Wierd and wonderful: Grandidier’s vontsira

face of mongoose-like carnivore, Grandidier's vontsira

I’m enjoying my high-definition BBC feed while I still have it. Recently, I enjoyed a documentary about Madagascar narrated by Sir David Attenborough. He mentioned a rare carnivore called Grandidier’s vontsira (BBC, Island of Marvels, Part 3. YouTube clip, 0:12:08–0:13:24). I had never heard of it, and no wonder. It’s a rare mongoose found only in a tiny part of Madagascar. It’s like the mammalian equivalent of a snail darter, a tiny fish found only in certain rivers.

striped mongoose-like carnivore, Grandidier's vontsira

It took a little while for me to find out more. It’s more commonly called Grandidier’s mongoose. It was named only in 1986 and little is known of its life. It’s adapted to an arid climate, eats small prey and insects, and pairs off to have one offspring. If you watch the video clip, you’ll hear its voice, distant whistles and then a cross between a mew and a coo.

striped mongooses with plumy tails, Grandidier's vontsira

Most of the prey items caught are insects but the greater biomass, 57% – 80% depending on the season, comes from small animals.

The range map for Galidictis grandidieri is from Wikipedia, and ultimately from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, species assessors and the authors of the spatial data.

Cougars in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Eastern Cougar in Michigan

In 2009, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed signs of an eastern cougar on the upper peninsula. In two places, tracks were found and verified by Department workers and a motion-sensing trail camera took a picture of a cougar. Together, they’re proof that the cougar, Felis concolor, has returned to the U.P.

Baby pygmy marmoset on finger

Baby Marmoset on Finger, originally uploaded by balisane.

This is the cutest animal on the internets! A marmoset is a small monkey. But I had no idea they were so small!

Ah, these are pygmy marmosets, the smallest monkeys in the world. The photo of a monkey clinging to a finger is from the Everland Zoo and Theme Park in South Korea, which had a safari theme park in the 1970s.

The Lakes Aquarium, near Newby in the U.K., has baby twin marmosets. The babies spend most of their time riding on their father’s back. The father hands them over to their mother for nursing.

My favourite saint

St. Tiggywinkles

St. Tiggywinkles

I’ve just discovered a new saint: St. Tiggywinkles Animal Hospital in England. It’s an animal hospital for wild animals and treats them free of charge. The hospital relies on donations and, I suspect, sales of animal photographs to keep going. It helps some of the millions of animals that are injured by cars, poisons, and the built environment every year.

Our veterinary team has pioneered much of the treatment now used for wildlife throughout the country. Our expertise and knowledge on all species is used worldwide. Over the years we have perfected techniques for hedgehogs, badgers, deer and other species and have a commitment to passing on this information through books, papers, courses and lectures to veterinary schools.

The experiences of our Hospital staff are helping many of the millions of casualties across the world, most of which are now being looked after thanks to the positive attitude of Tiggywinkles. Tiggywinkles survives on a solid base of membership and relies on donations from the general public and sponsors to thrive. It receives no state funding of any kind and no financial assistance from conservation groups.

“Tiggywinkle” is a nickname for a hedgehog.

There are domesticated hedgehogs, as well.

Blog monkey needs your help

Dr. Marc van Roosmalen is trying to protect this new species of black, woolly monkey and other new species in the Amazon jungle.

Cutest monkey ever

Cutest monkey ever

Donations will help to fund his research and protect the habitat for these animals. If he gets $31,000, he promises to name it the Blog Monkey — Lagothrix blogii.

Hat tip to PZ Myers at Pharyngula: “Blog Monkey.”

Short-tailed, tubular grey rodent (small)

LotStreetWiz saw a small rodent running across his path while out on one of his runs. It had a short tail and looked greyish. It seemed to have a tubular body rather than a mouse-like hump. We’re not sure what it was. Perhaps one of these:

rodents of New York

rodents of New York

Paleoart of Mauricio Anton

I found a blog called Paleomammals online, which got off to a promising start but hasn’t any new articles since May. But it did have links! One of them was to the scientific paleomammal and anthropology art of Mauricio Anton. The home page is in Flash but there are, at least, galleries underneath.

Botany photo of the day: mammalian pollinator

Beautiful photographs show a recently discovered bat pollinating a flower with a long tube.

The flower of the plant species, Centropogon nigricans, is exclusively pollinated by the tube-lipped nectar bat, Anoura fistulata. In other words, this is an example of obligate pollination. It’s also thought to be a prime example of co-evolution (PDF). Dr. Muchhala described Anoura fistulata in a 2005 paper, so this bat species was unknown to science as recently as three or four years ago. Native to the outer slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, Anoura fistulata has the longest tongue relative to its body length of any mammal — so long, in fact, that it is necessary for it to retract its tongue into its rib cage.

Now go and look at the pictures.

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