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Piotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat. South American Goliath birdeater. Credit: Associated Press "When I turned on the light, I couldn't quite understand what I was seeing," said Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology. A moment later, he realized he was looking not at a brown, furry mammal, but an enormous, puppy-size spider. PHOTOS: Fish-Eating Spiders Found Around the World Known as the South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa...

PRAGUE - One of the last northern white rhinos on the planet has died in a reserve in Kenya, leaving the sub-species on the verge of extinction, experts said Saturday. Credit: Getty Creative The male, called Suni, "was probably the last male capable of breeding," according to Dvur Kralove zoo in the Czech Republic, where the rhino was born in 1980. There are only six of the very rare rhinos left, having been hunted by poachers in central and east Africa for their horns, which are highly prized for traditional Chinese medicine. The Czech zoo is the only one in the world to have succeeded in breeding the sub-species in captivity. Suni -- who is thought to have died from natural causes in...

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - A UN conference on preserving the earth's dwindling resources wrapped up Friday with governments making a firm commitment to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015. Credit: Getty Creative The funding target had already been agreed in principle at the last Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Hyderabad, India, in 2012, but there had been disagreement on how to calculate the increase. The gathering in Pyeongchang, South Korea, agreed to use average annual biodiversity funding for the years 2006-2010 as a baseline to be doubled by 2015, and then maintained through 2020. Governments also agreed to increase domestic financing for...

Spanish Town Deploys Dog Poo Police

MADRID - A Spanish town is deploying citizen street patrols and actors dressed as detectives to combat an invasion of dog droppings. Credit: Getty Editorial Actors in Sherlock Holmes costumes will spend the next two weeks pressing the case for cleaner sidewalks in Getafe, on the outskirts of Madrid. Then patrols will take to the streets to report any poo-petrators to the real police. "Residents asked for this," said a spokeswoman for the mayor's office. A study in September, she said, showed an average of 7.8 pieces of dog excrement every 100 metres (yards). The operation, dubbed "Canine Watch," takes inspiration from a similar clean-up programme in Colmenar Viejo, to the north of...

Rare Beaked Whale Washes Up in Australia

SYDNEY - A rare beaked whale washed up in Australia Tuesday, exciting researchers who know little about an animal that spends much of its time diving at depth far from shore. Baird's Beaked Whale. Credit: Fred Hochstaedter/Flickr The three-to-four metre (10-13 feet) long whale was found dead at Redhead Beach, some 150 kilometres (93 miles) north of Sydney, with experts examining it and taking specimens before sending its head to the Australian Museum in Sydney. "It is sad but also exciting as we can learn so much more about the animal," Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia president Ronny Ling told AFP. "We don't know much about them, we rarely get to see...

Texas Ebola Patient's Dog Will Be Spared

WASHINGTON - The pet dog of a Texas healthcare worker who was infected with Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient will not be killed, US officials said Monday. Credit: Getty Editorial The American answer to the question of what to do with a dog whose owner gets Ebola contrasted starkly with what happened in Spain last week, when authorities there put down an infected nurse's dog. "The healthcare worker had a dog, and we want to make sure we respond appropriately," said David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. "And so we are working hard to find a location to care for the dog and a location where we can have the proper monitoring of the dog." Dallas...