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Slither sisters: Vintage images of female circus snake charmers and their reptilian friends
09.29.2016
09:23 am

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Animals
History
Sex

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A vintage snake charmer and her friend.
 
The allure of the “snake charmer” as an attraction in circus sideshow or perhaps as a part of a freak show was as common as other circus staples like the really tall man, bearded ladies and sword swallowers. And like other roles in the circus there were lots of women who took on the snake charmer role and played it to the hilt.

Some of the images of female snake charmers in this post date back to the 1800s such as the image above of a woman billed as the “Mexican Rattle-Snake Queen” above. By the turn of the century female snake charmers were common attractions and perhaps two of the best known and most photographed of them all was a woman known as “Octavia” who performed with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show under the title of the “Yankee Snake Charmer,” and “Miss Uno” who in addition to her snakes was well known for her out of control hair best described as a wind-blown Afro not unlike that of another well-known snake charmer Zoe Zobedia. Though Zobedia was a snake charmer she was also a part of another popular early-19th century attraction in circuses called “Circassian Beauties” who were known for their exotic hair who would style their “Moss Hair” by teasing it into massive Afro-like hairdos. But I digress from the reptilian point of this post.

Unlike their male counterparts female snake handlers were usually sexualized and would often be dressed in attire that was considered incredibly risqué as women were still wearing bathing suits that looked like dresses to the beach at that time. That said, a few of the images in this post could be considered NSFW due to some partial nudity. Of course for those of you who suffer from ophidiophobia (a fear of snakes) or herpetophobia (a phobia of reptiles, lizards and other kind of vertebrates) you have my condolences as it’s safe to assume that this post is full of pictures of girls and snakes.

And since we’re talking about pretty girls and snakes, I’ve also included footage of the gorgeous Debra Paget as “Seetha” trying to charm a cobra from director Fritz Lang’s 1959 film Das indische Grabmal or The Indian Tomb (also known as Journey to the Lost City).
 

The ‘Mexican Rattle-Snake Queen,’ 1800s.
 

‘Miss Uno.’
 

‘Mademoiselle Dorita,’ 1930s.
 
More snakes and the women who charm them, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Super-abusive ‘cute’ greeting cards (NSFW)
09.19.2016
01:28 pm

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Amusing
Animals

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Greeting cards are a dicey affair, either they’re sentimental or there’s a joke with a big—often unfunny—punchline. This is why I prefer my messages with a little black humor in them. You know the person giving you the card loves you, so it’s just fine if you give or get a little abuse in with the bargain. (Cards given in a semi-obligatory way in an office context don’t count.)

That said, a cuddly manatee avowing your overly pudgy status and an adorable panda testifying that nobody is proud of you?! That’s taking it too far!!

Anyway, I love these. The artist is named ​Phil Wall if you are wondering. He was doing some rough sketches and put them up on Facebook where they got a very enthusiastic response. As he points out, the phrasing is more British—it’s a lot more common for people to call each other “cunts” as a playful put-down in the U.K.!
 

 

 
Tons more of these devilishly amusing doodles after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Caiman spotted wearing a crown of butterflies
09.16.2016
01:54 pm

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Animals

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Photographer Mark Cowan captured this wonderful image in the Amazon of a caiman wearing a crown of butterflies! As cool as this photograph is, apparently it’s not that uncommon to see butterflies near the heads and eyes of reptiles. The phenomenon you’re witnessing here are of butterflies drinking the caiman’s tears. The butterflies need the salt from the tears in order to survive.

I did not know this. You can read about it here at National Geographic.

The photo by Cowan “was a finalist for the 2016 Royal Society Publishing photography competition and received special commendation.”


 
via Bored Panda

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Spiders ‘tune’ their webs, just like guitar strings
09.14.2016
12:56 pm

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Animals
Music
Science/Tech

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A team of researchers from the United Kingdom and Spain has demonstrated that spiders are capable of tuning their webs for the purpose of receiving information about the local environment, including the presence of prey and potential mates.

Similar to the strings of a finely tuned instrument, every strand of spider silk conveys vibrations across a wide range of frequencies over the span of a web. Spiders require a system like this to detect the presence of prey and mates, as their visual acuity is very low.

The general phenomenon has been understood by scientists for some time; what wasn’t clear were the precise characteristics of these vibrations or (more to the point) whether spiders exercised control over the practice. Researchers from Oxford University and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid have released a study, available in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, that looks into the material properties of spider webs and the way that vibrations propagate through the silken strands. The team has shown that spiders do in fact tune their webs to transmit specific messages. The paper’s title is “Tuning the Instrument: Sonic Properties in the Spider’s Web.”
 

 
The researchers used lasers to measure the tiny vibrations, isolating three particular features that allow spiders to turn their webs into data transmitters: web tension, silk stiffness, and overall web architecture. It turns out that spiders are capable of manipulating all three of these characteristics.

Spiders “tune” the waves that emanate from the web by adjusting the web’s tension and the stiffness of the web’s outer rim and spokes, also known as the dragline. In fact, spider webs are so customizable, the researchers hypothesize that some properties of silk evolved for this very purpose. Quoting from the paper’s abstract:
 

[W]e propose that dragline silk supercontraction may have evolved as a control mechanism for these multifunctional fibres. The various degrees of active influence on web engineering reveals the extraordinary ability of spiders to shape the physical properties of their self-made materials and architectures to affect biological functionality, balancing trade-offs between structural and sensory functions.

 
Unsurprisingly, the cunning evolved knowledge that a spider uses to construct its web far exceeds a simple “hope for the best“ model. Spiders actually tweak their webs to ensure the propagation of specific vibrations. The primary purpose of a web is to trap prey, but the structure of the web is optimized to capture important information about the area. Spiders constructing and then fine-tune their webs to act as a multi-function device.
 
via Gizmodo

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Killer Caterpillar: Touch this insect and you will bleed to death
09.12.2016
09:43 am

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Animals

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Killer Caterpillar
 
In her new book, Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry, scientist Dr. Christie Wilcox writes about a unique type of insect found primarily in Brazil, the Lonomia obliqua, a/k/a the “assassin caterpillar.” This moth-to-be is unlike most caterpillars, in that it doesn’t have a furry appearance, instead they’re covered with what looks like small trees. They’re actually pretty cool-looking, but don’t even think about picking one of them up, as inside the tip of each spiky “branch” is a deadly venom.
 
The Lonomia obliqua
 
Getting pricked by one of these caterpillars isn’t exactly ideal, but to make matters worse, they usually gather in bunches, so the unsuspecting who brush up against them are actually stung multiple times. Once that happens, the insects’ poison enters the bloodstream and causes over-clotting. What look like bruises will soon appear, the result of internal bleeding. Other symptoms include pain, swelling, headache and vomiting, but that ain’t the worst of it. After a day or so, all that over-clotting will cause the victim to run out of blood platelets, resulting in a death that is fucking horrifying.

Dr. Wilcox:

Without those platelets available to form clots when needed, the envenomated victim bleeds. Uncontrollable. Even there’s though there’s no wound to be seen. [The sufferer can experience] bleeding mucous membranes in the nose and eyes, bleeding from scars, and even internal bleeding into the brain.

Holy shit, right? Perhaps most upsetting of all is that if you are pricked by multiple caterpillars and end up experiencing this harrowing ordeal, you—and whoever you are with—will likely have no idea what is going on. Aside from the fact there won’t be any visible wounds, most people who are stung don’t feel it, so even though there is an antivenom available, the need might not be realized, if at all, until it’s too late.

More after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Jack and cobra anyone? Whiskey & vodka infused with tarantulas, giant centipedes, snakes & toads
09.12.2016
09:11 am

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Animals
Food
Stupid or Evil?

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Vodka infused with a giant venomous tropical centipede by ‘Thailand Unique.’
 
I cannot tell a lie—I had a hard time blogging about these insect and amphibian-infused bottles of booze made by Thailand Unique as just looking at them made my lunch churn rather restlessly in my stomach. Never mind the thought of actually imbibing a bottle of vodka that had been infused with a giant venomous tropical centipede. Yikes.

These bug and arachnid-enhanced speciality alcohols are the products of Thailand Unique (based in Udon Thani, Thailand) a company that caters to the the world’s “growing numbers of “entomophagists” otherwise known as humans who enjoy consuming insects. They carry a large variety of infused vodka and whiskey that has been enhanced with everything from bugs to cobras and even toads. Some of these creatures, it is claimed, have healing and medicinal properties. The centipede whiskey is used in parts of Southeast Asia as an aphrodisiac and according to Thailand Unique could also help ease muscular and back pain. (Do not mistake this post for medical advice, okay?)

If you’re not a drinker (or just gave up drinking after reading all this, like I almost did—close call) Thailand Unique also offers various foodstuffs made from a variety of creepy-crawlers such as edible canned tarantula, earthworm jerky, pasta made from silkworms (it’s also gluten free!) and the “acquired taste” of these “seasoned to taste,” “roasted and dehydrated “dung beetles” which are harvested in northeast Thailand during the monsoon season. If you’re not an aspiring etymologist, the dung beetle feeds on “nutrient rich” Water Buffalo poop. Gaaa!

If you’re interested in obtaining any of Thailand Unique’s products—they sure live up to their name, don’t they?—it will take anywhere from two-weeks to two months depending on the shipping option you choose. Many of the infused vodkas and whiskeys are currently sold out, mostly due to the fact that many of the things made by the company take several months to prepare for market. Their “Armor Tail Scorpion” vodka (which was triple distilled and steeped for months allowing the scorpion to infuse the liquid with a “unique woody taste”) is in stock and can be yours for about $17.46 via registered airmail to the U.S.
 

Tarantula infused vodka.
 

Longhorn beetle-infused vodka.
 
More yucky things after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The bizarre contents of a dead Ostrich’s stomach
09.08.2016
10:01 am

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Amusing
Animals

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Afrikanischer_Strauss_Portrait.jpg
An ostrich by A. Kniesel.
 
The ostrich is the world’s largest bird. The male of the species can reach over nine feet in height—the female around 5’ 7” to 6’ 7”.

The ostrich is a flightless bird. It has long powerful legs and can travel over forty miles an hour.

It also has the largest eye of any land vertebrate—a whopping great two inches in diameter. This helps it spot any would-be predators trying to sneak up on it—allowing the big bird time to hightail it.

The ostrich has a wingspan of over six-and-a-half feet. It has long legs and and a very long neck with a comparatively small head. It kinda looks like a turkey gone wrong, on steroids. It roams freely across the African savanna. It is farmed for its lean meat, eggs and feathers—which are used in making feather dusters.

They live in nomadic groups of up to 100 under the rule of the chief hen. The ostrich diet generally consists of seeds, shrubs, grass, fruit and flowers—from which they also obtain water—and some insects.

And that’s probably what you’d expect to find an ostrich’s stomach if you had to examine one after death.

Well not quite…
 
01ostcart1.jpg
An ostrich cart at London Zoo, 1929.
 
Frederick William Bond was the assistant treasurer and photographer at the Zoological Society of London. He took photographs of the various prized animals kept in captivity at London Zoo.

Around 1930, one of the ostriches at the zoo died unexpectedly. A post mortem examination revealed a staggering array of objects in the big bird’s stomach. It was such a bizarre find that Bond felt compelled to photograph it.
 
001ostrich1.jpg
 
On the back of the photograph Bond listed the contents:

Three odd cotton gloves
Three handkerchiefs
The wooden centre of a silk spool
A piece of lead pencil
Four halfpennies
One franc
One farthing
One coin too worn for identification
Part of a bicycle valve
Part of a metal comb
One piece of wood
Two yards of string
An alarm clock key
Several small metal washers and other pieces of metal
A four-inch nail

The most likely reason this omnivorous ostrich ingested such a bizarre gallimaufry of found objects is less to do with any “sad consequence of the bird’s urban existence” but mainly to do with the fact ostriches swallow their food whole.

Ostriches have no teeth. This together with the fact they have a proportionally small bill, means they have to ingest stones or pebbles to help masticate their food in the gizzard.

They swallow small hard objects like stones to act as “gastroliths” to grind their food. The ostrich fills its gullet with yummy goodies which forms a bolus. This is then ingested into the gizzard where the small stones break it down for digestion.

Most likely this ostrich ingested coins, gloves and alike to help digest its food. Unfortunately swallowing a four-inch nail proved fatal—as it caused its “death by perforation.”
 
01jlydostce.jpg
 
John Lydon vs. the Ostriches, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Souls of Dead Children’ and other creepy field recordings by Cabaret Voltaire founder Chris Watson
09.01.2016
09:22 am

Topics:
Animals
Environment
Music

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Photo by Kate Humble, via chriswatson.net
 
Chris Watson is the coolest. He’s most famous as one of the three founding members of Cabaret Voltaire. Since leaving the Cabs in ‘81, he’s continued to make experimental music (see, for instance, his wonderful 2005 collaboration with KK Null and Z’EV), but he’s best known for his field recordings. BBC Radio 4 has a whole page dedicated to programs that feature Watson and his work; if you’re not careful, you can lose yourself for hours there listening to stories like “Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson presents the crested tit.”

Richard H. Kirk is, of course, the longest-lasting (and sole remaining) member of Cabaret Voltaire, but I wonder if it’s significant that Watson’s name got top billing on the back cover of the Cabs’ first two albums. Watson’s attic was the band’s practice space from ‘74 to ‘78, and Kirk credits his distinctive guitar sound on the first records to a fuzzbox Watson, then a phone engineer, built for him. (Check out the Burroughsian news cut-up Watson contributed to a 1981 tape compilation released by Jhonn Balance.)
 

Photo by Mark McNulty, via McNulty Photography
 
When Watson quit Cabaret Voltaire in ‘81, it was to take a job with Tyne Tees Television, where, he says, his career in sound recording began. Since 1996’s Stepping into the Dark, a collection of recordings of “the atmospheres of special places” inspired by T.C. Lethbridge, Watson has released a total of six albums of his field recordings. Each is organized around an idea or story. El Tren Fantasma (“Ghost Train”) is an audio trip across Mexico on the old state-owned railroad, which no longer exists, thanks to the economic miracle that is privatization. His latest album, In St. Cuthbert’s Time, documents what Eadfrith of Lindisfarne would have heard while he was creating the Lindisfarne Gospels.

After the jump, three sinister selections from ‘Outside the Circle of Fire

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Woman hypnotizes rabbits, 1954
08.31.2016
10:00 am

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Animals

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Here’s a video shot back in 1954 of a Mrs. Irene Burton from Orpington in Kent, who could apparently hypnotize her pet dwarf rabbits to astonishing effect. Admittedly I was shocked when I saw the video. I thought she had some sort superpower over her rabbits. I had a pet rabbit myself growing up, and I recall seeing him do this once or twice. And no, I wasn’t trying to hypnotize him, he just did it.

After watching the video, I started to question Mrs. Irene Burton’s hypnotizing capabilities over rabbits. Could she really be this good? According to what I’ve read online this trance-like state is called “Tonic Immobility” or “TI,” and it’s actually a defense mechanism motivated by fear.

TI is considered a last attempt for prey to escape being eaten by a predator. When rabbits are tranced, they are at the highest possible fear level, and they can possibly die from fear.

So, yeah, Mrs. Irene Burton wasn’t actually hypnotizing her rabbits at all, but basically scaring the living shit out of them. That’s not nice, Irene!

 
via Arbroath

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Depressing photos of monkeys wearing doll masks
08.30.2016
11:00 am

Topics:
Animals

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Finnish photographer Perttu Saksa‘s series “A Kind of You” takes a heartbreaking look at the old tradition of street performing monkeys in Jakarta. The portraits expose the onlooker to monkeys in tattered children’s clothing and freakish doll masks. You’ll also notice the monkeys are on short chains.

The gripping portraits force you to come face-to-face with the sad reality of what’s done for human entertainment.

“Modern city culture has turned the old tradition into [an] eerie and haunting act of cruel street theatre where animals become something else, never able to reach our expectations,” says Perttu Saksa about his series.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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