TIME Accident

Dog Accidentally Shoots Man in Wyoming

He remains hospitalized but his injury is not life-threatening

This is a case of shooting the arm that feeds you: A Wyoming man was hospitalized on Monday after he was apparently shot by his dog.

Richard L. Fipps had gotten out of his truck to remove snow chains and ordered his dog to go into the back, where the gun was lying, according to Big Horn Mountain Radio. He was accidentally shot in the left arm after the dog stepped on a loaded rifle that had its safety off, or caused movement that triggered it to fire, a sheriff told the Huffington Post.

Fipps remains in the hospital but his condition is not life-threatening. Calls to the sheriff’s officer were not immediately returned.

[The Huffington Post]

TIME animals

Nature’s Top 10 Cute Critters for 2014

A serious science journal allows itself some cuddles

If you read science journals (and really, who doesn’t?) you know that it’s not easy to top Nature—and Nature itself surely knows it. They’re the major leagues, the senior circuit, the place the serious stuff goes to get seen. Nature doesn’t do small—and it definitely doesn’t do cute.

At least, it didn’t.

But every now and then, even the folks on the peer review panels start to feel cuddly. Spend your days vetting new studies about the Dumbo octopus or the toupee monkey or the robot baby penguins that can fool real penguins, and you have to admit that sometimes nature can be pretty adorable—even if Nature can’t.

So in a nod to the sweetness that hides in the science, the journal just released an uncharacteristically precious video–the Top 10 Cutest Animals in 2014. You can go back to being Mr. Grumpypants tomorrow, Nature. But for now, give us a great big hug.

TIME animals

Watch a Dog With No Front Paws Learn to Run With 3D-Printed Legs

He was also born with small forearms

In a heartwarming promotion for 3D systems, a 3D printing company, a dog named Derby tries out a pair of 3D-printed prosthetic legs. The dog has “a congenital deformity characterized by small forearms and no front paws,” according to a statement.

Before Derby got his new legs, he could only move around on soft surfaces indoors, so the new legs are supposed to help him get around on hard surfaces like sidewalks without injuring himself. His owner Dom Portanova says, “He runs faster than the both of us.”

As CEO of 3D Systems Avi Reichental summed up 3D printing’s influence to TIME earlier this year, “This is one of those technologies that literally touches everything we do.”

LIST: 25 Best Inventions of 2014

TIME animals

This Video Is a Turtle Love Story Baby Just Say Yes

Romeo helps Juliet who has fallen on her back and then they ride off into the sunset

This is a video starring two turtles, so you’re probably thinking it isn’t going to be a big deal and it isn’t going to make you feel a bunch of feelings. But joke’s on you, because this video is a big deal and it is going to make you feel a bunch of feelings.

When one turtle spotted a fellow turtle stuck on its back, it bravely came to the rescue, carefully but deliberately turning it over until it was standing on its own feet once again. It’s really such a beautiful moment. They both pause, letting this burgeoning turtle romance sink in for just a second, before waddling (do turtles waddle?) off into the sunset.

As Taylor Swift might say: It’s a love story, baby just say yes.

 

TIME animals

New York Makes Tattoos and Piercings on Pets Illegal

Puppy Dog
Getty Images

Offenders could face up to 15 days in jail or $250 in fines

If you live in New York and were planning to get matching tattoos for you and your cat, think again.

Body art like tattoos and piercings on pet animals will soon be a crime across the state following a law passed on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Assembly member Linda Rosenthal sponsored the legislation, which was signed by the state’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and will take effect in 120 days. “It’s simply cruel,” said Rosenthal, adding that unlike humans, animals do not have the ability to choose the pain that comes with body art.

The law does make exceptions for markings made for identification or medical reasons, but those only include preapproved letters and numbers.

Other than that, the governor’s office says, piercing your pooch could now get you up to 15 days in jail or $250 in fines.

[AP]

TIME Science

Scientists Name New ‘Punk Rock’ Snail After The Clash’s Joe Strummer

Five new species of Alviniconcha snails were identified using DNA sequences. Shannon Johnson—MBARI

Alviconcha strummeri lives life to the extreme.

Correction appended: Dec. 16, 2014

Alviconcha strummeri is a snail with serious attitude.

These snails live in the deep sea near thermal vents 11,500 feet under water and their golf ball-sized shells are fully spiked. It’s no wonder the scientists who discovered them were reminded of mohawk-wearing, leather-clad punks.

“Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon,” said Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Specifically, they named him Joe Strummer, after the leader of iconic British rock band The Clash. Strummer isn’t the first punk legend to have a species named for him: Sex Pistol John Lydon and members of The Ramones have had species of extinct trilobite named after them. In fact, an exhibition of “Heavy Metal And Punk Fossils” opened at Oslo’s Natural History Museum last year.

Plenty of non-rock celebrities have had species named for them, too. There’s a lemur named for Monty Python comedian John Cleese, a small parasite named after reggae legend Bob Marley and a species of whale named for Moby Dick author Herman Melville. The practice is an easy and humorous way for scientists to draw attention to their discoveries. “This gets people excited about science,” Johnson said. “Otherwise, people might not see these snails.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated how deep these snails live under water. The correct distance is 11,500 feet.

TIME animals

We Are All This Pug Named Doug Whose Only Real Christmas Wish Is Food

Watch his very relatable parody of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You"

I don’t want a lot for Christmas, Mariah Carey coos in her hit song “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” There is, however, just one thing she needs.

That one thing, of course, is you. (Well, not you you, but you get it.) Not everyone can relate to Mariah’s song — but we feel confident that everyone can relate to this new version performed by Doug the Pug. All he wants for Christmas is food. Tacos, pizza, cookies, Chex Mix, doughnuts, Doug wants it all. And that’s all he wants. It’s all he’s ever wanted.

TIME animals

Unique Australian Turtle Is Critically Endangered

The White-throated snapping turtle
The white-throated snapping turtle Stephen Zozaya

The turtle breathes out of its butt

A white-throated snapping turtle (Elseya albagula) native to Australia is critically endangered.

James Cook University researchers are raising awareness for the turtle’s plight. The turtle, which lives in the Queensland’s Connors River, has a unique breathing mechanism: it breathes out of its rear. It’s a breathing process called “cloacal respiration.”

The now critically endangered turtle does best in clear-flowing water, but construction projects like dams have restricted the turtles’ movement, and increased land use has caused sedimentation and erosion that harms the animal’s nesting spots.

“If the increased water infrastructure development and drought in northern Australia continues, they will continue to get hammered,” says James Cook University researcher Jason Schaffer who has been studying the turtle for the last eight years.

“These turtles breathe out of their ass, which is super awesome,” Schaffer told Scientific American.

Schaffer is calling for more nest and habitat protection.

TIME animals

One of the World’s 6 Remaining Northern White Rhinos Has Died

Northern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simu
A northern white rhino named Fatu, left, and Nabiro walk in a zoo in Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic, on Dec. 16, 2009 Michal Cizek — AFP/Getty Images

The animal died of old age at the San Diego Zoo

One of the world’s six remaining northern white rhinos died at the San Diego Zoo on Sunday, according to park officials.

Angalifu, 44, reportedly died of old age and had begun refusing to eat last week, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“Angalifu’s death is a tremendous loss to all of us,” said Rancy Reiches, curator of mammals at the zoo’s Safari Park.

Myriad attempts to breed Angalifu with the park’s only other northern white rhino failed. The species now faces complete extinction after decades of wide-scale poaching.

[LAT]

TIME animals

There Was a Big Bang for Birds

An ex-crocodile. Clearly a step up
An ex-crocodile. Clearly a step up Luis Costa—AFP/Getty Images

A sweeping new study tells a long genetic tale

If there’s a factory where birds are built, the workers were clearly smoking something the day they designed the hummingbird. And the ostrich. And the toucan. Imagine, too, the pitch meeting for the parrot, (“Let’s make this one talk!”), or the peacock (“So we got this crate of feathers…”).

Of course, that’s not how it really happened. Birds came along without our help, evolving from the Aves class into 23 orders, 142 families, 2,057 genera and finally 9,702 species—the most prolific speciation of all four-limbed vertebrates. The problem with such prodigious divergence is that it makes it hard to determine how the great bird explosion began in the first place. Now, however, in a pair of papers in Science, scientists report that they have an answer. Modern birds, they have learned, got their start like the universe itself—with something of a Big Bang, a burst of specialization that began 65 million years ago with the same asteroid hit that wiped out the dinosaurs and made room for mammals and other land animals.

This finding results from the work of hundreds of scientists at 80 labs and universities across 20 countries, done with the help of bird tissue collected from labs and museums around the world. Those specimens were sent to the Genome Tissue Institute in Beijing, where the basic sequencing was conducted. The first and most basic conclusion the investigators reached was a big one. “This confirms that there was a very rapid radiation and that major lineages of birds were in existence 5 to 6 million years after the extinction event,” says Joel Cracraft, an avian systemicist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a contributor to the papers. “They were very widely distributed as well.”

But there was much more to be learned, and that required the hundreds of others scientists to get busy parsing the genomes. A lot of their results live down in the technical weeds, where geneticists speak of such things as total evidence nucleotide trees and GTR+GAMMA models. Among the plain-English findings, however, there were some important top-line results. The investigators identified a sort of progenitor bird, for example, a so-called apex predator that came along shortly after the asteroid hit and was the great-great-great granddaddy of all extant land birds. The descendants that that founding father left can be connected in unexpected ways.

The gaudy flamingo and the proletariat pigeon turn out to belong to sister clades—or groups descending from one common ancestor. Similarly, there is a three-way kinship among the cuckoos; the bustards (medium-size game birds that include the paauw and its larger cousin, the straightforwardly named great paauw); and the turacos. The last group is a brilliantly colored and plumed family of birds that include the African banana eaters and the go-away birds, species that got their names because one of them, well, eats bananas and the other issues a warning call that sounds like it’s saying “go away,” which it sort of is.

Among the more granular discoveries, the investigators report that so-called vocal learners—birds with flexible repertoires of songs and mimicked speech—actually share some of their molecular brain structures with humans. And the very act of singing appears to change the birds’ epigenomes—the regulatory system that sits atop the genes and determines which ones are expressed—meaning that the more frequent the song the more specialized the bird’s genetic wiring will become.

But just in case the big, fun, colorful Aves class gets above itself, the papers do stress that every extant bird can trace its line back even further than the apex predator, all the way to a small and rather vulgar group of ancestors that are actually alive today; the saltwater crocodile, the American alligator and the Indian gharial—which is sort of an alligator with an absurdly skinny snout. For birds as much as for humans, it seems, no matter how high you climb, there are always a few embarrassing family members to keep you humble.

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