Recent News In Nature

This Leopard Was Thought To Be Extinct But Has Just Been Spotted In Taiwan

We’ve all heard of people disappearing and then reappearing over the years, but you don’t hear of many animals doing it! When it comes to feel-good stories, there are not many better than animals we’d thought long gone reappearing from the wilderness unexpectedly. And one recent story that tugged at the heartstrings was that of an extinct leopard which was spotted alive and well in Taiwan!

This Leopard Was Thought To Be Extinct But Has Just Been Spotted In Taiwan

Out Of The Past
The creature in question was a Formosan clouded leopard, a subspecies that was native to Taiwan but has not been seen in the wild since 1983. In fact, these magnificent beasts were actually declared as officially extinct in 2013! So, imagine everyone’s surprise and consternation when there were reported sightings of the animal as recently as last year.

In fact, this is one of the reasons why many Thai scholars have been so reluctant to officially call the animal extinct, instead preferring to leave it on the ‘endangered species’ list. This is thought to be amid fears of a backlash from the Indigenous community, as well as the significance of the leopard in Taiwan.

Recent Sightings
There were reports from rangers who claimed to have spotted a cat hunting goats in Daren Township, Taitung County. There were also reports from a group of villagers who apparently had two separate sightings of the animal back in 2018.

These sightings led to a patrol being arranged in the local area, especially as the animal has become a symbol of conservation in Taiwan, and is considered a sacred animal to the local Paiwan tribe. There are also concerns that outsiders may try to hunt them, and steps are being taken to try to prevent this from happening.

This Leopard Was Thought To Be Extinct But Has Just Been Spotted In Taiwan

The Myth Endures
The Formosan clouded leopard is something of a mythical being in Taiwan, with a rich backstory claiming that nobody outside of the indigenous population has ever laid eyes on one. 1983 was the last reported sighting of the cat. And this is despite a field study carried out, between 1990 and 1993, securing more than 16,000 photos of Dawushan Nature Reserve, with no trace of the animal.

It should be noted that this kind of behavior is not overly unusual for animals. Only recently, a giant tortoise thought extinct appeared on a Galapagos island, having not been seen since 1906! So perhaps this mysterious emergence from the leopard isn’t so mysterious after all.

Scientists Attempt To Explain Perplexing Pancake Shaped Objects In Space

The universe is a pretty big place, but thanks to technology scientists are making it seem smaller and smaller. A pretty powerful telescope has found something very familiar looking floating around millions of miles away. To the untrained eye, you could even say they look like pancakes.

What Are These Strange Pancakes In Space?

Four Billion Miles Away
For 13 years scientists have been calling a bizarre formation of shape an unknown puzzle. They called it MU69, and it is the farthest away object a human spacecraft has ever visited. As the spacecraft approached, it became clear the shapes had moved from their original position and looked a lot like a snowman.

Shaped Like Food
The shapes have also been nicknamed Ultima Thule and are believed to be flat and disk-shaped. ‘Thule’ is the smaller shape and is shaped like a walnut, while ‘Ultima’ is in the shape of a pancake. There is still so much to understand about this particular set of shapes however, but so far no one has managed to crack the code. Similarly shaped objects in the solar system are usually considered to be comets, but experts don’t believe this is necessarily the case with Ultima Thule.

What Are These Strange Pancakes In Space?

How Was It Even Formed?
The confusing thing for scientists is in trying to figure out just how the shapes took form in the first place. The images of Ultima Thule were taken from the spacecraft New Horizons and the experts analyzing its data believe we have never seen an object like it orbiting our sun. This isn’t the first image of Ultima Thule we have ever seen, nor will it be the last, but scientists are still trying to unravel its mystery. For now, we have bid goodbye to this strange formation, but experts believe it will come back again.

Perfect Preservation
One strange thing about MU69 is that it is encased in a frozen belt known as the Kuiper Belt. The temperatures reach the ultimate low of negative 460 Fahrenheit which has perfectly preserved the contents of Ultima Thule in time. Experts believe the Ultima Thule was preserved like this at the beginning of our solar system, four billion years ago.

This is just one of the discoveries the space probe New Horizons has found. The longer it’s roaming space, the more we’re going to understand about our solar system.