Video: The Wild Life

Ahead of our Season 2 releases, we wanted to put together a video to tell you who we are, what we do, where we are going, and to say #ThankYouPatrons to our supporters on Patreon.com.

The Wild Life is viewer, reader, and listener supported. If you believe in what we are doing, you can become a patron at www.patreon.com/TheWildLife

Be on the lookout for new podcast episodes on SoundCloud and iTunes, and other new content!

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#SundayFishSketch Xiphactinus

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!


Meet the Xiphactinus

Extinct Genus

of the

Late Cretaceous

Fossil Xiphactinus audax
Fossil Xiphactinus audax, at the Natural History Museum of Geneva.


The Xiphactinus, meaning sword ray, roamed the seas of the Late Cretaceous between 100.5 and 66 million years ago. A time when the world was a much different place, though the continents were orienting themselves in much more familiar ways, whose end was marked by one of the most violent mass extinction events of all time—the very one that wiped out the dinosaurs and the Xiphactinus alike (a topic we will be discussing in the season two finale of the podcast!). The Cretaceous is named for the white chalk cliffs of Europe like those of Dover we highlighted in season one podcast episode entitled The Air We Breathe.

LateCretaceousMap
Earth during the cretaceous

The Xiphanctinus were gargantuan, at between 15 and 20 feet in length and 1,000 pounds in weight, and formidable predators with huge mouths and razor sharp teeth. In fact, many of the discovered fossils have contained secondary fossils of undigested fish within their stomachs. One such fossil is the specimen at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas, entitled “Fish within a fish”. A photo is shown below. Many of the fossils of this genus have been discovered in places like Kansas, which may seem peculiar considering it’s landlocked, but much of what is now the midwest was entirely submerged beneath what was then the Western Interior Sea.

Xiphactinus audax Sternberg Museum

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Ichthyodectiformes
Family Ichthyodectidae
Genus/Species Xiphactinus

#SundayFishSketch Banded Scuplin

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!


Meet the Banded Scuplin

Cottus carolinae

Banded sculpin

The banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae) is a mottled brown freshwater fish with dark vertical bands native to swift moving streams of the eastern United States where they dine on insects, various larvae, and occasionally, though sparingly, on other smaller fish or crustaceans. Though they sometimes eat other fish–even other sculpin–they are more commonly eaten by other fish such as trout.

As you can likely tell by the photo above, the banded sculpin has exceptional camouflage. Even more impressive, their coloration and banding pattern varies depending on their environment. They take shelter in rocks, sometimes having to compete against a surprisingly worthy foe—crayfish.

In the early spring, after the water reaches about 50 degrees triggering a biological shift in the sculpin, the spawning season begins. Sculpins beginning at 2 years of age (which is middle aged for them) find mates and breed, with the females laying eggs in clumps protected by rocks and the males standing (floating?) guard.

Unfortunately for the scuplin, their habitat is under threat. Higher concentrations of metal in streams associated with mining operations have been shown to result in lower local sculpin densities among other negative impacts. Increased stream pollution and sedimentation from agricultural sources also have immense negative impacts on the sculpin. At the moment, the sculpin isn’t under significant threat, at least not warranting listing by the IUCN, but changes in human activity and pollution prevention are going to be needed to ensure the banded sculpins long term survival.

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Scorpaeniformes
Family Cottidae
Genus/Species Cottus carolinae

NatureServe 2013. Cottus carolinaeThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T202656A15362223. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T202656A15362223.en. Downloaded on 11 November 2018.

19 Creepy Critters and Monster Themed Animals That Will Get You In The Halloween Spirit

Halloween may already be near its end, but if you’re having trouble getting in the ghoulish spirit ahead of trick or treating or the witching hour, check out these 19 creepy critters and monster themed animals to help you be more David S Pumpkins and less David S No-Fun-kins. Instead of the normal explanatory captions, I’m opting for as little detail as possible. After all, the unknown is most terrifying of all!

27667875204_15928d5a12_o.jpg

1. Vampire Squid

While the squid isn’t particularly scary, its name sure is…sort of.

Halloween pennant j

2. Halloween Pennant

Not scary, but Halloween-y!

Death's-head Hawkmoth (6282798385)

3. Death’s Head Hawkmoth

Named of course for the skull like mark on its back.

Yeti crab

4. Yeti Crab

Both named after a monster, and sorta creepy!

reticulate-gila-monster-86618_1920

5. Gila Monster

Okay, again, not really creepy, but it’s got the word monster in its name!

Mitsu

6. Goblin Shark

Finally, a creepy one.

Mormoops megalophylla

7. Ghost Faced Bat

But now we’re back to the “not creepy, but merely named after a monster” category…

Skeleton Shrimp 1

8. Skeleton Shrimp

Same here…

Vampire bat allogrooming

9. Vampire Bat

And again…unless you do find them scary?

Halloween crab

10. Halloween Crab

Still…not scary

Pliocercus euryzonus

11. Black Halloween Snake

You get the point

Petromyzon-marinus2_FWS.jpg

12. Sea Lamprey

And we’re back! Look at those teeth and try not to shiver!

Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis

13. Purple Frog

Creepy, purple, and just purely unsettling.

Frilled shark head2

14. Frilled Shark

No frills on this one, just spookiness.

Wild aye aye

15. Aye-Aye

Okay, it might just be me, but Aye-Aye’s are terrifying.

Tufteddeer-2

16. Tufted Deer

This doesn’t even look real…but it is! *muwahahaha*

Macrocheira kaempferi

17. Japanese Spider Crab

Nope.

Red-lipped Bat fish
18. Red Lipped Batfish

NOPE.

Amphiprion clarkii - Cymothoa exigua (28999213532)

19. Tongue-Eating Louse

Look closely into the mouth of the clownfish, and be afraid.

Where We’ve Been

This isn’t my typical blog post. No wildlife, fish sketches, or hiking anecdotes. This is an explanation for my recent sparsity in writing.

For those of you who don’t know, I decided to go back to school in January of 2018 to work towards a second bachelors/teaching license for Life Sciences for grades 9-12. This summer break, I was able to write quite freely. Even last spring allowed for ample time to share at least a weekly tidbit about earths creatures. This semester however, my final before student teaching in the spring, has been nothing short of chaotic with 24 hour days consisting of 36 hours of to-do’s. So, I haven’t been able to post as much as usual. Neither has my wife, aka @teacherwhohikes, who is also swamped with life as a high school English teacher.

All of that being said, the second season of the podcast is still under works. In fact, Richard will be in Minnesota next week when we will be recording several of the episodes. Despite the flurry of things impossible to name and categorize in any coherent manner blowing in our faces at all times as of late, we have carved out time to work on research, interviews, writing, and production work for what is guaranteed to be an astonishingly better second act of what was an admittedly okay-ish first season. We’re tackling topics from dinosaur extinctions and life on other planets, to secret military operations and the absurdity of jellyfish. It’s going to be epic.

As far as writing goes, expect more from me as the weeks roll on and I gain my composure enough to sit down for a brief moment to share observations and facts about life in the natural world. I’ve also been leading nature hikes and programs at a local park, the next of which will be on 10/27 as an in person version of the Twilight Zone episode of season 1. If you live any where near central MN, you should come on by.

Before I get back to the nightly grind that is my study and try-to-stay-sane time, I want to put out a call to anyone (naturalist, hikers, biologist, or every day people-ers) who would be interested in joining the writing team for The Wild Life. Not paid or anything like that, but simply and importantly a contributing or guest writer. If you are interested, even for just one post, email me at devonlbowker@gmail.com

With that, I say “good night”.

Except not for me. I’ll be up for awhile.

P.S. In a shameless plug, please remember that The Wild Life is listener, reader, and viewer supported. If you believe in what we are doing, you can show your support by becoming a patron here. Any amount truly helps us to do what we do. It helps remind us that the work is worth it, allow us to take the time to do the research and interviews (which is incredibly time consuming, I might add. For real, one episode takes at least 20 hours of research, emailing, calling, and interviewing to prepare for.), and allows us to fund the website (about $300 per year) and podcast expenses (equipment upgrades, editing resources, etc). If you choose to become a patron, I will love you always—plus you get perks and merch.