Dec 1

Everyone’s heard of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon –  a game based on the concept that all the world’s actors can be linked through their film roles to the infamous Mr Bacon within six steps. So, it’s pretty easy to link up the incestuous world of celebrities, but what happens if you exchange your Matt Damons for mullets, your Jim Carreys for jaguars or your Tom Cruises for toucans?

Well, lets find out! This week I challenged myself to get from the Ethiopian wolf to the white rhino using whatever six tenuous links I decided were valid. So, here goes…

Ethiopian wolf

Ethiopian wolf

Ethiopian wolves eat big-headed mole-rats.

Big-headed mole-rat

Big-headed mole rat

From one big-headed species to another…

Big-headed turtle

Big-headed turtle

The legal and illegal trade of big-headed turtles is one of the main threats facing this species; similarly, pitcher plants are traded illegally for use as ornamental plants.

Pitcher plant

Pitcher plant

Pitcher plants are found in Sumatra, and so is the…

Sumatran orang-utan

Sumatran orang-utan

The main threat to orang-utans is habitat loss, much of which is due to illegal and legal logging.  White seraya is considered the most important commercial timber of northern Borneo.

White seraya

White seraya

A somewhat questionable link but both the white seraya and the white rhino are incorrectly named as neither of them are white!

White rhinoceros

White rhinoceros

You get the idea? Right, now it’s your turn to dabble in some Kevin Bacon-inspired wildlife linkage.

This week’s challenge is to get from the weird but wonderful narwhal to the oh-so-cute pika in six steps using ONLY the animals, plants and fungi found on ARKive.

Post your chains as comments on this blog and we will decide which dodgy connections are acceptable and those which aren’t. The winner will receive the most amazing prize one could possibly imagine….that’s right, the utmost respect from the ARKive office. You can’t even buy that on eBay.

Bonnie Metherell, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Georgia Lawe (December 1st, 2010 at 2:27 pm):

    Blimey this is hard. OK here is my stab:

    Narwhals are, obviously, a whale…
    1. So is a Gervais’ beaked whale…
    (And this is where I go slightly off-ARKive…)
    2. The Gervais’ beaked whale sounds like Ricky Gervais, comedian who makes people laugh..
    3. The Papuan hornbill has apparently got a call which sounds like a laugh and red eyes…
    4. The Greek red damsel also has red eyes…
    5. Red by name and nature is the Red Squirrel which is a rodent…
    6. Often confused as rodents, rabbits are in fact Lagomorphs, just like the Volcano rabbit…
    7. …and the pika is an Ochotonidae which is one family within Lagomorphs.

    PHEW – that was hard. So, I used 7 steps and a comedian who, whilst losing popularity, isn’t exactly an endangered species!

  • Claire (December 1st, 2010 at 3:19 pm):

    Hmmm, here is my attempt:

    The Narwhal is hunted for it’s ivory tusks, much like the…

    Elephant. A distinguishing feature of an elephant is it’s massive ears, something it shares in common with the…

    Fennec Fox. The fennec fox has the remarkable ability to survive without water, a trait suprisingly shared (for a day or two anyway) with the…

    European mudminnow. The european mudminnow is an aquatic species know to feed on small shrimp, which is something it has in common with the…

    Blue whale. A giant of the sea, the blue whale shares it’s name and the oceans with another blue species…

    Blue coral. Like all corals, this species is under threat from climate change, with is something it has in common with the very cute…

    Pika, a species which is very sensitive to high temperatures and considered to be one of the best early warning systems for detecting global warming in the western United States.

  • Helen (December 1st, 2010 at 4:13 pm):

    So, after much agonising over how tenuous my links could be I think I’ve finally done it – Kevin Bacon fans eat your heart out!

    So, starting with the….

    1. Narwhal – this whale is particularly famed for its impressive unicorn-like single tusk…

    2. Gemsbok – the horns of this beautiful antelope were sold as ‘unicorn horns’ in medieval England. The gemsbok has an unusual horse-like tail, so from one horsey feature to another…

    3. Przewalski’s horse – the last true wild horse, this remarkable species was once considered ‘Extinct in the Wild’ but is now classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, thanks the reintroduction of captive-bred individuals to Mongolia

    4. Amur falcon – also found in Mongolia, the majestic Amur falcon undertakes arduous long distance migrations of over 22,000 kilometres (now that’s endurance!)

    5. Monarch butterfly – speaking of long distance migrations, the monarch butterfly completes a spectacular migration of over 3,000 miles to its wintering grounds in central Mexico, before migrating back again and spending the summer months in breeding grounds in North America, which coincidentally, is also home to…

    6. the American pika!!!!

  • Katie Mc (December 1st, 2010 at 4:58 pm):

    The narwhal is best-known for the long horn-like tusk extending from its head which naturally led me to look for the Unicorn, which strangely was not listed on ARKive so I had to settle for a different horse-like animal: Grevy’s Zebra. As we all know Grevy’s Zebra is black and white and prefers to frequent open areas with a plentiful grass supply, which is not unlike the similarly-colo(u)red pied flycatcher. The pied flycatcher breeds in the UK much like the oft-forgotten Nathusius’ Pipistrelle which, of course, uses echolocation to locate its prey. This same mechanisms of prey location is employed by the white-beaked dolphin which does not really (or, at least, does not always) have a white beak. Incidentally, neither does the red-billed curassow, which is commonly found in small family groups just like the much-beloved American Pika.

  • Julian D (December 2nd, 2010 at 1:35 pm):

    This is surely possible in three steps:
    1. (Male) narwhals have elongated upper incisors (their tusks).
    2. Elephants also have tusks. Young elephants – like the young of many species – eat the faeces of adults to obtain the specific bacteria required to seed their gut to enable digestion of vegetation. Eating faeces is known medically as pica (an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive).
    3. Pica sounds rather similar to pika!

  • Mike T (December 2nd, 2010 at 6:30 pm):

    I have to admit that sometimes six steps make a world, so I’ll try. For the beginning: 1) The narwhal is a marine mammal just like the manatee which is closely related to … 2) The elephant, a herbivorous mammals much bigger and maybe smarter than … 3) Wildebeests which are grazers and gather themselves into big herds together with…4) The beautiful zebras with their controversial taste for colors just like…5)The magpies, but with less temperamental approach. Furthermore, they have very interesting scientific name, something like “pica pica”. Well there is the “key”, it sounds familiar…6) The mighty pika, almost so cute as chinchilla, in my opinion…

  • Sadie M (December 3rd, 2010 at 9:33 pm):

    Am loving Georgia’s chain! And she has totally used my rabbit-pika link grr. Right here goes – I did this before reading all the other posts so apols for the elephant unoriginality:

    1. Narwhals’ tusks are a massive, weird tooth (eugh) and so are elephants’ tusks (I learnt that on CBeebies so it must be true!);
    2. The African elephant – the largest one ever apparently weighed 10 tonnes so my boyfriend is actually wrong in one of the longest-running arguments ever (and so am I)!! Another animal’s weight we were going to argue about is the blue whale;
    3. The blue whale’s Latin name is Balaenoptera musculus … apparently … and the house mouse’s Latin name is Mus musculus – isn’t that sweet!
    4. The house mouse is only cute if it’s not in your house, as is (arguably) the Barbastelle bat;
    5. The Barbastelle bat is black and so is the gorilla (go with me);
    6. David Atttenborough had a close encounter with gorillas and also with pikas when he watched them collecting flowers and squeaking. Don’t you think pikas would make a good pet!!

    I like the Grevy’s zebra in Katie Mc’s comment – is there also a Custerd donkey?