Key Points This eagle was one of the largest and heaviest birds to ever exist, weighing up to 37 pounds and measuring four feet long, with a nine to ten-foot wingspan. Their feeding tactics were similar to a vulture. Bald eagles reach up to 14 pounds and measure three feet long, with a seven-foot wingspan. The bald eagle is incredibly powerful and one of the largest birds on earth. They soar the skies with their long, broad wings and use their forceful talons (ten times stronger than a human’s grip) to lift animals up to four pounds. And while these stats are impressive for modern birds, did you know there was an eagle three times the size of a bald eagle? Discover everything there is to know about the Haast’s eagle, including its size, abilities, and how it went extinct.
The Haast’s eagle is a giant extinct species of eagle endemic to the South Island of New Zealand. It soared among prehistoric fauna from sea level to the subalpine zone and was one of the top predators in terrestrial South Island ecosystems. There is evidence that the Haast’s eagle survived and evolved through multiple ice ages but went extinct around 500 to 600 years ago.
This eagle is unique as its feeding tactics were closer to a vulture’s, and it possessed a beak similar to an Andean condor’s. These giant eagles primarily hunted moa, an extinct group of large flightless birds. They had a specialized hunting technique where it would fly into the back of the moa’s legs before crushing the skull with its immense talons. It would then use its condor-like bill to devour the internal organs from the body cavity.
Bald eagles hunt much smaller prey, but they swoop from a high perch similar to the Haast’s eagle. Bald eagles swoop down, using their talon to snatch prey like fish and small rodents before constricting them.
How Large Was the Haast’s Eagle? The Haast’s eagle is the largest and heaviest eagle to ever exist, weighing up to 37 pounds and measuring four feet long, with a nine to ten-foot wingspan. This enormous eagle had a bill larger than any living vulture and claws bigger than a tiger’s. Their main prey was moa, which could easily topple 12 feet high and weigh over 500 pounds! While the Haast’s eagle couldn’t necessarily fly off with a moa, they could use their sharp, powerful talons to rip through flesh and crush bone.
In comparison, the biggest of the bald eagles can only reach up to 14 pounds and measure three feet long, with a seven-foot wingspan. They typically eat fish, carrion, and small animals. But bald eagles have also been known to devour deer, pronghorns, and calves.
Could a Haast’s Eagle Pick Up a Human? The Maori, indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, made cave drawings of giant eagles and described them through oral traditions. Based on their oral records, Haast’s eagles were known for attacking human children. While there is no concrete evidence that these eagles ate humans, researchers believe that the tales of Haast’s eagles swooping down on humans in the mountains may be true. They were fierce predators, capable of killing prey much bigger than they were.
As for bald eagles, there is no record of them flying off with or killing a human, including small children. At most, the bald eagle may be capable of snatching tiny dogs or cats.
We don’t know exactly why the Haast’s eagle went extinct but humans are most likely to blame. Humans overhunted its moa prey into extinction and burned its dry forests and shrublands. Apart from a decline in their prey species and a loss of habitat, Haast’s eagles were also hunted by locals, and their bones were made into tools.
Could it Still Exist Today? The Haast’s eagle would most likely not be alive today. The moa was their main food source, and they could not survive without them. These eagles went extinct around 1400 AD shortly after humans arrived on the islands, and have not been seen since.
It’s hard to know what is going through this gorilla’s mind. Is he being playful? Is he being aggressive? Is he just curious? Whatever is going on, it’s a good job that there is a thick pane of glass between the animal and the humans otherwise there would have been some serious injuries!
Gorilla Bouncing off the Glass From the commentary on this video, it sounds as if the family who captured this footage are frequent visitors to Omaha Zoo. The zoo has created the Hubbard Gorilla Valley which has allowed them to become a major partner in gorilla conservation. The gorilla enclosure includes some complex climbing structures and tree limbs providing plenty of enrichment opportunities. This allows the gorillas to investigate and forage and gives them a chance to use their problem-solving skills as they would in the wild. There are also waterfalls and streams to provide constant movement in the environment.
There are windows at eye-level so you come literally face-to-face with the gorillas. When the lady in the bright pink sweatshirt turned her back on the gorilla, it was if he was trying to get her attention by taking a flying leap at the glass. Three times!
Gorillas are mainly vegetarian
Gorillas Living in the Wild Gorillas are the biggest primate in the world and share 98 percent of their DNA with we humans. There are actually four different subspecies of gorillas. Silverback is not a name of a subspecies. It is a way of describing adult, male gorillas that from 12 years old, develop a silver section of hair over their back and hips.
These amazing animals are not violent or aggressive most of the time, in fact they are quite shy.
Even though they are four times as strong as a human and can bend an iron bar with their bare hands, they are mainly vegetarian (although some eat insects). They like to eat leaves, bamboo shoots and fruit. These animals can eat as much as 40 pounds of plant matter per day! Their diet changes with the season and they use their dexterous hands to pick up what they need. You can see the gorilla in this video doing exactly this.
Notes from Daniel J Benoit………. From all non human primates Gorillas have always fascinated me for a number of reasons.
In their own environment in the wild they are a very social species like all other primates both Human and Non Human. They work together in groups/Clans. There’s a lot we can learn from our Non Human Primates if we read, study, and observe them with their behaviors and actions. Everything we contribute or associate to Bigfoot occurs with The various Species of Non Human Primates……. Daniel J Benoit
A concept image of a Bigfoot silhouette walking through a forest. (Image credit: David Wall via Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, is a giant ape-like creature that some people believe roams North America. It is a cryptid(opens in new tab) (or species rumored to exist)and just like the Chupacabra or Loch Ness monster(opens in new tab), there’s scant physical evidence to suggest Bigfoot is actually out there. But that doesn’t stop alleged sightings of the ape that never shows its face or Bigfoot buffs from trying to prove there’s life in the legend.
Most Bigfoot sightings occur in the Northwest, where the creature can be linked to Indigenous myths and legends. The word Sasquatch is derived from Sasq’ets, a word from the Halq’emeylem language used by some Salish First Nations peoples in southwestern British Columbia, according to the Oregon Encyclopedia(opens in new tab). It means “wild man” or “hairy man.”
WHAT STARTED THE BIGFOOT PHENOMENON? A still image or grainy video alleged to be of Bigfoot taken northeast of Eureka, California in 1967
Alleged image of Bigfoot, taken northeast of Eureka, California in 1967. (Image credit: Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images) (opens in new tab) As early as 1884, the British Colonist newspaper in Victoria, Canada published an account of a “gorilla type” creature captured in the area. Other accounts, largely decried as hoaxes, followed, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia(opens in new tab). Sasquatch book author John Green compiled a list of 1,340 sightings through the 19th and 20th centuries. But the modern Bigfoot or Sasquatch myth gained new life in the late 1950s.
In 1958, the Humboldt Times, a local newspaper in Northern California, published a story about the discovery of giant, mysterious footprints near Bluff Creek, California. In the story, they referred to the creature that made them as “Bigfoot”, according to Smithsonian Magazine(opens in new tab). Bigfoot curiosity grew rapidly during the second half of the 20th century, after an article in True magazine(opens in new tab), published in December 1959, described the 1958 discovery.
RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU… The footprints near Bluff Creek were a prank by a man called Ray Wallace, his children revealed after his death in 2002, according to Smithsonian Magazine. By that time, though, Bigfoot was firmly established in popular culture across the continent. Since the 1958 article was published, a wealth of other claims have been made about Sasquatch tracks, casts, photos, videos, and other “evidence.”
BIGFOOT SIGHTINGS A blurry image of a supposed Bigfoot sighting
There have been more than 10,000 eyewitness accounts of Bigfoot in the continental U.S. in the last 50 years, Live Science reported(opens in new tab) in 2019. In these accounts, Bigfoot is usually described as being about 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) tall and covered in hair.
Eyewitness reports, or sightings, are the most common evidence put forward for the existence of Bigfoot. Unfortunately, these are based on human memories, and memories are not reliable, Live Science previously reported(opens in new tab). In crime cases, for example, witnesses can be influenced by their emotions and may miss or distort important details. In the same vein, people also often overestimate their ability to remember things. When it comes to cryptids like Bigfoot, the human brain is capable of making up explanations for events it can’t immediately interpret, and many people simply want to believe they exist, Live Science previously reported(opens in new tab).
BIGFOOT VIDEO AND PHOTOGRAPHS
The most famous Bigfoot video is a short film taken in 1967 by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, known as the “Patterson–Gimlin film,” or “Patterson film.” Shot in Bluff Creek, the video shows what appears to be a large and hairy bipedal ape, or Bigfoot, striding through a clearing. The video’s authenticity is still debated but it was likely a hoax, with the ape-like figure just a human wearing a costume.
With the rise of high-quality cameras in smartphones, photographs of people, cars, mountains, flowers, sunsets, deer and more have gotten sharper and clearer over the years; Bigfoot is a notable exception. The logical explanation for this discrepancy is that the creatures don’t exist, and that photographs of them are merely hoaxes or misidentifications. HOAXES are more popular, however the average enthusiast or believers are more blind to this and accept anything because their mind and imagination controls what is real today.
AUDIO RECORDINGS A bigfoot-hunter attempts to record calls from Bigfoot
Some people claim to have heard Bigfoot shrieks(opens in new tab), howls, growls, screams or other vocalizations. The creatures are also associated with other noises, such as wood-knocking, according to Scientific American(opens in new tab). Strange noise recordings associated with Bigfoot occasionally attract media attention but the noises can often be attributed to known animals, such as foxes, coyotes, Owls etc….DJB
Experts can’t always identify the exact animal in strange recordings that cryptozoologists, people who search for creatures rumored to exist, point to as Bigfoot evidence. In 2019, for example, a YouTube video(opens in new tab) of mysterious howls and screams in a forest in northwestern Ontario, Canada went viral, driving Bigfoot speculation. Jolanta Kowalski, Ontario’s Ministry of Resources and Forestry media relations officer, told Vice News(opens in new tab) at the time: “Our biologists say it could be a larger mammal–for example a wolf–but because it’s a considerable distance from the recorder there is no way to know for sure.”
The late anthropologist Grover Krantz investigated sound recordings claimed to be of Bigfoot for his book “Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry Into the Reality of Sasquatch(opens in new tab)” (Johnson Books, 1992). He listened to at least 10 tapes and found “no compelling reason to believe that any of them are what the recorders claimed them to be,” Live Science previously reported.
ELUSIVE HARD EVIDENCE Dr. Grover Krantz, physical anthropologist at Washington State University, displays casts of supposed Sasquatch footprints
Grover Krantz, physical anthropologist at Washington State University, displays casts of supposed Sasquatch footprints (Image credit: Bettmann via Getty Images) There is no hard evidence for the existence of Bigfoot. Krantz, the anthropologist who investigated sound recordings, also discussed alleged Bigfoot hair, feces, skin scrapings and blood in his “Big Footprints” book. “The usual fate of these items is that they either receive no scientific study, or else the documentation of that study is either lost or unobtainable,” he wrote. “In most cases where competent analyses have been made, the material turned out to be bogus or else no determination could be made.”
When alleged Bigfoot samples are subject to vigorous scientific analysis, they typically turn out to be from ordinary sources. For example, in 2014, a team of researchers led by the late geneticist Bryan Sykes from the University of Oxford in England, conducted genetic analysis on 36 hair samples claimed to belong to Bigfoot or the Yeti(opens in new tab) — a similar ape-like creature said to exist in the Himalayas. Almost all of the hairs turned out to be from known animals such as cows, raccoons(opens in new tab), deer and humans. However, two of the samples closely matched an extinct Paleolithic polar bear(opens in new tab), Live Science previously reported(opens in new tab). These samples may have come from an unknown bear species or a hybrid of modern bears, but they were from a bear, not a primate.
Related: Bigfoot’s FBI file reveals strange story of a monster hunter and 15 mysterious hairs(opens in new tab)
The study of genetics(opens in new tab) provides another reason to doubt the existence of Bigfoot. A single creature can’t breed and maintain a population, much less a species. For Bigfoot to be viable, it would need to have a population, or populations, large enough to avoid inbreeding and low genetic diversity,(opens in new tab) or else face extinction.
The existence of multiple Bigfoot increases the chances that one would be killed by a hunter or hit by a motorist on a highway, or even found dead (by accident, disease, or old age) by a hiker or farmer at some point, yet no bodies have ever been found. People do occasionally claim to find bones or other large body parts. For example, a man in Utah discovered what he thought was a fossilized Bigfoot skull in 2013. A paleontologist confirmed that the “skull” was simply an oddly weathered rock, Live Science previously reported(opens in new tab).
BIGFOOT HOAXES Bigfoot hoaxers(opens in new tab) have further complicated the problem of sorting Sasquatch fact from fiction. Dozens of people have admitted or been found out to have faked Bigfoot prints, photographs, and nearly every other type of Bigfoot evidence. One prominent example is Ray Wallace, whose family revealed he was responsible for the footprints near Bluff Creek in 1958. An even earlier example is the late Rant Mullens, who was a logger in Toledo, Washington. In 1982, he admitted to carving giant feet out of wood and using them to make fake tracks with the help of a friend in the 1920s, The Chronicle(opens in new tab), a Washington newspaper, reported in 2007. This built on the legend of ape-like men decades before Wallace’s footprints helped make Bigfoot a phenomenon.
There are also 21st century examples of Bigfoot hoaxes. In 2008, two men from Georgia claimed to have a complete, frozen Bigfoot specimen that they found on a hike. Their Bigfoot turned out to be a gorilla(opens in new tab) costume, Reuters(opens in new tab) reported in 2008.
Justin Humphrey, an Oklahoma lawmaker, proposed creating a Bigfoot hunting season in January, 2021, CNN(opens in new tab) reported. Humphrey suggested that the hunting season could coincide with an annual Bigfoot festival that takes place in Honobia, Oklahoma, and would help to bring more tourists to the area. Oklahoma tourism officials later announced a $2.1 million bounty in March for the capture of a live Bigfoot, NPR(opens in new tab) reported.
Related: ‘Expedition Bigfoot’ scours Oregon woods for signs of the mythical and elusive beast(opens in new tab)
THE REAL BIGFOOT A 2003 replica of the extinct Gigantopithecus
A 2003 replica of the extinct Gigantopithecus. Gigantopithecus was about 10 feet (3 m.) tall and weighed up to 595 pounds (270 kilograms), based on fossil evidence. (Image credit: ZUMA Press, Scientific evidence for the existence of a modern-day Bigfoot may be proving elusive, but a giant, bipedal ape did once walk the Earth. A species named Gigantopithecus blacki was about 10 feet (3 m.) tall and weighed up to 1000 pounds based on fossil evidence. However, Gigantopithecus lived in Southeast Asia, not North America,So we believe but could possibly have had relatives in other parts of the world, and went extinct hundreds of thousands of years ago. The extinct ape is also more closely related to modern orangutans than to humans or our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos. But I would not rule out that What we believe Bigfoot today is , could possibly have a connection. Don’t rule that possibly out.
Giganto like many species today had to adapt to changes in the world. Adaptation is key to survival……. Daniel J Benoit
I was not the original author of this blog article, however I added to it some and will add more In later blogs regarding my take, views and research on the subject….. Daniel J Benoit
As I love discussing Wildlife and Especially Bears in general, we’ll meet this one here Also known as the Asian Black Bear
Asiatic black bear
Their habitat ranges from northern Iran to south-east Asia including Japan, and in the Himalayas up to an elevation of around 4,000 meters. The Asiatic black bear inhabits forested, mountainous areas and descends to lower elevations in the winter. The Asiatic black bear or ‘Moon bear’ owes his name to the prominent V- or Y-shaped light-coloured mark on its chest. It has a round head with disproportionately large ears that stick out sideways from the head.The long and coarse fur is mostly jet-black, occasionally dark brown.
Diet The diet of the Asiatic black bear consists mainly of fruits and vegetables, such as roots, acorns, grains, berries and nuts. They will also prey on mammals, like sheep or goats.
Hibernation The Asiatic black bear hibernates for a few months during the winter, although not all bears go into hibernation. This really depends on the area they live in. Bears that live in colder areas tend to hibernate. Pregnant females will also go into hibernation.
Social behaviour The Asiatic black bear is primarily solitary, except during mating season. The bears do not usually show aggression towards their own kind. Not much is known about Asiatic black bears in the wild.
Status The IUCN-status of the Asiatic black bear is listed as ‘Vulnerable’. Poaching for certain parts of the body, mainly for the gall bladder, as well as loss of habitat form a threat to the Asiatic black bear population. This brings the bears ever closer to areas inhabited by humans. In addition, agriculture increases which leads to conflicts between humans and animals. The Asiatic black bear preys on cattle and attacks on humans have also increased.
Like other bears, the Asiatic black bear can stand upright and walk on two legs. Also a good climber, this bear spends most of its time in trees. Here it searches for fruit and nuts, and takes honey from bees’ nests to feed on. Must Check out the Other sources of information andfacts –https://www.bearbiology.org/asiatic-black-bear/
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are considering a plan to reintroduce a native species of weasel to the state’s woodlands after its disappearance more than 100 years ago.
The American marten, or pine marten, and its potential habitats are being studied to determine if the proposal is feasible. Tom Keller, the commission’s furbearer biologist, recently told the board he is working with a steering committee to further develop the plan.
If the proposal is approved, it’s likely the omnivorous animals would be released on public lands. He also is working on identifying sources of martens.
“We’re continuing to work with those public land holders and build support with them, and then that will help us understand where we can then release martens if we then decide to move forward,” Keller said.
Keller has educational and outreach events about the proposal planned over the coming months to help educate the public on the species. Locally, presentations are planned at 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday at the Sports, Travel and Outdoor Show in Monroeville. An open house will be at 6:30 p.m. April 4 at the Southwest Regional Office at 4820 Route 711, Bolivar.
That education will be an important piece to getting the public on board, said Barry Warner, public relations director with the Pennsylvania Trappers Association. That group is hoping the reintroduction goes through because American martens can be a beneficial addition to woodlands, he said.
“We’re totally in favor of it coming back,” Warner said.
The commission has been looking into the potential reintroduction since 2022, when a feasibility assessment was completed. Martens are about 2 pounds — the size of a squirrel or mink — and disappeared from the state about 1900, during a period of deforestation and unregulated harvest, according to the game commission.
The animals live in forested areas, composed of coniferous trees or a mixture with deciduous trees, that receive more than 35 inches of snow annually. Research through the assessment found martens typically hunted and ate small mammals, such as mice, and plant material and insects. Grouse and rabbits were not frequent parts of a marten’s diet, and turkey, including eggs and poults, were not identified as prey for a marten, according to the commission.
Reintroducing the species in its native environment would add biodiversity and can contribute to seed dispersal and rodent population management.
A comprehensive plan for reintroduction must be completed by July. The plan will be released afterward to the public for a 60-day review and comment period. A final approval could come as early as January.
Anyone with questions on the potential reintroduction may contact the game commission at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-5529.
Trail Camera Captures A Buck Following Right Behind… A Mountain Lion?
What in the?
Aren’t the predators supposed to chase the prey? Isn’t the deer supposed to be afraid of the predators?
Mountain lions are one of the most dangerous and elusive predators in the wild. They can weigh up to 200 pounds and be over 4 feet in length.
They are known for their stealth, agility, and efficiency as hunters. Powerful runners, they are capable of reaching speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest land animals in the world. Cougars also have powerful jaws and sharp claws, which they use to grab and hold onto their prey while they deliver the killer bite.
Also known as cougars, they are solitary hunters and typically hunt at night, using their stealth and agility to stalk and ambush their prey. Much like other big cats, they will often lie in wait and then pounce on their prey from behind, delivering a powerful bite to the back of the neck. They are capable of bringing down animals as large as elk, but their favorite prey is typically deer.
Which is why this trail camera caught something that just doesn’t make sense.
A cougar is seen walking on by, but immediately following it is a deer that is growing a nice set of antlers.
Like… following RIGHT behind it.
Normally, this deer would be nowhere close to this killer, unless it was already too late. Regardless of any circumstances or time of year, they are mortal enemies, if such a thing truly exists in the wild.
I mean, it almost looks like they’re just hanging out in the woods together, taking a nice stroll.
This is pretty unexplainable, but nevertheless, a very cool catch on the trail camera.
With only about 250 in the continental United States, wolverines are up there as some of the most elusive animals in our woods. They are also one of the most ferocious animals out there, unafraid of anything.
Wolverines grow to be up to 4 feet in length and weigh up to 70 pounds. They have a stocky build and are covered in dense, dark brown fur that provides insulation in the cold northern climates. Their thick fur also helps them to float on snow, which is an important adaptation for their hunting.
Wolverines are known to be fierce predators and will hunt and scavenge nearly everything. They are good at scavenging from other predators and have been known to chase away bears, wolves, and even mountain lions to steal their kills. Wolverines are known for their intelligence and ability to solve complex problems, which makes them incredibly efficient hunters. They have a keen sense of smell and are able to locate food that is buried deep in the snow.
In Montana, wolverines are considered a species of conservation concern, and the first recorded sighting of one in Yellowstone National Park happened in the past couple years. Many park rangers who have worked in the woods their entire lives have never even seen one.
It is chasing a young deer that it is hoping to eat for a meal. The wolverine gets out of the water and takes off running up the shoreline giving the onlookers a perfect view of the amazing animal.
The wolverine runs along and almost seems to be thinking and coming up with a game plan as it does.
The deer fawn’s mother comes out of the water and is trying to protect its young, and the wolverine thinks again about squaring off with the deer, even though it wouldn’t have too difficult of a time.
That is truly a once-in-a-lifetime encounter
Wolverine Easily Fends Off Wolf Attack Wolves are some of the best and most strategic hunters in the wild.
They use strength in numbers to take down prey and survive as a group. There are very few animals that do this, making them collectively as a species some of the best hunters.
But, then there’s the wolverine. And the wolverine just don’t care.
You can try, but you better pack a lunch because the fight will be cut out for ya from the beginning. Just like this other wolverine that fought off a wolf that we recently showed you.
We know one wolverine can fight off one wolf, but now I need to know. Can a wolverine fight off two wolves?
We are about to find out…
The video starts with two wolves eyeing up a wolverine in an open area. The wolves are trying to come up with a game plan so they can get a little bit of lunch.
One wolf decides it’s time and tries the classic attack from behind method. The wolverine is quick on his feet and doesn’t let it in too close. The second wolf comes in but the wolverine’s awareness is on point as it quickly switches its focus.
A person would think two adult wolves, who hunt together for a living would eventually get the better end of this ordeal, but the wolverine has other plans.
The wolves are in full attack mode going in for the kill. But the wolverine bounces back in forth between the two keeping them from wanting to go full in on the attack.
As the wolves switch spots and try to get the vantage point from the backside the wolverine just keep on keeping on and doesn’t let them get in good position. It uses its speed and fearlessness to keep the wolves out of position.
The three of them go in a circle and the wolverine even starts to attack a bit itself, playing on the offensive side.
Ultimately, that helps makes the wolves realize this is one badass creature and it might be a fight that just ain’t worth it.
That just goes to show, like every wolverine encounter, that they are as cool as it gets.
Though periodic wolf sitings have increased the last few years, this marks the first evidence of wolves breeding in the state since the 1940s when the species was driven out of the state by federal eradication efforts.
CPW issued a press released citing reports from a state biologist and district wildlife manager who both observed a litter of pups and a pair of adult wolves. Typical wolf litters typically consist of 4-6 pups, although each time the pack has been spotted only three pups have been observed.
We can only assume those three pups are just as adorable as this little one from Minnesota.
Despite the emergence of a now naturally occurring wolf pack, it will apparently do little to deter those efforts.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis welcomed the news of the newborn wolf pups but also seemed to voice his support for reintroduction efforts through a statement that read in part “these pups will have plenty of potential mates when they grow up to start their own families” according to Colorado Public Radio News.
The birth of the litter is not all that surprising to state biologists. Both parent wolves have tracking collars affixed to them for research purposes, and their locations indicated they had been spending time together before the female wolf headed to a den.
Both wolves were originally collared outside of Yellowstone National Park before making their way down to Colorado.
State biologists will continue to monitor the den from a safe distance, but minimizing human activity in the area will help ensure the survival of the pups. The previous observations of the pack were done from more than 2 miles away with the help of magnifying optics.
“Our hope is that we will eventually have photos to document this momentous occasion in Colorado’s incredible and diverse wildlife history, but not bothering them remains a paramount concern,” said Libby Miller, a state wildlife biologist who works with wolves.
Note. Many may not want to believe this but the Mountain Lion, Cougar, Puma whatever name you desire to call them already does exist here on the east coast – You can’t call all the eyewitnesses Liars ! ….. Daniel Benoit
Other than mountain lions, the only real way we get a chance to stare into the eyes of the big cat species here in the United States is by visiting a local zoo. But it wasn’t always that way, and it could still change in future. If you told your friends that you spotted a free-roaming jaguar on a trip out west to Arizona or New Mexico, they’d probably call you crazy. However, that’s exactly what happened to two farmers in the early ’90s.
Since then, there have been random reports of big cats matching the description of jaguars all throughout the American Southwest. While most have been brushed off as rumors, others have been confirmed as being very real. It has biologists wondering if jaguars will make a return to their native range in the United States.
History of the American Jaguar
American Jaguar A photo of a jaguar captured by a Bureau of Land Management trail camera. Photo by Bureau of Land Management
While a bit of shrouded mystery surrounds the random reports of jaguar sightings in the lower 48 states, what we do know is that there was at one time a healthy jaguar population in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and even California. In Arizona, the last known breeding pair was documented in the 1960s. Pressure from settlers and overhunting are the primary factors attributed to pushing the predators out of their home ranges. Most were absent from the American Southwest by the mid-1800s, although there were a few holdouts that stayed in more remote areas such as Arizona and New Mexico.
It’s likely that these big cats preyed on mammals such as the pronghorn antelope, desert sheep, mule deer and possibly even whitetail deer. Their exact population isn’t documented, but studies have shown that numbers were likely healthy at one point with adequate habitat before developments such as forestry, mining and even residential grounds were established.
Thanks to the advancement of trail camera technology, the Arizona Game & Fish Department has confirmed multiple sightings in the state. In January 2017, the AGFD announced it had over 150 photos and six videos of a male jaguar in the Cabezas/Chiricahua Mountains. It was believed that the animal wandered in from Mexico looking for a mate. This animal, later named “El Jefe,” eventually returned to Mexico. He was captured on camera in August 2022 more than 100 miles south of the border.
Another jaguar was confirmed in trail camera photos on the U.S. Army installation Fort Huachuca in the Huachuca Mountains in November 2017. A third was recorded on camera in the Dos Cabezas mountains around the same time.
Talks of Reintroduction
The idea of the reintroduction of the American jaguar seemed to really blow up in the past few months when it was mentioned by MeatEater’s Steven Rinella on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Rinella talked briefly about what such an introduction might look like and his level of support on the matter. The conversation on that topic essentially ended there, but it succeeded in putting the jaguar onto everyone’s radar. For many environmental and animal groups, the conversation is only getting started.
In December 2022, the Center for Biological Diversity started a petition in hopes of convincing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce the big cat to its original native area of the Southwestern United States–more specifically, the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. The idea behind this would be to reserve specific areas of that national park that contain ideal habitat conditions for the jaguar, totaling nearly 14 million acres between New Mexico and Arizona.
This national park has a very diverse animal population of whitetails, mule deer, and even wild hogs and javelinas. As far as habitat goes, research suggests there would be very little threat to the jaguar if reintroduced into the United States. However, there is a reason they got pushed out in the first place. Human development, specifically mining and forestry interests, don’t exactly have the jaguar population in mind when determining business practices–which may be fair or not fair, I’m not here to judge that.
Will There Be a Jaguar Comeback Story?
If the U.S. is going to support a healthy jaguar population, it has a long way to go. There is still no evidence of a breeding population within the states. And big male big cats are documented wanderers, so it’s hard to say they are back based on a few trail camera photos. Additionally, this reintroduction proposal has only recently started to gain traction. Despite the Center for Biological Diversity’s 2022 petition, the Department of the Interior hasn’t made any public statements on it yet. Do I think the jaguar will have a successful comeback story? I think there’s a good chance. Do I think it will happen in the next 10-15 years? I doubt it.
Ecosystem establishments–as well as foreign policies with Mexico to determine the best actions regarding migrating big cats–will be time-consuming and will likely face a lot of setbacks. However, the U.S. knows a thing or two about wildlife comeback stories — just take the North American turkey, for example.
I do hope to one day live in an America where we can coexist with such a beautiful animal. The concerns about the role they will play in a very industrial country are fair and understandable. However, even though I wasn’t alive when they were roaming this country, there’s a sense of energy around them that makes me want them to come home.
There is an interesting quote by famous conservationist Aldo Leopold about his trip to the Colorado River in search of the American jaguar. Leopold remarked, “We saw neither hide nor hair, but his personality pervaded the wilderness.”
I agree with you, Aldo. I support the American jaguar!
We found 2.9-million-year-old stone tools used to butcher ancient hippos—but likely not by our ancestors Two Paranthropus teeth were recovered from Nyayanga. S. E. Bailey, Homa Peninsula Paleoanthropology Project.
On the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, a short valley extends south towards the looming Mount Homa. From it have emerged some of the oldest-known stone tools used to butcher large animals, as well as the oldest remains of one of our early cousins, Paranthropus—a genus we think co-existed with our direct ancestors.
Similar tool and fossil discoveries had been made before, in different places and at different times. But to find these all together in one place, as old as they are, is truly extraordinary.
In research published today in Science, we explain how findings at the Nyayanga site are changing the way experts think about carnivory among hominins—a group that includes modern humans, extinct humans, direct ancestors and close cousins.
It also raises doubt about who was really responsible for making the stone tools we’d previously attributed to Homo and closely related species.
Fossils on the Homa Peninsula Nyayanga is a typical pastoral valley situated on the Homa Peninsula in western Kenya. This peninsula has long been known to produce various fossils. In 1996, a multidisciplinary team led by one of us (Thomas) began work on a two-million-year-old site called Kanjera South. This work produced a wealth of fossil remains from large mammals, as well as stone tools associated with our genus, Homo.
During a field season at Kanjera South, a local man named Peter Onyango who was working with the team suggested we investigate some fossils and stone tools eroding out of a valley on the shores of Lake Victoria. This new site, named Nyayanga after the nearby beach, was situated on a donkey track leading to the lake.
The first stone tools and fossils we collected were eroding out from the gully walls. Beginning in 2015, a series of excavations eventually returned a trove of 330 artifacts and 1,776 animal bone fragments from a range of species characteristic of open savannah and open woodland environments.
The bones included animals we’re familiar with today, such as giraffes, antelopes, elephants and hippos. But they also included extinct megafauna such as Eurygnathohippus, an extinct horse ancestor, Pelorvis, the giant buffalo, and Megantereon, the saber-toothed cat.
Of particular interest were the remains of two teeth from the extinct hominin Paranthropus—nicknamed the Nutcracker Man as its large flat teeth are thought to have been used to process tough vegetable matter. These teeth, one intact and the other a fragment, were the first direct evidence of an extinct hominin on the Peninsula.
What made their recovery even more surprising were the tools we found associated with them. Alongside Paranthropus’s teeth were some stone tools belonging to a technology known as the Oldowan, characterized by three main forms: hammerstone, core, and flake.
Oldowan tools had long been associated with our own genus, Homo, and were once considered a marker for the beginnings of human modernity. While we can’t demonstrate Paranthropus actually made these tools, this species is so far the only suspect at the scene of the crime.
Early signs of butchery So, what was a nutcracking, plant-chomping hominin using these tools for? Well it turns out in addition to processing plants—the evidence of which we could see on the tools’ edges—these lithics were also used to make hippo tartare.
We found evidence of meat cutting on the edges—but the smoking gun was the cut and percussion marks found on several hippo individuals associated with these stone tools.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time cut marks had been found on megafauna. In fact, some of the earliest evidence of megafauna butchery was reported on by our team at Kanjera South back in 2013.
However, our comprehensive dating program at Nyayanga revealed the site’s deposits to be about 2.9 million years old. This means they’re probably the oldest stone tools found to have butchered hippos and processed plant material.
Not only that, but this is about two million years before the first evidence that people used fire. This suggests raw hippo was on the menu for the hungry hominins.
Adding to that, the tooth fossils are the oldest Paranthropus remains ever found, and the associated tools are the oldest-known Oldowan tools. The second-oldest were uncovered some 1,200 kilometers away in Ethiopia, and dated to about 2.6 million years.
A brave old world
There’s no evidence Paranthropus was actively hunting megafauna. But it would have been competing with saber-toothed cats, hyenas and crocodiles for access to carcasses, at the very least.
The Nyayanga deposits provide a glimpse into an ancestral world that’s possibly radically different from any we had pictured. In doing so, they’ve raised even more questions about hominin evolution.
Who were these resourceful toolmakers? How far back does carnivory go? And just how old and widespread is the innovative Oldowan toolkit? Despite more than 100 years of research on the Homa Peninsula, much remains unearthed.
Meet the pelican eel: The mysteriously morphing deep-sea ‘sperm’
Also known as the Gulper Eel, this deep-water oddity can expand its mouth to incredible proportions, acting like a huge net to scoop up prey.
In 2018, researchers controlling a remotely operated vehicle in Hawaiian waters stumbled across the best view to date of this deep-sea oddity. Spotted a mile down in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the critter looked like a sinister sperm, with its black, bulbous head and a lithe, whip-like tail. Without warning, its head then began to inflate and wobble, before morphing into a gaping pair of jaws, and then into a more streamlined form, before it disappeared into the darkness.
Until that moment, much of our knowledge of the pelican eel came from the mashed-up remains of individuals that had been roughly hauled up from the abyss. It’s called the pelican eel because of its enormous mouth, which can expand to hold large volumes of water and prey, a bit like a pelican. Excess water is jettisoned via paired gill slits, while the food – small crustaceans and invertebrates – moves into the stomach, which expands to accommodate it.
The pelican eel has small eyes, tiny teeth and a loosely hinged jaw that’s a quarter of the length of its body. Adults are around 75cm long, with a bioluminescent tip on their tails that pulses red, presumably to attract prey. They have been found in the temperate and tropical areas of all oceans, where they add a ghoulish, Tim Burton-esque flair.