Month: November 2017

Raccoons in Pre-History

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Well, it’s almost Thanksgiving, so a story combining raccoons and turkey seems appropriate. Much more so than some recipe for roasted raccoon for Thanksgiving dinner. Anyway, it turns out that paleontology delivered up just the right thing for the season! The gist of it is that once upon a time, roughly 126 million years ago, there were critters called sinosauropteryx. Roughly the size of a modern turkey, about four feet in length and weighing a dozen pounds, these animals were covered in a frizzy coat of feathers that featured a ringed tale and masked eyes. Of course, evolutionary speaking, dinosaurs became modern birds, so this creature would have no relation to the lovable modern mammals. That being the case, the similar characteristics are examples of convergent evolution. The striping is a means of disrupting predators’ ability to perceive the animals in grassy areas and the “mask” is to reduce glare. Interestingly, they were able to determine these characteristics because the darker feathers were actually preserved in the fossil record, due to the extra melanin they contained. The first fossils of these animals were found in 1996, which strikes me as weird because the revelation that dinosaurs were feathered seemed like a more recent development to me.

Source: The New York Times

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Raccoon’s Wild Ride

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Recently in Colorado Springs, CO, a raccoon hitched a ride on a police van as it was speeding to respond to an accident.  It’s unclear how he got there, apparently leaping onto the windshield from out of nowhere. Did he fall on from a tree limb above? Jump from the side of the road at the windshield? Materialize out of thin air using arcane woodland powers? The driver had to pull over to let the raccoon scramble off before proceeding to location of the crash, but not before snapping a couple of pictures of, one would imagine, a very terrified little critter splatted against the glass. (In all fairness, the pictures was probably taken automatically by a dashcam.) However, since raccoons are commonly considered bandits, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little racial … er … species? profiling going on. Although leaping at a police vehicle in transit is a little sketchy.

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Source: Denver Post