When people talk about Mother Nature they always sound like they’re talking about this wonderfully benevolent being whose sole purpose is making the Earth a beautiful place and collecting elephant semen to keep the wilds wonderful. By weird coincidence, 99% of these people have never been closer to nature than the Discovery Channel. What I’m saying is that Mother Nature is one psychotic .. .rhymes with twitch. You see, not to put too fine a point on it, rational, caring, divinities don’t foist things on us that send us hiding into corners, sucking our thumbs and begging for death.
Mother Nature does.
I’m not just talking about the usual array of poisonous blowfish (whose Japanese name sounds like the perfect profanity when you think about it) we try and eat for dinner or the duck billed platypus, a creature so weird that no one’s sure exactly what it is, no, Big Mama N has some nasty …. word that will get me tased …. hiding in plain sight.
How about this? A spiky rat that uses poison as a tool so touching it or eating it will kill you.
A porcupine-like rat turns its quills into lethal weapons by coating them with a plant toxin, a new study says. Neighboring African hunters use the same substance to make elephant-grade poison arrows.
No other animals are known to use a truly deadly external poison, researchers say.
Scientists have long suspected that the crested rat might be using poison because of stories of dogs becoming ill or dying after encounters with the rodent, and because it has a distinct black-and-white warning coloration seen in other species.
It was unclear until now, however, where the nocturnal rat got its poison.
The researchers made their discovery after presenting a wild-caught crested rat with branches and roots of the Acokanthera tree, whose bark includes the toxin ouabain.
The animal gnawed and chewed the tree’s bark but avoided the nontoxic leaves and fruit. The rat then applied the pasty, deadly drool to spiky flank hairs. Microscopes later revealed that the hairs are actually hollow quills that rapidly absorb the ouabain-saliva mixture, offering an unpleasant surprise to predators attempt to taste the rat.
Unpleasant? Well, yes, I can see how being killed by a rat that carries poison arrows on its back could be considered unpleasant. Thank you National Geographic for your continued ability to grasp the concept of understatement.
Next week they’ll be doing a three part article about how being run over by a cement mixer might be considered inconvenient.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials are scratching their heads over an unidentified dead mammal that was first spotted July 31 on a Douglas County road.
The creepy-looking all white creature with five claws on its front paws, long toenails and dark tufts of hair on its back has prompted speculation that Minnesota is home to the legendary chupacabra, KSAX-TV reports.
Lacey Ilse was driving close to her home on County Road 86, near Alexandria, when she first saw the dead carcass.
“We saw something in the middle of the road, and we knew it wasn’t a dog or a cat, because it didn’t have hair,” Ilse told KSAX-TV.
“It had a clump of hair and all the rest was just white skin. Its ear was all mis-shaped. To me, it looked half-human,” Ilse said.
The creature actually looks like a malnourished dog with some debris on its back, but hey, who am I to quell illogical paranoia?
SIDE NOTE: I just went outside to have a smoke and some kid rode up to me and asked “Are you Bill McCormick?” I said I was and he said “My granny thinks you’re hot!”
Yeah, up yours Mother Nature.
Anyway, back on point.
Alaska has been invaded by alien caviar.
Scientists have identified an orange-colored gunk that appeared along the shore of a remote Alaska village as millions of microscopic eggs filled with fatty droplets.
But the mystery is not quite solved. Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday they don’t know for sure what species the eggs are, although they believe they are some kind of crustacean eggs or embryos. They also don’t know if the eggs are toxic, and that worries many of the 374 residents of Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo community located at the tip of an 8-mile barrier reef on Alaska’s northwest coast.
There’s been at least one report of dead minnows found in the lagoon of the village the night the eggs appeared last week. Residents also are worried about the community’s dwindling reserves in village water tanks even though the orange mass has dissipated from the lagoon and Wulik River, city administrator Janet Mitchell said.
“It seems to be all gone,” she said. “But if they’re microscopic eggs, who’s to say they’re not still in the river?”
This photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a magnified close-up of the orange gunk.
Scientists also don’t know why the unidentified eggs suddenly emerged on the shores of Kivalina last week. Villagers say they’ve never seen such a phenomenon before.
“We’ll probably find some clues, but we’ll likely never have a definitive answer on that,” NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle said.
Samples are being sent to a NOAA laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, for further analysis. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation also sent samples Monday to the Institute for Marine Science at the University of Alaska
Kivalina residents live largely off the land, and many are worried about the effect on some wildlife and plants from the goo, which turned powdery once it dried — and probably went airborne. Mitchell said some people went berry picking over the weekend, but couldn’t tell if the goo was on the fruit, called salmonberries, which are the same color of the eggs. The caribou are in the region now, but she doesn’t believe the migrating animals pose much risk as a food source.
The eggs were found on at least one roof and in buckets set all over the village to collect rain water. City Councilwoman Frances Douglas said the gooey, slimy substance was widely spread in streaks along the Wulik River and the lagoon, which is a half mile wide and six miles long. Orangey water was reported from as far away as the village of Buckland, southeast of Kivalina.
Douglas estimated the volume of eggs she could see “in excess of a thousand gallons, easily.”
These are but a few examples of the growing trend of Mother Nature trying to kill us. Which is why I only go into nature after it’s been properly paved and sells beer.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!