Jun 12

If you haven’t already heard, the ARKive Media Team is branching out; our intrepid STEM Ambassadors are venturing out into schools to spread the word about our awesome collection of images and footage and its use as an educational resource

So, this got us thinking – what’s the first thing you learn at school – your ABCs. With this in mind we have decided to delve alphabetically through the ARKive catalogue and generate a selection of species, themes and regions that can be found within; from the aardvark to the Zullich’s blue and everything in-between. 

So why not join us on our alphabetical exploration!

A is for… Adaptation 

Adaptation can be defined as the way a species has developed, or evolved, to enable it to survive successfully in its environment. We are bursting with examples of species that are specifically adapted to their environment here on ARKive, such as the sand cat with its large, sensitive ears, and fur-lined feet and the intriguingly named dragon’s blood tree. I particularly like the common crossbill, which at a glance might look a little unusual but the crossbill’s beak is actually adapted to allow it to expertly extract seeds from pine cones – their food of choice! 

The specialised beak of the common crossbill

The specialised beak of the common crossbill

Why not check out Erin’s blog for some more awesome adaptations.


This Critically Endangered amphibian is unique as it retains a number of its larval characteristics, a phenomenon known as paedomorphosis. Because axolotls never fully metamorphose they live permanently in water, where their branch-like gills act to increase surface area for gas exchange. However, as every resilient amphibian knows it always pays to be prepared, so if an axolotl’s habitat does dry up then it is still able to metamorphose and become an adult Mexican salamander. 

Portrait showing branch-like gills of leucistic axolotl

The axolotl is unique because it retains larval characteristics throughout life

Want to learn more about what the axolotl eats and where it can be found – check out the axolotl species page.


The land down under, home to a huge variety of bizarre species such as the kangaroo, koala and kookaburra. Where else can you find egg-laying mammals, boxing Macropods and laughing birds? I’m a particular fan of the platypus, with its duck-like bill and venomous spur – there’s little wonder it was once believed to be fictional! 

Photo of the head and bill of a platypus

The platypus is one of many unusual animals found in Australia

Check out more Australian critters using our ‘Search by Geography’ function.


Amphibians are a group of cold-blooded vertebrates which includes frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians. We currently have over 1,300 amphibian species on ARKive, and what an incredible variety of species they are. Whether you are captivated by the colourful tiger’s treefrog, the camouflaged Chinese giant salamander or just downright intriguing Suriname toad, there is bound to be something there that takes your fancy. 

Tiger's treefrog photo

There are over 1,300 amphibian species on ARKive, including the tiger's treefrog

Well that’s it for the As, stay tuned for the next instalment coming soon – you guessed it, the Bs! 

What’s your favourite ARKive A?

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Dmitri (June 12th, 2011 at 2:26 pm):

    That’s a nice idea! Cannot wait for the next installment!