Oct 14

Time for more ARKive A-Z’s, and in true alphabetical fashion, on we go with the D’s. It turns out that there are some rather extraordinary species names beginning with D – have you ever heard of the David Bowie spider? Or the death’s-head hawkmoth? How about dead man’s fingers? Why not see what other weird and wonderful names are hiding within ARKive’s D’s.

Dead man's fingers photo

Dead man's fingers is a colonial soft coral


Charles Darwin has to be one of the most famous biologists who ever lived so it is only fitting that he gets a mention in our blog of all things ‘D’. Darwin’s body of work, including his observations and meticulous notes from the voyage on the Beagle and his theory of evolution by natural selection, has led him to be recognised as the father of evolutionary biology. During his travels he discovered many species new to science, a number of which have been named in his honour, including the Darwin’s fox and the Darwin’s frog, both native to Chile.

For more about Darwin and his discoveries take a look at our educational resources.

Darwin's frog photo

Darwin's frog


Seeing as how we have already examined cats and all things Feline it seems only fair for dogs to get their moment in the spotlight. Dogs, or members of the Canidae family, can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and they vary in size and stature from the diminutive fennec fox to the imposing grey wolf. Members share a number of common characteristics including non-retractable claws and digitigrade movement, which simply put involves walking on their toes. Long legs and slender bodies are common amongst canines, an adaptation for catching prey, as seen here in the dhole, an Asian wild dog.

Photo of dholes resting

Dholes show a number of typically canine characteristics


Did you know that the dugong is the only entirely marine mammal that feeds exclusively on plants, or that they are actually more closely related to elephants than other marine mammals? Classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN dugongs were traditionally hunted for meat and oil. These gentle giants are still under increasing pressure from human activities such as fishing, marine traffic and pollution, threats accentuated due to the dugongs large size, low reproductive rate and dependence on coastal habitats. For more fascinating facts and gorgeous images of the dugong check out its ARKive species profile.

Photo of adult female dugong swimming with calf

Dugong swimming with calf


Instead of a country I have decided to look at a habitat type this time, one that takes up roughly a fifth of the Earth’s land surface; deserts. Many species have become specially adapted for life in deserts, such as the sand cat which has foot pads covered with thick hair to enable movement over hot sand. Camels are the iconic desert dweller and have a number of spectacular adaptations to their harsh habitat; a hump to store fat enabling them to go for long periods without food or water, narrow nostrils and dense eyelashes which can be tightly closed during sandstorms.

Photo of wild Bactrian camel standing in desert landscape

Wild Bactrian camels are well adapted to their desert habitat

What’s your favourite ARKive D? The dunlin, or maybe the diademed sifaka? How about the damara tern or the death cap? Let us know!

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer