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Rare Photo Catches A Weasel Riding On A Woodpecker

An incredible image recently captured by an amateur photographer from the UK named Martin Le-May, shows a weasel hitching a ride on the back of a woodpecker.

Le-May told BBC News that he took the amazing shot while he was out walking in the Hornchurch Country Park in East London.

It turns out that this was not a cute and friendly picture as many of us would like to assume, or as it may appear at first glance. Experts believe that the most likely scenario to explain this photo is that the weasel was attempting to kill the woodpecker. Le-May seems to agree, from what he witnessed.

Le-May says that he was drawn to the area because he heard loud squawking. It sounded like a bird was in distressed. That is when he saw the once in a lifetime event.

Le-May says he might have saved the woodpecker’s life by distracting the weasel.

“I think we may have distracted the weasel, as when the woodpecker landed it managed to escape and the weasel ran into the grass,” Le-May told the BBC.

Rare Photo Catches A Weasel Riding On A Woodpecker 1

A long range photo of the incredible moment. Photo Credit: Martin Le-May

The photographer said that the bird and the weasel got roughly 10 feet into the air before landing again, at which point the bird managed to free itself and fly away. He estimates that both of the animals were unharmed in the incident.

“The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry,” he said.

As soon as the photo went viral, everyone was skeptical about whether or not the image was real.

Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, who researches digital forensics and image analysis, questioned the photo in an interview with National Geographic.

Farid says that the picture would be extremely difficult to forge, but the low resolution raises some questions.

This would have required a nearly perfect and coincidental alignment of the two animals in their original photos so that they could be composited together. This type of forgery is therefore more difficult to create than, for example, two animals simply standing side-by-side,” Farid said.

Rare Photo Catches A Weasel Riding On A Woodpecker 2

A close up of the image shows the woodpecker seems to be in fear for his life. Photo Credit: Martin Le-May

Farid concluded that the photo is likely real. A fact check on Snopes also indicates that this photo is real.

Wildlife expert Lucy Cooke told Snopes that weasels don’t often feed on birds, but they will if the birds get close enough to the ground.

“This is a truly extraordinary image. The green woodpecker is a ground-feeding bird, but weasels normally attack rabbits. The woodpecker is not its usual prey. But weasels are fearless. A female weasel weighs less than a Mars Bar but is as ferocious as a lion, so this is why the woodpecker would have been able to take off with it on its back,” Cooke said.

David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation, in Virginia, said while this event may not be very common, it does make sense.

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A mid range shot of the pair in mid flight. Photo Credit: Martin Le-May

“While it looks like a bizarre event, it’s really not all that surprising if you know a little bit about these two species,” Mizejewski said.

As cute as Weasels may be, Mizejewski says that they can be quiet violent.

“The least weasel’s signature move is to sever the spinal cord of its prey with a bite to the neck, which is exactly what we’re seeing in the photo. The natural world is filled with wonders, and we have the chance of observing them firsthand if we get outside to experience them,” Mizejewski said.

The majority of woodpecker species feed on insects and other invertebrates that live under bark and inside of trees.  The diet includes ants, termites, beetles and their larvae, caterpillars, spiders, other arthropods, bird eggs, nestlings, small rodents, lizards, fruit, nuts and sap, according to Wikipedia.

Woodpeckers are tough birds, but would certainly have trouble holding their own in a fight against a weasel.

What do you think about this crazy once in a lifetime sight, captured by this amateur photographer?

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Planet Earth

33ft ‘frozen dragon’ pterosaur found in Canada

Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 PaleoEquii

Cryodrakon was absolutely enormous. 

Palaeontologists have identified one of the largest flying creatures ever to live on planet Earth.

This gargantuan creature, which soared through the Cretaceous skies over 76 million years ago, has been named Cryodrakon boreas, which means ‘frozen dragon of the north.’

Originally discovered in Dinosaur Provincial Park in southern Alberta 30 years ago, the partial skeleton had been mistaken for another genus of pterosaur until very recently when a new analysis enabled experts to finally recognize it as a new species.

Thought to stand 9ft tall and with a weight of 250kg, this enormous flying reptile would have likely feasted on just about anything, including small dinosaurs.

Its 33ft wingspan – which would have made it similar in size to a small plane – is almost three times that of the wandering albatross which has the largest known wingspan of any living bird.

“These are among the most popular and charismatic of all fossil animals,” said Michael Habib from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. “They have been inspiration for countless movie monsters, they were critical parts of global ecosystems worldwide during the age of dinosaurs, so they are key to understanding the ecology and extinctions of that time.”

“Just like flying animals today, [they] could carry important clues about how animals at the time responded to major changes in climate.”

Source: Independent

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Planet Earth

Meteor Fireball Streaking Across the North Carolina Sky Captured by Dashcam

A car dashcam recorded a fireball streaking across the night sky in North Carolina.

An ABC11 viewer recorded the video Thursday night while driving on Raleigh Road in Wilson toward Airport Boulevard.

In the top right of the screen, a bright light can be seen entering the frame and streaking toward the horizon for about three seconds.

According to the American Meteor Society, as many as 20 witnesses from South Carolina to Virginia reported seeing something similar around 8:07 p.m.

With all of the reports are taken into consideration, AMS projects the fireball’s trajectory happened off the coast of Morehead City.

abc11.com

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Planet Earth

Defending the Amazon, Indigenous Rights & Planetary Integrity

As the Amazon Rainforest crisis persists, our inability to protect our planet poses an existential threat to all of Earth’s inhabitants. As the sky recently turned black over Sao Paulo, Brazil because of smoke (thousands of kilometers away) from the fires that is so thick it can be viewed by NASA space satellites, the world’s leaders were assembled at the G-7 summit in Europe, seemingly more interested in exchanging sophomoric insults than solving the world’s most pressing and urgent problems.  According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, almost 73,000 forest fires have been documented this year alone. That’s an alarming 84% increase from what was observed in 2018. 

As Indigenous groups and conservationists scramble to defend the lungs of our planet, Brazil’ President Jair Bolsonaro audaciously shrugged off the news and blamed NGO’s and Indigenous groups for the glaring uptick in fires in the Amazon. Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has promised to roll back environmental protections and indigenous rights in order to exploit the Amazon for increased farming and mining, and he has made good on that promise.

Invasion of indigenous territories are on the rise in Brazil, and indigenous groups are increasingly under threat as titans of industry within mining, logging, and animal farming continue to encroach upon indigenous land and destroy precious parcels of the Amazon for commercial exploitation.   Bolsonaro has emboldened these invasions. Recently, a group of heavily armed miners invaded indigenous land in Northern Brazil and assassinated one of the community’s indigenous leaders.

Indigenous peoples in Brazil are once again on the front lines today of one of the most brutal attacks on their rights and on the forest in recent history. We’re now seeing the drastic rollback of 30 years of progress on human rights and environmental protection in Brazil under Bolsonaro’s regime, which romanticizes Brazil’s past when military dictatorship took helm and presided over wanton destruction of the forest. The Munduruku people have been resisting encroachment and destruction of their land for centuries, and their fight (along with other indigenous groups and the very spirit of the Amazon jungle itself) is more urgent than ever as Brazil’s government and commercial industries continue to violate with impunity.

The tragedy currently taking place in the Amazon is indicative of a broader cultural problem in regards to our relationship with our planet. 1/5th of all the world’s plants and birds and about 1/10th of all mammal species are found in the Amazon. Earth has lost half its wildlife in the past four decades. Based on an analysis of thousands of vertebrate species by the wildlife group WWF and the Zoological Society of London, our way of life has presided over the destruction of 60% of our animal populations since 1970. The report calculates a global “ecological footprint,” which measures the area required to supply the ecological goods and services humans use. It concludes that humanity currently needs the regenerative capacity of 1.5 Earths to supply these goods and services each year.

With the planet’s population expected to grow by 2.4 billion people by 2050, the challenge of providing enough food, water and energy (while sustaining planetary health) will be difficult. This should be the real “RED ALERT” placated all over the media, as the shocking and rapid decline of planetary biodiversity poses an imminent catastrophe that plagues all of us, requiring urgent and bold alterations to our way of life.

That being said, we have more than enough resources to profit food and shelter to billions of people. Solutions done seem to be the problem, it’s human consciousness, greed and ego.

Outrage is an understandable response to the Amazon crisis, but not sufficient to redress the problem.  We need to take individual action in our daily lives by altering our lifestyles. One of the most under-reported aspects of Amazonian deforestation is our addiction to consuming meat. Beef, soy, palm oil and wood drive the majority of tropical deforestation.

Animal agriculture is devastating for the Earth. Raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk uses about 70% of agricultural land, and is a primary factor in the proliferation of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution.

“1.2 billion farmed animals are slaughtered globally every week for human consumption. In one week, more farmed animals are killed than the total number of people killed in all wars throughout history. Although these animals are treated as commodity, they are — in fact — sentient beings — like your pet cat or dog. We tend to assume that only vegans and vegetarians follow a belief system — but when eating animals is not a necessity (which is the case in much of the world today) — then it is a choice, and choices stem from beliefs. “Carnism” is a dominant philosophy — as eating animals is just the way things are — yet it runs contrary to core human values such as compassion, justice, and authenticity. And so — they need to use defense mechanisms that distort our thoughts and numb our feelings so that we act against our core values without fully realizing what we are even doing.” ~Dr. Melanie Joy  

The challenges that face our planet, our indigenous family, and our own imminent future are immense. It is easy to feel discouraged, angry, and hopeless about the state of the world, but the ability to harness humanity’s intelligence, creativity and compassion to steer the planet in a new direction is with us right now. We can take individual responsibility today, which can resonate immediately and create waves of influence that can lead to a collective change in behavior and attitudinal shift towards our relationship with nature and with ourselves.  This change starts from within, and this work begins with each of us making the choice to defend and protect this wondrous planet which has so graciously hosted our livelihood.

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