Rounding the final turn it's a trio of ... ROBOTS vying for the win?? Robotic jockeys control their camels during a race at Dubai Camel Racing Club on Nov. 17, 2013 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. More accurately, the robots and their whips are controlled by the camels' owners, whose mindless jockeys are tricked out with shock absorbers and GPS tracking systems. Camel racing is one of the oldest sports in the Middle East, and until 2002 children from India were the jockeys, but that practice was finally outlawed.
You're looking at royalty, of a sort. It's the emperor tamarin (fun fact: it's named for Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, who had a mustache not unlike that of the tamarin). It's known for its striking mustache, which is thought to aid them in visual communication. A new study has found that for Old World monkeys and apes, species living in bigger groups have complex, colorful facial patterns, while those from smaller groups have simpler, plainer faces. The study suggested that facial diversity makes it easier for individuals to be recognized in larger groups.
If two heads are better than one, this fiddler ray, seen from the bottom, could have had it doubly good. (It was stillborn, however, so we'll never know how it would have dealt with its two-headedness.) The ray was found in an Australian aquarium after some of the site's female rays had given birth. It was the first two-headed ray discovered in Australia and is among only a few examples, worldwide, of the rare birth defect.
Come to think of it, is one head better than two? These two painted storks perform a balancing act that's actually common among young birds. Perhaps this is just how storks do the Vulcan mind meld.
Sad times, meanwhile, for the southern Darwin's frog (Rhinoderma darwinii). Take it in while you can. It's in decline, thanks to chytrid fungus and habitat loss. The fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has spread worldwide and is directly implicated in the destruction of many amphibious populations. The other Darwin's frog species, northern (Rhinoderma rufum), has not been seen in more than 30 years and is thought to be extinct.
A new study in the journal Marine Environmental Research has found that sea lions, like whales, are affected by military sonar signals. The louder the signals 15 sea lions heard in a swimming enclosure, the more the marine mammals reacted, particularly the younger ones. How did the sea lions react to the noise? Among the reactions were refusal to participate; hauling themselves out of the water to avoid the noise; changing their breathing rate; and staying underwater longer.
Looks like it's Christmas early for these white lions, who dive into a sack filled with treats at the Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen, The Netherlands, on Nov. 15, 2013.
"Are you talkin' to me?" A male koala in its enclosure at the zoo in Dresden, Germany does its level best to mimic the classic De Niro stare. And, let's be honest: It's just not working. Koalas are a bit too cute to pull off a fearsome stare.
This Rocky Mountain goat and kid take in the scenery in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. The elder of the two looks as though it has deep thoughts to share with us, but for the small problem that we don't speak goat.
We say goodbye to this week's gallery with, appropriately enough, another goodbye. Here a sea turtle is released on Nov. 21, 2013 by volunteers of the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center, after the loggerhead received treatment for a wound. The turtle is one of two wounded loggerheads that were rehabilitated at the rescue center and set free back to the Mediterranean Sea that day. Good luck, little buddy!