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DVD Smith
1282038.  Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:22 pm Reply with quote

The quickhatch is an animal native to Canada and Russia. Its name comes from Kuekwatchu the Trickster, the name of a mythical beast from the Innu people of eastern Quebec, who believe the animal is responsible for the creation of the world. It is also known, more commonly, as the wolverine. [1] The stories the Innu tell about Kuekwatchu the Trickster are so bizarre and hilarious that I’ve given them their own thread in the Quite Interestings forum, because there are just too many to post here.

Wolverines are remarkably intelligent, if a little disgusting; they disguise their own scent by rolling around in the urine of other animals, and will also urinate on their own food to prevent any other animals from stealing it. [2] They have quite poor eyesight though, and they have been observed trying to get a better view by standing on their hind legs and shielding their eyes from the sun using their paws – one of the few mammals known to do so. [3]

The US state of Michigan is nicknamed "The Wolverine State", despite wolverines being extremely rare in the region. In fact, a wolverine spotted in Michigan in 2004 was thought to be the first seen in the state for nearly 200 years. [4]

1282052.  Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:41 pm Reply with quote

But do they have adamantium skeletons and a surly demeanour?

1282482.  Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:55 pm Reply with quote


This is the national bird of Guatemala. Its image is found on the country's flag and coat of arms. The Guatemalan currency is named after it.

Other models are available.

And of course there's also its mythical cousin Quetzalcoatl. But that's a whole different kettle of feathers.

1282527.  Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:45 am Reply with quote

Then there's (extinct) Quetzalcoatlus who was a pretty big boi

Janet H
1283828.  Fri May 11, 2018 5:32 pm Reply with quote

Quokkas - adorabe little blighters. Marsupials live on Rottnest (rat's nest) Island, Australia

DVD Smith
1283848.  Sat May 12, 2018 9:17 am Reply with quote

The quagga is a now-extinct subspecies of African zebra, half-covered in stripes, that barked like a dog. In 1886, South Africa issued a ban on hunting quaggas in the region - three years after the animal had already gone extinct.

The quagga’s bark, "qua-ha-ha", is what gave the animal its name – the ‘gg’ in “quagga” is pronounced like the ‘ch’ in “loch”. [1]

In the first description of a quagga, from George Edwards’s Gleanings of Natural History in 1758, he says: ”the noise it made was much different from that of an ass, resembling more the confused barking of a mastiff dog”. [2] Similarly, R.I. Pocock describes in 1910’s Harmsworth Natural History: ”the voice may be described as a ringing bark, comparable in shrillness to that of a small dog, and representable by the syllables "qua ha ha," "qua ha ha,” rapidly repeated and sharply uttered, a cry quite unlike the neigh of a horse or the bray of an ass or of Grévy’s zebra.” [3]

Quaggas roamed the plains of South Africa, and were such a popular target for hunters that in 1886, South Africa (then known as the Cape Colony) introduced “The 1886 Cape Act for the Preservation of Game”, which among other things banned the hunting of quaggas in the region. Unfortunately, the quagga had already gone extinct three years earlier, with the last of the species dying in an Amsterdam zoo in 1883. The last wild quagga died in the Cape in 1878, a full eight years before the quagga hunting ban was introduced. [4]

In the early part of the 19th century, the quaggas were considered very easy to domesticate, moreso than other zebras, and the ones imported to London were sometimes used to pull carriages. A man named Sheriff Parkins was known around London for using two quaggas to drive his carriage. [5]

There are many paintings of quaggas, but only one live quagga was ever photographed – a female at London Zoo in 1870. She was part of London Zoo’s only attempt at a quagga breeding programme, which ended abruptly in 1860 when the male beat himself to death against the wall of his enclosure. [3] [6]

Five photographs in total were taken of her, one of which was taken using one of the first-ever 3D cameras, a stereoscope. When she died in 1872, her skin was put on display at the Royal Museum of Scotland, while her skeleton was bought by an American called Othniel Charles Marsh for £10, and is now on display at Yale University. [7] (Marsh is a fascinating character – he was a 19th century palaeontologist who was part of a vicious fossil-collecting rivalry called the Bone Wars.)

There are currently 23 known stuffed/mounted quaggas on display around the world (locations listed here). There used to be 24, but the 24th was housed in Königsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad in Russia), and was destroyed during World War II. (This NYT article says that the 24th was destroyed when drunken Russian soldiers threw it out of a window – I desperately want this to be true but sadly I cannot find any other source that makes that claim.)

One of the specimens is at the Grant Museum at UCL in London. They originally thought they had two zebra skeletons in their possession, until 1972 when they examined them closer and discovered that one was a quagga and the other was a donkey. [8] The skeleton was missing a back leg, which it regained in 2015 thanks to 3D printing. [9] [10]

In the 1970s, a German taxidermist named Reinhold Rau set about studying the stuffed quaggas and decided he wanted to try and resurrect the animal using tissue samples taken from one of the stuffed quagga bodies. He sent the tissue samples to a lab in California, and in 1984 the quagga became the first extinct animal to have its DNA extracted, replicated and analysed. [11] This became front-page news around the world, and came to the attention of Michael Crichton, who mentions the feat in his novels Jurassic Park and The Lost World as one of the characters’ inspirations in their attempt to clone dinosaurs. [12] [13]

The DNA extraction confirmed that the quagga was a subspecies of zebra and not a species of its own, and so in 1987 Rau started the Quagga Project, a programme with the aim of selectively breeding plains zebras to produce offspring that have the quagga’s unique fading stripe pattern. The project is now in its 5th and 6th generation of zebra, and as of 2016 six foals with the quagga-like stripes have been successfully raised. [14]

Last edited by DVD Smith on Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:37 pm; edited 3 times in total

DVD Smith
1285215.  Sun May 27, 2018 5:00 pm Reply with quote

The first bird to be hatched in space was a Japanese quail, on the Russian space station Mir in March 1990. The quail was also the first vertebrate of any kind to have been born in space. [1]

Out of a total of 35 eggs sent into space, six chicks were successfully hatched aboard the station. You can see some adorable footage of the quail chicks in space here.

The USSR had been trying for several years to incubate quail eggs in space, to see if they could be used as a viable source of food. After two failed attempts in 1979, 1990 was the first success - although not for long. When each chick was born, they couldn't fly or walk, and so had to be strapped into a little cage using little leg braces. But there was a problem - the birds couldn't eat or drink. On Earth, quails' neck muscles are so weak that they can't lift their heads against gravity, but their heads are always pointed down to the ground towards where the food is. In space, however, the quails couldn't use gravity to point them towards the food, and their necks weren't strong enough to lift their heads at peck at the food left for them by the cosmonauts. So, they had to be fed manually by the cosmonauts - a task that had to be performed every two hours, which the cosmonauts had not planned for among the many other tasks they had to do. The chicks all died within weeks. [1] [2]

Later in 1990, another set of quail eggs were sent up, which also successfully hatched. These chicks were placed in little jackets (or "hammocks") to harness them close to feeders. The chicks all survived and returned to Earth successfully - although the quails were significantly weaker upon their return, and developed hunchbacks. [1] During this flight, one of the cosmonauts released one of the birds from its jacket/hammock to see how it coped with weightlessness - he said the bird "twisted" like it was caught in a whirlwind stream. [3] (translated)

Space-quail in a space-jacket!

While the second set of quails had a restored appetite, their sex life dropped to zero – the females stopped ovulating, the males had reduced testosterone levels, and both sexes exhibited an "absolute apathy" to mating, and two of the chicks had signs of testicular/ovarian dystrophy when dissected upon return to Earth. This was a blow to the Russians' plan to use quails as a renewable source of food. However, one hen who survived the return trip eventually recovered and produced a healthy set of chicks. [1]

As an aside, speaking of reproduction, one way in which the Japanese quail is unique is that a gland within the male produces a type of "reproductive foam" which greatly increases sperm motility when mixed with the male's semen. Studies in 1989 showed that quail sperm that was not mixed with the foam stopped moving after 10 minutes, but when mixed with the foam the sperm were still "vigorously motile" after 45 minutes, and in one case after 95 minutes. The foam is produced as a clear viscous liquid, which is then whipped into froth through contractions of a sphincter within the quail, "much as rigorous beating turns egg whites into meringue". [4] A study in 1998 also found that the male's foam production greatly increased when in the presence of a female, even when the female was out of sight behind a screen. [5]

Back to "birds in space", the USA was also working on its own plan to send fertilised bird eggs into space in the mid-1980s, after a suggestion from a high school student named John Vellinger. With the help of a sponsorship from KFC, Vellinger designed an incubator to send fertilised chicken eggs up into space to see if they develop differently in zero-gravity. Unfortunately the experiment was never completed because the incubator was placed on space shuttle Challenger, which blew up shortly after launch. Three years later, the experiment was repeated - the eggs went up, orbited the earth for five days and then returned to Earth, where they hatched successfully. The first "space chicken" to hatch was put on display at Louisville Zoo, where he was named Kentucky. [6] [7] [8] [9]

DVD Smith
1285421.  Wed May 30, 2018 7:33 am Reply with quote

Here's a QI question for you: "What's black, white and Asian, and still somehow a little bit racist?"

Answer: The giant panda.

The Qinling panda is a subspecies of panda that can have brown fur instead of black-and-white fur. They also have slightly smaller skulls and slightly larger teeth.

Most of the Qinling pandas are black-and-white, so we're not really sure why some have this brown colour - there are theories that it's a recessive gene (like redheadedness in humans), or that it's to do with environmental factors. [1]

Even among pandas, they are particularly rare - only nine have been spotted in the wild in the Qinling area since the first one was discovered in 1985. In March 2018, the Changqing National Nature Reserve had its second sighting of a brown Qinling panda - the first was in 1992. [2]

One of the only brown Qinling pandas in the world is called Qizai and can be found at the Foping Panda Valley in China’s Shaanxi province. Brought to the Panda Valley after being abandoned by his mother, he had to be raised alone after the other (black-and-white) pandas, seemingly recognising that he was different, bullied him and stole his food. [3] [4] So yeah, turns out, pandas need a lesson in not judging peers by the colour of their skin (or fur, in this case.)

As of 2016, the staff at the Panda Valley were trying to find Qizai a mate, so that they can study the brown Qinling panda in a lot more detail. [5] In order to help him adjust to the wild, over the winter of 2015-16 they left him to fend for himself in the harsh Chinese winter (-30C), where he ate 50kg of bamboo each day - the equivalent of a human eating 25 chickens in 24 hours. [6]

Last edited by DVD Smith on Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:31 am; edited 1 time in total

DVD Smith
1286430.  Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:05 pm Reply with quote

Picture the scene, a classic movie trope:

A fighter has a big bout coming up. He can either win the fight, and live a life of fame and fortune, or lose the fight and win the heart of the woman he loves.

Well, in the animal kingdom there is such a creature that could be faced with this very choice...

Yep, it's quails again! Over the course of history, quails have been used to make a lot of money as champion fighting birds, but oddly, the males are more attractive to female quails if they lose a fight.

It's true - unlike most animals, female quails tend to prefer males who lose a fight to those who win one. That's according to a Canadian study conducted by McMaster University in 2002. They staged a few "fights" between two male quails and allowed a female to watch. (They weren't proper fights – the males were each put in one half of a cage with a plexiglass divider, and whichever one pecked at the plexiglass the most was deemed the "winner".) When the female was placed back in with the two males after the fight was over, she showed more preference for the "loser" – the male who had pecked less and thus shown the least aggression. When the female did not see the fight, she showed no preference to either. It's thought that the female chooses the "loser" because the "winner" would be just as aggressive towards her. [1] [2]

The actual sport of "quail-fighting" has been around since Ancient Rome, and has remained popular in Asia for the past 2000 years. Unlike the more violent cock-fighting, quail-fighting is more akin to sumo-wrestling, where two quails are placed in a ring and the winner is whichever quail can force the other one out of the ring first. [3] The sport is still practised in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, although gambling on fights is illegal. [4]

The Asiatic Journal of 1817 describes the sport's enormous popularity in China, with men seemingly ready to fight at any time, saying "it is not unusual for a Chinese gentleman to carry a quail in the loose sleeve of his tunic, and visiting another, or meeting one in a walk, to find his friend similarly prepared for a match", [5] while a story in The London Literary Gazette of 1830 elaborates further, saying that the quails were constanly carried around in a bag, never seeing the light of day except for feeding, fighting and "for its health". In China's version of the sport, quails were made to fight by placing them in a ring with a small pile of seed in the middle for them to fight over. The Gazette describes the Chinese's fondness for gambling on quail fights, with "many persons losing and winning large fortunes at it". [6]

Successful fighting quails were highly valued and sought after. In Ancient Rome, the emperor Augustus once sentenced a servant to death for buying a champion fighting quail, cooking it and eating it. When Augustus found out about this, he ordered the servant be nailed to a ship's mast as punishment. [7] [8] [9] And according to an 1869 book, a prize fighting quail in Canton (now Guangzhou) could sell for "several hundred taels". [10] Using this chart, 1 tael in 1869 was worth about £2.23 in today's money - meaning a prize fighting quail costing several hundred taels could easily be worth upwards of £1000 in 1800s China.

Quail-fighting also gets a mention in Shakespeare. The second act of Antony and Cleopatra features the lines "His cocks do win the battle still of mine, when it is all to nought; and his quails ever beat mine, inhoop'd, at odds." [11]

Quail-fighting was one of the activities banned by the Taliban in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. [The more I hear about those guys...] Other activities they banned included cock-fighting, poppy-growing, dog-fighting, gambling, music, television, and...kite-flying. The excuse given for the restriction on kite-flying was that "flying kites from rooftops can interrupt the prayers of one's neighbour". [12] Since the ban was overturned, kite-flying has reclaimed its crown as the main hobby for boys and men in Afghanistan. [13]

DVD Smith
1287247.  Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:12 am Reply with quote

Qantassaurus is the only dinosaur to have been named after an airline, after Qantas sponsored the 1999 dig that led to its discovery. Qantassaurus was alive around 110 million years ago, but despite it's aviation-inspired name, it wouldn't have been able to fly. [1] [2]

It's not the only prehistoric creature to have an unusual name - in 2017 a newly-discovered dinosaur was given the name Zuul crurivastator ("Zuul, destroyer of shins") after the demon from Ghostbusters, [3] while a pterosaur discovered on the Isle of Wight in 2009 was named Vectidraco daisymorrisae ("Daisy Morris's Isle of Wight dragon") after its discoverer, nine-year-old Daisy Morris. [4]

1287267.  Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:01 am Reply with quote

Love the quails, DVD!

1287810.  Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:54 pm Reply with quote

Quolls. (marsupial native to Oz).

I stumbled across them here.

Quolls (/ˈkwɒl/; genus Dasyurus) are carnivorous marsupials native to mainland Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania. They are primarily nocturnal and spend most of the day in a den. Of the six species of quoll, four are found in Australia and two in New Guinea. Another two species are known from fossil remains in Pliocene and Pleistocene deposits in Queensland. Genetic evidence indicates that quolls evolved around 15 million years ago in the Miocene, and that the ancestors of the six species had all diverged by around four million years ago. The six species vary in weight and size, from 300 g (11 oz) to 7 kg (15 lb). They have brown or black fur and pink noses. They are largely solitary, but come together for a few social interactions such as mating which occurs during the winter season. A female gives birth to up to 18 pups, of which only six survive.

DVD Smith
1291482.  Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:58 am Reply with quote

The longest-living fish to survive in captivity was a Queensland lungfish named Granddad, which lived at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago from 1933 until his death in 2017, aged at least in his 90s.

As their name suggests, Queensland lungfish are one of only six species of fish on Earth that can breathe air as well as water, and can live for several days out of water without dying (as long as they're kept wet). They have a full set of gills as well as one working lung, which they use by breathing in through their mouth every 30-60 minutes.

Granddad was originally brought to Chicago in time for the 1933 World's Fair, embarking on a three-week sail-and-rail journey from Australia and arriving with 24 hours to spare before the fair began. At the time, he was already a fully-grown adult thought to be around 8-10 years old.

Granddad's gender wasn't officially confirmed until the 1990s when ultrasound techniques became possible - prior to that sex determination could only be done through surgical procedures. (Although he had previously bred with a partner so they were pretty sure already.)

Granddad's normal diet was mainly leaves and worms, but on his 80th birthday, he was given a special birthday cake made of layers of "smelt, shrimp, yellow squash, carrots, potatoes, and green peas, decorated with seaweed, esca-role and silversides".

During his time at the aquarium, Granddad was visited by over 104 million people and even served as a witness to a wedding. The person officiating the wedding opened his address with "Ladies and gentlemen and fish".

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]

DVD Smith
1291491.  Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:35 am Reply with quote

Q: How do you prove that there is no such thing as a fish?

This is the story of another Queensland fish of note, Ompax spatuloides, notable because it was the result of a prank played on a scientist when he visited Queensland. But it took the best part of 50 years for people to conclude that the fish didn't exist.

When chemist Karl Staiger went into a Queensland jail in 1872, he was served what he was told was a local fish, rarely-caught, and not found anywhere else in the world. Excitingly, Staiger sketched it and sent the sketches to a biologist friend, who went on to publish it in a paper in 1879.

The fish went on to be recorded in fish journals all over the world, and between the 1880s and the 1920s people wrote about it, albeit with increasing skepticism as no one had ever been able to catch one in the decades since Staiger's original encounter.

Eventually in August 1930, an exposé from a pseudonymous author was published in Sydney magazine The Bulletin, saying that Staiger had been "made the victim of one of the quaintest jokes in scientific history". What he had been served, they said, was actually the combination of the head of a lungfish (although sketches suggest a platypus), the body of a mullet, and the tail from an eel. This article led to the publication of a 1933 paper describing Ompax as "a mythical fish" for the first time.

Part of the reason it took so long to dismiss the hoax was because the 19th century had seen the discovery and study of lots of bizarre animals from Australia, many of whom defied all scientific knowledge when they were discovered. Famously, the duck-billed platypus was thought to be a hoax when a stuffed one first arrived in London, while the discoveries of an egg-laying rodent (echidna) and a fish that could breathe air (Queensland lungfish) meant that the biologist community couldn't be 100% sure that the bizarre chimera-esque Ompax was a fake for a very long time.

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

1291497.  Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:01 pm Reply with quote

Fake news is nothing new,,is it?


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