Gelada

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The gelada lives in the mountains of Ethiopia in huge groups, where they sit around for most of the day eating grass and grooming. For this reason they have evolved two rather human adaptations to their environment. The first is that next to humans they have the most advanced opposable thumb in the animal kingdom to pluck grass with… the second is big fat buttocks to sit on.

Gelada_Baboon_male

It’s also noteworthy that this is the ape that likes to live at the highest altitudes, again apart from humans. Though it is somewhat of a mystery as to why the gelada like to climb to 4,500m above sea level, as there is no food up there, the best suggestion so far is that they quite simply like the view.

To show that they are frightened gelada flip up their lip to reveal their enormous incisors, which conversely is enough to give serious heebie-jeebies into any other living being in the planet.

baboon

Though it is the markings on its chest that really propel this ape into the Proceedings of the Ever So Strange. You see as the females private parts are covered by her fat buttocks and sitting around all day, it means the male can’t tell when she is ready to mate. So the lady gelada has evolved to mimic an exact replica of her bits on her chest, which swell and blister when she is in season. Curiously the male has also evolved this lady-bits shape on his chest too. At least curious until you consider the human animal … you see humans spend much of their time sitting around on their fat buttocks. So humans have evolved protrusions on their face… lips we like to call them… that mimic the female genitalia … even the males have them.

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Published in: on June 12, 2009 at 9:25 am  Comments (1)  
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Aye Aye

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A monkey’s cousin who eats like a woodpecker, finds its way like a bat and somesay will stop at nothing to kill you in your sleep. Sounds like a case for The Proceedings if there ever was one!

dear gad's is that a chateau lafite '78

dear gad's is that a chateau lafite '78

You see it’s a woodpecker, ok its obviously not a woodpecker but as there aren’t any woodpeckers in Madagascar, this chap has evolved to fill that niche. It goes from tree to tree and with it’s long bony finger and taps the bark to see if there are any grubs in there. Much like woodpeckers do elsewhere in the world, if there are any tasty morsels it chews a hole and uses said long bony finger to pick them out.

The world’s largest nocturnal primate wanders through the woods tapping away, interestingly they are the only primate that uses echolocation to get around… a monkey-bat as it were. Aye aye have recently been observed to be rather affable fellows, the males socializing happily at the edges of their territory. They are however less gentlemanly when it comes to rumpy-pumpy and have been observed pulling other males off mid bonk so that they can have a go.

No-one knows where the aye-aye got its name. Some say that it is onomatopoeic. Others say it comes from the Malagasay word “heh heh,” which means “I don’t know”, and that when early Europeans arrived on the island they asked what that particulat animal was, the locals said they didn’t know. A similar hypothesis exists for the South American llama; when Spaniards arrived and wondered what the blazes those sheepy giraffey things were they asked the locals “Como se llama?”—what is its name? The natives, not yet speaking Spanish, quite reasonably surmised that these new mustachioed tall pointy-nosed chaps must call them llamas.

The aye-aye... world class fingerer

I digress… aye ayes are also somewhat fearless, and will happily wander right up to human. This fearlessness is often its downfall as its less than dashing looks have led the natives to fear it. Often regarded as a witch and a symbol of death its said by some tribes that if an aye aye points to you it means you are about to die, and the spell can only be broken by killing the hapless creature. Other tribes go as far to say that the aye aye creeps into camps at night and pushes its finger into your main artery.

There is a flip side to all this superstitious tish tosh and silliness, the natives avoid the aye aye like the grim reaper himself. Which means hopefully he can wander through the forest at night, squeaking like a bat and tapping away with his finger like the funny-looking woodpecker that he is.

Published in: on June 11, 2009 at 11:40 am  Comments (3)  
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Black Swallower

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The Black Swallower isn’t a title of one of the Major’s more esoteric collections of etchings. It’s actually a little fish with quite a claim to fame, how so? I’ll give you a clue; it’s not because of its dark colouration.

This little fish is an astonishing eater, it can eat another fish more than three times its own size. Much like you or I eating an entire deer in one gulp. Of course it has evolved a simple survival technique, there is not much food around, so eat loads when you can get it. We at The Proceedings are of course big fans of a hearty meal, it helps sober one up, prepares one for an evening drinking and is a wonderful accompaniment to lunch.

anyone got a rennie?

anyone got a rennie?

Though it has never been seen alive it’s been hypothesized that the little rapscallion grabs its prey by the tail and then slowly ‘walks’ its jaws up the still wriggling prey, much like a boa constrictor eating some big rainforest furry. Of course no one having seen this take place we haven’t the faintest idea how it manages to turn the tables on the ferocious predators it calls elevenses, like the snake mackerel above. Presumably the fish that’s being chomped on goes particularly bananas too, so how the black swallower isn’t thrown off perhaps we’ll never know.

In fact black swallowers are such greedy buggers they will take prey far too large for their distended stoumachs to digest. The hapless prey will end up rotting in the over optimistic fishes belly and the resultant gasses will take it up to the sea’s surface like a balloon… death by indigestion. It doesn’t even appear to be an isolated incident as this is in fact how the few specimens of the black swallower have been found.

Slow Loris

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They’re known as simpletons, have the fastest snatch in the west and were nearly wiped out by the Vietnam war.

Oh he may look cute and cuddly but he’s a vicious brute … not really … he’s utterly useless apart from being adorable.

Known in Indonesia as Malu Malu, the shy one. The Loris got their European name from the Dutch for sluggish, or possibly from the older Dutch word for clown or simpleton.

The adorable dullards slowly bimble through the treetops at night moving one limb at a time, presumably so as to not to clamber on to an unsuitable branch. They wander up to any prey they can and with a lightning quick snatch grab it with both hands.

Sadly the little fellow is hunted for his eyes as they are used in traditional medicines… which simply proves what remarkably intuitive and imaginative people traditional medicine makers can be. The Pygmy Slow Loris was nearly wiped out by in the Vietnam war due to the utter annihilation of the rainforest.

The Slow Loris has a veritable arsenal of defences just in case it gets in to a spot of bother. If it’s attacked it will not hesitate for a moment to lick its attacker, a dastardly and evil thing to do I know, but it’s spit contains a venomous liquid, venom so powerful that it may cause slight swelling, terrifying stuff for any would be marauding teeth filled ball of nasty. Probably its best defence is that it is just sooo adorable, rumour has it that Pol Pot squealed like a little schoolgirl when he first saw one … thankfully it has one final defence, if it is in mortal peril it will pull out the big guns and for want of a better word … squeak.

Mimic Octopus

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Animal impersonator can turn into a snake, crab, jellyfish, starfish, stingray, shrimp… …

Only recently discovered in 1998 this little Octopus has caused quite the stir down at the Proceedings of the Ever So Strange.

Quite simply it’s able to mimic an array of other animals to put the heebie jeebies up anything that might want to eat the little chap. Or it can pretend to be something nice and friendly, like a mate for a crab, only to gobble up some hapless creature. Here’s just a few nuggets of the Mimic Octopuses repertoire;

Bally marvellous is its ability not only to take on the shape, colour and texture of other animals it is also able to copy their movement. This is an extreme example of Batesian Mimicry, you know the thing you learnt at school, flies that look like wasps, snakes that are harmless that look like evil snakes. That sort of thing.

While most animal mimics only look like one creature that looks a bit shifty, the Mimic Octopus is able to imitate more than fifteen different species including Mantis Shrimp, Stingrays, Sea Snakes, Poisonous Lionfish, Crabs, Flatfish, Brittle Stars, Shells and Jellyfish. Flexibility is one key to this ability as Octopuses are amazingly malleable. They are so good at squidging themselves around that they can pass through the tiniest of holes, in fact its only obstacle is its rather solid eye, so they can get through a hole as small as their eye. It’s not advisable of course to try this yourself. Octopoids are also incredibly dextrous and can easily do a number of tasks, I gave this one to the Wifey to open jars when I’m not around.

Back to the little Mimic Octopus as this multi-talented chap has another trick up its sleeve. You see they are very clever. These Molluscs may be in the same phylum as the shellfish, but they are definitely not in the same class at school. Octopoids are really rather bright. They have been shown to have personalities, they exhibit tool use, and one researcher even reported that they like to play – pop a ball in a tank with an Octopus and they like to bounce it. So what our little friend the Mimic Octopus is able to do is pick which animal to impersonate to scare which type of animal away … a snake for a fish … and what not … really rather splendid little thing isn’t it.

One final note should be given to another Indonesian resident; the Coconut Octopus who not surprisingly imitates a Coconut and uses two of its tentacles to walk / float away.

I think you’ll agree that though his repertoire is small the Coconut Octopus really does appear to have his turn down to a tee. The Mimic Octopus however, while having a great repertoire, is said to do a truly dreadful impression of a Pineapple.

Hyena

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Good grief! It’s not a Dog and the ladies have todgers!

Hyenas rather surprisingly aren’t actually related to dogs, they are in fact more closely related to the Mongoose and Civets. There are four species of Hyena; the Spotted, the Striped, the Brown and the Aardwolf.

The Hyaenidae (literally – the gluttinous) will bally well eat anything … fast. In fact they will eat a third of their own body weight in half an hour… much like a Scot.

They are organized hunters who are built for endurance and scavenging. Hyenas will chase a prey for miles until it simply gives up. They are also excellent scavengers who are more than happy to eat rotten meat and crunch their way through bones. The concentrated hydrochloric acid in their stoumach kills off any bacteria, and even breaks down bones – making their droppings white.

The Spotted Hyena is in fact the top predator in Africa. Surprisingly it is more often than not Lions who scavenge from Hyena kills rather than the other way round. Incredibly aggressive, even as pups the dominant will attempt to kill the weaker twin. Though they were kept as pets in ancient Egypt and still are in modern day Nigeria. It would still probably be unwise to let the nanny leave them in the same room as Junior.

A council estate in Nigeria

A council estate in Nigeria

Source

In Harar, Ethiopia some silly buggers actually feed the Hyena from their own mouth.

pfthat's myyy lipth

pfthat's myyy lipth

Hyena are renowned and reviled for their habit of digging up human graves to chomp on the skeleton and rotten flesh, while its bite can crush bone it is actually a Myth that the Hyena have the World’s most powerful bite. The Aardwolf is somewhat the odd man out, it’s a specialized bug-muncher – though it can still be considered a glutton as it slurps its way through in excess of 200,000 insects a night – he lacks the ability to crunch bones but is said to give a nasty lick.

Though possibly the strangest thing about the Hyena, and the Spotted Hyena in particular is that the female … well she has a man-thing … between her legs… reminds me of a filly I met in the Orient.

Just for the records yes everything does happen through said todger; urinating, copulating … giving birth. Of course the passing of a young Hyena through an enlarged clitoris often results in tearing, and as her hampton is so long it often results in the first pup being suffocated inside.

The reason for this physiological anomaly is well … dick swinging. Hyena society is run on aggression, and it’s the women who are on top, and what better to say I’m the boss than ‘I’ve got a massive … ‘.

Humboldt Squid

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These evil buggers are two metres long, incredibly intelligent, have tentacles covered in teeth and swarm in their thousands. What’s more they enjoy a chomp on human flesh once in a while so it’s no wonder the natives call them ‘el Diablo Rojo’ … the Red Devils.

There are many reports of huge shoals of Diablo Rojo’s attacking fishermen, divers, each other, underwater cameras, anything that they bally well actually see to be perfectly honest. What’s more the evil buggers shoal and attack with their tooth filled tentacles, that grab and tear and pull towards their sharp beak-like mouth which doesn’t sound like too much fun. Found in the Sea of Cortez and Northern Peru, the good news for our Stateside readers is they are spreading, multiplying … moving Northwards up through California … all the way up to Alaska. So do take care next time you take a dip.

Squid, along with the Octopus and the Cuttlefish make up the really rather clever Cephalopod family. The Cephalopods are in fact Molluscs, yes the same group of animals that include Snails, Slugs, Clams, Oysters, Mussels. Of course telling the Giant Humboldt Squid that they are in fact jumped up shellfish is not a very good idea.

In their short life spans the Cephalopods exhibit remarkable intelligence; some use tools, others appear to play and many have personalities. Of course the Humboldt Squid has a range of personalities these include; Git, Bastard, Tallywhacker and Bastard again.

The Humboldt Squid can communicate with one another. They have chromatophores in their skin that allow the Squid to quickly change colour to talk with other Squid, rather like a flashing billboard. No-one knows what the Squid are actually saying, it is however very likely that what they are saying … isn’t very nice.

Beaver

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They caused a war over hats, are much like a Camel and flavour cigarettes with their anus.

A welcome return to the shores of Great Blighty for the Beaver!

597px-American_Beaver

The Beaver is once again in Britain, and very welcome it is too for once was the time the Great British Empire curtailed a huge swath of the Americas for it, and chucked out the French (again) to boot.

The reason for kicking out the French (again) is quite simply mad as a Milliner – an epic war over headwear. In the 16th Century hats were quite the rage, and non were finer than those made from Beaver pelt. As the Beaver were virtually decimated for bonnets across Europe, the French found an almost limitless supply in Canada. Thankfully the good ol’ British army soon swooped in to claim it from Johnny French.

Just in case you were wondering the hats weren’t hairy, the Beaver fur presses down into a fine shiny felt like material like you would see on most top hats and bowlers.

Brief history & haberdashery lesson over, let’s talk about our amazing friend the Beaver.

First of all they are big buggers, about the size of a Labrador, and what these big buggers like to do is build.

Beavers are of course famous for felling trees. If the Beaver can’t find a home to his liking he makes one by damming a river to make a lake. In fact it’s often pointed out that, mankind aside, the Beaver is the animal that has the most effect on its immediate environment – felling trees willy-nilly and what not.

At the other end of the wood-felling teeth is of its rather famous tail, which has a number of purposes, the most obvious being to signal warnings. If a Beaver is spooked it will dive deep into it the nearest water, but not before giving the water a bally big slap with it’s tail. Less obvious is that the Beaver’s tail is much like the Camel’s hump, it uses it as a fat store from Spring to Autumn to lay down energy deposits for the Winter.

Perhaps what is most remarkable about the Beaver is that it’s been used as a wandering drugstore since the turn of time. Castoreum is a secretion of a Beaver’s anal gland mixed with urine. The Beaver uses this stinky stuff to mark its territory. The smelly smell has been used since the Greco-Roman period as a medicine for fevers, headaches and hysteria. All fine and dandy, but this Beaver bottom slime is used in a number of (French) perfumes such as Givenchy and Chanel … because you’re worth it.

Amazingly it’s even used in cigarettes to improve flavour and odour, though there are no known plans to move from trademarks such as ‘It’s Toasted!’ to ‘It’s Anally Secreted!’

Jerboa

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The Jerboa are a group of hopping rodents found throughout Asia and Africa, and include the rather marvellous Pygmy Jerboa, the World’s smallest rodent.

Jerboa

Jerboa

There is a train of thought that some animals have evolved to be cute, so we don’t kill and eat them, especially in their young stages, when they are all dew-eyed and big-pawed and just bally lovely and you just want to snuggle up to them. Then there are other learned types who say that it is just a coincidence that these animals look like our young, and that we are genetically programmed to love our big-eyed pot-bellied offspring as they vomit, poo, scream and generally just act all inconvenient through the first 10 years of their existence.

Either way the Pygmy Jerboa comes out tops on the patented Proceedings of the Ever so Strange Cuteometer;

The Jerboa, like a number of animals have taken to hopping as their favoured method of locomotion. At first glance this appears to be silly until you discover it is actually one of the most efficient methods of getting from around. Large elastic tendons allow the energy from one hop to be bounced into the other like jumping on springs. The Lesser Egyptian Jerboa for example is able to bounce a metre at a time, rather effective for dodging other desert folk who would like to gobble it up. However it is rather inelegant and it’s not a coincidence that hopping animals make dreadful waiters.

Jumping_Jerboa

Jerboa are finely tuned to living in the harsh desert. Those enormous feet are covered in hairs which act like a pair of show shoes to stop them from sinking in the desert sand. Many aestivate, which is a lot like hibernating… only this time to avoid the harsh Summer sun. Some Jerboa never ever drink, they get their water from any food they eat… which sounds like a dreadful existence if you ask me… still they’d probably just spill it.

The Olm

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This odd fellow lives in the Balkans where it dwells in the cave systems that criss-cross this south east corner of Europe. Many moons ago, when a particularly heavy rain broke they would spew forth from the caves. The locals thought that they were the young of enormous serpents living deep in the systems… baby dragons… but then again the locals were from the Balkans.

The Olm scuttles about these salubrious venues, its body adapted remarkably to the lightless surrounds. It has a pinkish appearance as it has very little need for colour in the black belly of the earth. The Olm has no eyes, as again why waste energy on growing eyes when there is no light to see by. Instead it is covered in sensors that pick up vibrations of anything that moves in the water. Incredibly the Olm is also covered in taste buds, like a great big autonomous tongue flopping and lolling around the cave trying to taste out prey. As if being able to taste and feel your prey isn’t enough, the Olm has developed electrical receptors, detecting the minute electrical pulses that living animals emit. So if anything does happen to plop into the dank darkness of an Olm’s cave, you can be assured that this chap will find it.

That is probably the whole point, as things rarely do plop into caves… in fact they do their damnedest not to plop into caves and get chomped on by baby dragons or indeed autonomous tongues. It has been noted by learned types that some Olms have even gone six years without a meal. So the Olm has become a master at energy conservation. As we have seen they don’t bother developing anything they don’t need to survive in the dark. They don’t even have the energy for a bit of bonking, no need for all that strenuous to-ing and fro-ing, egg producing and what not, no that would be silly. The Olm wait about 14 years before they even think of doing anything carnal, and they may even live for over a hundred years to make sure they do have a wee one.

So there we have it, a fantastic addition to the Proceedings of the Ever so Strange, it may not be a baby dragon, but it is just as bally well extraordinary.