Apr 20
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ARKive’s Top Ten Eggs

With Easter just a hop, skip and a jump away, 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!

Gooseberry fool?

Peacock butterfly egg image

Peacock butterfly eggs look a lot like gooseberries!

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?

Emu egg image

Emu eggs come in various shades of greenish-black

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…

Green turtle egg image

Green turtles can lay an impressive number of eggs per nesting season

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 egg image

Bald eagle nests are some of the largest of any bird species

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

California horn shark egg image

Shark eggs, such as this California horn shark egg, are often referred to as ‘mermaid’s purses’

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.

Eggs-panding eggs

 

Common frog egg image

Common frog eggs are coated in a jelly-like substance

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.

Egg pasta

 

Sea lemon egg image

Pasta del mar – sea lemons produce somewhat pasta-like egg masses

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!

Ha-bee Easter!

 

Honey bee egg image

Honey bee egg

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.

Eggshellent parenting

 

King penguin egg image

King penguins incubate their egg on their feet

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!

Eggs-treme monotreme

Short-beaked echidna egg

A short-beaked echidna egg

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!

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

Mar 30
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ARKive’s Top 10 Animal Mothers

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!

Feb 9
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ARKive’s Lonely Hearts

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we’re featuring a few forlorn species looking for love. Read on to learn more about them and find out what they’re looking for in a perfect partner.

Sensitive Spaniard

Mallorcan midwife toad image

Name:  Monty

From: Mallorca

About me: Islander who loves the mountains and water sports. Quite competitive, but a sensitive guy who’s great with kids. Ready to deliver a good time, so get in touch if you’re looking to find your prince.

 

 

Shady lady

Large hairy armadillo image

Name: Gertrude

From: Argentina

About me: Shy singleton currently clawing my way back into the dating game after going underground for some time. Thick skinned. Looking for my knight in shining armour who doesn’t mind a hairy lady. If you think you might be able to dig me out of my solitude, visit my profile.

 

Buzzing boyfriend

Asian dwarf honey bee image

Name: Barry

From: Southeast Asia

About me: Primitive fellow but a good dancer with a bit of a sweet tooth. A hard worker who can sometimes get buried in my work. Sick of bumbling through life with no-one to love, I’m now looking for my queen. Call me if you want to be(e) my honey.

 

 

Hive hustler

Honey badger image

Name: Hortencia

From: South Africa

About me: Stocky, grey-haired lady looking for relatively independent male. Professional fumigator. Not a picky eater. Favourite film is Raiders of the Lost Ark-hive. Looking for someone to fill the hole in my heart. Dig out my contact details.

 

 

Common crustacean

Common hermit crab image

Name: Herbert

From: UK

About me: Shy sea-lover looking for someone to bring me out of my shell. After several evictions, am now working my way up the property ladder. Friends would say my worst trait is being a bit shellfish, but I like to mix with all sorts, and am looking for a mutually beneficial relationship. Call me in a pinch.

 

Flighty flasher

Juan Fernández firecrown image

Name: Juan

From: Chile

About me: Small chap who is proud of his appearance. Loves aerobatics. Bit hot-headed. Love my food and am fiercely protective of it – do not expect to share. With so few ladies about, it’s proving hard to find the fire-cracker I’m looking for. Get in touch if you want me to set your heart aflutter.

 

Golden guy

Leopard image

Name: Leonard

From: Kenya

About me: Fashionable feline with a keen eye for dining opportunities. Athletic and agile, loves climbing. Despite my powerful build, I can often go unnoticed. Am a bit of a stalker, but willing to change my spots for the right lady. Call me if you want me to whisk(er) you off your feet.

 

 

Resplendent reptile

Parson's chameleon image

Name: Carlton

From: Madagascar

About me: Quite a colourful character, able to adapt to most situations. Unique chap who likes to branch out and perform several bizarre party tricks. Likes to spend time alone, but needs to get a grip. Can be strong-headed at times – known to clash with other members of my sex. Big fan of mittens. Check out my profile to see me in all my guises.

 

 

Buff bovid

Asian buffalo image

Name: Bartholomew

From: Nepal

About me: Heavy-built bovine who loves a good mud bath. Looking to play the field and have a short-term relationship with a few strong-minded females. Enjoys water sports and hanging out with the lads. If interested, dial 0800-B-U-F-F.

 

 

Royal roe

Atlantic salmon image

Name: Simon

From: Norway

About: Water-loving athlete with an aptitude for high jump. Friends call me the King of Fish – I’m a good catch who will have you hooked. Looking to go the distance, even if it’s an uphill struggle. Happy to travel – life won’t be complete until I have met my perfect match. If, like me, you are willing to die for love, get in touch.

 

Which species on ARKive wins your heart? Comment below and let us know!

 

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Content and Outreach Officer

Jan 2
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ARKive’s Yoga-loving Species

For those of you looking to try a new form of exercise in the New Year to tone up and get fit, why not follow the example of these animal athletes and take up yoga? By working through a variety of postures and mastering your breathing, you too could be as strong and limber as the creatures below – check out some of their efforts and get inspired!

Downward dog…

Cape fox image

This Cape fox, the smallest and only ‘true fox’ in southern Africa, appears to have mastered one of yoga’s most recognisable postures – the downward dog. In fact, he looks like he’s pretty much doing it in his sleep…!

 

…or should it be downward cat?!

Wildcat image

Not to be outdone by a canine, this wildcat is showing off its skill in a bid to get the name of the posture changed to give it a more feline feel! This species is the wild ancestor of the domestic cat, and can weigh up to eight kilos.

 

Bird-like balance

White-rumped sandpiper image

A big part of practising yoga is learning to be centred and balanced, as demonstrated by this white-rumped sandpiper. We’re not sure what this particular posture is called, but it certainly seems popular in the bird world!

 

Sun Salutation

New England crayfish

A sun salutation is formed of a sequence of postures, including downward dog and cobra. One particular pose held at the beginning and end of the sun salutation sequence consists of extending the arms over the head and raising the face towards the sky, as demonstrated beautifully by this colourful New England crayfish.

 

Locust pose

Northern elephant seal image

The great thing about yoga is that it can be practised virtually anywhere – this northern elephant seal has decided to bond with nature and try the locust pose out on the beach. Although generally not particularly agile on land, the northern elephant seal has long, webbed feet which provide great propulsion to effectively glide through the water.

 

Warrior III?!

Red ruffed lemur image

Despite having a tail which can reach up to 62 centimetres in length, which is longer than its body and could potentially get in the way, this red ruffed lemur has not been put off trying yoga. Here we can see it preparing to go into full Warrior III pose, showing some reasonable leg extension.

 

Handstand

Orange-winged dropwing image

More advanced yoga practitioners can master the art of the handstand, which requires core strength and a lot of concentration. This orange-winged dropwing is providing us with a good example of a handstand, but does the use of all six legs not count as cheating?!

 

Flexible and fossorial

Naked mole rat image

This naked mole rat is trying what is known as the full boat pose during its subterranean yoga session. Look at that concentration! As naked mole rats are not able to control their body temperature internally like other mammals, this guy will have to retreat to cooler parts of its burrow if it gets too hot.

 

Aquatic yoga

Manatee image

Bikram yoga, practised in a hot, steamy environment, has been all the rage recently, but this manatee has taken it a step further and has developed aquatic yoga. Here we can see a beautiful example of a tail-stand! If you don’t like cold water, not to fear – manatees ideally require water above 20 degrees Celsius to survive, so these sessions are bound to be nice and warm!

 

Lotus

Verreaux's sifaka image

This Verreaux’s sifaka is doing its own version of the lotus pose – this particular individual is clearly taking a break from leaping gracefully along the floor of its forest home, an action for which it is well known.

 

Relax

Rivera red-belly toad imageHoney bee image

 

After a long, hard yoga session, there’s nothing better than taking a moment to relax in child’s pose, just like this Rivera red-belly toad and honey bee.

 

Namaste!

 

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Content and Outreach Officer

Dec 22
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ARKive’s Guide to Festive Films

With the holidays approaching and Christmas just around the corner, the ARKive team brings you their guide to the ultimate festive films, with a wildlife twist of course!

Dove Actually

Collared dove photo

These collared doves could give the actors in this romantic comedy a run for their money when it comes to courtship!

Elf(in skimmer)

Elfin skimmer photo

While Buddy is probably the tallest elf you’ve ever seen, the elfin skimmer is the smallest dragonfly in North America!

The Polar (Bear) Express

Polar bear photo 

Although they may look bulky, polar bears can actually reach speeds of about 40 kilometres per hour over short distances!

How the Finch Stole Christmas!

 Greenfinch photo

This greenfinch might not have stolen Christmas, but he doesn’t look too happy at the thought of someone stealing his berries!

Jingle All the Ray

 Reef manta ray photo

These reef manta rays might not have to brave a toy store on Christmas Eve, but this feeding frenzy looks almost as chaotic!

The Nightjar Before Christmas

 Nightjar photo

While it may not really be the stuff  of nightmares, the eerie nightjar is most active during the twilight and superstition has it that this species used to steal milk from goats! 

Home Abalone

 Black abalone photo

It may not be completely ‘alone’ yet, but sadly the black abalone is Critically Endangered and has suffered serious declines.

Jack(daw) Frost

 Jackdaw photo

While the jackdaw might not be much use in a snowball fight, this handsome member of the crow family does have distinctive frosty blue eyes!

Barnacle on 34th Street

 Goose barnacle photo

It might not be miraculous, but it was once widely believed that barnacle geese developed from goose barnacles like these on the sides of ships!

The Muppet Christmas Caracal

 Caracal photo

With ears this large, the caracal wouldn’t look out of place in a Muppets line up!

Can you think of any other festive wildlife films we’ve missed? Post your suggestions in the comments section below!

Claire Lamb, ARKive Content & Outreach Officer

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