Stories tagged Borneo

Oct
22
2008

It's thinking about what it's going to do to you: It'll probably just hug you.
It's thinking about what it's going to do to you: It'll probably just hug you.Courtesy Datuk Chan Chew Lun
Light your sparklers Buzzketeers! It’s celebration time! And if you don’t have sparklers, go ahead and light any old thing! Because the world officially has a new largest insect!

Bang a gong!

This new bug is actually dead, and has been dead for about thirty years, but the international insect size record committee has had a lot of back work to do, and I guess they only just got around to it.

Anyway, we just have to accept that now everybody can measure insects as quickly as we might hope, and move on to this massive bug—Chan’s Megastick. (Or Phobaeticus chain if you’re going to be a jerk about it.) It looks… like a stick, really. A stick that’s nearly two feet long.

That’s right, y’all, the megastick is over 22 inches long from front legs to back legs, with a 14-inch-long body. It lives by disguising itself among the treetops, until a human walks beneath it, at which point it dives down, and inserts itself into the person’s body. It lives the remainder of its life there, laying eggs in all major organs, and scurrying around just beneath the skin.

That, or they spend their lives moving slowly and eating plants. Which ever you choose to believe.

The record-breaking specimen was collected decades ago in Borneo by a local giant bug enthusiast. Ten years later, the Malaysian naturalist Datuk Chan Chew Lun found the remarkable insect in the collection, and it was only announced to be a new species (among more than 3000 species of stick insects) last week. It edged out the previous record holder by less than an inch.

A huge, huge bug. How do you feel about that?

Jun
16
2008

But why is there only one set?: Because, my child, I'm like 25 feet tall, and I was probably carrying you. Or maybe I don't exist, and someone faked these footprints.  ~Bigfoot
But why is there only one set?: Because, my child, I'm like 25 feet tall, and I was probably carrying you. Or maybe I don't exist, and someone faked these footprints. ~BigfootCourtesy Thiru Murugan
Weeelllll, I’d invite y’all to have a seat on the little piece of furniture I like to call the Cryptocouch, but I’m afraid that this item may not quite warrant the Cryptocouch’s soft embrace of the butt of curiosity. I mean, I personally tried it out, and it felt good, very good, but I couldn’t quite shake the idea that I was abusing the privilege that is the couch. So I’m warning you off.

There are very big foot prints on the island of Borneo. Normally I’d be pretty excited about this sort of thing, but…well, let’s take a look.

About a week ago, some folks discovered two exceptionally large footprints near a ceremonial enclosure (an interesting thing to do with their medicine man, and a local malady, but I’m not getting into it here) not for from their village. With mysterious big footprints, often we’re looking at something in the neighborhood of 16 inches. These footprints, however, are 47 inches long. Pretty impressive, but, um…I think someone might have been overdoing things.

The link above, under “16 inches” will have a neat formula you can check out, but I’m not into that, so we’re going to do a foot size to height conversion JGordon style. I’m six feet tall (72 inches), and my feet are…let’s see. My cubicle has been provided with a plastic six-inch ruler, which we all know is useless—I literally can not think of a single item in this world that is six inches or smaller. Except maybe a baby’s brain. Or a broken six-inch ruler. Fortunately, I’m practically swimming in standard 8.5” x 11” sheets of paper.

Shoes off, my foot is almost exactly as long as the sheet of paper I’m standing on—11 inches. So, 11 / 72 = .153. That’s my ratio of foot size to height, and I’m going to say it applies to all other humans, hominids, and hominoids (I’m pretty much the perfect specimen). A creature with a foot 47 inches long, then, should be 308 inches tall, or 25 feet, 8 inches. That’s pretty tall, even for Bigfoot, which are rarely reported to be very much taller than 10 feet. Borneo may be the world’s third largest island (“may be”? Heck, I’m just going to say it is), but it would be tricky for a bunch of 26 foot tall anythings to hide out for very long there. Unless they’re magical, and that’d be straying a little far from Science Buzz territory.

The other issue here is weight. If you take a look at the photographs of the “footprints,” which can be found here, you’ll see they aren’t very deep. The villagers do report that the ground at the sight is very hard, but you’d think something that tall would weigh enough to make a substantial impression. Again, let’s use the quick and no doubt totally accurate JGordon to Bigfoot conversion, but this time let’s to height to weight. I’m about 150 pounds for 72 inches. That means that a slender Bigfoot, at 308 inches, would have to weigh about 642 pounds. This conversion is probably a little shakier than the foot size to height formula, but, still, I’m guessing a 26-foot tall creature would be pretty darn heavy.

Plus, the photos seem to indicate that the monster is flatfooted, and you wouldn’t want to be walking around without nice arch supports if you were that heavy. Yet these are bare footprints. The evidence against is adding up.

So we’re left with real big footprint-like things, and, unfortunately, not real Bigfoot print, like, things. Oh, words.

It’s kind of a let down, I know. But don’t loose hope—crazy crap is happening all the time, and Science Buzz is just waiting for it.

Sep
27
2007

I am not a crook: Orangutans are uniting behind the non-criminal activites of a Borneo sister who a tourist is accusing of attacking her at a wildlife sanctuary (Flickr photo by axinar)
I am not a crook: Orangutans are uniting behind the non-criminal activites of a Borneo sister who a tourist is accusing of attacking her at a wildlife sanctuary (Flickr photo by axinar)
The wildlife on Borneo is a little wilder than one tourist expected.

Earlier this week an orangutan in a wildlife sanctuary on the southeast Asian island did a mugging job on a tourist. The ape snatched her backpack along with stripping off her shoes, socks and pants. It appears to be a lone orangutan and not a gang-related activity. The woman also claims that the orangutan bit her, but wildlife sanctuary officials can’t confirm that happened.

Here are the details:

The woman was taking photos of a female orangutan when it reached out and grabbed her bag. The two had a bit of tug-of-war over the bag for a while before the orangutan ripped the woman’s pants. When the ape got her bag, he searched through it, apparently looking for something to eat.

The orangutan then took off her shoes and socks, and while trying to pull off her pants, she claims it bit her on the leg. Wildlife sanctuary officials did give her medical treatment for scrapes and bruises, but did not see any bite marks on the woman.

The orangutan has no comment on the incident.

Mar
16
2007

Clouded leopard: Photo by fuzuoko
Clouded leopard: Photo by fuzuoko


Scientists working for the World Wildlife Fund have recently “discovered” a new species of cat, with the longest teeth in the feline world. The Borneo clouded leopard has fangs that can grow up to 2 inches long. Only the extinct saber-tooth tiger of North America has longer chompers.

The interesting thing is, scientists have known about the clouded leopard on Borneo for over 100 years. But it wasn’t until recently that they compared its DNA to that of clouded leopards on mainland Asia. When they did, they discovered some 40 differences – making the island cat as different from its continental cousin as lions are from tigers.

The Borneo clouded leopard lives in an inaccessible jungle, a part of the island which scientists have only recently begun exploring for the first time. So far, they have found 50 new species, just from this one area.

Scientists have discovered more than 50 new species of animals on the island of Borneo in just the last 18 months. The creatures live in remote mountain areas that have not been well-explored.

Long-time Buzz readers will recall a similar story coming from New Guinea last March. Islands on the Equator are hot spots of biological diversity. Scientists argue these areas should be protected, so we can better study and understand nature.