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The Nictitating Membrane: The Third Eyelid

Monday, 29 May 2017

From these photographs you could easily imagine that the animal kingdom had suddenly been enveloped in its own zombie apocalypse.  Yet these pictures do not feature the Squawking Dead. Thanks to high speed photography, these pictures capture the nictitating membrane in action. It is also known as the third eyelid, haw and the inner eyelid. It is drawn across the eye to protect and moisturize it while retaining visibility.

Surf City Surf Dogs Catch the Waves

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Dogs are like people in some respects.  Many are homebodies and prefer their creature comforts.  Others prefer to be a little more adventurous. Although not a species renowned for its participation in extreme sports there is a cross section of the canine community which likes nothing better than to take to the waves – on surf boards.

Now in its fifth year the Surf City Surf Dog event, held in Huntington Beach, California brings together over forty surf fans together with their human companions who are there to ensure that all the fun is safe for the surfer dogs.  This fund-raising event helps to raise awareness of various dog related causes, including animal rescue and medical care.

Barn Owls: The Secret Saviors of Napa Valley’s Vineyards


Did you know that there are hundreds of owl boxes dotted around the vineyards of the Napa Valley in California?  This video takes a visit there, thanks to biologist Carrie Wendt and Great Big Story.  Amazingly, without the owls the rodent population around the vineyards would explode and that would mean less wine for us!  So, next time you’re sipping a wine from the Napa Valley, spare a thought for the barn owls that helped it get to your table!

The Darth Vader Ant with Superhero Gliding Skills

Monday, 1 May 2017

Big head
Their skills eluded observation until early this century, but you can add another animal on to the list of those who have developed the ability to glide.  Joining snakes, squirrels, frogs and lizards with those superhero-like gliding skills is a species of ant. 

And what an Ant!  The Darth Vader of the insect world, Cephalotes atratus, inhabits the canopy of the tropical forest systems of Central and South America.  That’s a long way up and if an ant was to fall it would lead to almost certain death on the floor of the forest.  Either that or a trip that would make The Incredible Journey look like a walk in the park, but one which would probably be impossible due to the lack of chemical trails to guide the ant back home.

Please Help Keep Ark in Space Online!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

You may or may not know this but Ark in Space is curated by just one person – and that person would be me! There are a number of expenses that the site incurs each month and so, with my cap in my hand, I’m going to beg a favor.

If you enjoy Ark in Space, please consider helping out with the cost of running the site.  As you can guess, it takes a lot of time and effort, too!

Below this post you will see a button which will enable you to make a contribution safely and securely. You can give as little or as much as you like – I’m not going to limit your choices! Anything will be gratefully received and will help to ensure that I can carry on bringing you all the great features, photographs and videos about the natural world that makes the site what it is.

So, if you read or watch something that you have really enjoyed, please think about sending us a small donation. Thanks!

Best regards

Robert-John


PS: The donation page is set to US dollars as that is where we get most of our traffic from. So, if you are outside the USA please remember to calculate the amount from your currency first!

Image Credit

The Southern Cassowary - The Most Dangerous Bird on Earth

Ask a ten year old what the largest bird in the world is and the chances are you will get the right answer – the ostrich. Asked about the second largest and the odds are still very good that they will be able to name the Emu. Go for third place in the size league and you may well start to get blank looks from all but the keenest young ornithologist. The answer is the Cassowary – and not only is it endangered but is also classified as the world’s most dangerous bird.

Colors I

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


Alessandro Carillo started shooting this short film in March when the parks are relatively free of people and the first signs of spring begin to appear in London. Here you can experience the first flowers, the first hungry insects and just the general joy of spring through his wonderful photography.

The parks of London have never looked so beautiful as here and the film is infused with marvelous colors and moving bokeh which lends a certain romanticism to it – you would hardly think it was shot in one of the busiest cities in the world.

The Ducklings of Spring

There is an old saying that no matter how long the winter lasts the spring is sure to follow.  With the spring comes new life – a new generation takes its first tentative steps in to the world.  Although people associate spring with many animals there is surely something about the sight of ducklings which lifts the heart and puts a hopeful smile on the face. So here they come, the ducklings of spring! And yes, perhaps it is just a reason for a cute fest!

Spring is nature's way of saying, Let's party!  ~Robin Williams 

Galapagos Sea Life


When people think of the Galapagos their mind almost certainly picture the strange and unusual animals of the islands – the ones which live on them rather than in the sea around them.   

Here, however, Darek Sepiolo has put together some remarkable footage of the animal life in the sea around the Galapagos islands.

It is, quite simply, a work of art.   I was utterly mesemerised by this video.

You can completely lose yourself looking at these amazing example of sea life, including rays, sharks, turtles, sea lions, penguins, and even a whale shark.  Very cool.

Sea Lion Ballet

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Watch the underwater ballet of playful sea lions on Anacapa Island in Southern California. These graceful creatures twist, turn, glide, dive and contort their bodies in all sorts of positions. Just as curious of us as we are of them, these sea lions love to approach divers - locking in eye contact, blowing out bubbles, and also barking - a very odd sound to hear underwater!

Part of the Channel Islands National Park, Anacapa is located eleven miles off the coast of Southern California. This trip was operated by EcoDivers on the Spectre dive boat - and this very cool video was created by Scott McFarlane.

Breaking the Rules: Pollen Thieves!


This is a pretty amazing animation which shows that nature was many millions of years ahead of us when it comes to some traits that we consider human.  In this case, it is theft.  Some plants have evolved so that a particular insect can take its pollen from it flowers and so further the species.  However, there are a number of species out there who pay little or no attention to the ‘wishes’ of the flower.  They sense pollen and they want it!

What do they do? They grab hold of the flower and rip it open, so gaining access to the corolla tube and then they access the precious nectar from there. However, sometimes their act of desecration will still result in pollination, as this amazing video shows.  Breaking the Rules was created by Divulagare.

The Pygmy Goat - Not So Gruff

Who is the gruff looking buck above? There is something familiar about him but this is no standard goat, no sir. This is the pygmy version and as is a cousin of the variety we generally picture when the animal comes up in conversation. Welcome to the world of the pygmy goat.

The Kermode Bear: Spirit Bear of British Columbia

Saturday, 11 March 2017

This is not a polar bear which has decided to migrate to warmer climes.

This is a remarkable sub-species of the North American Black Bear. It is the Kermode Bearr - also known as the spirit bear.

Living along the shorelines and central interior of British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, around ten percent of Kermode bears have white or creamy coats. They are revered among the native peoples of the province.

Pronounced kerr-MOH-dee, the lighter Kermode bears are not albinos. They appear much brighter than most of the population because of recessive alleles.

This rare genetic trait doesn’t hold them back either – the paler bears are better fishers than their brown counterparts. It is thought this is because the fish cannot perceive the threat from above due to their coloring. A brown bear might stand out more against the clouds – that much is true.

The Wolf Eel: The Old Man of the Sea

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Picture one of those double-take moments when you have to look again in a mixture of curiosity and alarm. Then imagine that you are thirty meters underwater when that happens. Over the years, divers off the coast of California have had many such moments when they suddenly come across the huge face of an old man peering at them from the rocky reefs below. Yet this is not anything approaching a subaquatic nightmare: it is the face of an extraordinary creature, the wolf eel.

The Swimming Pigs of the Bahamas

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Exuma, a district in the Bahamas is stunningly beautiful.  It consists of almost four hundred small islands, positioned languidly along 250 miles of the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba.  Many of the islands are uninhabited.  Yet one of them, Big Major Cay has a population that might surprise you.  There are pigs on the island and when they are not doing their best impression of beach bums they take to the water.  These are the swimming pigs of the Bahamas.

Many people dream of the Bahamas as their ultimate holiday destination.  For these lucky pigs, however, what was probably intended only as a brief prelude to their place on the dinner table has become a life of lazy leisure.  When they are not enjoying the beach they take to the water to retrieve food thrown from passing yachts.  They may not qualify for the next Olympic games but they know how to do a rather graceful piggy paddle.

Wildlife in Highspeed

Sunday, 5 February 2017


This is one of those videos that, when it ends, you sit there for a few seconds just willing there to be more…  Created by director and cinematographer Alan Nogues, Wildlife in Highspeed focuses in on the wildlife of New Caledonia, a French territory consisting of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific.  So many of these moments would be over in the blink of an eye: however, Nogues’ ability to capture them at 1000 frames per seconds ensures that we get to savor them.

The Bizarre Hammerhead Worm: Substrate Predator Extraordinaire

Some people just don’t like worms despite the fact that their usefulness to humanity is long established and recorded.  Worms aerate the soil, break down organic matter and even excrete fantastic fertilizer. Yet still they are hated: if accidentally picked up they are flung away with Olympian exuberance, often with ear-shattering shrieks as accompaniment. What, then, would those haters make of this, the bizarre hammerhead worm?  Prepare to meet a strange beast indeed – not to mention one of the messiest eaters on the planet.

Strictly speaking, the hammerhead is a flatworm. They come in many species not to mention shapes and sizes but all have one thing in common – they are immensely predatory (but more of that later).  They belong to a family called the Geoplanidae which are commonly known as land planarians.

Maleo - The Bird That Can Fly The Moment it Hatches

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Beneath the red hot sand of an Indonesian island something stirs.  A large egg is hatching and soon the newborn creature will dig its way out to the surface and take its first gulps of fresh air.  Yet no parent watches over it. This sounds as if it should be a young turtle, thrusting its flippers sideways as it makes its desperate lurch towards the ocean.  It is not, however. This is a bird.  More remarkable still is that when it emerges the chick will already be able to fly.

The Maleo is a surprising bird.  Although it only numbers around ten thousand in the wild – and close to zero in captivity – it is remarkable amongst our feathered friends for the unique way it cares for its young.  Instead of incubating their eggs, the Maleos lay theirs in the baking sand of Sulawesi island – the only place in the world in which they can be found in the wild.  It sounds like an April Fool trick, but be assured, this bird is very much alive and kicking.  Whether it will be around in another fifty years, however, is altogether a different question.

The Monkeys of Gibraltar


The rock of Gibraltar is shared between two primate species: people and monkeys. The Barbary Macaques (the only wild monkey population in Europe) came to live on the upper rock long before the latest human inhabitants, the British, arrived, and now, 300 years on, there are tensions between the two. Attempts to expel the monkeys from the town with peashooters are in vain, as the animals rise to the challenges of the new game. This leads the government to resort to more drastic tactics.

The Rise of the Common Crane Migration


During the 18th and 19th century the Common Crane almost disappeared from Western Europe. We drained their wetland habitats and hunted them. But right now over 300.000 Common Cranes migrate each year from their breading habitats in Scandinavia to Southern Spain.   The numbers rise each year too – but as you will discover from this wonderful short by Tim Visser Creations, although we helped to restore the number of cranes to their former heights, it was purely accidental conservation.

Amung Feedjit