Tawny Frogmouth

WE’VE MOVED! COME AND SEE US HERE YOU BIG SMASHER!

No he is not an owl, he’s nothing like those big loveable oafs… say a very warm hallo to the tawny frogmouth!

Hurrah!

Yes we suppose this chap does have a passing resemblance to an owl… an owl with a wide frog-like mouth… an owl crossed with a frog… ooh they should call it something owly-coloured frog featu… oh… hmmm… quite… this chap lives in Australia, including Tasmania and there are a few in Southern New Guinea. Though the frogmouths look like owls they are actually more closely related to the nightjars and oilbirds.

Old frog features sits in the forest at night and, well, just sits there waiting for insects to bob by. If an insect is unlucky enough to tootle past this big feathery frog-mouthed dustbin they quickly wish they hadn’t. He is a ‘sit and wait’ predator, a bit like a kingfisher sitting on a riverbank, though he is not about to get wet. Those wispy whiskery feathers around his gob are thought to detect anything that would rather not be chomped on… and help the tawny frogmouth to quickly go about ruining their day by chomping on them. Yes we know, owls eat things in the night too… but owls go about their night-time dining quite differently, they scour large areas looking for prey to skewer with their rather vicious looking feet, rather than sit on a branch waiting for something to bimble past their enormous gob.

...3 ...2 ...1... coming ready or not!

The tawny frogmouth’s camouflage is tip-top and they exhibit a behaviour known as ‘stumping’. Though to refer to looking like a tree stump as a ‘behaviour’ is possibly a misnomer, more of a doing nothing… an anti-behaviour. Animals tend to avoid being flamboyant; which is why one rarely sees them jauntily bobbing down a street in their college blazer, loudly whistling ‘Rule Brittania’ while twirling a cane. Being all visible tends to get them into the belly of something bigger than them, or if they are big it tends to make little things avoid going anywhere near them and hence ending up in their belly… and so our animal chums have worked out all sorts of clever ways of not being visible… this is what we call crypsis.

Of course camouflage is one method, and the tawny frogmouth is an expert in this field; its feathers look exactly like tree bark. There are many other ways in which an animal may try to remain unseen or in a state of ‘crypsis’ including; only coming out at night, living underground, being see through or even doing nothing.

frogmouths?... haven't seen any, just us stumps here

Doing nothing may seem an odd way to react, especially to something that is going to eat you, however it is a rather good way of not getting seen; predators on the whole are on the look out for things that … well do things. Again it is where owls differ…. they are renowned for doing things… flying about… bothering mice… looking for things that are doing things… hooting and hollering… hollering and hooting.

Owls are often doing all this hollering and hooting, generally because they are renowned imbeciles. Their huge eyes leave very little space for the grey stuff, what’s more a big slice of their tiny owly minds are devoted to processing the huge amounts of information their incredible eyes and ears pick up. Frogmouths as we know take it a bit easier, though these feathered bins have noticed that insects are attracted to those new fangled electric lamps… the problem being these new fangled electric lamps are often attached to the front of these new fangled motor cars… a behaviour which is surely about to become a rather quick lesson in survival of the fittest for these silly chaps. Aaaah finally yes something very owl-like about this character… he is an utter buffoon… and we love him for it!

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Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm  Comments (8)  

Bonobo

This tremendous little fellow is often thought of as the ‘forgotten’ ape Pan paniscus; the pygmy chimpanzee. What this whippersnapper lacks in stature he more than makes up for in the trouser department, as these are possibly the most promiscuous creatures on the planet.

a perverse and deeply depraved erotic adventurer

a perverse and deeply depraved erotic adventurer

Invariably when people speak of chimps they are talking about the bonobo’s cousin the common chimpanzee, but this chap is actually a separate species who also lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The bonobo’s appearance is slightly different, their legs are relatively longer and they find it easier to stand, they have a darker face, pink lips and long hair in a centre parting…. is anyone picturing Queen Victoria right now or is it just me? The bonobo live south of the Congo, their more famous cousins are found North of the great river, and it was only in 1939 that they were discovered, three centuries after all the other great apes. Incidentally when early explorers first discovered the great apes of the Congo they assumed that they were in fact human and strolled right up to them to have a bit of a chinwag… presumably to try and find out where one could find a passable gin and tonic in the area.

of course i came for the free love and yoga

of course i came for the free love and yoga

On to the obscene, you see the bonobo like to have sex all the time; mothers with fathers, fathers with mothers, mothers with mothers, sons with sisters, sisters with sisters, fathers with fathers, mothers… oh you get the point, basically everyone with anyone with the possible exception of mothers with sons… what do you think they are? Perverts or something?

Like many animals they are not afraid of a bit of homosexuality either. Male bonobos will hang from branches and ‘frot’ or ‘penis-fence’, or stand back to back and rub their scrotums together. Females on the other hand will scissor… I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

You see in bonobo-world having sex is just their way of getting along better and to say sorry. What is more it is their way of saying hello, how do you do and isn’t the weather much the same as yesterday as we live in equatorial Africa. When you live in a tribe of a hundred horny little chimps that is a lot of bedroom athletics to get through. They even have sex when they find a new food source… it is literally fair to say the bonobo have sex at the drop of a peanut.

come and say hello to your great aunty Doris..

come and say hello to your great aunty Doris..

One more thing about this naughty chimp, and one can only apologize to all our lady readers for all this lasciviousness, but the bonobo is quite simply the only other creature on the planet that goes for face to face sex, tongue kissing and oral sex. Apart from a single pair of gorillas that is, but all the other gorilla’s avoided them because they were a bit ‘funny’.

What is perhaps most human, and they really are “most human” being more closely related to us than they are to gorillas, is the bonobo’s compassionate nature. Learned types have stated the bonobo is capable of altruism, empathy, kindness, patience and sensitivity. In fact it is often mused that perhaps the chimps would be much better in the same genus as humans; Homo paniscus perhaps or even we humans could be reclassified as Pan sapiens. Of course no-one has ever asked a bonobo what they would like, they’d probably have to have a think about it… over a nice bit of rumpy-pumpy.

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 8:26 am  Comments (5)  

Ant-Decapitating Flies

These tiny tiny flies are actually gruesome killing machines… what is more they WANT TO EAT YOUR BRAINS, well they do if you happen to be a type of South American ant which I grant is unlikely as you would probably be reading a Spanish or Quechuan marvellous menagerie or some such… and would probably have difficulty with the pages… actually that would be the least of your problems if you had an ant decapitating fly on your hands.

These zombie flies come from a diverse bunch of flies known as the scuttle flies… so called because… yes quite you’ve seen them scuttling around then… smashing.

What these ant decapitating scuttle flies do is jump on the back of some hapless ant, stab it with their ovipositor and stick an egg into the poor sod… the egg quickly develops into a larvae and wriggles up the body and into the head. There the hungry maggot chows down on the brain until it is entirely gobbled up. Remarkably the ant, while having to take a bit more time over The Times cryptic crossword these days, is still able to walk and do other menial chores. Of course if this was done to you or I we would a) be very unhappy about it b) be quite dead… and therefore probably not really mind that much about it. Ants however have a number of ganglion down their back that act as miniature brains.

... and the winner of the fancy dress competition iiiiisss...

After the ant decapitating fly larvae has been bimbling around in the ant’s head for about two weeks, having a merry old time enjoying the view and the cuisine, the fly larvae releases an enzyme that dissolves through the muscles in the back of the ant’s head. Of course the ant’s head bobs off, and the larvae has a bit of a snooze pupating to work off the delicious lunch he’s had. A couple of weeks later and after a bit of a costume change off he flies to go and bother some other poor sod.

The ant decapitating flies are part of the rather diverse Phoridae family of flies. A group containing the rather gruesome group the coffin flies that feast on the human remains inside their final resting places, scurrying six feet through the soil for a bit of a mange, they include the omnivorous species Megaselia scalaris who will happily eat virtually anything… plants, open wounds on any animal, living lung tissue, even boot polish and paint.

pull yourself together man

Though it is the ant-decapitating zombie fly that we have in our hearts… though thankfully not in our heads. The ants that they bother, mainly in the tropics, no doubt keep them in a lower esteem. The lengths that these ants go to to avoid having their brain eaten are remarkable… though quite understandable. Some species of leaf cutter ant have even gone to the measure of having an escort, one to carry the leaf one to tussle with the ant decapitating flies.

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 9:53 am  Comments (6)