Feb 16

As Valentines Day is over for another year it is time to draw our Love Species Campaign to a close and the ARKive team would like to thank all of you who helped to spread the love via Twitter and shared your favourite species with us.

As we know here at ARKive, every species is special but there are always a few who really steal your heart. The ARKive team had their chance to speak about which species they love the most and why (and we hope you enjoyed our Love Species blogs) so we thought that now it was only fair for us to take a look at some of your favourite species too.

The wait is finally over and we can now reveal some of the most popular species as voted for by you. Drum roll please……..

Blue whale

A popular choice was the magnificent blue whale and it’s not hard to understand why. This colossal species is the largest animal to have ever lived, even larger than the biggest dinosaurs and nearly as big as a Boeing 737. Despite their giant size they feed mainly on small shrimp-like krill, which are filtered through the baleen plates.

Photo of a blue whale breaching

Leaf cutter ant

Representing invertebrates were the fascinating leaf cutter ants, undoubtedly the most famous gardeners in the animal kingdom. The ants, which rely on fungus for food, cut and transport leaf fragments back to the nest where they are used to create a mulch to cultivate their own fungus garden, impressive stuff!

Photo of leaf-cutter ants carrying leaves back to the nest

Bee hummingbird

The smallest living bird in the world, the bee hummingbird has also proven to be one of the most popular with our Twitter followers. In the breeding season the male sports a particularly colourful iridescent plumage, making it a real eye-catcher! And not only does it have the looks, it has the moves too and boasts an unbelievable 200 wing beats per second during its intricate courtship display.

Photo of a male bee hummingbird

Giant anteater

The unusual (and I think rather adorable) giant anteater was another favourite, and quite rightly so! What’s not to love about a creature with a 50cm long tongue? Once the giant anteater has ripped open an anthill it ‘drinks’ in the prey by creating a vacuum in its throat, sucking the insects in, aided by its long sticky tongue. Using this method the giant anteater can consume up to 30,000 ants in a single day!

Photo of a female giant anteater carrying young

African giant toad

The amphibian which came out on top was without doubt the African giant toad, a large and colourful species found mainly in Central Africa. Little is known about the biology of this species but it was once heavily exploited for the pet trade. Thankfully all international trade is now prohibited.

Photo of an African giant toad

Gibbons

Gibbons were the most popular of the primates and it didn’t seem fair to narrow it down to a single species so we thought we’d give a mention to the whole of the Hylobatidae family. These beautiful primates never fail to impress with their speed and agility when it comes to swinging from tree to tree, a form of locomotion known as brachiation. They truly are the kings of the canopy!

White-handed gibbon photo

Coconut crab

The land dwelling coconut crab is one of the most unusual crustaceans. As its name suggests, this crab feeds on coconuts and is even able to climb coconut palms, where it is thought to pinch off coconuts with its powerful claws if they are not readily available on the ground. Living on a tropical island and feeding on coconuts sounds like a pretty idyllic life to me and it’s easy to see why this species has struck a chord with our Twitter followers too!

Coconut crab photo

Orca

The orca, also known as the killer whale, seemed to be a sure bet for the top ten being the most striking cetacean and the largest predator of marine mammals. The intelligent orca has a versatile range of hunting techniques and some individuals from a population in Argentina have even learnt to intentionally strand themselves on beaches to reach seals and sea lions on the shore.

Photo of orca pair underwater

Café marron

Having last been seen in the 1940s, the café marron was thought to be extinct until a pupil on the island of Rodrigues brought a fresh cutting to his teacher after being sent out to explore the island for rare and interesting plants in 1980! With an incredible re-discovery story like this it’s not hard to understand why the café marron is a favourite of many, including our friends at Kew Gardens.

Café marron photo

Tiger

And last but not least, what list of favourite species would be complete without a mention of our best loved big cat, the tiger. Its size and stunning coat make the tiger an instantly recognisable species, admired by many all over the world. Unlike other species of cats, tigers are competent swimmers and will readily enter the water. They can even be found lying half-submerged in streams and lakes in the mid-day heat.

Tiger photo

So folks, that’s our round up of your favourite species complete! But fear not, you can keep up to date with the campaign by heading to our Love Species page where you can also check out the results of our courtship displays poll, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter too.

Thanks again for helping us to spread the love for species and remember to keep up the good work!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

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