New York's New Cockroaches, And More Weird Animal News
Were you having a good day so far? Well, too bad. Because here's a reason to not go outside again, ever: A type of cockroach brand-new to the United States has been discovered in New York City's High Line park. And they are impervious to cold weather. Rutgers University entomologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista say the species, called Periplaneta japonica or "Japanese cockroach," is common in Asia but never-before-seen in the United States.
If you've never been to the High Line, it is a beautiful elevated park created out of an abandoned elevated railway line. It is full of flora and fauna from around the world — maybe the new cockroach unknowingly traveled across the Pacific Ocean? — and extends from Manhattan's Gansevoort Street to 30th Street. Still, researchers say there's really no cause for concern, because there's too much competition over space and food in the crowded insect world of the High Line. Sure, that's what the cockroaches want you to think. It's only a matter of time before our new cockroach overlords take over.
And did you think these cockroaches were the only weird animal story going on? Well, think again.
Sharks Are Homesick
In an extensive study, researchers found that lemon sharks give birth in the same place they were born, a practice known as natal philopatry. Many think that some animals are attuned to the geomagnetic field of their birthplaces. Beginning in 1995, scientists tracked newborn sharks in the Bimini Islands of the Bahamas until some became pregnant about 13 years later.
In 2012, the team counted 15 mother sharks using the same nursery their own mothers used. By the study's conclusion, 59 sharks had found their way back to their nursery sites, according to results published Thursday in the journal Molecular Ecology.
Crazy Ants Are Crazy
“They literally come in waves of just millions.” Shudder. Texas resident Mike Foshee, the subject of a Dec. 5 New York Times Magazine article, found Raspberry crazy ants (actual name) in waves inside and around his house — in the air conditioner, zipping around his kitchen floor and inside his TV cables. They are attracted to electronic equipment but will crawl up, around, and over whatever is in their path, including humans.
The ants are spreading quickly in Texas and surrounding states, puzzling exterminators and sometimes driving people to divorce. And in Texas, there seems to be no way to stop them — the government doesn't consider them a threat. They die in the fall but come back with a vengeance in the spring, infiltrating people's houses until the homeowners are quite literally driven crazy. We're getting itchy just thinking about it.
Cats Are All Up in Your Brain
The parasite Toxoplasmosis gondii, better known as Toxo , is a cyst that settles in a person's brain via uncooked meat, soil — or cats. It can cause a simple cold at first, but if triggered, can be deadly. And at least 60 million Americans carry it. “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year,” says neuroscientist Joraslav Flegr.
Studies have shown toxo to increase levels of dopamine and assist active movements. It also seems to make men more introverted and suspicious, while women feel more outgoing and promiscuous. But before you infecting yourselves with this cat parasite, just remember that it also may cause people to have more traffic accidents, develop schizophrenia and inflict self-harm.
Can Mice Prove If Trauma is Inherited?
Maybe. Researchers have found that mice pups seem to carry on reactions of fear and anxiety when presented with similar situations faced by their parents. In a study, scientists taught parent mice to be afraid of cherry blossoms. After their children were born and raised without being exposed to the cherry blossom fear tactics, they were nonetheless afraid of them when they caught a whiff.
Could humans inherit similar adverse reactions to traumas suffered by their parents or grandparents? Some evidence is compelling. "Studies on humans suggest that children and grandchildren may have felt the epigenetic impact of such traumatic events such as famine, the Holocaust and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks," according to the Washington Post.