It seems that, in many countries, spring has not yet properly sprung, but we hope that our little April Fools’ joke helped cheer you up! The ARKive team had fun coming up with the ‘squabbit’, which was created in the hope that it would raise some awareness of the many incredible (and real!) species that are constantly being discovered around the world. To find out more about these fascinating newly discovered species, including the psychedelic frogfish, the ‘ninja slug’, and the David Bowie spider, visit our informative newly discovered species page.
With Easter just a hop, skip and a jump away, and with Channel 4’s fascinating new Easter Eggs Live show catching our attention, we thought we’d crack into the ARKive coll-egg-tion and have a scramble around to eggs-tract some egg-citing eggs to eggs-hibit in our blog. Along the way, we’ve also learned about the eggs-istence of some rather eggs-centric egg-laying and guarding habits, and we hope you’re as eggs-tatic about our finds as we are!
While you might be forgiven for being fooled into thinking that these green globules are plump and juicy gooseberries, they are, in fact, peacock butterfly eggs. The eggs of this species are laid in groups under nettles, usually in May, and hatch two weeks later.
Sunny-side up? Over-easy? Well-done?
However you like your eggs, there’s no denying that these ones look as though they’ve been char-grilled in their shells! But fear not, these emu eggs are supposed to look like this; they come in various shades of greenish-black and are the size of a small grapefruit. The male emu is an eggs-traordinary guardian, taking sole responsibility for incubating the eggs over the course of two months while the female wanders off to potentially find another mate, and protecting the chicks against predators for several months once they’ve hatched.
100 kids and counting…
In the UK, having more than about four siblings would constitute being part of a pretty large and impressive family, but in the world of marine turtles, this is a mere drop in the ocean. Female green turtles produce between 100 and 150 ping-pong-ball-like eggs per clutch, and can lay up to nine separate clutches per breeding season. While this may seem rather a lot, marine turtles don’t guard their nests or look after their young, and with the threat of land- and ocean-dwelling predators, the survival rate of hatchlings is very low.
High-flying hunger games…
Bald eagle nests, made with sticks and lined with moss, grass, seaweed and other vegetation, are some of the largest of any bird species, sometimes reaching several metres in width. These enormous nests presumably provide a comfy and snug environment for the eggs during the 35-day incubation period, yet things can soon turn ugly. By being bigger and louder, the first-born chick is often afforded more parental attention and food, and will even occasionally kill its younger siblings.
Treasures of the deep
A mermaid’s purse might well sound like something a sea-dwelling siren would keep her money and credit cards in, but a pilfering pickpocket could get a nasty surprise if they were to try to purloin this particular purse as it is actually a shark egg-case! Mermaid’s purses vary greatly in shape, size and colour, depending on the shark species in question.
Frog egg masses, often referred to as frogspawn, tend to look rather like a gruesome collection of eyeballs. The female common frog releases between 1,000 and 2,000 eggs at a time, which are covered in a jelly-like coating. This coating expands when it comes into contact with water, providing protection for the tadpoles growing within.
What may look like a delectable strand of abandoned tagliatelle cast into the depths of the ocean is, in actual fact, a mass of sea lemon eggs. A common sea slug around Britain’s shores, the sea lemon produces thousands of eggs at a time which form a long, coiled, ribbon-like mass. These egg masses are produced in the spring and are attached to rocks, so if you take an Easter weekend dip in the sea and find such a structure, we would advise leaving it well alone and not adding it to your carbonara!
A supplier of sugary goodness and a harbinger of spring to many, the honey bee lays its eggs from March to October. Honey bee colonies have a complex structure, formed of the queen, workers and drones, all of which serve different functions. Worker bees have a variety of roles within the colony, with some being tasked with feeding the developing larvae which emerge from the eggs around three days after they are laid.
King penguins appear to take parenting very seriously, with each pair keeping a close eye on their precious egg. Incubation is shared by the male and female and is split into two- or three-week cycles, and parental duties remain shared once the chick has hatched. It’s a good job that king penguins don’t let their eggs out of their sight, otherwise they may not believe the chick belonged to them…the chick looks so different to the adult that they were first described as two completely different species!
While the majority of mammals give birth to live young, there are some eggs-treme mammalian species that lay eggs! These eggs-tra special critters are known as monotremes, and the short-beaked echidna is one of them. The echidna’s leathery egg is laid into a pouch on the female’s abdomen, where it is incubated for about ten days before it hatches. The young echidna, or ‘puggle’, remains there until it is 45 to 55 days old.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these eggs-amples of awesome eggs, and that you all have a wonderful Easter weekend!
To watch some incredible scenes of eggs from a wide variety of species hatching live, don’t forget to check out Easter Eggs Live online and tune in to Channel 4 at 8pm on Sunday 31st March and Monday 1st April for some more riveting reports and fascinating footage!
Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author
Once again Red Nose Day is almost upon us and around the UK people will be encouraged to ‘Do Something Funny For Money’ to raise funds for charitable projects in both the UK and Africa. Its not just us humans that can raise a laugh with a silly schnoz or two though, the animal kingdom is packed full of hilarious hooters and comical conks. Here are some of our favourites…
The largest indigenous mammal in Central America, Baird’s tapir is well known for its elongated, flexible upper lip that is extended into a proboscis, resembling a shorter version of an elephant’s trunk. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t quite have the ears to match!
Tennent’s leaf-nosed lizard
Tennent’s leaf-nosed lizard is one of five species endemic to Sri Lanka, commonly known as ‘horn-nosed lizards’ becuase of the elongated projections that the males possess at the tip of their snout. It is thought that these strange ‘horns’ may be important signals in territory defence or courtship – perhaps size really does matter?
Golden snub-nosed monkey
The nostrils of the golden snub-nosed monkey are wide and forward-facing, creating a bizarre look and certainly making this species a contender for the title of strangest nose. And if that wasn’t weird enough, these remarkable monkeys can produce a wide range of vocalisations without making any facial movements, just like a ventriloquist!
Great spotted kiwi
While its long slender bill may not appear that unusual at first glance, the kiwi is the only bird in the world with external nostrils on the tip of its beak, giving it a highly developed sense of smell. Foraging at dusk, kiwis literally follow their ‘noses’, as prey is found by tapping the ground with their beaks and sniffing the earth.
Long-nosed tree frog
The long-nosed tree frog was first discovered in 2008, and this strange looking amphibian is instantly recognisable by the long protrusion on its nose, which has given rise to its alternative name, the ‘Pinocchio frog’. Only the males have this long nose, which becomes inflated when calling.
Shield-nosed leaf-nosed bat
Leaf-nosed bats such as this shield-nosed leaf-nosed bat certainly have some of the most elaborate noses in the animal kingdom. While the exact function of the leaf is not know for certain, it is thought that is may help the bats with echolocation.
The snout of the golden-rumped elephant-shrew is long, pointed and flexible, and is used to forage for invertebrates among the leaf litter of the forest floor. Despite the name they are not actually closely related to shrews, and are more closely linked to elephants, hyraxes and golden moles, amongst others.
The Siberian sturgeon lives for up to 60 years and can reach weights of up to 210 kg. Like other sturgeon species, it has sensitive barbels which are positioned on the lower jaw and are used to locate prey, which is then sucked into the mouth. What a handsome fellow!
The king vulture occurs from Mexico to Argentina, and is easily distinguished from other vulture species by its colourful head. While the yellow fleshy wattle on its face may not technically count as a nose, we just couldn’t leave this weird looking bird out of our top ten.
It wouldn’t be Red Nose Day without a red nose or two, and thankfully we’ve found just that in the form of the white-nosed saki. In spite of its common name, the white-nosed saki actually has a red nose and upperlip in contrast to its shiny black fur, as well as a stylish centre parting!
Will you be taking part in any Red Nose day activities this year? Or perhaps you have a favourite strange-nosed species you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher
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…’
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’
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’
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’
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’
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’
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’
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 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!’
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!’
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!
What will you be doing to impress your loved one this Valentine’s Day? Are chocolates and flowers too cliché? Are all the good restaurants fully booked? Is the whole event just too commercial? If you are short of ideas then fear not! Here at ARKive we’ve dug up some of the most weird and wonderful romantic strategies from the natural world for a little inspiration…
Shot by cupid’s arrow (sort of)
If you are struggling to win the affections of your sweetheart, you might like to consider the strategy of the long-tailed ‘ninja’ slug. Slugs are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female reproductive organs, and when it comes to finding a partner these slugs will fire harpoon-like ‘love darts’ at each other – who needs cupid?
An adrenaline-fuelled date
If dates are starting to feel a little too tame, why not spice things up by trying out some action-packed extreme sports together? Bald eagles reinforce the bond with their mate by undertaking spectacular, acrobatic flight displays that include the pair flying to a great height, locking the talons, and cartwheeling towards the ground, only breaking off at the last moment. Unleash your inner thrill seeker!
You smell divine!
When it comes to impressing a partner we all know the importance of smelling your best, and huge amounts of money are spent on perfumes and aftershaves each year. However, some of our counterparts in the animal kingdom take things a step further. For example, during the breeding season the male moose wallows in urine-soaked mud in order to attract females. A word of warning though, we’re not sure this strategy will work for everyone…
Dress to impress
A stylish outfit is a sure way to catch the eye of that special person in your life. If you need some fashion inspiration, look no further than the magnificent frigatebird. The male has a bare patch of skin on his neck which can be inflated into a bright red balloon to impress the ladies during the breeding season. Accessorise to stand out from the crowd!
Win her over with a rock
If you really want to dazzle this Valentine’s day, you could try presenting your significant other with a big shiny rock. After all, we all know the saying, diamonds really are a girl’s best friend. This male gentoo penguin seems to have the right idea and doubtless his offering will be a fine addition to the nest, but we think your human couterpart might have something a little more sparkly in mind.
And if all else fails
If romance is still evading you, or all of this sounds a little too much like hard work, why not take a leaf out of the Brahminy blind snake’s book and embrace single life? The Brahminy blind snake is one of only a few snake species known to reproduce through parthenogenesis, a process where the female lays unfertilised eggs which hatch into a new generation of females without the need for a mate!
Don’t forget, this Valentine’s Day we are asking you to share your love for the world’s endangered animals and plants with our #LoveSpecies campaign. Tweet us your favourite species and tell us why you love it. It’s easy to join in:
- Follow @arkive on Twitter
- Explore over 15,000 species on ARKive to find your favourite
- Tweet about the species you love and tell us why using the #LoveSpecies tag
- Is it the cutest or creepiest? Does it make you smile? Be informative, funny or plain outrageous!! Get involved and tweet now!
Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher