May 16
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ARKive’s Top Ten Animal TV Shows

After such a great response to our Animal Bands game on Twitter, we decided to do another one! This time, though, the topic was Animal TV Shows, and you sent in some crackers! Here are ten of our favourites…did your idea make the cut?!

Chimp My Ride

Young chimpanzee image

This young chimpanzee appears to be a bit of a back-seat driver!

This young chimpanzee has no need for the show that decks out cars with all the latest and greatest gear…he seems quite happy with his ride!

The Only Way is Essex Emerald Moth

Essex emerald moth image

Saltmarshes are the preferred habitat of the Essex emerald moth

This Essex emerald moth is looking rather reem, and we would forgive other invertebrates for being well jel of its beautiful green wings. Sadly, this species is now classified as Extinct in the UK.

Seal or No Seal

Galapagos fur seal image

The scientific name of the Galapagos fur seal comes from Greek words meaning 'bear headed'

Seal or No Seal describes the history of this Endangered species rather well. The Galapagos fur seal was hunted extensively in the 1800s, and was thought to be extinct until a small colony was rediscovered in the 1930s.

The Weakest Skink

Chevron skink image

The chevron skink can grow up to 30 cm in length

The chevron skink is New Zealand’s largest living endemic lizard, and one of its rarest. We think it does a pretty mean impression of the infamous Anne Robinson glare…is it about to wink?!

Orang M’Lord

Bornean orangutan image

The Bornean orangutan is a predominantly solitary creature

This female Bornean orangutan doesn’t seem to have grasped the concept of ladylike behaviour! However, we’re not sure she’d be any better as a maid if that’s how she’s planning on carrying the sandwiches and scones!

Gnu Wants to be a Millionaire

Blue wildebeest image

As it forms huge herds, the blue wildebeest should have no trouble finding a 'Phone a Friend' candidate!

These blue wildebeest, commonly referred to as gnus, seem to be gathering to watch an episode of their favourite show: Gnu Wants To Be A Millionaire! Or perhaps they’re eagerly awaiting the call to be a ‘Phone a Friend’?

Neighboars

Visayan warty pig image

The Visayan warty pig is a rainforest-dwelling species

Although not from Australia, we’re featuring this Visayan warty pig, as he would be a very rare neighbour to have. Found on just two islands of the Philippines, this species is extinct over at least 98% of its former range.

Troutnumbered

Kunming snout trout image

The Kunming snout trout lives in rapids and pools in fast-flowing streams

The Kunming snout trout is Critically Endangered as a result of water pollution, overfishing, and being Outnumbered by introduced fish species.

Miami Mice

Arabian spiny mouse image

The Arabian spiny mouse can shed its tail when attacked

The heroes of Miami Vice would have needed to don a special bulletproof vest to protect themselves during drug raids, but this Arabian spiny mouse has its own inbuilt protection against predators. When brushed against the direction of growth, this mouse’s fur becomes coarse and spine-like.

Would Aye-Aye to You?

Aye-aye image

The aye-aye has strong upper incisors to tear through wood

This rather odd-looking aye-aye hid a secret from scientists for years! This nocturnal species was originally classified as a rodent, but it is, in fact, a primate. Perhaps the aye-aye could use its unusually long middle digit to point out liars?!

This blog turned out to be harder to write than I’d expected, as I could only pick ten shows to feature, and there were so many fantastic ideas! So, I shall leave you with a quick mention of a few more that tickled us here in the ARKive office: Chicks Feet Under; Louse MD; Bok the Week; Have I Got Shrews For You; Home and A Whale; Starfish and Hutch; Whose Lion Is It Anyway?

Thanks, everyone! Look out for more wildlife-related fun and games soon!

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

May 14
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Celebrating ARKive’s 9th Birthday

In the ARKive office we love a good celebration, and what better reason is there to celebrate than our 9th birthday? The 20th May 2012 will mark 9 years since the launch of ARKive, during which time the website has grown to include over 14,500 species profiles! To mark the occasion, we have taken a look through the vault to find some real party animals to help get the fun and games started…

Clowning around

All good parties need some entertainment, and when a birthday comes around it is time to bring out the clowns! While it may be lacking in huge feet (or any feet for that matter) and a big red nose, we think that the colourful common clownfish would be a welcome guest at any gathering.

Common clownfish photo

A good sing-song

When the cake arrives, it is pretty much mandatory to belt out happy birthday as loud as you can. While the animal kingdom has a variety of talented vocalists, we have decided that this western meadowlark could probably out-sing most of the ARKive staff!

Western meadowlark photo

Make a wish

It is traditional to make a wish as you blow out the candles on your cake, and while there might not be any real candles in the ARKive collection, we think the firefly squid is just as pretty! Perhaps you could try wishing on a squid instead?

Firefly squid photo

Party games

If you are as competitive as most of the ARKive team, you probably love a good party game, and one of our favourites has got to be musical statues. Mind you, I think the male sharp-tailed grouse could give us a run for our money with its stop-start display, check out this video!

Sharp-tailed grouse photo

You’re invited too!

Of course, you can’t have a party without your friends, so we want to invite all of our fans and followers to get involved in our birthday celebrations.

*Like* ARKive on Facebook to help us unwrap our 9th birthday presents and Pass the Parcel to your friends! Keep an eye out for some cryptic clues and see if you can guess which animals have been wrapped up!

ARKive's Birthday Presents

Plus, as it’s our 9th birthday, on Twitter we’ll be sharing cool facts about the 9th species added to ARKive each year, starting from the launch of ARKive back in 2003! Once each fact gets 9 retweets, we’ll reveal the 9th species added on our next birthday, along with another fun fact to retweet.

The 9th species ever added to ARKive was the giant panda. Here’s the first fact to retweet:

Known for feeding on bamboo, did you know that the giant panda is technically a carnivore & occasionally eats meat too? #HBARKive

Why not send us a birthday message too? Post why you *like* ARKive on our Facebook wall. Our favourite 9 reasons for *liking* ARKive will appear in a 9th Birthday blog on Sunday 20th May. Plus you’ll win a special birthday party hat Twibbon so that you can celebrate on your Facebook and Twitter profiles too.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr  and Google Plus to check out wild number 9 facts – make sure you get involved!

Apr 1
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Nature’s Pranksters

The natural world is full of trickery, with many species proving to be masters of deception, not just on April Fools’ Day, but every day.

Amphibious antics

This master of disguise has got the leaf-look down to a tee, with its twisted body, veined skin and tail which appears to have been nibbled by insects or decayed amongst leaf litter. If its name and physical appearance doesn’t deter predators, the satanic leaf-tailed gecko can also flatten its body to reduce shadow, shed its tail and open its mouth to reveal a shocking red mouth. It seems this critter has plenty of tricks up sleeves!

Satanic leaf-tailed gecko image

Nature’s stink bomb

The Palawan stink badger lives up to its name by its method of defence. When attacked, a putrid-smelling yellow fluid is squirted from its anal glands, which will linger on the unfortunate victim for quite some time. Sometimes this species even ‘plays dead’ before ejecting the stinking secretion over the unsuspecting intruder.

Palawan stink badger image

Comical coney

Juvenile coneys are known to adopt a rather sneaky hunting technique known as ‘agressive mimicry’. By joining a group of similarly-sized and coloured brown chromis (Chromis multilineata), they are able to sneek up on prey unnoticed.

Coney image

Swindling snake

The juvenile Mexican cantil has a cunning method of attaining its next meal. By wiggling the tip of its yellow tail, it tricks other snakes and lizards into thinking it is an invertebrate. What comes next is definitely not a pleasant surprise!

Mexican cantil image

Is it a bird, a plane or a car alarm?

An expert impersonator, the African grey parrot is known to repeat everything from car alarms and human speech to calls of mammals and other birds. This species is considered to be one of the smartest animal species in the world and is thought to have the same intelligence level as a five year old human!

 

African grey parrot image

The plants are doing it too!

In certain populations, the peacock moraea flowers bear a striking resemblance to two different pollinating beetles, the glittering monkey beetle and the P. rufotibialis beetle. The plant is thought to have developed this remarkable mimicry to attract male beetles to the flower, enabling the plant to spread its pollen. This trickery must be rather disappointing for any would-be suitors.

Peacock moraea image

Can you think of anymore mischievous mammals, roguish reptiles, badly behaved birds, playful plants or impulsive insects? Let us know!

We wish you a happy and incident-free April Fools’ Day!

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Species Text Author Intern

Mar 17
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Social Week: ARKive hangs out on Google+

Hanging upside down is a challenge for the majority of human beings, mostly problematic due to poor grip, fear of heights and consequential dizziness. The amazing adaptations of many species enable them to use different parts of their bodies to hang for hours at a time, whether hanging out alone, with friends or to feed.

Super strength

The mobile shoulder joints and long arms and fingers of the chimpanzee enable it to move easily through the trees and hang out with other members of their community.

Chimpanzee image

Double digits

The forelimbs of the koala are unusually long when compared with their hindlimbs. The paws are padded and help when gripping and climbing. It also has large claws, except for on the first digit of the hind paw. The first and second digits of the hind paws are opposed like thumbs to help grip branches.

Koala image

Prehensile perfection

The northern muriqui has a long, prehensile tail which acts as an extra limb. This species uses this specialist adaptation to hang from the trees, while using its other limbs to grab food from the surrounding area. That’s what you call multi-tasking!

Northern muriqui image

Feeding frenzy

The Diadem roundleaf bat uses its hanging abilities to scope out prey. The predicatable flight paths of its insect prey means this species can hang out of a tree, and on detecting an insect, drop from its perch at great speed and catch its victim.

Diadem roundleaf bat image

Scaley specialist

Geckos are well-known for their ability to climb almost anything. In the Musandam leaf-toed gecko, the toes have a pair of specialised scales known as ‘scansors’, which are covered in thousands of tiny microscopic hairs, giving the species a remarkable grip and enabling it to hang upside down even on the smoothest surfaces.

Musandam leaf-toed gecko image

Plants can hang out too!

Pitcher plants, such as Nepenthes macfarlanei (left) and Nepenthes lowii (right), have large, pitcher shaped leaves hanging from coiled tendrils. These are filled with concentrated fluid, which is used to digest their insect prey.

Pitcher plant image

Pitcher plant image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google +

So, to be an expert hanger, you can develop hairy hands, grow an extra (preferably prehensile) limb, make your arms longer, or just practice really hard until you bulk up enough to join the best of the hangers. Alternatively, you could just hang out with your friends on Google +.

Google + is a fairly new kid on the social media block but with over 90 million users, it’s growing fast. On this network, you +1 things you like and share with your friends who are grouped in circles.  We love sharing endangered species photos, videos and facts with our Google circles. You can also create ‘hangouts’ where you can video chat with up to 9 of your friends.  Why not add ARKive to your circle?

What’s the most social species on ARKive?

Join our search to find the most social species on ARKive. Visit the species you think is the most social and press Google +. The species with the most new Google +1s will win the title of the ‘No.1 Social Species’ in the Social Species contest. Who will win? +1 to ensure your favourite is a contender!

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Species Text Author Intern

Mar 10
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An internet sensation – meet the sloths!

Sloths. Who knew these peculiar-looking creatures would capture the hearts of so many people around the world? Slow, sleepy and somewhat strange, sloths may not seem like strong candidates for becoming internet superstars, but it appears that their on-screen snoozing has caused an international sensation!

Meet the sloths

Lucy Cooke – a zoologist and filmmaker with a passion for odd animals – has caused something of a stir with her short video “Meet the Sloths”, which went viral within days of its unveiling on YouTube and Vimeo. Showcasing the charismatic inhabitants of a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, Meet the Sloths has been viewed by over seven million people online, and has even gathered a cohort of famous fans, including Ashton Kutcher, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry. The sleepy sloths proved such a hit that a full length documentary about these captivating creatures recently aired on US and UK television.

Here at ARKive we decided it was about time we embraced the celebrity status of these endearing animals and shared a few of our favourite facts – let’s meet the sloths!

Photo of brown-throated three-toed sloth

Brown-throated three-toed sloth

 

Feeling sleepy?

Named after one of the seven deadly sins, sloths have gained a reputation as one of the laziest animals on the planet, and perhaps rightly so – sloths are known to spend between 15 and 20 hours a day fast asleep! Indeed, because these creatures stay so remarkably still, scientists had to attach electrodes to their heads to work out when they were sleeping.

Slowly does it

Sloths are able to remain completely motionless for hours. In fact, these statuesque species are so good at staying still that algae flourishes in their fur, often giving sloths a distinctive greenish tinge. The green algae help to camouflage the sloths in trees, making them less visible to predators such as eagles.

Photo of maned three-toed sloth

Maned three-toed sloth

 

Just hanging around

All sloths have three toes on their back feet, but the different species can be distinguished by the number of long, curving claws on their front feet: two-toed species have two claws, while three-toed species have three. These tenacious talons are extremely powerful, and are ideally shaped to hook around tree branches. Sloths do almost everything in the trees, including feeding, mating and sleeping, only descending to the ground once a week when nature calls!

Shady behaviour

These unusual animals have around half the body muscle of most other mammals, and are unable to keep warm by shivering. Instead, sloths regulate their body temperature by moving in and out of the shade in their treetop retreats. The body temperature of the two-toed sloth is one of the most variable of any mammal, fluctuating between 24 to 33°C depending on the weather and the time of day.

Photo of pale-throated three-toed sloth

Pale-throated three-toed sloth

 

Strange relations

You’d be forgiven for thinking that sloths are related to primates given their arboreal antics, but sloths are actually more closely related to anteaters and armadillos. They all belong to the order Xenarthra, which means ‘strange joints’. Sloths are clearly no exception – they have an extra flexible neck due to additional vertebrae, meaning that they are able to rotate their head an astounding 270 degrees!

Climb, crawl, swim…

Although sloths are fantastic climbers, they have remarkably weak hind legs and can’t stand up straight when they move around on the ground. Instead, sloths use their front claws to dig into the ground and pull themselves along on their stomachs with their strong arms. Despite their poor adaptations to moving around on land, sloths are actually surprisingly good swimmers!

Photo of pygmy three-toed sloth

Pygmy three-toed sloth

 

Love sloths?

Explore more sloth videos on ARKive! And why not share your thoughts, favourite sloth images and most amusing sloth videos on twitter and Facebook, or leave a comment showing your love for sloths on the ARKive blog.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author

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