Monday, April 30, 2012

Mary Anning

Portrait of Mary Anning, c. 1842
So far all of our Naturalists have dealt with the living animals that they saw during their studies and travels. Today we'll mix that up a bit and learn all about a woman who made some pretty awesome contributions to Paleontology... some of which she did when she was only twelve years old!

Mary Anning was born in Dorset, England in 1799. Her parents had ten children, but only Mary and her brother Joseph lived to adulthood (Mary herself was actually named after an older sister of hers that died before she was born). From a young age Mary's father would take her and Joseph on fossil hunting trips to the nearby cliffs. They had the great luck to live near the Blue Lias, a geological formation in the cliffs that dated back to the Jurassic Period.

Anning's father died in 1810, leaving his family with next to nothing. Mary and Joseph continued to hunt for fossils, so that they could sell them for profit and support their family. Fossil hunting on these cliffs was dangerous work! Landslides were common during the winter, but that was the best season to search as those landslides exposed new fossils, so the risk had to be taken. That risk paid off for the first time in 1811, when Mary was only twelve. Her and Joseph discovered a 4ft long Ichthyosaur skull, which was the very first of it's kind to be uncovered! (Mary would later go back for the rest of the skeleton, which would be one of several complete skeletons she would find in her lifetime.)

Mary, Joseph, and their mother all contributed to the Fossil collecting business that brought income to their family, but Mary was the driving force, especially once Joseph entered into an apprenticeship that took up most of his time.

She continued to hunt for fossils over the next 30 odd years, making several significant finds, including the worlds very first Plesiosaur, the first Pterosaur outside of Germany, several fish, and numerous invertebrates.  She was even one of the first people to consider that Coprolites might be fossilized dung! Anning's finds helped to bolster support for the idea of extinction, was we a relatively new idea of the time, and several of her finds are now displayed in prominent museums
Illustration of the first found Ichthyosaur skull

Unfortunately, despite her fossil-finding skills and all the contributions that she made, Mary Anning and her family were often given very little credit. She had made many friends within the scientific community, and had collaborated with anatomists and biologists, but at the end of the day she was often not given any recognition for her finds, and there were those who thought she was a fraud, as they did not belive a woman could do such work.

That is not to say that she wasn't respected, however. She had those aforementioned collaborations, was given an annuity from the Geological Society of London, and was named the first Honorary Member of the Dorset County Museum. After her death from breast cancer in 1847, she received an obituary from the Geological Society, which is notable as they didn't not even admit women members until 1904.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Georg Steller

If you are a frequent reader of Animal a Day, you'll recognize today's featured naturalist. That is because, in the past, we've featured several of the different animals species that were named after him! Hmm... just doing a quick search we have:
So if those animal names didn't give it away already, Georg Wilhelm Steller was a naturalist and explorer who that did his work while on Ocean Expeditions.
No images of Steller exist. So let's look at a drawing
he did of Sea Otters!

Steller was born near Nuremburg Germany in 1709, and was later educated at the University of Wittenburg. Though he was German by birth, he moved to Russia in 1734, and it is with Russian expeditions that he did his major studies.

After finding work at Saint Petersburg's Academy of Sciences, Steller joined Vitus Bering's expedition to the ocean east of Siberia in 1740. Bering himself may also sound familiar- the strait between Russia and Alaska bears his name! 

In July 1741 the expedition arrived in Alaska, and Steller became the first non-native to set foot upon Alaskan soil. Bering wanted only to stop and refill water, so he gave the naturalist only 10 hours to explore, but during that time he discovered a bird known as Steller's Jay (pretty much the only Steller's animal we haven't talked about here yet, go figure). He deduced that the bird was a close relative to the Blue Jay, which suggested that Alaska and the rest of North America were joined together.

On the way back to Russia the expedition was shipwrecked on a piece of land that would eventually be named Bering Island. Bering himself died on this island, along with several members of the crew who succumbed to Scurvy. The remaining crew hunted the local fauna, and worked on rebuilding a ship that would take them home. Among the animals consumed were the Steller's Sea Cows, massive relatives to the Manatees that were up to 30ft long. Steller discovered several other species during that year on the island, including his namesake Sea Lion, Eider, and a cryptid only he claims to have observed called the Steller's Sea Ape.

The expedition eventually made it off Bering Island, though only 46 of the original 78 remained. After arriving back in Russia, Georg Steller spent the next few years traveling throughout Siberia, collecting plants and animals and writing extensive journals. Unfortunately, his life was cut short. In 1746, on a trip from Siberia back to St. Petersburg, he contracted a fever and died at the age of 37. Though he never published a single paper in his lifetime, his journals did make it to Saint Petersburg where they were used by other scientists and explorers.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Maria Sibylla Merian

Portrait c. 1700
Today's featured person is one you may have never heard of- 17th century German illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian. She is known for the numerous paintings and engravings that she did of plants and insects, as well as the accurate observations that she made while creating these images.

Merian was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1647. She came from a family that was already very established in the art world. Her father, Matthaus Merian, was a prominent engraver and publisher, and her stepfather was still like painter Jacob Marrel. Marrel taught his stepdaughter to draw and paint from a very young age, and she studied under him along with his male pupils.

Insects fascinated Merian, and by the age of 13 she was already producing works of art based on specimens that she had captured and observed. At 18 she married one of her stepfather's pupils, and soon moved to Nuremburg. While there she began to take on students of her own, and her increased wealth and social standing gave her access to the gardens of the city elite. These garden studies would influence her first two published collections - Neues Blumenbuch (New Book of Flowers), and Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung und sonderbare Blumennahrung (The Caterpillar, Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food).

Engraving from The Insects of Suriname
And since I've just mentioned Caterpillars, now would be a great time to talk about Maria's major contribution to science. During her time, scholars believed that insects spontaneously generated out of mud and decaying matter. Maria Merian helped to turn that school of thought on its head. Her interest in insects led her to create incredibly detailed portraits of them in various stages of metamorphoses. She not only showed the different stages, she also included the plants that the insects ate, and provided detailed textual notes on the timing, colors, and forms. So overall, that close attention to detail helped to disprove the beliefs of the time.

In 1681 her stepfather passed away and she returned to Frankfurt to handle his estate. The ensuing legal battle eventually ended with her leaving her husband and moving to the Netherlands with her mother and two daughters, Johanna and Dorothea. After the death of Merian's mother in 1691, the family moved to the city of Amsterdam where their artwork received a great deal of notice from the local scientific community. During this time Johanna married a prominent merchant who was involved with trade to Suriname, which was a newly acquired Dutch colony.

Feeling that she had seen all the plants and insects she would ever see in the Netherlands, Maria wanted to see the exotic flora and fauna that Suriname had to offer. In 1699, she and Dorothea set sail for South America, and spent two years there before poor health and the threat of Malaria sent them back to Europe.

Upon their return, the mother and daughter started work on a new book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (The Metamorphoses of the Insects of Suriname), which was published in 1705. During her time in Suriname, Merian not only discovered several previously unknown species, but she also classified them as well. Some of these classifications have remained today!

Maria Sibylla Merian died in 1717. Around the time of her death, several of her watercolors were sold to Czar Peter the Great, and the following year Dorothea moved to Saint Petersburg were she continued her life as an artist.

Maria Sibylla Merian's art continues to be collected, and her memory has been recognized in the past few decades though stamps, portraits on money, and through the naming of a German research vessel in 2005.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pliny the Elder

Let's kick off this theme week by going really, really old school. Our first naturalist is noted Roman scholar Pliny the Elder. And by Rome, I don't just mean the city, I mean the Empire! Pliny lived nearly 2,000 years ago!

A 17th century depiction.
No images from his lifetime survive.
Gaius Plinius Secondus was born around 23AD in Como Italy and had quite the interesting life. His father was a member of the Equestrian class, which meant young Pliny was able to be educated, and he spent his late childhood and teenage years in Rome. Around 45AD he entered the army, and traveled to what are now the Low Countries and Germany. His time in Germany inspired his first literary work, a short treatise on how to throw spears from horseback (a military technique that he observed there). He also later wrote a 20 volume work titled History of the Germanic Wars.

At the age of 36 Pliny returned to Rome, but the political situation was not exactly favorable towards serious historians and writers, so Pliny's social status and career did not take off as one would expect. That would all change, thanks to some serious government turmoil. Nero was Emperor and his tyrannical ways led to revolts and civil war, and once the dust settled it was the father of one of Pliny's friends, Vespasian, who became the new Emperor. From there Pliny's career skyrocketed, and he was given procuratorships that took him all over the Roman Empire, including Spain and Africa. These travels would all strongly influence his studies in natural history, and would inspire and influence his most famous work, Naturalis Historia.

Naturalis Historia is one of the largest Roman works to have survived into modern times, and at 37 volumes large is almost an understatement. The purpose of the work was for it to be a giant encyclopedia of knowledge, ranging from math, to art, to science. Pliny used his own experiences and collected knowledge to create the book, which was the last thing he wrote, and he also cited literally thousands of other writings to make it incredibly comprehensive. Meteorology, medicine, gemstones, plants, geography, and anthropology are all featured in the work.

Because this is Famous Naturalists week, and because animals are our real focus here, chapters VIII-XI are what interest us the most. These deal with land animals, marine animals, birds, and insects respectively. Pliny writes about all sorts of animals, but some of what he says needs to be taken with a very, very large grain of salt.

Elephants, for example, bury their lost tusks, point lost travelers in the right direction, and are able to walk up a tight-rope backward. He gives them several other human-like traits as well, describing them as merciful and sensible animals. Oh, and Crocodiles? Venomous! Dragons? Yeah, they're real.

4th Centry Mosaic of an Elephant and Tiger
Of course, there is factual information in there as well, and great deals of it at that! Pliny describes animals that weren't often seen by everyday Romans (except maybe in arena spectacles). Tigers, Camels (both Bactrian and Dromedary), and Rhinoceroses are all written about, along with domesticated creatures and even the more common beasts like Squirrels and Mice. He even describes Whales, including Sperm Whales and Orcas- referring to them by, what else, their Latin names. They are, however, called "monstrous fishes."

Overall what I find interesting about this book is the fact that it shows 2,000 year old perceptions about animals. Which creatures were considered important? Exotic? Reviled? It also shows what kind of knowledge was out there at the time- like Whales being fish, or Dragons being real. Really fascinating stuff!

There is so much to be said about Pliny the Elder, and while I'm sure I could easily write a post five times this size, I simply do not have the time! ...Though I should at least mention that he died during the Mount Vesuvious eruption in 79AD, attempting to evacuate people.

His works, as well as the works of his nephew, Pliny the Younger (who references his uncle frequently), are widely available for reading both online and in printed form (though you'll need a big bookshelf!) If you're interested in some 2,000 year old Zoology, or are fascinated by Rome in general, give their works a read!

Second Anniversary!

Happy Birthday to Me! Well... blog me, not real me... though to confuse things today is my brother's actual birthday. Anyway. Today is the 2 year anniversary of Animal a Day! That means we have learned about 732 different animals!

So to celebrate the start of another great year full of animals, we've got another theme week! And I'm really, really excited about this one, because it's pretty outside the box. Even more so than the Mythical Creatures week. We're gonna learn all about Famous Naturalists! That's right, people! Hey, humans are animals after all. So prepare to learn all about some interesting guys and gals who made important contributions to Zoology, Biology, Paleontology, and general animal awareness!

And while we're in the middle of an announcement post, please check out the revamped Facebook page. It has extra pictures, interesting animal news stories, weird facts, and I'd like to get some contests and giveaways going in the future! Hop on over!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tritonia diomedea

Tritonia diomedea
My daily inspiration for animals comes from all kinds of sources.. and today it comes from a big cute pink slug monster that I saw hanging up at a graphic design exhibit. Convenient muse, huh?

So let's talk about a real-life pink Slug, one that doesn't have anthropomorphic eyes! This is Tritonia diomedea, and it is a Nudibranch. Nudibranches are soft-bodies marine slugs all found within the clade Nudibranchia. There are around 3,000 species, many are stunningly beautiful, and they can be found in oceans worldwide.

T. diomedea lives off of the Northern Pacific Coast of North America. They inhabit relatively shallow waters, ranging at depths between 5 and 750m where there is a sandy or silty sea floor.

Though the image I present is pink, the species can also be found in various shades of red and orange. The Sea Slugs feed on tiny little Cnidarians like Sea Pens and Corals, and they hunt them out using their tentacles to smell!

After looking at so many beautiful Nudibranches, I strongly suggest that you take a long at some of the other fantastic species out there. They are one of the most colorful animal groups out there!

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Pacific Coast of North America
Size : Length around 8in (20cm)
Classification : Phylum : Mollusca -- Class : Gastropoda -- clade Nudibranchia
Superfamily : Tritonioidea -- Family : Tritoniidae -- Genus : Tritonia -- Species : T. diomedea

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Discus Cichlids

Symphysodon aequifasciatus   
Today's animal is actually.. well... three animals. There are three species of Discus Cichlids, all of which live in the Amazon River Basin, all of which have compressed, disc-like body shapes, and all of which have some really neat colors and patterns.

There is a little bit of controversy over how the three species are named and identified. There are two general camps, and both agree that there are three different species within the genus, but there is confusion over the classification. One group claims that S. discus  and S. aequifasciatus are close relatives, and a newly discovered species, S. tarzoo, is different due to its spots. Of course, a year after that finding was published another report came out arguing that S. tarzoo is actually S. haraldi, and that Haraldi adn Discus may have formed hybrids.

I'm confused just writing all that. And it doesn't help that these two studies give the same common names for different fish. The Green Discus is apparently both S. tarzoo and S. aequifasciatus! Anyway, for a little more clarity on the great Discus debate, check out this full article.

Discus Fish are popular in aquariums, and their farming has becoming quite a large industry in South Asia. Their bold coloring and interesting shape attract aquarists around the world. They also, like many Cichlids, have an interesting parenting style. While most fish lay their eggs and leave, both Discus Fish parents care for their larvae, even producing a secretion from their skin that their young can feed off of!

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Amazon Basin
Size : Length up to 10in (25cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Perciformes
Family : Cichlidae -- Genus : Symphysodon

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Parabogidiella Shrimp

Parabogidiella ??
I just love new species, don't you? And today's animal is so new that it doesn't even have a species name yet!

Meet the newest member of the Parabogidiella genus. This tiny little half-inch Shrimp-like creature was discovered just last month in an underground pool in New Mexico.

Like many cave dwellers it lacks skin pigmentation, and it is also blind. Scientists found it in a subterranean body of water in the Carlsbad Caverns. The cave has been explored before, but this is the first time water samples were taken. These little Crustaceans were down there this whole time, and may have been in that cave for thousands of years, right under our noses!

There isn't much else to say, yet, about this new critter. But fingers are crossed that it will get a name soon!

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : New Mexico
Size : Length around .5in (1.3cm)
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Malacostraca -- Order : Amphipoda
Family : Bogidiellidae -- Genus : Parabogidiella -- Species : P. ?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Painted Stork

Mycteria leucocephala
The Painted Stork is a rightly colorful wading bird found in south and southeast Asia. They have bright yellow beaks, orange-ish heads, black and white banding across the body and wings, and bright pink tertial feathers. Males and females share that same bright coloration, though you can tell the sexes apart by the body and beak size (males tend to be larger).

The coloration on the Painted Stork also becomes more dull when it is outside of the breeding season. Plumage plays an important role in finding a mate, as does dancing! When seeking out a partner, the male Storks perform elaborate bows. If a female likes the male's bow, they will do a bit of a dance. One paired up the couple will go on to build a platform-like nest out of sticks and vegetation. These birds are highly gregarious during the breeding season, and sometimes nests end up almost on top of one another. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the hatched chicks using regurgitated fish. Delicious!

As adults, the Painted Storks use their large bills to forage. They wade very slowly in shallow water (typically less and 1ft deep), and probe around with their bill partially open. If they hit something, they snap their bill shut. Fish make up most of the diet, though they do also eat Amphibians and Crustaceans.

Painted Storks are listed as Near Threatened because of habitat loss, hunting, and pollution. The birds do live within some protected areas, but the population continues to be on a downward trend.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : South Asia
Size : Height up to 40in (1m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Ciconiiformes
Family : Ciconiidae -- Genus : Mycteria -- Species : M. leucocephala

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day!

Earth Day was started in 1970 by a Wisconsin senator named Gaylord Nelson who was interested in environmental issues after witnessing the destruction of a California oil spill. What started as an American teach-in day has since grown into an global effort, with events now taking place worldwide.

Around 500 million people take part in Earth Day activities each year, and in 2009 it was designated as an International Holiday by the United Nations.

If you are interested in taking part in an Earth Day event, head over to Earthday.org, where they have a huge database of beach cleanups, recycling drives, tree plantings, and much more.

Also, please take a look at the fantastic infographic that I have posted after the break. I try and talk about conservation on AaD as much as I can, but this graphic really sums up the effect we have on animals due to climate change, poaching, and habitat loss .

Giant Panda

Captive Panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo
Earth Day has arrived! And in celebration let's talk about the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund and one of the most iconic conservation poster animals out there- the Giant Panda. These large mammals are endemic to China

Giant Pandas are some weird bears. And yes, they are actual, Ursidae family-member bears, though in the past there has been speculation that they belong to some other group. At any rate, they have a digestive system made for processing a carnivorous diet, but they don't eat meat. As you probably know, Pandas eat Bamboo... which is odd because they get very few nutrients from the Bamboo. The result of their unnatural diet is that they have to eat lots and lots of the grass, up to 30lbs a day, in order to get their dietary needs satisfied.

Though their digestive tract hasn't adapted to the Bamboo diet, other features of their anatomy have. Their faces are especially round because they need large back molars and strong jaw muscles in order to grind down the fibrous plant. The have also evolved a modified "thumb" on their paws. This sesamoid bone is different from the one found in other bears, and it allows the Giant Pandas to grasp onto Bamboo easier.

There are a number of reasons why the Giant Panda is so endangered. Poaching and Habitat loss were the first threats to really affect them, though some of those pressure have been alleviated with the establishment of wild preserves. There are now around 40 separate preserves in China.

Panda at the San Diego Zoo
Unfortunately, it has been difficult to get the Panda population to rebound, though they are getting there. They have a mindbogglingly low reproductive rate, both in the wild and in captivity. In the wild, Giant Pandas are solitary; males and females meet up for only a very brief window of time in order to mate. After the deed is done, the male goes on his way, and the female may or may not be pregnant. Even with continued successful couplings, the birth rate is only about 1 cub every two years.

Captive breeding programs ran into all sorts of problems at first. The Pandas just didn't seem to have any desire to mate, and so most early cubs born were due to artificial insemination. Some hilarious methods have been employed over the years, including have the Pandas watch "Panda Porn," aka DVDs of other Pandas mating. Males have also been given Viagra! Natural births have been happening in recent years, though artificial insemination is still frequently employed.

Seriously. Pandas eat all day. I have about
40 pictures, they are all of them eating.
The ins and outs of Captive Panda ownership are quite interesting. All Giant Pandas outside of China are technically "on loan." Foreign zoos pay the Chinese government up to $1,000,000 each year in order to keep their Pandas, and the contracts typically have term limits to them. All Panda cubs born outside of China are still property of China, and most are sent back to their native land upon reaching adulthood. Bai Yun, the female Panda at the San Diego Zoo, has had four of her five cubs returned to China, were they take part in breeding programs.

Currently there are about 300 Giant Pandas in captivity, and it is estimated that there are around 1,600 in the wild, though there may be more. While they are not the most endangered mammals out there, they are certainly one of the most iconic.



IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : China
Size : Body length up to 6ft (1.8m), Wieght up to 350lbs (160kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Ursidae -- Genus : Ailuropoda -- Species : A. melanoleuca

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura
Happy Earth Day Weekend Everybody! I'll be putting together a lengthier post about that later, but for now lets get to our animal. And really, what animal could be more "green" than a vulture? Nature's natural garbage men!

The Turkey Vulture is one of the New World Vultures, and one of the most widespread ones at that. They can be found throughout North and South America, with some populations migrating and others remaining year round.

Though they look an awful lot like the Old World Vultures, New Worlds actually belong to a separate family, and possibly, to a completely different Order. Like the Giant Golden Mole yesterday, New World and Old World Vultures are examples of convergent evolution, and are only distantly related. Some biologists think that the New World Vultures might actually be me closely related to Storks and Ibises than to the similar looking Raptors across the Atlantic!

You can identify a flying Turkey Vulture by looking at its movement and wing position. They typically soar on updrafts with their wings positioned in an upwards V-shape, and they very rarely flap them. The wing position, along with the the body's teetering motion, allow them to fly for long periods of time while expending very little energy.

Turkey Vulture in Flight
Turkey Vultures have excellent senses of smell, and their brain actually devotes a larger-than-normal portion to that sense. They can detect the faintest of odors, and can even find carrion that is underneath a dense tree canopy! Turkey Vultures scavenge almost exclusively, tearing at the carcasses with their sharp hooked beaks. The birds have hardy immune systems, and rarely contract diseases from their meals.

Two illnesses that these birds have been unable to avoid are DDT and Lead Poisoning. Prior to the 1980s the population was declining due to the amount of DDT found in their food. Since the DDT ban the population has been on the rise, though Lead Poisoning continues to be an issue. The Turkey Vultures will feed on carcasses that were killed by lead shot, ingesting the lead themselves. Hunting has also hurt their population in the past, as people erroneously believed that they spread diseases. Of course, the exact opposite is true- the Vultures help to stop the spread of disease by consuming the dead and rotting meat. Turkey Vultures are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and it is now illegal to kill, take, or own one.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North and South America
Size : Body length up to 32in (81cm), Wingspan up to 72in (1.8m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Disputed
Family : Cathartidae -- Genus : Cathartes -- Species : C. aura

Friday, April 20, 2012

Giant Golden Mole

Chrysospalax trevelyani
Oh Classification, you can be so confusing, and so contentious! Moles. Burrowing, insectivorous animals that have tiny or no eyes and giant claws. You'd think they'd all be closely related, right? Nope. There are actually True Moles, Marsupial Moles, and Golden Moles. They all belong to completely different orders and are examples of what convergent evolution can do!

Today's animal, the Giant Golden Mole is (unsurprisingly) one of the Golden Moles. This group of 21 species is found only in southern Africa, and the Giant itself is endemic to the nation of South Africa. They belong to the same Order as the Tenrecs, which itself is part of that odd hodgepodge Superorder known as Afrotheria. That's right, the Giant Golden Mole is technically more related to Manatees and Elephants than it is to the True Moles. Weird how that all works out!

Giant Golden Moles are not, in fact, golden. Their fur is a dark brown. They have powerful front claws and shovel-like back claws that let them scoop out dirt behind them white digging, and they have no external eyes or ears... though they do have a weird leathery pad that protects their nostrils while they dig. In short, they are very well adapted to living underground. Though interestingly, they don't live exclusively under the earth like others of their type; at night they forage for insects and other invertebrates inside of the surface leaf litter! Giant Golden Moles also have the distinction of being the only Golden Mole with any real semblance of a social structure. While they are mostly solitary, they have been observed hibernating in groups.

Giant Golden Moles are becoming quite rare, and are extinct in many localities. They need to live in very specific habitats, namely forested areas with deep leaf litter, soft soil, and a generous amount of undergrowth. Artificial forests and farmlands will not do for these little guys, and as a result they are losing their habitat and becoming incredibly fragmented. There are currently no specific conservation actions underway for the Giant Golden Mole, though they may occur in a few protected reserve areas.

IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : South Africa
Size : Body length up to 9in (23cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Afrosoricida
Family : Chrysochloridae -- Genus : Chrysospalax -- Species : C. trevelyani

Thursday, April 19, 2012

White-headed Buffalo Weaver

Dinemellia dinemelli
Let's start out today by breaking down the common name of today's animal, since that will tell us quite a bit about them!

White-headed : Self explainitory. They have white feathers on their heads and on their chests, orange coloration on the underside, and dark wings. They also have strong black beaks that are used for cracking seeds.

Buffalo : They live in very close proximity to African Water Buffalo, and feed on seeds knocked away by the Buffalo, as well as on the insects that the large mammals stir up.

Weaver : These birds are members of a large family of Weaver Birds. They build large, elaborate nests by weaving together twigs, branches, thorns, and grasses. Their abandoned nests are often used by other bird species who don't desire to build their own.

White-headed Buffalo Weavers can be found throughout the open grass and scrub-lands of eastern Africa. They are a gregarious species, and their small flocks forage together on the ground for the aforementioned meals. The birds are also known for their wide range of songs and calls, which range from parrot-like sqwaks, to trills, to loud chuckles.

The species has a large range is is very common, so they are not currently under any conservation risk.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : East Africa
Size : Body length up to 8in (20cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Passeriformes
Family : Ploceidae -- Genus : Dinemellia -- Species : D. dinemelli

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waterfall Climbing Cave Fish

Cryptotora thamicola
Today's animal is one of those strange, mysterious cave dwellers that is rarely seen by human eyes. Its common name is the Waterfall Climbing Cave Fish, and it does exactly what its name describes! These fish have fins that allow them to climb, and have been founding moving up ledges near small underground waterfalls!

The species has only been found in eight subterranean sites within Thailand's Pang Mapha karst formation. It is believed that they only live within that formation, as it is unknown whether those caves are connected to ones elsewhere.

Like many cave dwellers, the Waterfall Climbing Cave Fish have adapted to their dark surroundings. They have no eyes, and their bodies lack all pigmentation. Because why waste valuable energy on sight and color when it is pitch black anyway? They live in fast moving underground water, and feed off of the small organisms that live within the cave (and they themselves are very small, only about 1in long).

The fish are listed as Vulnerable because they are very, very sensitive to water changes and disturbances within their environment. They also have a small range that happens to be popular with spelunking tourists, so humans could have a detrimental impact on the species as well. Overall they are very rare and are rarely seen.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Thailand
Size : Length up to 1in (2.5cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Cypriniformes
Family : Balitoridae -- Genus : Cryptotora -- Species : C. thamicola

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Degu

Octodon degus
For the last decade or so I've kept Degus, but that came to an end this weekend when my last girl passed away. For some reason I hadn't written about these neat little rodents before, so now seems like the fitting time to do it.

When people heard about my ownership of these animals, their first response was always "What the heck is a Degu?" And I don't really blame them. Before I stumbled upon the breeder of my first girl, I really didn't have a clue either. (Note, Don't impulse buy! I went home and read all about them before I made any decisions!)

Degus love to sleep in piles
Degus are small rodents that are native to central Chile, and they share a family with several species of Viscacha Rat. They are also relatives to Chinchillas and Guinea Pigs. The picture there doesn't do a whole lot of good, but they can grow up to a foot long, including the tail.

All Degus are incredibly social animals. In the wild they can live in huge community burrows, and in captivity they are best kept in multiples. They are diurnal and are exclusively herbivorous, browsing on seeds and leaves.

One of the most bizarre things about Degus is their diet. Due to evolving in an area without much access to sugar, Degus can not ingest dietary sugars without running a a huge risk of developing Diabetes. Captive Degus must be fed foods that are free of sugary treats, which was actually pretty difficult to do when I first started out with the species. Honey, Molasses, and Glucose Syrup are all commonly found in small animal pellets, though thankfully now there are a number of food manufacturers that create food specifically for a Degu's needs.

Due to their strange diet, and also to their intelligence, Degus have been used as lab animals in studies that deal with Diabetes, hand-eye coordination, and Circadian Rhythms. Their popularity as lab animals eventually led to their introduction into the pet industry, though they are still pretty rare and hard to find.

Degus are very intelligent, posses some great problem solving skills, and have unique personalities. Mine could recognize different people and voices, and had different attitudes towards certain snacks, being held, and their reactions to larger animals. (One actually took an interest in the cats and dogs she lived with, and would not be afraid to bark at them if they got too close to her cage)

They also have a lifespan that surpasses that of most small animals. 6-8 years is not uncommon, and some can live far longer that that! Degus do require that special diet that we talked about, and are suceptible to a handful of different diseases. They love to climb and stay active... and they also love to chew, so all cages should be large and have metal bottoms to them so that they don't escape. And, like Chinchillas, they need regular dust baths to keep their coats nice and clean.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Chile
Size : Length up to 12in (30cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Rodentia
Family : Octodontidae -- Genus : Octodon -- Species : O. degus

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sahamalaza Sportive Lemur

Lepilemur sahamalazensis
It amazes me sometimes that we are still only just discovering new species. And not just tiny little frogs and insects, but 2ft long Primates as well! Today animal, the Sahamalaza Sportive Lemur, was described for the first time in 2006! And it wasn't the only Lemur recently uncovered in the forests of Madagascar, it was actually one of fifteen!

The name of today's animal comes from the Sahamalaza Peninsula, the location in northwestern Madagascar where they live. Scientists aren't sure of their exact range and population size, but the Lemurs appear to be restricted to a small area and number somewhere in the low thousands. Observation has shown that they live alone or in pairs, and live a nocturnal lifestyle.

Like many Lemurs, the Sahamalaza Sportives are under pressure from hunting and habitat loss. They are particularly easy target for humans who want to do them harm, as they sleep in tree holes during the daytime and are relatively defenseless. Currently they are Data Deficient by the IUCN, but other agencies (including the Association EuropĂ©enne pour l’Etude et la Conservation des LĂ©muriens) are working to put protections in place for the species.

IUCN Status : Data Deficient
Location : Madagascar
Size : Length up to 21in (54cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Primates
Family : Lepilemuridae -- Genus : Lepilemur -- Species : L. sahamalazensis

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mohua

Mohoua ochrocephala
The Mohua, also known at the Yellowhead, is a small endangered bird that is endemic to the South Island of New Zealand.

Mohua is also similar to the name of their genus Mohoua, which they share with two other species, the Whitehead and Brown Creeper. They are insectivores that live in forested areas, typically feeding up in the trees. When it comes to reproduction, the females do all the incubating, but both parents spend a very long time caring for the chicks after they hatch.

Mohua were once incredibly common, but these once populous birds have seen a drastic decline in their population, as many New Zealand birds have. The culprits? Introduced rats and weasels. Those predators, combined with habitat loss, have caused a decline of around 75%.

A recovery plan is in place to protect the species, and it involves a whole lot of predator management. Luckily the Mohua breed very quickly and have large clutches, so it might be possible to restore them to their old numbers.

IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : New Zealand
Size : Body length around 6n (15cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Passeriformes
Family : Pachycephalidae -- Genus : Mohoua -- Species : M. ochrocephala

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Some Delightful Changes...

Did you know that the Caribbean
Flamingo was the 14th animal
that I ever wrote about?
For those that keep track, Animal A Day is less than two weeks away from it's 2 Year Anniversary. That's over 700 animals!

In celebration I've been making some updates to the different pages.

  • "About" was finally updated, which was long overdue. I finished graduate school almost a year ago :/
  • "Glossary" got a really wonderful and much needed overhaul. There are a couple dozen new terms, as well as pictures. Who doesn't like a Picture Dictionary?
  • "Bibliography" is now "Books & Movies" and I'll be adding in some new entries to that section soon.
  • "Follow" and "Suggestions" also got little tweaks... nothing major.


More changes coming up in the near future, as well as another Theme Week!

Leopard Lacewing

Cethosia cyane (Male, Top)
It's not too hard to figure out why the Leopard Lacewing has its name. The males of the species sport colorful orange wings with spotted patterns and a lace-like border around the edges. While the topside is vibrant, the undersides of the wings are even more boldly patterned with dots and bars.

Females maintain the same pattern as the males, but their colors are significantly more muted. Instead of bright yellows and oranges they have dull grays and whites.

Caterpillars are also brightly colored, and remind me a lot of Coral Snakes. They have bars of red, black, and yellow that run down the length of their bodies. The Caterpillars feed on plants within the Passiflora genus, and actually produce chemicals from the plant that help to defend against predators.

Male Underside of Wing
And where can one find these lovely looking Butterflies? Well, there original range was in India and southern China, but they have recently been spotted in the Malay Peninsula as well.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : South and Southeast Asia
Size : Body length around 18in (45cm)
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Insecta -- Order : Lepidoptera
Family : Nymphalidae -- Genus : Cethosia -- Species : C. cyane

Friday, April 13, 2012

Leopard Tortoise

Stigmochelys pardalis
The Leopard Tortoise, sometimes also referred to as the African Leopard Tortoise is a large, colorful species of reptile that can be found throughout the grassland and semi-arid regions of the African continent. They also happen to be popular in the pet industry.

What blows my mind about keeping these guys as pets is that they can grow to be over 2ft long! One typically thinks of pet reptiles as living in small little terrariums, but not these Tortoises! They are actually best kept in large outdoor pens in very warm, dry areas. And have I mentioned that they can live more than 50 years? That is a lifetime pet commitment right there!

While we're discussing size, I should also note that these are the fourth largest Tortoises in the entire world, and can weigh more than 50lbs. Surprisingly, even with all that weight, Leopard Tortoises are pretty good at getting around. They have small claws on their front feet that give them good maneuverability over bumpy terrain, and young Tortoises have even been observed making vertical climbs!

Leopard Tortoises are not listed by the IUCN, but pet industry demands have affected their wild numbers in some areas. It has been illegal to import them into the United States since 2000, which is definitely a good thing. Wild-caught Leopard Tortoises do not adjust well in captivity, carry several different parasites, and those that live often need a substantial amount of rehabilitation. Thankfully there are now captive breeders to supply those who feel that a giant long-lived Tortoise is the right pet for them.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Africa
Size : Body length around 18in (45cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Testudines
Family : Testudinidae -- Genus : Stigmochelys -- Species : S. pardalis

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Swallow-tailed Gull

Creagrus furcatus
Where I live we have heaps of Seagulls, Canadian Geese, and Pigeons. They're everywhere to the point that most people don't consider them to be especially remarkable. But of course, every animal is awesome in their own way, and even if you disagree, they still probably have really cool cousins (like every single Pigeon from New Guinea).

Case in point- today's animal, the Swallow-tailed Gull. This Seagull is found only on the Galapagos Islands, and it is unusual and unique among all of the Gulls because of its feeding habits.

Most Seagulls feed during the daytime, but not the Swallow-tailed Gull! They forage nocturnally for fish and squid. Because they hunt at night, they avoid being the victims of Kleptoparasitism (one of my favorite words!) Other Seabirds, like Frigatebirds, will steal food from hunting Gulls. Swallow-tailed Gulls don't have this issue, as the Frigatebirds practice their piracy during the daytime. The Gulls have even adapted eyes that allow them to see better in the dark.

Swallow-tailed Gulls live in very large seaside colonies, and they even build their nests on the cliff using twigs, corals, and even sea urchins to build their nests. They only lay one egg each season, which is also a relatively unique trait among Gulls, and both parents incubate and feed the chick until it leaves the nest 3-4 months later. Breeding pairs often stay together year after year.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Galapagos Islands
Size : Body length up to 22in (56cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Charadriiformes
Family : Laridae -- Genus : Creagrus -- Species : C. furcatus

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hoatzin

Opisthocomus hoazin
Meet the Hoatzin, a bird that can be found near bodies of water throughout northern South America. Hoatzins are... well... kind of weird. Mostly because of what they look like as chicks. Oh, and the fact that they are so genetically distinct from other birds that they have their own entire taxonomic Order.

Hoatzins are about the size of a chicken and sport a very small head with a crest, very long wings, and a long tail. Added to the list of their weird traits is their digestive tract. They actually have enlarged crops in their throat that allow them to break down food via bacterial fermentation. But... it makes them stink like garbage. The stink is actually beenficial to the birds, as it tends to keep some predators away.

But lets get back to what they look like as chicks, shall we? When they are born, newly hatched Hoatzins actually have tiny claws on their wings. These claws help them to avoid predators before they are able to fly. Young Hoatzins will jump out of their nests into the water (adults can't swim) and then use those claws to climb back into their nest when the danger has passed.

For a long time scientists have been trying to figure out what Hoatzins are, and they have previously placed them within a whole mess of different bird orders. Genetic testing only made things more confusing when it showed that none of the relationships were especially close, resulting in the Hoatzins getting their own unique Order.

Hoatzins are not currently a threatened species because they have a large range and are relatively common. They are generally left alone by humans, due to the fact that they smell really bad. (Their meat apparently tastes pretty bad too!)

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : South America
Size : Body length up to 26in (66cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Opisthocomiformes
Family : Opisthocomidae -- Genus : Opisthocomus -- Species : O. hoazin

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

White-Faced Saki

Pithecia pithecia (male)
The White-Faced Saki is one of the handful of Saki monkey species. They are all New World Monkeys, meaning that they live in the Americas. Today's animal in particular has a range that covers parts of Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

The white face of the White-Faced Saki is found only on the males. In fact, there is a pretty striking different between the sexes. Males are a shiny black with a prominent white face. Females are brown all over, with only a small trace of lightness on the face. Both sexes have shaggy coats. Infants are born brown, and if male will begin to change color when they are around 2 months old.

White-Faced Sakis live in small family groups, and mated pairs are typically monogamous for life. The Monkeys communicate by making incredibly loud calls that can be heard from long distances away.

The Sakis live up in the trees, and have very long legs that are adapted for jumping downwards across branches. They forage for fruits, leaves, seeds, and honey during the daytime hours. Though they will occasionally consume insects, birds, and small mammals, they are primarily herbivores.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : South America
Size : Body length up to 19in (45cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Primates
Family : Pitheciidae -- Genus : Pithecia -- Species : P. pithecia

Monday, April 9, 2012

Namaqua Dove

Oena capensis (male)
The Namaqua Dove is a small member of the pigeon family that can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa and also on the Arabian Peninsula. Both males and females sport one of those long tails, but only the males have the black face with its red and yellow beak. Females have grey faces and dark bills.

The social structure of the Namaqua Doves is far from uniform. Most live alone or in pairs, but others congregate is huge flocks near bodies of water. Some remain in a single territory year round, while others wander a larger range, or migrate seasonally. It all seems to depend on the location the birds live in, and the amount of rainfall that happens.

The breeding season for these birds is also highly variable. Some populations breed int eh spring, while others do it year round. Male Doves will pursue the females on the ground by doing head bobs and giving out different calls. They will also advertise their availability by singing from tree perches and performing different aerial displays. Once mated the pair remains monogamous, and both parents will incubate and feed their young.  These birds feed on very small seeds, though sometimes they will also forage for insects.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : Africa and the Middle East
Size : Body length up to 9in (22cm)
Classification :Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Columbiformes
Family : Columbidae -- Genus : Oena -- Species : O. capensis

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Flickr

I've got an all new Flickr page going, which is infinitely better organized than the old one, and actually has Pro status, so I can' upload much more!

Anyway, if you want to check out all the different Animal-related pictures I've been taking, head on over to
http://www.flickr.com/photos/66756051@N07/

Bateleur

Terathopius ecaudatus
The Bateleur is a medium-sized Eagle that can be found throughout the open Savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa. Its name actually comes from a French term for a tightrope walker or acrobat. It is a pretty accurate name when you think of the the aerial displays of these birds. During courtship they perform incredibly acrobatic flights, sometimes doing full somersaults!

This Eagle is the only species in its genus, but what a colorful species it is! Dark bodies with grey wings, chestnut coloration on the back, and bright red feet and beaks with just a splash of yellow. Males and females look alike, except for the fact that females have grey flight feathers, while the males have black.

Bateleurs hunt over huge areas of land. In a single day they can cover more than 200 miles! They hunt by flying around 150ft above the ground, and then sweeping down on their prey in a spiral motion. They eat all sorts of things, ranging from other birds, to small mammals, to even young Antelope. They also feed on carrion.

Though they have a very large range, Bateleurs are listed as Near Threatened due to habitat loss, pesticides, and hunting.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : Africa
Size : Body length up to 28in(71cm), Wingspan up to 6ft(1.8m)
Classification :Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Falconiformes
Family : Accipitridae -- Genus : Terathopius -- Species : T. ecaudatus

Saturday, April 7, 2012

White Crested Laughing Thrush

Yesterday, on yet another jaunt to the zoo (memberships are the best!) I happened upon two little birds absolutely making a toddler's day. She would laugh, they would sing back. Over and over. It was pretty cute. Anyway, the birds in question were White Crested Laughing Thrushes, who I confess I have often overlooked on my visits. They share a habitat with the Victoria Crowned Pigeon, and I just love that pudgy turquoise monster.

White Crested Laughing Thrushes are found in south and southeast Asia, and they are incredibly common. They have large white crests, black bars across the eyes, and reddish brown bodies. I am now kicking myself for not recording their call, but to call it laughing would be pretty spot on. This website also has some examples of their interesting music.

Members of the species are very social, and they live in extended family groups that forage together year round. The birds feed on seeds, fruits, and insects, and males and females form strong mated pairs that share incubation and feeding duties.

The population does appear to be on the decline, but not at a rate sufficient enough to be of any major concern.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Asia
Size : Body length up to 8in (20cm)
Classification :Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Passeriformes
Family : Timaliidae -- Genus : Garrulax -- Species : G. leucolophus

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gray Tree Frog

Hyla versicolor
Though the common name identifies this species as the Gray Tree Frog, the scientific name is a bit more accurate. Hyla versicolor alludes to the fact that these frogs can actually change color- their skin can slowly change to match their surroundings, moving from gray to green to white to brown to black! They also sport some vibrant yellow patches under their hind legs, though they are difficult to see unless the frogs are in mid-leap.

Gray Tree Frogs can be found in the eastern United States and in southern Canada. They are relatively small compared to other species in that range. As their name suggests, they live up in the trees. Breeding is pretty much the only activity that motivates them to leave their tree.

If you live in their range, you may have heard their calls! On warm nights during the breeding season the males produce very loud buzzing trills. These calls are made while the males are hiding in vegetation near bodies of water. Females are attracted to these sounds, will enter a male's territory, mate, and then lay her eggs in the nearby water. Calling rarely occurs outside of the breeding season.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North America
Size : Body length up to 2in (5cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Amphibia -- Order : Anura
Family : Hylidae -- Genus : Hyla Species : H. versicolor

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Prognathodon

Prognathodon waiparensis
Prognathodon is a genus of nine extinct lizard species. This genus resides in the Mosasaur family and they lived during the late Cretaceous, ultimately going extinct around 65 million years ago.

Prognathodons lived in oceans around the world, and their fossils have been found in Europe, North America, Africa, and New Zealand. They were absolutely gigantic ocean predators, with some measuring as large as 30ft! We know that Prognathodons lived in deep water, since they had bony protrusions around their eye sockets. This anatomical feature helps sea creatures to withstand higher pressures far below the surface.

The name "Prognathodon" means forejaw tooth, and these marine reptiles certainly had large, powerful teeth and incredibly strong jaw muscles. Prognathodons used their huge, strong mouths to crush the shells of different animals like Turtles and Ammonites. One recently discovered fossil actually included stomach contents!

Status : Extinct for 65 million years
Location : Oceans worldwide
Size : Length up to 30ft (9.1m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Squamata
Family : Mosasauridae -- Genus : Prognathodon

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dorcas Gazelle

Gazella dorcas
The Dorcas Gazalle is a small, desert dwelling species of antelope that can be found in North Africa and the Middle East. There are about half a dozen located-based subspecies, including the Moroccan Dorcas Gazelle and the Israeli Isabella's Gazelle.

Dorcas Gazelles thrive in the desert thanks to some great adaptations. They never have to drink actual water, since they can derive all of their needed moisture from the plants that they eat. They also can withstand extreme temperatures and derive their social habits from the harshness of the conditions. When the conditions are rough they tend to live in small groups where there is less competition, but when things are better they will often form small herds consisting of a male, several females, and their offspring.

Males can become incredibly territorial during the mating season, and they mark off their land by creating dung piles. Gestation lasts around 6 months, and typically only one fawn is born at a time. These newborns are very well developed and are able to stand within an hour. Fawns will spend their first few weeks of life hiding out in bushes while their mothers graze. After two weeks they are strong enough to follow their mothers more actively, and they are fulling weaned by three months.

Dorcas Gazelles are currently listed as Vulnerable. Though the species on the whole is widespread, several of the subspecies are becoming rare and threatened due to illegal hunting and habitat loss. Conservation efforts include protection within designated reserves and captive breeding programs.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : North Africa and the Middle East
Size : Height up to 2ft (.6m), Weight up to 45lbs (20kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Bovidae -- Genus : Gazella -- Species : G. dorcas

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Priscacara

Priscacara liops
Priscacara is the name of a now extinct genus of fish that was once abundant over 50 million years ago. Three separate species have been uncovered in fossil form, all within the Green River Formation in the state of Wyoming.

The Green River Formation is a pretty remarkable area, in that it has wonderfully preserved dozens of different early Eocene species. Aside from the Priscacara fish, snakes, crocodiles, birds, and numerous plants have all been found in the Formation.

The three species of Priscacara are actually related to modern Perch, and belong to the same family. They range in size from a few inches to just over a foot, and had round bodies with lower jaws that protruded outwards in order to grab small invertebrates from lake and river bottoms.

Fossils of the Priscacara species are quite common despite their age, and are often sold to collectors for only a few hundred dollars.

Status : Extinct for around 50 million years
Location : Fossils found in Wyoming
Size : Length up to 13in (33cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Perciformes
Family : Percidae -- Genus : Priscacara

Monday, April 2, 2012

Steller's Eider

Male Polysticta stelleri
Hey look! Another Steller's animal! I think we're almost through all of them... Sea Cow, Sea Eagle, Sea Lion... and now an Eider.

Eiders are Sea Ducks, and there are four different species (Steller's Eider actually belongs to a separate genus from the other three). Today's animal is actually the smallest of the Eiders, measuring only around 18in in length. Males and females have different coloration- Males have white heads, light coloring on their sides and wings, and black barring. Females are more uniformly dark brown.

Steller's Eiders live in the Arctic, and are actually less tied to sea than others of their type. They tend to nest on the tundra near smaller bodies of water, and travel in very large flocks that can easily number into the thousands. Steller's Eiders are a migratory species. They breed further north in the summer, and then travel as far as 2,000miles to their southern wintering and molting grounds.

Unfortunately, Steller's Eiders are listed as Vulnerable. Habitat loss, climate change, hunting, and pollution are all factors have all contributed to their decline. They are protected in Russia and the United States, and captive breeding programs are underway.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Arctic
Size : Length around 18in (45cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae -- Genus : Polysticta -- Species : P. stelleri
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