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Friday, February 27, 2009

Megalodon: greatest fish predator ever lived

  • The greatest shark to have ever lived!
  • Megalodon was the largest carnivorous fish in history.
  • The Carcharodon megalodon comes from the Greek word for “big tooth”.
  • C. megalodon was certainly piscivorous as well just like other sharks.
  • This shark was as big as a bus at a length of 60 feet and estimated to weigh between 30-60 tons.
  • The largest tooth of Megalodon ever found measured 7 inches in slant length.
  • The weight is comparable to 7 large African elephants weighing 7 tons each!
  • The Swiss naturalist, Louis Agassiz, gave this shark its scientific name, Carcharodon megalodon in 1835.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Order: Lamniformes
Family: Disputed; either Lamnidae or Otodontidae
Genus: Disputed; either Carcharodon or Carcharocles
Species: C. megalodon

Carcharodon Megalodon was a giant shark that lived during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs of the Cenozoic Era, between 2 million and 16 million years ago. Little is known for sure about these giant predators because all that remains of their existence are fossilized teeth. C. megalodon was a warm water pelagic fish and it thrived in all the oceans of the world in its time. The teeth of this ancient shark have been excavated from many parts of the world, including Europe, North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, Malta and India.

There is evidence that C. megalodon preyed on whales, Cetotherium, and Odobenocetops, sirenians, dolphins, porpoises, pinnipeds and giant see turtles. The teeth from the megalodon shark are truly massive in both length and width. The largest teeth are as large as a man's hand and can weigh well over a pound. Another factor that greatly increases the value of a tooth is the degree of preservation. The vast majority of teeth that have become fossils have been destroyed by natural processes (erosion, chemical processes, etc.). Most megalodon teeth found have undergone quite a bit of destruction, with chunks of the tooth broken off, the enamel eaten through, or significant erosion wearing the natural features of the tooth.

Several hypotheses as to how an apex predator like C. megalodon suddenly became extinct after millions of years of existence. Factors such as abrupt global cooling of the Earth's climate coincided with changing ocean circulation, and shortage of food, have been known to cause demise of even dominant marine species.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rabbits: interesting rabbit facts and trivia

  • Rabbits are not rodents, they are lagomorphs.
  • A male rabbit is a buck, female rabbit is a doe and baby rabbit is a kit.
  • A group of rabbits is called a herd.
  • Rabbits groom themselves
  • A rabbits teeth never stop growing.
  • Rabbits have 28 teeth
  • Rabbits have a tiny "peg" tooth behind each incisor.
  • Rabbits can be litter trained
  • A pet rabbit can live as long as 10 years
  • Rabbits can purr similar to a cat
  • Rabbits cannot vomit
  • Rabbits can jump 36" and higher
  • The world record for the rabbit high jump is 1 meter.
  • The longest ears are 31.125 inches long.
  • Rabbits can suffer heat stroke
  • Rabbits do not hibernate
  • A 4 pound rabbit will drink as much water as a 20 pound dog
  • The only place a rabbit sweats is through the pads on its feet
  • Rabbits eat their own night droppings called cecotropes
  • Predators can literally scare a rabbit to death
  • When rabbits are happy, they will jump and twist, this is called a binky
  • Rabbits can see behind them without turning their heads, but have blind spot in front of their face.
  • The longest-lived rabbit was nearly 19 years old when he died.
  • Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae

Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are seven different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Cottontail rabbit (genus Sylvilagus; 13 species), and the Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi, endangered species on Amami ƌshima, Japan). There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha.

Rabbits are ground dwellers that live in environments ranging from desert to tropical forest and wetland. Their natural geographic range encompasses the middle latitudes of the Western Hemisphere. In the Eastern Hemisphere rabbits are found in Europe, portions of Central and Southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Sumatra, and Japan. The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has been introduced to many locations around the world, and all breeds of domestic rabbit originate from the European.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Monitor Lizards: the tropical predators

  • All monitor lizards are tropical reptiles.
  • The claws of monitors are long and sharp.
  • Monitor lizard jaws are very strong and once they bite something it is very difficult to get them to let go.
  • Monitors are carnivorous and will devour anything they are capable of dismembering and gulping down.
  • Monitors do not divest themselves of their tails, like some other lizards. Once lost, the tail of a monitor does not grow back.
  • Many species of monitor lizards hold their heads erect on their long necks, which gives them the appearance of being alert.
  • Monitors tend to swallow their prey whole, like snakes.
  • Monitor lizards lay 7 to 35 soft-shelled eggs, usually deposited in holes in riverbanks or in trees along water courses.
  • The Nile monitor often lays its eggs in termite nests.
  • Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world and belong to the family of monitor lizards.
  • Some are small reptiles of less than a foot in length, while the Komodo dragon, the largest living lizard, grows to 364 lb.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Scleroglossa
Infraorder: Anguimorpha
Family: Varanidae
Genus: Varanus

Monitor lizards or biawak are members of the family Varanidae, a group of carnivorous lizards which includes the heaviest living lizard, the Komodo dragon, with the crocodile monitor being the longest in the world. Varanidae is monotypic, containing only the genus Varanus. Their closest living relatives are the anguid and helodermatid lizards.

Monitor lizards are generally large reptiles, although some can be as small as 12 centimetres in length. They have long necks, powerful tails and claws, and well-developed limbs. Most species are terrestrial, but arboreal and semi-aquatic monitors are also known. Almost all monitor lizards are carnivorous, although Varanus prasinus and Varanus olivaceus are also known to eat fruit. They are oviparous, laying from 7 to 37 eggs, which they often cover with soil or protect in a hollow tree stump.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Armadillos: super armored animal

  • The armadillo is so heavy it will sink in water unless it inflates its stomach with air. Even then only its nose shows above the water.
  • All four young, always of the same sex, are identical quadruplets and developed from the same egg. Armadillos are the only mammals in which multiple young form from a single egg with any regularity.
  • Despite its short legs, the armadillo moves relatively quickly. With its strong feet and thick claws it can burrow with considerable speed.
  • A full grown armadillo is about the size of a large lunchbox, and weighs around 17 pounds.
  • Because of its naturally low body temperature, armadillos have been used in leprosy research that includes the development of a vaccine.
  • Many towns in Texas hold beauty pageants for armadillos. Contestants groom, show and race their pet armadillos.
  • The armadillo is covered with platelets on its midsection, has hornlike skin, stiff hoods on its shoulders and hips, and additional protection on its face, tail and feet. Only its abdomen is unprotected.
  • The armadillo eats ants, worms and other ground insects and is classified as a meat eater.
  • Fossil remains of extinct giant armadillos have been found in the Pleistocene strata of South America.
  • Armadillo flesh is palatable and is used for food.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Superorder: Xenarthra
Order: Cingulata

Armadillos are small placental mammals, known for having a leathery armor shell. The Dasypodidae are the only surviving family in the order Cingulata, part of the superorder Xenarthra along with the anteaters and sloths. The word armadillo is Spanish for "little armored one".

Armadillos are prolific diggers. Many species use their sharp claws to dig for food, such as grubs, and to dig dens. The Nine-banded Armadillo prefers to build burrows in moist soil near the creeks, streams, and arroyos around which it lives and feeds. The diet of different armadillo species varies, but consists mainly of insects, grubs, and other invertebrates. Some species, however, are almost entirely formicivorous (feeding mainly on ants).

Armadillos are often used in the study of leprosy, since they, along with mangabey monkeys, rabbits and mice (on their footpads), are among the few known non-human animal species that can contract the disease systemically. They are particularly susceptible due to their unusually low body temperature, which is hospitable to the leprosy bacterium.

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