Canadian Animal Services Officers Rescue Pudgy Beaver Stuck in Fence 

After a long winter filled with more food than exercise, we feel for this beaver that got stuck in a wrought iron fence in Hamilton, Ontario, because its butt was too big to wriggle through the bars

As The National Post reports, an animal services officer named Sarah Mombourquette was called to a private home on Tuesday, where she found the rodent trapped between two fence posts. Its sharp teeth—designed to fell trees and gnaw through logs—were no match for the metal: “Unfortunately for this beaver, his sharp incisors were not helpful in cutting through the iron fence," The City of Hamilton Animal Services recounted in a Facebook post. "He landed, as the Canadian-ism goes, arse over teakettle through the fence onto a lower section of ground and couldn’t pull his rear-end through with his tiny front paws."

Mombourquette used liquid soap to help the beleaguered beaver squirm its way to freedom. After the animal was liberated, officials brought it to a local shelter and treated it to “a well-deserved veggie buffet,” according to Hamilton Animal Services.

Mombourquette thinks the beaver is under three years old, meaning it's a “teenage” rodent. Due to its age, it's more adventurous and curious than older beavers. This may help explain how it ended up in a private yard, far away from the forest.

Contrary to reports, the rotund critter wasn’t pudgy from months of hibernation: Beavers are mainly nocturnal, but they do remain active during the winter. They continue to eat and build—but just like us, they spend more time inside their cozy homes once the temperature drops. They chow down on stockpiled sticks and branches, which they stack just outside their lodges during the fall months. And to stay warm, they gain weight—particularly in their tails, which are specially designed to store fat. As winter progresses, beavers use up this fat, and the tail shrinks.

The unfortunate beaver was transferred to Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge in Jarvis, Ontario. There, it will recover from injuries (and a very public fat-shaming) before being re-released into the wild.

[h/t The National Post]

Primary image courtesy of iStock.

Fossilized Fat Shows 550-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature May Have Been the World's First Animal

Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University
Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University

A bizarre sea creature whose fossils look like a cross between a leaf and a fingerprint may be Earth's oldest known animal, dating back 558 million years.

As New Scientist reports, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) made a fortunate find in a remote region of Russia: a Dickinsonia fossil with fat molecules still attached. These odd, oval-shaped creatures were soft-bodied, had rib structures running down their sides, and grew about 4.5 feet long. They were as “strange as life on another planet,” researchers wrote in the abstract of a new paper published in the journal Science.

Another variety of fossil
Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University

Although Dickinsonia fossils were first discovered in South Australia in 1946, researchers lacked the organic matter needed to classify this creature. "Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years over what Dickinsonia and other bizarre fossils of the Edicaran biota were: giant single-celled amoeba, lichen, failed experiments of evolution, or the earliest animals on Earth,” senior author Jochen Brocks, an associate professor at ANU, said in a statement.

With the discovery of cholesterol molecules—which are found in almost all animals, but not in other organisms like bacteria and amoebas—scientists can say that Dickinsonia were animals. The creatures swam the seas during the Ediacaran Period, 635 million to 542 million years ago. More complex organisms like mollusks, worms, and sponges didn’t emerge until 20 million years later.

The fossil with fat molecules was found on cliffs near the White Sea in an area of northwest Russia that was so remote that researchers had to take a helicopter to get there. Collecting the samples was a death-defying feat, too.

“I had to hang over the edge of a cliff on ropes and dig out huge blocks of sandstone, throw them down, wash the sandstone, and repeat this process until I found the fossils I was after,” lead author Ilya Bobrovskiy of ANU said. Considering that this find could change our understanding of Earth’s earliest life forms, it seems the risk was worth it.

[h/t New Scientist]

Cats Take Turns Napping With the 75-Year-Old Star Volunteer at This Animal Shelter


The star volunteer at Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary in Wisconsin doesn't have to do much to make a cat's day. According to Huffington Post, Terry Lauerman, a 75-year-old from Green Bay, visits his local shelter every day to take a cat nap with the residents.

Safe Haven is a cage-free, no-kill animal shelter that gives a home to special needs cats at risk of being put down. When Lauerman first showed up at Safe Haven earlier this year, he didn't talk to the shelter employees about becoming a volunteer—instead, he waltzed in and started grooming the cats with a brush he had brought himself. After this continued for a while, the shelter decided to make his volunteer status official.

Lauerman has since settled into a daily routine. After brushing the cats, he tends to fall asleep with them, and after an hour or so he wakes up and finds a different cat to nod off with. Safe Haven recently shared his story on their Facebook page: "We are so lucky to have a human like Terry," the post reads. "He brushes all of the cats, and can tell you about all of their likes and dislikes. He also accidentally falls asleep most days. We don't mind—Cats need this!"

The post has since been liked by over 68,000 people and shared more than 18,000 times. Safe Haven wrote in the comments, "When Terry comes in today, I'm going to have to tell him that he's famous. I can almost guarantee he'll just laugh and say "Oh, really?"...shake his head...and then go back to brushing cats." Lauerman is also encouraging fans of the viral post to show their appreciation by donating to the shelter, which ends up with more medical bills than many shelters that don't have cats with disabilities. You can contribute cash here or make a donation through the shelter's Amazon wish list.

[h/t Huffington Post]