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WebClawer: Cow survives lightning strike, giant prehistoric snake discovered, PETA vs. Armani

February 4, 2009 |  3:58 pm

Catalinafox From Southern California foxes to Australian cows to giant prehistoric snakes, it's a wild day for animal news:

  • The Catalina Island fox, a subspecies found only on Catalina whose population plummeted from its usual 1,300 to about 100 in 1999, is rebounding at a rate so robust that biologists may seek to have it removed from the federal endangered species list next year.  A recent count found 784 of the small animals, whose numbers were decimated following an outbreak of distemper.  The Catalina Island Conservancy and the Institute for Wildlife Studies launched a recovery program in 1999 that included vaccinations and a captive breeding facility.  The foxes were listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2004.  L.A. Times
  • A cow who is believed to have been struck by lightning in the Australian state of Queensland survived the ordeal -- and a newspaper has the photos to prove it.  It appears that the lightning strike entered the cow through its front legs and exited through its hind legs.  "Cows are susceptible to lightning strikes because of both sets of legs being on the ground, and they're eating grass from where electricity is conducted from the strike so it is possible it happened but, more often than not, cows die from it," said Jon Nott, a professor of geosciences at James Cook University.  Cairns Post
  • Researchers excavating a South American coal mine found the fossilized remains of the Titanoboa cerrejonensis, a prehistoric snake estimated to be 43 feet long and as heavy as a Volkswagen Beetle.  It's believed that the huge reptile ate other huge reptiles like giant turtles and primitive crocodiles.  "This is amazing. It challenges everything we know about how big a snake can be," said herpetologist Jack Conrad of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  L.A. Times
  • In a full-page advertisement in the Hollywood trade magazine Variety, PETA struck out at Giorgio Armani for incorporating fur into his designs.  The ad dubs the designer "Pinocchio Armani" for, according to PETA, breaking a promise not to design with fur -- and it's accompanied by an image of Armani with the famous puppet's elongated nose.  The ad begs Hollywood stars, "Until Mr. Armani makes good on his promise, please choose somebody else's clothes to wear to this year's Academy Awards."  All the Rage

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Catalina Island Conservancy

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