Pycnopodia: The largest starfish is also the fastest. Without her, the ocean is doomed to enslavement by sea urchins
Who lives at the bottom of the ocean? Children will answer this simple-minded question very unequivocally and loudly, and biologists will list the animals until evening. However, there is a bottom dweller, who is recognized by both those, and those - a starfish. But today we will talk about the most titled type of these animals - the sunflower star, or pycnopodia.
Why the most titled? Well, firstly, because sunflower stars are the largest among their relatives. The creeping "flower" can fatten up to a meter in diameter. With such a size, five branches, as in standard stars, are clearly not enough. At least, the starfish itself decided so, increasing their number by 3-4 times!
But that's it, turn the starfish upside down and see hundreds of thousands of micro-legs! Such a number of walking and grasping accessories gives the animal a second title - the title of the fastest starfish. Pycnopodia "rush" at a speed of one meter per minute! Not impressive? And if I say that her relatives have an average acceleration of about 5 times less?
Do you still doubt the speed abilities of our heroine? Well, okay. The main thing is that the pycnopodia itself does not need high speeds for happiness - the predator's prey can barely crawl, if at all, so that it does not have problems in catching up.
You can find "sunflower fields" on the picturesque reliefs of the northern Pacific Ocean. There are underwater forests of algae rich in various living creatures. In the hunt for its inhabitants, the beast has honed its skills to the level of a serial killer.
She easily catches up with sea urchins, hermit crabs and weakened fish. By the way, in reality, the friendship of SpongeBob and Patrick would last exactly as long as the pycnopodia would crawl to a sea sponge. Their stars gnaw with the same pleasure as everyone else.
Neither scales, nor chitinous shells, nor even needles will save from the invasion of a starfish! The star swallows its prey whole, leaving bare skeletons after its meal. And if the food turns out to be too large, then the pycnopodia will release its stomach and begin to digest lunch just like that!
And if the pycnopodia loves to gut the bottom dwellers, then it does not excite it very much to love its relatives. Looking for a partner? Raising children? To hell with all this, the hunt does not wait! Stars of different sexes simply throw eggs and sperm into the water, hoping that they will somehow intersect themselves. If a miracle occurs, a small and not at all star-shaped larva is formed, which will turn into the likeness of parents only under the influence of the pheromones of an adult star.
With this level of carelessness in reproducing their own kind, extinction was only a matter of time. But now there is every chance that pycnopodia will finally disappear. And the sapiens are not even to blame. Sea stars were sharply knocked down by an incomprehensible infection 6 years ago, and they massively gave up - only some small populations remained. Without a bottom super-predator, unbelted sea urchins have bred to such an extent that they have eaten algae forests almost completely clean.
Scientists are trying to breed pycnodia in captivity and release them to their old habitats, but so far the population of giant Patrick is still hanging by a thread, alas.
Despite the fact that foxes do not live with humans, they do not need special introduction. Thanks to folklore, children already at an early age get acquainted with a small animal, which compensates for weakness with cunning, but does not miss its own, if it is possible to offend a weaker one. Of course, it is worth separating the image of the fox, formed in our imagination under the influence of children's fairy tales and cartoons, from the real lifestyle of the fox.
As one of the most famous researchers, Charles Roberts, wrote, it is always difficult for a person describing the habits of highly organized animals to resist endowing them with some human traits. The notorious fox's cunning in real life appears only when the animal leaves the chase. At this time, the fox very skillfully winds around, confusing tracks, and can disguise itself in an instant, disappearing from sight.
On the hunt, foxes are quite straightforward. They operate according to the scheme “detection of prey - lightning attack - end of the hunt”. On average, foxes range in size from half a meter to a meter in length. The tail, which is approximately two-thirds of the body length, is counted separately. The maximum weight of foxes is 10 - 11 kg, while it is subject to significant seasonal fluctuations. Foxes are by no means exclusively forest dwellers. Rather, even, they can be conditionally attributed to the inhabitants of the forest-steppe and woodlands - it is in these natural zones that fox food lives and grows.
Geographically, foxes are found almost everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, with the exception of extreme climates. In the Southern Hemisphere, foxes live only in Australia, where humans have successfully introduced them. However, the success of fox breeding in Australia is relative - they were turned on, desperate to cope with rabbits, but foxes, finding themselves on the smallest continent, preferred to hunt smaller fauna. The rabbits, to the desperation of the farmers, successfully continued to breed. Bemorepanda presents you some interesting facts.
1. Despite their small size, foxes are rarely hunted by larger animals. Of course, a wolf, bear, lynx or wolverine will not refuse the opportunity to catch a gaping fox. However, such a chance appears very rarely - foxes are attentive and fast. Purposefully, they practically do not hunt adult foxes. Young animals are in great danger. Even birds of prey hunt on it, not without success.
Taking into account the human factor - and the hunters, if possible, knock out foxes by the thousands - the average life span of a fox does not exceed three years. At the same time, foxes do not die at all because of the exhaustion of the body's resources - in captivity, cases were recorded when foxes lived for 20 - 25 years.
2. Foxes are practically not afraid of humans, so they are well studied and take root in captivity, allowing people to breed new subspecies. People living in rural areas naturally do not like foxes - red-haired beauties often destroy birds and small livestock. However, zoologists argue that the damage from foxes is often exaggerated.
3. English "Fox Hunting" fun did not come about because the villagers lacked entertainment. England is so densely populated that the last wolf was killed at the beginning of the 16th century. The disappearance of wolves has led to an unprecedented breeding of foxes, who have lost their last natural enemy. The consequences for the farmers were clear. Angry peasants began to organize massive fox hunts. They managed to kill some animals, but the noise raised by the crowd of “hunters” was more important.
The first mention of such a hunt dates back to 1534. The technology turned out to be more than successful - by 1600, specially bred dogs were required to hunt foxes. At the same time, economic processes were going on in England, which led to the deprivation of the peasants of free non-agricultural land, and fox hunting became the property of the nobility. It turned into a whole ritual with lush ladies' toilets, old-fashioned hunter's costumes, etc. At the beginning of the 21st century, after a short debate, the British Parliament banned fox hunting with the help of a pack of more than 3 dogs. One vote in the House of Commons was enough to abolish the age-old tradition.
4. There is a hunt for foxes without the death of these animals. This is still the unofficial name for sports radio direction-finding competitions. The role of foxes is performed by constantly working transmitters hidden in rough terrain. Athletes are armed with receivers. Their task is to find all transmitters in the shortest possible time (usually there are 5 of them). Fox hunting competitions were very popular during the Cold War.
The essence of the competition is very close to counterintelligence work to identify and eliminate intelligence channels of communication. Therefore, state structures, primarily the military and counterintelligence, supported the athletes in every possible way. The end of the Cold War and the rapid development of information technology devalued "fox hunting", and now only enthusiasts are engaged in this sport.
5. The caution and quickness of foxes forced hunters to invent several methods of hunting these animals. The fox is lured with a bait. The carcass of an animal or a large piece of meat is left in a well-shot place, and the hunters hide nearby. The fox is lured with decoys, and in recent years, two-module electronic decoys have gained popularity.
In them, the control path is in the hands of the hunter, and the luring sounds are emitted by an external loudspeaker. This design allows you to take the fox to a place convenient for shooting. Large companies of hunters practice hunting with a salary, with flags. Hunting dogs are used, both hounds and greyhounds, chasing foxes in the field (greyhounds also strangle fugitives themselves) and burrowing dogs, driving the fox out of the hole.
6. Despite the fact that fox hunting is popular wherever these animals are found, even the most successful hungry hunter will not be able to feast on fox meat in Russia. The fox is a very active predator, so there is practically no fat in the fox meat. This makes it extremely tough, fox meat is much tougher than the meat of other predators.
The refreshed carcass emits a very unpleasant odor, which is weakened, but does not completely disappear even after 12 hours of soaking in vinegar and salt. Finally, the rodents that make up the fox's diet are packed with parasites. Foxes have developed a very powerful immunity that humans do not have. Therefore, the meat must be subjected to long heat treatment. When boiling, the unpleasant odor reappears, so the only way to cook fox is stewing with a lot of seasonings and spices. The Scandinavians, striking everyone with their surstroemming - pickled herring - distinguished themselves here too. In Sweden and Denmark, foxes are raised for meat on special farms and even some of the products are exported. At retail, fox meat costs about 15 euros per kilogram.
7. Around the middle of the 20th century, foxes began to be bred and domesticated as pets. On a scientific basis, Dmitry Belyaev's group in Novosibirsk worked on this. A careful selection of the most intelligent and affectionate individuals gave results only after many years. D. Belyaev became an academician, a nice monument was erected to him and one of his pupils in the Novosibirsk town - the scientist and the fox sit on a bench, stretching out their hands to each other. But even many years of efforts did not lead to the development of a new breed. Scientists who continue to work on improving the behavioral qualities of foxes refer to their pets as “population” only. That is, it is just a large group of individuals living in a limited area.
8. Unscrupulous “breeders” of foxes have long managed to instill in cheating buyers the idea that a fox is the same dog, only a cat. In a sense, the animal is very loyal to the owner and, at the same time, cleanly and independently. And if the animal does not behave the way the owner wants, then this is the owner's problem. Only with the development of mass communications did the hapless fox breeders manage to share with the world the delights of keeping a fox as a pet. The character of the fox does not depend on the place of purchase, whether it is a special nursery, a reseller, or even the side of the road on which a potential pet was hit by a car.
Regardless of whether you got a rather extravagant pet for free, or you paid 10 or 80 thousand rubles for it, it will have extremely unpleasant behavioral features. He will shit anywhere; gnaw and dig wherever possible; make noise at night and stink around the clock. It is the smell that is the most serious negative property of the fox. It can be somehow accustomed to the tray (the contents of which will have to be changed at least twice a day), but the fox will never get rid of the habit of secreting the secret of the paranoid glands, which is unpleasant and painful in the eyes, with any strong emotion from love to fear. Therefore, keeping a fox pet is best in a spacious enclosure in a private house, but not in an apartment. But in any case, you need to take care of rubber gloves and strong detergents in commercial quantities.
9. Foxes adapt to almost any environment. There is little animal food - foxes easily switch to vegetable food, without suffering from this at all. It gets colder - we grow, to the delight of hunters, a thick undercoat. It gets warmer - the undercoat falls out, and the fox looks like a sick puppy. Even the color of foxes' fur depends solely on the environmental conditions.
If there are many predators in the habitat, foxes dig deep holes with branched passages and a dozen, or even more, exits. Such holes in area can reach 70 square meters. m. There are relatively few predators - and the hole will be short and shallow, and two or three emergency exits will be enough. In cold regions, the main entrance of the burrow faces south, in warm and hot regions - to the north, and in deserts and steppes - to where the winds blow less often.
10. "Fox hole" for some reason is called a type of residential buildings, similar to a hole, except for the location of the entrance on the slope. Modern "fox holes", projects of which are proposed by many construction companies, may not go deep into the ground at all - they are just structures, the walls of which are heaped with earth. Human "fox holes" have both advantages and disadvantages, but they have nothing to do with foxes, except for the name.
11. The tightening of hunting rules and environmental legislation everywhere leads to the fact that foxes are gradually approaching human habitation. It is much easier to find food near people than in the wild, than foxes enjoy and enjoy. On the territory of the countries of the former USSR, by and large, only residents of villages and small settlements located near forests suffer from them. It is impossible to fight thieves who destroy small animals. The law expressly prohibits shooting within populated areas only at rabid animals. To do this, you need to confirm the disease, which cannot be done without killing the fox - a vicious circle.
In Europe, foxes are firmly established in the largest cities. According to estimates of epidemiologists, about 10,000 foxes live in London. 86% of the townspeople have a positive attitude to the red-haired robbers who fight with dogs and cats, gut garbage bags, and shit wherever they have to. Humans, it turns out, feel guilty about animals that have been bullied for hundreds of years. In Birmingham, foxes became such a disaster that a special team had to be created to capture them.
The team did a great job, catching a hundred animals. They were taken to the nearest forest and released - it is inhumane to kill. The foxes returned back to the city (and it's good if they didn't bring friends and girlfriends with them) and continued their dirty deeds. The careless attitude of the townspeople towards foxes is surprising - foxes endure the most terrible infections, including rabies.
12. The sea fox is a stingray of a sizeable size (up to 1.2 meters in length). It lives off the coast of Europe, including the Black and Azov Seas, and along the entire Atlantic coast of Africa. Fox sharks can also be found in the water column. These are three species of predators, ranging in size from 3 to 6 meters. In theory, fox sharks are considered shy and not dangerous to humans. Flying foxes also belong to foxes solely by name. These are the largest fruit bats in the world, until recently they were combined with bats. The body of a flying fox reaches a length of 40 cm, and a wingspan of one and a half meters.
13. The English word “fox” - “fox” has nothing to do with the familiar phrase “Fox is the 20th century film company”. “Fox” in this case is the surname of an enterprising Hungarian whose name was either Wilhelm Fuchs, or even Vilmos Fried. Having arrived in the USA, the Hungarian changed his name for the sake of euphony and founded a film company. In 1930, the company was taken away from him during a hostile takeover. Fox - Fuchs - Freed fought but lost. From him the film company remained, as the song says, only the name.
14. "Desert Fox" - German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who in 1940-1943 successfully commanded German troops in North Africa. However, Rommel did not use any special cunning in the command. Like all successful German military leaders of World War II, he knew how to concentrate forces on a narrow sector of the front and break through enemy defenses. When there was nothing to concentrate, "Desert Fox" abandoned troops in Africa and went to Hitler to ask for reinforcements.
15. “Fox's tail and a wolf's mouth” - this is how some jokingly and some shaking with fear called the policy of General Mikhail Loris-Melikov in Russia at the end of the 19th century. Under Emperor Alexander II, Loris-Melikov, who became famous in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, was simultaneously the Minister of Internal Affairs and the head of the gendarme corps. The authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at that time included practically all domestic politics, from the basic sectors of the economy to the care of the weak and orphans.
In this post, Loris-Melikov had a "fox's tail" - he advocated the weakening of laws, the growth of public initiative, etc. Having moved to the office of the chief of the gendarmes, the general used the "wolf's mouth", not letting the revolutionaries go (in his understanding) ... The fox tail involuntarily outplayed the wolf's mouth - on March 1, 1881, Emperor Alexander II was killed, and one of the captured terrorists said that their leader had been arrested before the assassination attempt, but Loris-Melikov's charges did not receive any evidence from him about the impending assassination attempt.
16. Foxes are firmly included in the mythology of dozens of peoples, and their influence on a person can be exactly the opposite, regardless of the place of residence of the peoples. Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese compete in the degree of fear experienced by foxes. The transformation of an animal into a seductive woman with the subsequent torture of the victim through pleasures is not yet the most terrible outcome that lies in wait for a Far Eastern man. Kitsune (in Japanese "fox") spread the life of those to whom they came in the form of a beauty, to smithereens - they ruin merchants or drive rulers into disgrace. It is difficult to imagine what they did in medieval Japan with the men to whom Kitsune appeared in the form of a handsome young guy.
At the same time, in India, the North American Indians and a number of European peoples, the fox symbolizes prosperity, good luck or wealth. Christians already at an early stage identified the fox as Satan's accomplices - beautiful, wagging its tail, and even wool the color of hellfire. Nevertheless, some peoples, including the Slavic, have retained a negative but complacent attitude towards the fox. “We know, the fox, about your miracles”, “And the fox is cunning, and they sell its skin”, “The fox takes care of, the cat curls up to it” - these proverbs clearly indicate that people have long imagined the nature of the red predator.
17. Employee of the Voronezh Zoo Tatiana Sapelnikova told a very interesting case. Zoo workers had to determine the concentration of small animals such as mice in one of the forest areas. During a routine procedure, zoo workers set traps for mice. However, the work of scientists was greatly hampered by the foxes living in the district. For several years, zoologists set up identical traps, and the number of mice caught in them determined the size of the population.
However, over time, the tracks showed that someone was reducing the number of mice trapped in the trap by carefully removing them and eating them nearby. Zoologists realized that the fox is no longer guided by mice, but by the smell of people setting traps. After a short game of "catch me" they managed to lure the fox - the zoologists originally nicknamed him Ginger - into a kind of aviary. The fox was absolutely not worried about bondage. When the scientists managed to carry out the necessary experiment with mice, Ryzhik was released. He did not run far, and even two chanterelles appeared nearby. They themselves did not figure out how to find the mice and take them out of the traps, but they unmistakably appreciated the extraordinary abilities of the future groom.
Many pet owners know how important the companion of our beloved animals can be, especially the joy they bring when you arrive home.
And now, as most of the population around the world is on lockdown, many pet owners have started to share funny pictures of how they currently cope with sharing “their territory” between them.
Bemorepanda has collected a compilation of top cute and adorable pictures that show how much joy and affection pets can bring during self-isolation.
A dog wearing a protective mask is seen with its owner inside an autorickshaw in Chennai, India, March 30, 2020. / P. Ravikumar
A man wearing a protective mask walks his dog in Bari, Italy March 31, 2020. / Alessandro Garofalo
A man relaxes with his dog on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 26, 2020. / Ricardo Moraes
A dog looks out the window as a boy studies at home via video conference in Rome, Italy, March 30, 2020. / Alberto Lingria
A dog wears a mask on a street in Shanghai, China March 22, 2020. Aly Song
Home veterinarian Wendy Jane McCulloch examines 8-year-old cat Ivy at the closed Botanica Inc. office as she makes client home visits, in Manhattan, New York City, March 31, 2020. / Caitlin Ochs
A man wearing a face mask and his dog look out of a window in Prague, Czech Republic, March 24, 2020. / David W Cerny
A cat lies in a window near a theatre in Oberammergau, Germany, March 19, 2020. Bavaria's Passion Play, staged every decade since the 1630s when villagers thanked God for the end of the plague, has been postponed for two years due to the spread of the coronavirus. / Andreas Gebert
A dog looks through an apartment window in Washington, March 17, 2020. / Carlos Barria
Lea, 19, plays with her cat as she studies at home during the coronavirus lockdown in Moorsel, Belgium March 31, 2020. / Francois Lenoir
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