Saturday, December 13, 2008

Beer-Drinking Tree Shrews: Sober As Judges

By Michelle Trudeau

Photo of a pentail tree shrew in the wild, wearing a small radio collar. Courtesy of Annette Zitzman.

All Things Considered, July 28, 2008 · In the rain forest of Malaysia, scientists have found a small mammal, closely related to primates, whose major source of food is a type of beer.

It's believed to be the only animal other than humans that chronically consumes alcohol. But this animal never appears drunk, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This little critter, the pentail tree shrew, is about 4 inches long; it weighs just a few ounces.

"It looks like a mix between a squirrel and a mouse," says Frank Weins, a biologist from Bayreuth University in Germany, who lived in western Malaysia studying these tiny mammals.

"They have this very strange naked tail. The tip looks like a bird feather."

With big eyes that face forward, and tiny grasping fingers and toes, the tree shrew is an evolutionary cousin of primates. They're nocturnal and spend most nights out in the jungle drinking nectar.

"They walk up and down the cluster of flowers and lick off nectar from the different flower buds," Weins says.

But they have one favorite food source: the bertam palm, whose flowers have a very strong and distinctive smell. "They smell like a brewery," Weins says.

In fact, the flower buds function as brewing chambers — they have been invaded by previously unknown species of yeast, which ferment the nectar into frothy alcohol.

"The maximum alcohol concentration that we recorded was 3.8 percent," Weins says. "That's in the range of a beer."

And the tree shrews spend several hours each night drinking this palm beer. Weins calculates that the tree shrew is imbibing what would be the human equivalent of nine glasses of wine an evening. However, the pentail tree shrew shows no signs of being drunk.

"They move normally on the palms when they go for the nectar," Weins says. "There's no sign of motor incoordination or other odd behaviors. They just move as efficiently as they would on any other tree."

Weins says there are no pentail tree shrews in captivity, so it hasn't been possible to do lab tests to detect intoxication.

But with jungle predators always lurking, Weins says, it would be very risky for a little mammal in the wild to be tipsy or drunk.

And that leads Weins to believe that the tree shrew probably has a specially evolved metabolism that detoxifies the alcohol quickly, keeping the alcohol concentration in the brain very low.

As a result, the tree shrew is able to detoxify alcohol more efficiently than its primate cousins: humans.

Read The Study:

Something Come Up In My Mind

These past few weeks i am a little bit confused with my own posts in this blog. Not only because what is actually this blog about but i am a little bit piss off with the settings. I tried to make space in between paragraph but it doesn't work. There is still no space. So, i don't like how my posts look like. As for myself, i don't like reading something like that. It is not neat. So, i keep trying to do something with the templates and changing templates too. I am not sure what is actually happen. I am not good in designing websites. I just follow the instructions. Still far to learn about creating or designing my blog.

About this blog. What is actually i want to share in here? A lots of things mixed up already. From the first place i create this blog because i want to improve my writing skills and i am not sure if i am improve now. But then, these past few months, the contents is really upside down. But i think i have to be focus with what i really want to share in this blog. I take leave from my work for three months so i don't have any interesting field works that i can share here. So, that is one of the reason, i don't know what to share about my works anymore since i am not working. After think back, i still want to do posting about wildlife and nature. I love them very much and still hoping that early next year i will be able to get back to work to get close to them again.

I will posts mostly about the animals that i have work on and what i experienced before. Even though it will be my past experienced but i think it will worth sharing here. I was feel blessed from the first place that i have the great opportunity to do this kind of work so, i will share it with you guys. Since i am doing a lots of reading now, anything that interests me will be share too.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species - Treeshrews

The treeshrews (or tree shrews) are small mammals native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. They make up the families Tupaiidae (19 species) and Ptilocercidae (1 species) and the entire order Scandentia. There are 20 species in 5 genera which are Ptilocercus (1), Anathana (1), Dendrogale (2), Tupaia (15) and Urogale (1). Of 20 species 10 are occur in Borneo with seven endemics species.

According to the IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species (2008), two species listed as Endangered (Tupaia chrysogaster and T. nicobarica), 15 species as Least Concern (Ptilocecus lowii, Anathana ellioti, Dendrogale murina, T. belangeri, T. glis, T. gracilis, T. javanica, T. longipes, T. minor, T. montana, T. palawanensis, T. picta, T. splendidula, T. tana and Urogale everetti) and three species as Data Deficient (D. melanura, T. dorsalis and T. moellendorffi). Both Endangered species is not Bornean species. T. chrysogaster occurs in North and South of Pagai Islands and Sipora (Mentawai Islands, Indonesia), meanwhile T. nicobarica can be found in Great and Little Nicobar Islands of India.

For more information about IUCN Red List please click at the title of this post and you will redirect to IUCN Red List webpage.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

How Did Animals Get Their Names?

Really in many different ways, from many different places, and from many different languages!

Ducks, for example, are birds who "duck" in the water. Their name comes from an old English word duce, which means a "diver."

The Arabic word zirafoh, which means "long neck," gave the long-necked giraffe its name.

Two Greek words, hippos, which means "horse" and potamus, which means "river," were put together to give us the "river horse" we know today as the hippopotamus.

The rhinoceros also got its name from two Greek words, Tinos, which means "nose" and keras, which means "horn." And "horn on the nose" is a good description of this animal which has just that, a horn on its nose.

Poodles got their names from the German word pudel, which was short for pudelhund, which means "a dog that splashes in water."

The ancient Latin word, leopardus, which means "spotted lion," gave the leopard its name.
Bulls got their name from the old Anglo-Saxon word belan, which means to "roar" or "bellow."

Both the Latin word carcharus and the Greek word karckarios mean "sharp teeth," and it is from these two words that we get the name of the feared shark.

If you've ever taken a close look at a porpoise, you might see a slight resemblance to the face of a hog. Perhaps the ancient Romans saw this similarity and called the porpoise porous pisces in their Latin tongue. Porcus pisces means "hog-fish."

The salmon, which is known for its ability to leap out of the water as it swims upstream, also has a name of Latin origin. Salmo, in Latin, means "leaping fish."

We can thank the Danish language for their word mackreel, which means "spots." For it is this word which was the origin of the spotted fish we know today as mackerel.

Any fisherman will vouch for the fact that the trout is an avid eater and will go after any bait that moves. This greedy fish got its name from the Latin trocta, which means just that, "greedy fish."


In It's Own Order (Treeshrews)

Author: Wagner, 1855

In the past, treeshrews have commonly been considered basal members of the order Primates, or united with macroscelidids in the "insectivoran" clade Menotyphla. However, as a group they have no immediate living relatives and are best classified at ordinal rank (Butler, 1972, 1980; Dene et al., 1978; Luckett, 1980; McKenna and Bell, 1997). At a deeper phylogenetic level, scandentians apparently form a natural group with dermopterans and primates (Murphy et al., 2001b). Representatives of the order are confined to southern, eastern, and SE Asia both currently and in the fossil record, which extends back to the Middle Eocene in east Asia (McKenna and Bell, 1997). Most previous workers have arranged Scandentia as a monofamilial order, but recognition of two families (Tupaiidae and Ptilocercidae) more aptly conveys the anatomical disparity evident among the living treeshrews.

Despite the attention paid to the higher-level phylogenetic relationships of treeshrews, a modern revision of species-level taxonomy in the group is still unavailable; the most recent comprehensive review remains that of Lyon (1913), a thorough but now long-outdated work. Chasen (1940), Ellerman and Morrison-Scott (1966), and Corbet (in Corbet and Hill, 1992) produced regional lists of named forms, but not critical systematic treatments, and the latter two listings are beset by overlumping. This account is likewise no substitute for a comprehensive systematic review of the order, but in its preparation I have examined all treeshrew specimens (including types) in the collections of the American Museum of Natural History, Field Museum of Natural History, Museum of Comparative Zoology, and National Museum of Natural History, as well as a number of type specimens stored in European collections.


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