As the “Sunshine State,” Florida has a well-earned reputation as a land of beaches, subtropical weather, competitive pro sports teams, and being host to the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
However, the state also has earned notoriety as being hurricane-prone, deeply conservative, and swimming with zany stories about the mythical “Florida man.” More importantly, Florida is also a land of geographic diversity where people frequently rub shoulders with the region’s wildlife – and especially its massive crocodiles and alligators.
Such was the case on Thursday when a humongous alligator was spotted jaunting through a golf course in the southwest Florida city of Naples, treating the green like its very own personal lawn.
The shocking video of the Jurassic-sized gator was captured at the Valencia Golf and Country Club, and shows the reptilian predator waddling through the grassy field in an uber casual manner before plunging into the water.
The video footage and captured stills of the massive beast quickly made the rounds on the internet, with many comparing the Florida native to a monster or even a dinosaur. And let’s be honest, these humongous crocodilians aren’t too dissimilar from their extinct ancestors.
Many online users also expressed doubt over whether the images were real or were Photoshopped, mainly due to the mammoth size of the tremendous creatures.
“HUGE FLORIDA GATOR! Yep, this monster is real,” tweeted Matt Devitt, a meteorologist at WINK News.
“That’s no gator. That’s a walking, living dinosaur,” replied one user.
“I’ve seen some huge gators in Naples but seeing one taking a stroll like that is quite a sight,” tweeted another user.
A third commenter captured our mood perfectly by replying with a GIF of the iconic scene from Jurassic Park where young protagonist Lex trembles with fear at the sight of the dinos while appropriately holding a spoonful of jiggling, bright-green jello.
While Florida is the natural habitat of American alligators – with an estimated 2 million wild gators living in the state – humans have every reason to feel awestruck and even fearful of the creatures.
The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) can grow to about 10 feet long – roughly the length of two grand pianos – and is frequently involved in terrifying cases of property damage, and can easily hurt or even kill people who fail to exercise caution around the native gators.
While alligators frequently try their best to steer clear of people, and the likelihood of a Florida resident being injured in an unprovoked gator attack is about one in 2.4 million, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
However, wild alligators have been known to aggressively pursue their human neighbors.
Don’t assume that alligators are slow-pokes, either – with speeds of up to 35 mph, gators can easily make lunch of even gold medal-winning runners like Usain Bolt, whose maximum speed is a comparatively plodding 28 mph.
“Never make the mistake of thinking that an alligator is slow and lethargic,” the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department warns. “Alligators are extremely quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered.”
In general, experts recommend that people who encounter the animals should make a mad dash to flee. And if the creature does bite you, fight like your life depends on it.
In fact, a golf club – perhaps a nine-iron, wedge, or putter – could be ideal for whacking an alligator in before making your escape!
Megalodon Fossils Show How Biggest-Ever Shark Had Nurseries All Over the World
The massive megalodon, the largest shark to ever roam the seas, had their own nursery areas all over the globe that allowed the apex predators to raise their young and populate the world prior to their extinction.
A new study, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, reveals that nurseries belonging to the massive creatures have been found in across vast geographic distances where fossils belonging to both young and old megalodons were discovered.
The five likely nurseries include sites off Spain’s east coast, two off the coast of the United States, and two in Panama.
Megalodon (Otodus megalodon), whose name means “large tooth,” lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago until it went extinct during a period of global cooling. For 13 million years, the megalodon was the king of the sea.
The megalodon was not only the largest shark in the world, but also the biggest fish – and quite possibly the most powerful predator – to ever exist. Its teeth alone measured 18 centimeters long, and evidence shows that it could have grown to reach up to 60 feet in length.
However, because megalodon bodies were mostly comprised of cartilage – which cannot fossilize – the shark’s teeth, vertebrae and fossilized feces have been the main way researchers have calculated the shark’s body measurements.
The existence of the nurseries shows that young megalodon were still quite susceptible to attacks by other predators.
To keep the young megalodon safe, their shark parents would give birth to their young in shallow, warm water nurseries located near coastlines. In these special regions, juvenile megalodon were able to access their prey while facing few dangers from rival predators.
“Our analyses support the presence of five potential nurseries ranging from the Langhian (middle Miocene) to the Zanclean (Pliocene), with higher densities of individuals with estimated body lengths within the typical range of neonates and young juveniles,” the scientists wrote in the abstract for the study.
“These results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by O. megalodon over large temporal and spatial scales, reducing early mortality and playing a key role in maintaining viable adult populations,” the authors added.
The nurseries were ideal sites that allowed young megalodons to mature into adults in a process that took about 25 years.
Experts investigated 25 teeth belonging to megalodon that were found in the Reverté and Vidal regions in Tarragona, Spain. The study led to the conclusion that these locations were filled with sharks that had body lengths consistent with the normal range of newborns and young juveniles, measuring 13 feet in length for one-month-old sharks to 36 feet in length for older juveniles.
A separate study released in September found that a 52.5-foot-long adult megalodon had heads that measure up to 15.3 feet long, with dorsal fins measuring about 5.3 feet tall and tails reaching 12.6 feet. To put this into perspective, an adult human could stand on a shark’s back and be roughly the same height as the dorsal fin.
The study’s findings also reveal that the shark’s reliance on nurseries likely played a role in their demise, when the world cooled near the end of the Pliocene period and sea levels declined.
“Ultimately, the presumed reliance of O. megalodon on the presence of suitable nursery grounds might have also been determinant in the demise of this iconic top predatory shark,” the authors of the study noted.
Minks Infected With Mutated Covid “Rise From Their Graves” After Being Killed in Mass Culling
If you thought that this year couldn’t get any weirder, now we can add covid infected minks rising from their graves to the list of strange 2020 happenings. The minks that appeared to rise from the dead had been infected with a mutated strain of COVID-19 in Denmark.
A Danish police spokesman, Thomas Kristensen, urged local residents to stay calm, and explained that these minks are not actually zombies. Kristensen said that gasses in the decay process sometimes cause the bodies to move.
“As the bodies decay, gases can be formed. This causes the whole thing to expand a little. In this way, in the worst cases, the mink get pushed out of the ground,” Kristensen said, according to the Guardian.
Another issue is the fact that the animals were placed in shallow graves because the process was rushed. The graves were just over three feet deep, which allowed some witnesses to see the movement. Now officials are planning to order the graves to be dug twice as deep.
“This is a natural process. Unfortunately, one metre of soil is not just one metre of soil –it depends on what type of soil it is. The problem is that the sandy soil in West Jutland is too light. So we have had to lay more soil on top,” Kristensen said.
Regardless of the scientific explanation, the incident has sparked plenty of conversation on social media.
Local residents shared photos and videos of the bodies coming out of the ground to social media with captions like “the year of the zombie mutant killer mink” and “run … The mink are coming for you.”
Kristensen warned that anyone who might see a shallow mink grave should stay away because there is still a small risk of infection. Even though the minks had been disinfected before being buried, there is still a chance that the virus can be passed on to a person.
He said that it could be possible that “small quantities of bacteria may still be trapped in their fur” adding that it is “never healthy to get close to dead animals, so therefore this is of course something to stay away from.”
Sadly, the country plans to kill all 15 million minks that live in the country. The country is reportedly responsible for producing 40% of the world’s mink fur. The country’s mink farmers have culled more than 10 million mink so far, according to the latest numbers.
The mink burial grounds will also be monitored around the clock, and they are working to put a fence up around the area. Still, despite these security measures, some officials are concerned that the burial grounds are too close to local water sources, which could potentially put the water supply at risk. Some officials, such as two mayors in the region, are suggesting that the corpses of the minks be burned.
As of Wednesday, Denmark has reported more than 74,000 COVID-19 cases and 800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
World’s Only White Giraffe Gets GPS Tracker After Poachers Killed His Family
The only known white giraffe in the world has been fitted with a tracking device to keep poachers away after its entire family was killed.
The unique creature has an extremely rare genetic trait known as leucism, which results in its white color. Unlike albinism, the loss of pigmentation is partial. However, the unusual coloration makes the animal desirable to unscrupulous poachers seeking a rare find in the wilderness.
The giraffe is currently staying at the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in southeast Kenya. Earlier this month, conservationists fitted one of his horns with a GPS tracking device to ensure its survival, reports the BBC.
Conservationists say that the giraffe is the last of its kind that exists in the world, and have expressed concern that poachers could come to kill him after his two family members were killed in March.
The two relatives, a female and a seven-month-old calf with similar white skin, were found dead in a conservation zone in Garissa County in northeast Kenya, a large unfenced area where the male giraffe resides.
The three white giraffes had been “an immense source of pride in the Ishaqbini community” and garnered international attention over the years, the trust said in a Tuesday statement.
“The giraffe’s grazing range has been blessed with good rains in the recent past and the abundant vegetation bodes well for the future of the white male,” said Mohammed Ahmednoor, the manager of the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy.
The nonprofit group added that the tracking device would allow conservationists to see hourly updates on the whereabouts of the giraffe, granting rangers the ability to “keep the unique animal safe from poachers.”
The Kenya Wildlife Society, the main conservationist group overseeing the plight of wild animals in the eastern African nation, said that it was happy to assist any efforts on the ground to safeguard “unique wildlife like the only known white giraffe.”
The extremely rare creature was first spotted in March 2016, roughly two months after a reported sighting in neighboring Tanzania.
White giraffes appeared in world headlines one year later after the mother and her calf were caught on camera at the Garissa County conservancy.
Giraffes are native to over 15 African countries and are the world’s tallest mammals, reaching heights exceeding 18 feet. They primarily reside in savanna and woodland habitats, and subsist on a diet that includes flowers, fruits, leaves, and stems.
However, giraffes are coveted by poachers for their meat, skin, and body parts.
Around 40 percent of the giraffe population has been lost in the last 30 years, with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) blaming poaching and wildlife tracking for the precipitous decline. Fortunately, many giraffe populations enjoy various degrees of legal protection and are the focus of conservation efforts in their range states.
There are over 68,000 giraffes across the world, according to the foundation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List classifies the species as vulnerable, with one of the main threats to the animal coming from poaching as well as habitat loss due to uncontrolled mining and land conversion.
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