Dec 25

Today is Christmas, the holiday that children around the world have been anxiously awaiting for including the arrival of man in the red suit himself, Santa Claus!

In honor of Christmas, we’re presenting a WILD twist of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” story. Enjoy!

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse

Woodland jumping mouse photo

Perhaps not the typical rodent of lore, the cute puffball known as the woodland jumping mouse is one amazing mouse; its elongated hind legs allow it to hop up to 3 meters (9 feet) at a time!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

Pitcher plant photo

The uniquely shaped and vibrant pitcher plant could easily be mistaken for a child’s stocking. Don’t be deceived however, this delicate plant is actually of the carnivorous variety with the ability to secrete an acidic solution.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

Koala photo

This snoozing koala might look snug as a bug in a rug, and you would be right; koalas are primarily nocturnal. The koala is often mistakenly called a koala bear even though it is not related to bears, but rather belongs to the marsupial family.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer

Reindeer photo

While reindeer might not have shiny red noses like Rudolph, they still are an extraordinary species that can survive the extreme conditions of the north. Its specifically designed hooves serve as snowshoes and also aid in cracking ice when searching for food.

More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

Bald eagle photo

The regal bald eagle might not be as swift as Santa’s reindeer, but it is an enduring raptor that can live up to 28 years. Its name is certainly a misnomer, since the bald eagle sports a full set of white feathers upon its head.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was white as the snow.

Emperor tamarin photo

While Santa’s beard might be more grandiose, one cannot deny that the emperor tamarin has a truly unique and elegant beard. Much like St. Nick, himself the emperor tamarin has a sweet tooth with a diet that includes fruits and nectar.

He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

Big-belly seahorse photo

With a belly to rival that of Santa himself, the big-belly seahorse has a large protruding stomach. Like other seahorses, it lacks scales and instead has skin stretched over bony plates. Additionally, much like the man in red, the big belly seahorse is most active at dusk and at night.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

Spear thistle photo

The wondrous and colorful spear thistle is noted for its purple flower that does not appear until its second year of growth. The fluffy orb-like seedlings or down are functionally designed to aid in wind dispersal.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight — “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Merry Christmas from the Arkive Team to you!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

Dec 19

Hanukkah, one of the most widely celebrated holidays of the Jewish tradition, commemorates the miraculous supply of oil for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

In honor of the 8 days of Hanukkah, Arkive presents eight wonderful species, some native to Israel and others we think uniquely exemplify this special holiday!

What’s in a shape?

Common starfish

The Star of David is a recognizable Hebrew symbol with 6 distinct points. Most of nature’s “stars” have five points like the beautiful and resilient common starfish that can survive adversity even to the extent of re-growing its arms as long as its core stays intact.

A celebration of lights under the sea

Firefly squid showing bioluminescence

Hanukkah is often referred to as the “Festival of Lights” and celebrates the illumination of the menorah. Deep below the surface of the ocean, species such as the firefly squid produce its own celebration of lights! Utilizing its bioluminescence abilities, the squid camouflages itself by mimicking the light coming from the ocean surface.

Spinning, spinning,  just keep spinning

Spinner dolphin leaping and spinning

The dreidel, a popular toy for children during Hanukkah, has symbols that denote the phrase “A great miracle happened there”. Much like the dreidel, the spinner dolphin emerges from the water spinning high in the air. It is hypothesized this behavior might be used to dislodge remoras or might simply be dolphins having fun.

Are the latkes ready yet?

A young Japanese macaque looks to an older female

A traditional food during Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication is the delicious latkes composed mainly of potatoes. Japanese macaques are also big fans of potatoes. In a unique display, a female in one troop of Japanese macaques washed potatoes in seawater prior to eating them. Now all members of her troop display this distinctive behavior!

 Would the Hoopoe by another name sound as sweet?

Close up of the head of a juvenile Eurasian hoopoe

The beautiful and colorful Eurasian hoopoe is named for its distinct vocalizations of hoop hoop hoop. Its splendid orange-tan plumage and regal crest differentiate it from other birds in the area. The hoopoe was officially chosen as the national bird of Israel in May 2008.

Someone needs a quick desert catnap

Sand cat grooming

The cuddly sand cat strongly resembles a domestic cat, but don’t be fooled by its looks. This is one hardy kitty since it is the only cat that lives foremost in true deserts including the desert regions in southern Israel. With limited water resources, it obtains the majority of its water from its diet.

From 8 candles to 8 legs

Female crab spider

One of the most iconic symbols of Hanukkah, the Menorah holds 8 candles for each day of the holiday, and an extra candle to light other candles and/or to be used as an extra light. In nature the arachnids defining characteristic is the presence of eight legs like that of the vibrantly yellow crab spider. This species has the extraordinary ability to alter its color to match its background!

Are my tree rings showing?

Olive trees

It might still look like a sapling, but the olive tree is the world’s oldest cultivated plant! It transcends time and cultures through its worldwide recognition as a symbol of abundance and peace. In September 2007, Israel elected the olive tree as its national tree.

Happy Hanukkah!

 William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

Dec 10
Sparticl Award

Sparticl Best Content Provider Award

Exciting news everyone! Sparticl.org, a science website dedicated to providing teens with science news, recently awarded Arkive the Sparticl Award for Best Content Provider. Arkive is thrilled to receive this amazing award and strives to provide the public with a valuable educational resource for kids of all ages.

In honor of our new award, we thought it would be a great time to highlight our lesson plans and activities that are perfect for the wintry season!

 

Penguin Diversity - Mask MakingFor youngsters, be sure to view the Penguin Diversity – Mask Making educational plan that  teaches kids about the different types of penguins and the diverse habitats they live in.

 

Gentoo penguin portrait

Animals Over WinterFor older kids, there is the awesome Animals over Winter lesson plan that explores how animals in temperate regions adapt to winter conditions.

 

 

Arctic fox portrait

Also take the time to check out some of Arkive’s animal activities perfect for upcoming holiday breaks. Create a magical winter shoebox habitat, help children make a whimsical reindeer mask, or even craft a wonderful origami arctic fox. We also have nature-themed tree decorations for a festive holiday tree!

shoebox-habitat-winter-activity xmas-tree-decorationsarctic fox

With a little help from Arkive’s free lessons and resources, everyone can learn something new about the wild world this winter!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

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