Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
The giant clam is the largest mollusk in the world, growing up to 4 feet long and weighing over 500 pounds. It gets only one chance to find a home. Once it places itself in a certain part of a reef, it stays stuck there for the rest of its life. Giant clams primarily live in warmer waters, like the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. Their massive size comes from sugars and proteins consumed from algae that they provide homes for. Although there have been several rumors, the giant clam is not a man-eater, and there is no record of a giant clam-related human death.
Bonus Fact: All giant clams have different coloration; no two are alike.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Red foxes hunt alone, feeding on rodents, rabbits and other small animals. They use their tail for balance, just like cats do, but they also use it to keep warm and to communicate with other foxes. Foxes also communicate with scent posts by urinating to mark their presence in a certain area.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The moon’s surface contains stored water, according to three different space probes gathering evidence. Although many scientists have thought that ice might be trapped in the moon’s colder, shadowed craters, this newer evidence shows that water actually exists on the sunlit surface. The amount is still very small and very different from water as we know it. In fact, it’s not liquid water, frozen water or gaseous water, which we’ve been trained since second grade to believe are the only forms water can take. Instead, this water is a thin film of molecules. Scientists estimate that scraping molecules from an area the size of a football field would only produce less than a quart of water.
For further information, visit NPR.org.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The greater rhea is the largest bird in South America. Related to the ostrich and emu, the greater rhea cannot fly. This polygamous bird does lay several eggs though. Females lay one egg every other day for seven to 10 days. Because males have several mates, and the females put their eggs in the same nest, which sometimes holds up to 50 eggs. The male is in charge of incubating the eggs of all its mates for six weeks, until the young are hatched.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The deep sea anglerfish lives at the very bottom of the sea. Although it’s not the most attractive fish, it has a very unique feature. The female anglerfish has a piece of dorsal spine, tipped with glowing flesh, that comes out of its mouth. This luminous rod attracts prey close enough for the anglerfish to catch it. Because the anglerfish’s mouth is so big and its body is pliable, it can swallow prey up to twice its size.
Bonus Fact: The anglerfish’s light glows because of millions of bioluminescent bacteria.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sand tiger sharks are the only known shark to come to the ocean’s surface and take a gulp of air. The air that they swallow stays in their stomachs, allowing them to float motionless in the water while seeking prey. They can be found close to the shore in warm or temperate waters.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Although you might think a woodpecker would have chronic headaches from all its drilling, it actually has little air pockets in its head that prevent any discomfort. These pockets act as a cushion to its head bones, allowing it to drill to gather food and to create nests.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The last Chinese paddlefish spotted in the wild was in 2003, which means that it may already be extinct. Chinese paddlefish are the world’s largest freshwater fish, reaching lengths of 23 feet. They are said to have been a popular meal for Chinese emperors. However, the construction of a dam in the Yangtze River in the 1980s dramatically changed the habitat and well-being of this species. In fact, even if there are some still alive, scientists fear that their may not be enough of them to properly reproduce themselves.
The above photo is a picture of a preserved Chinese paddlefish from NationalGeographic.com
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Ospreys are the most widespread birds of prey because they can be found on every continent, except Antarctica. Ninety-nine percent of their diet is made up of fish. Their feet have gripping pads, which allow them to swoop down from heights of 30 to 100 feet and pick up their prey in a matter of seconds. Once they retrieve a fish, though, they sometimes fly for great distances before actually eating it.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Because a reader recently asked for more information about the Dumbo Octopus, I decided to write more on this ever-so-interesting animal. There are 37 different species of dumbo octopus, and they can be found in every ocean. They live close to the floor of the ocean and feed on various crustaceans, worms and bivalves. They grow up to 20 cm and swallow their prey whole. They lay eggs individually, and their young sometimes hatch at different sizes. In fact, the ovaries of the female octopus contain eggs at different stages, meaning that they lay eggs continually.
Watch the video below to watch how this type of octopus swims with its large fins that look like ears:
Friday, September 11, 2009
Kinkajous live in tropical forests, but are actually closely related to the raccoon. They spend most of their time in trees, swinging from tree to tree with their tails that they use as another arm. Because they spend most of their time in trees, they have the ability to turn their feet backwards. That way they can run in both directions on tree trunks and limbs.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
The toucan’s 7.5-inch-long bill is a powerful tool. Not only can it be used as a feeding tool, it can be used as a weapon. It’s large size often scares predators off, which makes its use in combat rather infrequent. The toucan’s bright colors are unique, but are also a very good camouflage in the various colors of the rainforest.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Stick insects occupy a variety of forests and grasslands throughout the world. They’re hard to spot though because their natural camouflage with trees is one of the most effective on Earth. The stick insect is also one of the world’s longest insects and can reach up to 21 inches long.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The humpback whale’s name comes from the way it arches its back when coming out of the water. Humpbacks are known for their mating rituals, which take place in the winter months. Anywhere from two to 20 males gather around a single female to compete for her. They try various things, including breaching, flipper-slapping and tail-slapping (to name a few), in order to win the female’s attention. Their unique singing also helps win over their mate.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Queen angelfish mainly feed on sponges and algae, but sometimes on sea fans, soft corals, and occasionally jellyfish too. They feed by creating cleaning stations in sea grass where larger fish can come to have their skin parasites removed.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
There has been another chupacabra sighting, which increases the belief that this mythical creature could be real. The most recent was in Blanco, Texas when one of Jerry Ayer’s students put out rodent poison to kill whatever creature was disturbing a local barn. What they found the next day was what they claim to be a dead chupacabra.
The chupacabra, up to this point, has been a matter of legend, like Big Foot or Yeti. It’s said to be a doglike creature that stands three to four feet tall with nauseating, red eyes. It’s distinctly known to suck the blood from its victims. Spottings in the past have resulted in DNA tests that prove the mythical creature is not real, and instead some sort of mutant coyote. Last summer, people spotted them in Cuero, Texas say what they saw was a Chupacabra because their chickens were killed but not eaten. It looked as if the blood had been drained out of them. Just another addition to the Chupacabra mystery ... but we’ll see if this newest one is real after yet another DNA test.
Here's a video from the recent sighting:
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The Gila monster is the largest lizard native to the United States. It can grow up to two feet and weigh over five pounds ... and it’s quite venomous. However, a Gila monster bite has never resulted in a human death. Instead of injecting venom (like snakes) Gilas grip victims and chew, allowing neurotoxins to spread from their teeth to the open wound. They can be easily spotted because of the bright pink, orange or yellow patterns that adorn the backs of their black bodies.
Bonus Fact: A type of protein found in Gila saliva can be used to treat diabetes in humans.