October 2018

October 2018


Happy Halloween!


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-10-31  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-10-31  


Do not try this at home (here's looking at you Floridians).
I'm certain this alligator is irritated that it was tricked into biting a pumpkin. Photo Credit: Unknown, but the video is great.

Feel free to feed pumpkin to Galapagos tortoises.
Galapagos tortoises love Halloween. Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo
Watch these tortoises enjoying Halloween at the San Diego Zoo.




Celebrating a Personal Sighting of a Urocyon cinereoargenteus (a gray fox)


Written by: Neil Copes  
Published: 2018-10-15  

Written by: Neil Copes

Published: 2018-10-15  


Urocyon cinereoargenteus Photo Credit: California Department of Water Resources

While driving home after dark a few nights ago, I spotted something that took me by surprise – a fox! I’ve been an avid Florida hiker since my teens (longer ago than I like to admit), and in that time I’d only ever seen a live wild fox once. The first sighting was of a gray streak darting across a dark hiking path about 50 yards away. This time the fox was just calmly sitting on the side of a dirt road next to my car, looking completely like a Pixar character. When I slowed to about four feet away, he majestically hopped off into the nearby woods, to do whatever a Florida gray fox does at night. It occurred to me then that besides human, squirrels, bats, dogs, cats, and the occasional opossum, I never really see much of Florida’s native population of 99 mammal species. I don’t know how much that fact is good (they manage to avoid us), or bad (they’re endangered), or both, but I would like to see more of them while I’m here.




Bat Appreciation Month: The Little Bat with a Long Life


Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield  
Published: 2018-10-15  

Written by: Clare-Anne Canfield

Published: 2018-10-15  


Either a really pissed off or really happy Brandt's bat. Photo Credit: Herman Lankreijer

Brandt's bats (Myotis brandtii) can live up to 41 years old and possibly older. That may not seem like a long time to you, but usually tiny animals have a short lifespan. This is not a rule in science, but generally small animals live fast and die quick. Example: common house mice live two to three years and weigh 40 to 45 grams, whereas Galapagos tortoises weight between 113 and 227 kilograms (that's 250 to 500 pounds) and live well over 100 years with some up to 170 years old

Now let's take a look at Brandt's bat:
- They weigh 4 to 8 grams.
- They live over 20 years.
- One little guy lived to be over 41 years old

So how do these little bats live for so long? Spoiler alert: we're not sure. Here is what we know so far:
- The key may be in their genes. The insulin-like growth factor 1 and receptor growth hormone receptor genes are altered. These genetic changes are associated with increased longevity in laboratory mammals and other long-lived animals. 
Their telomeres do not shorten with age. Telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes and usually shorten as an animal ages, so there's speculation that this may be another tool by which Brandt's bats live longer than expected.
- They're adorable and magic. 
Brandt's bat (Myotis brandtii) Photo Credit: Manuel Ruedi, Natural History Museum of Geneva

References:
Andrej J. Podlutsky, Alexander M. Khritankov, Nikolai D. Ovodov, Steven N. Austad; A New Field Record for Bat Longevity, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 60, Issue 11, 1 November 2005, Pages 1366–1368, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/60.11.1366.

Seim, I., Fang, X., Xiong, Z., Lobanov, A. V., Huang, Z., Ma, S., ... & Gerashchenko, M. V. (2013). Genome analysis reveals insights into physiology and longevity of the Brandt’s bat Myotis brandtii. Nature communications, 4, 2212.

Foley, N. M., Hughes, G. M., Huang, Z., Clarke, M., Jebb, D., Whelan, C. V., ... & Ransome, R. D. (2018). Growing old, yet staying young: The role of telomeres in bats’ exceptional longevity. Science advances, 4(2), eaao0926.