Florida Has Lots of Wild Monkeys With Herpes—and That Number Could Double Soon

iStock.com/Michael Warren
iStock.com/Michael Warren

The wild monkeys in Florida may be cute, but many of them carry a strain of herpes that can be deadly to humans who get scratched or bitten by one, according to WFTV.com. More than a quarter of the rhesus macaques that live in Silver Springs State Park are infected with the herpes B virus, and the total population of monkeys is expected to double from 200 to 400 within the next three years.

Also known as the monkey B virus, herpes B is extremely rare in humans but can turn deadly if infection occurs. In humans, symptoms may include small blisters, fever, flu-like aches, chills, headache, and pain or itching at the site of the wound. Only 50 people have contracted herpes B since the virus was discovered in 1932, but 21 of those were fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Macaques, which are believed to be natural hosts for the virus, experience only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Still, the anticipated population boom concerns wildlife experts, especially as the monkeys migrate to other parts of Central Florida. The animals, which are native to Asia, were first brought to the Florida park in the 1930s as part of an attraction that has since shut down. In 2015, a monkey was spotted more than 20 miles south of the park on the roof of an elementary school.

University of Florida professor Steve Johnson tells WFTV the state has a couple of options in terms of how to proceed. It could remove the monkeys from their environment, or remove the females, sterilize them, and release them back into the wild. However, the latter option would likely be expensive and risky for those who handle the monkeys.

"It's going to be a problem … continual growth of that population is going to occur without intervention," Johnson says. Until the state reaches a decision, park visitors are advised not to touch or feed the monkeys—which is generally good advice when encountering any wild animal.

[h/t The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Some Fish Eggs Can Hatch After Being Pooped Out by Swans

iStock/olaser
iStock/olaser

A question that’s often baffled scientists is how certain species of fish can sometimes appear—and even proliferate—in isolated bodies of water not previously known to harbor them. A new study has demonstrated that the most unlikely explanation might actually be correct: It’s possible they fell from the sky.

Specifically, from the rear end of a swan.

A study in the journal Ecology by researchers at the Unisinos University in Brazil found that killifish eggs can, in rare cases, survive being swallowed by swans, enduring a journey through their digestive tracts before being excreted out. This kind of fecal public transportation system explains how killifish can pop up in ponds, flood waters, and other water bodies that would seem an unlikely place for species to suddenly appear.

After discovering that some plants could survive being ingested and then flourish in swan poop, researchers took notice of a killifish egg present in a frozen fecal sample. They set about mixing two species of killifish eggs into the food supply of coscoroba swans living in a zoo. After waiting a day, they collected the poop and dug in looking for the eggs.

Of the 650 eggs they estimated to have been ingested by the swans, about five were left intact. Of those, three continued to develop. Two died of a fungal infection, but one survived, enduring 30 hours in the gut and hatching 49 days after being excreted.

Because killifish eggs have a thick outer membrane, or chorion, they stand a chance of coming through the digestive tract of an animal intact. Not all of what a swan ingests will be absorbed; their stomachs are built to extract nutrients quickly and get rid of the whatever's left so the birds can eat again. In rare cases, that can mean an egg that can go on to prosper.

Not all fish eggs are so durable, and not all fish are quite like the killifish. Dubbed the "most extreme" fish on Earth by the BBC, killifish have adapted to popping up in strange environments where water may eventually dry up. They typically live for a year and deposit eggs that can survive in soil, delaying their development until conditions—say, not being inside a swan—are optimal. One species, the mangrove killifish, can even breathe through its skin. When water recedes, they can survive on land for over two months, waddling on their bellies or using their tails to "jump" and eat insects. A fish that can survive on dry land probably doesn't sweat having to live in poop.

The researchers plan to study carp eggs next to see if they, too, can go through a lot of crap to get to where they’re going.

[h/t The New York Times]

31 Facts About Sharks

Simba, the world's most adorable Pomeranian, hosts The List Show. Some enamored human being helps … we think her name is Erin McCarthy.
Simba, the world's most adorable Pomeranian, hosts The List Show. Some enamored human being helps … we think her name is Erin McCarthy.

Sharks are some of the world's most intimidating creatures, right down to their species names. There’s the hammerhead shark, the great white shark, the bull shark—but did you know there’s also a cookiecutter shark? Don’t be fooled by its name, though: Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy says that the cookiecutter shark often preys on animals many times its size, and isn’t afraid to take a chunk out of a human. (And how they take a bite out of something is even more terrifying/fascinating.)

In this week’s edition of The List Show, Erin gives the lowdown on 31 amazing shark-related facts, including details on some Icelandic delicacies that even Anthony Bourdain found disgusting to trivia about Peter Benchley's Jaws.

You can watch the full episode—and catch Erin doing her best Tom Jones impression—below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here.

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