Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sharks Help Cancer Patients

Sharks have an incredible ability to resist disease; in fact, they get sick less often than any other fish. This is probably why they have been around longer than crocodiles, humans or even dinosaurs. Because the shark is much more primitive than the human, researchers are trying to figure out more about the shark’s immune system. Someday they may even use that knowledge to help regulate the immune systems of human cancer patients.

Bonus Fact: Sharks first appeared in the seas 200 million years before the dinosaurs.

Find shark-inspired items at The Jungle Store!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Make Room for Blue Crabs

The blue crab is named for its blue-tinted claws; however, its scientific name Callinectes sapidus, translates to “savory beautiful swimmer.” So, it's no surprise that blue crabs are the most harvested creatures in the world because of their well-liked, rich taste. They can be found in many regions from Uruguay to the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, in the Chesapeake Bay area (in the eastern United States), there have been several declines in the blue crab population due to their sensitivity to environmental changes. Because many of them are dying out, the populations that they feed on are growing and creating a negative impact on our ecosystem. As a result, many management systems are being set up to help better control the survival of the blue crab.

Bonus fact: Female blue crabs only mate once in their lives.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Luck of Ladybugs

Now, I want to discuss my favorite summertime bug: the ladybug. Ladybugs belong to the beetle family and are very beneficial to our agricultural systems. They feed on amphids and tiny insects, which often destroy plants. The ladybug is even said to bring good luck. In fact, the name ‘Ladybug’ comes from Mother Mary, also known as ‘Our Lady’. Contrary to popular belief, a ladybug’s spots fade as they get older.

Bonus Fact: A female ladybug lays more than 100 eggs throughout her life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stay Bug-Bite Free This Summer

Moving right along with my summertime bug theme, I wanted to share some of these facts about mosquitoes to help you avoid bug bites this season. As many know, mosquitoes feed on blood; however, only female mosquitoes do. This is why women are more prone to mosquito bites; in fact, mosquitoes find the smell of estrogen and sweat to be appealing. They are also attracted to dark colors, especially the color blue. Other studies show that if you eat bananas, you can set off an appealing scent. However, garlic juice can be lethal for these tiny pests, and can be used as a repellent. Remember these simple facts, and you’ll be well on your way to a bug-bite-free summer!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fireflies Glow

Fireflies or lightning bugs are actually nocturnal beetles. There are about 2,000 firefly species that all have the same ability to glow because they have specific light organs, located under their abdomens. By combining oxygen and a substance called luciferin, fireflies can produce light without heat. Each firefly species has a unique blinking pattern to help attract potential mates. Their light can also serve as a defense mechanism, showing predators that they would taste bad.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Frog to the Guts

The Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum, also known as the glass frog or see-through frog, is a species that lives in Ecuador. This one-of-a-kind frog has transparent flesh to the point where you can see its guts. Although its features are quite distinct, these frogs are rare to find because they are about the size of a fingernail. They are also endangered, so not many of them have been found; however scientists from Conservation International recently rediscovered one in the Nangaritza Protected Forest in Ecuador.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Real-Life Unicorn

The Narwhal is a type of whale that gets its name, meaning “corpse whale”, from its bluish, blotchy skin. The most interesting thing about this whale, however, is the long tooth that juts out of its head. Narwhals have two upper teeth, and the male’s left tooth grows up to 10 feet in length. No one is aware of the exact use for the tooth. Some say it is used during mating season to fight off other males, while others think it may be a sensory organ, used to detect its surroundings. Whatever it’s used for, it must make eating difficult!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Camouflage Like a Leafy Sea Dragon

Leafy sea dragons are very similar to sea horses; however, they have several appendages that look like leaves, making it easy for them to camouflage amongst various seaweeds. Just like sea horses, the males are responsible for bearing children. Whenever they’re ready to mate, their tale turns bright yellow. The female deposits up to 250 bright pink eggs on a spongy patch, located on the male sea dragon’s underside.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Impalas Escape Predators

Impalas are medium-sized antelope that live in eastern and southern Africa. They stay in herds, which offer protection from other animals. Because impalas are fleet runners, they can jump distances of 30 feet or more, also making it easy to escape predators quickly.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mooing Like a Frog

The American bullfrog is the largest frog in North America, weighing up to 1.5 pounds and reaching a length of 8 inches. It is a nocturnal predator and will eat just about anything that will fit in its mouth. Their baritone call sounds like the mooing of a cow or bull from which it gets its name.

Bonus Fact: A female bullfrog can lay up to 20,000 eggs, which float in a clump at the surface of the water.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Giant Fish Takes Over Rivers

The arapaima is the largest fresh water fish in the world, reaching up to 9 feet and weighing up to 440 pounds. This fish is mainly found in rain forest rivers in South America. While it does stay under water for 20 minutes at a time, the arapaima can often be seen swimming along the surface. This also makes it a prime target for hunters with harpoons.

Bonus Fact: The arapaima has a “bony” tongue.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pairing Up

Who ever said different species don’t get along? While researching for this blog, I stumbled upon some of these photos of strange animal pairings. They were too funny not to show, so check them out and have a good chuckle!

Mouse and Frog

Turtle and Hippo

Pony and Cat

Bird and Mouse

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Species of Their Own

The red panda is unique in its color and size. While it shares the name with its larger black-and-white relative, it is actually quite different. It is typically the size of a house cat and has red fur. In fact, scientists have had a difficult time finding a spot for this species in the taxonomy system. The red panda has been classified as a relative of both the giant panda and the raccoon, but as of late, they are considered members of their own family, the Ailuridae. Unfortunately, red pandas are endangered, mainly as a result of deforestation.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Heart of a Giraffe

The giraffe is the tallest mammal on the planet. Its neck alone can weigh up to 500 pounds, and its heart weighs around 25 pounds. In fact, the giraffe’s heart is so big that it can pump 16 gallons of blood per minute!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Faith Can Achieve Anything

I saw this and had to share it because, not only is it an amazing achievement for a dog, it’s an uplifting story as well. This dog was born in 2002 with two healthy hind legs, but only one abnormal front leg that eventually had to be amputated. Her own mother didn’t want her, and her first owner thought about putting her to sleep because they thought she had no chance of survival. Her present owner, Jude Stringfellow, however, had more faith than that, which is why she named her “Faith.”

For six months, she trained her and rewarded her with peanut butter whenever she would stand up and jump around. Over time, Faith learned to balance on her two hind legs, and now she can walk like a human. She has received lots of recognition, including a book called “With a Little Faith.” And she was even considered to be in one of the Harry Potter movies. This just goes to show that you should never give up, even if something isn’t working the way it’s “supposed” to. There’s always another answer; you just have to find it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Meet the Ocelot

In response to a reader — who made it quite clear they want to read about ocelots — I have dedicated today’s fact to just that. The ocelot is a wild cat about twice the size of an average house cat. It’s a nocturnal hunter, often going after rodents, rabbits and frogs, but it also jumps in the trees, hunting monkeys and birds. The ocelot’s beautiful spotted fur helps it stay camouflaged; however, its fur is also a popular commodity among hunters, making it one of the many animals on the endangered species list.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Peacocks are Colorful Mates

A peacock’s colorful feather train expands to be more than 60 percent of its body. The train is used in mating rituals. In fact, females choose their mates according to the size, color, and quality of the male’s feathers.