The African dwarf sawshark (Pristiophorus nancyae) was accidently caught in a trawl 1,600 feet (490 meters) deep off the coast of Mozambique. The animal is just the fifth species of sawshark known to science, according to David Ebert, a research associate at the Academy. It can be identified by its small size (about 14 inches or 35 centimeters long), lack of dorsal fin, and absence of canine teeth.
In April 2011, a fisherman working off the coast of South Africa pulled out a sawshark that had been tagged with satellite transmitters donated by researchers at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station. The shark was one of several tracked as part of an effort to learn more about their habits and range changes. The new shark was the first to be recovered after several years of tagging studies.
According to scientists who study marine animals for conservation purposes, knowledge of where sharks live and how populations are doing can help identify areas where they may be at risk. Using this information, they can then take steps to protect these vulnerable habitats.
Sharks are important to have around because they are carnivores and prey items tend to dominate inshore waters while fish eaters such as rays and skates are more common near the surface offshore. By feeding at different depths, sharks help keep food chains balanced.
There are only five species of sawshark, so finding one in the wild isn't unusual.
Dreadnoughtus schrani, which roamed the world 77 million years ago, is the biggest terrestrial animal ever discovered, dwarfing Diplodocus and Tyrranosaurus Rex. Its name means "giant king" in Latin.
Its weight has been estimated at 15-20 tons, making it as heavy as an elephant but only half its size. It was about 20 meters long and had a tail nearly as big around as its body.
The largest land animal that has ever lived was a giant sauropod named Argentinosaurus. Discovered in Argentina in 1992, it stood 30 feet tall and weighed in at 115 tons! That's more than twice as much as the next largest dinosaur, Sauroposeidon, which weighed in at 55 tons.
Argentinosaurus was likely a predator that ate other dinosaurs (like the Velociraptor) or large plants (like pine trees). Scientists think it may have used its massive size to intimidate others of its kind. They also believe it spent most of its time lying down until a threat approached, when it would get up on its legs and defend itself with its huge tail.
All in all, Dreadnoughtus was one hell of an animal!
Fossils of Namacalathus hermanastes, a tiny marine mammal, were discovered in Namibia, Southern Africa, in 2000. However, experts who have been researching it believe it may be the first example of an animal having a sophisticated skeleton (akin to those found in modern marine animals).
Namibia is a country located in South West Africa. It's known for its huge deserts and rugged mountains, but also contains many beautiful beaches and lakes. It has one of the lowest human populations per square kilometer on Earth, with only 21 million people living here now compared to nearly two million desert lions that once called this land home.
Lions are carnivores that belong to the Panthera genus. They live in prides of up to eight individuals that protect their territories from other lions. Prides will usually consist of a king, queen, and around seven subordinate males and females.
The first documented sighting of a lion hunting anything other than plants for food was in 1693, when Europeans arrived in South Africa. Since then, scientists have observed pride hunts several times, but never during the hunt itself. Instead, they watched from a safe distance as the kings, queens, and elders guided younger members of the community into position before they made their attacks.
Lions are classed as endangered across much of their range because of persecution for livestock theft and conflict with humans.