Apr 25

Cephalopods are arguably the weirdest of all marine invertebrates. The name cephalopod literally translates to ‘head-footed’ in Greek, indicating just how strange members of this taxonomic class are, but nothing in their name indicates how incredibly intelligent they are. Their alien-like features are truly fascinating and cephalopods are commonly regarded as the most advanced of all invertebrates!

The weirdest one – nautilus (Nautilus pompilius)

Kicking off our list is the bizarre-looking nautilus, whose appearance resembles a cross between a snail and a shrimp. They are the only species of cephalopod to have retained their external shell, which means they cannot alter their appearance as well as their counterparts.

The invisible one – common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)

The common cuttlefish is a master of disguise, possessing the ability to transform its appearance to suit its surroundings in an instant. Check out this amazing talent in this video!

The deadly one – southern blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa)

This species has one of the most potent venoms on the planet, 1000 times more powerful than cyanide, and there is no known antidote. The blue rings after which this species is named will only appear when an individual is disturbed and serve as a warning before it attacks. The helpless crab in this video finds this out the hard way!

The strangely familiar one – opalescent squid (Loligo opalescens)

You may have come into contact with this cephalopod more than any other – the opalescent squid is more commonly known to us as ‘calamari’. These small squids live in extremely large shoals and hunt by striking their prey with their tentacles.

The one-size-fits-all one – curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa)

The ability of the curled octopus to transform and camouflage its body is truly fascinating – there is no gap too small or seaweed too colourful for this species! The curled octopus is also equipped with an ink jet they can utilise as a distraction when a predator is nearby. On top of all that, it also has an extremely toxic venom that it uses to paralyse its prey!

The colourful one – Carribean reef squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea)

Commonly found in shallow reef waters, this intriguing species has enormous eyes and is known to have the largest eye-to-body ratio of the whole animal kingdom! Carribean reef squid communicate with each other by changing the colour of their skin.

The huge one – giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

The giant Australian cuttlefish is largest cuttlefish species, reaching lengths of up to a metre.  Despite its large size, this species it is a master of disguise and can easily blend in with its  surroundings due to special pigment cells called chromatophores which allow it to change colour in an instant.

The even huger one – Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas)

A close relative of the giant squid, this species, also known as the ‘jumbo squid’, is a monster capable of growing up to 2 metres long and weighing over 50 kilograms! They can move at considerable speeds (up to 24km/h) and have been known to propel themselves out of the water and soar through the air to evade their predators which include whales, sharks, seals and swordfish.

The bright one – firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans)

This bioluminescent species is definitely deserving of a top 10 spot as it is responsible for one of the most spectacular light shows on the planet! Between March and June millions of firefly squid gather off of the coast of Japan, as well as hundreds of tourists, producing a natural spectacle like no other. The firefly squid also uses its bioluminescence to attract prey and select mates.

The strong one – North Pacific giant octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)

Reaching lengths of up to 5 metres and weighing in at up to 50 kilograms, this monster octopus had to make the top 10! The photograph below is not photoshopped, this species does eat sharks! Its raw strength makes it capable of ripping apart shells and flesh with its tentacles or using its powerful ‘beak’ to make easy work of its prey. This, in tandem with its camouflaging talent, makes it a truly ferocious predator.

Have we missed out your favourite cephalopod? Let us know!

Discover more cephalopods on the Arkive website

Will Powell, Arkive guest blogger

Apr 17

Did you know that April 17th is observed annually as Bat Appreciation Day? Love them or hate them, there are over 1,200 bat species around the world and they play a huge role in the health of our ecosystems. Although scary to some and shrouded in many superstitions, the worlds’ only flying mammals are extremely valuable seed dispensers and pollinators. Without long-nosed bats pollinating the agave plant, tequila would not exist – imagine that! Specialised features such as echolocation and vampire bat saliva are studied regularly by scientists to look for advances in human development.

As a nod to these misunderstood and mysterious creatures, we thought we’d take a look at some of the top bat species on Arkive.

Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Recently winning the number 1 spot in our world’s favourite underappreciated species poll, the grey-headed flying fox is one of the largest bats in Australia and has a wingspan exceeding 1.5 metres! This species can be distinguished from other flying foxes – named after their fox-like facial features – as its pelage extends down to its ankles rather than ending at the top of the legs. Feeding mainly on ripe fruit, nectar and pollen, this species is known to travel up to 50 kilometres in pursuit of the best foraging spots.

You looking at me?

Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat (Nyctimene rabori)

The Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat is a very unique species, as it is one of the only striped bat species in the world, and has unusual yellow spots covering its back, ears and wings. Despite its odd colouration and patterning, it is the bizarre tubular nostrils that stick out above the mouth which this species is named after.  The islands on which the Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat lives have been heavily logged, resulting in this species’ population drastically declining.

I’m like, totally camouflaged right now

Banana bat (Musonycteris harrisoni)

The extremely unusual and elongated snout of the banana bat got it a place in our top ten! Endemic to tropical forest habitats in Mexico, this species’ specialised nose and extremely long tongue is perfect for feeding on pollen from long-tubed flowers. The pollen sticks to tiny hairs around the banana bats face and is transferred from flower to flower, making this species one of the most important pollinators within its range.

Check out my snout!

Canut’s horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus canuti)

Named after the horseshoe-shaped fold of skin that forms part of the nose, Canut’s horseshoe bat is endemic to two small Indonesian islands. Using echolocation to hunt for insects at night, its elaborate noseleaf helps it to focus on ultrasonic pulses while its large ears detect any sounds made by its prey.

I’ll grow into my nose eventually, right?

Common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus)

Portrayed as creepy, blood-sucking killers in many horror movies, the common vampire bat has long had a bad reputation! This species uses heat sensors on its nose to locate veins close to the skin of its prey, before making tiny incisions with its sharp teeth. The common vampire bat has a special enzyme in its saliva which stops blood from clotting, allowing it to acquire a larger meal from its prey. Yum!

I only want a little bite!

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros griffini)

Only discovered in 2012, Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has an elaborate noseleaf structure which, unlike other bats who emit calls through their mouths, aids echolocation and helps it to focus calls. Males can be distinguished from females by the presence of a ‘sexual sac’ behind the noseleaf which is enlarged during the breeding season and secretes a waxy substance to attract a partner.

My mom said I’m handsome!

Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai)

Kitti’s hog-nosed bat not only holds the record for the smallest bat in the world, but it is in fact also the smallest mammal in existence weighing in at just under two grams. This teeny tiny size is the reason for its alternative name – the bumblebee bat. Small populations exist in Myanmar and Thailand but are under threat from tourism and habitat destruction.

Stop calling me small – you’re just really big!

Muscat mouse-tailed bat (Rhinopoma muscatellum)

The common name of the Muscat mouse-tailed bat was given due to its long slender tail which can be as long as the head and body combined. The unusual gliding and fluttering flight pattern of this species gives the impression that it is rising and falling, making it look like a small bird when in flight. The Muscat mouse-tailed bat can be found across the southeastern Arabian Peninsula and south-west Asia.

A rodent? Me? Never!

 

Honduran white bat (Ectophylla alba)

The beautiful white pelage of the Honduran white bat and the bright orange areas on its ears, nose and parts of its legs and wings make this species extremely recognisable. The roosting habits of the Honduran white bat are also particularly intriguing – individuals construct an upside down V-shaped ‘tent’ from the leaves of Heliconia plants to protect themselves from adverse weather and predators. Rarely staying in their tent homes for longer than a day at a time, members of this species are the nomads of the bat world!

Hello my pretties!

Fish eating myotis (Myotis vivesi)

With long narrow wings and large, powerful feet, the fish-eating myotis is easily adapted to take fish and small aquatic creatures from near the waters’ surface. Specialised features such as huge hooked claws mean this species is able to catch around 30 fish each night, even eating them whilst in flight!

My, what big claws you have!

Sadly, 25% of all bat species are threatened with extinction due to climate change, habitat loss, hunting and disease. Hopefully this blog hasn’t made you go batty and if you want to learn more about how you can help save these winged wonders take a look at these interesting websites below:

Discover more bat species on Arkive

Leone Elliott – Arkive Intern

Mar 4

In honour of Mother’s day today in the U.K., we have come up with ten of the most loving mums in the animal kingdom.

‘Darling would you stop pressing your paw so hard into my back…’

Photo of polar bear swimming with cubs

Although this lucky polar bear mummy gets to sleep through birth, it’s not all smooth sailing. She has to nurse and care for her cubs for 2.5 years, during which she has to provide food and teach them how to swim. As you can see, she gives them a helping hand every now and then.

‘Please stop fidgeting sweetie’

Great crested grebe with chick

This great crested grebe mother gets help from her partner in incubating and rearing her young, and she only has to look after them for less than 3 months. You may think she has an easy ride, but she is a very attentive mother and carries her stripy chicks around on her back. No need for a buggy here!

‘Wait your turn, you have to learn to share’

Female cheetah with suckling cubs

Cheetah mums have a lot on their mind. Until the cubs are 8 weeks old, they have to leave them alone in a lair while they go hunting. This is a necessary trip but the risk from the many predators around means the death rate of young cheetahs is very high. Thank goodness we can just go to the supermarkets!

‘I do wish you’d cleaned your feet’

Newly hatched Nile crocodile gently held in adult's jaws

This may be a big surprise to you, but the female Nile crocodile is a very attentive parent and after laying around 60 eggs will cover the nest with sand and guard it for around 90 days. Amazingly, her powerful jaws can be used incredibly gently, and she gathers the hatchlings in her mouth and transports them to water. There’s certainly no padding in this pram!

‘Try and keep up little one’

Female blue whale with calf

You won’t be jealous of the blue whale mum. She has to be pregnant for 10-11 months, and has to feed the calf 100 gallons of her fat rich milk during the nursing period! This is one demanding kid

‘In an hour I can drop you at the crèche, I’ve got to get my feathers done’

Sandwich tern with chick

We are not the only ones to come up with child daycare, as the sandwich tern has also had this idea. Once hatched, the young may gather together in a group, called a ‘crèche’, which is attended by one or several adults. Smart mothers!

‘Lunch time is over now honey, time to go and play’

Africam elephant suckling

If you thought the blue whale pregnancy was long, the African elephant definitely beats it! This poor mum has to be pregnant for nearly 2 years, and has to keep looking after the young for several years after that. Luckily other females in the group help out, known as ‘allomothers’. Every mum needs a break once in a while!

‘Don’t spike your sister!’

Hedgehog with young

Hedgehog mothers are truly single parents, as they are left alone to care for 4 to 5 spiky babies! Luckily they are born with a coat of soft spines to protect the mother during birth. They don’t stay baby soft for long though, as a second coat of dark spines emerges after about 36 hours.

‘You are getting so big now my dear!’

Giant panda female suckling infant

For such a large mummy, it is rather shocking to find out that the giant panda gives birth to a baby that is only 0.001 percent of her own weight! This caring mother will remain with her baby until it is about two years old or sometimes even older. But how could a mother resist when her baby is this cute!

‘Hang on tight my little orange!’

Bornean orang-utan female with infant

The Bornean orang-utan mother is probably one of the fittest around. She will carry her baby constantly for the first two to three years of their life and will take care of it for at least another three years! This mother definitely is a ‘supermum’!

Let us know if you can think of any other caring animal mums!

Happy Mothers Day to all the mums out there!

Jan 21

Can you think of a species that you think is often overlooked and underappreciated? We asked this question to conservation organisations around the world for our Valentine’s Day #LoveSpecies campaign and have collated a list of almost 100 species. These species will be entered into a poll and you can vote for your favourite from  February 1st.

These species may not be the cutest…

…cuddliest…

…most charismatic…

…handsome…

Proboscis monkey

… or well-known…

Sunset frog

…but they deserve our love too!

Starting February 1st, each species will be featured on our blog, with a plea from the conservation organisation that nominated it for why it should get your vote. Voting will also open on February 1st and you’ll be able to choose your favourite until February 14th so you’ve got plenty of time to read the blogs and decide which species deserves its moment in the limelight.

WATCH THIS SPACE!

Jan 18

The third Monday in January is advertised as being the most depressing day of the year. This might be just be a bunch of pseudoscience but we’re here to brighten up this particular Monday in January with some of the natural world’s most amazing blue species.

Forget about The Smurfs, Dory, Aladdin and the Cookie Monster– nature’s got its own pretty cool line-up of blue characters.

1. Blue-footed booby

Blue-footed booby

These rather comical-looking characters use their fabulous bright blue webbed feet as part of their mating rituals. The male birds strut their elaborate feet in front of prospective mates. The bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate. Just check out those dance moves…

2. Sun-tailed monkey

Sun-tailed monkey

 First described in 1986, males of this Vulnerable African monkey species have a rather conspicuous bright blue scrotum.

3. Blue shark

Blue shark

The graceful blue shark is easily identified by its beautifully coloured slender body with deep indigo-blue across the back and vibrant blue on the sides. Unfortunately, this striking species is one of the most heavily fished sharks in the world, with an estimated 10 to 20 million individuals caught each year.

4. Parson’s chameleon

Parson's chameleon

The largest chameleon in the world might look rather blue but it’s only temporary. Like all its fellow chameleon species, the Parson’s chameleon is capable of colour change and it’s not just for camouflage. This rather bizarre-looking lizard with its independently-moving eyes and fused toes is thought to change colour in response to other chameleons (when fighting or mating) and temperature.

5. Dyeing poison frog

Dyeing poison frog

The bright colouration of this alluring frog species is thought to function as a warning to predators that it is poisonous. The dyeing poison frog is named from an old legend in which native people used the frog to change (dye) the plain green feathers of parrots into red feathers.

6. Southern blue-ringed octopus

Southern blue-ringed octopus

Named for the small, iridescent blue spots it develops when alarmed, the southern blue-ringed octopus is one of the world’s deadliest venomous animals. The toxin in its venom is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide.

7. Blue pipe

Blue pipe

A member of the iris family, the blue pipe is one of the many species of Gladiolus that grow in the incredibly biodiverse Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. The blue pipe is a geophyte, meaning that it is capable of surviving long periods of unfavourable conditions by using an underground food storage organ. During the dry season, the above ground parts of the blue pipe die back, but the plant persists in the soil as a short, swollen stem known as a corm. When it rains, the dormant corm is triggered to renew its above-ground growth, causing the plant to flower once again.

8. Ribbontailed stingray

Ribbontailed stingray

The brightly-coloured skin of the ribbontailed stingray acts as warning colouration to alert other animals that it is venomous. Distinctive blue stripes also run along either side of the tail, which is equipped with one or two sharp venomous spines at the tip, used by the ray to fend off predators.

9. Common blue damselfly

Common blue damselfly

This beautiful damselfly is one of only two species of damselfly that can be found in both Europe and North America, its range almost completely circling the Northern Hemisphere.

10. Blue whale

Blue whale

And finally, even the largest animal to have ever lived, the blue whale, rocks the colour blue!

About

RSS feedArkive.org is the place for films, photos and facts about endangered species. Subscribe to our blog today to keep up to date!

Email updates

Sign up to receive a regular email digest of Arkive blog posts.
Preferred frequency:

Arkive twitter

Twitter: ARKive