Apr 30

Disneynature’s latest film Chimpanzee,  which was exclusively previewed on the opening night of Wildscreen Festival 2012, is coming to cinemas across the UK on May 3rd.  Chimpanzee follows the remarkable story of Oscar, a baby chimp whose life takes a surprising turn after he is left all alone following a confrontation with a rival band of chimps. Here at the ARKive office to celebrate the release of this film we thought we would take a closer look at chimpanzees, our closest living relative.

A young chimpanzee

Along with the pygmy chimp and bonobo, the chimpanzee is the closest living relative to humans, and is estimated to share 98 percent of our genes. Chimpanzees are very social animals living in stable communities which range in size from 15 to 150 members. Male chimpanzees stay in the same community for their entire lives where a strict linear hierarchy is employed. 

Group of sleeping chimpanzees

Chimpanzees feed mainly on fruit, but when this is scarce they supplement their diet with leaves, seeds and insects. Another favourite food of chimpanzees is meat, with groups cooperating together to hunt and kill monkeys. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent animals and are one of few species known to use tools. They use sticks to remove ants or termites from their nests and stones to crack open nuts. Chimpanzees are also known to use leaves as sponges to absorb drinking water.

Chimpanzee using a rock to crack a palm nut

Female chimpanzees normally give birth to one infant which develops slowly. Young chimpanzees ride on their mothers back, gripping on to her fur, until the age of two and are not weaned until around four years old, although they retain strong ties with their mother after this. 

Female chimpanzee with her baby

Chimpanzees will often spend hours grooming each other, removing dirt, insects and seeds from each others fur. This not only keeps individuals dirt free and healthy, but it also helps to strengthen and maintain bonds between group members.

Chimpanzees grooming each other

To find out more visit ARKive’s chimpanzee species profile. 

Jemma Pealing
Media Researcher

May 18

ARKive has been going for 9 years now, and our quest to profile every threatened species is still going strong. But the list of species seems to be ever growing – there have been some incredible species discovered during ARKive’s lifetime. It’s a privilege to be able to showcase some of these on the ARKive website. So just what has been found over the last 9 years?  

2003: Kipunji discovered

Kipunji  (Rungwecebus kipunji)

Kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji)

A remarkable find in 2003, the kipunji was Africa’s first new monkey discovery in 20 years. Originally named the highland mangabey, the kipunji actually belongs to a whole new genus and is far more closely related to baboons than to mangabeys. The kipunji is endemic to southern Tanzania, and its population is thought to number a mere 1,117 individuals.

 2004: Hawaiian cyanea tree discovered

Hawaiian cyanea tree (Cyanea magnicalyx)

Hawaiian cyanea tree (Cyanea magnicalyx)

This large, tree-like shrub is endemic to Hawaiian island of Maui. Sadly, there were fewer than ten Hawaiian cyanea trees remaining by 2008. In Hawaii it is listed as a “Species of Greatest Conservation Need”, and significant efforts are being made to preserve the remaining individuals.

 2005: Goodman’s mouse lemur discovered

Goodman's mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara)

Goodman's mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara)

While ARKive was just getting off its feet, another primate was being added to the species tally. Goodman’s mouse lemur, named after primatologist Steve Goodman, can be found in Madagascan rainforests. Its arboreal and nocturnal nature along with its remote location may explain how this primate managed to keep out of the scientists spotlight for so long.

2006: Kaempfer’s woodpecker rediscovered

Kaempfer’s woodpecker (Celeus obrieni)

Kaempfer’s woodpecker (Celeus obrieni)

Originally known from a specimen collected in 1926, Kaempfer’s woodpecker was rediscovered 80 years later. One of Brazil’s most enigmatic birds, Kaempfer’s woodpecker is only found in Cerrado, a unique tropical woodland-savanna ecosystem. Kaempfer’s woodpecker is suspected to have a highly patchy distribution and a small population size. Its habitat is under threat as around three million hectares of Cerrado are destroyed each year.

2007:  Banggai crow rediscovered

Banggai crow  (Corvus unicolor)

Banggai crow (Corvus unicolor)

Known from only two specimens collected in the 19th Century and with numerous expeditions failing to find it in the 1990’s, the Banggai crow was long presumed extinct. Unconfirmed sightings of the crow gave hope to its continued survival, and in 2007 two Banggai crows were recorded, bringing this species ‘back’ from extinction. However, it remains Critically Endangered – the small numbers recorded indicate a very small population in an area experiencing high rates of habitat loss.

2008: Ayres black uakari discovered

Ayres black uakari  (Cacajao ayresi)

Ayres black uakari (Cacajao ayresi)

Another primate discovered in the 21st Century and our second hidden gem of Brazil is Ayres black uakari. It has been seen only twice in the wild and so very little is known about this elusive species. Its short tail has baffled scientists, as long tails normally help arboreal species like the uakari to keep balance in the treetops.

2009: The David Bowie spider discovered

David Bowie spider  (Heteropoda davidbowie)

David Bowie spider (Heteropoda davidbowie)

The David Bowie spider is a large spider with yellow hair, and is found only in Malaysia. It was discovered and named by German spider expert Peter Jäger. Its celebrity common name has helped draw attention to the spider and the often-overlooked threats to this and many other species of invertebrate.

2010: Beaked toad discovered

Beaked toad  (Rhinella sp. nov.)

Beaked toad (Rhinella sp. nov.)

The beaked toad was one of 3 new discoveries on an expedition to find amphibians in Colombia. Its beaked nose gained this species the name ‘Mr. Burns toad” after the notorious villain from The Simpsons. This species has an unusual lifecycle as it bypasses the tadpole stage, with fully formed toadlets hatching from eggs.

More information on the Search for Lost Frogs campaign can be found on the Conservation International website.

2011: Chalazodes bubble-nest frog rediscovered

Chalazodes bubble-nest frog (Raorchestes chalazodes)

Chalazodes bubble-nest frog (Raorchestes chalazodes)

The Chalazodes bubble-nest frog was last seen in India in 1874. An expedition to find the Lost Amphibians of India uncovered 5 species not seen for decades, including Ramanella anamalaiensis and Micrixalus thampii. Many of these species live in highly degraded habitats and remain at risk of extinction.

2012: Leaf chameleon (Brookesia micra) discovered

Leaf chameleon  (Brookesia micra)

Leaf chameleon (Brookesia micra)

One of the most recent additions to ARKive is the leaf chameleon Brookesia micra. This tiny chameleon is one of the world’s smallest lizards, measuring in at just 29mm. This was one of four new species found during an expedition to northern Madagascar. During the day these minute reptiles disappear into the leaf litter, while they can be spotted at night as they climb up to the branches to sleep. Restricted to a tiny range of one square kilometre, Brookesia micra is an example of extreme island dwarfism. Read more about these tiny discoveries on the BBC Nature website.  

These recent discoveries highlight how much of life on Earth remains unknown. The last 9 years have offered a plethora of new and exciting finds: with so much still to uncover, the next 9 years look to be equally as exciting!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

Apr 24

If you’ve been paying close attention to the ARKive Education pages recently you may well have noticed that a new logo has appeared beside a couple of the modules in the 7-11 age group.

This new icon signals that ‘Adaptation: Design a Species’ and ‘Marvellous Mini-beasts’ are now both CREST Star accredited. This means they have been assessed and found to meet all of the required criteria for accreditation so can now count towards a recognised award here in the UK, the CREST SuperStar Award.

Super Star logo

During the accreditation process we have been working closely with the CREST Star Investigators National Programme Coordinator, Dylan O’Sullivan, so who better to help us explain the ins and outs of CREST Star Investigators.

ARKive: So what is CREST Star Investigators?

Dylan: CREST Star Investigators is a UK-wide award scheme that enables primary school children to solve science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) problems through practical investigation. The activities focus on a mixture of practical activities and discussion, and encourage children to work independently of adults; it’s all about hands-on fun investigation. They are designed to be used primarily outside of lessons and you don’t need a science background to run them which means they are great for clubs and home schooling; they do also have clear curriculum links and many teachers use them for practical lessons.

CREST Star Investigators logo

ARKive: What does your role involve?

Dylan: As National Programme Coordinator my role is to develop the programme to reach as many schools and children as possible. The main focus has been a move towards an online membership resource which will allow us to deliver more activities at an affordable cost to schools, and to provide other benefits to member schools; this will happen in September 2012. The other area we have been developing is our strategic partnerships; these fall into 2 main categories: sponsorship of new activities, and our rapidly expanding activity accreditation partnership programme which has grown to include some of the UK’s top science learning centres and online providers.

ARKive is one of a number of organisations that have accredited activities – including the Science Museum, Planet Science and @Bristol.

ARKive: What do you look for in potential partner organisations?

Dylan: Our main criteria for accrediting activities is that they must fit our guiding principles for CREST Star. Activities must offer the children the opportunity to:

  • solve a relevant, science-based problem, set within a context
  • work in pairs or small groups, independently of adults
  • take part in practical, hands-on science activities
  • think and talk about science, during the activity and when sharing their ideas.

We want to encourage children and educators to take science learning beyond the classroom, and to develop a love for the science that is all around us.

ARKive education pages with CREST logos


ARKive: What was it about Wildscreen’s resources that led you to contact us about becoming a partner?

Dylan: We love Wildscreen’s resources. The ARKive website is a great interactive source of wildlife and conservation information, and its strong visual focus makes it ideal for younger learners. The education resources are well thought out and very engaging, as well as a lot of fun. The accredited adaptation activities really get learners involved and thinking about how life evolves and adapts, and what could be a more fun way to learn about evolution and adaptation than designing your own species! We also firmly believe in the aims of Wildscreen and the ARKive project, so we are very happy to give our support to the organisation.

Our accredited resources can be found on our education page, along with our three newest modules – Nocturnal Animals, What is an Endangered Species? and Sizing Up Species.

For more information on the CREST Star Investigators visit the British Science Association website.

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Mar 13

Twitter is one of our favourite online hangouts as it allows us to connect with over 225 million users from all over the world to learn about endangered species and of course share ARKive’s awesome photos, videos and facts.

In just 140 characters, ARKive can take you to the best wildlife images, introduce you to some of the most obscure species out there, as well bringing you the latest conservation stories. It’s a great way to find out what the ARKive project is all about and it’s the perfect place to connect with us!

Tweet, Tweet

We always have something to tweet about!  Below are some recent ARKive tweets:

 Check out @world_wildlife’s species of the day http://ow.ly/9sORQ

 “Some birds can’t take the heat! New study learning what avian species are the most vulnerable to climate change  http://ow.ly/9svHj

 “Take a break and find out if you’re a #climatechange champ! http://t.co/kHkcQPjh  #climateweek”

As you can see, we like making a noise about all things wildlife, but let’s not forget about the original tweeters – our feathered friends. So why not explore the birds on ARKive and tune your ears into the twittering of the charismatic robin in Europe, the tui in New Zealand or the prothonotary warbler in the US.

Robin singing on branch

Robin singing on branch

Retweet (RT)

Like a tweet? Want to share it with your friends? Get in on the action by simply retweeting your favourite ARKive tweets!

Repeating information is not uncommon in the animal kingdom. Many Passeriformes pick up, or imitate vocalisations of other species – a behaviour the European starling is famed for. Another famous example of reiterating information can be found in the grey wolf. Within a pack, when one wolf starts to howl, others will rapidly respond with howls of varying lengths and pitch in to form a ‘chorus howl’. This may reinforce social bonds, bring the wolves together and communicate with other packs. Perhaps rather than ‘retweet’ an ARKive tweet, you can ‘rehowl’ one instead!

Eurasian wolf pack howling

Eurasian wolf pack howling

Follow us!

African elephants are famed for their ability to follow a leader – an old female known as the matriarch leads a family of closely related females, taking on the role of protecting the group and sourcing food and water.

If you follow us on Twitter you can not only keep up to date with latest news from the ARKive team but you can also get involved by responding to our tweets.

African elephant herd walking in line

African elephant herd walking in line

African elephants walking

African elephants walking









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 ‘tweet’. The species with the most new tweets will win the title of ‘Chirpiest Species’ in our Social Species Contest. Who will win? Tweet to ensure your favourite is a contender!

Get involved

ARKive is active on Twitter so why not join our community of followers and keep up to date with the world of ARKive! We tweet about everything from the ARKive team’s favourite species to what cakes we’re eating in the office, from the latest conservation news to fun games and contests. Follow us and then tweet @arkive to say hello!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

Oct 25

WildPhotos, the UK’s largest nature photography symposium, took place at the Royal Geographical Society on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 October. Like ARKive, WildPhotos is another of Wildscreen’s initiatives, and of course the team jumped at the chance to head along and hear stories and tips from some of the world’s leading nature photographers. The event was a huge success, and for those of you that couldn’t make it (and those who would just like to relive it!) we thought we would bring you some of our highlights…

Sensational Speakers

Each year WildPhotos attracts a dazzling array of speakers, and this year’s programme was no exception. Top wildlife photographers from around the world were kind enough to share their stories, hints, tips, and even the odd embarrassing anecdote! Every speaker was inspirational, and we particularly enjoyed hearing from Mateusz Piesiak, Veolia Environnement Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011. At the tender age of 14, and despite only recently learning English, Mateusz gave a confident talk about his winning image and several other beautiful shots from his portfolio.

Mateusz Piesiak photo

Mateusz Piesiak, the Veolia Environnement Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year


Winning Wildlife Photographers

Mateusz Piesiak wasn’t the only winner from this year’s Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition to take the stage at WildPhotos. Over the course of the event, delegates were treated to talks from Alex Badyaev, Peter Chadwick, Erlend Haarberg, Bence Máté, Thomas P Peschak, Benjam Pöntinen, Cyril Ruoso, Paul Souders and of course Daniel Beltrá, the overall winner. You can check out all the speakers on the WildPhotos website, and their winning and commended photographs can be seen here.

Thomas P Peschak photo

Thomas P Peschak, who was highly commended in the Underwater World category, with compère Mark Carwardine


Editorial Tips from the Top

On Saturday afternoon there was a session focused on what makes a winning picture, with advice and insights from three of the biggest names in the wildlife magazine world, Ruth Eichhorn – Director of Photography for the GEO magazine group, Kathy Moran – National Geographic magazine’s Senior Editor for Natural History Projects, and Sophie Stafford – Editor of BBC Wildlife.

Editorial tips from the top photo

Editorial tips from Kathy Moran, Sophie Stafford and Ruth Eichhorn, with compère Chris Packham


The Power of Social Media

Paul Hassell gave a fascinating talk on the power of social media, something we have really embraced here at Wildscreen. To demonstrate how easily stories and media can be distributed using social networking, and the buzz that it can generate, Paul shot and uploaded a great behind the scenes video from WildPhotos which he shared via YouTube and Facebook.

If you were at WildPhotos and would like to share your thoughts and personal highlights with us we would love to hear from you, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post, or join the chat on Twitter (#WildPhotos) or the WildPhotos Facebook page.

If you couldn’t make it along this year then fear not, as WildPhotos will be returning again in 2012. To keep up to date with the latest news, and to be the first to hear when tickets go on sale, make sure to sign up to the WildPhotos e-newsletter. Tickets were a sell out this year so early booking is essential!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher


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