Time for more ARKive A-Z’s, and in true alphabetical fashion, on we go with the D’s. It turns out that there are some rather extraordinary species names beginning with D – have you ever heard of the David Bowie spider? Or the death’s-head hawkmoth? How about dead man’s fingers? Why not see what other weird and wonderful names are hiding within ARKive’s D’s.
Charles Darwin has to be one of the most famous biologists who ever lived so it is only fitting that he gets a mention in our blog of all things ‘D’. Darwin’s body of work, including his observations and meticulous notes from the voyage on the Beagle and his theory of evolution by natural selection, has led him to be recognised as the father of evolutionary biology. During his travels he discovered many species new to science, a number of which have been named in his honour, including the Darwin’s fox and the Darwin’s frog, both native to Chile.
For more about Darwin and his discoveries take a look at our educational resources.
Seeing as how we have already examined cats and all things Feline it seems only fair for dogs to get their moment in the spotlight. Dogs, or members of the Canidae family, can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and they vary in size and stature from the diminutive fennec fox to the imposing grey wolf. Members share a number of common characteristics including non-retractable claws and digitigrade movement, which simply put involves walking on their toes. Long legs and slender bodies are common amongst canines, an adaptation for catching prey, as seen here in the dhole, an Asian wild dog.
Did you know that the dugong is the only entirely marine mammal that feeds exclusively on plants, or that they are actually more closely related to elephants than other marine mammals? Classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN dugongs were traditionally hunted for meat and oil. These gentle giants are still under increasing pressure from human activities such as fishing, marine traffic and pollution, threats accentuated due to the dugongs large size, low reproductive rate and dependence on coastal habitats. For more fascinating facts and gorgeous images of the dugong check out its ARKive species profile.
Instead of a country I have decided to look at a habitat type this time, one that takes up roughly a fifth of the Earth’s land surface; deserts. Many species have become specially adapted for life in deserts, such as the sand cat which has foot pads covered with thick hair to enable movement over hot sand. Camels are the iconic desert dweller and have a number of spectacular adaptations to their harsh habitat; a hump to store fat enabling them to go for long periods without food or water, narrow nostrils and dense eyelashes which can be tightly closed during sandstorms.
Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer