Thursday, August 19, 2010
Creature Feature: Fossa.
As the Madagascar movie adequately highlighted, the island does indeed have a few familiar-looking carnivores. Nah, just kidding; they are just as weird as the lemurs, geckos, chameleons, and ground boas.
Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) are neither cats nor dogs. Like hyenas, they are more closely related to cats; boy does it show in that face! Again, they are fairly closely related to civets and mongooses. Even that is under scrutiny; nobody can seem to give the fossa a solid scientific classification.
I know what this is: DARN CUTE.
The video up top demonstrates the fossas' agility in the treetops. They are the only predator that can take down any species of adult lemur, even if the size and weight difference is huge. Half of the fossa's diet consists of lemur meat. There has been one detailed observation of fossas hunting in packs, but such reports are few and far between.
The fossa's species name, Cryptoprocta, addresses the creature's hidden anus. That's lovely, science; seriously, though, fossas have insane junk. Fossas have awesome enough balance to mate in the trees, a feat made easier with the male's spiked penis. Females get a similar development, albeit not as noticeably as in female hyenas. The mating lock is almost impossible to break once created. (I got a healthy dose of this in ZooBot class; now it's your turn!)
(If mating fossa noises aren't your thing, play "The Bad Touch" instead.)
Unlike lemurs, which are seen as ancestral souls, the fossa is treated a lot like the sneaky, greedy fox. People tend to avoid fossa meat because they do not wish to acquire its undesirable characteristics. Nonetheless, it is still hunted for bushmeat. Is this mortifying enough to merit a "They Actually Eat That?" Eh, well, it's not nearly as weird as the Chinese eating tiger dick.