The Alligator Snapping turtle (Macroclemys temmincki) is the largest freshwater turtle. It has a pointed break and a vermiform (wormlike) tongue, which acts as a lure for fish as the turtle sits on the murky bottoms of ponds and bodies of water.
Photo Credit: Norman Lim, National University of Singapore
The Sunda Flying Lemur (Galeopterus variegatus) is not a lemur AT ALL (but still a primate). It looks like part eyes-too-far-apart squirrel and part kite. This crazy thing glides like nobody’s business from tree to tree all night long eating up fruits, leaves and flowers. The skin flap that allows the animal to glide is called a patagium and when the limbs are stretched to pull it taut this creates a parachute-style extension.
This Southeast Asian superstar, animal-kite hybrid is able to glide across the span of 100 meters while its own body length is just under 40 cm (not counting the tail)! 100 meters……just repeat it to yourself again….yeah that’s incredible.
Only a video can really do this incredible animal any justice. Thanks to ARKive there is a lovely video below:
The aptly named Ping-pong tree sponge (Chondrocladia lampadiglobus) is a carnivorous sponge. At first glance, you may think “I want that mid-century modern lamp” or “that sponge is adorable”, but the Ping-pong tree sponge is a stone-cold carnivorous killer. Those ping-pong ball looking things are covered in tiny spicules which the sponge uses to catch tiny crustaceans.
The rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) calls the Pacific Northwest home and is much tougher than it looks. It has been said, in fact that this newt can easily kill a large number of humans!! This newt has tetrodotoxin and is poisonous if in ingested. The garter snake is one of the main predators of the rough-skinned newt and the two have been having quite the arms race. The newts become more toxic while the garter snakes develop greater resistance. Watch the video below to learn more. Also, watch for the newt to show his bright underbelly in the unken reflex as an aposematic cue to warn predators of the poison.
The next video focuses more on the arms race between the garter snake and the newt. Father and son scientist team Edmund Brodie Jr. and Edmund Brodie III share their research in the video below.
I happened upon an interesting paper in Animal Behaviour by Stanley and Dunbar about social network analysis in feral goats. They studied two disparate populations of feral goats and the relationship among female social bonds, behavior and spatial correlates. The authors found that across the two populations social network size was stable and the clique size was consistently around 12-13 goats. These stable bonds are correlated with decreased aggression from female to female and a maintained level of proximity. See the figure below which illustrates the weighted social network based on approach rate behavior. The thickness of the line indicates the strength of the bond, and while the blue dots are main players in the clique all other colors represent outliers. This suggests that even in the feral goat world, Jessica is always a bitchy girl’s name and all the cool kids wear blue.
There are around 100 species of terrestrial fiddler crabs in the genus Uca. They are characterized by the extreme claw asymmetry of the males. I had the chance last week to see two talks from John Christy, a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientist studying sexual selection and mate choice in the fiddler crab. The Uca genus is diverse in claw morphology, male displays, and burrow construction. As an example of the diversity across the species one species mentioned which is extremely understudy was the so-called styled fiddler crab (Uca stylifera) which can be seen below. The asymmetry normally exhibited in the claw has been extended in this case to the legs as well and includes the weird eye stalk (which is jointed!).
Photo credit: http://www.felineconservation.org Please check out the link to donate
Shut the front door.
Seriously this cat is incredible and adorable. The margay (Leopardus wiedii) is a bit like a mini ocelot. They are native to the Americas and there is even a record of one found in Texas over 100 years ago!
These cats are nocturnal and live primary in the rainforests from Argentina all the way to Mexico. They are absolutely striking and unfortunately this has made the margay a target for fur poachers resulting in their IUCN status as near threatened.
Most amazingly, the margay can rotate its ankle 180 degrees to climb trees upside down. The picture to the right cannot do the ankle rotation move justice (watch the video 1:23!). They can climb down trees head first and may even nap upside down. Margays can hang from a branch upside down by a single paw. The video below is absolutely gorgeous and worth the time to watch (full screen).
Video Credit: Phil Slosberg, a talented wildlife photographer in Costa Rica