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’

Feb 28

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: to protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction. Are you ready for the challenge?

Photo of Team WILD play screen

From jungle to savannah, rainforests to coral reefs, help Team WILD monitor, survey and conserve. Discover the different types of field tasks a conservation scientist or ecologist must do in order to protect the world’s species and habitats, from the replanting of native guapuruvu trees in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil to the rescue and evacuation of non-infected mountain chickens (a frog) from Montserrat, where populations are being decimated by the deadly chytrid fungus.

Test your speed, skill and determination and see whether you’ve got what it takes to join this legion of science superheroes…

The Team WILD missions…


 Amphibian conservation Save the mountain chicken from a deadly disease in Montserrat

A deadly fungus is destroying the world’s amphibian populations. Team WILD needs to collect uninfected mountain chickens (a frog) to breed them and ensure the survival of the species.

Captive breeding in bio-secure breeding facilities and re-introduction of the mountain chicken is the best hope for its survival.

Coral reef conservation

Conserving coral reefs in the Chagos Archipelago

Scientists need to monitor coral reefs to make sure climate change and other threats such as overfishing or sedimentation are not having a negative effect on reef health.

Join Team WILD’s elite task force of divers to help survey the health of coral reefs in the Chagos Archipelago.


Reforestation in the Atlantic forest, Brazil

Team WILD needs help combating deforestation in Brazil. No tropical ecosystem has suffered as much loss as the Atlantic Forest, making reforestation projects here very important.

Over 90% of the Atlantic  forest has already been destroyed, so the team must act fast to replant native tree species, such as the guapuruvu tree.


Surveying predator-prey relationships in the African savannah

Scientists study predator-prey relationships to help understand what might cause population changes over time.

Team WILD needs you on an important mission to help determine the relationships between predators and prey in the African savannah.


Are you a teacher? Find out how you can use Team WILD in the classroom.

Meet Team WILD’s science superheroes…



 ROOT is a true radical. A research scientist to the core, he is nature’s ultimate guardian warrior. He’s also wildly cool.

A world-leading botanist, FLORA has a bit of a wild streak.She lets nothing stand in her way when solving the murkiest of scientific mysteries.

Play Team WILD!


Oct 29

What will you be dressing up as this Halloween? A cat? A bat? A giant wolf spider? For those of us who celebrate this unique holiday, creating our costume is more than half the fun and it got us thinking, where do our Halloween traditions stem from?

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, held at the end of October. This day marked the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of winter. To celebrate, people would dress in animal costumes and tell each other’s fortunes. When the Roman Empire moved north from the Mediterranean Basin and conquered Celtic territory (including northwestern Spain, France, southern Germany, and up through the United Kingdom), they brought with them the festival of Pomona which honored the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, invoking the tradition of trick-or-treating.

This month, ARKive would like to highlight species from the European countries that inspired this spooky holiday, and perhaps offer up some great ideas for your Halloween costume!

Gliding Gladiator

Lammergeier photo

Perhaps you would like to dominate the skies this Halloween night as a commanding bird of prey. The lammergeier, or bearded vulture, is a majestic bird with a wingspan commonly reaching over 2.5 meters. This skilled glider rarely needs to flap its wings in flight, and specializes in feeding on bones. They are known for their technique of picking up large bones and dropping them onto rocks in order to extract marrow out of the shattered pieces. Lammergeiers prefer high-altitude mountainous regions of southern Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Africa.

Celestial Swimmer

Mediterranean monk seal photo

If underwater wonders are more your thing, you could consider posing as a Mediterranean monk seal. Currently one of the most endangered mammals in the world, this pinniped was once abundant across the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, and northern coast of Africa. It was so popular it was the emblem for one of the first Greek coins made around 500 BC, shortly before the Roman Empire spread into Greece. Deliberate killing and habitat encroachment are largely responsible for their decline, with likely less than 500 individuals remaining.

Stunning Serpent

Meadow viper photo

Consider a costume guaranteed to grant you respect! The meadow viper is a small, attractive venomous snake, displaying a beautiful and intricate zigzag pattern marking the length of its back. Feasting primarily on crickets and grasshoppers, this reptile is found in Italy, France and a few other eastern European countries. Habitat destruction and over-collection account are current threats to this vulnerable species.

Vermillion vixen

Red fox photo

Who can resist a fabulous fox? The red fox is an attractive member of the family Canidae, and is widely distributed in the northern hemisphere. They are unique in that they can produce 28 different vocalizations, and are the largest species of true fox. In ancient Celtic tradition, the red fox was honored for its wisdom.

Frequent Flyer

Black pennant photo

If bugs with big eyes are calling you, you could consider transforming into a black pennant. This dragonfly is slick and smart, predating on smaller insects, it is also capable of posturing its body to cool down in hotter temperatures. This little insect is found throughout several Mediterranean countries, as well as central Asia and northern Africa.

Finned Funnyman

Arno goby photo

If you want to feel like a rare find, go trick-or-treating as an Arno gobi. This vulnerable freshwater fish is endemic to Italy, and is only found in six river basins and two lakes in the Tyrrhenian catchment of Central Italy, a region which played a significant role in Roman culture. With a large head, elongated body and oversized mouth, this species is known for its active acoustic communication.

Haunting Hooter

Long-eared owl photo

The long-eared owl no doubt had a presence in early Halloween festivals, as the subspecies Asio otus otus was found throughout both Celtic and Roman territories. Owls have long been considered ethereal species, and their calls can be eerie and haunting . Not only does this bird of prey possess special feathers to remain silent during its stealth hunting missions, it can also swallow prey whole!

Why not share your favourite wildlife Halloween costume ideas with ARKive, and post them on our Twitter or Facebook page?

And don’t forget, if you’re looking for something to entertain your little monsters this halloween, ARKive has a whole host of free, fun-filled Halloween activities.  From monstorous masks to spooky games and quizes, there is something for everyone, so be sure to check it out!

Maggie Graham, ARKive Program Assistant

Oct 27
Photo of Ben Garrod

© Ben Garrod

My name is Ben Garrod and I am an evolutionary biologist. I work with animal skeletons (mainly primates) to see what they can tell us about a species’ evolutionary history.

Looking at skeletons has taken me around the world; from beluga whale skeletons in the Arctic to chimpanzee skeletons in Uganda. I’ve looked for lost species in the Caribbean and have even discovered which animals were buried with emperors in ancient tombs!

Apart from being the main guest at any cool Halloween party, skeletons and especially skulls can tell us a lot about an animal’s diet, behaviour, lifestyle and even its environment.

To find out more about my skeletons you can visit my website, follow my BensBones page on Facebook or find me on Twitter.


Spooky Skull Quiz!

For Halloween, ARKive has asked me to design a spooky skull quiz (cue scary laugh – mwa ha ha ha ha ha)! Look at the pictures and use the creepy clues to guess which species the skulls belong to. They may look scary and ghoulish but they all come from amazing creatures. So test your ‘skull’ and let us know how many you get right!



Skull photo © Ben Garrod,

© Ben Garrod,

Clue 1: This scary looking beast is more of a rare ocean wanderer than a monster from the deep!

Clue 2: This deep-diving ocean mammal sounds like it has a birds ‘nose’.

Clue 3: A mirror might help solve this anagram to find this mysterious animals’ name ELAHW DEKAEB S’YBREWOS.



Skull photo © Bjorn Vancampfort,

© Bjorn Vancampfort,

Clue 1: This big fish hangs round in big schools.

Clue 2: At more than 4m in length, this animal sounds like a cross between a DIY tool and a scary fish.

Clue 3: The head is actually used to pick up tiny electrical signals released by prey buried beneath the sand.



Skull photo © Ben Garrod

© Ben Garrod,

Clue 1: These demonic-looking ovids  are kept by rare breed collectors but are expensive – not a baaaar-gain, by any means.

Clue 2: Not named after the famous ghost that hounded Scrooge but they do share the same names.

Clue 3: If you’re having issues with the name, it does have another name;  what  might you call a sheep with many horns?



Skull photo © Ben Garrod

© Ben Garrod,

Clue 1: This beaked beast really is a ‘living dinosaur’.

Clue 2: These big flightless birds pack an awesome kick.

Clue 3: The casque… no-one really knows! Maybe a sound amplifier, a weapon or to attract a mate.



Skull photo © Jake McGowan-Lowe

© Jake McGowan-Lowe,

Clue 1: This ocean predator sounds as though it enjoys a spot of fishing.

Clue 2: Its other name implies this species likes easy ‘pray’.

 Clue 3: This fish is just angling for some attention!


Don’t be ‘afraid’ to let us know how you got on, I’m sure there will be ‘stiff’ competition for the skull crown!

Ben Garrod, Conservation Biologist and bone expert.

Happy Halloween!

Have a frightfully scary time this Halloween with ARKive’s spooky Halloween activities. We’ve created a wild Halloween package of critter crafts, creepy crawlie computer games, bizarre blog posts and monstrous movie clips to take you and your Addams family on a spooky adventure through the natural world.

Aug 13

With the school holidays stretching out ahead of us and the arrival of summer in the northern hemisphere, many of us will be heading to the coast with friends and family to soak up some sun or play in the sand and surf. The beach is a great place to search for signs of wildlife, and with this in mind we’ve created ARKive’s beach treasure hunt, a bingo style game to keep the kids (and the competitive adults among us) entertained!

It’s so easy to play along, simply print out a copy of our PDF tick sheet, which can also be found on our fun stuff page, then head down to the seaside and start searching.

How many of the following will you be able to find on your next visit to the beach?

Beach Bingo Thumbnail


Our favourite coastal crustaceans, crabs can be found around the globe, from the common shore crab on the beaches of the UK to the huge coconut crab found on tropical Indo-Pacific islands, thought to be the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world.

Crab photo


Wobbly they may be, but fish they are not! Jellyfish actually belong to the phylum cnidaria, along with anemones and corals. They can be found in every ocean of the world and are a fairly common sight washed up on beaches. If you do find one, approach with caution, some can give you a nasty sting even when out of the water.

Jellyfish photo

Sharks’ teeth

One of our favourite things to find on the beach is sharks’ teeth. Sharks continually shed and replace their worn-out teeth, with the lost teeth often fossilising on the seabed and eventually washing ashore. Some are very valuable if you are lucky enough to find them, like the teeth of the extinct giant shark megalodon.

Sharks' teeth photo


Sea urchins are peculiar looking animals that typically live on the seabed or burrow in to the sand. Many have spectacular looking spines for protection, giving rise to the name ‘urchin’, an old term for their spiky lookalike – the hedgehog.

Urchin photo

Starfish or sea star

Another misnomer here, as starfish are not related to fish but belong instead to a group of animals known as echinoderms, leading marine scientists to use the name ‘sea star’ instead. Sea stars are a fascinating group, most famous for their ability to regenerate limbs. It is estimated that there are around 2,000 species found around the globe.

Starfish photo

Sea shells

Shells of all shapes and sizes can be found on beaches around the world, and the most commonly found are the hard, protective casings of marine molluscs, particularly bivalves such as mussels and oysters, and gastropods like periwinkles, limpets or the even spectacular queen conch.

Shell photo


Driftwood is a common sight on beaches, particularly after a storm. The term driftwood refers to all types of wood washed ashore including both trees and branches washed out to sea naturally or lost during logging, and man made wooden objects such as lost cargo or parts of shipwrecks.

Driftwood photo


Many marine species lay their eggs at sea, and it is not uncommon to find eggs washed onto beach from time to time. Some species attach egg clusters to things like kelp (such as the common whelk eggs pictured), while others including sharks and skates lay eggs in distinctive protein cases sometimes known as mermaid’s purses.

Whelk egg mass photo


Seaweed is the name given to a vast array of marine algae, and the different species typically belong to three main groups; brown, green and red algae. Some species have distinctive ‘floats’ or ‘air bladders’ filled with gas to help keep them upright underwater.

Seaweed photo

Cuttlefish shell

Cuttlefish are molluscs, and as such they are related to bivalves and gastropods, the species who produce many of the sea shells we see washed ashore. The shell of the cuttlefish however, is internal, and often referred to as the cuttlebone. It is chambered and filled with gas to help the cuttlefish regulate its buoyancy.

Cuttlefish shell photo

Good luck with your own search – make sure you let us know how you get on! You could even share photographs of your finds on the ARKive Facebook page.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher


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