Jan 26

Australia Day is an annual celebration to mark the first arrival of ships in Sydney Cove from Great Britain in 1788. Held on the 26th January every year, Australia Day began as an anniversary dinner for the original colonists, to celebrate the love of the land they lived in. The name ‘Australia Day’ was not used until 1935, but today the anniversary still celebrates everything that’s great about Australia.

Here at ARKive, we thought we’d get into the spirit by celebrating some of Australia’s more unusually named critters…..



Similar to a kangaroo or wallaby in appearance, the quokka was given its peculiar name by the Aboriginal people living in Western Australia. The quokka is a species of marsupial, and therefore has a pouch in which the young are raised.

Quokka image

Quokka (Setonix brachyurus)



A small cat-sized marsupial, the chuditch is nocturnal and spends its days sleeping in hollow logs or burrows. This species is Western Australia’s largest endemic carnivore, and will feed on a wide range of things from small mammals, to lizards, frogs and birds!

Chuditch image

Chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii)


Crest-tailed mulgara

This desert marsupial mouse is well-adapted to its arid habitat. Having evolved kidneys capable of producing highly concentrated urine, the crest-tailed mulgara does not even need to drink, with its food providing it with adequate water.

Crest-tailed mulgara image

Crest-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda)


Tasselled wobbegong

The highly unusual looking tasselled wobbegong is superbly camouflaged among sun-dappled coral by its beautiful mosaic markings. The scientific name of this shark roughly translates to ‘well fringed nose with shaggy beard’, and you can see why!

Tasselled wobbegong image

Tasselled wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon)


Greater bilby

With its long, slender hind legs and oversized ears, the greater bilby is certainly a comical looking animal. To add to this appearance, the tail is carried as a stiff banner during the bilby’s cantering run.

Greater bilby image

Greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis)



The rare dibbler is a small carnivorous marsupial, with strong jaws and sharp teeth which it uses to capture its prey of invertebrates and other small ground-dwelling creatures.

Dibbler image

Dibbler (Parantechinus apicalis)



Newborn kowaris measure a mere 4 millimetres long at birth, and remain in the female’s pouch for around 56 days. After this, the young are left in the nest or ride on the female’s back, until weaned at about 95 to 100 days.

Kowari image

Kowari (Dasyuroides byrnei)


Golden bandicoot

Now who wouldn’t find these young golden bandicoots cute?! These well presented bandicoots have fused toes on their hind feet, which form a comb for grooming.

Golden bandicoot image

Golden bandicoot (Isoodon auratus)


Spotted any other unusually named Australian critters on ARKive? Let us know!

Celebrate Australia Day by taking a look at some of the other wonderful species found there.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Jan 25

More amazing photos, videos and texts are added to ARKive every alternate week. Here is a summary of our latest update:

The stats
  • 109       new species
  • 25         new movies
  • 374       new images
  • 15         new texts

What’s new – our favourite new species

Summers' poison frog photo

We've added a new profile for another Most Wanted species, the Endangered Summers’ poison frog

 What’s new – our favourite new images
Udzungwa red colobus photo

We've added 15 new photos of the Endangered Udzungwa red colobus


Afghan tortoise photo

We've also added 11 new images of the Vulnerable Afghan tortoise

What’s new – our favourite new videos

Tiger photo

Ever wondered what would happen if a tiger met a bear? Check out our incredible new footage!


Kea photo

Great new footage of inquisitive keas playing

Get involved!

If you have any photos, footage or species information that you think we should add into ARKive please let us know. There are many ways to get involved with ARKive, from contributing your photos to just spreading the word about us – every little helps!

Full details 

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Jan 25

Immediate action on habitat loss is needed to secure the future of the Sumatran elephant, according to WWF.

Photo of Sumatran elephant bathing and spraying water with trunk

Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus) bathing

A subspecies of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), the Sumatran elephant has been uplisted by the IUCN Red List from Endangered to Critically Endangered after losing nearly 70% of its habitat and half its population in the last 25 years.

This dramatic decline is largely due to widespread deforestation on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, with much of the elephant’s natural habitat being converted for agriculture, oil palm production and timber plantations.

Rapid deforestation rate

Three subspecies of Asian elephant are generally recognised: the Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus) on Sumatra, the Sri Lankan elephant (E. m. maximus) in Sri Lanka, and the Indian elephant (E. m. indicus) on the Asian mainland.

Photo of Asian elephants in deep jungle

Asian elephants in forest habitat

Although Sumatra holds some of the most significant populations of Asian elephants outside of India and Sri Lanka, it has experienced some of the most rapid deforestation rates within the species’ range. As a result of increasing human encroachment, many elephant populations have come into conflict with humans, and Asian elephants are also illegally targeted for their ivory.

Only an estimated 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants now remain in the wild, and the species has been lost from many parts of the island. Confined to the remaining forest patches, many herds are now too small and isolated to remain viable in the long term.

If current trends continue, it is feared that the Sumatran elephant could become extinct within the next 30 years.

Photo of Sri Lankan elephant herd in shallow water

Herd of Sri Lankan elephants (Elephas maximus maximus), another Asian elephant subspecies

Urgent action needed

The Sumatran elephant joins a growing list of Indonesian species that are Critically Endangered, including the Sumatran orangutan, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos and the Sumatran tiger,” said Dr Carlos Drews, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme.

Unless urgent and effective conservation action is taken these magnificent animals are likely to go extinct within our lifetime.”

WWF is calling on the Indonesian government to ban all forest conversion in elephant habitat until a conservation strategy can be put in place to conserve the species. It also recommends that large patches of habitat should be designated as protected areas, and that smaller areas should be linked with habitat corridors.

Photo of Indian elephant calf

Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) calf

According to Asian elephant expert Ajay Desai, “It’s very important that the Government of Indonesia, conservation organisations and agro-forestry companies recognise the critical status of elephant and other wildlife in Sumatra and take effective steps to conserve them.

Indonesia must act now before it’s too late to protect Sumatra’s last remaining natural forests, especially elephant habitats.”

Read more on this story at WWF – Habitat loss drives Sumatran elephants step closer to extinction.

View photos and videos of Asian elephants on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

Jan 25

Dr. Sharlene E. Santana photo (c) Dr. Sharlene E. SantanaWith almost 85,000 images available on ARKive for educational and scientific use, we are always pleased when people come up with new and exciting ways to use them. Dr Sharlene Santana is an evolutionary biologist who studies the diversity of mammal anatomy and function. Here, she tells us about her exciting work and how she has been using ARKive images.

Q: We were very excited to learn that you have been using ARKive images in your research! Tell us about your work and what you have discovered.

Thank you! ARKive has been an excellent resource for our recent studies. My latest work has been looking at how the diversity of mammal colors evolved. As you can see just browsing through pictures in ARKive, there is a striking variation in the colors and patterns mammals have, from species that are very dull, to others with spots, stripes and bright colors. Thus far our work has been able to identify several important factors linked to the diversity in color patters in primates and bats. For example, we found that some of the complex color patterns in the faces of New World primates (such as those seen in owl monkeys) evolved in species that live in small groups, while species that live in larger groups have simpler color patterns in their faces (e.g., howler monkeys). We also found that eye masks become darker towards the Equator and East South America, possibly to shield eyes from glare in very sunny environments. Also, in forested areas monkeys have darker noses and tops of their head, possibly to aid in camouflage. In bats, we have found that markings such as stripes likely evolved for camouflage from predators in species that roost in the vegetation.

Q: How did the images on ARKive help you?

The images on ARKive have been very useful to describe the color patterns of many species for which we would have not been able to obtain pictures otherwise. This is because many primate, bat and other mammal species in our studies are endangered, rare, or live in remote areas and thus are very difficult to access. Although we could get some coloration data for these species from descriptions or by looking at captive populations, having images of live, free-ranging animals better allowed us to describe their natural coloration.

Guatemalan black howler photo

An image of a Guatemalan black howler, used in the study

Q: What are you working on now?

Right now we are expanding our study on color patterns to the rest of primates and to carnivores. We want to see if and how their facial and coat patterns have evolved and what factors could be driving their evolution. 

Q: What inspired you to start a career in evolutionary biology?

I grew up in South America, so I was exposed to biodiversity from an early age and always loved animals. When I went to college I realised that what interested me the most was learning about the diversity in animal forms and functions, and that naturally led to going into evolutionary biology to study how this diversity comes about.

Tent making bat photo

The research showed that the markings in some bats evolved as a means of camouflage

Q: How do you think ARKive can help to conserve endangered species?

ARKive can certainly help by creating awareness in the public about how extraordinary and important wildlife is, and by providing comprehensive information about species. Images speak volumes, and I think people connect better with conservation causes if they can see photos and videos of endangered species. On the other hand, this being such a large repository of imagery, it can also help us scientists in producing data that may ultimately prove useful for the conservation of species.

Q: And finally, the most difficult question, do you have a favourite species?

That is a hard question indeed!  I have many favorite species, but if I had to pick one right now I would say the white-throated round-eared bat (Lophostoma silvicolum). These are tropical insect-eating bats that roost inside active termite nests in trees (the males excavate the roosts with their teeth!). I’ve handled these bats a lot and they are not only cute but also very smart.

Bat photo (c) Dr Sharlene E. Santana

Dr Sharlene E. Santana with har favourite species, the white-throated round-eared bat (Lophostoma silvicolum)

Find out more about Dr Sharlene Santana’s work.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Jan 25

January 25th marks the birthday of Robert Burns (1759-1796), an iconic Scottish figure and one of the world’s most famous poets.

Admired for his poems, love songs and cheeky character, Robert Burns’ work is still well-known today, for example one of the most popular songs in the English language – Auld Lang Syne.

Since Robert’s early death over 200 years ago, people have gathered together to commemorate his life and work. Burns Night is one of the most celebrated events in Scottish culture and the occasion is recognised all over the world. Typically, a supper is held on or around January 25th, which includes a traditional Scottish meal, Scotch whisky, music, speeches and recitation of Robert Burns’ work.

In memory of Robert Burns, we thought we’d delve into the ARKive collection and celebrate all things Scottish!

Spear thistle

Photo of a spear thistle in flower

Spear thistle in flower

Legend has it, the Scottish army were alerted to the onset of Viking intruders after one of them stood on a thistle barefooted and cried out in pain. The thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland for centuries, and the earliest record of it being used as a royal symbol is on coins issued by James III in 1470.

Although the actual species of thistle is disputed, some believe that the spear thistle is most likely to be the true ‘Scotch thistle’, as it is abundant and native to Scotland.

Red deer

Photo of a red deer stag roaring during rut

Red deer stag roaring during rut

Britain’s largest land mammal, the red deer is widespread throughout Scotland, with an estimated population of 300,000. In winter, the red deer tend to move from the hills and remote glens to lower areas with shelter and a more abundant food supply. In winter the coat is brown or grey, but it changes to a reddish-brown in the summer.


Photo of puffin

Puffin portrait

In April, puffins begin arriving around the Scottish coast to breed. Almost one million puffins choose to breed in Scotland, and most are concentrated in just a few colonies in the north and west. Puffins nest in burrows or in rocky crevices, and normally lay a single egg in May.

The best time to see puffins in Scotland is in mid-July, when the adults are busy collecting sand eels to feed the pufflings.

Scottish wildcat

Photo of a Scottish wildcat

Scottish wildcat resting in woodland

It is thought that less than 400 ‘genetically pure’ wildcats remain in Scotland today. This is because wildcats breed with domestic cats, creating hybrids which are diluting the population.

The wildcat is solitary and usually hunts at night. It catches rabbits, hares, voles and mice, but it may also feed on small birds, frogs and even insects.


Photo of an osprey

Osprey carrying a fish

Ospreys arrive in Scotland to breed in late April to early May after an amazing journey from western Africa, which takes about 20 flying days. There are around 200 breeding osprey pairs in Scotland and the best places to see them include Loch Garten and Loch of the Lowes.

Ospreys return to their wintering grounds in west Africa in late August to mid-September. If you can’t make it to Scotland this summer, why not watch this fantastic osprey video – it’s the most popular on ARKive!

Scots pine

Photo of a Scots pine forest

Scots pine forest

The Scots pine is native to Scotland and a dominant tree in the Caledonian Forest, which is also made up of birch, aspen, rowan, oak and juniper. Although pinewood forests were once spread over most of the Highlands, only 1% of the original forest remain in smaller, fragmented pockets.

The oldest scientifically dated Scots pine in Scotland is Glen Loyne, which was estimated to be 550 years old in the late 1990s.

Bottlenose dolphin

Photo of bottlenose dolphins breaching

Bottlenose dolphins breaching

Bottlenose dolphins inhabit the waters around the Scottish coast throughout the year, but they are easiest to spot during the spring and summer. The Moray Firth is home to the most northerly resident bottlenose dolphin population in the world, and is one of the best places to watch dolphins in Scotland.

Compared to bottlenose dolphins in warmer climates, such as Florida, the Moray Firth dolphins are larger and fatter to insulate them from the colder water.

Eurasian beaver

Photo of a Eurasian beaver

Eurasian beaver feeding

Between May 2009 and September 2010, 16 Eurasian beavers were released into the wild in Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll, as part of a monitored trial. The first beaver kit (named Barney) was born in Spring 2010, making him the first to be born in the wild in Scotland for over 400 years!

At the end of the trial, decisions will be made about the future of beavers in Knapdale Forest and other possible reintroduction sites in Scotland.

You can see some videos of the introduced beavers on the Scottish Beaver Trial blog.

Let us know if your favourite Scottish species is missing! How are you planning to celebrate Burns Night?

Rebecca Goatman, ARKive Media Researcher


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