Leopard seals and surrogates
November 22, 2009
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Since I’ve been glued to YouTube pretty much all day (having internet at home means never having to say “I’m bored” apparently), I thought it appropriate to share a few vids. My brain seems to want stuff about large predators (lions and tigers and bears, oh my!) so today you get leopards:
Leopard #1: The apex predator of the Antarctic
This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I have an extraordinary level of respect (i.e., I’m TERRIFIED) of leopard seals (I think I saw some movie about huskies or something, and a leopard seal featured in the only memorable scene…it was essentially a big “BOO!!!”, with teeth. I shrieked and jumped 5 feet in the air). What an amazing experience for that photographer. Leopard seals are the second largest seal in the Antarctic, after southern elephant seals. Most sources will say that they are named for the distinctive spotting on their short coats, but I say it’s because of the impressive array of chompers, including very prominent canines. Their long teeth serve as krill-sieves; the tiny shrimp-like crustaceans are a staple of their diet. The larger seals (like our friend in the video) hunt penguins along pack ice or island shorelines, while the littles must make do with fish and squid.
Leopard #2: Unlikely surrogate cares for infant baboon
It’s a bit sad, but a fascinating story nonetheless. Two things strike me as incredible here: 1. the fact that the infantile characteristics shared among mammal species are SO pronounced and can elicit such strong inter-species responses (come on, I dare you to tell me you didn’t just want to scoop that wee baby up when you saw his little face); and 2. the familiarity of so many of the leopard’s movements – it’s eerily like watching a larger version of my housecats.