Killer Whale’s Ingenious Trick To Kill Sharks

By Anupum Pant

Background

Although mosquitoes are much much deadlier, Great White Sharks no doubt are dangerous animals too. It seems as if there’s nothing this big fish fears. But even this deadly hunter gets hunted.

On the other hand, Orca or the Killer whale is a relatively cuter animal. Remember Free Willy? But to me, these seemingly cute animals are in fact shrewd hunters who like to torture their prey before eating it. They’ve learnt well the tricks of the trade. I feel they are a lot like crows. That is to say, they are extremely intelligent and learn by observing.

For instance, to make seals sitting on ice pieces fall down, the killer whales know a good trick. They make waves and make the ice sheet wobble. As a result, seals fall down. Similarly, by sneaking up, making bubbles to trap fish and by using other such methods, these genius hunters make sure they get their prey.

Also, like Daniel Kish, they use echolocation. But Orcas use it to locate the prey. Still, their intelligence doesn’t always work.

Orcas kill sharks and they know a really efficient trick to do it successfully. They flip the sharks upside down. Here’s how they exactly manage to have “Shark sushi for lunch”.

Tonic Immobility + Ram Ventilation

To kill sharks they employ this very ingenious trick. They cash in on Tonic Immobility. Ironically, Tonic immobility is a defence mechanism some sharks use. Tonic immobility is something that a number of animals use for different purposes. Mostly they do it for defence by faking death.

During this state, their breathing becomes very relaxed and they might look as it they are dead. For instance, lobsters become immobile when they are stroked on their backs. Sharks can be flipped and they become immobile (not always). Everyone knows how Possums do it – they play Possum.

Now, since some sharks can’t breathe when they stop moving, due to something called ram ventilation, they drown. And isn’t that perfect for our Killer!

The killer whale  flips the shark, puts it to sleep. The shark stops breathing and dies. Then the killer whale goes and rips apart the tongue and liver of the shark, because that is all it eats. All the other parts of the dead shark drop to the sea bed.

Even these uneaten parts don’t go to waste, the other sea creatures have the time of their life eating them. They probably thank the odd little habit of the killer whale – the habit of eating just the liver and leaving everything else.

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The Sweet Tale of the Mysterious Tree Lobster

By Anupum Pant

I do realize how big our world is and the sheer number of species that live in it. Also the fact that about 86% of the species are still unknown has me in awe all the time.

Yet, after having read about so many kinds of animals that live on our planet, after having documented them on this blog, I always feel that I’ve known and written it all. The very moment I start losing hope that I would never find an interesting animal ever again, something incredible comes across. Always!

Today, that happened again when I was reading an NPR blog. This time, there’s more than the species itself. The place where it lives is pretty awesome too. The most amazing part – This six-legged giant lives only there. That means, nowhere else on Earth will you find it! First, let’s see where it lives…

This is where it lives:

balls pyramid

I know, it looks like a CG mountain done for a fantasy movie. Trust me, it’s real. It’s called the Ball’s Pyramid (named after a European named Ball who first saw it in 1788) and was formed 7 million years ago due to a volcanic eruption. It is an awkwardly tall (1,844 feet) and an extremely narrow rock sitting in the centre of the sea. To the East of Australia, the red place marker in the following picture shows where the rock is located.

 balls pyramid location

 What lives there? And how was it found?

There is an island – Lord Howe island – close to the rock. In the island lived huge “tree lobsters” (actually they were huge stick insects with a hard exoskeleton – Dryococelus australis). In the year 1918, a ship crashed on the island and brought with it some rats. The rats loved these tree lobsters and finished them off within 2 years. After 1920, these tree lobsters were thought to be extinct.

tree lobster

Of course there were stories of these insects living on a rock near the island. But no human wanted to climb the narrow rock to hunt insects at night.

Only in the year 2001 when 2 researchers David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile decided to climb up the rock to find out if these stories were real, they found something incredible. Poop of a large insect. When the came back at night to investigate, the shiny black huge tree lobsters were found! These insects had probably never been extinct.

For more than 80 years, 24 of them had been living on this rock, in a bush and no one knew how they got there. Probably they clinged on to birds or something. Also, according to the researchers, these creatures have never been seen anywhere else.

Where are they now

I’m not sure about where they are now. According to the 2012 NPR article which I read, a pair of these creatures – Adam and Eve – were brought into Australia. Eggs got laid and little Tree lobsters came into the world. Thankfully, the species was saved from going extinct. But it isn’t known if they’ll be sent back to their home island because the great-great-great grandsons of those rats must still be there waiting to finish these insects off again.

This is how the first ones hatched in the zoo…

Hit like if you learnt something from this article.

Platypus is a Very Strange Animal!

By Anupum Pant

Background

What would you get if you if you crossed a duck, frog & snake? Hint: It is a mammal and lays eggs!
You’d have one of the most weirdest and mysterious animal, the Platypus.

Knuckles the echinda.pngNote: Unlike what is popularly taught in schools, Platypus is not the “only mammal that lays eggs”. Echidna – Knuckles from Sonic the Hedgehog – is the second kind of mammal that lay eggs.

So, Platypus is considered a strange animal because, it secretive and even today, not everything is known about it. It has a beak that looks like a duck’s beak, it’s feet are webbed like that of a frog’s. Besides that, this cute & cuddly looking creature, found in the Eastern part of Australian fresh waters, uses venom like a snake. But there is more:

Some Incredible things about the Platypus

Firstly, it lays eggs and is not a reptile. It is one of those two mammals which lays eggs.

For up to 3 months the male Platypus stores the eggs in its bill.

They swim underwater with their eyes shut and come out mostly at night.

Venom: They have a sharp and hollow thumbnail (spur) in their hind legs that is venomous. The venom is strong enough to kill a dog (doesn’t kill humans, but is extremely painful). This is used only in self defense. And only males are venomous. I never knew they had venom, but since they are from Australia, I had expected that.

Electrolocation: Under water, they detect electrical signals to find insects, store them behind their bill, come up and then eat them. It uses electrolocation – sees using electricity – Like bats use echolocation.

Under their bill are about 40000 sensors arranged in longitudinal strips. These sensors can detect fluctuations in the surrounding electric field. Even something producing a very minor electric fluctuation at a distance – contractions in the muscles – can be detected by the Platypus.

Sharks do the same and this is the reason they attack and damage our internet cables under the sea.

Mechanical sensors:  Besides that 60000 mechanical sensors (push rods) are used to detect movement in the water. Scientists say that the information from the electrical sensors and mechanical sensors is combined by its brain to calculate the prey’s exact location.

No Nipples: The young ones feed on milk from the mother Platypus. This milk doesn’t come from nipples, it comes from modified sweat glands (not unique to platypus) under its body. It has no nipples.

They can eat their own body-weight in under a single day.

They find it hard to stay underwater because they have a natural buoyancy. Yet, they can use other objects to stay under water for a maximum of 10 minutes. Then they have to come up for air.

Babies: The baby Platypus does not have an official name. Some call it puggle (which is not correct). But the accepted word, “Platypup” can be used.