Tonight’s musical selection is Sage Francis, “Makeshift Patriot.” Thanks to Mac McCann (@MacMcCannTX) for the suggestion.
If this one made it into an Over Easy Science, I missed it. Apparently automated cameras caught a massive golden eagle taking an entire deer. From The Thoughtful Animal:
On December 15, 2011, conservation biologist Linda L. Kerley was conducting a routine check of a camera trap that had been placed in a small forest in eastern Russia. She regularly visited each of her cameras to swap out memory cards and batteries. But it was different this time when she came upon a deer carcass just a few meters away from the camera. Something “felt wrong about it,” she said in a prepared statement. “There were no large carnivore tracks in the snow, and it looked like the deer had been running and then just stopped and died.”
Kerley, who works with the Zoological Society of London, and her colleague Jonathan C. Slaght of the Wildlife Conservation Society study tigers. Together, the two zoological organizations have been working together to monitor Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), for almost twenty years. As part of their work on the world’s largest cat, the researchers placed camera traps throughout the Lazovsky State Nature Reserve in Russia’s Far East. Whenever an animal passed in front of one of the cameras, an infrared sensor activated and caused the camera to snap a photo.
What she discovered when she checked the photos later that day is probably the first recorded evidence of golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) predation on sika deer (Cervus nippon). While the three photos were taken over the course of just two seconds, they made scientific history.
Kerley and Slaght think that it must be incredibly rare for a golden eagle to hunt and kill a sika deer, and when an attack does occur it is probably opportunistic. Given the unlikelihood of such an attack, golden eagles probably do not pose a threat to sika deer populations. Still, this is yet another reminder that dinosaurs continue to rule the earth.
You can find the photos in the original article — it’s a little bit grizzly but, to me, a fascinating example of nature’s power.
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Photo by Drew Avery released under a Creative Commons license.