May 2

Recently, the saiga, an odd-looking Critically Endangered antelope of the Mongolian steppes, was highlighted in the media due to a sharp-eyed Star Wars fan noticing its striking resemblance to some of the characters from the series. This discovery led to a surge of interest in the species and the various threats to its survival.

The 'Star Wars-like' saiga antelope

The saiga is not the only animal with more than a passing resemblance to creatures from the Star Wars galaxy. To celebrate Star Wars Day on May 4th, we attempted to seek out even more lookalikes from the natural world. Can you guess which Star Wars characters we think these species resemble?

Hint 1: You don’t want to owe him a debt

Arabian toad-headed agama image

Hint 2: Always seen with the previous character

Sri Lankan frogmouth image

Hint 3: It’s a carp!

Common carp image

Hint 4: Much larger in Star Wars

Wingless mantis image

Hint 5: Natives of Endor

Brown howling monkey image

Hint 6: They hope it isn’t a cold night

Thinhorn sheep image

Hint 7: Aggrrttaaggrrttaaggrrttaaggrr!

Sumatran orangutan image

Hint 8: With you the fourth May be!

Horsfields tarsier image

These resemblances are more than just a coincidence, with the inspiration for Wookies coming from orangutans, lemurs and dogs.

These amazing creatures highlight the many unique gifts that the biodiversity of Earth gives us. The vast array of morphologies and lifestyles on Earth has influenced human creativity throughout history, from ancient mythology through to science fiction. Whether we realise it or not, all of us draw inspiration from the creatures around us and the world would be a much drabber place without these weird and wonderful animals. Why not see if you can find any other lookalikes, and leave a comment below.

Answers: 1. Jabba the Hutt, 2. Salacious B. Crumb, 3. Admiral Ackbar, 4. The Acklay, 5. Ewok, 6. Tauntaun, 7. Wookie, 8. Yoda

Ben Hogan, Wildscreen ARKive PIPS Intern

Dec 4

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.

Mar 17

Today marks Saint Patrick’s Day, a day that traditionally involves the wearing of green. To celebrate, we thought we’d have a look at species on ARKive that are already dressed for the occasion!

Join us as we delve into the animal kingdom and explore the world of all things green…

Stunning macaw

Photo of a pair of great green macaws allopreening

This large, stunning macaw is certainly dressed to impress! The great green macaw has particularly vibrant plumage, with a green body and wings, a scarlet red patch on the forehead, blue patches on the wings, and an orange and blue tail. It lives in rainforests in Central and northern South America, where it is an important ‘flagship’ species for the conservation of its habitat.

Terrific turtle

Photo of green turtle, side profile

One of the largest and most widespread of all marine turtles, the green turtle is actually named for the green colour of its fat and connective tissue, rather than its outward appearance. This large reptile takes up to 40 years to reach maturity, and some individuals migrate over 2,000 kilometres to reach their breeding grounds.

Fearsome tiger

Photo of green tiger beetle

Like all tiger beetles, the green tiger beetle has long legs and is a fast runner. This species is named for its beautiful iridescent green body, and is also patterned with yellowish spots on its wing cases. The adult green tiger beetle is a fearsome predator of other invertebrates, and its larvae are also predatory, digging pits in the ground to trap unwary prey.

Migrating dragonfly

Photo of common green darner

The beautiful common green darner is one of North America’s most common and widespread dragonflies, and is one of very few dragonfly species known to migrate. A large insect, it has a green head and thorax, and a distinctive ‘bull’s-eye’ mark on its forehead. The name ‘darner’ is thought to come from the long, narrow abdomen of these dragonflies, which somewhat resembles a darning needle in shape.

Spot the iguana!

Photo of juvenile green iguanas basking

A popular reptile in captivity, the green iguana is, as its name suggests, usually a shade of green, although bright orange individuals also occur. This large lizard has an impressive spiny crest along its back and tail, and typically lives in trees, where it feeds on leaves and flowers. However, the green iguana is also a capable swimmer, and may dive into water to escape predators.

Brilliant bird

Photo of male green broadbill

A small, chunky bird with a short, stumpy tail, the green broadbill occurs in parts of Asia and feeds mainly on fruit. As its name suggests, it has a particularly wide beak and mouth. The brilliant green plumage of this species provides it with excellent camouflage in its forest home.

Fabulous frog

Photo of green and golden bell frog on vegetation

The green and golden bell frog is a large, robust frog with pale green upperparts which are blotched with metallic golden or brassy-brown markings. Despite being a member of the tree frog family, this species spends most of its time on the ground or in water. The call of the green and golden bell frog has been likened to the sound of a motorbike changing gears!

Aquatic giant

Photo of green anaconda resting on tree trunk

Although not the world’s longest snake, the green anaconda is certainly the largest when its large girth is also taken into account. Growing up to nine metres in length, this semi-aquatic giant has olive-green upperparts marked with dark spots, giving great camouflage. It can take prey up to the size of deer, capybaras and even fully grown caimans, killing its prey by constricting it in its coils before swallowing it whole.

Prehistoric fish

Photo of green sturgeon

The green sturgeon is one of the largest and longest-lived freshwater fish, with a lifespan of around 70 years. This unusual species has remained almost unchanged for over 200 million years, and its rows of bony plates give it a prehistoric appearance. Its body is usually olive to dark green, with olive-green stripes, and although it breeds in freshwater it spends most of its life in the ocean.

Marvellous monkey

Photo of green monkey at rest

Although perhaps not the most obviously green-looking species, the green monkey is nonetheless named for the greenish tinge to its golden fur. This West African monkey is highly social and usually occurs in large groups, spending its time both in the trees and on the ground. Although native to Africa, the green monkey has been introduced to some Caribbean islands.

 

These species give just a taster of the many shades of green worn by animals on ARKive. Of course, plants have a natural advantage when it comes to dressing up in this popular colour!

Why not join the Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations and check out some more of ARKive’s green species for yourself? Let us know if you have a favourite!

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author

Feb 4

The 10th of February 2013 will mark the start of Chinese New Year, and around the world many people will be taking part in colourful celebrations to welcome in the Year of the Snake. The snake is the 6th of the 12 animal signs in the Chinese Zodiac, and those born in the year of the snake are said to be wise, calm and responsible.

According to ancient Chinese wisdom, a snake in the house is seen as a good omen and a sign that the family will not go hungry. Snakes are well known for their ability to swallow large prey, and after eating an impala whole, I don’t think this African rock python will be hungry any time soon either!

African rock python photo

During Chinese New Year the colour red is worn as it is considered to symbolise good fortune and joy. Red also represents fire and is thought to scare away evil spirits. Being characterised by its bright red belly, Kirtland’s snake is sure to fit in well at any New Year Celebration!

Kirtland's snake photo

Chinese New Year is tied to the lunar calendar, with the celebrations starting at the arrival of the new moon and continuing for 15 days. In Australia, the orange-naped snake is also commonly known as the ‘moon snake’. Although this species is venomous, it generally isn’t considered a danger to humans.

Orange-naped snake photo

There are several different stories regarding how the 12 animals were chosen for the Chinese Zodiac, and why they appear in the order that they do. One of the most popular tales tells of how the Jade Emperor declared that the animals must race across a fast flowing river, and that the 12 years of the zodiac would be named after the winners. Snakes are certainly excellent swimmers, with some species adopting an entirely aquatic lifestyle, such as the olive-brown sea snake.

Olive-brown sea snake photo

Chinese Year of the Snake – Get Involved!

Celebrate the Chinese Year of the Snake the wild way by joining us on Facebook and Twitter every day this week.

What does the Year of the Snake have in store for you? We’ll reveal all on Facebook! *Like* us to open your fortune cookie each day.

Love a challenge? Why not join our daily snake hunt on Twitter? Each day we’ll set you on a mission to hunt down some awesome snake photos and videos from ARKive. The winners can pick their favourite ARKive photos to go on the homepage. So what are you waiting for… start the snake hunt.

Here’s your first clue: Snake, rattle and roll – find and tweet a video of a rattlesnake shaking its thing! We’ll be waiting on Twitter to see if you track it down!

We have also launched a brand new snakes page full of amazing snake facts, photos a videos – make sure you check it out!

Claire Lewis, ARKive 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

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