Yet another Halloween note

My advice last year was not to be cheap. The year before I advised people to give out Twix. This year I want to talk about slutty sexy cats:

Sure, a lot of us appreciate this costume when we see it, but look. It isn’t anything remotely new. It’s been done millions of times; it has to go. I mean, surely there is some other organism in the animal kingdom that lends itself to the excuse to flaunt one’s self, right? For instance:

Get a modified lion’s mane, some short-shorts, and half a shirt and I think we’ve got ourselves a new costume trend.

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Open discussion

I’ve forgotten the things I wanted to post about from my morning read of the newspaper (which is now long-gone), so I’m at a loss of what to throw up here right now. That means open discussion time. But no need to fear! It won’t all be up to you if you’re at a loss, too. Here are three random videos. Discuss them or anything else that tickles your fancy.

Cat imitates monkey

Ever since I first laid eyes on it, my favorite animal has been the Golden Lion Tamarin. It’s a beautiful new world monkey that’s pretty rare, but can be found in some zoos, including the one in Washington D.C. (And if I recall correctly, I believe I saw it at the Baltimore Aquarium, for some odd reason.)

Given just how stunning I find this primate, I was rather worried when I read this article about a feline, the Spotted Margay, vocally imitating tamarins as a predatory method.

Researchers first recorded the incident in 2005 when a group of eight pied tamarins were feeding in a ficus tree. They then observed a margay emitting calls similar to those made by tamarin babies. This attracted the attention of a tamarin “sentinel,” which climbed down from the tree to investigate the sounds coming from a tangle of vines called lianas. While the sentinel monkey started vocalizing to warn the rest of the group of the strange calls, the monkeys were clearly confounded by these familiar vocalizations, choosing to investigate rather than flee. Four other tamarins climbed down to assess the nature of the calls. At that moment, a margay emerged from the foliage walking down the trunk of a tree in a squirrel-like fashion, jumping down and then moving towards the monkeys. Realizing the ruse, the sentinel screamed an alarm and sent the other tamarins fleeing.

My heart raced. Everyone knows only cute animals are worthy of human sympathy, but I’ve never seen a pied tamarin. Was it as cute as a golden lion tamarin? Could this feline have been attacking something I would be willing to irresponsibly feed purely due to its cuteness?

Phew!

This encounter was actually unsuccessful, but it shows just how cunning evolution has made some cats. Locals have claimed that they have also observed this behavior in other members of the feline family, including jaguars, cougars, and ocelots. The next step will be to determine if this is true (and I suspect it is), and then do more research to determine if there is a genetic basis for these actions beyond the obvious basis of simply being feline. I lean towards the behavior being learned simply because it hasn’t been observed with captured specimens or with specimens living in vastly different areas, but also because agoutis (rodents) also find themselves a target of margay mimicry, and they make an entirely different sound from tamarins.

But the margay’s remarkable abilities are not limited to traditional feline characteristics and mimicry. Take a look at this video.

I like Golden Retrievers, too

Baby monkeys born at Santa Ana Zoo

Two baby golden lion tamarin monkeys were born last month at the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park. Interestingly enough, this is the second time in 2009 that twins of this species have been born at the zoo–twins were also welcomed in January.

“Golden lion tamarins are a highly endangered species found in the Atlantic coastal rainforests of Brazil,” explained Kent Yamaguchi, the Acting Zoo Director. “They use their long slender fingers to probe small crevices in plants like bromeliads for tasty insects. Golden lion tamarins also snack on various fruits as they forage through the rainforest canopy.”

The recent newborns are not on display yet, but the twins from January can be found on the zoo’s north end.

babymonkeys1

babymonkeys2

Why?

because I like Golden Lion Tamarins.

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