Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good News Vs. Bad News


Jack phoned his wife Sally, who's at work. 

"Sorry, love," said Sally. "I'm up to my neck in work at the moment - I can't really talk."

"But I need to tell you something," said Jack. "I've got some good news and some bad news."

"OK, but I'm really short on time, so just say the good news."

"Well...OK then. The airbag works."
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Cat Is A 'Plumber'


Ever heard a cat loves playing with water? Well, in Malaysia, most cats simply hated water, whether it's a sprinkle, a jet of, or a shower of water. However,out there, some cats really don't mind water. Ever heard of that? Cats swimming, cats running out to greet the rain, and here, I copy a story that I came across while reading my mom's old Reader's Digest. Enjoy!

My cat adores drains. There is something about water whirling away down a pipe that he finds fascinating. When the toilet door is closed, he waits outside, his nose pressed to the crack beneath. At the sound of the flush, he springs back until the door is opened, then rushes in and places his front paws over the toilet bowl. There he stares, transfixed, at the wonders of modern plumbing.

Sometimes he sits in the kitchen sink, peering down the drain, his orange tail waving over his head.

Watching me run a bath one night, he discovered how to make this miracle work on his own. As I put the plug in, he watched my every move. I turned on the tap and, suddenly, a light bulb went off in his little cat brain. Delicately, he reached out and plucked the plug from the drain, watching as my bath water drained away. Exasperated, I replaced the plug, and turned the tap on again. Once more, when the water got almost to his stomach, he reached under and pulled it out.
I had to laugh. I lifted him out of the tub. But a moment later he was back in, the plug gone, and his tail swishing merrily as the water drained around his ankles. Now, he's never allowed in the bathroom. Instead, he watches me under the door, waiting for the sound of water draining away.

By Amy Willing
Reader's Digest March 2012

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Fish Fossil...Alive Today?


For years and years the scientist have confirmed that the dinosaurs and their habitats, and whatever that lived within their time, are all finished, and what's left is their fossils. Now, this fish was thought to have been extinct since the end of the cretaceous period over 65 million years ago. Fossils of the coelacanth have been found that date back over 350 million years. At this time, scientists believe that no such fish still roam the deep of the sea.

Then, not long ago, a fisherman accidentally caught a live coelacanth off the coast of Africa in 1938. A second specimen was caught in 1952 off the coast of Comoros Islands near Madagascar. Scientists were baffled. A fish fossil, alive and roaming the sea near Africa? The matter was not left untended. A research party was formed, and they find that this 'Dinofish' has a lot of tale to tell. Especially when these scientists think that the coelacanth is the step of fish evolutioning into amphibians. 

The most striking feature of this "living fossil" is its paired lobe fins that extend away from its body like legs and move in an alternating pattern, like a trotting horse. Other unique characteristics include a hinged joint in the skull which allows the fish to widen its mouth for large prey; an oil-filled tube, called a notochord, which serves as a backbone; thick scales common only to extinct fish, and an electrosensory rostral organ in its snout likely used to detect prey.

      Ceolacanths are opportunistic feeders, eating just about anything they can find and fit in their mouth. They possess hinges in their skulls that allow them to consume very large prey. Their diet is believed to consist mainly of squid, eels, small sharks, and other animals that are found in their deep sea habitats. They hunt their prey near deep underwater volcanic slopes and can frequently be seen swimming with their heads down. They have even been seen swimming upside down and backwards. Researchers believe that this behavior allows them to use a special organ called a rostral gland to help them locate their prey. Once located, their meal is usually swallowed whole. Since food can be scarce at these great depths, scientists believe that the coelacanth has the ability to slow down its metabolism. This allows the fish to go for long periods of time without eating. This may be part of the reason they have survived so long and outlived their other prehistoric cousins. In their natural habitat, they are believed to live about 60 years. 


Coelacanths give birth to live young, known as "pups". There are usually between 5 and 25 pups born at any given time. These young coelacanth pups are fully formed and capable of surviving on their own as soon as they are born. Their gestation time is 13 months, and it is believed that ceolacanths are unable to reproduce until they are 20 years old. Beyond that, very little is known about the reproductive habits of this elusive creature.


Coelacanths can be found throughout the Indian ocean, from the southwest coast of Africa to Indonesia. They can to go as deep as 2,300 feet (700 meters), but are more commonly found at a depth of 300 - 600 feet (90 - 200 meters). Because of their sensitive eyes, these fish prefer the darkness. They are rarely ever seen during the daytime hours or on nights with a full moon. They prefer cold water because their gills have trouble absorbing oxygen in warm water. In Sodwana Bay, South Africa, coelacanths have been found resting in caves during the day.
In 1989, the coelacanth was declared an endangered species by the international community. Their current world population is believed to be fewer than 500 animals. This means that without protection, this prehistoric animal that has survived for over 350 million years could be wiped out in our lifetime.

For more information, visit
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Larry the Lamb

If you are familiar with the cartoon or comic 'Shaun the Sheep', then you'll certainly find that this real-life sheep is just like Shaun.

Read it out!

I was lucky enough to grow up in the country with a variety of pets. One of my favourites was a sheep, Larry, who I hand-raised from a tiny, tail-wagging lamb into a big, woolly sheep. We were great mates, and I'd walk him most days after school. I didn't need to lead him or collar him; he'd just walk right to me like a dog.

One day on our stroll, he paused halfway down the drive. I carried on, while Larry calmly stood and watched. As I was about to reach the end of the driveway, I heard a galloping sound behind me. I turned to see Larry heading straight for me at full speed.

Just as he was about to bowl me over, Larry put the brakes on and skidded past with a twinkle in his eye. From that day on, he performed this hilarious act everytime we went for a walk, always managing to just miss me. Who said sheep are dumb?

By: Stacey Tajber
Adapted from Reader's Digest May 2012

P/S: Who said sheep are dumb? Not Me!

Shaun The Sheep: Well,well,well...
(Read from left to right)

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Sneaky Snail


Being the insomniac that I am, sitting up at 3 a.m.,bored with the infomercials on TV, I stepped outside for some fresh air. I noticed a few snails were eating the potted lettuces I'd planted a few days before. Not happy!

Then I had a brainwave. If I could build a small electric fence around my vegie patch, my precious lettuces might be saved. I set to work, using my very basic electronics knowledge to build a primitive fence using a 9V battery, some wire and a resistor. I thought my way might be more humane than laying poison and putting the neighbours' pets at risk. I plucked up 5 snails and put them in a plastic container with a wire wrapped around, attached to my device. I waited as they slowly inched outwards. As they gently touched the wire, they felt a zap and backed off. I'd found the answer! Feeling like a mad scientist, I had illusions of becoming a wealthy man overnight with my brilliant idea, or so I thought.

After observing them for about 2 hours, to my amazement, the snails found a way to foil my plan. One snail lined up just beneath the wire, then another climbed onto his shell, stretching over the wire without getting zapped. It was slow going, but I was dumbfounded that a snail could outsmart me.

P/S: i found this very interesting, as my mother is on constant World War with the snails at my home. hahaha. She always asked how come the snails could climb up stems and was mystified by the loss of a precious flower,where she could not understand how a big snail can climb such a thin stretch of stem. :)

By: Hayden Sherwood
Adapted from Reader's Digest May 2012

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Giant Ray...Surf Underwater

There are stingrays, electric rays, and other rays, and we even eat some of them. Baked, marinated and roasted, cooked, fried, etc. etc. But under the sea, there is one ray that may reach a huge size of about 7.6 metres (25 feet) wide-almost as wide as a hang-glider. This is the Giant Oceanic Manta RayOceanic mantas reside in deepwater, pelagic zones, making periodic visits to cleaning stations at seamounts and coastal reefs. Minimal concrete information exists on oceanic manta movements, but they are generally believed to be more transient and migratory than the smaller reef mantas, which tend to be resident to shallower coastal habitats. Manta rays have the largest brain-to-body ratio of the sharks, rays and skates, with ratios approaching what is expected in mammals rather than in fishes. Manta rays have a distinctive body shape with triangular ‘wings’ and paddle-like lobes extending in front of their mouths. The average disc width is 6.7 metres (22 ft) and the average weight is 1,300 kilograms (2,900 lb) They are generally dark on the upper surface, ranging from black to greyish-blue and brown, with pale undersides; individuals have a unique pattern of blotches and scars that can be used to identify them. The large, cavernous mouth is situated at the front of the body and contains 18 rows of teeth on the lower jaw. (Wikipedia)

Manta rays frequently visit cleaning stations where small fish such as wrasseremora, and angelfish swim in the manta's gills and over its skin to feed, in the process cleaning it of parasites and dead tissue. Like other species in the shark family they must swim to keep from sinking, so their stay at a cleaning station is characterised by slow circuits.
Mantas sometimes breach the surface, launching themselves into the air. The Maldives are a hotspot for plankton and consequently for reef mantas. A population of 6–7,000 is resident throughout the year.
They are often described as "flying" through the water on their large "wings", and individuals have been observed to jump clear out of the water, possibly in a form of communication or play.

Their preys???
Manta rays are bottom feeders and filter feeders. Mantas feed on plankton, fish larvae and the like that they strain from the water passing through their mouths and out of their gills as they swim. They catch their prey on gill rakers, flat plates of russet-colored spongy tissue spanning spaces between the manta's gill bars. An average-sized manta is estimated to consume 20–30 kilograms (44–66 lb) of plankton per day.
Individuals swim in slow vertical loops while feeding, possibly in an effort to concentrate prey items. The fleshy projections on either side of the mouth also funnel prey; when not feeding, these lobes are either furled or closed in front of the mouth. Manta rays are often host to remoras (Remorina spp.), which attach to the underside of larger specimens and consume food that falls from the mouth.
In the Maldives they frequently feed by skimming the surface, but when plankton concentrations are particularly high, hundreds of rays will assemble and form a feeding vortex, sometimes in the company of whale sharks.

The breeding behaviour observed for manta rays is similar to other closely related rays. Copulation occurs near the surface, no deeper than one metre below. It begins with the male chasing the female, for up to half an hour, both often closely followed by a train of hopeful suitors. Such mating trains seem to be triggered by a full moon. The male bites the pectoral fin and then moves its claspers into the cloaca, holding it there for one minute to one and a half while copulation takes place. The developing eggs remain inside the female’s body for possibly as long as 12 months and hatch internally so that she bears live young. The average litter size is two pups, and there is often a two year gap between births.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

World's Most 'Miserable-looking' fish...

Ever heard of a fish looking so miserable? Or even possible, 'human-like'? No? Then you're about to witness a great discovery of a fish with both characteristics,(It's not my discovery,sorry) which has earned this species as the World's Most 'Miserable-looking' Fish! Known to the few who knew of it's existence as the 'Blob fish', it is one of God's bizarre creation...

According to New Straits Times-School Times the blob fish is a rarely seen creature dwelling off the coast of Australian and Tasmania. Why is it rarely seen?

Simple, it is because this fish lives at the bottom of the ocean, around 800 metres deep and the pressure at this depth is 80 times higher than it is at sea level, which is obvious why not many has spotted it before. And most fishes cannot withstand the pressure either. But how does this fish survive at such high pressures?

As I say earlier, this is another of God's bizarre creation. The blob fish body is made up almost entirely of a gelatinous substance, which keeps it from sinking completely since the density of the goo is slightly lower than the density of water. Since the blob fish is mostly muscle, it typically spends its time floating in the same spot, waiting for its next meal to come by. According to scientists, the blob fish has a diet of sea urchins and molluscs, which are highly edible there, and doesn't exert too much effort to capture its prey. Hence, it does not have frequent meals. But this works fine as it does not require a lot of food. It devotes most of its time remaining stationary. Because of this strange behaviour, researches has dubbed it lazy.
How does this fish reproduce???
Well now, that is an interesting question, but as far as I've searched (which is not much but I'll try later), there's no mention on how they reproduce. But I've come across this in the same newspaper, and it says that the female lays thousands of eggs at one go and unlike many other fishes, she will actually stay with the eggs, floating above them and, in some cases, even sitting directly on top of them. The blob fish is known for its nesting habits. It is therefore, unknown, whether this nesting behaviour is for strategic purposes or simply as a result of its 'lazy' nature.

Fun Facts!

When underwater, the blob fish has an almost human and comical face (above pic). This appearance changes if it is taken out of the water, even for a short while. It's gelatinous body will dry out and shrivel. (pic below)

Currently, the blob fish's survival has become a concern, because it is becoming more common for fisherman to accidentally capture it while fishing. It is often being dragged up with the other catches by trawler fishermen. Marine expert Professor Callum Roberts from University of York said "The blob fish had plenty to be miserable about, as they are only restricted to these waters." 
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Monday, May 7, 2012

Dragons, for REAL???

For a long period of time, certain people, especially the Chinese, have believed in the existence of one most-feared, all-wise mythical creature, DRAGONS. They expected a monstrous lizard, scale as hard as steel, completely invincible, with two bat-like wings that may reached meters if spread from tip-to-tip, not to mention the ear-splitting roar and the magnificent fire!

But do dragons really exist??? 
Yes, dragons do exist. Based on the features and all, anyone can see that dragons of the myth may have connection with the reptiles in reality, I mean, anyone can see the resemblance, from the pointed snout to the splayed legs and scaly bodies. But the dragon I'm talking is, sadly-speaking, lack the wings. In fact, they run on all fours and not only that, they are very,very good swimmers! They can swim in the open seas...quite frightening don't you think? So what are these dragons?

It is none other than the one and only KOMODO DRAGON!

Found on only a few Indonesian islands, these lizards could reach up to 3 meters (10 feet) in length and they can weight up to 70kg. These dragons mostly eat dead animals (according to Disney's Children's Encyclopedia) but they can kill deers and wild pigs, and are known to attack humans, if threatened and if they are ravenous.

Discovered 100 years ago by a plane-crashed pilot, these world's largest lizards, despite their enormous features, can run very fast with a speed up to 12 mph (about 20 km/h) and even more when they hunt! They usually look slow, but in an instant could reach a maximum speed! They attack running subjects and may hurt humans, but they DO NOT eat humans.

How do they REPRODUCE???

About between 15 to 30 eggs is layed by a single female, and the eggs will stay put during incubation period of 8 to 9 months. Like every reptile, the birth is a very critical moment, as the babies are helpless and fragile, and there are many predators about. These babies measure about 30 cm long, and will sexually mature around 6 to 10 years old.

Funny fact is, cannibalism is common thing among these lizards. The old ones always try to 'do-in' the younger ones, or devour them, so the little dragons have to climb up a tree and hide. Generally the young ones is green with stripes to help them hide. They survive on insects, eggs and birds and when they are old enough to fight and survive to the bigger Komodo dragons, they will go down and change their diet to bigger animals.

However,recently, researches have found out that the females are Parthenogenesis, which is a form of asexual reproduction. Which means, the female is completely able to reproduced without having to mate.

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