Friday, May 29, 2009

Sea Star?

Did you know that marine scientists are trying to change the starfish’s name to sea star? They’ve decided to change it because the starfish is not actually a fish, it’s an echinoderm (related to sea urchins and sand dollars). In fact, the starfish doesn’t even have a brain or blood. Their nervous system is spread throughout their body and their “blood” is filtered sea water.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Giant Albatross

The albatross has the longest wingspan of any bird — up to 11 feet. This, and the fact that it can weigh up to 22 pounds, makes it among the largest of flying birds. They can also live for up to 50 years, which is very rare for a bird.

The albatross has been know as a symbol of misery and burden for centuries, due to its significant role in the poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." A ship driven off course is lead out of the Antarctic by an albatross, who is then shot by one of the sailors. Afterwards, the ships wanders into uncharted territory, where it stops moving. The angry crew forces the sailor who shot the albatross to wear it around his neck to "illustrate the burden he must suffer for killing it."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Koalas Have Unique Eating Habits

Koalas feed on highly poisonous eucalyptus leaves. Their digestive track is made with bacteria that can detoxify the leaves. However, baby koalas or joeys aren’t born with the bacteria. So, for the six months they spend in their mother’s pouch, they slowly build up a tolerance to the poisonous leaves by feeding on their mom’s feces.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good, Old Echidnas

The echidna has managed to survive, even though the species has been unchanged since prehistoric times. It is also one of two mammals that can lay eggs. (The other is the duck-billed platypus.) Both are native to Australia.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Paleontologists Discover Ida

In case you haven’t already heard, a 47-year-old fossil was recently found in Germany. The female primate fossil called Ida is said to be the missing-link species in the evolution of primates. The fossil will hopefully bridge the gap between higher primates, like apes and humans, and less advanced ones, like lemurs, which will eventually give scientists a more precise explanation of how our species evolved. So, be prepared to hear more about this exciting discovery for decades to come!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scissor-like Hands Scare Off Predators

The hairy frog or “horror frog” willingly breaks its own bones so that it can produce a set of cat-like “claws” to defend itself. These retractable “claws” are literally the frog’s toe bones. When threatened, the bones break through the frog’s toe pads, giving it a creepy Edward Scissorhands-type look.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Boto Dolphins Use Their Heads

Boto or Amazon River Dolphins are the largest freshwater dolphins alive, growing up to nine feet long and weighing roughly 300 pounds. They are often a pink color, but can also be pale blue and frequently are albino. Because they have poor eyesight, they use the echolocation-bump on their head as a sensory detector to help find food or to protect them from danger. Some reports say that they can even scare of prey with bursts of sound from the organ in their bulging forehead. They can even make the bump change shape too, from flat to spherical.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Animal Facts: Heat-Seeking Boa Constrictors blog - Heat-Seeking Boa ConstrictorsBoas constrictors, along with many other snakes, have special heat-sensitive organs called pits. These pits, located on their heads underneath their lips, can detect heat given off by warm-blooded animals close by.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Singing a Different Tune

Did you know that different grasshopper species cannot breed with one another? Because of this, each species has its own song so that the female can distinguish between males of different species. Try and listen for the difference next time your outside amongst the world of grasshoppers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Indonesian Mimic Octopus, A True Impersonator

The Indonesian Mimic Octopus is naturally brown and spotted, but it has the ability to turn any color or pattern it wants. This sort of camouflage is extremely rare. While many animals can change color and skin texture, the Indonesian Mimic Octopus is the only one that can take on the same shape and features of its surrounding environment, including features of other species! blog - The Indonesian Mimis Octopus
Now you see me... - The Indonesian Mimic Octopus
Now you don't!
It can copy the physical characteristics and movement of more than 15 different species, such as sea snakes, jellyfish, stingrays and giant crabs, to name a few. In fact, this octopus can figure out which animal to impersonate, depending on how threatening it needs to be to its current predator. Watch the video below to see for yourself!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Suicidal Ants

Malaysian ants are committed insects. If they sense a threat from a predator, they will do anything they can to protect themselves and their colony. These ants have large glands of poison inside their bodies, and when they contract their abs, they can cause either side of their body to explode, resulting in death for the predator and the ant, itself.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oyster Love

Oysters are ambisexual, meaning they can change from male to female and back again. While oysters are born male, they have both sex organs to be either a male or a female.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Feet in Sight

A donkey's eyes are larger in proportion to its head than those of a horse. The placement of a donkey’s eyes is also unique, allowing the donkey to see all four of its feet at all times!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Red Ballons Fly...Out of a Nose

The hooded seal has a couple of very odd features. Males of this species have both an inflatable skull hood and a nasal balloon. These sacs inflate up to a foot or more in diameter whenever the seal is aroused, angered or just showing off. The nasal balloon is inflated through its nostrils and is a bright red color.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stay Clear of a Solenodon's Nose

Although the solenodon resembles a cute, hedgehog-like creature, it’s actually very dangerous. It is the only mammal to inject rattlesnake-type venom from its teeth. And it does so whenever it gets annoyed, which is quite often. However dangerous the species though, it’s still a vital part of our ecosystem because it’s both a scavenger and insectivore. Unfortunately, the solenodon is close to extinction.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Worker Bees Stay Busy

Out of approximately 30,000 species of bees, only 4 species can make honey. Social bees, like honeybees and bumblebees, are the only types that can. They live in colonies with one queen bee, some male bees, and several other female bees known as worker bees. To make just one pound of honey, worker bees fly 55,000 miles and collect nectar from two million flowers.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Goldfish Need a Tan

Goldfish lose their color if they don’t get enough sunlight. Just like how humans get a tan, goldfish need sunlight to keep their pigment.