Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ice Age: The Animals Behind the Movies

The three main characters we all know from the movie Ice Age and its sequels are based on animals that actually lived during the glacial age that began during the Pleistocene epoch. Manny, of course, is a wooly mammoth, Diego is a smilodon (commonly called a saber-toothed tiger), and Sid is a peculiar creature known as a giant ground sloth. However, the identity of the acorn-obsessed saber-toothed squirrel named Scrat turned out to be a scientific surprise. Read more here.

Wooly Mammoth photo by Tracy O via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

De-extinction in Action

The magnificent Pyrenean ibex, which fell into the abyss of extinction in 2000, is the one and only animal to have been recreated by means of cloning ... if only for a few moments. 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
"Celia," the last ibex in the world, died after being rescued from beneath a fallen tree in the wild. Before she died, though, scientists collected DNA from her skin and preserved it in hopes of cloning her. Using these cells, researchers attempted cloning in 2009. After more than 50 attempts to implant Celia's cloned embryo in a living domestic goat, one embryo survived and was carried to term and born. 

This event marked the first de-extinction of all time. However, the newborn clone died just seven minutes after its birth as a result of lung defects.

Find out more about the ibex and efforts to bring it back from the land of the lost here


Make Way for Maleos

What is a maleo?

It is one of those rare and beautiful birds that lives in a distant corner of the globe and is at risk of disappearing before most of us even learn what it is.

Photo by Stavenn via Wikipedia
Recently, maleos made the news when three chicks hatched at the Bronx Zoo, which is the only place other than their native Indonesian homeland that maleos can be found.
To learn a bit more about the mysterious maleo, click here.