Burmese pythons pose little risk to people in Everglades, study suggests
Posted February 28, 2014
The estimated tens of thousands of Burmese pythons now populating the Everglades present a low risk to people in the park, according to a new study. The human risk assessment looked at five incidents that involved humans and Burmese pythons over a 10-year period in Everglades National Park. All five incidents involved pythons striking at biologists who were conducting research in flooded wetlands.
Color of passion: Orange underbellies of female lizards signal fertility
Posted February 27, 2014
Australian lizards are attracted to females with the brightest orange patches -- but preferably not too large -- on their underbelly, according to research. Lake Eyre dragon lizards are found exclusively in salt deserts in southern Australia, where they feed on dead insects. When females become fertile they develop bright orange patches on their normally pale underbelly and change their behavior towards males: instead of "waving them away" with their forelegs or fleeing, they let the males court them with showy behavior like push-ups and head bobs. Males were most attracted to females with small, bright orange patches and tended to avoid those with larger, paler ones. It is thought that bright color is attractive as it indicates peak female fertility. Pregnant females retain their coloration until laying and very large orange spots suggest the female is swollen with eggs and no longer interested in mating.
Nasty parasitic worm, common in wildlife, now infecting U.S. cats
When veterinarians found half-foot-long worms living in their feline patients, they had discovered something new: The worms, Dracunculus insignis, had never before been seen in cats. The worms can grow to almost a foot long and must emerge from its host to lay eggs that hatch into larvae. It forms a blister-like protrusion in an extremity, such as a leg, from which it slowly emerges over the course of days to deposit its young into the water.