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Truth can be stranger than fiction

Biology , life, you just got to love it! Mother nature has given us some incredible sights including salmon migrating upstream, coral reefs and geese flying south for the winter. But, there are some really bizarre things going on out in the world around us.When we think of elephants, words like huge and ponderous come to mind. One word that seldom comes up is adaptable. Elephants in Thailand have forced many people to rethink how they describe Pachyderms.In a wildlife sanctuary, located in eastern Thailand, where elephants are protected from poachers, about 200 of these large mammals have taken a walk on the dark side. During the dry season, when water and food are in short supply, these elephants ambush truck conveys. Trucks move through their sanctuary to transport a harvest of sugarcane, tapioca and fruit. The elephant’s M.O. goes like this. At dusk the herd leader will come out of the jungle and block the road with its body.This causes the convoy to stop then the rest of the herd moves in from the sides to tear into the truck’s cargo. This is a classic ambush technique used by many armed forces through out the world. The elephants even have a lookout that sounds an alert when wildlife officials arrive to drive them off. Butch and Sundance never had it so good.When it comes to mating some of the anglerfish have a very different way of doing things. Anglerfish sit on the bottom waving a small fin that looks like a worm to attract prey. As with most fish the female is larger than the male. In this case much larger. These females do not have any problems finding a male. When the female anglerfish starts to mature the smaller male physically attaches to the females body. He becomes a part of her – though he retains his own identity. When the female is ready to breed she signals the male and he complies. Talk about a kept man.As humans we think of men and women as entities with fixed genders. Fish do things a little differently from what we might think of as normal. Most of us have eaten grouper for dinner or in a sandwich at some point in our lives but did you know that most of these fish change their gender as they mature.They are called protogynous hermaphrodites. Most or all of the groupers and sea basses are born female but as they mature they change into males. The reason for the evolution of protogynous hermaphrodites is to enhance the chance for successful spawning opportunities. In the Caribbean the Harlequin Bass is a simultaneous hermaphrodite. This means that they can change sex at will throughout their life. Can’t find a date make a change.Mankind’s activities can cause sex changes in fish. In the Potomac River in Virginia male smallmouth bass have been found that are growing eggs in addition to producing sperm. Laboratory studies indicate that these ‘intersex’ fish have been altered by exposure to endocrine disruptors. These disruptors are produced from a variety of sources including estrogen from human females on the pill, factory chemicals, which act as hormone mimics and animal hormones from cattle ranches. These disruptors pass untouched through our waster treatment plants and into our water supply.

Think Global – Act Local!

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