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WebClawer: Immortal jellyfish, chimps' male bonding, update on Temecula puppies

January 28, 2009 |  2:16 pm

Chimps From chimp BFFs to immortal hydrozoans to a jury trial for a pet pig, the Web is rife with animal news and oddities today. The stories that captivated us:

-- Male bonding: It's not just for humans anymore. A decade-long study by University of Michigan primatologist John Mitani shows, he says, that almost all adult male chimpanzees form lasting friendships with other males. "As with human friendship, the strongest bonds seemed to be based on mutual respect. Chimpanzees that groomed each other for roughly equal amounts of times tended to stay friends longer." (New Scientist)

-- The Turritopsis nutricula, a type of hydrozoan (a class related to jellyfish), is the only known animal that can revert to its juvenile form after reaching adulthood. The Turritopsis nutricula is native to the Carribbean but has spread all over the world -- and marine biologists say its numbers are growing with alarming rapidity because, at least hypothetically, members of the species are "immortal." Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute biologist Maria Miglietta said, "We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion." (Telegraph)

-- A South Carolina woman who disputes the county government's ruling that her pet pig, Wiggly, is in fact livestock and may not be kept in her suburban backyard, has requested a jury trial in the case. "[The pig's owner, Deborah Leask], who found Wiggly on the side of a road about three years ago ... contends that her pig is a pet. Leask has said the pig should not be considered livestock because she is not raising the pig for food or making a profit from the animal." (Myrtle Beach Sun News)

-- Last week, Riverside County authorities found more than 200 dogs and cats at the home of Temecula resident Elisao Jimenez. Most of the animals were considered feral and were euthanized, but nine puppies rescued from the scene are reportedly doing well in foster care.  They're only 6 weeks old, so they'll be kept in foster care for another few weeks until they're of adoptable age. No charges have yet been filed in the case, said John Hall, a spokesman with the district attorney's office, but Jimenez is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 23.  (Riverside Press-Enterprise)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

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