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101 Animal Shots You'll Go Wild Over

Walking the Dog

Chihuahua X-ray

(Image credit: Martin Fischer, Jena University )

Step right up, come this way, see the amazing see-through Chihuahua!

Okay, it's really just a normal Chihuahua, but scientists in Germany caught the animal on high-speed x-ray film as part of a project to learn more about how canines move. This Chihuahua is one of 327 dogs from 32 different breeds videotaped, a project that the researchers hope will boost knowledge about dog anatomy and evolution. For example, did you now that the length of a dog's foreleg is always 27 percent of that of the entire leg, regardless of breed? Now you've got something to talk about at your next cocktail party.

Yum... You Look Delicious

Common Leaf-tailed gecko

(Image credit: © D. Finnin/AMNH/California Academy of Sciences)

A common leaf-tailed gecko licks its chops. These Madagascar natives have more teeth than any other land-dwelling vertebrate.

Baby Bat

Brown bat

(Image credit: Dylan George, Colorado State University)

This juvenile big brown bat may be cute, but the animals are major carriers and transmitters of rabies. A new study, published online June 6, 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that hibernation keeps rabies-infected bats alive long enough to pass the disease on to young bats in the next season. These hibernation patterns continue the cycle of rabies infection.

Flirty Fish: You're Pretty Cute

Sea Bass

(Image credit: Tim Griffith, California Academy of Sciences)

Come here often? This giant sea bass seems to have an eye for the ladies at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Jealous boyfriends should think twice before challenging their fishy foe: "Buccalo," as he's known, is over four feet long and weighs 165 pounds.

— Stephanie Pappas

All Wrapped Up and Ready to ...

emerald tree boa

(Image credit: © D. Finnin/AMNH)

The emerald tree boa, which is found in the Amazon basin, is equipped with highly sensitive heat-sensing organs that it uses for 3-D thermal imaging of their prey. Its color pattern and the way the tree boa drapes itself over branches are similar to the green tree python from Australia and New Guinea.

I've Seen a Ghost

New sea slug species

(Image credit: Terry Gosliner, California Academy of Sciences)

This pale creature haunts the sea floor near the Philippine island of Luzon. Newly discovered during the California Academy of Sciences’ 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, this species of sea slug doesn't need ectoplasm (or a shell) to ward off predators.

Instead, sea slugs produce toxins to protect themselves. Some of these toxins are quite dangerous: In 2009, five dogs in New Zealand died after eating gray side-gilled sea slugs that had washed up on the beach. Ingesting half a teaspoon of gray side-gilled slug would kill a human, New Zealand officials said. So while we know it might be tempting, don't eat the slugs. Please.

— Stephanie Pappas

Milk the ... Snake?

Taipan venom

(Image credit: David Williams, AVRU)

A Papuan taipan gives up its venom for science. These snakes, which can grow to be 6 feet (2 meters) long, are shy, but they will bite when threatened. And that bite is nasty: According to the University of Melbourne's Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU), taipans will often inflict multiple bites on their victims, injecting bigger payloads of venom with each bite. The venom contains toxins that destroy nerves and prevent the blood from clotting. It can kill within 30 minutes.

The Papuan taipan is responsible for 82 percent of the serious snakebites in the Central province of Papua New Guinea. Now, AVRU scientists have developed a new antivenom for the deadly bites, publishing their preclinical results in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The new antivenom is less expensive than the current taipan bite treatment, which must be imported from Australia. Shortages of that drug have created a black market in antivenom, study researcher David Williams, a doctoral candidate at AVRU, said in a statement.

The researchers are now seeking funding to test the antivenom in rigorous medical trials.

— Stephanie Pappas

Pigeon Cam Gives Birds-Eye View of Forest & Trees

Pigeon Camera

(Image credit: Talia Moore)

Ready for your close-up? This pigeon's head-held camera captures all, including the secret of how these birdbrains navigate tricky forest environments. Researchers from Harvard University attached tiny cameras to the heads of pigeons and trained them to fly through an artificial forest in order to learn how the birds make choices in flight.

The pigeons proved excellent navigators, the researchers reported on July 1 at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual conference in Glasgow. They always chose the straightest route through the trees and seem to exit the forest heading the same direction as when they entered, despite the twists and turns they have to take to avoid crashing. The results will contribute to research in developing robotics and auto-pilots, the researchers said.

— Stephanie Pappas

Director's Cut

Ringtail Possum

(Image credit: Australian War Memorial)

This ringtail possum has the camera, so who's going to provide the action? Taken in 1943 somewhere in northern Australia, this photo is part of the Australian War Memorial collection. The possum, someone's pet, apparently became interested in a Department of Information movie camera and assumed the director's position. Normally, ringtail possums live a less artistic life in dense, brushy forests. Like the more-famous koalas that share their Aussie home, ringtail possums are eucalyptus-loving marsupials.

—Stephanie Pappas

Frog in a Log

Gray Tree Frog, Louisiana

(Image credit: Dennis Demcheck , U.S. Geological Survey )

Now you see him ... A gray tree frog peers out of a hole in a tree in Louisiana. Like chameleons, gray tree frogs can change colors to match their surroundings, ranging from gray, brown, green or even white. On the underside of each hind leg, the frogs have a splash of bright orange color, which may confuse predators.

—Stephanie Pappas