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No. 123: May-Jun 1999

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Strange Appetites

Carnivorous hippos. Hippos have always seemed to be consummate herbivores; but in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, one killed an impala that had fled into a pond in order to escape a wild dog. It tasted good, and soon ten other hippos were enjoying a communal feast.

(Anonymous; "Carnivorous Hippos," Natural History, 108:23, April 1999.)

A Mom's Duty. The females of a small European spider, Amaurobius ferox, actively encourage their freshly hatched spiderlings to kill and eat them. The moms press against the clustered young soliciting what is called "matriphagy," or "mother-eating."

(Anonymous; "Having Mom for Dinner," Natural History, 108:21, April 1999.)

Bears Like Hondas. In 1998, Yosemite's black bears smashed and clawed their way into 1,103 automobiles, causing $634,595 in damage. Although the bears have developed specialized techniques for each car model, they favor Hondas and actively teach their cubs just how to do it. Of course, the bears are after food, not the Hondas per se, but this item fits in nicely here!

(Fialka, John J.; "Yosemite's Bears Have a Taste for Hondas," Chicago Sun-Times, January 25, 1999. Cr. J. Cieciel.)

Python Swallows Calf Elephant -- Almost.

"The python had seized the elephant by a hind leg and, mooring itself to a tree, started a fight to the death. The fight see-sawed crazily around the clearing for hours, smashing the undergrowth flat as the elephant tried in vain to free its leg.
"Eventually the python "swallowed" the elephant's leg. Then came a deadlock. The elephant could not move and the reptile could not swallow any more.
"Villagers stepped in, hacked the python to pieces with their razorsharp swords and freed the elephant."

(Anonymous; "Python Tries to Swallow a Calf Elephant in India," New York Times, October 28, 1952. Cr. M. Piechota.)

From Science Frontiers #123, MAY-JUN 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss