'/> Amazing Animals: October 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

The New Breakthrough in Racehorse Scoping

Racehorses are amazing creatures: strong, fast, in incredible shape. Considering the exertion they undergo on a regular basis, keeping them in the best possible fitness and condition is vital: this means they need to be given comprehensive examinations time and again.

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The most common areas of concern for racehorses are gastric and respiratory issues which will affect their ability to perform as they're trained to. Before a horse is purchased, or judged in a contest, vets or judges will want to assess their condition. How do they do this?

Vet Scopes – Exploring the Equine Respiratory System

For a long time, upper respiratory problems in horses were assessed through physical examinations involving treadmill-based and resting endoscopy. However, today, vets can get a clearer, more in-depth idea to form a diagnosis thanks to videoendoscopy – more specifically, dynamic videoendoscopy (DVE).

Videoendoscopy has been a fairly standard procedure in people for a long time now, used as a non-invasive alternative to exploratory surgery which can be costly, time-consuming, and traumatic for the body. When doctors need to diagnose conditions or locate the source of pain or unusual activity, they can use videoscopes to assess the patient's insides without needing to cut into the body itself.

As the health and fitness of racehorses needs to be checked on a regular basis, videoendoscopy is now a common method of checking racehorses' respiratory tract. DVE allows vets to identify and diagnose dynamic obstructions: previous endoscoping techniques had only allowed vets to assess respiratory problems while the horse was resting, using a treadmill (which doesn't offer identical circumstances as being out on a track, with a rider), or immediately after exercise. This means certain conditions or issues would remain undetected.

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Fitting an Equine Scope – Is it as Difficult as you May Think?

DVE should be preceded by a thorough exploration of the horse's history, to help ascertain how many races it has run, how many times it may have experienced injuries, its age, its diet – all the pertinent information. The videoendoscopy should be performed with the horse's usual rider, too, for the most accurate results.

This procedure should be given to a horse with no sedation for optimal accuracy, as some sedatives can affect the functions of the respiratory system. As the equine scope is inserted through the nostril, some horses may become agitated during the process, and knowing how a horse will react beforehand can be very difficult – so preparation is key.

To prevent the horse flinching and causing disruption to the procedure, using a neck or nose twitch is generally recommended, with sedation used only if the horse is demonstrating extreme resistance towards insertion. Using videoendoscopy during exercise offers the vet a chance to listen to the respiratory functions, and to hear any potential abnormalities.

To get the most accurate results, the rider should exercise the horse to its usual degree – any less will not allow the vet to get an accurate reading and form a proper diagnosis (if needed). Racehorses undergoing DVE should perform at their usual racing distance and speed, perhaps with another horse acting as a lead to mimic the usual situation. The rider may be fitted with a GPS device to give the vet more data to better analyze the overall performance.

A standard DVE system features:

A flexible insertion tube (with a diameter of 9.8mm), including an LED-fitted head, which eliminates the requirement for a bulky separate light

A robust permanent virtual circuit box, carrying the vital electronics

A bridle system to fix the tube, fitting over the standard tack

A lavage system with a pump, bottle, and necessary tubing

A remote receiver video display, relaying real-time footage

Looking to the Future of Equine Scopes

The technology used in DVE is certainly impressive, allowing the vet to control the scope's position remotely, using either a keyboard or a joystick to maneuver it as needed; in some cases, the vet may transmit the footage from the tube to other professionals (even on a global level), using basic computer equipment.

However, as technology evolves, so too will the endoscoping process. ProScope Systems, a company selling refurbished endoscopes, has created the Magic View: this is an innovative portable equine scope designed to revolutionize the entire procedure.

As a horse prepared for purchase, for contest, or undergoing a check-up will likely experience the scoping procedure multiple times, this can cause them considerable discomfort, especially if the tube causes abrasions during insertion and removal. The Magic View (patent pending) is a non-invasive alternative which provides a clear view of the horse's insides without the pain or complications.

The Magic View equine scope uses an auto iris camera and a 3.5 inch display to image the horse's respiratory system. The Upper Airway Exercise Scope provides a wireless view, with a 11.1 millimeter insertion tube, and the Lower Airway scope has a 10.5 millimeter diameter; for deeper examinations, the system includes a three-meter gastro scope.

Without the trauma of a thick scope entering their system, the horse will receive a thorough physical check in a more comfortable manner. There is 160GB internal storage for capturing plenty of footage (up to 40 hours can be recorded), and the scope itself is easily expandable. As more and more vets begin to use the Magic View, the risks involved with scoping – causing injury and distress to the horse, especially during multiple procedures – will be eliminated, and the process will be much quicker and easier.

More information on the Magic View can be found here, and it will be interesting to see how its arrival on the market redefines the process of videoendoscoping for racehorses in years to come.

About the author:

Kyle McManus is a freelance writer based in the UK.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

10 Stunning Glow-in-the-Dark Animals

Whether to lure mates, detect prey, or to escape from predators, these bioluminescent animals glow in the dark. Check them out and learn how they do it.

1. Firefly

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Fireflies or lightning bugs are nocturnal beetles comprising the family Lampyridae. There are about 2,000 extant species of firefly.

Everyone knows how fireflies got their name, but many people don't know how the insects produce their signature glow. The answer is that fireflies have dedicated light organs situated below their abdomens. As oxygen enters into the abdomen, it combine with an organic compound called luciferin. A chemical reaction takes place and gives off the familiar yellow-green glow of a firefly.

This spectacular Glow-in-the-Dark insect can regulate the airflow into the abdomen producing a blinking pattern. Fireflies use their glow to attract mates.

2. Antarctic Krill

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Do Antarctic krill really glow in the dark at sea? How do they do this?

Yes, Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) often referred to as light-shrimp really do glow in the dark. They have photophores ("light spots") along their sides, their ventral surface (facing downward), and beneath their eyes. These photophores produce a blueish-purple light using a special chemical reaction common to many light producing animals.

3. Green Bomber Worm

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Thousands of feet beneath the sea live segmented worms that can release green glowing body parts! This kind of glow-in-the-dark ability is called bioluminescence. In 2009, scientists found a new kind of glowing animal, a swimming worm. They call it a Green bomber worm (Swima bombiviridis).

To escape from predators, the "swimming green bomb" release little balloons of skin filled with a fluid that glows green. The glowing skin distracts predators, which allows the green bombers to swim away.

4. Crystal Jelly

The Crystal jelly (Aequorea Victoria) is a brightly luminescent jelly, with glowing points around the margin of the umbrella. When disturbed or threatened, it emits give a green-blue glow under special lighting because of more than 100 tiny, light-producing organs surrounding their outer bell. This emission of light comes from its ability to release calcium (Ca2) very quickly, which interacts with the photoprotein aequorin. Crystal jelly is able to glow in order to send a threat to its enemies. However, this jellyfish does not glow if it is not underwater.

5. Scorpion

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Scorpions are known to glow a vibrant neon blue when exposed to ultraviolet (‘black’) light. This transformation is due to the presence of several chemicals, including beta-carboline, that cause it to glow under UV light. Scientists still can't figure out the reasons why scorpions glow. Perhaps to lure their prey, byproducts of normal chemical reactions or to attract mates. one thing is sure, scorpions lose this ability temporarily when they shed their skins, but gradually regain it after their molts.

6. New Zealand Glowworm

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The New Zealand glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa) are the larvae (maggots) of a special kind of fly known as a fungus gnat. They are found found only in the dark and damp areas of New Zealand, particularly the Waitomo Caves. The species construct a glowing canopy or a snare of sticky threads as they hang down to the ceilings or walls of caves. As night descends, they glow a radiant blue color to lure unsuspecting prey.

The glow-worm’s tail-light shines from an organ which is the equivalent of a human kidney. All insects have this organ but the glow-worm has a unique ability to produce a blue-green light from it.

The chemical reaction that produces the light consumes a lot of oxygen. An airbag surrounds the light organ, providing it with oxygen and acting as a silvery reflector to concentrate the light. The New Zealand glowworm can glow at all stages of its life cycle (except as an egg), but the larva has the brightest light.

7. Flashlight Fish

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The Flashlight fish (Photoblepharon palpebratus) is a nocturnal fish of the Indo-Pacific. The species is well known for the photophores (light emitting organ) found under its eye, which harbours bioluminescent bacteria, allowing them to produce an eerie glow when seen in the dark. The fluorescent white to bluish-green glow is used to navigate, lure prey, communicate with one another and avoid predators.

8. Firefly Squid

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The Firefly squid (Watasenia Scintillans) or the sparkling enope squid is found throughout the western Pacific Ocean. It gets its name from the flashing lights that resemble those of a firefly.

This spectacular glow-in-the-dark squid is equipped with special light-producing organs called photophores. Each tentacle has a photophore attached to it, which emits a deep blue light. The lights can be flashed in unison or alternated in an endless number of animated patterns. When flushed, the Firefly squid can even control these lights to scare off other predators, communicate with other members of its species, or lure in prey!

9. Clusterwink Snail

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Terrestrial snails produce a glowing light from their foot to attract mates. But the Clusterwink snail (Hineas Brasiliana) is the first discovered to use the shell-flashing trick as a form of self-defense. This sea snail can flicker their spiral shells like dim, blue-green light bulbs. It emits bright blue-green flashes of light like an alarm when other creatures rub past its shell. The light is produced from the mantle tissue and shines through the pale translucent shell, which acts to diffuse the light so that the whole shell glows.

10. Sierra luminous millipedes

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The eight species of millipedes in the genus Motyxia are the only millipedes that glow in the dark. Emission of a greenish-blue light is uniform across the exoskeleton, and all the appendages (legs, antennae) and body rings emit light. Luminescence is generated by means of molecules called photoproteins which generate light upon combination with oxygen or other oxidizing agents. These bugs use bioluminescence as a defence strategy to outwit predators, according to a new study.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

10 Exotic Animals With Unexpected Colors

Yes, you read it right! Here is a list of animals that are naturally blessed and dressed with striking color that make them truly stand out from the rest.

White Peacock

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The White peacock (Pavo cristatus mut. alba) is not considered albino because it is simply just white. This elegant-looking bird is actually a subspecies of the Indian Blue Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) created by a genetic mutation. The species does not possess the albino gene. It has overall white plumage, blue eyes and can mate to produce white offspring. On the other hand, Albino peacock has a weaker feather structure and pink eyes. Albino peacocks, even if successful at mating, would not automatically produce white offspring.

Red Velvet Ant

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The Red Velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis), also called Cow killer ant, is a wasp that resembles an ant. These critters are mostly found in Eastern and Western US. They are black overall and the body is densely covered with short, soft hair. Velvet ants are brightly coloured.

Aside from red, shades of red and black or yellow and brown hair overlay the body. The males have two pairs of transparent black wings. The females are wingless, and are often confused with ants. The females have a very toxic sting, but males do not sting.

Nicobar Pigeon

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The Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) is a pigeon mainly found in South East Asia and the Pacific, from the Indian Nicobar Islands east towards Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The species is the closest living relative of the extinct dodo and is classified as Near Threatened.

A large, mainly ground-dwelling bird, the Nicobar pigeon measures 40 cm (16 in) in length. The body-weight is around 600 g. The bird's striking appearance features a metallic green back and wings, dark blackish grey with a silvery purple bloom head and chest feathers and a very short white tail. The feet are purplish red with yellow or buff claws.

Pink Katydid

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Normally katydids are green and somewhat leaf-shaped, but there is an extremely rare Pink katydid. The pink coloration is the result of erythrism -- a rare genetic mutation that either leads to excessive production of red pigment or the absence of normal pigment. Little is known about pink katydids.

Rainbow Grasshopper

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The Rainbow grasshopper (Dactylotum bicolor), also known as the painted grasshopper, is a species of grasshopper in the family Acrididae. The species is widespread in North America and northern Mexico. It is mainly black with distinctive bold color pattern - reddish and yellowish markings, a pale green prothorax and pale green wingpads. Adults grow to an average length of about 20 mm (0.8 in) for males and 35 mm (1.4 in) for females. Rainbow grasshopper does not develop wings and is unable to fly.

Pink Orchid Mantis

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The Pink orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus), also known Walking flower mantis, is a mantis native to Malaysia and Indonesia. This master of disguise orchid mantis got its name because it resembles the flower of an orchid. The four walking legs resemble flower petals. This clever insect also changes color from pink to brown according to its environment.

Halloween Crab

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The Halloween crab (Gecarcinus quadratus), also known as red land crab, moon crab, or harlequin land crab, is a colourful land crab found in mangrove, sand dunes and the coastal rainforests of Central America. The species has a dark brown upper carapace, a bright orange-red body and limbs and purple claws. Also, it has a pair of yellow, orange or reddish spots behind the eyes. Two bright yellow to white, triangular 'eyes' decorate the front of the upper carapace, while there are two white spots at the rear of the carapace.

Purple Snail

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The Violet snail (Janthina janthina), also known as purple bubble raft snail, is a marine gastropod that spends its entire life cycle floating freely on the ocean surface in warm seas. The Violet sea snail inhabits the ocean surface by secreting a raft of mucus bubbles to keep it afloat. The species is often found blown ashore by strong winds.

Violet snail is easily recognized by its almost smooth, shell - light purple at the narrow top and a darker purple on the ventral side. Its shell is 3-4 cm in size. The snail's large head has a long cylindrical snout on a very flexible neck. Its body ranges from dark purple to black. Violet snails are born males but become females over time.

Indian Bull Frog

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The Indian bullfrog or Asian bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) is a large frog found in the wetlands of South and South East Asia. This striking frog has pointed snout, long hind limbs and entirely webbed toes. During most of the season, they are a dull olive-green colour and have dark irregular markings. But during the mating season, its appearance can change dramatically. A male Indian Bullfrog will turn bright yellow except for the vocal sacs, which turn bright blue.

Black Rooster

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The Black Rooster (Ayam Cemani) is a rare breed of chicken native to Indonesia. This breed of chicken is characterized by its ink-black feathers that shimmer with a metallic sheen of beetle green and purple. Even its beak, meat, bones and internal organs are black. Ayam Cemani is referred to as the “Lamborghini of poultry.”