Dec 10
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Carolling Creatures

As the festive season gets into full swing, we’re sure a few of you will be warming up your vocal cords in preparation for a bit of carolling action. To help get you in the mood for some musical mayhem, we’ve had a root through the ARKive collection to find some of the species that might make good (or bad!) additions to any party of vibrant vocalists.

Delightful duet – Western hoolock gibbon

The call of the western hoolock gibbon is as energetic as the species itself, which can swing gracefully through the trees of its forest home at speeds of up to 56km/hour. The impressive vocal gymnastics of this species can be heard over great distances, so this primate would be a great asset to any raucous carolling choir!

Western hoolock gibbon image

Hooved honkers – Plains zebra

If you listen carefully, you can hear the first few notes of ‘Jingle Bells’ in the call of this plains zebra! This braying bark is a key method of communication for zebras, and is used alongside body movements and facial expressions. Let’s hope these guys have good memories for music and lyrics, as they might have some difficulty holding a carol book!

Plains zebra image

Jolly jingles – Sidewinder

Despite being the stoutest of all the rattlesnake species, this reptilian rattler can grow up to 80cm in length. It is found in south-western U.S.A and north-western Mexico, where it ambushes small lizard and rodent prey from the cover of isolated shrubs. The sidewinder could provide some interesting percussion accompaniment to a group of carollers, though I’m not sure how close you would want to get to one of these venomous critters!

Sidewinder image

Booming beat – Kakapo

If you feel like you need a little something extra on your carolling outing, why not invite the kakapo along to create a resonant boom to back up all your favourite festive tunes? We can’t guarantee he’ll be able to keep in time, but at least it’ll get the choral company noticed! This booming noise is made by male kakapos to attract a mate, and can be heard up to five kilometres away.

Kakapo image

Quacking canid – Dhole

You know that feeling of surprise when you hear somebody sing, and their voice doesn’t sound at all like you’d expect it to? That’s how we felt when we came across this carolling audition tape for the dhole! This Asian species can produce a wide range of vocalisations, including a distinctive whistle which is used to reassemble pack members in its thick forest habitat.

Dhole image

Warbling wonder – Blackbird

Many of you avid music-lovers will recognise the beautiful song of the blackbird, and would be happy to have this musical avian in your carolling group. This species produces a range of vocalisations, including a loud alarm call which has been described as ‘pli-pli-pli’.

Blackbird image

Honking harmonies – Emperor penguin

Emperor penguin colonies may be very noisy and somewhat tuneless places to be, but also extremely cold ones! This species can survive in temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees C, and withstand windspeeds of up to 200km/hour. Emperor penguins might not win any prizes as far as pleasant-sounding vocals go, but this species certainly deserves top marks for its parental care. While the female heads seawards to feed after laying her egg, the male will stay put without feeding for four months, in constant darkness, to incubate the egg. Now that’s dedication!

Emperor penguin image

Choral creatures – Bright-eyed frog (Boophis albilabris)

Does anyone else think that the bright-eyed frog has a call that sounds strangely like squeaky rubber?! This large tree frog, whose scientific species name albilabris means ‘white-lipped’ (can you guess why?!), can grow up to 81mm in length. The bright-eyed frog is endemic to Madagascar, where it can be found in moist rainforests.

Bright-eyed frog image

Squawky solo – Galapagos penguin

This feathered fellow certainly seems to be putting a lot of effort into its call, but if this were an audition, I’m not so sure the Galapagos penguin would be offered a solo! This species is the most northerly of all penguins, and sadly, as of 2007, there were just 1,000 individuals left in the world.

Galapagos penguin image

Cacophonous canines – Grey wolf

The grey wolf is a highly social and intelligent species of canid, living in packs of between 5 and 12 individuals. As well as scent-marking, the grey wolf uses howling as a way of advertising territorial boundaries. It is an effective way of avoiding encounters with other packs, which can lead to fatal battles. Sadly, I don’t think this species would make an ideal choir member, as the individuals don’t seem to be able to howl in tune!

Grey wolf image

Ho, ho, ho! – Barasingha

This barasingha, a threatened deer species found only in India and Nepal, appears to be doing his best Santa Claus impression!

Barasingha image

Ho, ho, ho! And a happy holiday season to you all!

 

Dec 4
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ARKive’s Top 10 Dancing Species

There are so many styles of human dance around the world, which may be used for portraying emotion, fitness, communicating a message, fighting or even just for fun. We are not alone, as many members of the animal kingdom shake, groove, boogie and wiggle their way to getting what they want. Although we use the term ‘dance’ loosely, there are some species who definitely know how to get down.

Jump around

There always seems to be someone in a crowd who thinks jumping up and down constitutes dancing, subsequently annoying everyone else around them. We think that Verreaux’s sifaka could be ‘that guy’ of the animal kingdom.

Verreaux's sifaka image

Twerk it out

You would be seriously wrong in thinking that ‘twerking’ is a recent phenomenon, as the male wire-tailed manakin has been using it to attract females for years. We reckon this bird could give Miley Cyrus a serious run for her money.

Wire-tailed manakin image

Got it on tap

You wouldn’t really want this expert tapper hitting the dancefloor…it would leave some serious trip hazards behind!

Great spotted woodpecker image

Reaching dizzy new heights

Spins are a vital part of any dance routine. Although this cetacean doesn’t seem to have much trouble, we don’t know how many of these spins we could do before toppling over!

Spinner dolphin image

Ready to rock

It takes some seriously strong neck muscles to headbang your way through a whole gig, but this Temminck’s tragopan looks pretty hardcore.

Temminck's tragopan image

Break it down

You’ve seen the worm, the toprock and the windmill numerous times, but this mustelid is bringing some original flava to the streets and has created its own breakdancing move – the stoat.

Stoat image

Made you look

A question has plagued mankind for millennia: when slow-dancing with someone at the school disco where should you look? Should you look them in the eye? Or is that too intense? Should you look away? But then it might seem like you’re not ‘in the moment’ or you’re checking someone else out. Should you look down? But then they might notice the roots you were supposed to have dyed weeks ago. Although we can’t answer this age-old query, at least we know we’re not alone, as this pair of great crested grebes seem to be having the same problem.

Great crested grebe image

Right on time

This poor pair of Laysan albatrosses just don’t quite seem to be able to get their dance routine in time. Maybe they should stick to their day job and leave the dancing to the professionals.

Laysan albatross image

Corps de crane

Poise, grace and elegance are three attributes necessary for all ballerinas. We can imagine the common crane stepping up to the barre and arabesquing, cabrioling and sissonning with the best of them.

Common crane image

Rave on

With the large crowds and lack of personal space involved in their courtship dancing, these Andean flamingos probably wouldn’t feel out of place at a rave! Their neon-pink colouration means they wouldn’t even need to take their own glow sticks!

Andean flamingo image

Let us know your favourite salsa-dancing, hip-wiggling, bunny-hopping, booty-shaking, shoulder-shimmying species!

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Content Officer.

Dec 2
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Nature’s guide to selfies

New to the world of selfies? Unsure how to get the perfect shot? Don’t worry, ARKive and the animal kingdom are here to help with our guide on how to take the selfie world by storm:

1. Always make sure the camera is in focus

Brown bear image

2. Make sure you have your whole face in the shot

Badger image

3. Remember to accentuate your best features

Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross

4. Don’t be afraid to smile…

Guadalupe fur seal image

…or pout…

Sumatran orangutan image

…or pull a funny face!

Namaqua chameleon image

5. Use a selfie to make a fashion statement

Northern rockhopper image

6. Or to show off a new hairdo

Sooty albatross image

7. Use selfies to let the world know how you are feeling

Hippopotamus image

8. Try using your environment to make your selfies more creative

Crested black macaque image

9. Use the sun to get a more flattering light

Southern plains gray langur image

10. Remember, never get too close to the camera

South American squirrel monkey image

11. Watch out for photobombers…

Crested black macaque

…there could be a lot of them

Southern rockhopper penguin image

12. And finally, always remember to face the right way!

Black-backed jackal image

 Do you have a favourite animal selfie? If so share it with us on Facebook or Twitter, we would love to see them!

Jemma Pealing, ARKive Content Officer

May 29
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Whose foot is this?

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!
Apr 2
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ARKive April Fool!

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.

Grey squirrel image

Original image of the grey squirrel used to create the loveable ‘squabbit’ © E. Shaw

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