Oct 5

Happy World Smile Day! Did you know that today is dedicated to smiles and kind acts throughout the world? Smiling is a universal sign of affection instinctive to us all. But have you ever wondered where our grins come from?

Cheeky monkey

Smiling may have originated from the bared teeth expression made by monkeys when frightened. But in higher primates, teeth bearing is often a sign of submission and non-hostility from a subordinate member of a group towards a dominant member.

Picture of Grey-footed chacma baboon showing submissive behaviour

Grey-footed chacma baboon showing submissive behaviour

From signalling non-hostility and appeasement, teeth bearing is thought to have developed into showing affection and affiliation between equals.

Adult chimpanzee baring teeth

Adult chimpanzee baring teeth

Laughter is the best medicine

It’s also likely that our laughter evolved from another primate expression: the ‘play face’. This facial expression can be seen during playful encounters. For instance, a flash of teeth reassures a gorilla’s playmate that they do not intend to harm them. This appears to be a foundation of human laughter

Young chimpanzee showing prototypical 'play face'

Young chimpanzee showing prototypical 'play face'

It’s easy to imagine that all animals smile and show happiness just like us. Today, they can! For when you’re smiling, the whole (natural) world smiles with you…

Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Belize crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)

Snake-eyed lizard (Ophisops elegans)  

Photo of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)








Happy World Smile Day!

May 18

ARKive has been going for 9 years now, and our quest to profile every threatened species is still going strong. But the list of species seems to be ever growing – there have been some incredible species discovered during ARKive’s lifetime. It’s a privilege to be able to showcase some of these on the ARKive website. So just what has been found over the last 9 years?  

2003: Kipunji discovered

Kipunji  (Rungwecebus kipunji)

Kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji)

A remarkable find in 2003, the kipunji was Africa’s first new monkey discovery in 20 years. Originally named the highland mangabey, the kipunji actually belongs to a whole new genus and is far more closely related to baboons than to mangabeys. The kipunji is endemic to southern Tanzania, and its population is thought to number a mere 1,117 individuals.

 2004: Hawaiian cyanea tree discovered

Hawaiian cyanea tree (Cyanea magnicalyx)

Hawaiian cyanea tree (Cyanea magnicalyx)

This large, tree-like shrub is endemic to Hawaiian island of Maui. Sadly, there were fewer than ten Hawaiian cyanea trees remaining by 2008. In Hawaii it is listed as a “Species of Greatest Conservation Need”, and significant efforts are being made to preserve the remaining individuals.

 2005: Goodman’s mouse lemur discovered

Goodman's mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara)

Goodman's mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara)

While ARKive was just getting off its feet, another primate was being added to the species tally. Goodman’s mouse lemur, named after primatologist Steve Goodman, can be found in Madagascan rainforests. Its arboreal and nocturnal nature along with its remote location may explain how this primate managed to keep out of the scientists spotlight for so long.

2006: Kaempfer’s woodpecker rediscovered

Kaempfer’s woodpecker (Celeus obrieni)

Kaempfer’s woodpecker (Celeus obrieni)

Originally known from a specimen collected in 1926, Kaempfer’s woodpecker was rediscovered 80 years later. One of Brazil’s most enigmatic birds, Kaempfer’s woodpecker is only found in Cerrado, a unique tropical woodland-savanna ecosystem. Kaempfer’s woodpecker is suspected to have a highly patchy distribution and a small population size. Its habitat is under threat as around three million hectares of Cerrado are destroyed each year.

2007:  Banggai crow rediscovered

Banggai crow  (Corvus unicolor)

Banggai crow (Corvus unicolor)

Known from only two specimens collected in the 19th Century and with numerous expeditions failing to find it in the 1990’s, the Banggai crow was long presumed extinct. Unconfirmed sightings of the crow gave hope to its continued survival, and in 2007 two Banggai crows were recorded, bringing this species ‘back’ from extinction. However, it remains Critically Endangered – the small numbers recorded indicate a very small population in an area experiencing high rates of habitat loss.

2008: Ayres black uakari discovered

Ayres black uakari  (Cacajao ayresi)

Ayres black uakari (Cacajao ayresi)

Another primate discovered in the 21st Century and our second hidden gem of Brazil is Ayres black uakari. It has been seen only twice in the wild and so very little is known about this elusive species. Its short tail has baffled scientists, as long tails normally help arboreal species like the uakari to keep balance in the treetops.

2009: The David Bowie spider discovered

David Bowie spider  (Heteropoda davidbowie)

David Bowie spider (Heteropoda davidbowie)

The David Bowie spider is a large spider with yellow hair, and is found only in Malaysia. It was discovered and named by German spider expert Peter Jäger. Its celebrity common name has helped draw attention to the spider and the often-overlooked threats to this and many other species of invertebrate.

2010: Beaked toad discovered

Beaked toad  (Rhinella sp. nov.)

Beaked toad (Rhinella sp. nov.)

The beaked toad was one of 3 new discoveries on an expedition to find amphibians in Colombia. Its beaked nose gained this species the name ‘Mr. Burns toad” after the notorious villain from The Simpsons. This species has an unusual lifecycle as it bypasses the tadpole stage, with fully formed toadlets hatching from eggs.

More information on the Search for Lost Frogs campaign can be found on the Conservation International website.

2011: Chalazodes bubble-nest frog rediscovered

Chalazodes bubble-nest frog (Raorchestes chalazodes)

Chalazodes bubble-nest frog (Raorchestes chalazodes)

The Chalazodes bubble-nest frog was last seen in India in 1874. An expedition to find the Lost Amphibians of India uncovered 5 species not seen for decades, including Ramanella anamalaiensis and Micrixalus thampii. Many of these species live in highly degraded habitats and remain at risk of extinction.

2012: Leaf chameleon (Brookesia micra) discovered

Leaf chameleon  (Brookesia micra)

Leaf chameleon (Brookesia micra)

One of the most recent additions to ARKive is the leaf chameleon Brookesia micra. This tiny chameleon is one of the world’s smallest lizards, measuring in at just 29mm. This was one of four new species found during an expedition to northern Madagascar. During the day these minute reptiles disappear into the leaf litter, while they can be spotted at night as they climb up to the branches to sleep. Restricted to a tiny range of one square kilometre, Brookesia micra is an example of extreme island dwarfism. Read more about these tiny discoveries on the BBC Nature website.  

These recent discoveries highlight how much of life on Earth remains unknown. The last 9 years have offered a plethora of new and exciting finds: with so much still to uncover, the next 9 years look to be equally as exciting!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

May 16

Lowland heaths, mountains, lakes, marshes, peat bogs, chalk grasslands, ancient woodlands and Caledonian woodlands – these are just few examples of the natural habitats found in the United Kingdom, each home to unique collections of plants and animals. We are still able to explore and enjoy these habitats today thanks to the hard work and dedication of The Wildlife Trusts. Established to curb the widespread devastation of natural habitats in the UK, The Wildlife Trusts celebrates its 100th birthday today.

Bluebell wood

A bluebell wood - one of the many natural habitats in the UK

On 16th May 1912, the banker, landowner and naturalist Charles Rothschild formed the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves (SPNR), precursor to the The Wildlife Trusts.

For the first time in the UK, conservation efforts were focused on protecting the habitats of species, rather than focusing solely on species. Without this innovative movement, many of the natural habitats we now take for granted would no longer exist.

The society carried out the first ever national survey of wildlife sites in the UK, identifying ecologically important areas. From this, local Wildlife Trusts were set up to protect some of these special places of nature. A big breakthrough came in 1949, when the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed, making the protection of nature a matter of law.

This move from conserving individual species to protecting habitats is still relevant today. There are now 47 Wildlife Trusts managing 2,300 reserves all over the UK. However a recent review on these protected areas found that many are too small and isolated. Connecting existing reserves is the next step in conserving our natural habitat.

Dartford warbler image

Dartford warblers can be found in sites managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Many worldwide conservation projects now focus on conserving habitats and ecosystems. It is amazing this approach was adopted here in the UK 100 years ago!

In the UK? Find a Nature Reserve near you.  

Watch the Wildlife Trusts’ centenary film on the Wildlife Trust website.

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

Mar 17

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  We’ve got our shamrocks at the ready, but before we get too carried away with the celebrations, we thought we could learn a lesson from today’s colour scheme. After all, you don’t only have to be green on Saint Patrick’s Day. Here our some of our top tips for living a greener life:


Reducing consumption is one of the best ways to lower your carbon footprint. We could learn a lesson from the Arctic fox – this species is able to reduce its metabolic rate by half, while remaining active, thereby conserving energy and allowing more time to find food before starvation occurs.

Arctic fox walking across ice

Arctic fox walking across ice


Before throwing anything out, consider its potential for reuse. Some species of bird, like the stilt sandpiper will often reuse the same nesting site for more than one year, saving time and energy that can be spent on egg production and provisioning instead. Need some inspiration? National Geographic has a great guide to reusing plastic bags.

Stilt sandpiper on nest, camouflaged

Stilt sandpiper on nest, camouflaged


Recycling is a great way to avoid landfill. Perhaps don’t take this advice as far as some species do though! Gorillas, rabbits and chinchillas all exhibit a behaviour known as coprophagia, where faeces are re-injested to allow further extraction of vital minerals and vitamins from food. Waste not!

Male mountain gorilla feeding on plant stalk

Male mountain gorilla feeding on plant stalk

For more information on how to recycle, check out this recycling guide.

Save water 

Water is a surprisingly sparse resource. It’s the middle of winter here in the UK, yet we’re experiencing drought. Treating, transporting and heating water also uses a lot of energy, all contributing to climate change. Many species like the Bactrian camel and baobab trees effectively conserve water. Help reduce your water use by turning off taps, taking shorter showers, fixing leaks and reusing water. Here are some top tips on saving water from the National Geographic.

Grandidier's baobab

Grandidier's baobab

Wild Bactrian camel with newborn calf

Wild Bactrian camel with newborn calf


Wrap up!

Follow the style of the fashionable mouflon and dress for the season – when it’s cold, wrap up with extra layers and pile on the coats! 

Mouflon shedding coat

Mouflon shedding coat


Turn things off

Don’t leave electrical items on standby or ‘sleep’. You’ve probably heard it all before, but this uses as much energy as if it was fully on, so switch appliances off at the mains!

Honey bee asleep during cold weather

Honey bee asleep during cold weather



Composting is an easy way to use up kitchen and garden waste and is great for your garden! Earthworms will love you for it too, as they feed on the organic waste! Not sure how to compost? RecycleNow have a great guide.

Earthworm exiting burrow

Earthworm exiting burrow


Grow your own

What better way to reduce the distance food travels to your plate. A vegetable grown from scratch by you will taste better than any from the shop shelf, so if you have a garden put it to good use!

Leaf-cutter ant carrying leaf with guard ant 'rider', thought to ward off parasitic flies

Leaf-cutter ant carrying leaf with guard ant 'rider'


Creative Climate Change Challenge

Living a greener lifestyle will help reduce your impact on the environment. One of the biggest problems facing the global environment today are the impacts of climate change. In an effort to raise awareness of this problem, we are currently holding a Creative Climate Change Challenge – so get involved!

Have a happy, green Saint Patrick’s Day!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

Mar 13

Twitter is one of our favourite online hangouts as it allows us to connect with over 225 million users from all over the world to learn about endangered species and of course share ARKive’s awesome photos, videos and facts.

In just 140 characters, ARKive can take you to the best wildlife images, introduce you to some of the most obscure species out there, as well bringing you the latest conservation stories. It’s a great way to find out what the ARKive project is all about and it’s the perfect place to connect with us!

Tweet, Tweet

We always have something to tweet about!  Below are some recent ARKive tweets:

 Check out @world_wildlife’s species of the day http://ow.ly/9sORQ

 “Some birds can’t take the heat! New study learning what avian species are the most vulnerable to climate change  http://ow.ly/9svHj

 “Take a break and find out if you’re a #climatechange champ! http://t.co/kHkcQPjh  #climateweek”

As you can see, we like making a noise about all things wildlife, but let’s not forget about the original tweeters – our feathered friends. So why not explore the birds on ARKive and tune your ears into the twittering of the charismatic robin in Europe, the tui in New Zealand or the prothonotary warbler in the US.

Robin singing on branch

Robin singing on branch

Retweet (RT)

Like a tweet? Want to share it with your friends? Get in on the action by simply retweeting your favourite ARKive tweets!

Repeating information is not uncommon in the animal kingdom. Many Passeriformes pick up, or imitate vocalisations of other species – a behaviour the European starling is famed for. Another famous example of reiterating information can be found in the grey wolf. Within a pack, when one wolf starts to howl, others will rapidly respond with howls of varying lengths and pitch in to form a ‘chorus howl’. This may reinforce social bonds, bring the wolves together and communicate with other packs. Perhaps rather than ‘retweet’ an ARKive tweet, you can ‘rehowl’ one instead!

Eurasian wolf pack howling

Eurasian wolf pack howling

Follow us!

African elephants are famed for their ability to follow a leader – an old female known as the matriarch leads a family of closely related females, taking on the role of protecting the group and sourcing food and water.

If you follow us on Twitter you can not only keep up to date with latest news from the ARKive team but you can also get involved by responding to our tweets.

African elephant herd walking in line

African elephant herd walking in line

African elephants walking

African elephants walking









What’s the most social species on ARKive?

Join our search to find the most social species on ARKive. Visit the species you think is the most social and press ‘tweet’. The species with the most new tweets will win the title of ‘Chirpiest Species’ in our Social Species Contest. Who will win? Tweet to ensure your favourite is a contender!

Get involved

ARKive is active on Twitter so why not join our community of followers and keep up to date with the world of ARKive! We tweet about everything from the ARKive team’s favourite species to what cakes we’re eating in the office, from the latest conservation news to fun games and contests. Follow us and then tweet @arkive to say hello!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher


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