Jan 26
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

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

Dec 24

To round off 2012 the ARKive team brings you a little festive fun with some side-splitting, wildlife-themed holiday jokes.

Whether you love them or loathe them, for many of us around the world festive jokes are as traditional as mistletoe and carol-singing at this time of year. So to give our jokes an animal twist, we have turned to nature’s comedians for inspiration and delved into the ARKive collection to unearth our wittiest wildlife quips.

So hold onto your hats and indulge in ARKive’s top ten holiday jokes!

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Reindeer © Niall Benvie / naturepl.com Wild Turkey © Rolf Nussbaumer / naturepl.com
What do reindeer hang on their Christmas trees?
‘Horn’-aments!
Why did the turkey gobbling match get cancelled?
There was too much ‘fowl’ play!
Eurasian lynx © Mark Hamblin / www.osfimages.com American beaver stripping bark from felled trees
How do cats greet each other at Christmas?
“A furry merry Christmas & happy mew year!”
What did the beaver say to the Christmas tree?
Nice gnawing you!
Emperor moth © Laurie Campbell / lauriecampbell.com Fly agaric © Duncan McEwan / naturepl.com
What do caterpillars do on New Year’s Day?
Turn over a new leaf!
Why invite a mushroom to the Christmas party?
Because he’s a ‘fun-gi’ to be with!
Forest elephant © Martyn Colbeck / www.osfimages.com Great white shark © Andy Murch / Elasmodiver.com
What’s the elephant’s favourite Christmas carol?
The holly and the ‘ivory’!
Who delivers sharks’ presents at Christmas?
Santa jaws!
Mallard © lauriecampbell.com North American porcupine © Barbara von Hoffmann / Animals Animals
What’s a duck’s favourite food at Christmas?
Christmas ‘quackers’!
What kind of pine has the sharpest needles?
A porcupine!

Season’s Greetings to all our supporters, contributors and users, and a very Happy ‘Gnu’ Year!

From all at ARKive and Wildscreen.

Nov 9

As facial hair fever sets in across the globe this month, we thought we’d share with you our favourite mo’s of the moment. From the depths of the Amazon rainforest to the frozen north of the Arctic, it seems that the animal kingdom could give this year’s Movember participants a run for their money. Here are some of our favourites this week…

Trendy tamarins

Emperor tamarin photo
The emperor tamarin has opted for a white and wispy handlebar

Sophisticated seabirds

Inca tern photo

We love the mo that this inca tern is rocking. Thanks to Alex McGill for sharing this one with us on Facebook!

Unusual amphibians

Emei moustache toad photo
The spiked number sported by the emei moustache toad proved popular on Twitter this week

Whiskered walruses

Walrus photo
We like this whiskery wonder from our Flickr group taken by Susan Shepard

Bearded beastie

Robber fly

It might not be a moustache, but this robber fly has some fine facial hair! Thanks to Mike Lewinsky for this one.

Don’t forget, if you have any wildlife-based #Movember photos you can share them with us on Facebook or add them to our Flickr group – tagged “Movember”

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

Nov 1

This ‘Movember’ why not express your inner animal through your facial hair?

Movember is a global, moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health. Starting on Movember 1st, with a clean-shaven face, men grow and style their sprouting facial hair all in the name of raising funds for a worthwhile cause.

If you are looking for some inspiration on how to tame your furry-lips over the coming month, the animal kingdom is full of stylish moustaches to tickle your fancy.

Razors at the ready as we comb through the ARKive collection for some hairy-lipped muses…

The handlebar

Allegedly named for its resemblance to the German emperor Wilhelm II, the emperor tamarin has one of the most regal facial fuzzes of the animal kingdom.

Emperor tamarin

The horseshoe

With a full moustache grown down the sides of its head, the male bearded parrotbill is obviously a fan of the horseshoe. Perhaps this is where Hulk Hogan got his inspiration from?

Male bearded parrotbill

The walrus

Thick and bushy, the muzzle of the walrus is highly distinctive, with its dense protrusion of whiskers on the upper lip. Versatile and suitable for all occasions, this rather refined looking style might even help you when foraging for tasty morsels!

Walrus photo

The Dalí

Why not coif a rather flamboyant, Dalí-inspired moustache like the brown-eared pheasant?

Male brown-eared pheasant photo

Fu Manchu

The long moustache of the three-wattled bellbird is made up of three long, fleshy black-grey wattles hanging from the corner of its mouth. Fast growing hair and a lot of gel will be required to master this particular style.

Male three-wattled bellbird photo

Ho, ho, mo

You may want to quickly shave off this L’Hoest’s monkey-inspired chin curtain after the end of Movember or you may get mistaken for someone else! Red hat and reindeer is optional.

L'Hoest's monkey

The Goatee

With its spectacular twisting horns, the markhor is one of the most striking of goats and the male of course has a characteristic black beard. This particular style is thought to date back to Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece.

Photo of a male Tadjik markhor

The bearded pig

Hot date? Unfortunately placed spot? The bearded pig has the perfect solution with its distinctive full-facial beard.

Bearded pig photo

Mutton chops

The yellow-breasted capuchin is a mutton chops master with its thick, black sideburns.

Yellow-breasted capuchin photo

Get involved

Have you spotted any mo’ species donning designer beards or flamboyant moustaches on ARKive – if so, lets us know!

Find out more about Movember and how you can get involved.

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