Interesting animals Some animals are so small that you need a microscope to see them. Others are huge. All are interesting. Tue, 20 Sep 2016 09:20:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How animal astronauts paved the way for human space flight Sun, 10 Jan 2016 11:29:25 +0000 The other day my kids came home from school all excited to tell me they had been watching Tim Peake, the astronaut set to make Britain’s first spacewalk. I was surprised how much excitement this had caused in my kids, but then one of my earliest memories is sitting with my father watching Neil Armstrong step on the moon; I can still recall it vividly.

The history of aeronautical and space exploration is one full not only of human heroes such as Yuri Gagarin but also of animal explorers, albeit passive ones. It was the Montgolfier brothers in 1783, worried about the effects of high altitude on human health, who hung a basket containing a live sheep, cockerel and duck below one of their earliest balloons. 

This also turns out to be an early example of a controlled experiment: the sheep was there to represent human physiological responses, the duck as a control because they are accustomed to high altitudes and the cockerel as a second control since it is a bird not accustomed to high altitudes. All three survived their brief flight, in front of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and subsequently man took to the air.

If sheep could fly … Expérience aerostatique faite Versailles le 19 sept. 1783

Like the Montgolfier brothers, early space scientists were concerned about whether humans would be able to survive travel in space. So in 1947, a few fruit flies were the first animals in space, launched on top of an American V2 rocket and safely returned to earth, unlike many of the animals that followed them in the next decades.

During the late 1940s and 1950s a series of American rhesus monkeys all called Albert made trips with varying degrees of success into space. They showed humans could survive the rigour of space travel, or at least straight-up, straight-down missions.

The Russians’ chosen species to be their animal astronaut was the “stray dog”. Dogs were chosen for their physiological similarities to humans and strays were preferred as they already had experience of toughing it out on the freezing streets of Russia.

Soviet space dog Veterok survived 22 days in orbit. Tekniska museet, CC BY

Laika, a mongrel from Moscow, became the first animal to go into orbit in 1957. She was sent into space with no way of returning her to Earth. It had been anticipated that Laika would have survived a week or so with the food and oxygen supplied to her, but Sputnik 2 overheated and she died after only a few hours.

Laika, first in space!

Laika, first in space!

Yet it was the missions with Laika and many other dogs that finally led to the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human being in space in 1961. Despite the success of the first human, many more animals would be flown into space, especially dogs (more than 50 missions) and primates (more than 30 missions).

One of the most famous primate missions was undertaken by a young male chimpanzee called Ham in 1961. Ham had received mission training using positive reinforcement (banana pellets) and punishment (mild electric shock to his feet) to get him to pull levers during his mission – showing that astronauts did not have to be mere passengers.

Prepare for takeoff, Spacechimp Ham. NASA.

The use of animal astronauts therefore laid the foundations for human space flight. As scientists wished to answer questions such as how microgravity will affect the flight of a butterfly, the formation of a spider’s web or a gecko’s reproduction, a veritable zoo of animals have gone beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

Some of the experiments Peake is conducting during his time in space concern astrobiology, which sounds very cool to a mere Earth-bound biologist. He’s using the European Space Agency’s module called EXPOSE, which houses a variety of organisms such as bacteria and fungi which are exposed to the harsh conditions of space to see if they can survive.

The challenges of life in space are considerable – from huge temperature fluctuations, radiation and life in a vacuum – so the organisms chosen are known on Earth as extremophiles, species normally found in extreme conditions such as close to underwater volcanic vents (that is, high temperatures and extreme chemical conditions).

So far microorganisms known as “water bears” or tardigrades and some bacteria have been shown to survive the extreme conditions of space. Data from experiments on the International Space Station will enlighten us about the possibility of life on other planets and provide information useful for human lead trips to Mars and beyond.

My kids are rightly excited by the work of human astronauts but we should not forget the contribution that animals have made. And in 2008 Russia built a monument to Laika hailing her contribution to human space exploration.

The Conversation

By Robert John Young, Professor of Wildlife Conservation, University of Salford. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Five things dung beetles do with a piece of poo Tue, 15 Sep 2015 15:38:30 +0000 By Marcus Byrne, University of the Witwatersrand

Dung beetle behaviour has fascinated humans for thousands of years – including the ancient Egyptians, who incorrectly believed the beetles reproduced only from males. But Egyptian observations that the beetles’ ball rolling is influenced by the sun is accurate and could be the first recorded accounts of animal behaviour.

Dung beetles evolved at least 65 million years ago, as the dinosaurs were in decline, and the mammals (and their droppings) were getting bigger. There are about 6000 species worldwide, concentrated in the tropics where they feed mainly on the dung of terrestrial vertebrates.

Dung beetles have been cleaning up the planet ever since; but what on earth do they do with all that poo? Here are the top five most interesting.

Eat it

Vulgar and aggressive, but true. Dung beetles eat dung. But they are fussy eaters, picking out the big bits and concentrating on the tiniest particles, 2-70 microns big (1 micron = 1/1000 of a millimetre), which is where most of the nitrogen in dung is to be found.

All organisms need nitrogen to build proteins, such as muscle. Dung beetles get theirs from dung. By eating poo, dung beetles may be selecting the cells from the gut wall of the herbivore which made it. These are a protein-rich nitrogen source.

The latest studies show that obesity and diabetes in humans might be linked to our individual gut microbiomes. Dung beetles might be using their gut microbiome to help them digest the difficult components of dung.

Roll it – although only a minority do

90% of dung beetles tunnel directly beneath the dung pat and make an underground nest of brood balls in which they lay eggs. You’ll never see them unless you are prepared to poke around in the stuff.

On the other hand, the rollers transport their prize on the soil surface. They use celestial cues such as the sun or the moon to keep to a straight track away from competitors that might steal their ball.

There is one species which has been shown how to use the stars of the Milky Way as its celestial compass, allowing it to dominate the midnight market in dung transport.

Make a packed lunch

This is what the brood ball represents to the larval dung beetle. Hatching from a single egg inside each brood ball, the larva eats its way around the interior of the ball.

This dung is coarse and crunchy, so the larva has chewing mouthparts not found in the adult beetle, and doesn’t have the luxury of selecting what it can eat or discard, so it eats everything – several times. Therefore, its microbiome is different from their parents’, and might contain symbiotic microorganisms living in a mutually beneficial relationship with the host larva.

That gives the larva access to sugars in otherwise indigestible cellulose, and may even “fix” nitrogen from the atmosphere.

Dung beetle making a packed lunch. Image: Marcus Byrne

Woo girlfriends

All that is needed is a small ball of poo. Place the poo at the base of a short tunnel, then retreat to the entrance where you stick your bum in to the air and release a pheromone which alerts nearby female beetles that you have a juicy prize for them. This is in return for sexual favours.

Pheromones are chemical messengers, which leave the body and are often associated with sexual attraction.

But sometimes the males cheat. They make the tunnel, do the head-standing trick to lure a naïve female, who after succumbing to his wiles discovers that males are not to be trusted – even the six-legged versions.

Chill on it

On a hot day in the Kalahari the soil surface can reach 60°C, which is death to any animal that can’t control its body temperature.

Dung beetles are small, and so is their thermal inertia. Consequently they heat up very rapidly. To avoid overheating while rolling their balls in the blazing midday sun, they climb on top of the ball to momentarily cool off, before hot-footing across the sand looking for shade. Giving them chilled dung balls from the fridge allows them to roll further before going back onto the ball.

Heated balls have the opposite effect. And giving them insulating silicon boots lets them tolerate high temperatures for longer, showing that the dung ball is used as a thermal refuge from the heat.

Each example shows how evolution has co-opted a single, seemingly odd behaviour of eating dung into a more sophisticated use of the same material in different roles, each of which have enhanced the animal’s survival. This ranges from making nuptial gifts to thermal refuges.

Those beetles that discovered these new behaviours by accident had more offspring, bearing their slightly different genes and behaviour into the next generation. This is where they became entrenched as an evolutionary adaptation to a successful way of life at the back-end of the food chain.

Marcus Byrne, Professor of Zoology and Entomology, University of the Witwatersrand
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
The Conversation

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A-Z of animals : Aardvark to Cuscus Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:57:36 +0000 Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

Aardvark Although the Aardvark, “earth pig”, shares some similarities with the South American anteater, the two are not related. The aardvark is endemic to Africa. Hearing and sense of smell is acute but eyesight is poor. Tongue is sticky and can reach 45 cm (18 in) from the mouth. Eats primarily termites and ants – up to 50,000 per night.

Cape buffalo African buffalo, or Cape buffalo, is a member of the “Big Five“, together with the elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. Weighing 700 kg (1,500 lb), they are unpredictable, and dangerous if cornered. They have been known to ambush men and are often accused of deliberate savagery but are placid if left alone.

African Golden Cat The African Golden Cat is a medium sized cat and can grow to 90 cm (35 in) in body length and weigh up to 18 kg (40 lb). Apart from duika and other small antelope it is thought that the main part of the golden cats diet is made up of rodents, tree hyraxes and birds.

African Wild Dog African Wild Dog: the only member of the genus Lycaonone and one of the world’s most endangered species. Weighs up to 31 kg (70 lb) and can reach 70 km/h (44 mph). Live in packs consisting anything from 2 to 30 adults plus pups.

Andean Mountain Cat The Andean Mountain Cat is to be found in the high regions of Bolivia, Peru and Chile. The mountain cat is slightly larger than a big domestic cat, growing up to 60 cm (24 in) in length with a tail of some 70% of its body length.

Anole: a genus of iguanian lizards consisting of about 390 species.

Ant Ants can carry 10 times their body weight. Worker ants live one to five years; some queens live longer than 20 years. The biggest ant colony found was on the Ishikari Coast of Hokkaido: 306 million ants, with 1,080,000 queens in 45,000 interconnected nests over an area of 2,7 square kilometres (a square mile).

Nine-banded Armidello Armadillo: 20 species of placental mammal with a leathery armour shell. The word armadillo means “little armoured one” in Spanish.
Giant Armadillo
Nine-banded Armadillo
Seven-banded Armadillo
Yepes’s mulita or Yunga’s Lesser Long-Nosed Armadillo, found only in Argentina and Bolivia.

Honey Badger Badger: 11 species grouped in 3 subfamilies; Melinae (Eurasian badgers), Mellivorinae (Honey Badger) and Taxideinae (American badger).
American Badger, weighs up to 9 kg (19.8 lb).
European Badger or, simply, Badger. Powerfully built, weighs up to 17 kg (37 lb).
Hog Badger, with pig-like snout.
Honey Badger or Ratel, a stocky, robust and rather ferocious animal, known to take on lions.
Japanese Badger, endemic to Japan.

Bat Bats: the world’s only true flying mammals, the 1240 species of bats are numerous, representing about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide. They range in size from very tiny – the Bumblebee Bat weighs only 2 g (0.07 oz) – to fairly large; the largest bats, or megabats, are Fruit Bats, also known as Flying Foxes – they weigh almost 2 kg (4.4 lb) and have a wingspan of almost 1.8m (6 ft).
Allen’s Big-eared Bat
Big Brown Bat
Big Free-tailed Bat
Brazilian Free-tailed Bat
California Leaf-nosed Bat
Evening Bat
Giant golden-crowned flying fox
Ghost-faced Bat
Hairy-legged Vampire Bat
Hoary Bat
Hog-nosed Bat or Bumblebee Bat, an endangered species, the smallest mammal in the world, weighs less than 2 grams (0.07 ounce).
Jamaican Fruit-eating Bat
Little Brown Bat
Mexican Long-nosed Bat
Mexican Long-tongued Bat
Natterer’s Bat
Northern Yellow Bat
Pallid Bat
Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat
Red Bat
Seminole Bat
Silver-haired Bat
Southern Long-nosed Bat
Spotted Bat
Townsend’s Big-eared Bat
Western Mastiff Bat

Polar bear Bear: eight species and subsubspecies of large short-tailed caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, of the family Ursidae. Interestingly, the closest relatives of the bear are pinnipeds (seals).
The Polar Bear, the world’s largest land predator, prospers in the harshest environments. Males can be 3m tall and weigh 650 kg (1,400 lb), while females weight about 250 kg (550 lb). Single bears trek up to 5,000 km (3,100 miles) across icy seas and tundra in search of food.
Asian Black Bear or Moon Bear and White-chested Bear.
Black Bear or American Black Bear.
Gobi Bear or Mazaalai, a brown bear subspecies found only in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Listed as critically endangered.
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) and subspecies – some of the largest carnivores on Earth.
Giant Panda, perhaps the cutest being on the planet but also an endangered species.
Grizzly Bear or North American brown bear or Silvertip Bear, a subspecies of the Brown Bear. The most common member of the bear family.
Kodiak also known as the Kodiak Brown Bear or the Alaskan Grizzly Bear. By far the largest subspecies of brown bear and one of the two largest bears, the other being the Polar Bear.
Sun Bear or Honey Bear or Bruang: the smallest bear, often weighing less than 50 kg (110 lb), found in Southeast Asian forests.

Beaver: amphibious rodents of the genus Castor, which includes two extant species, the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) and Eurasian beaver. Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges in rivers. They are the second-largest rodent in the world (after the capybara).
Eurasian Beaver
North American Beaver or American Beaver.

Bees The Bee is a remarkable animal – they do not have ears, but they have an excellent sense of smell with chemoreceptors in their antennae. Bees see colours differently than we do. They are insensitive to red but detects ultraviolet light which is invisible to us.

Beetles: insects that form the order Coleoptera. There are more than 360,000 species of Coleoptera, making it the largest order of insect species; they respresent 40% of all known insect species. Like all insects, beetles have six legs. Most beetles have two pairs of wings.

Bettong Found in Tasmania, Bettongs weigh up to 2 kg (4.4 lb) and have a life expectancy of 3-5 years. Their diet includes seeds, roots, bulbs and insects. Bettongs breed throughout the year, with the young spending the first 3 months in the pouch.

Bilby Once common Australia, the Bilby is now classified as vulnerable. The only other species, the lesser bilby, is extinct. Males are twice as large as females, growing to 55 cm (21 in) and weighing up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lb). Their large ears help keep them cool.

Birds: Birds do not sleep in their nests. They occasionally nap in them, but sleep in other places. There are more than 10,000 bird species. The global bird population is estimated at between 200 and 400 billion birds.

Wood Bison Bison: among the largest hoofed mammals, up to 3.5 m (11.5 ft) long, stands up to 2 metres (6.5 ft) at the shoulder, weighs up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb).
American Bison, composed of two subspecies; Plains Bison and the slightly larger Wood Bison, the largest land mammal in North America.
European Bison or Wisent. The heaviest land animal in Europe.

Bobcat The Bobcat, although it does not bear the family name is a distinct species in the Lynx genus. Adult bobcats weigh about 12 kg. Kittens have a weight gain of 25 g per day and are weaned at about 12 weeks, becoming independent of its mother at about 10-12 months of age.

Bongo Bongo, one of the largest African forest antelope species, weighs up to 400 kg (880 lb).

Caracal Most abundant in Southern Africa, the Caracal is often referred to as the African Lynx or Desert Lynx, but is not related to the lynx. It grows up to 1m (3 ft) in length and the male weighs up to 18 kg (40 lb). It can survive for long periods without water, obtaining its requirement from the metabolic moisture of its prey such as small buck, sand rats and rock hyrax.

Carabao: swamp type domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) found in the Philippines.

Caribou The large, wild, elk-like Caribou, weighing up to 300 kg (660 lb), is found above the tree-line in arctic North America and Greenland. Caribou, related to the reindeer, have unique hairs which trap air providing them with excellent insulation. These hairs also help keep them buoyant in the water.

Cats Cats, the most popular pet mammal in the world. There are more than 200 million pet cats in the world. Cats and humans have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion. It is thought that cats will purr at a frequency that most pleases their human companion, meaning that cats understand humans more than we might have thought. On the other hand, understanding cats is another story.

Holstein cow Cattle, colloquially referred to as cows although the plural of cow is cattle. An adult female is called a cow, an adult male a bull and offspring are calves. A group of cattle is a herd or a kine of cattle or cows. Cattle graze up to 8 hours a day, taking in about 45 kg (100 lb) of feed and the equivalent of a bath tub full of water. There are over 800 breeds of cattle and there are more than a billion cattle in the world.

Cheetah The Cheetah is the fastest land animal at 95 km/h (60 mph). Unlike other “big cats” it does not roar – however it does purr and make high pitched yelps, barks and chirruping sounds. They are found in Africa and in some parts of Asia.

Chimpanzee Chimpanzee: Chimpanzees are our closest cousins; we share about 98 percent of our genes. Chimps are highly social animals, care for their offspring for years and can live to be over 50. An endangered species.

Small, striped rodents of the squirrel family, family Sciuridae. All species of chipmunks are found in North America, with the exception of the Siberian chipmunk.
Allen’s Chipmunk
California Chipmunk
Cliff Chipmunk
Colorado Chipmunk
Eastern Chipmunk
Gray-collared Chipmunk
Least Chipmunk
Lodgepole Chipmunk
Merriam’s Chipmunk
Panamint Chipmunk
Red-tailed Chipmunk
Siberian Chipmunk
Townsend’s Chipmunk
Uinta Chipmunk
Yellow-pine Chipmunk

Chuckwalla large lizzard of the Iguana family.

Coati Coati, related to raccoons, found in the Americas. There are four species:
Eastern Mountain Coatia
South American Coati
Western Mountain Coati
White-nosed Coati.

Coelacanth: primitive-looking fish believed to have been extinct but rediscovered in the 20th century.

Cooter: large, herbivorous, freshwater turtle found in the eastern United States and northeast Mexico. They weigh up to 10 kg (22 lb).

Cottontail, or Cottontail Rabbit, characterized by white underside and short, white bushy tail.
Appalachian Cottontail
Desert Cottontail
Eastern Cottontail
Manzano Mountain Cottontail
Mexican Cottontail
Mountain Cottontail
New England Cottontail
Omilteme cottontail
Robust Cottontail

Crocodile Crocodile: large amphibious animals belonging to the reptile order Crocodylia. There are 23 crocodilian species, which includes the genus Crocodylus, genus Alligator, genus Mecistops, genus Osteolaemus, genus Paleosuchus and genus Caiman. The crodile is the largest and most vocal of all reptiles. Captive crodociles appear to have broader heads – a possible indication of their more sedentary lifestyle.
American Crocodile
Belize Crocodile
Cuban Crocodile
Dwarf Crocodile
Freshwater Crocodile
Morelet’s Crocodile
Mugger Crocodile
New Guinea Crocodile
Nile Crocodile
Orinoco Crocodile
Philippine Crocodile
Slender-snouted Crocodile
Saltwater Crocodile, the largest crocodile species.
Siamese Crocodile
West African Crocodile

Coyote, also called Brush Wolf, Prairy Wolf, Little Wolf or American Jackal: there are nineteen subspecies of Coyote. Native to North America. Smaller and slightly faster than a wolf and with longer ears. Its Latin name Canis latrans means barking dog.

Cuscus Cuscus is the common name generally given to the species within the four genera of Australasian possum. Because of it size (70 cm/26 in) the Cuscus is often mistaken for a monkey. Rarely in a hurry, it has few enemies living in the tree tops of southeastern Australia. If threatened, it will strike with its front paws, barking loudly, usually scaring the intruder away. The cuscus has lifespan of up to 11 years.

Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

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A-Z of animals : Deer to Frogs Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:46:57 +0000 Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

Pere David's Deer Deer: Ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae (order Artiodactyla). Most ruminants have four-chambered stomachs and a two-toed foot. Of the 43 species of hoofed ruminants in the order, the males of all but one species carry antlers; the Chinese water deer is antlerless. Both sexes of reindeer carry antlers. The Munjtac, of which there are seven species, are also called Barking Deer.
Alpine Musk Deer
Bactrian Deer
Bawean Deer: rare, found only on Bawean Island, Indonesia.
Black Muntjac
Calamian Deer
Chinese Water Deer
Chital or Axis Deer or Spotted Deer.
Dusky Musk Deer
Dwarf Brocket
Eld’s Deer
Fallow Deer
Fea’s Muntjac
Himalyan Musk Deer
Hog Deer
Key Deer
Marsh Deer
Moose or Elk. The largest deer, weighs up to 820 kg (1800 lb) but can run at up to 100 kmh (60 mph).
Mule Deer
Pere David’s Deer. Extremely rare; extinct in the wild for over a thousand years, now only found in captivity.
Persian Fallow Deer, one of the rarest deer in the world.
Philippine Brown Deer
Red Brocket
Red Deer
Reeve’s Muntjac
Reindeer or Caribou. Weighs up to 318 kg (700 lb). Are good swimmers. There are two varieties: tundra reindeer and forest (or woodland) reindeer. And, especially for children, there are the flying reindeer that pulls the sleigh of Santa Claus.
Roe Deer
Sambar Deer
Siberian Musk Deer
Sika Deer
Southern Pudu – the smallest deer.
Thorold’s Deer
tufted Deer
Visayan Spotted Deer
White-tailed Deer

Dog Dogs, man’s best friend. In fact, worldwide approximately 180 million dogs are kept as trusted pet companions. There are more than 700 types of pure breed dogs. The common belief that dogs are color blind is false. Dogs can see color but it is not as vivid as we see; it is like our vision at twilight. Dogs and cats, like people, are either right-handed or left-handed.

Dolphin Dolphins are among the most intelligent of animals, as some species have brain-to-body mass ratios equal to that of a human being. Ever since the days of the first seafarers, they have been a subject of art, literature, and myth. Of the approximately 40 species of dolphins, 6 are commonly called whales, including the killer whale and the pilot whales.
Atlantic Humpback Dolphin
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
Araguaian River Dolphin
Australian Snubfin Dolphin
Boto or Amazon River Dolphin
Bottle-nosed Dolphin
Chilean Dolphin
Clymene Dolphin
Commerson’s Dolphin
Dusky Dolphin
False Killer Whale
Franciscana Dolphin
Frazer’s Dolphin
Guiana Dolphin
Ganges River Dolphin
Heaviside’s Dolphin
Hector’s Dolphin
Hourglass Dolphin
Irrawaddy Dolphin
Killer Whale or Orca, largest member of the dolphin family.
Melon-headed Whale
Peale’s Dolphin
Pygmy Killer Whale
Northern Right-whale Dolphin
Pacific White-sided Dolphin
Pilot Whale
Risso’s Dolphin
Rough-toothed Dolphin
Saddle-backed Dolphin
Spinner Dolphin
Striped Dolphin

Dugong Dugong: Also called Sea Cow, Sea Pig or Sea Camel, the Dugong is one of the four species of the order Sirenia; the other species are the manatees.

Echnidna Echidna: Also known as Spiny Anteater but not related to the true Anteater (or hedgehogs or porcupines) although they largely also eat ants and termites. There are four species of echidna and they, together with the platypus, are the only egg-laying mammals in the world and found only in New Guinea and Australia.

African elephant Elephant: The African elephant is the largest living land mammal. The muscular trunk serves as a nose, hand, an extra foot, signalling device and a tool for gathering food. With 40,000 muscles, the trunk performs movements as delicate as picking berries. The elephant is part of the Big Five group of animals.

Elk: see “Moose” under Deer above.

Feral Horse, a free-roaming horse.

Black Footed Ferret Ferret: A mammal belonging to the same genus as the weasel, Mustela. The popular domesticated ferret – ferrets have been domesticated for over 2000 years – is a domesticated form of the European polecat (which is also called the foul marten because of its odour). The domesticated ferret has musk glads around its face and throughout the rest of its body thus smells of sweet musk. There are millions of pet ferrets in the United States, making it the fourth most popular pet, after cats, dogs and parrots. There is, however, a big population of wild ferrets as well; those are ferrets that have been abandoned or have escaped. The Black Footed Ferret, once thought extinct, has successfully been re-introduced to the wild. The Black Footed Ferret is an endangered species; there are only approximately 300 of these little “masked bandits” across North America.

Fishing Cat The Fishing Cat is found in India, Sri Lanka, across Burma, the Thai peninsula and Indonesia. It weighs up to 13 kg (29 lb) and grows to almost 1m in length. It takes fish with its paws from the waters edge, and by diving into the water to catch the fish with its jaws. It will also hunt young deer and small wild pigs.

Fisher, small carnivorous mammal native to North America, part of the marten genus of the weasel family.

Red foxes Fox: There are twelve species of true foxes (genus Vulpes).
Arctic Fox
Bengal Fox or Indian Fox
Blanford’s Fox or Hoary
Cape Fox or Chama, Bat-eared Fox, Big-eared Fox, Motlosi or South African Silver Fox.
Corsac Fox or Steppe Fox, also called Sand Fox.
Fennec fox or Zerda, the smallest fox, weighs about 1 kg (2.2 lb).
Kit Fox
Pale Fox
Rüppell’s Fox, also called Sand Fox.
Red Fox and Silver Fox and Cross Fox, largest of the true foxes, weighs up to 7 kg (15 lb). The symbol of animal cunning.
Swift Fox
Tibetan Fox or Tibetan Sand Fox

Frogs Frogs come in many shapes and colours all over the world – except Antartica! A frog’s long, sticky tongue is attached in the front of its mouth, and, as a signature move, a frog can flick its tongue out to capture its prey with remarkable speed.

Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

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A-Z of animals : Gecko to Iriomote Cat Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:42:36 +0000 Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

Gecko: lizards belonging to the infraorder Gekkota, found in warm climates throughout the world.
Mediterranean Gecko
Reef Gecko
Texas Banded Gecko
Western Banded Gecko
more geckos on Animal Diversity Web.

Gerenuk The Gerenuk, the “giraffe gazelle”, is found in East Africa. A preorbital gland in front of the eyes emits a tar-like substance which is deposited on twigs to mark territory. It stands erect on hind legs to browse on tall bushes, using its front legs to pull down higher branches. Gerenuks do not eat grass nor require water as they get enough moisture from the plant life they eat.

Gila Monster, a venomous lizard.

Giraffe Giraffe: the world’s tallest animal, up to 5,5 m (18 ft) tall. At birth a giraffe calf is 1,8 m tall (6 ft). A male giraffe weighs up to 1,350 kg (3,000 lb). There are nine subspecies of giraffe, all found south of the Sahara desert, Africa. Its Latin name camelopardalis means “camel marked like a leopard.”

Goat: There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat. The various breeds weigh anything from 9 kg (20 lb) to 125 kg (275 lb). Female goats are referred to as “does” or “nannies”, males as “bucks”, “billies”, or “rams” and their offspring are “kids”. Castrated males are “wethers”. There are approximately 1 billion goats in the world, almost half of them in China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Gopher, or Pocket Gopher: 35 species of burrowing rodent with fur-lined pouches on the outside of the cheeks, found in North and Central America, weigh around 230g (0.5 pounds) and are about 150-200mm (6-8in) long.
Botta’s Pocket Gopher
Bullers’s Pocket Gopher
Camas Pocket Gopher
Northern Pocket Gopher
Plains Pocket Gopher
Southeastern Pocket Gopher
Southern Pocket Gopher
Valley Pocket Gopher
Western Pocket Gopher
Yellow-faced Pocket Gopher

Gorilla The Gorilla is the largest of the living primates; male gorillas weigh up to 200 kg, yet are shy and retiring. They will, however, protect their family groups valiantly. They eat a variety of plants, including wild celery, bamboo, thistles, stinging nettles, bedstraw and certain fruit. An endangered species, only about 630 remain. Their quest for survival was made famous by Dian
Fossey, portrayed in the movie “Gorillas in the mist.”

Groundhog, or woodchuck. A grizzled grayish or brown marmot with reddish-brown underparts. Found mostly in North America. (Groundhog Day is celebrated in Canada and the United States on February 2.

Hare: There are about 30 types of hare. Hares have bigger ears, longer legs and are bigger than rabbits.
European Hare
Snowshoe Hare
Spring Hare

Hartebeest, a large African antelope.

Hippopotumus The Hippo‘s yawn is not a sign of sleepiness or boredom but is actually a threat gesture, displaying long, thick, razor-sharp canine teeth, or tusks, with which it is capable of biting a small boat in half. Being fearlessly protective of their turf and young, hippos have killed more people in Africa than any other wild animal.

lipizzanerHorse: another of man’s best friends. Horses are of a single species, Equus caballus, but have many (more than 1400) varieties, called breeds. Horses weigh approximately 450 kg (992 lb) and can gallop at 45 km/h (30 mph) – race horses can reach 70 kmh (44 mph). Horses have a lifespan of 25 – 30 years.
Featured: Lipizzaner

Hyena Hyena or Hyaena: a carnivore with a powerful neck and bone-crushing bite. Although on average it weighs only a quarter of what a lion does, a hyena’s bite generates as much force as a lion’s (and tiger), around 4,450 newtons (1,000 psi). Hyenas are very vocal, making whoops and chattering laughing sounds. There are four hyena species, all found in Africa although the Aardwolf is also found in Asia. The Aardwolf is solitary but the other hyena species hunt in packs.
Aardwolf – the name means “earth wolf.” The smallest hyena, only 55 to 80 centimetres (22 to 31 inches) in body length and weighing 7-10 kilograms (15-22 lb). Unlike other hyenas, it eats mostly insects, mainly termites. Its long, sticky tongue can catch about 250,000 termites during a single night (the Aardwolf is nocturnal).
Brown Hyena, weighs 40 – 55 kg (88-121 lb.)
Spotted Hyena, the largest hyena, measuring up to 165.8 cm (65.3 in) in body length. Females are bigger than males, weighing up to 20 kg (44 lb) more. Males weigh 45-60 kg (99-132 lb) while the females weigh 55-80 kg (121-176 lb). The largest spotted hyenas weigh as much as 90 kg (200 lb).
Striped Hyena, measures up to 1,2 m (3,9 ft) in body lenght and weighs up to 55 kg (121 lb).

Rock Hyrax The Hyrax is so unlike other animals that it is placed in a separate order, Hyracoidea. It is the elephant’s nearest living relative. Of the 3 hyrax species, 2 are rock hyrax and the third a tree hyrax. Rock hyraxes spend the mornings sunbathing, followed by short feeding excursions. They eat quickly with the family facing out in a circle to watch for predators.

Iguana: there are roughly 30 types of iguana. The best-known species, the common iguana or green iguana, grows to over 2,2m (6.6 ft) long.
Desert Iguana
Green Iguana

Black-faced impala Impala, a medium-sized African antelope that can leap up to 3 m (9.8 ft) high. It can run up to 60 km/h (37 mph). There are two species, the Common impala and the highly endangered Black-faced impala, the latter being significantly larger.

Insects: the most diverse group of organisms, with almost 10 million (some studies suggest 30 million) species of these six-legged little friends. It is estimated that there are some 10 quintillion individual insects alive at any time; that is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 insects.

Iriomote Cat: a subspecies of the wide ranging Leopard Cat, found only on the small Japanese island of Iriomote

Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

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A-Z of animals : Jackal to Lynx Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:24:18 +0000 Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

Jackal Jackal: three species, all with subspecies.
Black-backed jackal
Golden jackal or Asiatic jackal
Side-striped jackal

Antelope Jackrabbit
Black-tailed Jackrabbit
White-tailed Jackrabbit

Jaguar The Jaguar, the only member of the panthera family to be found in the Americas, is by far the biggest cat on that continent. With a lifespan of 12 – 16 years, it grows up to 1,8 m (6 ft) in length and weights up to 120 kg (265 lb).

Jungle CatThe Jungle Cat is not found in tropical forests as its name suggests, but roams in Egypt, Middle East, and Southern Asia up to western China. It is not a shy creature and is often found close to human habitation, hunting in crop fields and plantations for small rodents. Larger than the African Wildcats, measuring up to 75 cm (27,5 in), weighing up to 16 kg (35 lb) in weight.

Kangeroo The are some 45 species of Kangaroos. (The smaller kangeroos are called wallabies). There are some 50 million kangaroos in Australia, the only continent where you’ll find kangaroos. They eat grasses and leaves and have a life expectancy of about 18 years. Wallabies can be as small as 12 inches but big male kangaroos can grow to almost 2,1 metres (7 feet) tall. Male kangaroos are called boomers or bucks, females are known as flyers, jills or does, and kangaroo young are called joeys.

Koala Found only in Australia, Koalas belong to a class of animals that are among the oldest inhabitants of the planet. They have one of the most specialised diets of any living mammal, feeding exclusively on the leaves of a small number of species of the eucalyptus. Koalas sleep as much as 18 hours a day, with a lifespan of up to 18 years. Koalas are not bears, but marsupials, meaning they carry their young in a pouch

Kob Unlike other antelopes, Kobs establish permanent breeding grounds, some of which are in continuous use for 50 years. Their mating behaviour is also different, in that the male is not rough with the female and does not attempt to force her to stay within his territory – rather he appears to try gently to convince her, making soft noises during courtship play.

Kodkod: smallest wild cat in the western hemisphere and one of the smallest in the world. Found only in Chile and Argentina.

Kudu Kudu: a big, athletic antelope. The males have spiral horns with two-and-a-half twists; the females do not have horns. There are 2 species of kudu:
Greater kudu: found woodlands and bushlands of Southern Africa. One of the tallest antelopes and the second largest (the eland being the largest). The horns are up to 1,82 m (6 ft) long. Even though it weighs up to (700 lb) it can jump 3.5 m (11.5 ft) high and easily jump a 2 m (6 ft) fence.
Lesser kudu: roams the savannahs of Eastern Africa. The horns are 50-70 cm (20-28 in) long. Weighs up to (220 lb) and can run up to 100 km/h (60 mph). Can jump distances of more than 9 m (30 ft) and easily jump fences 2.5 m (8.2 ft) high.

Lechwe Lechwe, of the Kobus genus of antelopes (kob, puku, lechwe and waterbucks). There are two species of lechwe, the Nile lechwe and the Common lechwe, which in turn has the subspecies Black lechwe, Kafue Flats lechwe, Red lechwe and Roberts’ lechwe. The lechwe stands up to 100 cm (39 in) at the shoulder and weighs up to 120 kg (260 lb). Lechwes live in floodplains and enter the water to feed on aquatic grasses.

Lemming, 20 species of small rodents found only in the Northern Hemisphere.

Leopard The Leopard is found in Africa and Asia. Its powerful limb and neck muscles enable it to carry a fully grown male antelope or even young giraffe, often weighing up to three times its own body weight, high into the tree tops. The leopard is part of the Big Five group of animals.

Leopard CatThe Leopard Cat has one of the widest spread ranges of any Asian wild cat, with result that a large number of subspecies have been recognised. Weighing 3 – 7 kg (6,6 – 15 lb), their main prey source is small rodents, small birds and mammals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles. The lifespan of a leopard cat is 10-15 years.

Lion The Lion stands out from the other big cats not just in its distinctive appearance but also in being the only felid that lives in organised social groups. An adult male weighs up to 225 kg (500 lb) and it grows up to 3 m (10 ft) in body length. The lion’s bite generates around 4,450 newtons (1,000 psi) of force. Prey consists of medium to large herd animals. Once the prey is taken it is common for the males to eat first even if they had no part in the hunting process. Lions are found only in Africa and belong to the Big Five group animals.

Black-collared Lizard
Blue Spiny Lizard
California Legless Lizard
Common Side-blotched Lizard
Desert Canyon Lizard
Desert Night Lizard
Desert Spiny Lizard
Eastern Fence Lizard
Eastern Glass Lizard
Florida Worm Lizard
Florida Scrub Lizard
Granite Spiny Lizard
Island Glass Lizard
Island Night Lizard
Long-tailed Brush Lizard
Mesquite Lizard
Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard
Mountain Spiny Lizard
Panamint Alligator Lizard
Sonoran Desert Fringe-toed Lizard
Slender Glass Lizard
Striped Plateau Lizard
Texas Horned Lizard
Texas Rose-bellied Lizard
Texas Spiny Lizard
Western Fence Lizard
Zebra-tailed Lizard

Llama Llamas are domesticated animals, and members of the Camel family, but differ from camels in that they have 3 stomachs instead of 4. They weigh between 100 and 200 kg (220 – 440 lb), with a height at the head of 1,8m (6 ft). Llamas have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years.

Lynx Lynx: long-legged, large-pawed, short-tailed, tufted-ear cats. Found in the forests of Asia, Europe and North America. There are four species of lynx:
Canada lynx
Eurasian lynx
Iberian lynx

Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

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A-Z of animals : Manatee to Otter Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:11:34 +0000 Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

Manatee Manatee or Sea Cow: any of three of the four living species of the order Sirenia (the other species is the Dugong). A manatee grows up to 4m (13 ft) long and weighs up to 590 kg (1,300 lb).
African manatee
Amazonian manatee
West Indian Manatee, the subspecies being the Antillian Manatee (Caribbean Manatee) and the Florida Manatee.

Margay The Margay is similar in appearance to the Ocelot but smaller, growing to 69 cm (27in). Its range extends from Mexico to Argentina. Totally at home in tree tops, its specially adapted claws and ankle joints can move through 180 degrees, enabling it to move with almost monkey like ease.

Marmot: Marmots are large squirrels in the genus Marmota, of which there are 15 species. Some species live in mountainous areas while other species prefer rough grassland. A marmot is about the size of a prairie dog.

Marten: Slender, agile, short legs, rounded ears, bushy tails. Martens constitute several weasel-like carnivores of the genus Martes (family Mustelidae): American marten, Yellow-throated marten, Beech marten, Nilgiri marten, Pine marten, Japanese marten, Fisher and Sable.

Massasauga: small North American rattle snake.

Meerkat Meerkat: Found in the Kalahari desert in Southern Africa, male and female meerkats are hard to identify from each other mainly because they are both the same size, at 50 cm (20 in) with the tail itself at 20 cm (8 in) long. They eat insects, small mammals, scorpions, lizards, and snakes. Meerkats are immune to scorpion venom. The meerkats’ society is formed into groups, called “colonies” or “mobs”, with up to 40 inhabitants each. They have a lifespan of about 10 years.

Mink: either of two species of the weasel family (Mustelidae), found only in the Northern Hemisphere –
American mink (Neovison vison).
European mink (Mustela lutreola).

Broad-footed Mole
Coast Mole
Eastern Mole
Hairy-tailed Mole
Star-nosed Mole
Townsend’s Mole

Moose: the largest member of the deer family Cervidae. Found mostly in Alaska, Canada, New England, Russia and Scandinavia. In Europe it is called an Elk.

Mountain Beaver: a North American rodent not related to the Beaver. Due to the presence of a host of primitive characteristics it is considered a living fossil.

Mosquito: There are only two places in the world that are mosquito-free: Antarctica and Iceland.

Alabama Beach Mouse
Arizona Pocket Mouse
Bailey’s Pocket Mouse
Brush Mouse
Cactus Mouse
California Mouse
California Pocket Mouse
Cotton Mouse
Deer Mouse
Desert Pocket Mouse
Cotton Mouse
Eastern Harvest Mouse
Florida Mouse
Fulvous Harvest Mouse
Golden Mouse
Great Basin Pocket Mouse
House Mouse
Little Pocket Mouse
Marsh Rice Mouse
Meadow Jumping Mouse
Mearns’ Grasshopper Mouse
Northern Grasshopper Mouse
Oldfield Mouse
Pacific Jumping Mouse
Pacific Pocket Mouse
Pale Kangaroo Mouse
Perdido Key Beach Mouse
Pinyon Mouse
Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse
Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
San Diego Pocket Mouse
Silky Pocket Mouse
Southern Grasshopper Mouse
Spiny Pocket Mouse
Western Harvest Mouse
Western Jumping Mouse
White-footed Mouse
Woodland Jumping Mouse

Muskox or Musk Ox, an Arctic mammal of the family Bovidae (hooved animals). The biggest bulls stand about 135 cm (53 in) at the shoulder and weigh about 340 kg (750 lb); cows weigh about 250 kg (550 lb).

Mule: Hybrid offspring of a male ass and a female horse. (The offspring of a female ass and male horse is called a hinny and is smaller than a mule.)

Muskrat, a large amphibious rodent, weighing up to 1.8 kg (4 lb).

Myotis (mouse-eared bats):
California Myotis
Cave Myotis
Eastern Small-footed Myotis
Fringed Myotis
Gray Myotis
Indiana Myotis
Long-eared Myotis
Long-legged Myotis
Northern Myotis
Southeastern Myotis
Yuma Myotis

Newt, a semiaquatic amphibian of the family Salamandridae:
Black-spotted Newt
California Newt
Coast Range Newt
Red-bellied Newt
Rough-skinned Newt
Striped Newt

Nutria, or Coypu or River Rat: a large, herbivorous, semiaquatic rodent.

Nyala Nyala or inyala: slender antelope of southeastern Africa, member of the spiral-horned antelope tribe Tragelaphini (which includes the kudu and eland). The nyala stands up to 130 cm (51 inches) and weighs up to 300 kg (660 pounds). It is considered the most sexually dimorphic antelope, meaning the males look almost completely different than the females.

Ocelot Ocelot: swims well and although not as adept in climbing as the Margay, will hunt for birds and also sleep in the lower tree branches in its forest habitat of Central America and the northern countries of South America. Ocelots weigh up to 14 kg and have a lifespan of 8-11 years.

Blue-ringed octopus Octopus, an eight-armed cephalopod (octopod) mollusk. The smallest is about 5 cm (2in) long while the largest species grow to 5.4m (18 feet) with an armspan of almost 9m (30 ft).
The blue-ringed octopus is the size of a golf ball but its poison is powerful enough to kill an adult human in minutes. The last thing the victim sees are the blue rings – visible only when it is about to attack. It is brown or yellow in its natural state, found in the shallow pools around the Australian coast.

Okapi Okapi: has striped markings reminiscent of a zebra but is most closely related to the giraffe with which it is placed in the family Giraffidae (order Artiodactyla). often called the “forest giraffe.” About 2.5 m (8.2 ft) long, 1.5m (5 ft) tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 300 kg (660 lb). Found only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.

Opossum, the largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, including 103 or more species in 19 genera. Male opossums are called jacks, females are called jills and the young are called joeys. A group of opossums is called a passel.

Orangutan Human as they seem, Orangutans are wild animals perfectly suited to their forest environment in Sumatra and Borneo. They are the largest animals to dwell in trees. Weighing in at a hefty 90 kg (200 lb), an adult male orangutan is four times stronger than a man. Orangutans have been observed making simple tools to scratch themselves, to probe into narrow openings for hidden food and to gain leverage.

Oribi Oribi: a graceful, small antelope found in the grassland savannahs south of the Sahara, Africa. An oribi stands 51-76 cm (20-30 inches) high and weighs 12-22 kg (26-49 lb). There are several subspecies.

Otter Otter: semiaquatic mammals of the subfamily Lutrinae of the family Mustelidae (which includes badgers, ferrets, martens, minks, weasels and wolverines). Otters are playful animals and appear to engage in various behaviors for sheer enjoyment. There are 13 species of otter:
African clawless otter or Cape clawless otter.
Congo clawless otter
European otter or Common otter.
Giant otter, also known as the River wolf, the largest otter; up to 1,8 m (6 ft) long and weighs up to 32 kg (70 lb).
Hairy-nosed otter
Marine otter
Neotropical river otter
North American river otter
Oriental small-clawed otter
Sea Otter
Smooth-coated otter
Spotted-necked otter
Southern river otter

Animals: ABC | DEF | GHI | JKL | MNO | PQR | ST | UVW | XYZ

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