Two-headed albino snake is star of Swiss 'nature's oddballs' show A two-headed albino snake is the star attraction drawing the crowds to one of everyone's favourite events of the year - the exhibition of natural world oddballs in Switzerland.
The Basel show features all manner of weird and wonderful animals, from mammals to marsupials. But it seems the one area everyone is drawn to this year is the reptiles house - which, this month, is the home of the world's most unusual snake, Mince.
This twin-credible freak of nature is an albino garter snake which boasts two heads - making it look even more intimidating than normal. He is the only two-headed albino snake in the world, according to its owner Tom Beser, who also claims he could command offers well into five figures to buy the animal.
'There are eight of these two headed snakes in the world, albino and normal. But this is the only snake which is both two headed and albino,' he said. 'One collector was offered more than £13,000 for his two headed garter snake and his wasn't an albino. Mince would be worth much more.'
Punk fish stuns trawler men, global warming blamed
There's some-fin very familiar about the spiky mane on this bizarre deep sea creature - which is why baffled Italian fishermen have dubbed it the 'punk fish.' Its Mohican-style fin makes it a dead ringer for rainbow-haired punk fans say trawler men who pulled it from the Mediterranean near Salerno.
Experts say the deep sea beast - known by scientists as Zu Cristatus, or the sickle fish - has been driven into the Med by climate change. Marine specialist Aniello Amato said: 'It's the result of tropicalisation of our sea. Climate change, salinity reduction, the changes in flora and fauna. Several kind of fishes have already arrived in the Mediterranean Sea to displace our more traditional fishes.'
New photo of 'English Nessie' hailed as best yet Pictures of a mysterious creature surfacing from Lake Windermere have been hailed as the best ever sighting of the English Loch Ness Monster, or "Bownessie".
New photo of 'English Nessie' hailed as best yet
18 Feb 2011
The photograph, which shows an object with three humps breaching the surface of the lake, is said to be the best evidence yet of what some claim is a monster lurking beneath the depths. It was taken on a camera phone by Tom Pickles, 24, while kayaking on the lake as part of a team building exercise with his IT company, CapGemini, last Friday.
Mr Pickles said he saw an animal the size of three cars speed past him on the lake and watched it for about 20 seconds. He said: “It was petrifying and we paddled back to the shore straight away. At first I thought it was a dog and then saw it was much bigger and moving really quickly at about 10mph. Each hump was moving in a rippling motion and it was swimming fast. Its skin was like a seal’s but it’s shape was completely abnormal – it’s not like any animal I’ve ever seen before."
This is believed to be the eighth sighting of a long humpbacked creature – known by local residents as "Bownessie" – in the past last five years. Mr Pickles’ companion Sarah Harrington, 23, said: “It was like an enormous snake. I only saw it for a few seconds but all I could think about was that I had to get off the lake.” The pair were on the last day of a team building residential training course at Fallbarrow Hall, Bowness, Cumbria. They said they had kayaked 300m out into the lake near Belle Isle when they spotted the beast to the south.
Mr Pickles's picture perfectly matches the description of an earlier sighting from the shores of Wray Castle in 2006 by journalism lecturer Steve Burnip. He said: “I’m really pleased that someone has finally got a really good picture of it. I know what I saw and it shocked me, it had three humps and it’s uncanny the likeness between this and what I saw five years ago.”
Photo expert David Farnell of Farnell’s photographic laboratory in Lancaster said: “It does look like a real photo but because it’s been taken on a phone the file size is too small to really tell whether it has been altered on Photoshop or not.” Sceptics remain unconvinced that something so large could exist in the 11 mile long lake.
Dr Ian Winfield, a lake ecologist at the University of Lancaster, said: “It’s possible that it’s a catfish from Eastern Europe and people are misjudging the size but there is no known fish as large as the descriptions we’re hearing that could be living in Windermere. “We run echo sounding surveys every month and have never found anything.”
Call me a boggle-eyed fool if you like, but isn't that four humps rather than three?
A parrot trained by Italian Anthonie Zattu performs at the International Festival of Cirkus Art in Prague, wearing a pair of miniature roller skates. The talented parrot was later seen lounging in a deck chair - and driving a toy car across the stage as well. It was accompanied by other parrots trained by Mr Zattu, with one even holding up a newspaper and pretending to read it while relaxing on a deckchair.
He's a multi-talented parrot - he even drives a toy car. He's a multi-talented parrot - he even drives a toy car.
Some of the world's best circus artists gathered to perform at the festival, now in its second year, including Russian acrobat Anastasia Makeeva, Ukraine's Roman Konanchuk, Brazilian acrobats from the Costa group and Italian acrobats from the skating troupe Nistorov. Other wild performances came from Maik Probst and her husband Jorg, both from Germany, who put on a show with their trained baboons, and Czech Helena Faltyny who juggled with tennis rackets.
Commonly known as Cirkus Cirkus, the festival is also a competition so, while spectators have a lot of fun, the thirteen contestants must compete for the attention of a VIP jury made up of celebrities and circus agents from around the world.
THIS deep sea monster sent people running for their lives when it was reeled in on a Taiwanese beach. The 12ft yellow ribbonfish reportedly sparked tsunami panic because of its size. The species is normally found only in deep waters, but was hooked on a line off the coast of Miaoli, in north west Taiwan.
Fisherman Xie Lu said: "People started packing up to leave. They thought some kind of terrible earthquake was coming and they began to flee." Experts believe the fish may have been forced out of its natural habitat by the aftershocks following Japan's devastating earthquake.
One marine official said: "The original undersea earthquake did enormous damage and drove many species out of their natural habitat."
Rare 'zonkey' born in China A rare female zebra and male donkey hybrid, known as a donkra or zonkey, has been born at Xiamen Haicang zoo in south east China.
5 Jul 2011
The foal, which has the distinctive stripes of a zebra on parts of its body, was just over three feet tall and weighed approximately 4.7 stone when it was born on Sunday. According to zoo staff, the zebra mated naturally with the donkey after being left free to roam together along with sheep in the same enclosure. The mother required veterinary help during the birth but has now been returned to graze with her offspring where the pair are on show to visitors.
A zebra-donkey hybrid is also known as zonkey, zebonkey, zebrinny, zebrula, zebrass and zedonk.
Owl crash is a pain in the glass
July 12th 2011
THIS poor owl failed to beak careful! The unlucky bird left a perfect imprint of its shape on a pane of glass after crashing into a window. The image — complete with eyes, beak and feathers — was found by Sally Arnold at home in Kendal, Cumbria.
Mrs Arnold said: "Our first concern was for the welfare of what we suspected was an owl and we opened up the window to check if it was still around. Fortunately, there was no sign of the bird and we can only assume that it had flown away probably suffering from a headache."
Experts from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds confirmed the feathery fail was most likely the work of a tawny owl because of its size and shape and the fact they appear in gardens more often than other owls. The bedroom window silhouette was left by the bird's "powder down" — a substance protecting growing feathers.
Scientists '95% Sure' Bigfoot Lives in Russian Tundra
11th October 2011
Scientists and yeti enthusiasts believe there may finally be solid evidence that the apelike creature roams the vast Siberian tundra, reports the Guardian. A team of a dozen-plus experts from as far afield as Canada and Sweden have proclaimed themselves 95% certain of the mythical animal's existence after a daylong conference in the town of Tashtagol in the Kemerovo region, some 2,000 miles east of Moscow. In recent years, locals there have reported sightings of the yeti, also known as the abominable snowman.
The Kemerovo government announced on Oct. 10 that a two-day expedition the previous weekend to the region's Azassky cave and Karatag peak "collected irrefutable evidence" of yetis' existence on the wintry plateau. "Conference participants came to the conclusion that the artifacts found give 95% evidence of the habitation of the 'snow man' on Kemerovo region territory," read a statement. "In one of the detected tracks, Russian scientist Anatoly Fokin noted several hairs that might belong to the yeti," it added. The group also discovered footprints, a presumed bed and various other markers.
The scientific community has historically disputed the existence of the yeti given scant conclusive evidence. But numerous sightings of such creatures have been reported in Himalayan countries and in North America, where it is known as Sasquatch, or bigfoot.
THIS angler landed an a-ray-zing catch — a stingray weighing 20-STONE. Jeremy Wade grappled with one of the world's biggest and deadliest freshwater fish for four hours before reeling the whopper in. The 53-year-old caught the monster short-tailed stingray during a fishing trip to Argentina. The flat fish is one of the heaviest found in the world's freshwater rivers and has been known to kill people with its lethal poisonous barb.
Jeremy, host of the TV series River Monsters, hooked the 280lb specimen while fishing on a small motor boat on the River Parana near Buenos Aires. After taking his bait of eel, the creature stuck itself to the bottom of the river, prompting an exhausting battle of wills with Jeremy. The four hour stalemate was broken when the fish became tired and Jeremy was finally able to lift it towards the surface. Even then he had to tow it towards the shore using his boat before he could see the huge fish in all its glory.
Lethal barb ... Jeremy shows the camera his stingray's four-inch defence mechanism
Jeremy, from Bath, Somerset, had to wear a pair of stab-proof gloves while he handled the creature which was then released back into the water safe and well.
Jeremy said: "This is the largest true freshwater fish that I have ever caught. It took me four hours to reel in. It just stuck to the bottom and burrowed itself into the sand and the mud, so it was like lifting a dead weight. It was a huge circular shape, humped in the middle and the same colour as the sand. My arms and back were completely shot afterwards, I was so tired."
People are normally only attacked by the mammoth stingray, whose Latin name is Potamotrygon brachyura, when they step on it by accident, as it lies camouflaged in sand. The fish lashes out with its lethal tail covered in thorny spines that can rip flesh to the bone. Its two barbed four-inch prongs can also inject a flesh-rotting venom.
Jeremy said: "If you get the barb through an artery or body cavity it can be fatal. It normally attacks feet and ankles from where people tread on them by accident. It can leave a nasty wound and take six or seven years to stop weeping. People in that area of Argentina shuffle their feet forward when walking through the surf so that they kick the side of it and not tread on top of it."
People can see Jeremy land the ray on the new series of River Monsters which will be shown on ITV in January.
The world's heaviest insect, which weighs three times more than a mouse... and eats carrots
1st December 2011
A nature-lover has revealed how he spent two days tracking down a giant insect on a remote New Zealand island – and got it to eat a carrot out of his hand. Mark Moffett’s find is the world's biggest insect in terms of weight, which at 71g is heavier than a sparrow and three times that of a mouse. Mark came across the cricket-like creature, which has a wing span of seven inches, after two days of searching on a tiny island.
The 53-year-old former park ranger discovered the giant weta up a tree and his real life Bug's Bunny has now been declared the largest ever found. There are over 70 types of Weta species in New Zealand but the giant weta has been named the biggest insect in the world because of its weight. A female giant weta filled with eggs can reach up to 70g or more and the largest of the species are found on Little Barrier Island.
They are usually less social and more passive than other weta. Their diet consists of plants, other small insects and fruit. Their size is an example of island gigantism, which is a biological phenomenon leading to a larger size than their mainland relatives because of their isolation and lack of large predators.
After Mark found the female weta he fed it the carrot before putting it back where he found her. Mark, 53, said: ‘Three of us walked the trails of this small island for two nights scanning the vegetation for a giant weta. We spent many hours with no luck finding any at all, before we saw her up in a tree. The giant weta is the largest insect in the world, and this is the biggest one ever found, she weighs the equivalent to three mice. She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away.
‘She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn't want to risk indigestion. After she had chewed a little I took this picture and we put her right back where we found her.’ Mark, from Colorado, America, added: ‘We bug lovers hear a lot of people who think insects are inferior in some way because of their size, so it was great to see such a big insect. This became all the more amazing when we realised that this was the largest insect recorded.’
High up a remote Himalayan Mountain in Nepal is a Buddhist monastery. The monks say there is no doubt yeti's roam the high forest, they see and hear them and they sometimes even attack people. The tantalising prospect of being the first to prove that this mythical ape like creature actually exists has been the goal many explorers - but the beast has always evaded capture. Then the discovery of a supposed yeti's hand kept in the monastery set off a remarkable chain of events that drew in a mountain explorer, an American oil tycoon, a Hollywood film star and a high tech lab for forensic science in Scotland. But is it a yeti?
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