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.
This is a male Sapphirina copepod or Sea Sapphire, transparent and only a few millimeters long, but attention-grabbing when they seem to emit an incredible blue flash. What causes luminous color from nothing? The “microscopic layers of crystal plates inside their cells” catch light and reflect back the violet-blue. Rebecca R. Helmwrites:
Like their namesake gem, different species of sea sapphire shine in different hues, from bright gold to deep blue. Africa isn’t the only place they can be found. I’ve since seen them off the coasts of Rhode Island and California. When they’re abundant near the water’s surface the sea shimmers like diamonds falling from the sky. Japanese fisherman of old had a name for this kind of water, “tama-mizu”, jeweled water…
In the case of blue sea sapphires, these crystal layers are separated by only about four ten thousandths of a millimeter; about the same distance as a wavelength of blue light. When blue light bounces off these crystal layers, it is perfectly preserved and reflected. But for other colors of light, these small differences in distance interfere, causing the colors to cancel out. So while white light is composed of all colors, only blue light is reflected back.