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A 10mm long creature in the California dust

A 10mm long creature in the California dust


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I observed this tiny creature burrowing through the dusty soil of Cachuma Lake Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County, California, on June 8, 2014, about 7 a.m. I have really no clue what it could be, other than an annelid, or newly hatched type of legless lizard or snake. But it seems too tiny for the latter. Yet, I would think an annelid would need more moisture, or different soil. Do worms live in dust? I watched it for about five minutes, maybe more. Burrowing under and re-emerging. So that seemed to be its normal environment.

Here's a closeup, and a link to a Youtube page I put up for it. Video on Youtube of animal's movement


I'm going to answer this question and close it. Based on the location, the environment, its appearance and behavior, I'm 90% sure that this creature was a Stiletto Fly (Therevid) larva. Most likely an Acrosathe sp., as those tend to be very common in the area. Thanks to all for your help in clarifying and narrowing it down for me.


Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D.

Previous research was conducted in the areas of air quality (dust emission and microbial sampling in feedlot cattle and pigs), environmental physiology (heat stress in cattle and pigs), and ethology.

Current research activities are in two main areas:

  • Air quality research related to livestock production, especially quantification of ammonia, dust, and odor emissions in dairies, beef feedlots, and poultry operations. Main objective is to help establishing environmentally benign livestock systems.
  • Environmental physiology research, focusing on effects of air emissions on animal health and

Graduate Groups

Department of Animal Science, 2251 Meyer Hall, One Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616-5270 | 530-752-1250

Copyright © The Regents of the University of California, Davis campus. All rights reserved.


A 10mm long creature in the California dust - Biology

Since 1984, The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue and provide appropriate, humane sanctuary for animals who have been the victims of the exotic and performing animal trades. PAWS investigates reports of abused performing and exotic animals, documents cruelty and assists in investigations and prosecutions by regulatory agencies to alleviate the suffering of captive wildlife.

PAWS IS HOME TO ASIAN AND AFRICAN ELEPHANTS


The five ele pha nt habitats at ARK 2000 provide the elephants with hundreds of acres of varied natural terrain to roam, lakes and pools to bathe in, and elephant barns equipped with heated stalls and a indoor therapy pool.
Learn More »

Above: Rescued bear Ben in his habitat at PAWS' ARK 2000 Sanctuary.

Seeing Tigers and Bears

For Who They Really Are

By Catherine Doyle

PAWS Director of Science, Research and Advocacy

The way we see wild animals displayed in captivity, including in sanctuaries, shapes our overall perception of them. Inferences are often drawn about behaviors, particularly their social natures. When people see bears or tigers together in a captive situation, they assume the animals are naturally social when in fact that is not the case at all.

Black bears and tigers are mostly solitary animals, except when mating or rearing their young. Both are territorial. Bear cubs remain with their mothers for about 16-17 months. During that time, they learn important survival skills they will later use when they establish their own territories. Tiger cubs stay with their mothers until they learn to hunt successfully, usually at about 18 to 24 months old. Once they reach full independence, they will disperse to find their own territory.

In captive situations, you may see a single bear or tiger, or you may see more than one animal living together. In zoos, it is not unusual for one tiger to be on display while another is kept indoors, and they are then rotated. Tigers are also transferred from one zoo to another for breeding. Tragically, some introductions of tigers for mating have gone horribly wrong, with one killing the other. In circuses, tigers housed together have fought, injured and killed other tigers. Recently, a male polar bear at a zoo killed a female bear after they were put in the same enclosure to mate. Despite being born and reared in captivity (in most cases), these animals retain their wild instincts. When something goes wrong in a crampled captive environment there is no means of escape for the unfortunate victim.

At PAWS, an animal’s age and individual life history determine their housing. For example, captive-born tigers who previously lived together can usually remain together. This is the case with brothers Nimmo (above) and Wilhelm, who came from a defunct roadside zoo that constantly bred animals so they could sell cub handling and photo ops to the public. Siblings Claire and Kim, who until recently lived with their late brother Roy, were rescued together when they were cubs. They came from a breeding facility that sold animals to roadside zoos or to be exotic “pets.” (All three were spayed or neutered.) Other tigers, like Czar and Tessa, lived in their own enclosures before and continue to be given their own space.

Black bear Boo Boo (left) arrived in December 1994 when he was about a year old, having been a “pet” who was cruelly chained by the neck in a person’s backyard. Winston, who also had been a “pet”, joined him a month later at PAWS. Both bears were captive born and still very young, so they were housed together. These companions of 26 years continue to live together in the Bob Barker Bear Habitat at ARK 2000. Ben, on the other hand, was captive born and lived on his own for years in a rundown roadside zoo. Today, he roams among the oak trees, bushes and native vegetation of his own spacious habitat. (PAWS is one of only six Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries-accredited organizations in the U.S. that rescues and cares for captive bears. In contrast, there are 15 accredited organizations that care for tigers.)

So why don’t we house bears and tigers in individual habitats, as they would live in the wild? For one, housing more than one animal together in a large, natural area allows us to rescue and care for more animals in need. And, for animals born in captivity where instinctive behaviors are often suppressed (though not eliminated), those who are caged together may form relationships, as unnatural as that may be. We would not want to sever bonds between those animals.

The lesson here is to be aware of the perceptions you form when viewing wild animals in captivity – even at a sanctuary. At PAWS, we strive to inform the public about the natural biology and behavior of wild animals, not only for the sake of education but to illustrate how captive situations cannot meet their complex needs. The real focus must remain on protecting wild animals where they naturally live and the habitats in which they thrive.

Book a PAWS Speaker for Your Class

If you are looking for a unique way to broaden your students&rsquo online learning experience, PAWS can provide

an online guest speaker for your college or high school classes. Topics can range from an overview of our sanctuary work to more in-depth discussions of captive wild animal issues, ethics, and care. Available speakers are

Catherine Doyle, M.S., Director of Science, Research

and Advocacy, and Dr. Jackie Gai, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services. Contact Catherine at [email protected] for more information. Speakers

are provided at no charge.

PAWS' co-founder, the late Pat Derby, and African

elephant 71, walking through the hills at ARK 2000. Pat

and Ed rescued 71 in 1986 she was PAWS' founding elephant. 71 died in 2008 - read about her here.

Remembering

PAWS Co-Founder Pat Derby

Pat Derby , co-founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, was a champion for captive wild and exotic animals, particularly those used in &ldquoentertainment.&rdquo Working side by side with her partner, current PAWS&rsquo president and co-founder Ed Stewart, they set a new standard of care for captive wildlife.

Pat originally was a well-known Hollywood animal trainer. No longer able to tolerate the behind-the-scenes abuse of captive wild animals for film, TV and advertising, she wrote a tell-all book, The Lady and Her Tiger (1976), revealing a world the public never saw. This was the launch of her life&rsquos work to educate the public about the exploitation of wild animals for entertainment, and to rescue and provide sanctuary for those in need. In 1984, Pat and Ed founded PAWS to realize that vision. In 1986, they established the first elephant sanctuary in the United States.

Sadly, Pat lost a long battle with cancer and passed away on February 15, 2013. But her spirit continues to live in PAWS' rescue, sanctuary, and advocacy work.

Pat&rsquos bravery and vision for a better life for captive wildlife helped lay the groundwork for the profound changes we are seeing today, including the public&rsquos increasing rejection of the use of wild animals in entertainment, whether elephants and tigers in circuses or orcas in marine parks, and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus coming to an end. Her battle against the use of cruel elephhant bullhooks has resulted in statewide bans in California and Rhode Island, with PAWS playing an integral role in their passage.

Pat remains an inspiration to everyone at PAWS and to the greater animal protection community. Her determination and fighting spirit continue to drive PAWS&rsquo efforts to create a more just and humane world for captive wild animals, each and every day.

PAWS SANCTUARIES


At PAWS Sanctuaries rescued animals live in peaceful, natural habitats, free from fear, chains, and harsh confinement. They are at complete liberty to act out natur al behaviors in the comfort of their individually designed enclosures. PAWS' animals are not bred, traded, sold, rented or forced to perform in any way. PAWS educates the entertainment industry, public officials and the general public in humane care and treatment of captive wildlife.

Through our public awareness campaigns, more and more actively concerned individuals are becoming aware of the problems inherent in the breeding of wildlife in captivity and the use of animals in entertainment. Learn More »

Help Stop Cruel Cub Petting

and the Big Cat Pet Trade

PAWS continues to support the federal Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R.263/S. 1210). The bill would ban the private ownership of big cats such as lions and tigers and restrict public contact with these animals, putting an end to cub petting operations and their enless breeding of big cats for profit.

Click here for more information and to see what you can do to help.

On Elephant Time

at PAWS' ARK 2000 Sanctuary

N ot too different from those social animals we call humans, elephants are choosy about their companions. Because elephants are such highly social beings, it is often assumed they would naturally get along with any other elephants in captive situations. In fact, this is not necessarily the case. While some captive elephants may form social bonds, usually pairing with one other elephant, others may simply tolerate one another. In the worst scenarios, they may be entirely incompatible.

Read more in our April 2021 newsletter here.

Above: Former circus elephant Gypsy in her habitat at PAWS' ARK 2000 Sanctuary .

So You Think Circuses with

Wild Animal Acts Are Over?

Think Again!

When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus folded its big top forever in May 2017, many people believed it was the end of circuses with wild animal acts. We only wish that were true. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be subsiding, circuses are going back on the road with elephants, big cats and other animals.

Read more in our May 2021 newsletter here.

For the Wild Animals at PAWS:

Peace and Quiet Prevails

You&rsquove probably read recent stories about wild animals venturing back into towns and cities since the coronavirus shut down much of the world and emptied busy streets. Wild goats regularly enter a seaside town in Wales and munch on windowsill flowers. A mountain lion was spotted asleep in a tree in a normally bustling area of Denver, Colorado. Even in natural settings like Yosemite National Park in California, numerous bears, bobcats and coyotes have come out of hiding. (Typically, more than 300,000 people would visit the park in April.) With the stillness, animals are at least temporarily reclaiming what was once theirs.

At the ARK 2000 sanctuary, we understand that quietness is essential for captive wild animals too, especially those who once suffered terribly in circuses, roadside zoos, and the captive wildlife trade. The tranquility of nature that now surrounds them is an important benefit of the sanctuary that aids in the animals&rsquo rehabilitation. ARK 2000&rsquos truly natural setting and the peace that comes with it allows the animals to relax and engage in more natural and varied activities. They can play, explore, search for food, socialize, splash in a pool, or nap in the sun. The choices are there for them. The animals are also more in tune with the complexities of their surroundings as the seasons change, bringing different sights, sounds, and smells.

An important part of our work is to make the animals&rsquo lives as intrusion-free as possible. This is why we choose to remain closed to visitors, except for a limited number of educational events at ARK 2000. Many of the animals we care for were once on public display: Asian elephant Gypsy was forced to perform in circuses for nearly 40 years. Asian bull elephants Nicholas and Prince came from circuses as well. Ben the bear paced in a tiny, barren cage at a roadside attraction. African elephants Lulu, Thika, Toka, and Maggie spent most of their lives in zoos. African lion Camba traveled in a circus, and the Colorado tigers were exploited at a roadside zoo. At the sanctuary, they now have a safe space and privacy.

Free from the stress of close confinement, cruel training and forced performances, and the numbing tedium that comes from being deprived of all that is natural to a wild animal, the animals at PAWS can unwind. With time, each new rescued animal blossoms, revealing the individual they truly are. Most recently we&rsquove seen this with the Waystation Three tigers, Mungar, Czar, and Tessa (read more about them here. )

Thankfully, ARK 2000 remains tranquil, and the animals are blissfully unaware of the pandemic that surges outside. That&rsquos as it should be. While we face some challenges – as many of you do at this time – our dedicated staff continue to care for the animals and keep the sanctuary operating smoothly. As ever, our priority is the health and welfare of the animals. Part of that is providing the most natural – and quiet – conditions possible in captivity. Shhhhh. . .

Thank you Amazon

"Wish List" Donors

View wish list items that are needed, but not included on our Amazon list here.

MAY DONORS - Willie and Jan Nelson: one box of Denamarin, 30#. Maria Pelka: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132# one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60# one 5 lb. bag of Missing Link Skin & Coat. Carole Bognar: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#. Kimberly Sommerhaug: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132#.

APRIL DONORS - Sara L. Nickerson: one bottle Renal Essentials, 60#. Carol Bognar: one box of gloves, L. Susan Stangland: one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#. P. Banchik-Rothschild: one box Denamarin, 30#. Nancy Gordon: four 8 oz. EicosaDerm. Elke Riesterer: one Probiocin, one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60#. Marcia Pelka: one bottle of CosequinDS, 132# one bottle of Renal Essentials, 60# one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm. Trevor and Karen Muench: one 8 oz. bottle of EicosaDerm one bottle of CosequinDS, 132# one Probiocin. Jane G. Droogsma: two 5 lb. bags of Missing Link two boxes of gloves, M three bottles of CosequinDS, 132# two packages of AA batteries, 24# ea. Victoria Burnett: three bottles of Renal Essentials, 60# one bottle of CosequinDS, 132# five Probiocin. Anonymous Donors: three bags of peanuts in the shell.

PAWS
Performing Animal Welfare Society
PO Box 849, Galt, CA 95632


House Dust Mites

Dust Mite

Introduction and Medical Importance

There are many substances in household dust which can cause allergies in humans, including animal dander, insect parts (especially from cockroaches), mold spores and pollen. The most common allergenic components of house dust, however, are from house dust mites. House dust mites are tiny creatures related to ticks, chiggers, and spiders, that live in close association with humans. Their primary food is dander (skin scales) shed from human and pet activity. Most homes in the United States probably have detectable levels of house dust mites and their allergy-producing fragments.

House dust mites are not parasitic nor are they capable of biting or stinging humans. Their significance as pests is due to the powerful allergens contained in the mites, their cast skins, fecal material and secretions. Symptoms of a house dust mite allergy include stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing or watery eyes. Inhalation of dust mite allergens by hypersensitive individuals can result in acute attacks of bronchial asthma, accompanied by wheezing, shortness of breath, and perhaps even death. Diagnostic tests and clinical studies by allergists have shown house dust mite to be the most common allergy in asthmatics, and an important "root cause" for the development of asthma in young children. Recent studies suggest that at least 45 percent of young people with asthma are allergic to house dust mites. Unlike "seasonal" allergies caused by molds and pollen, people who are allergic to dust mites often will have symptoms year round. Mite Description and Detection

Mite Description and Detection

House dust mites are tiny adults are about 0.5 mm long and the immatures are even smaller. Consequently, they generally are visible only with the aid of a microscope. The mites are globular in shape, clear to creamy white in color, with hairs on their legs and body. There are two common species in the United States, the North American house dust mite,Dermatophagoides farinae, and the European house dust mite, D. pteronyssinus.

The presence of house dust mites can be confirmed by collecting dust samples from inside the home and examining them under a microscope. Another diagnostic test more accessible to householders can be purchased from drug and allergy supply stores. The detection kits (e.g., Acarex) measure the presence and infestation level by combining dust samples, collected from various places inside the home, with indicator reagents. Sensitivity to house dust mites and their allergenic proteins can be confirmed by an allergist-immunologist, via a skin and/or blood test.

Biology and Habits

House dust mites have specific environmental requirements for their development. The mites tend to be most numerous in warm homes with high humidity. Optimum conditions for growth and development are around 75-80 degrees F and 70-80 percent relative humidity. House dust mites absorb and lose moisture through their skin, and are very vulnerable to dehydration. Consequently, humidity levels within the home have a significant effect on survival. Dust mites cannot survive well at relative humidities below 50 percent. Although mite populations tend to be low in dry climates, most homes throughout the United States are capable of supporting dust mites. House dust mites and their allergenic particles are present within homes year round, but people tend to have fewer symptoms during the summer, perhaps because they spend more time outdoors.

Food is seldom a problem for house dust mites. Their primary food is skin scales (dander) contained in house dust. People and pets regularly shed small flakes of skin from their bodies as the skin continually renews itself. Since the greatest fallout occurs in areas of human and pet activity, the mites tend to be most numerous in beds, overstuffed sofas and chairs, and adjacent carpeted areas. Relative humidity also tends to be higher in these areas, because people perspire and exhale water vapor where they sleep and lounge. Mattresses, sofas, carpet, and other soft furnishings trap and accumulate dust, dander, and moisture, making them ideal microhabitats for mite development.

House dust mites go through five major life stages: egg, larva, protonymph, tritonymph and adult. Between life stages the mites molt, shedding their outer skin. When temperature and humidity are optimum, development from egg to adult takes about one month. Adults live approximately 1-2 months, and the females lay about 50 eggs. It is not uncommon to find thousands of mites in a single gram of house dust (a gram is about the weight of a paperclip). An infested mattress can contain millions of dust mites.

The allergenic proteins responsible for causing symptoms are contained within the mites themselves (alive or dead), their shed skins, and especially in their feces. Routine human activity such as housecleaning, walking or playing on carpeting, or making the bed, causes the tiny fecal particles to become airborne and inhaled.

Managing Infestations and Alleviating Symptoms

There are two basic approaches to managing dust mite allergy: 1) treatment of the patient, and 2) modification of the patients' environment to minimize exposure to the mites. An allergist may prescribe quick-relief medications and/or allergy vaccinations (immunotherapy). Immunotherapy involves injecting gradually-increasing concentrations of mite extracts over time in order to desensitize the affected individual.

The second approach often done in conjunction with patient therapy is to minimize exposure to the mites and their allergenic materials inside the home. This is not a simple process and usually requires significant effort and expense. Dust mite abatement has become a huge industry, with companies offering many products and services to allergy sufferers seeking relief from their symptoms. While some abatement measures are helpful, others are relatively ineffective or as yet unproven. Of the treatment measures discussed below, numbers 1-3 are generally considered most essential and effective, whereas the others may provide some secondary benefit.

1. Remove or modify furnishings that accumulate dust and provide habitat for dust mites. Carpeting, upholstered furniture, drapes, curtains, stuffed toys, and other fabric-covered furnishings should be replaced with easy-to-clean items. This is especially important in bedrooms and other areas where allergy sufferers spend most of their time. Carpet is a perfect breeding ground for dust mites. If carpeting must be used, select low pile varieties. Area rugs are easier to clean than wall-to-wall carpeting. Hardwood, tile or linoleum floors are much easier to keep clean and dust-free. The same is true of wooden, leather or plastic-covered sofas and chairs. Do not allow children with dust allergies to sleep or play with stuffed, furry toys.

2. Encase mattress, box springs, and pillows in allergen-impermeable covers. Bedding is an extremely important source for dust mite development. Plastic or vinyl covers that zip around mattresses, box springs and pillows seal in allergenic materials so that they are not inhaled while sleeping. They are also easier to keep clean than cotton-based materials. Various styles of dust-proof bedding protectors are available through mattress and allergy supply stores. Many are equipped with an outer layer of material, such as nylon, to enhance comfort. Ideally, it's best to install dust-proof protectors on new bedding items rather than those that are already laden with allergens. Using "non-allergenic" pillows is not a substitute for covering them with allergy-proof encasements non-allergenic simply means that the materials are synthetic. Moreover, the evidence is contradictory as to whether foam pillows are any less prone to dust mite allergens than are feather pillows. Use only washable bed spreads, sheets and blankets, and launder bedding weekly in hot water.

3. Attempt to lower relative humidity inside the home. House dust mites have a difficult time surviving when the relative humidity is below 50 percent. Improving ventilation and installing a dehumidifier can often help to reduce populations indoors. Since fabric-covered surfaces retain air and body moisture better than less porous materials (e.g., wood, vinyl, linoleum), removal or modification of carpets, bedding, overstuffed furniture, etc. will further help to reduce humidity and favorable habitat for dust mite development.

4. Maintain good levels of sanitation and housecleaning. Vacuuming and cleaning activities have not shown much benefit in reducing mite populations, or removing their allergenic materials (feces, cast skins, carcasses). Routine, thorough vacuuming can, however, help to remove dust, dander, and a small percentage of mites. When vacuuming is performed, it's important to use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor) filtration system, so that the microscopic allergens are retained within the vacuum bag. Vacuum cleaners lacking this level of filtration will simply re-circulate the tiny allergenic particles back into the air, often causing even greater allergy symptoms. Emphasis should be on bedrooms, mattresses, and other locations where dust mites are likely to be living. Ideally, allergic individuals should not be the ones doing the vacuuming, nor should they be around when vacuuming is being performed. If this is not possible, they should wear a filtered breathing mask. Dusting of surfaces should be done with a damp or oiled cloth.

5. Consider the use of allergen-trapping air filters. Microscopic dust mite particles (especially feces) can remain suspended in the air for hours and be inhaled. To help remove these allergens, HEPA-grade filters can be installed in the central air conditioning and heating system of the home. HEPA filters can also be used within portable air cleaners, placed in bedrooms and other critical areas of the house. The value of such portable room air cleaners may be marginal, however, especially in rooms with good ventilation.

Companies that perform air duct cleaning often cite dust mite control as a major reason to purchase their services. As mentioned earlier, dust mites require high relative humidity for their survival. It's doubtful that the humidity levels found within air ducts are high enough to support ongoing mite development. Removing heavy accumulations of dust and filth from air ducts may be of some benefit, but should be considered secondary to allergy abatement measures 1-3 listed above.

6. Consider treating carpets with an acaracide. Mite-killing products containing benzyl benzoate (e.g., Acarosan) are available for treatment of carpeting, upholstery, and other surfaces. Although benzyl benzoate will kill dust mites, clinical trials are lacking that show much improvement in allergy symptoms. The same is true of products containing tannic acid (e.g., Allergy Control Solution), which are designed to denature dust mite allergens so that they no longer cause symptoms. Treatment of the premises with either of these chemicals should be considered only as a supplement to more important allergy-reducing measures, such as encasement of bedding and removal of dust-laden furnishings.

Conventional pesticides, such as those utilized by pest control firms or sold to homeowners in grocery and hardware stores, are not to be used for control of house dust mites.

CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.

Of course, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE!


Animals Laugh Too, Researchers Say

Sifting through studies on various species’ play behavior, Winkler & Bryant tracked vocalization patterns that show a strong similarity to human laughter. Image credit: Katrin B.

Play is common in a few lineages of the animal kingdom, being especially prevalent among some birds and many mammals.

Many theories of the function and types of play have been proposed, although difficulties exist, including but not limited to the basic problems of defining, identifying, and quantifying supposed play behavior.

In a new review of scientific literature, University of California, Los Angeles Professor Greg Bryant and graduate student Sasha Winkler focused on social play, the most frequently described type of play in mammals.

They looked for information on whether the animal vocalizations were recorded as noisy or tonal, loud or quiet, high-pitched or low-pitched, short or long, a single call or a rhythmic pattern — seeking known features of play sounds.

“This work lays out nicely how a phenomenon once thought to be particularly human turns out to be closely tied to behavior shared with species separated from humans by tens of millions of years,” Professor Bryant said.

“When we laugh, we are often providing information to others that we are having fun and also inviting others to join,” Winkler added.

“Some scholars have suggested that this kind of vocal behavior is shared across many animals who play, and as such, laughter is our human version of an evolutionarily old vocal play signal.”

The researchers found vocal play behavior documented in at least 65 species, including a variety of primates, domestic cows and dogs, foxes, seals, and mongooses, as well as three bird species, including parakeets and Australian magpies.

“Our comprehensive literature review reveals that vocal signals during social play are quite common across mammal species, and some birds, further challenging the once ‘conventional wisdom’ that animal play is silent,” they said.

“There’s much existing documentation of play-based body language among animals, such as what is known as ‘play face’ in primates or ‘play bows’ in canines,” they added.

“Since what constitutes ‘play’ in much of the animal kingdom is rough-and-tumble and can also resemble fighting, play sounds can help emphasize non-aggression during such physical moments.”

“While further observation and research into vocalizations would be fruitful, such observations can be hard to come by in the wild, especially for animals whose play sounds might be quieter,” they noted.

“Paying attention to other species in this way sheds light on the form and function of human laughter and helps us to better understand the evolution of human social behavior.”

The findings were published in the journal Bioacoustics.

Sasha L. Winkler & Gregory A. Bryant. Play vocalisations and human laughter: a comparative review. Bioacoustics, published online April 19, 2021 doi: 10.1080/09524622.2021.1905065


How to Treat Your Yard for Hook Worms

Both cats and dogs can carry the different hookworm species. The eggs are excreted in the animals’ feces and hatch into larvae about 12 to 72 hours later according to "The Merck Veterinary Manual." Warm and moist soil is an ideal habitat for the eggs to hatch out on. The larvae can then infect another mammal, including humans, either through ingestion or burrowing into the skin on contact. If you yard has an infestation of hookworms, you need to address the carriers of these parasites as well as conditions in your yard.

Take your dogs and/or cats to the veterinarian for a physical exam. Bring with you a fresh sample of your pets’ feces so the vet can look under a microscope for signs of a hookworm infection. If hookworms are found or suspected, your vet will prescribe medication to kill the parasites. Follow the vet’s instructions in giving this medication.

Clean up all animal droppings in your yard twice a day using a small rake and scooper with a handle, such as a Flexrake, and place it into a garbage bag before throwing it into the trash can. This will remove the eggs from your yard before they hatch to reinfect your pets or you.

Spread sodium borate (Borax) over sandy or clay areas of the yard to kill any remaining eggs or larvae. You will need to use about 10 pounds of sodium borate evenly over every 100 square feet of ground. Don’t use the sodium borate on areas with plants or grass as it may harm the plants.

Reduce or stop watering the area for several days to let it dry out. The eggs need moist soil to continue growing and will not survive as well in dry soil.

Things You Will Need

Warning

Signs of a hookworm infection in humans include anemia and protein loss, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you think you have a hookworm infection see your doctor.

Wear shoes in areas that have a hookworm infection. Some species can go through the skin on the bottom of the foot, causing a hookworm infection.

Lynn Anders has more than 15 years of professional experience working as a zookeeper, wildlife/environmental/conservation educator and in nonprofit pet rescue. Writing since 2007, her work has appeared on various websites, covering pet-related, environmental, financial and parenting topics. Anders has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and biology from California State University, Sacramento.


Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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A 10mm long creature in the California dust - Biology

  • Phylum / Division - Echinodermata
    • Class - Echinoidea
      • Subclass - Regularia or Endocyclica
        • Order - Camarodonta
        • Order - Centrechinoida

        Although past their zenith following their post-Paleozoic adaptive radiation - echinoids are still highly successful, diverse and conspicuous marine animals. The calcification of echinoid endoskeleton evolved during the Mesozoic era and has contributed to the extensive preservation of their fossil records. Echinoids occur in marine environments ranging from the intertidal zone to depths greater than 7,000m. Regular echinoids are so flexible in their diet that they are rarely restricted by food availability. However, they are limited in their distribution due to geographical barriers (i.e. land basins) and oceanic currents.

        Echinoderms are enterocoelous coelomates with a pentaradiate form and no definite head or brain. Echinoderms can be readily differentiated from other groups of organisms through unique physical and morphological attributes that include:

        1) possession of a calcified spiny endoskeleton - made of five tight fitting plates 2) a water vascular system for nutrient uptake, gas exchange and movement 3) dermal brachiae and 4) a rigid spine or pedicellariae bearing plate.

        Organisms in this class have 5 pairs of ambulacral rows that are homologous to the 5 arms of a sea star.

        They are bilateral in symmetry as larvae and subsequently metamorphosize into radiality or biradiality. Because of this, many biologists believe that sea urchins were once ancestors to sessile organisms and thus, developed radial symmetry as an evolutionary adaptation to increase nutrient and gas exchange.

        There are ten classes in this phylum. Sea urchins are grouped as Echinoidea. Until recently, there was a clear-cut distinction between Echinoidea and other classes because they possess what was believed to be a unique lantern for mastication. However, the echinoid type lantern has been found in Ophiocistioidea and Ordovician echinoids - making them not as distinct as once believed.

        Subclass - Regularia or Endocyclica

        Sea urchins are assigned to the subclass Regularia or Endocyclica. They are distinguishable from the only other extant subclass Irregularia because of their well-developed lantern, center placement of periostome and perioproct and two to five gonads that are sometimes fused.

        Camarodonta (to which sea urchins belong) along with Aulondonta and Stirodonta were raised to the rank of Order following Mortensen. But many biologists believe that of the six total orders, these three should be reduced to Suborders under the order Centrechinoida because they differ only in the details of their lantern. The order Centrechinoida is characterized as having a regular test, off-centered periproct opposite its mouth and two columns of plates in each ambulacrum.

        • Order - Camarodonta
          • Family - Echinidae
            • Genus - Strongylocentrotus
            • Genus - Lytechinus

            Sea urchins are classified into six families based on the sculpturing and details of their test, and the details of their pedicellariae. In Echinidae, each valve of the pedicellariae has a poison sac and several teeth lining its periphery with a single, large, pointed tooth in the center. There are seven genera of Echinidae. Two are common in the moderate depths off the Southern California coast, they are the Strongylocentrotus and Lytechinus .

            Genus - Strongylocentrotus and Lytechinus

            Aside from color and characteristics of their spines, the two genera are not much different from each other. On the whole the number of coronal plates and tubercles are greater in Lytechinus than Stronglyocentrotus .

            The order Centrechinoida has only one family, Centrechinidae. They are classified as having compound ambulacral plates, an unplated peristome and the base of their corona is resorbed.

            There are seven genera in the Centrechinidae family. Of these, only Centrechinus and Centrostephanus are found in Southern California. Members of the genus Centrostephanus exhibit longer, more slender, imbricate spines which are molted with purple color.

            Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (Stimpson , 1857). The common name for this specie is Purple Sea Urchin. The diameter of their test is about 85mm and it is almost completely covered by spines. These spines are about 10mm long, acute and stout. They also have a double series of primary spines in each ambulacral and interambulacral plate. The distribution of S. purpuratus is from Lower California (southern limit at Baja California, Mexico) to Vancouver Island.

            Strongylocentrotus franciscanus (Agassiz, 1863) - the Red Sea Urchin occupies the same habitat as S. purpuratus and hence, cross-fertilization is common. Color is probably the most useful factor for distinguishing between the two species. In S. purpuratus the juvenile is green but turns purple to deep maroon with time. S. franciscanus turns almost black from a fawn-brown color as juvenile. They are relatively large, measuring to about 175 mm in test size, with only about 1/3 of it being covered by spines. In a solution of 4% Formalin and some corrosive sublimate S. franciscanus will turn bright green and then return to its red-brown color upon drying. They are abundant in the areas off of the southern California coast.

            Lytechinus anamesus (Clark, 1912) - the White Sea Urchin is the most common sea urchin in moderate depths off the southern California coast. They are generally small the largest is only about 37mm in size. When young, these urchins are very light colored, usually cream or white. However, by the time they reach 8mm - 10mm they begin showing blotches of gray or dull green across their cream colored test surface. The spines of L. anamesus are acircular and unicolor (cream or white). Their primary spines are yellowish-brown to a rusty, dull gray. Lytechinus anamesus is distributed in Lower California and adjoining islands, particularly, near Catalina Island.

            Centrostephanus coronatus (Verrill, 1867), commonly known as the Crowned Sea Urchin are also small urchins. Their average test size is about 45mm - 50mm in diameter. The density of their spines is twice that of Strongylocentrotus species and

            those of similar species. These spines are usually three times as long as their test, dark purple (sometimes with white band) and brittle when dry. They also have five pairs of

            blunt, light-colored spinelets around the oral plate of the mouth. Their range of habitat is from Channel Islands, California to Galapagos Islands.

            Natural History of Sea Urchins

            Geographical Distribution

            There is no concrete evidence as to the origin of the first echinoid. However, a widely held belief is that the echinoid probably evolved from the Stromatocystis-like edrioasteroids in the Cambrian period. Today echinoids are widely distributed in marine environments and contain some of the most diverse and distinct organisms.

            Four main species of sea urchins are distributed along the nearshore waters of Southern California: Lytechinus anamesus (white urchin), Centrostephanus coronatus (coronado urchin), Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (purple urchin), and Strongylocentrotus franciscanus (red urchin). While the white and coronado urchins are restricted in their geographical distribution to mostly Southern California waters, the two bigger species, the red and purple urchins can be found in the range of 30o latitude from Alaska to Cedros Island in Baja California, Mexico and also state-wide. S. franciscanus and S.purpuratus species prefer warmer waters. This is evident in the fact that their gonads grow smaller in cold waters. By contrast, the white urchin prefers cool temperature around 16oC to 6oC. In this temperature range, they tend to develop into hermaphrodites. In general, these four urchin species prefer areas with little wind stress, upwelling and little mixing of water masses.

            Natural History and Distribution

            Besides the Southern California coast, S. purpuratus can be found on rocky bottoms off northeastern North America and other habitats. In the past decades, an increase in marine pollution in the from of organic sewage has been responsible for the proliferation in sea urchin population. Young sea urchins find nourishment via the assimilation of amino acids in sludge deposit and sewage fallout. This man-induced populational disturbance has had significant effects on overgrazing of local kelp bed communities supporting the urchins. The sea urchin is a highly destructive force to kelp and other seaweeds. They have an insatiable appetite for kelp and will graze its hold-fast until the entire kelp forest is barren and set afloat. Within these cleared areas the purple sea urchin is usually eight times more numerous than they are in the general periphery terrain. Luckily, the urchin is a favorite food item of sea otters and in its range of habitat, the otters keep the urchin population in check.

            The red sea urchin is probably the most abundant herbivore of the kelp forest - in both number and biomass. Their feeding rate is two to four times faster than that of the smaller purple urchin. In marine systems, their presence is described as an underwater equivalent of a forest fire. Red urchins feed on brown, green and red algae - but they get the highest absorption efficiency with brown algae. They are preyed upon by sea otters, lobsters, gastropods and fishes - due to their vulnerable peristome. Red and purple urchins show an intimate functional relationship in migration, aggregation and reproduction. Interbreeding between red and purple sea urchins is not an uncommon phenomenon because of their close association. The easiest way to identify the two species apart is probably by color. Red urchins are an important part of the fishery economy. In 1996, the harvesting of red urchin gonads rose to an $18.8 million industry.

            Lytechinus anamesus occur in vast herds and prefer cooler temperatures and moderate depths of the marine environment. White urchins require some wave action and are limited in distribution by the degree of flushing in the immediate proximity of their teat and spires. The white urchin feeds on Thalassia, diatoms and ulva. Their absorption efficiency varies with their food choice.

            The coronado urchin has food preference that is based on feeding experience and abundance of food item -but is lost within several days. The lantern of this urchin is in continuous motion and they feed continuously unless restricted by an environmental or behavior phenomenon. The coronado urchin is distributed along the California coast. The driving force of their planktonic larvae migration is southward along the California current and its associated countercurrents. They may move as far from their original habitat as thousands of kilometers. Larvae settlement and distribution is also affected by food-plankton availability.

            Key to Southern California Sea Urchin Species

            1.a Purple to deep maroon spines . 2.a

            1.b Deep red to black spines . 2.b

            1.c White / Cream colored test and spine . 7.b

            2.a Spines are approximately 10 mm long acute and stout . 3.a

            2.b Spines cover about 1/3 of the test.. . 3.b

            3.a Test diameter is about 85mm . 4.b

            3.b Test diameter is about 175mm . 4.a

            4.a In 4% Formalin and corrosive sublimate specie turns green . Strongylocentrotus franciscanus

            4.b Sharp spine usually 3 times as long as diameter of test . 5.b if not, go to . . 5.a

            5.a Primary spines are about 15mm long . 6.a

            5.b Test size is about 45 mm - 50 mm . 6.b

            6.a Double series of primary spines in each ambulacral and interambulacral plate . Strongylocentrotus purpuratus

            6.b Dark purple spines sometimes with white bands . 7.a

            7.a Five pairs of blunt, light colored spinelets around the oral plate of mouth . Centrostephanus coronatus

            7.b Largest test diameter about 37 mm . 8.a

            8.a At greater than 8 mm in size, blotches of gray or dull green show on test . 8.b


            Insight from imprints

            Although the Ediacaran fossils have bedevilled researchers for decades, new techniques are coaxing fresh insights out of previously intractable imprints. Take the baffling organisms in the genus Dickinsonia. Rounded and flat, they resembled segmented bath mats only a few millimetres thick, although they could reach nearly 1.5 metres in length. Their strange construction spawned theories that they were protists — a diverse group of mostly single-celled organisms that includes protozoa and some algae — or lichens, although many researchers suspected that they were animals.

            To try to settle the long-standing dispute, geobiologist Ilya Bobrovskiy, now at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and his colleagues took a biochemical approach. Bobrovskiy used tweezers to harvest thin films of organic matter — the remnants of Dickinsonia specimens that lived more than 550 million years ago. Analysis of the fat molecules in these biofilms showed that they were breakdown products of cholesterol, which is found in animals’ cell membranes 6 . “Dickinsonia was indeed an animal,” Bobrovskiy says.

            Evidence indicates that Dickinsonia, an iconic organism of the Ediacaran period, was an animal. Credit: Zeytun Travel Images/Alamy

            Dickinsonia was a rather simple animal: it showed no evidence of a mouth or a gut. But earlier this year, scientists detailed what might be the oldest-known animal that had both. Called Ikaria wariootia, it lived at roughly the same time as the Dickinsonia specimens that Bobrovskiy’s team studied, or perhaps earlier 7 .

            This discovery resolves a long-standing Ediacaran whodunnit: what made the narrow, twisting burrows that cut through Ediacaran sediments? They are among the most common Ediacaran calling cards, but are so small — only 1.5–2 millimetres wide — that they must have been created by an elusively tiny organism. “We never thought we’d see it,” says palaeontologist Mary Droser at the University of California, Riverside. Then she got her hands on a 3D laser scanner.

            Droser and her colleagues used the scanner to image hundreds of tiny blobs found near the twisting burrows. The team’s high-resolution 3D reconstructions show that the blobs were, in fact, organisms 7 . They were smaller than grains of rice, but they had left–right symmetry and both a front and back end, and features of the burrows suggest that the creatures could control where they moved. Previous analysis showed that some burrows wend into and out of the buried bodies of larger organisms, implying that Ikaria was a scavenger — the earliest known. Droser’s team suggests that, to support Ikaria’s burrowing and scavenging habits, the tiny animal probably had a mouth, anus and gut.

            Ikaria wariootia was smaller than a grain of rice, but its trails suggest that the burrowing creature was capable of relatively sophisticated behaviours, such as feasting on other organisms. Credit: Sohail Wasif/UCR

            More evidence that Ediacarans had guts comes from tubular organisms called cloudinids that arose around 550 million years ago. Using high-resolution X-ray imaging to peer inside cloudinids’ outer tubes, researchers saw a long, cylindrical feature, which the authors say is the oldest gut in the fossil record 8 . The team found this feature in a cloudinid that most probably belonged to the genus Saarina, and it bolsters the case that some cloudinids were animals with left–right symmetry 8 , says palaeobiologist and study co-author Jim Schiffbauer at the University of Missouri, Columbia. The gut’s shape and other clues hint that Saarina could be an early annelid, an animal grouping that includes modern earthworms.


            Dangers of desert dust: New diagnostic tool for valley fever

            On July 5, 2011, a massive wall of dust, ("haboob," in Arabic), blanketed Phoenix, Arizona, creating an awesome spectacle, (or stubborn nuisance, depending on your perspective). Dust storms are a common occurrence in the arid desert environments of the American Southwest.

            But windborne dust can be a serious health risk, lofting spores of a sometimes-lethal fungus known as Coccidioides. The resulting ailment, known as coccidioidomycosis or Valley fever, has been perplexing researchers since it was first described in 1892. It is currently on an alarming ascent in the United States.

            Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston, Krupa Navalkar and their colleagues at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute have been investigating Valley fever. Navalkar is the lead author of a new study describing a promising strategy known as immunosignaturing, which can provide clinicians with an accurate identification of Valley fever, a potentially serious affliction that is often misdiagnosed.

            "The incidence of this disease is seemingly low due to non-sensitive diagnostic assays," Navalkar says. As Johnston further notes, "immunosignatures could easily change those false assumptions if made available in the clinical setting."

            Navalkar is a researcher in Biodesign's Center for Innovations in Medicine, under the direction of Stephen Albert Johnston, who is also a co-author of the new study.

            The group's findings appear in the current issue of the journal ASM Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

            Valley fever is a fungal respiratory infection. It can be acquired when microscopic spores of the soil-dwelling fungus are inhaled. Two forms of the fungus exist, Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii. They are endemic to regions of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah, Texas and northern Mexico.

            During extended periods of dryness, the fungal spores remain dormant. With rainfall, the spores or arthroconidia develop elongated filaments, which break off and can be lofted into the air by soil disruption due to farming, construction, earthquakes or dust storms.

            Most individuals inhaling Coccidioides particles are assumed to be able to naturally resolve the infection, developing immunity to future spore infections.Often such non-symptomatic individuals are unaware they have been exposed. Others are not so fortunate, however.

            In around 40 percent of cases, Valley fever causes flu-like symptoms including cough, headache, muscle and joint pain and rash. For reasons still unclear, those of Filipino, African American and Native American descent are more vulnerable to the severe disseminated form of the infection. The disease is also more severe in people with weakened immune systems as well as pregnant women.

            Infection with Coccidioides can progress through three stages of increasing severity. Valley fever is the acute form of the disease, which, if left untreated, can develop into a second-stage chronic infection, lasting months or years. This form affects roughly 40 percent of those exposed. The third stage of the disease, known as disseminated Coccidioides, occurs when the infection spreads throughout the body, affecting skin, bones and nervous system and causing skin ulcers, swollen joints and severe pain, abscesses, bone lesions, heart inflammation, urinary tract infection and (potentially lethal) meningitis. Disseminated Coccidioides affects 5-10 percent of those with chronic infection.

            The rapid rise in Valley fever cases in the arid southwest has become a serious health concern, as human habitation has pushed further into desert areas where the soil spores are widespread. Currently, Valley Fever affects an estimated 150,000 people a year, with most cases occurring in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The disease has no cure at present and is notoriously tricky to diagnose. One reason is that Valley fever is readily confused with other community-acquired pneumonias.

            Currently, diagnosis is carried out through a technique known as immunodiffusion, which tests the blood for antibodies against Coccidioidal antigens. As the authors note, such tests are less than satisfactory, with a false negative rate as high as 50-70 percent. Around 5 percent of symptomatic patients display no measurable antibody levels to Valley fever by immunodiffusion.

            The current study describes an alternate method used to address the poor accuracy of immunodiffusion, applying an innovative new technique known as 'Immunosignaturing'. The technique can produce a detailed profile of system-wide immune activity from a small droplet of blood -- typically, less than a microliter.

            To produce its detailed immune portrait or immunosignature, the technique uses a microarray platform. This consists of a glass slide imprinted with 10,000 peptides. Each peptide consists of a string of 20 amino acids, randomly arranged. The power of the technology resides in the fact that the randomly generated peptides are not based on natural antigens to Coccidioides or indeed, any disease. They are "unbiased" to the nature of particular disease antibodies and can therefore act as a sort of universal diagnostic.

            When a droplet of antibody-containing blood is smeared across the microarray, the random peptides behave like naturally occurring antigens, binding with blood antibodies in a specific pattern. Global analysis of the resulting immunosignature is used to establish disease-specific blueprints of immune activity.

            The method potentially offers much higher resolution and sensitivity to disease, compared with diagnostic tests measuring a single antibody-antigen binding event or a small ensemble of molecules.

            In the first round of experiments in the current study, the group used immunosignatures to determine if Valley fever infected individuals could be accurately distinguished from three other patient groups afflicted with bacterial or fungal infections.

            Once an immunosignature for Valley fever was established using the 10K peptide microarray, a smaller diagnostic array was composed from relevant diagnostic peptides. This smaller 96-peptide array was then tested for accuracy against the current immunodiffusion diagnostic standard.

            The 10K peptide array successfully distinguished Valley fever from 3 other infections, with 98 percent accuracy. Impressively, the method also was able to classify false negative Valley fever patients in a blinded test, with 100 percent accuracy, easily outpacing existing immunodiffusion methods, which could only identify 28 percent of false negatives.

            The smaller, 96 peptide diagnostic array showed less specificity than the 10K peptide array in terms of identifying false negatives. The authors propose that the larger 10K peptide array be used in initial screenings, followed by subarrays with reduced complements of carefully selected peptides, used for clinical diagnosis.

            Immunosignaturing holds of promise for rapid, cost-effective and highly accurate diagnosis of Valley fever. The versatile platform has the potential to separate Valley fever patients from those afflicted with other bacterial or fungal infections. Making use of the same microarray, researchers can also identify false negatives with 100 percent accuracy.


            Absurd Creature of the Week: This Tiny Adorable Critter Is Half Kangaroo, Half Velociraptor

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            Talia Moore, Harvard University

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            Kangaroos are played out. I mean, they’re great and all, and I say that not just because they scare me a bit, but they’re just so 2014. Hopping around, eating grass, kickboxing the tar out of each other. I’m over it. Mostly because another group of perfectly good creatures is hopping around in a remarkably similar manner, only much more adorably: the 30-odd species of achingly cute, bipedal jerboa, rodents with all the kangaroo’s legs and none of the crummy attitude.

            Just look at that thing. The top part looks enough like a mouse, but those legs. What’s going on there? (To be clear, jerboas do have two other limbs like any other rodent, but they’re tiny and tucked against the face and for the love of God how is it possible that everything about this creature is so adorable?)

            Well, though it may look like it, the knees are not in fact inverted. The jerboa’s knee is actually hard to make out, butting up against its torso. That extremely long section is called the cannon bone, and it’s made up fused metatarsal bones—the longest ones in the center of your foot. The tiny bits of the foot that actually make contact with the ground are the toes, so the jerboa in fact spends its life tiptoeing around. Some species even look like they’re wearing shoes, on account of the tufts of hair on their toes. Those stiff fibers act a bit like snowshoes, giving the rodent some extra purchase in the sandy deserts they call home, places like North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and Asia.

            The elongated legs bestow the jerboa with incredible speed and leaping abilities, like a tiny kangaroo on amphetamines. “This is an animal that's about the size of your fist,” says biomechanist Talia Moore of Harvard University, who studies their locomotion, “yet there have been reports that some species can easily hop over six feet.”

            That long, elegant tail also probably plays a role in balance. Moore and other researchers need to do more work to determine exactly what’s going on, but by manipulating its tail, the jerboa can likely help stabilize itself as it’s speeding around the desert. And it's not the only one: Velociraptors likely used their tails in the same way. (Interestingly, Moore did research as an undergrad on lizard and velociraptor locomotion, showing just how important a tail is for orientation in those creatures. Double interestingly, she says that the folks who recently built a jerboa robot used her undergrad work as a reference.)

            Leading the research into the utility of jerboa tails was a certain Frenchman, who, unrestrained by the moral considerations of modern science, went a bit too far in his experiments. “There have been historical observations where in the 1800s this cruel Frenchman cut off a jerboa's tail, and it just wasn't able to do anything,” says Moore. “It couldn't even sit up, it couldn't jump around, it was just a pathetic, sad jerboa.”



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