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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Camels: Ships of Deserts

Incredible Facts about Camels:

  • Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand. Camelids lie down to rest and sleep.
  • Camels have a split upper lip, which aids them in grazing.
  • Camels feet are soft and spread out so they won't sink in the sand. They have two toes on each foot joined by a tough web and leathery padded souls.
  • Camel's coat moult in spring and grow a new coat by autumn. A camel sheds around 2kgs of wool every time they moult.
  • Camels eat vegetation and feed on grasses. They frequently seek out plants high in salt content.
  • A camel’s body temperature rises during the heat of the day and then cools down at night.
  • A camels can go for days or weeks with little or no water or food.
  • A camel’s stomach has three sections, similar to a domestic cow (bovine). This makes it a ruminant.
  • The camel's nickname "Ships of the Desert" comes from their walk. Like a giraffe, the camel moves both legs on one side of its body at the same time, then the other side. The rolling motion resembles a ship at sea.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Camelidae
Genus: Camelus

Camels are even-toed ungulates within the genus Camelus. The dromedary, one-humped or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the Bactrian camel has two humps. They are native to the dry desert areas of western Asia, and central and east Asia, respectively. The term camel is also used more broadly to describe any of the six camellike creatures in the family Camelidae: the two true camels, and the four South American camelids, the llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuña. The camel's average life expectancy of a camel is forty to fifty years. A fully-grown adult camel stands 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) at the shoulder and 2.15 m (7 ft 1 in) at the hump. The hump rises about thirty inches (75 cm) out of its body. Camels can run up to 65 km/h (40 mph) in short bursts and sustain speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph). A female camel is a cow, a male camel is a bull and a baby camel is a calf. When calves are born they weigh 30-40kgs but by the time they're adults, they weigh around 500-600kgs. They get to this size at 6-7 years but can live up to 50 years. Calves remain close to their mother until they are around 5 years old.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Electric Eels - shocking water predators

An electric eel can produce a shock of up to 650 volts.
Electric eels cannot get enough oxygen from water. Approximately every five minutes, they must surface to breathe, or they will drown.
Electric Eels can swim both backwards and forwards.
Electric Eels have poor eyesight, but can emit a low-level charge, less than 10 volts, which they use like radar to navigate and locate prey.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Osteichthyes
Order: Gymnotiformes
Family: Gymnotidae
Genus: Electrophorus
Species: E. electricus

Electrophorus electricus or Electric Eels are fascinating and famous freshwater predators get their name from the enormous electrical charge they can generate to stun/immobilize prey and dissuade predators. Their bodies contain electric organs with about 6,000 specialized cells called electrolytes that store power like tiny batteries. When threatened or attacking prey, these cells will discharge simultaneously, emitting a burst of at least 600 volts. The electric organ, which consists of a series of modified tail muscles, is similar to a row of batteries connected in a series. It is subdivided into three sections: two small and one large. One small battery is used for navigational signals. The large battery and the other small one is used to generate the stunning discharge. After delivering a strong shock, the electric eel must then allow the electric organ to recharge. Batteries have to be recharged using an external source of energy; in the electric eel the energy to recharge the electric organ comes from the fish's metabolism.

Despite their serpentine appearance, electric eels are not actually eels, their scientific classification is closer to carp and catfish. They are spread in the South America in Guianas then in the Orinoco and the Amazon basin. It has got long and rounded body with small eyes. Its colour is dark brown. The eel can be up to 2.4 m (8 feet) long. The electric eel does not have any pelvic, dorsal or tail fin. Because of that its swimming can also be called as wriggling because its movements are made by the anal fin. An adult eel feeds on small fishes and young eels eat insects.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Woodpeckers - amazing hunting abilities

  • A woodpecker can peck 20 times per second.
  • Most woodpeckers have four toes. Two face forward and two face backward. This arrangement is called zygodactyl.
  • Their short legs and sharp nails make it easier for them to cling to bark.
  • A straight, chisel-like bill is used to excavate holes in trees for nesting and roosting. It is also used for foraging insects, insect eggs and larva.
  • Very long tongues allow the birds to "worm" their way in to hard to reach places. There are hard, saliva coated bristles on the end of the tongue. These aid in grabbing the prey. The tongue can also be used for lapping sap.
  • All woodpeckers have a characteristic wing-beat pattern while flying: 3 flaps and glide, 3 flaps and glide...
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Neognathae
Superorder: Neoaves
Order: Piciformes
Suborder: Pici
Family: Picidae

The woodpecker's strong, pointed beak acts as both a chisel and a crowbar to remove bark and find hiding insects. It has a very long tongue, up to four inches in some species - with a glue-like substance on the tip for catching insects. The woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks are a family, Picidae, of near-passerine birds . Members of this family are found worldwide, except for Australia and New Zealand, Madagascar, and the extreme polar regions. Most species live in forests or woodland habitats, although a few species are known to live in desert areas.

The smallest woodpecker is the Bar-breasted Piculet, at 7 g and 8 cm (3.2 inches). The largest woodpecker was the Imperial Woodpecker, at an average of 58 cm (23 inches) and probably over 600 g (1.3 lb). The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is (or was) slightly smaller at 50 cm (20 inches) and a weight of 500 g (1.1 lb). If both the Ivory-billed and Imperial Woodpeckers are indeed extinct, the largest extant woodpecker is the Great Slaty Woodpecker of Southeast Asia, at about 50 cm (20 inches) and 450 g (1 lb). The woodpeckers range from highly antisocial solitary species which are aggressive to other members of their species to group living species. Group living species tend to be communal group breeders. In addition to these species a number of species may join mixed-species feeding flocks with other insectivorous birds, although they tend to stay at the edges of these groups. Woodpeckers are diurnal, roosting at night inside holes. In most species the roost will become the nest during the breeding season.

The diet of these birds consists mainly of insects, such as ants and beetles, nuts, seeds, berries, some fruit and sap. Species may feed generally on all of these, or may specialize on one or two.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Kangaroo : interesting facts about kangaroos

A newborn kangaroo is about 1 inch in length.
Kangaroos are the largest marsupial mammals. It is a macropod which means "big foot".
There are over 40 different types (species) of Kangaroo.
The Red Kangaroo is the largest living marsupial and can grow to two meters. It weighs up to 90 kg (200 pounds).
Kangaroos are the only large animals that move by hopping. They can't move backward.
On land kangaroos can't move their hind legs independently, only together. But when they are swimming (they are good swimmers) they kick each leg independently.

When European explorers first saw these strange hopping animals they asked a native Australian (aborigine) what they were called. He replied "kangaroo" meaning "I don't understand" your question. The explorers thought this was the animal's name. And that's how the kangaroo got its name.

Female kangaroos enter into heat within a few days after giving birth they mate and conceive, but after only one week's development the microscopic embryo enters a dormant state that lasts until the previous young leaves the pouch. All kangaroos have a chambered stomach similar to cattle and sheep. They regurgitate the vegetation they have eaten, chew it as cud, and then swallow it again for final digestion. The Red kangaroo grazes during the night on a wide variety of grasses and low herbaceous plants, though sometimes this grazing period starts late evening and ends early morning. Kangaroos mate again as soon after a joey is borne, but the development of the second embryo stops, or rather, is paused after a few days. So in a way kangaroos are permanently pregnant. If a joey is lost, or if one has grown up and left the pouch, they can immediately give birth again.

The Kangaroo moves by hopping on its powerful hind legs. It uses its thick long tail to balance its body while hopping. A kangaroo can hop at up to 60kmh (40mph). It can also leap over obstacles up to 3m (10ft) high. Because of the unusual shape of its legs and its bulky tail a kangaroo can't walk or move backwards very easily. Kangaroos are found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. The Kangaroo moves by hopping on its hind legs using its tail for steering and balancing while hopping at speed up to 40mph/60kmh. When kangaroo is moving slowly the tail is used as an extra leg and supports the kangaroo when it is standing on its hind legs. Most kangaroos can only move both back legs together and not one at a time.

A male kangaroo is called a buck or a boomer or an old man.
A female kangaroo is called a flyer
A baby kangaroo is called a joey
A group of kangaroos is called a mob.
"Roos" is a colloquial name used for any kangaroos or wallabies.
Eastern Grey Macropus giganteus 3 - 8ft (0.9 - 2.4m) 40 - 200 lbs (18 - 95kg)
Red kangaroo Macropus Rufus 3 - 9ft (0.9 - 2.7m) 40 - 150 lbs (18 - 70kg)
Western Grey Macropus fuliginosus 3 - 7ft (0.9 - 2.1m) 63 - 120lbs (28 - 54kg)

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