Sarasota News Leader

09/28/12

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ASK OTUS Dear Otus, I totally enjoyed your last column and the an- swer to my question. That other owl is pretty scary looking. Any more news on the reports of panthers at Historic Spanish Point? Lisel Staff at Historic Spanish Point (HSP) solved the mystery report of a Florida black panther, not Otus Offal and I. Let me introduce Lizzie the Museum Cat and HSP's "green" rodent controller! Note that her black tail is far too long to fit into the photo. Given Lizzie's sleek, furry black beauty, it is only natural that when she prowls for mice in the shadows of 30 acres of the museum's both randomly wild and impeccably manicured landscapes, she is mistaken for a green-eyed Florida black panther. As Chelsea Feeny of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa explained in last week's Ask Otus, the black panther does not exist. When experts exam- ine photo documentations of it, they conclude that the photo subjects are actually those of bobcats, house cats, dogs and unidentifiable creatures — pretty much in that order. How is it that people could be so mistaken yet ever so certain they saw a black panther? Much of the answer lies in how people per- ceive things. In certain lighting and without proper perspective, an object can appear darker and larger than it is. Otus Offal is 'corrupted' after taking the eyes and brain test. File photo There's a fun "test" you can take to under- stand how the eye and the brain work (or don't work) together and how we perceive what we think we saw. You can take a test on your computer that will demonstrate this effect. Click here to take the test. Offal took a different test that featured a pir- ouetting ballerina. After two hours into his prurient obsession with the ballerina, he had a bit of a glazed-eye look. ABOUT OTUS Otus Rufous, an Eastern Screech-Owl, was born on Sies- ta Key and is a full-time resident there. An avid hunter, accomplished vocalist and genuine night owl, Otus is a keen observer of our local wildlife and knows many of nature's secrets. Otus will answer your questions about our amazing wildlife, but only if you Ask Otus. So please send your questions and photos to askotus@sarasotanews- leader.com. Thank you.

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