Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Portuguese Man o' War

The Portuguese man-of-war is a siphonophore, an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together. It has an air bladder that allows it to float on the surface of the ocean. This sail is translucent and tinged blue, purple or mauve. The sail may extend 15 centimetres above the water may be 9 to 30 centimetres long . To escape a surface attack, the sail can be deflated allowing the Man O' War to briefly submerge .
Below the main body dangle long tentacles, which occasionally reach 50 metres (165 ft) in length below the surface. Each tentacle bears stinging venom-filled nematocysts which sting and kill small sea creatures such as small fish and shrimp.
Certain fish are able to live among the tentacles (being nearly immune to the poison from the stinging cells) and have a commensal symbiotic relationship.
The Loggerhead Turtle feeds on the Portuguese Man O' War; indeed it is a common part of its diet. The skin of the turtle is too thick for the Portuguese Man O' War sting to penetrate and launch its venom.

The Loggerhead Turtle feeds on the Portuguese Man O' War; indeed it is a common part of its diet. The skin of the turtle is too thick for the Portuguese Man O' War sting to penetrate and launch its venom.

The sea slug also feeds on the Portuguese Man O' War, as does the violet snail Janthina janthina.

Other predator are: Blanket, octopuses, sea slug Glaucus atlanticus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Red Panda

The Red Panda is quite long: 79 to 120 cm (31 to 47 in), including the tail length of 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in). Males weigh 4.5 to 6.2 kg (10 to 14 lb); females 3 to 4.5 kg (7 to 10 lb). The Red Panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder, with long and soft reddish-brown fur on upper parts, blackish fur on lower parts, light face with tear markings and robust cranial-dental features. The light face has white badges similar to those of a raccoon, but each individual can have distinctive markings. Its roundish head has medium-sized upright ears, a black nose, and very dark eyes: almost pitch black. Its long bushy tail with six alternating yellowish red transverse ochre rings provides balance and excellent camouflage against its habitat of moss- and lichen-covered trees. The legs are black, short with thick fur on the soles of the paws hiding scent glands and serving as thermal insulation on snow-covered or ice surfaces. The Red Panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder with strong, curved and sharp semi-retractile claws standing inward for grasping of narrow tree branches, leaves and fruit. Like the Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), it has a “false thumb” that is an extension of the wrist bone.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Andean condor

The Andean Condor has measures that ranges from 274 to 310 cm (9 to 10 ft). It is also typically heavier, reaching up to 11 to 15 kg (24 to 33 lb) for males and 7.5 to 11 kg (16 to 24 lb) for females. Overall length can range from 102 to 135 cm (40 to 53 in).

An Andean condor soaring, in silhouette The adult plumage is a uniform black, with the exception of a frill of white feathers nearly surrounding the base of the neck and, especially in the male, large patches or bands of white on the wings which do not appear until the completion of the bird's first moulting. The head and neck are red to blackish-red and have few feathers. The head and neck are meticulously kept clean by the bird, and their baldness is an adaptation for hygiene, allowing the skin to be exposed to the sterilizing effects of dehydration and ultraviolet light at high altitudes. The crown of the head is flattened. In the male, the head is crowned with a dark red caruncle or comb, while the skin of his neck lies in folds, forming a wattle. The skin of the head and neck is capable of flushing noticeably in response to emotional state, which serves to communicate between individuals. Juveniles have a grayish-brown general coloration, blackish head and neck skin, and a brown ruff.

The middle toe is greatly elongated, and the hind one is only slightly developed, while the talons of all the toes are comparatively straight and blunt. The feet are thus more adapted to walking, and are of little use as weapons or organs of prehension as in birds of prey and Old World vultures. The beak is hooked, and adapted to tear rotting meat. The irises of the male are brown, while those of the female are deep red. The eyelids lack eyelashes. Contrary to the usual rule among birds of prey, the female is smaller than the male.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The wisent or Eurasian bison.

The wisent (Bison bonasus), also known as the European bison, is a species of Eurasian bison. It is the heaviest surviving land animal in Europe; a typical wisent is about 3 m (10 ft) long and 1.8 to 2.2 m (6 to 7 ft) tall, and weighs 300 to 920 kg (660 to 2,000 lb). It is typically lighter than the related American Bison (Bison bison), and has shorter hair on the neck, head and forequarters, but longer tail and horns. Wisent are now forest-dwelling. They have few predators (besides humans) with only scattered reports from the 1800s of wolf and bear predation. It is not to be confused with the aurochs, the extinct ancestor of domestic cattle.

In 1996 the IUCN classified the wisent as an endangered species. It has since been downgraded to a vulnerable species. In the past it was commonly killed to produce hides and drinking horns, especially during the Middle Ages.