Friday, August 28, 2015

Rerun Article: Monster Hoax or Truly Beast?

The Saber-Toothed Assassin (top), was supposedly seen last Tuesday night by Mac Dee Dee who's meat crate it ripped open (bottom).
You might recall that in the past, we've written on some strange creature sightings in the past (e.g. The Great Pumpkin and a strange weasel-like mammal), and for the past few months, Riverville has been sort of quiet in this department because we haven't had any strange creature sightings . . . until last Tuesday night. Just when we thought all was quiet, another one of these unidentified creatures, known as “cryptids”, makes its presence known at Mac Dee Dee's Farm, the same farm that opened just a few weeks ago. When a cryptid was sighted at the farm, my trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater and I went over to the farm to get an interview with the farm's owner, Mac Dee Dee. “It was about 10:00 p.m. and I was sitting in my office about to go lie down for some shuteye,” says Mac Dee Dee, “when I looked up at the computer monitor that was connected to the security camera's we have outside and I just barely noticed a large creature run through the woods near the place I keep one of my tractor containment crates.” Mac Dee Dee went on to explain that inside the crate was a refrigerated compartment for holding fresh cow meat that was going to be shipped off the following day. Mac Dee Dee was quoted for saying, “But now I can't ship any of that meat off because that creature, whatever it was, clawed it open. It didn't bother to try eating the meat however, I'm not sure why. But just before it left, a pressed the 'snap photo' button on the security camera program and got a good picture of the beast.” Mac Dee Dee explained that his security camera system didn't save video footage, otherwise he would have taken a gotten a video clip of the beast. When I asked to see the photo, he showed it to me. The creature was unlike any wild creature I'd seen before. It was a four-legged, rhino-sized predator with a pair of saber-teeth protruding from its mouth, much like a saber-toothed cat. But this wasn't a cat, in fact, it wasn't even a mammal, but a reptile by the looks of it. Then Mac Dee Dee took us to see the crate the predator had torn through. True to his word, the animal's sharp claws tore right through it and due to the possibility of contamination, Mac Dee Dee had to loose his meats. With Mac Dee Dee's permission, I took the photo to Dr. Samuel Adamson, a head paleontologist at Animal Adventures Institute to see if he could identify the creature for me (I went to him instead of a zoologist because I thought this might be an animal believed to be extinct). He is quoted for saying, “I'm not exactly sure, but this cryptid is, but it looks a great deal like the Permian reptile known as a gorgonopsid. Depending on the species, a gorgonopsid could be the size of a small dog, to the size of a rhinoceros in the case of a species such as Gorgonops and Inostrancevia. But what all gorgonopsids had in common was a pair of saber-teeth that protruded from the top of the jaw.” As you might recall, the head geneticist of Animal Adventures Institute, Dr. Steve Stevenson, has successfully cloned a gorgonopsid named Gordon, but she's assured me that she's not the one responsible for tearing into Mac Dee Dee's meat crate. “I was sleeping like a baby at 10pm on Tuesday night,” she says. “Ask anyone here at the [Animal Adventures] Studios and they'll tell you the same. Besides, if I did sneak out and run to Mac Dee Dee's farm, security would have spotted me.” So with this new cryptid sighting making all the main local news outlets, it's guaranteed that this creature – now being affectionately referred to as “The Saber-Toothed Assassin” by some – is bound to attract some monster hunters, hoping to prove its existence. We may not know if this creature's a hoax or a real animal, but perhaps 21st century technology will help track this monster down before it causes too much trouble, but if its anything like the famous cryptids such as Big Foot, Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti, we could be searching for the Saber-Toothed Assassin for some time to come . . . let's hope it doesn't turn up in my backyard!

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan and Joy Hammond

Weekly Cartoons

Next Issue: Dr. Samuel Adamson's Fossil Discovery Report for 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Bee-autiful Celebration to Save the Bees

Honeybees, such as this one, are being threatened with extinction from pesticides and other pollutants. Thankfully, people have started to give these helpful insects a helping hand.
Notice: For those of you who don't know, National Honeybee Day 2015 was last Saturday. The article you are about to read was written several days before that point.

As the dog days of summer have just ended and the sound of buzzing is in the air. Yep, that's the characteristic sound of honeybees. Bees everywhere in the northern hemisphere are gathering nectar and making honey to make sure they have enough food to last them the entire winter, when no flowers are around to collect nectar from. Not only do bees produce honey (something many of us can't imagine living without), but they also are one of the most important pollinators we have in nature – if it weren't for them, many plants would be largely unable to reproduce. Unfortunately, bees everywhere (not just honeybees) are disappearing at a massive rate. Why? According to Dr. Arizona Stevenson of Animal Adventures Institute. “Bees are disappearing because the plants which they pollinate are often coated with pesticides. Pesticides may be meant to kill pests that harm farmers' crops, but they harm just about everything else too, including (in the long-term) humans who eat them! We must help save the bees are else a lot less pollinating is going to be going on.”

Thankfully, the bee's cry for help has been heard. Antonio the Armadillo has recently spearheaded a special celebration to occur just in time for National Honeybee Day (“Bee Day” for short). Antonio is quoted for saying, “Honeybees are dying everywhere and people need to know what's going on with them and how they can help save these beneficial insects.” My trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, and I found Antonio's behavior a little strange regarding the bees. Anyone who knows Antonio is aware that this armadillo is quite the salesman (he used to be a traveling salesman, but upon reaching Animal Adventures Inc. (AAI.) , he decided to stay. Hooray for us.). He's someone who would sell not one, but three buckets of sand to a man in the desert. Normally, his only motive is to make more money. Why would he care about bees? I decided to ask. “Well, bees are very important creatures. They pollinate the flowers, they make honey...and not to mention, many of the products I sell have honey in them. Without bees, I wouldn't be able to sell a lot of my products.”

In order to help bring awareness to the bees' plight, Antonio is organizing AAI.'s Annual Bee Day Celebration. We decided to interview Antonio's right-hand man, Bully the Bullfrog for more details on the festivities. “We've already recruited the help of many AAI. residents,” he says, “to create an elaborate parade, with balloons, floats, animatronic bees, people (and animals) in bee costumes and confetti.”

It turned out that a kid named Ryan Gregor, who's family lives on the property, is helping out with the animatronics. He says, “It's a lot of work to create this event, but it's all for a good cause. So we're willing to do it.”

Antonio's event has been faced with much approval, but also some disapproval by some of the locals. One of them is Mary Montano. She's the owner of Mary's Mall on AAI. property and was previously signed up as a sponsor for the event. But for unknown reasons, she decided to drop out. I guessed that after a recent bee incident, Mary has been somewhat spiteful of bees. When asked why she declined to even attend the celebration, she merely said, “It's weird.” Antonio knows about Mary's objection, and upon me asking about it, he said, “Mary is known to be a bit of an inconsiderate grouch. A bit of a Scrooge. She really seems to be against all things beautiful, lovely and fun...well, maybe just fun, because she has a beautiful mall and lovely decorations in it, but I mean...seriously. She hates fun! You should have seen her last Christmas! She forbid us to set up any Christmas decorations. She even rejected having a live Nativity scene with live animals, after the animals, the actors and the set arrived. That's Mary for you...” then he seemed slightly nervous. “You're not publishing this, are you?” he asked.

The annual Bee Day celebration will be held on Bee Day itself, which this year is on August 15th (it's the third Saturday every August). In closing, Antonio is quoted for saying, “Despite all the bee stings and dislike from certain locals, I firmly believe this celebration will bee exceedingly bee-autiful and completely worth it...especially since it's for everyone's favorite pollinators: the honeybee!”

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

Weekly Cartoons

Next Issue: Rerun article

Friday, August 14, 2015

Rerun Article: A Very Sticky Siuation

The maple syrup incident that occurred here in Riverville was a great sticky mess, but it was nowhere nearly as bad as the Great Molasses Flood of 1919, as seen in the photo above.
Last Friday, it was a normal day in Riverville, the town in which Animal Adventures Inc. is located. Birds were chirping, the sun was shining, people were walking to their lunch breaks and children were learning new things in school. I was sitting at my desk finalizing last week's article. But the peacefulness changed at 11:48 a.m. when people near the Dandy Candy Factory heard a loud rumbling noise. People looked at the factory and realized that the sound was coming from a 50-foot tall, storage tank that was 90 feet in diameter filled with 2,300,000 gallons of maple syrup. Suddenly the tank exploded and 2,300,000 gallons of maple syrup spewed out as if from a raging volcano!

Around this time of year, people – kids especially – love candy and sweets, but this was too much! The maple syrup began rapidly flowing through the surrounding area. People began running in terror from the sweet-tasting flood. Mr. Fish came to my office to inform me of what was happening elsewhere in town, so my trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, and I headed to the scene of the mayhem. Upon arrival, we found ourselves instantly surrounded by city officials – firefighters and police officers – who tried to keep the crowds back and loads of civilians who all wanted to see the action. I couldn't believe my eyes! Loads of maple syrup was flowing freely down the street at 35 mph. Upon its initial release, the wave of syrup was 25 or so feet high and as it continued along its path of stickiness, it leveled out to 3 feet in depth!

I spoke with police officer David Tooters to learn more about the situation at hand. He is quoted for saying, “No one knows as of yet why this happened, but we do know that we've got to rescue as many people as we can before anyone gets hurt. Maple syrup is only good in small doses.” Due to the dangers of the situation, I wasn't able to get very close, but from what I could see, the syrup was a powerful force. Some people were being quickly swept away by the torrent. At times, the firefighters blasted the maple syrup with high-pressure water hoses to make a pathway to the helpless people stuck in syrup. At one point during the day, the syrup even trapped someone's horse! Fortunately police were able to rescue the creature without injury to themselves or the animal.

After what seemed like hours of saving people and animals from the mess, some large snowplows were brought in to move the syrup. This went on until about 6:00 p.m. and finally the majority of the syrup had been swept away to someplace where it would be of no more danger. (I was unable to verify where). One question that was still on my mind was why the syrup exploded in the first place. To answer this question, I checked with CEO of the Dandy Candy Factory, Danny Scrumptious. He is quoted for saying, “Well at the time we were heating the maple syrup because we were preparing to start packaging it up to ship to grocery stores, and one of my workers, named Phil Tumor, was in charge of the operation. Phil decided to take a lunch break, accidentally left the heater on and the heat pressure built up so much that . . . well, I think we all know what happened.”

Then, I asked Danny if they had ideas on how to prevent this from happening again. “Of course we do,” Danny says, “for starters, we're not going to allow people working with the maple syrup to take lunch breaks or any type of breaks until after the heating process is over. We're also going to make some adjustments to how the whole system is run. We definitely don't want this to happen again, because not only was that lots of money wasted, but civilians' lives were put in danger.”

Thanks to the quick work of city officials, the syrup was cleaned up and no one was injured in the event. Now that its over, what happened today brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “There is such a thing as too much sweets.” Keep that in mind this October 31st!

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

Weekly Cartoon

Next Issue: A Bee-autiful Celebration to Save the Bees

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Boa Constrictor Killing Method

Previously thought to kill their prey via suffocation, new studies reveal the real horrifying method boa constrictors use to put their prey to death! (Wikimedia Commons)
The boa constrictor is one of the few snakes animals organisms on the planet that people commonly refer to by using its scientific name: Boa constrictor. But for those who are unfamiliar with this serpent, it's a moderately-sized species of boa (still smaller than the anaconda, reticulated python and several others) that makes its home in Central and South America, living in habitats as dry as semi-desert country or as wet as the tropical rainforests. They can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh 22 to 33 pounds on average. This popular species of snake is known for being a constrictor, the group of snakes famous for constructing their prey to death in tight coils that causes the prey to die of suffocation. But guess what! A new discovery confirmed that this isn't really the case during an attack from one of these snakes!

A group of scientists from around the world decided to study how boa constrictors and their relatives, like the anacondas (yes, the anaconda is a species of boa), capture and kill their prey. It turned out that these snakes don't actually kill their prey by suffocation as has long been believed – instead, prey dies due to...blood constriction! Gosh, and I thought the boa's method of killing was nightmarish enough as everyone once thought it was! To get the full scoop on this discovery, my trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, and I decided to pay a visit to one of the scientists involved in the study who actually works right here at Animal Adventures Inc.'s Animal Adventures Institute: Dr. Arizona Stevenson.

Dr. Arizona Stevenson, a personal friend of mine, is a zoologist and was surprised by the discovery they made. She's quoted for saying, “We initially wanted to study how boa constrictors attack and kill their prey, so we fed them rats and filmed them using slow-motion cameras. But we quickly noticed that the rats were dying too quickly for the cause of their death to be from suffocation.” She also explained that animals can remain alive (in an unconscious state) for longer periods of time than these rats were. “That's when one of my colleagues found a hypothesis put forward by a herpetologist in 1994 that boas don't kill their prey via suffocation, but by cardiac arrest. However, at the time the hypothesis had been ignored and untested.” So Dr. Arizona and her team decided to do just that!

They hooked up some live rats to a machine that would tell the scientists their blood pressure. When the rat was grabbed by the boa constrictor they used during the experiment, they found that indeed, the rat's blood pressure decreased as the snake tightened its coils around its body. “The boa constrictor's grip was so tight,” Dr. Arizona says, “that it cut off the rat's supply of blood to the brain, heart and other vital organs. The rats were out cold within seconds, proving the early hypothesis to be true!”

Dr. Arizona told me that this technique helps the snakes to kill prey far larger than themselves. “It takes a lot more time to suffocate a prey animal – like a capybara or a crocodile – than it does to kill it by cutting off circulation,” she said. “This is a good thing, because since the snakes lack legs, the more time they spend trying to kill their prey, the more time their prey has to potentially injure them.”

Dr. Arizona and the team are very impressed with the amount of scientific research and experimentation they've conducted over the course of the past several months. And since their work has completely debunked older “facts” about these animals, the scientists wonder what other well known animal “facts” that have been considered true for years are false.

“This discovery just goes to show us,” Dr. Arizona says, “that even when we think we know everything there is to know about something – in this case, boa constrictors – we learn that once again, scientific research is there to remind us how how little we really know.”

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan
Weekly Cartoons

Next Issue: Rerun Article: A Very Sticky Situation