Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Verraux 's Sifaka Lemur.

Oh Sifakas. They're one of my favorite primates -- mainly because of how playful they are. Most of their time is eating and jumping around. They don't walk or run, only jump. XTREME!!

Well, sort of. Whenever they feel threatened, one just starts screaming, and then the rest of them join. It's really annoying and it can last for like 20 minutes. Probably good if there is a predator. But as someone who was just walking by them, it was a pain waiting for them to stop shrilling. I suppose they didn't know I wouldn't harm them. But still, not quite as extreme.
Like all Lemurs, they're all in Madagascar.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Red-necked Phalarope.

What's so interesting about phalaropes? A lot.
These wading shorebirds are one of only a few species in the world that has females competing for males.

As you might know, most birds have sexual dimorphism... meaning the male and female counterparts are physically different based on color, size, shape, etc. Typically, the male is more colorful, larger, or has seemingly unnecessary ornaments (think: Peacock feathers to impress a peahen). This is for competition -- if you're more brightly colored than other males, it might mean you have more testosterone, good immune system or simply just indicate that the bird eats well and is well-protected -- implying a sense of security if the female chooses to mate.

So with phalaropes, that's the opposite. The top picture is the female, and the male is below. In this species, the females show coloration during breeding season and have to compete for males to mate with - hardly ever seen in nature. The winning females get prime nesting real-estate and usually defend the male who incubates the eggs initially before venturing off on its annual migration from the arctic to the tropical shores.

In bizarro world...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rock Hyrax.

The Rock Hyrax. A Dassie. A pudge. Whatever you want to call them, they're technically in the Hyrax family.
The hyrax family is all over Africa, except for some reason not in the Dem. Rep. of Congo.

These guys are actually, believe it or not, the closest living relatives to the Asian and African Elephants (of course, not including the relationship between African and Asian Elephants).

Another relatively close relationship: Hyrax and Manatee.
Who knew!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mandarin Fish.

Easily my favorite fish. These live out in the Pacific and are named after the fact that their colors are vivid like the robes of Imperial Chinese mandarin. As you can see in the top picture, the female (left) has slightly different coloration than the male (right). But both are ridiculously cool.

If you ever find yourself in Chicago, they have these at the Shedd Aquarium. Probably a lot of other places, too, but that's the last time I remember seeing one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Glass Frogs.

Though glass frogs are a genus and not just one species, they're all very cool so I'm going to clump them together. They are all translucent to varying degrees -- some almost to the point of seeing entirely through them. The top one - whose species name is: Centrolene callistommum comes from the greek work "kallistos" loosely meaning "the most beautiful" and "omma" meaning "eye."

You can find them in Peru, Ecuador, and occasionally some of their neighboring countries in NW S. America and S. Central America.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spicebush Swallowtail.

What's cool about these are the larval stage. The caterpillar takes on markings that remind predators of a snake, thus scaring them off (Though they look like eyes, it's just coloration). There are all sorts of caterpillars that mimic snakes, including ones in the amazon that drop its tail from trees and look like a viper staring you down. Crazy, no?

The butterfly is actually Mississippi's state butterfly. If you're observant enough, you can find these guys all over the American South.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Not only is the name "Wonderpus" awesome, the scientific genus for this thing "Wunderpus."

I don't really know any cool facts about them, but the name reminds me of a Houdini-era mythical creature, and its curly tentacles and coloration certainly deserve that comparison. In my mind, at least.

It is often confused with a mimic octopus because of its similar appearance (long, narrow, red and white streaks) however they are not closely related. Oddly, they do perform similar tricks - the wonderpus can also occasionally mimic other sea creatures such as flounder and is also able to occasionally camouflage itself.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Panther Chameleon.

The Panther Chameleon of Madagascar is unique indeed. Though it is commonly believed that chameleons just transform into whatever colors surround them, this is not always the case.

Panther chameleons have pigments in each scale that expand or contract depending on its mood or level of aggression (green when calm, typically yellow or red when defending territory against another male).

Take a look at the close-up picture of its eye and tail and you can see the pigments in each scale.

Fennec Foxes.

Fennec Foxes are the smallest in the world, weighing in at 3.3 lbs.

You can find them in the Sahara Desert, but only at night (they're nocturnal). Since vision is not great at night, they rely on sound to find their prey, hence their large ears.

Lilac-Breasted Roller.

The Lilac-Breasted Roller is native to Eastern Africa, and is Kenya's National Bird.

They get their name from the rolls they perform in the air when courting or marking territory. And from their coloring.

They're pretty fun to watch.

Flamingo Tongue Snail.

These snails are known for their distinctive patterns. The shell, however, is simply plain white. The colors that you see are actually a fleshy mantle it wraps around its shell, and the white shell is exposed only when either a predator is near or the snail has died.

You know when they are near because they leave a trail of dead coral behind them (they instantly kill coral).

They live in the Western Atlantic, largely in the Caribbean.