Browsing Tag: animals

    Your Guide to San Francisco | National Geographic
    Articles, Blog

    Your Guide to San Francisco | National Geographic

    August 20, 2019

    – [Narrator] San Francisco is a rush. A rush of art, flavors,
    history, and innovation. (funky rhythmic music) It’s all packed into a
    seven-by-seven-mile square, between the Pacific Ocean
    and the San Francisco Bay. The city has long attracted trailblazers and countercultures. The Gold Rush, immigration, beatniks, hippies, the LGBTQ community,
    and the tech industry have all fueled San
    Francisco’s enduring influence on American culture. If you’ve seen a movie
    set in San Francisco, you’ve probably seen Chinatown. The Dragon Gate arch at
    Grant Avenue and Bush Street tells visitors they’re entering
    America’s oldest Chinatown. In the mid-1800s, the
    lure of the Gold Rush and the availability of work
    building the Pacific Railroad, drew large numbers of Chinese
    immigrants to San Francisco. Today you can take in the
    scene on packed Grant Avenue, and head to Stockton Street for the authentic Chinatown experience. You can shop for traditional
    Chinese ingredients, sip a cup of fragrant jasmine
    tea, and eat at some of the best Chinese restaurants in the world. The Golden Gate Bridge might be the most iconic San Francisco landmark, but the massive Golden Gate Park is one of the most visited
    green spaces in the U.S. 20% larger than New York’s Central Park, it covers a thousand square acres in a near perfect rectangle, stretching from the oceanfront west, to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It includes numerous gardens, the historic Conservatory of Flowers, and two world-class museums, the California Academy of Sciences, and the de Young Museum of Fine Art. It also has some pretty unusual
    residents for the big city, a herd of bison. Buffalo have lived in
    the park since the 1890s. And the tradition continues
    today with a small group of six bison that spend their days in a bucolic green pasture
    next to Spreckels Lake. Keep going west and you’ll
    find yourself at Ocean Beach. The top of the five-mile
    stretch of shoreline borders Lands End, a national
    park with otherworldly views on the Northwest coast of the city. You can also explore the modern
    ruins of the Sutro Baths. When they opened in 1896, it was the largest indoor
    swimming facility in the world. But the massive complex of
    saltwater pools, restaurants, games, and even a museum,
    burned to the ground in 1966. After you’ve climbed the crumbling walls, stairs, and tunnels, you can unwind at the historic
    Cliff House restaurant. Originally constructed in 1863, the resort has been rebuilt
    three times over the years. Today you can take in the panoramic views in one of the two restaurants that now occupy the
    neoclassical structure. The lure of the city by the bay goes so much deeper
    than its natural beauty. San Francisco’s diversity,
    artistic spirit, and innovative drive all make
    it a rich source of adventure for any free spirited traveler. (upbeat funky music)

    Working On The Railroad | Kindergarten Nursery Rhymes For Children | Cartoon Song by Farmees
    Articles, Blog

    Working On The Railroad | Kindergarten Nursery Rhymes For Children | Cartoon Song by Farmees

    August 19, 2019

    “Farmees! “Let’s go and welcome the Railroad I’ve been working on the railroad All the live-long day. I’ve been working on the railroad Just to pass the time away. Can’t you hear the whistle blowing, Rise up so early in the morn; Can’t you hear the captain shouting, “Dinah, blow your horn!” Dinah, won’t you blow,
    Dinah, won’t you blow, Dinah, won’t you blow your horn? Dinah, won’t you blow,
    Dinah, won’t you blow, Dinah, won’t you blow your horn? Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah Someone’s in the kitchen I know Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah Strummin’ on the old banjo! Singin’ fee, fie, fiddly-i-o Fee, fie, fiddly-i-o-o-o-o Fee, fie, fiddly-i-o Strummin’ on the old banjo. Singin’ fee, fie, fiddly-i-o Fee, fie, fiddly-i-o-o-o-o Fee, fie, fiddly-i-o Strummin’ on the old banjo.

    Do Your Ears Hang Low?
    Articles, Blog

    Do Your Ears Hang Low?

    August 18, 2019

    Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to
    and fro? Can you tie em in a knot, can you tie em in a bow? Can you throw em o’er your shoulder like a continental soldier do your ears hang low? do your ears stand high do they reach up to the sky? Do they droop when
    they’re wet do they stiffen when they’re dry? Can you wave them at your neighbor with a little bit of flavor? Do your ears stand high? Do your ears flip flop can you use them as a mop? Are they stringy at the bottom are they curly at the top? Can you flap them up and down as you fly around the town? Do your ears flip flop? Do your ears stick out can you waggle them about? Do they wave in the breeze from the smallest little sneeze? Can you cast a cooling shadow over most of Colorado? Do your ears stick out? For more sounds and stories, check out our other videos!

    Masha and The Bear – Tracks of unknown Animals (Episode 4)
    Articles, Blog

    Masha and The Bear – Tracks of unknown Animals (Episode 4)

    August 15, 2019

    Hey! Watch out! Bear! Why are you not sleeping? Who’s been walking here? Aah! A bunny! Bunny! Bunny! Bunny! Bunny! Bunny! Bear! And who’s been walking here? It was a crocodile? Aah! It’s a wolf! There is a wolf over there! Let’s run! To look at the wolf! Don’t forget the snowball! Oh, wow! OK, OK, OK, yep… It’s the wolf again. Is this a bunny too? And here’s the wolf again! Where then? What’s this? A bunny? Really? Then this is the wolf! Is this the wolf? Well, is this the wolf? And this one is the wolf? Is this the wolf? The wolf? Wolf? Wolf?
    Wolf? Wolf? Wolf? Wolf?
    Wolf? Wolf? Wolf? Wolf?
    Wolf? Wolf? Wolf? Wolf?
    Wolf? Wolf? Wolf? Ah! This is the wolf! It was… …a bunny! Don’t Bother Me …it’s…
    …a bunny! If I see some tracks right now,
    I’d know them! I never fail! A guinea pig. A longhorn cow.
    A crawly bug. A nightingale. Whose tracks go in and out,Up and down the
    forest road? Who is running all about?
    Billy bear with Grizzly goat! No! Just wait now! I think I can’t… Who walked here for a while? Oh! It was a furry elephant.
    Or a feathered crocodile? No, I won’t lose! Yes, I will win!
    I know who’s been here too! It’s the tropic jungle penguin
    And the arctic cockatoo! If I see some tracks right now,
    I’d know them! I never fail! A guinea pig. A longhorn cow.
    A crawly bug. A nightingale. Bear, look at this! You see, it’s a bunny! Oh, Bear, you know nothing at all, you know!
    Oh, yeah!



    August 13, 2019

    – [Coyote] You ready? – [Cameraman] Oh,
    spider, huge spider! Right there right there,
    Oh, whoa. right there, right there.
    Is that a tarantula? – [Coyote] No no no no no. I think that’s a
    funnel web spider. – Okay, a bite from this
    is potentially lethal. I’m just gonna set that down
    and see if I can coax it. It’s in, it’s in
    there, it’s in there. (highly energetic music) Australia’s arguably the most dangerous continent
    in the world. I’m sure that as your
    imagination begins to run wild, you are likely
    thinking about being snatched from a river’s
    edge and eaten alive by a giant Saltwater Crocodile. Or perhaps you are envisioning
    how terrifying it would be if you were to stumble
    upon and be bitten by one of it’s incredibly
    venomous snakes, like the Eastern Brown. However, it’s not
    only the reptiles that you need to be weary off. Tonight we are exploring
    just outside of Sydney, the most densely populated
    city in Australia, which also happens to be home to the world’s deadliest spider,
    the Sydney Funnel Web. Armed with a set
    of massive fangs, and an incredibly toxic
    venom, just a single bite from this spider has the
    ability to kill a human. Sounds terrifying, yet these
    spiders are rather illusive and tend to avoid
    humans at all cost. In fact, they can be
    rather difficult to find, as building their silk
    lined, funnel shaped burrows under rocks or in rotting logs keeps them hidden
    and out of sight. Ooh, covered in ants,
    watch out for that. Let’s go on the back
    side of this tree. There’s some logs
    to flip over here. So, unless you’re like me
    and are flipping over debris in the environment, your
    odds of encountering one are pretty unlikely. You ready? Lift this up. Oh, spider, huge spider. Right there, right there,
    Oh, Whoa. right there, right there.
    Is that a tarantula? No, no, no, no, no, I think
    that’s a Funnel Web Spider. Right there, just came out
    from underneath that log. Look at it’s
    abdomen, right there. Holy cow, that’s definitely
    a Funnel Web Spider. Hold on, I need to get
    it in this container. Oh my gosh, did you see? It’s a good thing I picked up
    the log from the other side. It was just burrowed
    right underneath there. – [Cameraman] That’s a
    tiny container, dude. That looks too big
    to be a Funnel Web. – [Coyote] No, no,
    no, it definitely is. Look at the front of it’s body. – [Cameraman] Oh yeah. – [Coyote] Wow, that
    spider’s so big, I don’t think it’s going
    to fit in this container. Mario, you have that bigger jar? – [Mario] Yeah, I think might
    have one in my backpack. Hang on. – [Coyote] Let me see
    if I can peel back some of these grasses.
    It looks like a tarantula but, Ooh, it’s moving, hurry up. – [Mario] I understand, here. – [Coyote] Okay, bite from
    this is potentially lethal. I’m just going to set that
    down and see if I can coax it. I’m going to try to coax it
    right into the container. Now they cannot jump but
    they will lunge forward. Oh, it’s in, it’s
    in there, it’s in. There we go. Wow, look at that.
    Oh yeah. That is 100 percent
    a Funnel Web Spider. – [Cameraman] That is a big one. – Wow, we can not
    miss getting this up close for the cameras. Okay, let me grab my bag and
    let’s head up to those rocks. Wow, that is without
    question a Funnel Web Spider. The question that remains
    is what species is it? I want to find a
    good, flat open rock. – [Cameraman] How about
    that one right there? – This? Yeah.
    Yeah, that looks pretty. – [Cameraman] Or that
    one. Is that better? – Yeah, that’s a
    little bit better. Let’s see if it will just
    sit on top of the rocks if it’s just like this. – [Cameraman] Yeah, I
    like this, this is good. – Wow. – [Cameraman] Let’s have a look. – That is intimidating. It does, it looks
    like a tarantula. I know you said,
    “Is it a tarantula? “You sure it’s a
    Funnel Web Spider?” 100 percent certain it’s
    a Funnel Web Spider. One of the ways that you can
    identify this species as such is they have a very
    bald cephalothorax. Now, they do have hairs on
    their legs, and on the abdomen, but that is how you can
    recognize a Funnel Web Spider, and that’s the perfect
    sort of place to find them. Underneath logs
    where they can wait and ambush for their prey. Now, they will also,
    obviously, be inside of burrows with those little funnel web
    systems, and whoa, am I glad that I picked up the log
    from the end that I did. Now, my fingers didn’t
    tuck underneath the log. I was on the top side
    and that’s why you always pick up a log from an
    area that you can see, because if you tuck
    your fingers underneath, you grapple onto that
    spider, and you take a bite, you are on your way to the
    hospital, without question. Okay, now, I know it’s probably
    kind of tough to see it inside of this container, so
    let me see if I can take it out and place it on the rock here, and let’s get some
    shots with you. Are you ready for that? – [Cameraman] Okay,
    let me help the guys break out the light real quick. – Okay,
    It’s getting dark. We’re losing light here. (dramatic music) Alright guys, we have
    the lights set up now, and in the lights, the
    spider is even more intimidating looking. You can see the sheen on the
    legs and the cephalothorax. Ah, it’s already cast
    a little bit of webbing inside the container
    there, and uh, I think if you guys are ready, let’s take it out
    of the container and see if it will just hold
    it’s ground here on the rock. Now, this is an extremely
    aggressive spider species, and often times, they won’t run, but what they will do is rear up and show you those fangs,
    and those front legs. Okay.
    We have to be very cautious. Yeah, I’m just going to
    gently tilt this down like this, and let’s
    see if it will crawl out and just stop right
    there, here we go. Okay, see if I can
    get it to stay still. Ooh, you stay, you
    stay, you stay. Actually, maybe I’ll do this. It seems to be more comfortable
    inside the container. – [Cameraman] Yeah,
    that works for me. How about you, Mario?
    Okay. This is such a dangerous spider. I mean, even more so
    than a wandering spider. – [Cameramen] Ohh.
    Okay. Look at those hooked legs,
    allowing it to hold on to the edge of the container. Let me see if I do
    this, maybe if I put the container over
    top of it, and give it just a second to
    stay right there. Now, one reason that
    the bite it so bad is that because when they
    bite, their fangs are so long, they actually will
    hook into you, hold on, and continue
    to pump venom. And it’s not like a Black
    Widow or a Red Back Spider where they might give
    you a warning bite. A bite from this spider
    species is full on, as much venom as I can inject. Okay, let’s try this. Everybody got a decent
    shot on the spider? There you have it, wow,
    and just for scale. Look at how big that
    spider is next to my hand. Not taking my eyes
    off of the arachnid. That is definitely as close
    as I feel like I can get. Alright Mark, let’s try this, I’m going to try to present it from just it’s still
    position, right there, and like all spider species,
    you see those very defined eight legs, but they also have
    very long pedipalps upfront and that helps them to
    grapple on to their prey, and when they rear up,
    they show those fangs, and their fangs are
    incredibly long. Longer, in some
    cases, than even some of the snake species
    here in Australia. Now, one of the reasons that
    this spider is considered so dangerous, is because
    they can often times be found in residential areas. The Sydney Funnel Web
    specifically is often times found right in
    people’s backyards. That’s why they tell
    you if you’re out there working in the garden, make
    sure you have on gloves. You can be tilling up
    dirt, accidentally grab one of these things, it bites
    you on the tip of the finger, and you may be seeing symptoms
    in as few as 15 minutes. Now, the immediate bite, you’re
    definitely going to notice. The fangs are long
    enough to draw blood, but immediately you’ll feel
    throbbing in your finger, and shortly after,
    you’ll start to feel a tingling in your
    mouth and lips. Now, if you’re bitten
    by one of these spiders, you want to apply compression
    to the entire arm. So, let’s say you’re bitten
    on the top of your finger, put compression straps up
    the length of your arm. That will help slow the movement of the venom into your body. Wow, that is impressive. Now, there are around
    40 recognized species of Funnel Web Spider, with
    one of the most dangerous being the Sydney Funnel
    Web, and I can’t identify exactly if this is
    a Sydney or not, but what we do want to do
    is actually take this spider back with us into civilization. Where we want to go is the
    Australian Reptile Park. They are, oh, it’s moving. The Australian Reptile
    Park is the one place in Australia where they
    actually extract venom from these spiders
    and then in turn build an antivenom for
    people that are bitten. So, this spider that
    we found right here, might actually be used
    to save some lives. How cool is that?
    Awesome. I think the best thing to
    do now is put a cap on this, place it in my pack,
    and call it a night. I’m Coyote Peterson,
    be brave, stay wild. We’ll see you on
    the next adventure. Alright, we are
    taking this spider to the Australian Reptile Park. Wow, what a find! Australia’s home to a collection
    of dangerous arachnids, from the Red Back,
    to the Huntsmen, and ultimately the Funnel Web. This beautiful continent is
    crawling with venomous spiders. Catching a Funnel Web
    Spider is something I had always hoped to do, and
    now with one in my possession, it was time that the crew and I headed to the
    Australian Reptile Park. Famous for being the only
    sanctuary of it’s type in Australia, they’re
    renowned for their spider and snake venom milking program. Will our spider’s venom be
    used to save human lives? Stay tuned for the
    fascinating conclusion as I get dangerously close
    to this creepy arachnid. And don’t forget, subscribe so
    you can join me and the crew on this season of
    Breaking Trail. Things are about
    to get dangerous. (animal noises)

    A Brief History of Yellowstone National Park | National Geographic
    Articles, Blog

    A Brief History of Yellowstone National Park | National Geographic

    August 12, 2019

    (light music) – [Marielena] Yellowstone is epic, strange, and iconic. It is well-deserving of
    its protected status. But how did it come to be the worlds first National Park? (light music) Archeologists have found evidence of human activity in Yellowstone that dates back at least 11,000 years. Oral histories of Salish Native Americans suggest their ancestors were here 3,000 years ago. Today there are still 26
    Native American tribes that are connected to this land. Some of the first
    European visitors included fur traders and trackers
    in the late 1700s. But the first big incentive for settlers came in 1863, gold. (water sloshing) Prospectors flocked to Yellowstone in hopes of finding more. The Northern Pacific
    Railroad Company heard of the wonders of Yellowstone. A big attraction like this
    could help their plans to expand their railroad west. So they sponsored the
    Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition of 1870. As the first formal
    expedition of Yellowstone, they explored vast regions of the park. Including Tower Fall, Yellowstone Lake, and the geyser basins. Their most memorable achievement, naming Old Faithful. (light music) Painter Thomas Moran as
    well as a photographer and sketch artist were also on the expedition team. Their work introduced
    Yellowstone to the world. And captured the imagination of Congress. Then, on March 1st, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed an act establishing Yellowstone National Park. The country’s very first National Park. (light music) The Park is around two million acres. An expansive wilderness with places that even today few have seen. Filled with wildlife including 285 species of birds. And over 65 species of mammals. (wolf howling) But what’s on top of this park is nothing compared to the giant reserve of magma that lies below. Thermal power is what
    makes Yellowstone tick. Old Faithful remains true to its name. And to this day gushes
    up thousands of gallons of hot water every hour or so. (light music) It’s one of the most famous natural features in Yellowstone. But, it’s not the only one. There are over 10,000 thermal features in Yellowstone. Including hot springs, mud pots, and steam vents. They sit in one giant
    caldera of a super volcano. Some 45 miles across at its widest. 2.1 million years ago Yellowstone erupted and covered over 5,000
    square miles with ash. About 6,000 times the volume of material ejected from Mount St. Helens in 1980. It’s among the largest volcano eruptions known to man. Yellowstone is still active and another eruption is possible. But it probably won’t
    happen in the next thousand or even 10,000 years. In the meantime, Yellowstone hosts millions
    of guests every year. There are now 59 National Parks in the United States. But Yellowstone will always be the world’s first.

    The Baboon That Controlled a Railway for 9 Years
    Articles, Blog

    The Baboon That Controlled a Railway for 9 Years

    August 10, 2019

    This video was made possible by Ecosia. Start using the search engine that plants
    trees with every search you make at Monkey see, monkey do. Baboon see, baboon control a railway used
    by multi-ton trains and thousands of passengers. That’s how it worked in the late 1800’s
    in South Africa. Back in ye olde days radios didn’t exist
    and since trains were loud, you couldn’t just shout at the driver to tell them what
    to do. Therefore, in the 1800s, signals were developed
    as a way to tell incoming trains to stations what to do. At first, lanterns and hand signals were used
    by signalmen to convey the information needed but as technology advanced signals that could
    be controlled by switches and levers were installed to ease the process. These signals were similar to weathervanes
    in that they consisted of fixed posts with movable discs or signage that could be controlled
    via a switch. Various colors meant to stop or go or proceed
    with caution, and there were other vanes on different axes to indicate which tracks to
    pull into once arriving at the stations and various other signs meaning to take it to
    the left, right, to criss-cross, to cha cha now, to cha cha again, and for everybody to
    clap their hands. With the world going loco for locomotives
    at the time tons and tons of signalmen were needed to ensure that the trains stuck to
    schedules, were in working condition, and stuck to the proper tracks. Signalmen, as their names imply, were also
    responsible for operating the levers that would set off the signals for the trains out
    of the signal house. In the 1870s, one of the signalman for the
    Cape Town to Port Elizabeth Mainline Railroad in South Africa was a man named James Wilde. Wilde went by the nickname “Jumper” because
    he had a habit of jumping between the cars that would pass on the tracks and in a totally
    unforeseen and completely unpreventable twist of fate, Jumper once jumped a moving railcar
    and fell under it losing both of his legs in the process. After this, Jumper continued working hobbling
    around on a pair of peg legs although he found himself limited in his ability to signal trains
    proficiently. Not having legs does that. One day at the market, though, Jumper came
    upon a chacma baboon who’d been trained to lead an ox-drawn wagon. Though impressive, its intelligence isn’t
    particularly surprising by today’s standards. We now know that baboons aren’t so different
    from humans in their brain capacity. Baboons can keep schedules, communicate with
    their own language, differentiate between scribbles and the written word, and the University
    of Rochester recently concluded that baboons are actually capable of counting to an extent
    although I’m not sure what all the fuss is about since I’ve been able to do that
    at least since I was double-one or twelve-teen. Jumper begged and begged and finally convinced
    the owner to let him take the baboon and thus the prodigious primate pair was born. The original owner warned Jumper, however,
    that the baboon would refuse to work unless he had been given plenty of brandy to drink. They’re really just like us. The baboon, named Jack, was first taught to
    observe and then respond to certain commands. When Jumper would hold up a certain number
    of fingers, Jack was to pull the corresponding lever. From there, Jack learned that the trains were
    giving similar orders by the number of blats from their whistle. Over time, Jack realized on his known which
    tracks needed which signals and would double-check his own work as he was doing it. He also realized that conductors needed access
    to the coal sheds and would retrieve the key from Jumper unbidden to give to the incoming
    engineers. Now, if your job is replaceable by a monkey
    you really shouldn’t be expecting much job security so surprise surprise both Jack and
    Jumper’s jobs eventually came under threat. Jack was a beloved fixture of the railroad
    until some snobby high-society aristocrat noticed that he was, in fact, a monkey and
    narc’d on the pair. The bosses at the railway were aware that
    Jumper had found an assistant but were totally in the dark about his baboon-ness. After the Cape Town executives launched an
    investigation, they found out the truth about the monkey business. So, naturally, they tried to fire both Jumper
    and Jack. Jumper begged to demonstrate Jack’s cleverness
    and so the rail managers agreed to put him to the test. Jack perfectly performed his signaling abilities,
    even checking both directions to make sure the incoming trains were heading to separate
    tracks at the station. They were so impressed that they made Jack
    an official employee paying him 20 cents a day and half a bottle of beer every week. It’s been said that in the nine years Jack
    worked as a signalman he never made a single mistake, despite being constantly drunk and
    a monkey. Jack became known as “Jack the Signalman”
    and worked and lived with Jumper in a small cottage not far from the signal house. He stayed there and worked for the railroad
    up until his death from tuberculosis in 1890 and his skull is now displayed at a museum
    in Grahamstown, South Africa not far from where he worked. Monkeys can do a lot like play the violin,
    ride bicycles, roller-skate, but what they can’t do is stop the systematic and widespread
    deforestation of their natural habitat. Luckily, you can and you don’t even have
    to spend any money or effort to do it. Ecosia is a nonprofit search engine that uses
    the money generated from advertising to reforest areas including places like Tanzania, Ethiopia,
    and Burkina Faso where there are native baboons. It only takes about 50 searches to plant one
    tree so you can really easily make a difference. Head to to add it to your browser
    so you can start planting trees one search at a time.

    The Evolutionary Epic: Crash Course Big History #5
    Articles, Blog

    The Evolutionary Epic: Crash Course Big History #5

    August 10, 2019

    Hi, I’m John Green. Welcome to
    Crash Course Big History. Today we’re gonna be traversing the evolutionary
    epic – the great story of magnificent beasts, terrifying predators, quite a lot of extinctions,
    and countless varieties of evolutionary forms. It’s the ultimate epic – millions upon millions
    of species playing out a drama that has so far lasted 3.8 billion years, with 99% of
    the actors having already left the stage forever. And you thought finding employment in this job market
    was tough – you’ve already won the lottery my friend! [Theme Music] The keystone of our story is evolution by
    natural selection. So, in the 1830’s a young Charles Darwin traveled around the world on
    the HMS Beagle – inarguably, by the way, the most important beagle of all time – I apologize
    Snoopy, but it’s true. Darwin had the rare and amazing opportunity
    to study a great variety of the world’s wildlife, and upon returning to England he discovered that a
    variety of finches he had collected on the Galapagos Islands had beaks that were subtly adapted to their
    different environments and food sources. Darwin later combined this idea with the observation
    of how populations tend to over-breed and strain their resources – I mean if there’s
    competition for resources in an environment, then animals with useful traits would survive
    and pass those traits on to their offspring. Those who didn’t survive long enough to reproduce
    would have their traits wiped out from the evolutionary tree – natural selection. We’ve talked some on Crash Course Big History
    about good science, and Darwin was a good scientist. He worked on his ideas for two decades,
    systematically finding new evidence to support his case And then finally in 1859 he published “On the Origin of Species” and it sent shock waves around the world. The book offered an explanation for why so
    many species that seemed perfectly adapted to their environment could have been formed
    by a blind but elegant law of nature. Darwin’s theory was so elegant yet so effective that
    his colleague Thomas Huxley exclaimed “How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!”
    Side note: if you ever read “On the Origin of Species” try to get a first edition, because
    in later editions Darwin made a bunch of revisions in answer to some critics, but he got it actually
    more right the first time. Speaking of which, one of the phrases only
    included in the later editions and commonly attributed to Darwin was “survival of the
    fittest” but that phrase was actually coined by Herbert Spencer, father of the more troubling
    Social Darwinism which tried to apply nature’s rather harsh laws to human social orders. I prefer Darwin’s original phrase, “natural
    selection”. Everything from cuckoo birds that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds to
    giraffes whose long necks are good for reaching food in high trees, to humans, whose brains make
    up for their fragile bodies, are selected for, naturally. An even better phrase though, would be “non-random
    selection” or maybe even “non-random elimination.” While all genetic mutations are generated
    by a random copying error, or random variation completely beyond the animal’s control, the
    selection of those traits is not random. Successful variations that allow you to survive and reproduce
    are determined by the very specific circumstances of your environment, where elimination (death)
    might not be far away. So, the selection of your traits is done by
    a very specific, and sometimes brutal, list of criteria. This is why people who say that
    they don’t understand how all animals could have “evolved by chance” don’t really understand
    how evolution works. Here’s another phrase that doesn’t get it
    right: “evolution is just a theory.” In everyday speech, theory means guess. But in science,
    a theory is something that was tested time and time again, explains many different observations,
    and is backed up by a mountain of evidence. Evolution is a theory, like gravity is a theory…
    And you don’t go jumping out your window because gravity is “just a theory.” Why are we so
    certain? Emily knows. Evolution is one of the most tested, most
    utilized, and widely-accepted theories in science. It’s backed up by literal tons of fossil
    evidence, which can show us shared traits with species that no longer exist, and help us map
    out lines of descent for creatures around today. DNA sequencing further tells us about lines
    of descent, and you can measure the commonality of the DNA possessed by two animals to tell
    how closely related they are and when they may have split off from a common ancestor. Radiometric dating allows us to assign dates to various
    fossils, further helping us map out lines of descent. Then there’s the simple fact that extinct
    species are always found in the same rock layers you’d expect to find them, which is
    why you don’t see a bunny skeleton in Cambrian rock layers from half a billion years ago. That’s
    also how we know that Dimetrodon is not a dinosaur. Closely related species are often geographically
    distributed near one another. That’s not to mention that we can see evolution happening
    before our very eyes – whether it be the discovery of a new species that recently moved into
    a different environment, the development of newly adapted bacteria into super bugs, the
    evolution of new breeds of rapidly reproducing insects, or the almost constant changes in gene
    distribution in animal populations all over the world. So, remember the prokaryotes and the eukaryotes?
    Gradually, some single cell eukaryotes began to work together in a thing called symbiosis,
    where one cell did something in exchange for another cell doing something else, thus aiding
    the survival of both. Some eukaryotes became so co-operative and even interwoven that one
    cell could not possibly live without the other. Symbiosis was particularly handy in times
    of disaster. Around 650 million years ago, the earth was completely frozen over. Snowball
    earth was not a great place for life. Many underwater bacteria survived under the ice
    and oceans, photosynthesizers may have have survived in small hot spots where there was
    liquid water… In such constrained conditions it’s likely that individual cells started
    to work together more and more. Now is where we start to blaze through the
    evolutionary epic of complex multi-cellular life. Between the start of complex multicellular life
    and today, there have been 5 mass extinction events. In nature, species compete in niches,
    it’s also called niches depending on where you’re from, but I call them niches! It’s
    an area of the environment that requires a special set of skills and traits to extract
    food and reproduce. When niches are full, competition is heavy, traits become finely-tuned
    and evolution generally slows down a little. But! When a disastrous extinction event wipes
    out the majority of the animals living in a niche, the surviving species have room and
    a lack of competitors to evolve new traits very fast to fill the niche again in what
    we call an adaptive radiation. The evolutionary epic is dotted with periods of niches filling
    up, being swept clean by disaster and filling again by new rapidly-evolving species. Example: for the longest time, dinosaurs ruled
    the earth and mammals were a puny, timid race of small shrew-like creatures that stayed
    out of their way. Sometimes we burrowed in the ground or only came out at night, or confined
    our diet to tiny bugs. We could not compete with dinosaurs in their niches. Then, the
    dinosaurs were wiped out and mammals were able to rapidly fill all the empty niches, creating
    apes and elephants and horses and even whales. So after snowball earth, the Ediacaran era
    gives us the first extensive fossil evidence for multicellular organisms. There were various
    ancient forms that resemble today’s worms, corals, molluscs, various underwater plants.
    But then in the Cambrian era, adaptive radiation really got under way and multicellular life
    filled thousands upon thousands of niches unlocked by their new traits. A lot more is
    just possible for multicelled organisms than for single-celled ones. Like, not to brag
    or to bring up my astonishing strength again, but I can bench much more than a eukaryote! Some of the most famous creatures the got
    their start in the Cambrian were trilobites, these bug-like creatures with exoskeletons
    that existed in a variety of species and forms, occasionally in swarms of thousands. And they
    didn’t go extinct for nearly 300 million years – that’s over a thousand times longer than
    Homo-sapiens have been on the planet. Also, as my four-year-old son can tell you,
    the Cambrian era had predators like Anomalocaris, which reached sizes of nearly a meter long,
    with razor-sharp teeth and grasping limbs. By the time of the Ordovician period, photosynthesizers
    were making their first tentative steps out of the sea into a new niche – the land. Plants
    colonized coastlines first, and then gradually, over millions and millions of years moved
    further and further inland. In the oceans, life continued to be abundant, with fish and
    sharks multiplying into a variety of forms. And there were all kinds of crazy life-forms, like
    underwater scorpions that were 2½ meters long! I mean, for the first 100 million years of
    complex evolution, a mind-boggling diversity of creatures was emerging. But that also meant
    all the niches on the planet were getting very full, and many competitors in the same
    niche made it difficult for a new species to enter it with ease! And then came extinction!
    I feel like extinction’s gonna be a thing, Stan. Is there any way we can make a thing
    for extinction? Yes! Ordovician Earth went through first a major
    freezing period, killing off many warm-water species, and then a radical heating period,
    killing off many cold-water species. Many ecological niches were swept clean, and this
    removal of competition meant that new species could enter empty niches and evolve rapidly
    in one of those adaptive radiations. There was also incentive to move out of the seas
    and on to the land. In the Silurian period, one of those groups
    that evolved rapidly by filling terrestrial niches, was the arthropods, those exoskeleton
    species, and the ancestors of many of today’s bugs. Since plants continued to colonize the
    land and more and more of the Earth’s surface was becoming forested, that increase in the
    number of photosynthesizers increased the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere, to between
    30 and 35%. Today, it’s approximately 21%. Arthropods came out of the sea, started filling
    niches on land, and their metabolism took advantage of this all-you-can-respire oxygen
    buffet, growing to enormous sizes like a dragonfly with a meter-long wing span or a scorpion
    1.8 meters long. Again with the scorpions! In the early Devonian period, the forests
    of the earth were composed of mosses, ferns, and short shrubs. Some plants eventually evolved
    a woody covering which provided some back support and allowed them to grow taller and
    taller and compete with others in their niche by grasping higher and higher for sunlight.
    In the first episode, we did promise to explain the existence of trees.
    Bingo! Also, by the Devonian, our vertebrate ancestors
    had arrived on land. Unlike Arthropods, vertebrate skeletons are on the inside and our skin is
    more porous, making it easier for water to escape. This limited our ability to fill land-based
    niches at first, we were amphibious. From this amphibious ancestor, all tetrapods gained their
    characteristic skeletal structure: Four limbs, five digits. And then once again, extinction. Scientists debate about what caused the Devonian
    extinction, but once again, a couple of sharp rises and disappearances from the fossil record
    shows that the niches were being swept clean. Again, the number of species on the earth
    drastically declined. But only temporarily. The carboniferous intensified the forestation
    of the planet even more. Meanwhile, amphibians were filling up coastal niches with competition.
    So to escape into new niches, some evolved less porous skin to venture further inland
    without drying out, and they also laid eggs with a protective shell, meaning that they didn’t
    have to return to water to hatch their young. These were reptiles. They were able to
    fill up the inland world, where real estate was cheap. And come to think of it, real estate
    still is cheap. Next up was the Permian. Many of the forests
    dried out, creating deserts. Reptiles thrived in this transformed environment with less
    competition from the forest and river dwellers. Also during this time, the ancestor of mammals
    evolved. I’m talking of course, about the synapsids. So considering that they were the
    ancestors of everything from you to your dog to elephants and whales, it gives you an idea
    of how radically things can change in just 250 million years of evolution. Because then,
    once again, at the end of the Permian era, we have extinction. Often referred to as the
    Great Dying. It was the single largest extinction event in the past half billion years. Its
    cause is still debated, but the most dominant theory is an environmental disaster caused
    by volcanoes in Siberia. All told, over 90% of marine life and 70% of terrestrial life
    – maybe more – died out. Synapsids were hard hit, leaving space for a huge adaptive radiation
    of giant reptiles. Now we are finally closing in on my son Henry’s
    favorite period of history: The giant reptile period. In the subsequent Triassic period,
    the earth’s climate was ludicrously dry with many deserts, and then near the north and
    south poles, it was warm and wet. Again, dry climates were a big win for reptiles and our
    mammalian ancestors got a bit of the short end of the stick because there was so much reptilian
    competition in many niches, so we hid on the fringes. Meanwhile, there were many kinds of giant
    reptiles in the Triassic of which the dinosaurs were just one kind until, extinction. The
    Triassic extinction, possibly due to volcanic super-eruptions or an asteroid impact emptied
    a lot of niches of competition and allowed one particular group of giant reptiles, the
    dinosaurs, to reign supreme. And that, finally, led to those periods that
    are what most people think of when they hear the word paleontology or the word fossil:
    The Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. I’ll spare you the snarky commentary about
    how the T-Rex in Jurassic Park actually lived in the Cretaceous. Dinosaurs were the dominant
    animals on this planet for a whopping 135 million years. That’s 540 times longer than
    our species has even existed. To help you understand this, consider two of the most
    iconic dinosaurs: Stegosaurus and T-Rex. Stegosaurus was around in the late Jurassic,
    T-Rex was around in the late Cretaceous. They are separated by roughly 88 million years.
    Humans and T-Rex are separated by less time than T-Rex and stegosaurus. Approximately 65
    million years ago, the reign of the dinosaurs ends, you guessed it, in extinction. A rock roughly
    10 kilometers across crashed into the present day Yucatan Peninsula with a million times more force
    than all the nuclear arsenals of the world combined. Bad for the dinosaurs, but it opened up a
    lot of niches previously occupied by them. Many small mammals were able to survive by
    burrowing or simply requiring less food. They were then in a position for another adaptive
    radiation. Small mammals quickly evolved into an immense variety of larger forms. And so was the story
    of complex life on earth during the evolutionary epoch. Next week we will explore the nascent beginnings
    of a new phase of complexity: the accumulation of more knowledge, generation after generation.
    And the intensification of a newfangled evolutionary invention: Culture. See ya next time.

    Wild Kingdom | Polar Bears of Churchill Manitoba | Then & Now
    Articles, Blog

    Wild Kingdom | Polar Bears of Churchill Manitoba | Then & Now

    August 9, 2019

    welcome to mutual of Omaha’s Wild
    Kingdom settled on the western shore of Hudson
    Bay lies Churchill Manitoba here where temperatures can dip to 30 below
    Fahrenheit this tiny outpost has the distinction of no other place on earth
    it’s the polar bear capital of the world in search of polar bears Wild Kingdom
    travelled to Canada’s frozen tundra where we met up with dr. Steve Amstrup
    of polar bears international dr. Amstrup has the rare distinction of appearing in
    two of the original Wild Kingdom episodes in 1980 he joined Marlin
    Perkins to help collar and track the herd of pronghorn and in 1985 he teamed
    with Jim Fowler on a groundbreaking project to collar and track polar bears
    on the frozen Arctic Ocean I sat down with dr. Amstrup to discuss his
    experience every Sunday night did you watch Wild Kingdom every Sunday
    night every Sunday night if I was outside when Mutual of Omaha was getting
    ready to come on my mother would be hollering at me usually when I was about
    to come on yeah it was a big influence on the career choice that I made and the
    way that I thought the early years of Wild Kingdom were to a great extent
    about people going out and working with animals actually capturing them marking
    them trying to determine how to make sure that they were doing okay and I
    thought oh yeah well so people really do that for a living my very earliest years
    eight five six years old I always had a special affection for bears and I don’t
    know where that came from but I always would tell people I want to go into the
    woods and study bears what was it like working with Marlin Perkins it was
    pretty cool when you watch the TV show especially as a young adult when I would
    watch the episodes it was kind of corny and Marlin was you know the language was
    still to get the sense that well this guy’s a TV personality and he’s acting
    but when you meet him in person he was just as nice and congenial and
    knowledgeable I mean he’s a PhD zoologist specializing in reptiles and
    amphibians and he knew so much stuff so he had us captivated around morning
    coffee before we went out to do our work so that part of it was really cool and
    then he insisted on being out and being a part
    and even though he was getting pretty old at the time that I worked with him
    in Wyoming he was right out there on the ground and doing stuff there was one
    funny part where because of the timing of what was going on on the ground he
    had to be on the ground immediately after the helicopter was in the air so I
    took his red parka and I was him in the helicopter for a while so they could
    have the distance shot and he was on the ground waiting so that he could be there
    and helping to wrestle an antelope or deer or whatever it was so that he could
    be on the ground and they could go to the next frame instantly
    I’ve watched Wild Kingdom every time it was on seeing him and Jim and his other
    associates capturing animals working with real wildlife biologists in the
    field that gave me the indication that this is something people do for a living
    and something I can do for a living what was your favorite Wild Kingdom moment
    while filming with him I mean there were a number of scenes that they really
    wanted to capture to kind of show the totality of what my research was and one
    of them was they definitely wanted to catch female with Cubs and we didn’t
    know for sure if we were gonna actually see a female with Cubs but we did and we
    saw this female with two new Cubs right out of the den going across you know
    there’s probably a pretty small chance that was really gonna happen but I
    thought it was worth a try we set up that female bear came right towards us
    and we were just agog and we couldn’t believe she was gonna come right by us
    and then she didn’t go by us she stopped right in front of us and nursed her cubs
    for over an hour I mean she just laid there and it was as
    if we weren’t there and she had to been aware we were there but she didn’t show
    it I’m sure it’s the most remarkable thing I saw in my 30 years of doing
    polar bear research and of course it was perfect for the show we just never
    anticipated having this kind of an opportunity but it was great dinner made
    for some great footage on the show and I got some great still photos that I still
    use in some of my slide talks what was it like meeting Jim Fowler it
    was it was pretty cool Jim was a great guy to work with in the
    field and strong as a bull I mean he I don’t know he was six foot
    four six foot five something like that and part of that was we used to weigh
    bears on a bar we’d have a two people standing with a bar in your shoulder and
    a scale in between and stand up and lift them and Jim didn’t have any problem
    with that so when you’re episode you were taking Jim to go track down polar
    bears and you were showing different types of really rescuer captured
    techniques do you still use those techniques today the techniques that we
    did when Jim Fowler was out in the field with us are largely the same for the
    whole 30 years that I was doing research on polar bears in Alaska we captured
    bears by darting them from a helicopter and then weighing them measuring them
    marking them putting radio collars on them so that we could follow them to
    Denning areas or determine the sizes of their activity areas those things are
    all pretty much still the same the electronics are much advanced in our
    ability to navigate out there as much advanced in those days we often really
    didn’t know exactly where we were but now with GPS and things like that we
    know where we are and where the Bears are so that was all kind of a
    developmental thing you know we were doing developmental science they were
    out there documenting the first satellite radio collars that we put out
    you can actually see the evolution of different types of techniques that were
    employed which i think is really more a huge part of that you’re a pioneer
    really you and him are going in and trying these new techniques and methods
    and you got to actually do that with more than Perkins and Jim Falco these
    different techniques and caught it on film it was pretty neat especially for a
    kid who grew up you know kind of wanting to be those guys and then suddenly being
    able to actually work with them that was pretty special kind of a big deal yeah you