May 2

Recently, the saiga, an odd-looking Critically Endangered antelope of the Mongolian steppes, was highlighted in the media due to a sharp-eyed Star Wars fan noticing its striking resemblance to some of the characters from the series. This discovery led to a surge of interest in the species and the various threats to its survival.

The 'Star Wars-like' saiga antelope

The saiga is not the only animal with more than a passing resemblance to creatures from the Star Wars galaxy. To celebrate Star Wars Day on May 4th, we attempted to seek out even more lookalikes from the natural world. Can you guess which Star Wars characters we think these species resemble?

Hint 1: You don’t want to owe him a debt

Arabian toad-headed agama image

Hint 2: Always seen with the previous character

Sri Lankan frogmouth image

Hint 3: It’s a carp!

Common carp image

Hint 4: Much larger in Star Wars

Wingless mantis image

Hint 5: Natives of Endor

Brown howling monkey image

Hint 6: They hope it isn’t a cold night

Thinhorn sheep image

Hint 7: Aggrrttaaggrrttaaggrrttaaggrr!

Sumatran orangutan image

Hint 8: With you the fourth May be!

Horsfields tarsier image

These resemblances are more than just a coincidence, with the inspiration for Wookies coming from orangutans, lemurs and dogs.

These amazing creatures highlight the many unique gifts that the biodiversity of Earth gives us. The vast array of morphologies and lifestyles on Earth has influenced human creativity throughout history, from ancient mythology through to science fiction. Whether we realise it or not, all of us draw inspiration from the creatures around us and the world would be a much drabber place without these weird and wonderful animals. Why not see if you can find any other lookalikes, and leave a comment below.

Answers: 1. Jabba the Hutt, 2. Salacious B. Crumb, 3. Admiral Ackbar, 4. The Acklay, 5. Ewok, 6. Tauntaun, 7. Wookie, 8. Yoda

Ben Hogan, Wildscreen ARKive PIPS Intern

Jun 5

This Saturday, June 8th, is World Oceans Day, a global event coordinated by the Ocean Project and The World Ocean Network, that celebrates the important relationship between humans and the oceans.

Photo of humpback whale

Humpback whales travel thousands of kilometers across the oceans each year as part of their migration.

The theme of World Oceans Day for 2013 and 2014 is “together we have the power to protect the ocean”. Taking the theme to heart, ARKive has joined up with World Oceans Day as a digital conservation partner by creating a virtual scavenger hunt across the ARKive collection featuring 10 keystone species from all walks of ocean life.

Think you have the nautical know-how it takes to finish the hunt? To start you off, we’ll give you the first clue:

 “The noises I make are whistles and clicks. I can leap out of the ocean and perform other neat tricks.”

6-hammerhead-shark.cropped

You’ll know you’ve found the right species from the clue when you spot  our scavenger hunt mascot – the ARKive hammerhead shark Survival app hero – on the species page. By clicking on it, the next clue will be revealed until you’ve found the final species in the hunt and win!

Each winner of the virtual scavenger hunt will receive an awesome Facebook cover photo so you can spread the ocean word to all your friends. We have also created a Facebook landing page for the scavenger hunt with some tips and tricks to help you along the way. Share the page with friends and family and see who can finish the scavenger hunt first!

If you have completed the ARKive World Oceans Day virtual scavenger hunt and are looking to surf the ARKive collection a bit more, why not have a look at our rocky and sandy shore topic pages or dive into ARKive Education for some water-themed education resources? Or, check out the World Oceans Day website for a listing of hands-on events that may be happening near you.

However you choose to celebrate, the ARKive team wishes you a wonderful World Oceans Day!

Ari Pineda, Program Coordinator, Wildscreen USA

May 29

So you may be a species identification wiz, but how much attention have you paid to your favourite animal’s feet? Do you know those toes? Could you spot that sole a mile off? If you get a kick out of quizzes then why not put your best foot forward and have a guess at the owners of these fancy feet.

Study each image and make sure you ‘paws’ for thought before clicking on the photo to reveal the answer!

Big foot

Big foot

No clues for this easy starter – who could this foot belong to?

Cold feet?

Chilly feet

Despite looking rather chilly these feet have a rich network of veins in the webbing that produce heat to incubate this species’ eggs – but whose feet are they?

Sticky toes

Sticky toes

Thousands of microscopic hair-like hooks on the feet of this species allow it to walk up the slipperiest of surfaces.

Long foot

Long foot

The particularly long ‘foot’ of this antipodian is specially adapted for the species’ peculiar means of locomotion.

Funny feet

Long foot

These funny-looking feet belong to a water-loving species common across Europe and Asia with a closely related species widespread in North America.

Foot comb?

Foot comb

This little nocturnal animal spends almost all its time in the trees and, uniquely among its relatives, uses the raised nails on its hind feet for grooming.

Tiny feet

Tiny feet

This well-known species undertakes a long north-south migration over several generations and spends the winter hanging in the trees in central Mexico.

Slimy foot

Slimy foot

Another character with sticky feet, this animal has permeable skin and likes a moist environment.

Scaly foot

Scaly foot

This unusual marine species deals with excess salt absorbed while eating seaweed by sneezing salt crystals.

Poison foot

Poison foot

This last one is a little tricky – the venomous spur at the back of the foot is a particular clue.

How many did you get right? Step up and share your score!

  •  0 – 3 Pull your socks up! Your identification skills need a little work.
  • 4 – 6 You’ve got your foot in the door but you need to try harder to make a real impression.
  • 7 – 10 What a talon-ted individual you are! Time to put your feet up for a well-earned rest!
Mar 22

Last week saw the ExCel centre in London host the 5th annual Big Bang Fair, the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. The aim of the fair is to introduce young people to the wide range of career opportunities available in STEM subjects and quite simply show them how awesome STEM can be. Once again, the ARKive team were delighted to attend, and spent four fun-filled days engaging with the next generation of scientists.

Claire at stand

Over the course of the event, 65,000 visitors descended upon the show floor to take part in all that the Big Bang has to offer, including 60 interactive activity stands and 88 workshop sessions from 180 different organisations. Along with the hordes of children, parents and teachers, the Big Bang Fair also welcomed a famous face or two, including David Cameron, Professor Brian Cox, TV Presenter Liz Bonnin and Business Secretary Vince Cable who opened the fair on Thursday morning. Of course, the two most exciting VIPs in attendance were our very own science superheroes Root and Flora, members of Team WILD’s elite conservation task force.

Brownies

Picnic area at lunch

Root and Flora’s mission at the fair was to help the rest of the ARKive team recruit new members for Team WILD, an exciting new online game which aims to introduce young people to both environmental issues and potential job opportunities in conservation. Through the power of stickers (number distributed: 1,661), word quickly spread around the fair and the number of Team WILD recruits rose rapidly. The new team members soon proved themselves to be of a high calibre, achieving some very impressive high scores. Due to these incredible scores, Team WILD decided to award one special commendation to the top scorer in each of the four mini-games. These prestigious awards go to the following rookie recruits:

Root FloraJungle
Daniel Nichols: 1,237

Aquatic
George Murray: 2,278

Deforested
Elliott: 2,297

Savannah
James: 2,319

 

Massive congratulations to everybody at the fair who came along to take the Team WILD challenge. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to play on the day, or for those of you who want to try and smash your current high scores, why not head over to our Team WILD page and give it a go! If you need any convincing, Team WILD was described by one young fan as being ‘like Super Mario, but with animals’…what could be better?!

Superman

Missed out on The Big Bang Fair this year? Keep an eye on the official website for information about next year’s fair and for details on other similar events near you. See you all next year!

The ARKive STEM Team

Mar 12

FloraWe recently launched Team WILD, an exciting new online game in which you have the opportunity to become a science superhero where you must protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction. While the aim of the game is to engage young people with career opportunities in conservation, Team WILD has certainly caught the imaginations of the big kids in the ARKive office too. In between competitive keyboard tapping, drawing up an office leader board and lunch hours spent practising and perfecting those double jumps, the team here started to think about the environmental issues they could tackle if they really did have superpowers. As we all know, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, and with this in mind, the team have come up with some ingenious ways they could use their ‘powers’ for good.

Kicking things off is Carolyn, our Online Marketing Officer, who took inspiration from our favourite web-slinger and decided that she would like spidey superpowers so that she could create webs to catch poachers. Preventing poaching would be a great step in helping to conserve species such as the Endangered eastern gorilla.

Eastern gorilla photo

Researcher Jemma went for a marine-themed power – the ability to breathe underwater so that she could free turtles trapped in fishing nets, a common cause of sea turtle mortality.

Turtle photo

Online Outreach Manager Ellie decided to think big – literally! She decided that by growing to giant size she would be able to defend habitats and halt the destruction of forests, protecting forest dwelling species like this Barbour’s forest tree frog.

Barbour’s forest tree frog photo

Thinking along similar lines, Text Author Liz decided that she’d like the power to make plants grow instantly just by touching the ground so that she could restore all the areas that humans have destroyed, as well as making towns and a bit greener and nicer!

Forest photo

Our Education Officer Helen thought outside the box, and decided that her superhero power would be time travel, so that she could travel back and save species before they go extinct – clever! First on her list would be the baiji, which although still technically listed as Critically Endangered is now sadly thought to be Extinct.

Baiji photo

Wildscreen Festival Assistant Becky opted for a stealthy power, the ability to be camouflaged and blend in with any habitat to observe animal behaviour and keep an eye out for poachers! The Critically Endangered black rhino would certainly benefit from such protection.

Black rhino photo

Finally, Text Author Kaz opted for a more subtle power, the power of persuasiveness, in order to convince more people to make the necessary changes to fight against climate change and species extinction. This is a vital tool in any campaign to protect the environment, and a power that we hope is both realistic and achievable.

Have your say!

We’ve also been putting this question to our followers on social media and have had some great responses so far. If you haven’t already, join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter:

@clairecjl: I’d be super-fast like The Flash and carry out a speedy vaccination program to protect African wild dogs from rabies #speciespower

@jimmac140: Although Aquaman seems kinda useless he must be good for something, Be warned anyone after sharks fin! Aquaman is on it!

@_Daktari_: I want Cupid’s Power to shoot arrows of LOVE for all living things in every human heart. It would save all species & their habitats.

@WWFHoBGI: Super-forest-defender – all species everywhere RT @ARKive Superpower would you like and which species would you save with it? #teamwildgame

@Owen_Thornton: there aren’t many superpowers that can help. Although, maybe ice control for saving the polar bears could help.

Harry Purple Monkey Dishwasher: Harry would have the superpower to heal all the forests, water, earth & air instantly. :D

Soph Kitty Preston: I would want xray vision to catch ppl smuggling animals and parts across borders.

Demetris Bertzeletos: The power to grant David Attenbourough immortality

Deborah Marland: I’d love the power of being able to make people forget that they are in wars & destroying the planet & make them start to treasure & nurture this world & all living creatures on it. The way it should be… If only……

Jan Hooper: i would like the power to make all weapons not work!

Dominique Hoekman: A bird with gigantic wings to fly whole over planet Earth to protect ‘Wildlife’

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