Polar Bear Invasion in Arctic Russian Village Prompts State of Emergency

iStock.com/HuntedDuck
iStock.com/HuntedDuck

Residents of Novaya Zemlya, a remote arctic region in Russia, are locking themselves indoors as displaced polar bears from up north move into populated areas. The polar bear invasion has become so serious that local authorities are declaring a state of emergency until the problem is fixed, ABC News reports.

In and around Belushya Guba, the main settlement on the 3000-population archipelago, at least 52 polar bears have been reported this winter. While most remain on the outskirts of town, six to 10 are in the village at any given time, scrounging through garbage, walking into buildings, and even acting aggressively toward people who cross their path.

People in Novaya Zemlya have used sirens, car horns, and dogs to scare away the occasional polar bear in the past, but these bears have become desensitized to the tactics. Town officials have resorted to building protective barriers around schools and providing transportation for students and workers going to and from their homes. Other residents refuse to let their children go outside. Polar bears are an endangered species in Russia, so killing them is illegal, but authorities may be forced to do so if there's no other way to eradicate them from the village.

The reason the bears have invaded Novaya Zemlya makes them especially dangerous. Polar bears normally use arctic sea ice as a platform for stalking and hunting seals during the winter. This sea ice has diminished due to climate change, leaving many polar bears with two options: Move south in search of food, or starve. Wildlife experts warn that hungry, desperate polar bears will continue to be a problem for people living in arctic regions if current climate trends continue.

[h/t ABC News]

Middle School Student Discovers Megalodon Tooth Fossil on Spring Break

iStock.com/Mark Kostich
iStock.com/Mark Kostich

A few million years ago, the megalodon was the most formidable shark in the sea, with jaws spanning up to 11 feet wide and a stronger bite than a T. Rex. Today the only things left of the supersized sharks are fossils, and a middle school student recently discovered one on a trip to the beach, WECT reports.

Avery Fauth was spending spring break with her family at North Topsail Beach in North Carolina when she noticed something buried in the sand. She dug it up and uncovered a shark tooth the length of her palm. She immediately knew she had found something special, and screamed to get her family's attention.

Her father recognized the megalodon tooth: He had been searching for one for 25 years and had even taught his three daughters to scour the sand for shark teeth whenever they went to the beach. Avery and her sisters found a few more shark teeth that day from great whites, but her megalodon fossil was by far the most impressive treasure from the outing.

Megalodons dominated seas for 20 million years before suddenly dying out 3 million years ago. They grew between 43 and 82 feet long and had teeth that were up to 7.5 inches long—over twice the size of a great white's teeth. They're thought to be the largest sharks that ever lived.

Megalodon teeth have been discovered on every continent except Antarctica, but they're still a rare find. Avery Fauth plans to keep her fossil in a special box at home.

[h/t WECT]

Watch the Denver Zoo’s New Baby Sloth Cuddle Up With Its Mom

Denver Zoo
Denver Zoo

If you’re a sucker for itty, bitty, furry animals, then you’ll want to drop whatever it is you’re doing and check out this video of the Denver Zoo’s newest resident. Uploaded by The Denver Post, the video shows a week-old sloth clinging to its mother, and it’s almost too cute to handle.

The healthy baby, whose name and sex have not yet been determined, was born on April 11 to its proud sloth parents: 23-year-old Charlotte Greenie and 28-year-old Elliot. It also has an older sister, named Baby Ruth, who was born in January of last year. Dad and Baby Ruth are “temporarily off-exhibit” to give mom and her newborn baby the chance to rest and bond in their habitat—an indoor aviary that's part of the zoo's Bird World exhibit.

The baby belongs to one of six species of sloth called the Linne's two-toed sloth, which is native to the rainforests of South America and are not currently considered threatened. Unlike their distant relatives the three-toed sloths, two-toed sloths are mostly nocturnal creatures. They also tend to move faster than their three-clawed counterparts, although fast is putting it generously.

Like many things sloths do, the baby was slow to arrive. Zoo officials predicted that Charlotte would give birth as early as January, but the expected due date may have been a miscalculation.

“Sloth due dates are notoriously challenging to predict because sloths are primarily active at night and we rarely observe their breeding,” the zoo said in a statement. “Our animal care team closely monitored Charlotte for months to ensure that she and the baby were healthy and gaining the appropriate amount of weight.”

The baby is expected to cling to its mother for at least six months. Zoo officials say the best time to visit mom and baby is in the late afternoon, when Charlotte is more likely to be active.

[h/t The Denver Post]

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