasitic coral reef crustacean called a gnathiid, now has something in common with that one dog in that movie and a printer in the Glamour art department: He's named after Bob Marley.

Read more: Animals


Cloned horses could compete in the Olympics

The highest body of equestrian sports, the Federation Equestre Internationale, is just a little obsessed with where horse babies come from. And not without reason -- have you seen the prices for champion horse sperm these days? (Man, you know this is a phrase that has actually come out of Mitt Romney's mouth. And we used to think arugula was elitist.)

In the past, the best way to propagate and improve a horse's line was the old-fashioned artificial insemination route. That’s expensive, and not a little messy, and it doesn’t work for champion horses that are also geldings (i.e., neutered). But now a few horse owners have had their champions cloned.

The FEI at first dismissed these freaks of nature, but now it's welcoming them into the fold, or at least "will not forbid participation of clones or their progenies in FEI competitions."