Showing posts with label Animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Animals. Show all posts

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Whale Discovered in Reservoir

Reprinted from Clarion Ledger
Jackson MS April 19, 1962

Ancient Bones Give View Of Past To Digging Crew 

Workers digging at the Pearl River Reservoir took a journey through time Wednesday when St-feet of fossil bones, described as everything from dinosaur to whale vertebrae were uncovered by earth-moving machinery. The bones were discovered between 8 and 9 a.m., when a piece of machinery lifted the top dirt off of the fossil. Shovels were then used to avoid damage, and the area was roped off. Digging continued in hopes of finding the head of the fossil but as yet it has not been discovered. Plans were being made to place loose dirt or boards over the bones to keep them in good condition until a geologist can examine them.

Dr. R. R. Piddy, geologist at Millsaps has been contacted and will study the bones Thursday morning, according to workmen. Workmen on the scene were mildly excited over the find, with much speculation as to what it was, but said in their type of work, they are constantly watching for remains of prehistoric animals. A guard at the Reservoir, Carey Alridge, viewing the fossil, neatly summed up the situation by saying, "Preached to me all my life that our ancestors had more back bone than we do looks like that might be right.


Geologists Identify Fossils As Back Of Ancient Whale (Earlier Story On Page 2A)
By VAN SAVELL Associated Press Staff Writer

Geologists identified a series of fossilized bones found on the Pearl River Reservoir construction site Wednesday as the back vertebrae of a 40-million-year-old "Basilosaurus" or whale. "The find is not uncommon," said William H. Moore, a member of the Mississippi Geological Survey team. "But, the condition is peculiar with its vertebrae almost completely intact." Moort described the ancient whale a member of the "Zeugledon" family as nearly Identical to the present-day giant ocean mammal, except for its sharp head. A bulldozer operator unearthed the unfamiliar charcoal object about 9 a.m.

Wednesday. Ross Grimes of Carthage, crew supervisor, stopped work completely when he realized what had been uncovered. , The geology team described the whale as about 35 feet long with weight between eight and 10 tons. Vertebrae sections near the real end of the fossil were 17 inches in length and about 40 inches in circumference. A white bone described as part of a rib was 22 inches long and broken on both ends.

After lengthy investigations, Moore told the Associated Press the whale "apparently sank to  the bottom of the sea and turned over on its back. "You see, the vertebrae is upside down and the rib cage points skyward." He described the peculiarities of the find, apparently rare elsewhere but common in the "Yazoo Clay" found in the area.

"The animal is almost completely intact, and with patient work, we might uncover it in the same condition," Moore said. "Apparently, the ground conditions caused the bones to turn to charcoal instead of the normal lime, causing the hardness of the object." Moore said a conference with Survey Commission officials would reveal whether attempts would be made by Mississippi to preserve the whale. "If we don't have the money," he said, "then we'll have to turn to some college geology department for the work." The fossils were found about eight feet underground and scattered over a 60-foot area, except for the 35-foot long connected vertebrae section..

Fossil On Display Ms Museum of Natural History

Friday, May 13, 2022

Tarzan Not Talk Like Frankenstein

 Tarzan not stupid.  Tarzan learn English and French from book before Tarzan meet Jane.  Movie Tarzan very different from book Tarzan.

Seriously, I don't know how Johnny Weismuller became so popular.  Besides the jungle setting, Weismuller's Tarzan is nothing like the character in the books.  Come to think of it, the creature in Shelly's Frankenstein didn't talk like that either.  Maybe audiences in the 30s had a thing for mute strongmen.  

Tarzan of the novels was very articulate and possessed almost super-human intelligence.  He learned to read and write from the books in his father's treehouse, without any other human interactions.   When Tarzan visits America in the first novel, he behaves like an exemplary English gentleman, a far cry from Weismuller's nearly wordless interpretation.

Besides the fake ears they made for the Indian Elephants to make them look African, the best thing about Weismuller's first Tarzan film is Maureen O'Sullivan in her 1932 costume.  (Much more leather was added to her buckskin bikini by the next film.)  Subsequent films ended up almost a parody of the character from the first film.

Weissmuller's Tarzan introduced the trope of the chimpanzee sidekick, which actually isn't in the novels.  Although several chimpanzees have been reported as the original Cheetah through the years, they likely used several throughout the different films, as chimps get pretty dangerous to work with as they mature. The Cheetah you see on screen never seems to grow, even though sometimes a few years pass between productions.  Chimps are notorious poop-throwers and biters.  Many trained chimps had their canine teeth removed to make them slightly less dangerous.  Training methods often involved dramatic beatings and occasional drugs.  They solved this problem for 1984's Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, by having Rick Baker create all the apes using human actors.  Even today, Baker remains Hollywood's greatest gorilla man.

 Tall, attractive, and an Olympic athlete, Weismuller looked the part, but any resemblance to the Tarzan in the books ends there.  Much has been made of the lengths MGM sound designers went through to develop Weismuller's famous Tarzan yell, but Weismuller insisted it was his own voice, and in later life, he was able to perform it live.  It can't be too much of a stretch to believe it was his own voice; after all, even Carol Burnett could imitate it. 

I'm not sure what I would have thought of Tarzan if Weismuller was my first exposure.  Willis O'Brien's Skull Island certainly made an impression on me, so maybe the MGM jungle would have been as memorable.  My first Tarzan, however, was Ron Ely.

Ely's Tarzan was in color.  He was articulate and educated like the Tarzan of the novels.  He's why I picked up my brother's copy of Tarzan and the Leopard Men (1932) and never looked back.  

Ely's Tarzan was set in the modern-day (the 1960s) and sometimes featured very modern concepts.  One episode even had computers.  There was no Jane for his Tarzan, (but I was six, so who cares?) He did have a son character, who was written as an orphaned Mexican boy.  They never explained how a Mexican orphan ended up in Africa.  Manuel Padilla Jr. played several television roles before Jai on Tarzan.  He could deliver his lines, and child actors you could work with were pretty hard to find, so he got the job I guess.

There were 57 episodes of Ron Ely's Tarzan.  He performed most of his own stunts, and he had the scars to prove it, including more than one lion bite.  After the initial run, they played in a re-run every Saturday afternoon until I was twelve or thirteen.  By the time I did see a Weismuller Tarzan, I was already under the spell of King Kong and obsessed with 1930s adventure cinema, so I soon saw all of them.  (Thank you, Ted Turner) 

After Tarzan, Ely was never out of work very long.  The next time he caught my eye was George Pal's, Doc Savage.  I loved the Doc Savage novels and had about ten of them.  Pal intended to do a straight version of Savage like in the books, but the finished product was pretty campy and did poorly with audiences.

Pal originally wanted Steve Reeves to play Doc Savage, but he was too old and unavailable.  Ron Ely was only too happy to get the role. Initially, Pal and Ely hoped to make several Doc Savage films and end Pal's storied career on a high note.  Fate had different plans, though. Doc Savage was released in 1975 and bombed.  It never played a first-run theater in Jackson, so I had to get someone to take me to the drive-in to see it.  

Ely never stopped, though.  He even ended up taking over the job of hosting the Miss America Pagent in 1980 when Bert Parks retired.  

There would be many more Tarzans after Ron Ely, but he was my first, and when I read the novels now, it's his voice I hear.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

There's Something Strange in Loch Ness

Filmmakers for the History Channel's MonsterQuest recently discovered something totally unexpected in Scotland's famous Loch Ness.

Using remote operated vehicles to film underwater, Mike O’Brien of Louisiana-based SeaTrepid LLC was hoping to find evidence of the Loch Ness Monster when his cameras showed something else...

Golf balls, thousands and thousands of golf balls.

Besides mysterious lake monsters, Scotland is famous as the birth place of golf. Apparently locals and tourists have been using Loch Ness as a driving range for some time now and evidence of their activity is building up on the lake's bottom.

Although the monster can probably handle it, there is some concern for other life in the lake as golf balls can emit toxins as they deteriorate. Even though the ecology is somewhat fragile, there is no plan to retrieve the golf balls yet because they're in a part of the lake that's too deep to use regular scuba equipment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Do Drunk Gorillas Look Like?

Wildlife photographer Andy Rouse made a series of photographs showing Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda who had been eating the fermented sap from bamboo shoots.

"It was not exactly Gorillas In The Mist, more like gorillas who were pissed," said Rouse.

"Some were running round cackling to each other, others were going mad swinging through the trees, some were just lying on the ground in an inebriated state."

Gorillas eat bamboo all year and can tolerate a lot of it before getting intoxicated; usually they eat it with a handful of other greenery to water it down. Sometimes however they over-indulge, a habit they share with chimps and elephants.

"When I went back the next day," says Andy, "it was all very quiet, as if they were nursing gorilla-sized hangovers"

Link: Photo Set at

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Amazing Elephant Info

Asian and African Elephants (image source: wikipedia)
It's Not A Nose
An elephants trunk is really its upper lip. It's tusks are teeth. Scientist believe elephants are so amazingly intelligent because of the hundreds of muscles and thousands of nerves it takes to operate their trunk, all connected to parts of their really large brain.

Although still wild animals, many scientist believe Asian elephants are really semi-domesticated since humans have trained them for work for thousands of years. The only thing that keeps them from being fully domesticated is the size and unpredictability of the males makes domestic breeding so difficult.

Horton Hears a What?
Using their remarkable large ears and low frequency vocal sounds, inaudible to humans, elephants communicate with each over many miles.

World Travelers
Although their range is now limited to small areas of Asia and Africa, elephants once lived all over Africa, Europe, Asia and North America and their yearly migration routes stretched from Greenland to Equatorial Africa.

Prehistoric man used to follow the elephant herds, much like Native Americans used to follow the buffalo herds, hunting them for food, skins and even using their bones and tusks to build their homes. Some scientists suggest following the elephant herds explains how humans migrated from Africa to Europe, Asia and North America.

Girl Power
Elephant herds are all females and juvenile males. The lead elephant is called the "matriarch" and the secondary elephants under her are called "aunties".

Adult male elephants live solitary lives and only seek out females when they enter their musth stage. The musth cycle begins when male elephants pick up the scent of ovulating females using their amazing trunks. The smell triggers a massive injection of testosterone into their blood stream, making them much, much more aggressive. A bull elephant in musth emits a thick, sticky, fluid from their temporal lobes leaving a dark stain.

No Good Reason to Kill an Elephant
Although poaching is still the leading cause of death among elephants, the only commercially viable parts of the elephant are their tusks (which are carved into useless decorative items) and the hairs on their tails (which are woven into bracelets and rings, said to bring good luck). The rest of the elephant's massive body is left to rot after poachers take the tusks and tail hairs.

More Information about Elephants at Wikipedia
More Information about Elephant Preservation at the World Wildlife Fund

Amazing Elephant and Dog Friendship

This is one of the most remarkable stories I've seen in a while.

Link: You Tube

Tarra the elephant's page at the Elephant Sanctuary website.

Besides her unusual friendship with a dog, Tarra is also an accomplished painter

Read more about the relationship between Tarra and Bella: Link

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to Smoke a Cat

For many years, scientists have argued whether or not marijuana smoking has any detrimental effects on the brain, particularly in the areas of logic and cognitive functions. Recently a story out of Nebraska provided evidence to support the argument that pot can really fuck up your mind.

Police sought Twenty-year-old Acea Schomaker of Lincoln Nebraska on marijuana charges. When they found him, he was smoking a home-made bong made of plexiglas and rubber tubing, with a six-month-old kitten duct-taped inside.

Schomaker said he put the kitten inside the bong because it was high-strung and needed the marijuana smoke to calm down. Police incarcerated Schomaker, seized the bong and took custody of the cat who was turned over to an animal shelter to be checked out by a vet to see if the experience damaged its health.

Schomaker said he had smoked the cat several times before. Police charged him with animal cruelty and possession of marijuana. So far, the kitten seems to be recovering.

Link: KETV Omaha Nebraska

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

World's Largest Snake

Scientists have uncovered the fossilized remains of the largest snake that ever lived.

In life Titanoboa cerrejonensis was some forty-three feet long and possibly weighed as much as 2,500 lbs. (that's a big snake)

It lived in South America some sixty million years ago and probably lived mostly in the water.

Artist's Conception of Titanoboa

Read more at Live Science and Popular Science

Never Work With Children Or Animals, Especially Turkeys

There's an old showbiz adage: never work with children or animals. The reason you never work with children or animals is because, no matter what you do, they're always going to upstage you.

Penn & Teller are two of the most seasoned performers in the business. They've done television, movies, live traveling shows, and they're one of the hottest acts in Vegas. They perform at Harrah's Casino (not far from The Mirage, where Siegfried & Roy also learned it was a bad idea to work with animals for a completely different reason.)

They also have a pretty popular program on showtime called Bullshit.

While filming a recent episode on the bullshit of insomnia cures, Penn & Teller discover yet another reason why you should never work with children or animals: in this instance, Turkeys.

There's pretty much nothing a performer can do that tops copulating turkeys.

Order Bullshit! On DVD at
Penn & Teller - Bullshit! - The First Season
Penn & Teller - Bullshit! The Complete Second Season
Penn & Teller - Bullshit - The Complete Third Season
Penn & Teller - Bullshit - The Complete Fourth Season
Penn & Teller - Bullshit! - The Complete Fifth Season

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bert Case Kicks Dogs Ass

Many people remember the now infamous incident where former governor Kirk Fordice threatened to kick the ass of Jackson reporter, Bert Case for revealing the home Fordice bought for his girlfriend. (Why the heck can't I find video of this?)
Link: Weekly

It turns out Fordice might have made a mistake threatening Case, because Bert's a bad-ass.

Below is video of Bert getting attacked by a pair of Pitt bull terriers while investigating another story. Looks like the pit-bulls picked on the wrong dude and Bert emerges victorious.

My favorite part is that Bert ends the scuffle with the command "You GO!" gesturing with is free hand, and the dog does!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Banned PETA Commercial

The great criticism of PETA has always been that it's just a money making machine that doesn't really accomplish much other than making nut-jobs feel better about themselves.

Here is a video of the commercial PETA wanted to place during the superbowl. I'm not going to embed it because it is in questionable taste and it was rejected for being too sexual.

The thing is, however much PETA spent making this ad, it was going to cost them three million bucks to place it. If PETA has that kind of money to throw away on that kind of ad, then I'm really wondering why they're not using it to actually do anybody some good, like feed the hungry or clothe the naked.

Keep this commercial in mind if you're ever tempted to give PETA a dime and give it a second thought. If that doesn't work, consider the video below from Pen & Teller's Bullshit:

If the crazy PETA protest lady sounds familiar, it's because she's Pamelyn Ferdin who did the voice for pretty much every animated little girl in the 1970's.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Save Money At The Zoo

For the month of February, the Jackson Zoo is offering a half-off discount on admission.

Zoo attendance tends to fall off during the winter months, so the Zoo is offering this discount to encourage off-season visitors. Considering our summer sun, the winter is actually a great time to visit the Zoo and if you go now you can see our new Sumatran Tigers.

Jackson Zoo Official Website
Jackson Zoo at Wikipedia

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What Is Art Aardman?

I've thought about art, written about art, talked about art and struggled with trying to make art all my life and I've never come up with anything half as good as this from Aardman studios:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bitten by an Iguana

I've had lots of pets over the years, but none of them ever got as excited at feeding time as my iguana, Gwangi.

At the mere sight of her food dish, Gwangi leaps from her basking shelf to the cage door. When I say "leap" you'd swear iguanas could fly, because she does.

Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, Gwangi hasn't yet figured out that I can't open the door and give her the food as long as she's attached to it, so I have to lure her to the other side of the cage with a shred of collard greens fed through the bars.

With any luck, she takes long enough to eat the lure for me to get the door open and get her food dish inside. Supper is usually torn up collard greens, broccoli slaw, celery and sometimes grapes or watermelon thrown in.

It doesn't take her long to realize she's been duped though, and soon she leaps over to where I've placed her food dish.

I try to get my hand out of the way pretty quickly, because, like most herbivores, iguanas have eyes on the side of their head. It gives them a broad field of vision so they can watch out for predators, but it also gives them a blind spot right in front of their face.

Since they can't see what's directly in front of them, iguanas depend on the sense of taste and smell to know when to bite into their dinner, and if I still have some collard green smell on my fingers she will sometimes nip at them.

She's not being mean though, and immediately releases as soon as she realizes her mistake. Iguanas have dozens of pointed teeth and can inflict a painful bite when they want to, almost always breaking the skin. When I first got her and she was still afraid of me, I had to really watch out for that.

Because they start out small, a lot of people get iguanas as pets for children. This is a really bad idea. An adult iguana can grow to five feet long for a female and six feet for a male.

Being reptiles, iguanas don't think like we do which can lead to painful misunderstandings, both for the owner and the iguana.

For an adult though, iguanas can be a pretty cool pet, so long as you're willing to do the research and provide the proper kind of habitat for them to live in.

Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How Big is Big: The Blue Whale

The The Blue Whale (balaenoptera musculus) is generally considered the largest animal that ever lived. It can reach lengths of over 110 feet long and weights of over 200 tons.

It's hard to imagine what that is in real terms. 110 feet is over 1/3 the length of a football field. To give an even better conception of how big that is, I've included a photograph of the life-size blue whale model from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The Blue Whale is a carnivore. He hunts large shoals of tiny shrimp called krill. The whale will swim through the krill with his cavernous mouth open taking in as much water and krill as he can, then he closes his mouth and uses his tongue to push the water back out letting his feather-like teeth called baleen strain out the shrimp which he then swallows.

The throat of the Blue whale is pleated so it can expand like an accordion when he takes in water. The image above shows his throat about half expanded. For a long time, scientists thought the whales throat was always partially expanded because they only time anyone go to see the underside of the whale was when one beached itself or was harvested by whalers.

Compare the images below of a free swimming blue whale with his throat deflated and another image of the whale with his throat full of water and krill.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Disgusting Orangutan Story

People have written wanting to know about the Disgusting Orangutan story so here it is:

Ethel and Etta are two spinster ladies, living out in the country who decide to come to Jackson and visit the Zoo one afternoon.

They see the lions and the tigers and the elephants and the zebras and finally they come to a cage with a giant male wild orangutan from Borneo.

Ethel wants a snapshot with Etta and the brute, so she pulls the pocket Instamatic out of her purse and takes a few steps back while Etta stands in front of the cage.

All of a sudden, the orangutan snatches Etta by the hair, drags her inside the cage, rips her clothes off and proceeds to rape the crap out of her.

Ethel runs around frantically trying to get help. Finally, after forty-five minutes, zoo keepers are able to tranquilize the ape and rescue Etta.

They take Etta to the University Medical Center where she spends the next three weeks in and out of a coma with wires and tubes coming out everywhere.

Finally, the doctor calls Ethel and tells her Etta is coming out of her coma and she should come visit.

Ethel quietly steps into Etta's hospital room:

"Etta, honey, are you OK?" asks Ethel.

"...okay..." says Etta.

"Okay? You have the nerve to ask to if I'm Okay?

"Hell, NO I'm not okay. I've been here for three weeks and he don't call, he don't write, he don't send flowers and he ain't been to visit me even once!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sad Giraffe News

Thursday I posted about a baby girl giraffe born at the Jackson Zoo. Sadly, yesterday the zoo announced that the baby died overnight.

They don't have a cause of death yet, but will perform an autopsy. The baby seemed healthy and was gaining weight.

Life is such a mystery. It seems impossible that such a beautiful creature could just expire like that. Beauty can be fleeting so be grateful when you experience it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Baby Giraffe at Jackson Zoo

Monday, Giraffes at Jackson Zoo had a new baby female.

The Jackson Zoo has been very successful breeding Giraffes over the years. Diamond, the baby's mother has had six successful births. Because the zoo only has room for two adult Giraffes, babies are sold to other zoos when they are old enough to be separated from their mother, usually six months to a year after birth.

Despite a nearly six foot drop, Giraffes give birth standing up. As is common among grazing animals, Baby giraffes can walk almost immediately after birth.

Zoo veterinarians diagnosed this new baby with weak tendons in her back legs. As a precaution, they wrapped her legs in tape and she is expected to make a quick recovery.

The Giraffe exhibit was originally built in the 1950's. It is the last exhibit in the carnivore moat structure between the original zoo entrance and its current entrance. These exhibits are constructed of concrete formed over steel frames. The giraffe exhibit is somewhat unique, in that visitors have an interior section resembling a cave where they can view the bedtime stalls for the giraffes.

As was common at the time, the exhibit originally featured concrete floors to facilitate cleaning with a pressure hose. It was later determined that the concrete was bad for the animals' hooves and joints, so nearly twenty years ago, the zoo merged the giraffe exhibit with the newer camel exhibit which had a dirt floor. The move also gave the animals more room to stretch their considerably long legs.

Clarion Ledger Article
Jackson Zoo Website

Monday, March 31, 2008

Monkey Island Jackson Zoo

Many Mississippians fondly remember the Monkey Island Castle at the Jackson Zoo. Monkey island was in a pond between the alligator and duck pond exhibits. Near the center of the zoo, Monkey Island featured a small-scale fantasy castle inhabited by a troupe of live monkeys. It was quite a spectacle with monkeys climbing all over the castle structure.

As best as I can tell, Monkey Island was constructed sometime before WWII as a part of a WPA project that included many structures at the Zoo and Livingston Park. I believe Hubert Carmichael was director at the time. Like many of the older zoo structures, Monkey Island was made from sandstone quarried near Raymond, MS.

For a long time there was a rumor the zoo shut down Monkey Island because someone with tuberculosis spit into the water and infected all the monkeys. This isn't true. The Zoo moved the monkeys off Monkey Island sometime before 1980 because it was no longer safe to enter the inside of the castle where the monkey's night-time cages were held. Originally, zoo keepers entered the castle from a hidden entrance in the duck pond, through a tunnel that opened inside the castle. When the exhibit was no longer suitable for holding monkeys, the zoo started exhibiting pink flamingos there since entrance to the castle wasn't necessary.

Many people don't realize the clever way the zoo used water. Near Capitol street there was a well, which happened to be the highest point of elevation in the zoo. From the well, water flowed to the old sea lion exhibit, then to the alligator exhibit, monkey island and finally to the duck ponds where waste water exited the zoo into the sewers.

Monkey Island was one of my favorite memories from childhood. So much has changed over the years that I'd like to build a scale model of Monkey Island as it originally appeared.

If you have any information or especially photographs of Monkey Island, please contact me at:

Visit the Jackson Zoo Website:

Official Ted Lasso