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

Mar 13
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ARKive’s Top Ten Comical Conks

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…

Baird’s tapir

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!

Baird's tapir photo

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?

Tennent’s leaf-nosed lizard photo

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!

Golden snub-nosed monkey photo

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.

Great spotted kiwi photo

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.

Long-nosed tree frog photo

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.

Shield-nosed leaf-nosed bat photo

Golden-rumped elephant-shrew

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.

Golden-rumped elephant-shrew photo

Siberian sturgeon

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!

Siberian sturgeon photo

King vulture

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.

King vulture photo

White-nosed saki

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!

White-nosed saki photo

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

Feb 14
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ARKive’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

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?

Long-tailed slug photo

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!

Bald eagle photo

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…

Moose photo

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!

Magnificent frigatebird photo

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.

Gentoo penguin photo

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!

Brahminy blind snake photo

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

Jan 26
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Happy Australia Day!

Australia Day is an annual celebration held on the 26th January every year to mark the first arrival of ships in Sydney Cove from Great Britain in 1788. Every year on the eve of Australia Day, the Australian of the Year awards are given out. To celebrate, we thought we would give out some of our own awards to the animals found in Australia.
 

Most unique appearance

There are some very unusual looking animals in Australia, making this a tough category. Strong contenders included the Javanese cownose ray and the narrow-breasted snake-necked turtle. However the award went to the platypus; a creature so unusual looking that the first specimens brought back to England were though to be the work of a fraudulent taxidermist! With its duck-like bill, webbed feet and broad flattened tail, the platypus certainly has a very distinctive and unusual appearance.

Platypus photo

The platypus has a very unique appearance with its duck-like bill, webbed feet and broad flattened tail

 

Best camouflage

The winner of this award, the pygmy seahorse, is so well camouflaged in its coral reef habitat it was not discovered until the coral in which it lives in was being examined in a lab! The pygmy seahorse is found in the coral reefs around Australia, and it is not only the same colour as the coral in which it lives, it is also covered in small swellings which resemble the polyps of the coral. This results in the seahorse being very well camouflaged. Can you see the pygmy seahorse in the picture below?

Pygmy seahorse photo

Can you spot the pygmy seahorse?

Most dangerous

Australia is renowned for having some of the world’s most dangerous animals! There are poisonous snakes, spiders, jellyfish, sharks, crocodiles even the platypus has a venomous spur on the back of its rear ankles! However this award goes to one of Australia’s less well known venomous animals – the southern blue ringed octopus. This octopus may be small in size, but it has enough venom in its saliva to kill 26 adults! Its venom, which contains tetrodotoxin, causes neurological problems such as breathing troubles and paralysis. Normally brown in appearance, when threatened it develops blue ringed shape markings. There is currently no antivenom available for the blue ringed octopus.

Southern blue ringed octopus

Southern blue ringed octopus displaying its blue ringed shape markings

Best dressed

Colouration in animals has a wide range of functions. Whether for defence or for attracting a mate, Australia has some beautifully coloured animals including the sunset frog with its bright orange belly, and the multicoloured superb parrot. However the winner of this award is the Gouldian finch. This multicoloured finch, endemic to northern Australia, has a green body, a blue rump, a purple breast, a yellow belly and a red, black or yellow head. The very colourful adults are however upstaged by the chicks with their elaborate and colourful blue, yellow, black and white gape.

Gouldian finch chick

Gouldian finch chick gape

Life time contribution award

This category was very difficult with Australia having so many iconic animals. In the end, the winner was the koala. Koalas, endemic to Australia, are one of Australia’s best known animals. Though bear like in appearance the koala is actually a marsupial. The koala is mainly nocturnal, spending most of its time up in the trees where it can feed and rest, whilst gaining some protection. Koalas have fairly sedentary lifestyles with their diet mainly consisting of eucalyptus leaves. Koalas vary depending on where about in Australia they are found, and those found in south Australia are larger and have thicker fur than those in the north.

Photo of a koala relaxing in a tree

This koala is relaxing after its big win!

 

The Auzzie award

Like the Oscars have the Razzies, we have our own Auzzie award to give out.

Most unusual faeces

This result was unanimous - it had to go the wombat for having cubic poo!

Photo of a northern hairy-nosed wombat

This northern hairy-nosed wombat does not seem to want to collect its award!

Happy Australia day!

Let us know of any other awards you would like to give out to other Australian species.

Jemma Pealing, ARKive Media Researcher

Jan 1
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New Year, New You!

As we welcome in the New Year around the world I’m sure many of us will be making resolutions for the months ahead. The 1st of January marks a fresh start and a great opportunity to set personal challenges to improve ourselves, our lifestyles, and perhaps make a difference to the world around us too. However, we all know that sticking to resolutions can be tricky, so if you need a little inspiration just take a look at our favourite role models from the animal kingdom.

Get active

Many of us will promise to get a little more exercise, but despite our best intentions it is easy for motivation to fade as the months tick by. However, in the natural world being active is the key to many species’ survival. The bee hummingbird is not only the world’s smallest species of bird, it is also one of the most energetic. In order to hover and feed on the nectar of flowers it must beat its wings around 80 times per second, and to perform its intricate courtship display this rate increases to an incredible 200 beats a second. Just think about that next time you are struggling to do a few more reps in the gym…

Bee hummingbird photo

Take up a new hobby

Taking up a hobby or learning a new skill can be really fulfilling. Not only do hobbies help us unwind, they can also be a great way of meeting new people. The only tricky part is deciding what appeals to you most; dancing, gardening, baking, yoga, signing, learning a musical instrument – the list is endless! If arts and crafts are more your thing, how about learning to knit? If the garden spider can spin a web this intricate, surely you can have a go at a scarf?

Garden spider photo

Be more eco-friendly

We all know the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, and the New Year is a perfect opportunity to really put this into practice. Excessive waste is a huge environmental issue, so this year make sure you try and throw away as little as possible. Recycling doesn’t just mean using a different bin either, try and find new and creative uses for everything from plastics to fabrics – you might just save yourself a little money too. If you need some inspiration just take a look at this brown booby nest, creatively styled from “recycled” fishing debris!

Brown booby photo

Eat more greens

Everyone knows the importance of eating healthily, but when faced with a choice between some broccoli or another chocolate biscuit temptation can often get the better of us. If you are struggling to find the willpower to fulfil your five-a-day, spare a thought for the giant panda. As it is only able to digest a small proportion of its bamboo diet, the giant panda has to consume between 10 and 18 kilograms of leafy green bamboo a day. Perhaps you could take a “leaf” out of his book?

Giant panda photo

Lend a helping hand

The world would be a better place if we could all take a little more time to lend a helping hand to others. There are scores of volunteering opportunities out there, so this year why not make it your aim to do a little more in your community? It isn’t just people who can show altruistic behaviour either. For example, well-fed female common vampire bats have been known to regurgitate a meal to share with their hungry companions. Luckily for us humans, it is possible to make a difference simply by donating a little of your time to help a worthy cause.

Common vampire bat photo

We would love to hear from you, so why not let us know your New Year’s resolutions using the comments form below, or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter!

And finally, the ARKive team would like to wish everyone a very happy 2013!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

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