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The Kid Should See This

Outfitting Tree Kangaroos with tiny video cameras

Tree kangaroos are elusive creatures that live high in the trees of New Guinea’s tropical rainforests. To learn more about them and to better protect them, Dr. Lisa Dabek has worked with National Geographic and local landowners to outfit the tree kangaroos with tiny video cameras. Footage from the cams revealed more about how the animals eat leaves and fruit, groom themselves, and climb to astounding heights.

From Wikipedia, more on these arboreal marsupials:

Tree-kangaroos are slow and clumsy on the ground. They move at approximately human walking pace and hop awkwardly, leaning their body far forward to balance the heavy tail. However, in trees, they are bold and agile. They climb by wrapping their forelimbs around the trunk of a tree and, while allowing the forelimbs to slide, hop up the tree using their powerful hind legs. They are expert leapers; 9 metres (30 ft) downward jumps from one tree to another have been recorded and they have the extraordinary ability to jump to the ground from 18 metres (59 ft) or more without being hurt.

In this WAMC radio interview at WomeninScience.org, Dr. Dabek, who is Program Director at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and founder of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, describes what she loves about her work and how technology has helped her research:

Over the last 15 years the amount of technology that we use in research has really increased. When I started out being in animal behavior, pretty much all you needed was a pen or pencil, and a data sheet, and a stop watch. Now we use so much technology. We’re using global positioning systems, the GPS, to map out areas. We are doing all kinds of genetics research where we need a lot of lab equipment. We are using what are called camera traps, or remotely triggered cameras, where we set up cameras where animals can set them off without us being there, and then we can photograph them. It’s actually been amazing to me to see how much we depend on technology now.

In the archives, more animals alone with cameras: flying with eagles, swimming with polar bears, eating goose eggs with polar bears, waddling with penguins, stealing cameras with crabs, and scratching backs with grizzly bears.

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