Watch young David Attenborough try to piece together a massive broken egg shell (given to him by locals) in this 1961 clip from Zoo Quest to Madagascar: The Elephant Bird Egg.
The Elephant Bird was a large, ostrich or emu-like, flightless bird that lived on the island of Madagascar until its extinction, likely in the 17th or 18th century. How tall was it? From Wikipedia:
Aepyornis, believed to have been more than 3 m (10 ft) tall and weighing close to 400 kg (880 lb), was at the time the world’s largest bird. Remains of Aepyornis adults and eggs have been found; in some cases the eggs have a circumference of more than 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and a length up to 34 cm (13 in). The egg volume is about 160 times greater than that of a chicken egg.
A few years ago, U.K. wildlife photographer William Burrard-Lucas started building a series of remote controlled DSLR camera vehicles as a DIY project. Named the BeetleCam, it’s now better protected, has space for a GoPro, and is a commercially available product.
Continuing to improve on his ideas and invent new ways to observe wildlife, Burrard-Lucas developed a gyro-stabilized BeetleBot and a BeetleCopter, which filmed the above scenes in the Serengeti, though they’re working on a quieter version. (A note for sensitive kiddos: half of a fresh kill shown at 2m14s.)
Below, a project update that shows all of his “camtraptions.”
In the mountains of Ethiopia, the BBC’s Steve Backshall and his Deadly 60 team track a group of graminivorous (grass-eating) gelada baboons to observe their amazing, lion-sized, canine teeth, which are central to the primates’ social communications. From Mary Bates at Wired’s Zoologic blog:
The gum-bearing yawn was most common with males, especially high-ranking ones. This kind of yawn exposed the gelada’s impressive canine teeth, which stood out against the reddish-pink color of their gums and the inside of their mouths. It was often accompanied by a loud call, and the researchers believe the yawn functions as a long-distance display. Males used this yawn during periods of tension, such as the time right before feeding, suggesting it may serve to intimidate other geladas.
The other two less intense types of yawns were seen most in females during friendly interactions. The researchers found these yawns to be more contagious, and observed females mirroring the intensity of other females’ yawns. They believe these yawns are part of a complex communication system between geladas that often engage in friendly interactions. The contagiousness of the yawns in these contexts suggests the behavior might play a role in synchronizing the activity between two geladas, strengthening the emotional connection between them, or signaling the quality of their relationship.
Gelada males and females might use yawns differently, but all three types of yawn contribute to the smooth workings of gelada society; they function to let everyone know who’s in charge and which geladas are friends.
This orphaned white rhino calf was gravely injured by poachers, but thanks to emergency surgery and the care of wildlife veterinarian Cobus Raath and his team, little Shangi is on the mend, getting mudbaths, and joyfully running about with her caregivers. From the Smithsonian Channel’s Baby Planet: Human Intervention: Running with Rhinos.