Bearcats smell like popcorn

‘Binturong’ by Thingie, 4 Feb 2006, via Flickr

This little fellow is a bearcat, or binturong. He is, in fact, neither bear nor cat, but is instead a member of the viverridae family (which we know mostly as civets & genets).

Shy, slow and shaggy, bearcats can be aggressive when threatened. They are one of only two carnivores with a prehensile tail, which is nearly as long as their bodies (which are usually two to three feet long). For a carnivore, they are surprisingly omnivorous, and their diet in the wild leans towards fruits, shoots and leaves.

Bearcats are native to Southeast Asia, but as arboreal forest-dwellers, they are increasingly at risk due to habitat loss and degradation through logging and conversion. They are also extensively trapped for the Asian pet, food and fur trade.

They also smell like buttered popcorn. Truly. Recent research has shown that their urine contains the same molecule that forms when corn is popped. Added to their little cat faces, flat-footed bear-like amble and general chattiness, their scent makes them nigh on irresistible.


Horses come dappled
Image Source: ‘Appaloosa Horse’ by Lynn Stone, 2 Feb 2011,

Appaloosas are known for their spotted coats. Their base coat may be almost any colour, but all have a white pattern overlaid on the base coat. There are a number of pattern variations, including spots, blanket, leopard, snowflake and marble, plus endless combinations of the different patterns. These spotted patterns are referred to collectively as the ‘leopard complex’.

So an Appaloosa is a horse with a leopard complex. Ha. Continue reading

Horses come in gold

I love horses. Fell for them when I was 7 or 8. It’s all the fault of books, because I have never owned a horse, lived with or near horsey people, or known anyone as horse-mad as I was. Anna Sewell, Walter Farley, Marguerite Henry, Elyne Mitchell, Mary O’Hara and dozens of others: I read every vaguely horsey book I could get my grubby paws on. One year I was given a horse encyclopedia as a gift, and I practically memorized it – which is just as well, because it eventually came apart under the constant handling.

I pestered my parents to let me ride the ponies in the parks, go trail riding, attend horse camps. I wasn’t often successful, because those sorts of things cost money, and we didn’t have a great deal to spare. So I gobbled up library books and daydreamed instead. Continue reading

This week in stupid: Sarah Palin is not a scientist

imageYou’ve got to give Sarah Palin props for consistency. She is wrong about pretty much every issue she takes on – whether that’s evolution, US foreign policy or climate change. And now she’s taking on Bill Nye the Science Guy.

At the invitation-only premiere of the climate denialist film  Climate Hustle on Capitol Hill – an event hosted by Lamar Smith, the Republican Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee – Sarah Palin had this to say:

Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am. He’s a kids’ show actor. He’s not a scientist.

Continue reading