Saturday, December 29, 2012

Your Perfume Smells like My Rectum.

 The other day, I asked my youngest brother why he wore cologne… his response was “So mom won’t know if I showered or not”.  In 2005 a fragrance, originally made for Marie Antoinette, was reproduced in limited quantities which sold for $11,000 dollars per bottle. The featured ingredient was ambergris, a waxy excretion found in the intestine of this 67 foot long critter. While scientists aren’t sure which end it comes out of, once it does, it’s considered ‘floating gold’. Ambergris is used in perfumes to make the scent last longer.

You can thank this critter for that sweet smelling Christian Dior perfume… the Sperm Whale.

Considered the largest predator on Earth, these critters can dive soooooo deep that some have been found tangled up in the transatlantic phone cables, more than a mile below the ocean’s surface. In the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean is where their prey of choice can be found; the giant and colossal squid. Using echolocation to locate prey, old time marines thought that the ‘clicking’ sound they heard was someone hammering a nail into wood. Their repetitive vocalization can be heard from 40 miles away; however, this is not what makes them blog worthy. These critters have one of the strongest family bonds. Whale pods consist mostly of generations of grandmothers, mothers and daughters. Females give birth to one calf every 3-6 years and will raise their young for 13 years. The pod is so closely knit that the calf will be left with the pod while the mother dives for food. If the calf gets hungry during this time he will nurse from another female within the group. If the mother were to die the pod would then raise the orphaned calf. Using this knowledge to their advantage, whalers knew that by harpooning the calf, all other whales in the group would come to its rescue, making this their ideal scenario. Sperm whales were mainly hunted for their ambergris and spermaceti (oil found in the whales head) which was used for cosmetics, candles and machine oil during the 18th and 20th century. It’s estimated that 800,000 whales were killed worldwide during this time. In 1973, Sperm whales became protected under the Endangered Species Act passed by Richard Nixon. They are currently considered vulnerable according to the ICUN, while it’s unlikely that their numbers will return to that of pre-whaling, one can only hope.

This is a neat site I found that shows Sperm whale vocalization!!!

Here’s an awesome video from PBS: Inside Natures giants of a Sperm whale that washed ashore… It’s AWESOME!!!                                                                                                                                 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bring on the Apocalypse

I had a special request from my biggest fan to do the following critter, so in commemoration to him Frank a.k.a Bibi a.k.a. Legalos I thought I would give him a small intro. After leaving Cuba with his high school sweetheart Legalos moved to Venezuela where he raised 6 children. A man who would more than happily give you 75 cents when all he has left is a dollar, I can’t imagine a better person to not only call my biggest fan but my grandfather as well. Love you bibi!

Outliving both the dinosaur extinction and the ice age, 12/21/12 will be easy peasy for these guys… the Orinoco Crocodile.

This heavy weight critter is amongst the largest of the crocodile species with males getting anywhere from 13-16 feet in length and weighing in between 800-1400 lbs. The Orinoco crocodile is endemic to the Orinoco River which flows through Venezuela and Columbia. Lacking sweat glands these guys can be found on the river banks with their mouths wide open as a mechanism for cooling off. Soooo what qualifies the crocodile species as the ultimate survivor… well for starters, they are extremely tough! During territorial fights they are known to tear limbs off their opponents! Unbelievably, those unfortunate one's with a missing arm or leg are capable of living well into their 70’s. The crocodiles incredible immune system is to thank for this! Scientists are actually looking into croc blood as a potential HIV cure. Another ice age  in our future??? That’s not a problem for this critter they can adapt very well to extreme temperature changes as well as starvation. There are numerous examples of crocs not feeding for an entire year and while they get desperately thin they are perfectly capable of bouncing back once food reappears. Surviving Mother Nature’s disasters is one thing, surviving mankind is another. The Orinoco crocodile is critically endangered due to over hunting during the 1940’s and 1960’s. Currently it’s thought that roughly over 500 exist in the wild. Even with conservation efforts put forth by the Columbian government, the comeback of this critter seems extremely grave. This guy may not be the cuddliest of creatures but he is one of the toughest! and hey, everybody loves a tough guy.