Saturday, 19 July 2014

Dragonfly: Award Winning Documentary

If you have ever gawped at the sight of a dragonfly whizzing past you in all its colorful aerodynamic glory, then you will enjoy this film immensely. It has some of the best macrophotography of the dragonfly in all its stages that I have ever seen. Plus it answers all the questions you might have about the life cycle of this ancient creature which has survived virtually unchanged for millions of years.

However, the part that I found most fascinating was the part of the film which describes how dragonflies live most of their lives as nymphs and that a number of different species can live side by side during this stage (even though they don’t mind the off foray in to cannibalism).

One thing I certainly did not know is that during this period of their lives they have a lower jaw which they can extend suddenly and swiftly, like a hydraulic ramp, to catch prey that would otherwise be just out of their reach. It is quite a sight.

The amazing facts about dragonflies do not stop there and after they come in to their brief adult phase each species seems to have its own interesting variation on the mating game. The documentary takes us throughout the year to the inevitable demise of the adults. However, below the placid waters of British ponds a vicious fight for survival continues.

Created by Andy Holt of Wild Life Lens, Dragonfly has been awarded Best Documentary at the BIAFF (British International Amateur Film Festival) 2014 Film Festival.

The Wildlife of Madagascar

Madagascar is an amazing place and here Lance Featherstone has captured its wildlife wonderfully. I don’t know about you but sometimes music can enhance a video about the natural world but most of the time I find it a distraction.  However, what Lance has decided to do here is to keep the natural sound of the rainforest as the backdrop to his film.  It works beautifully and one is left with a sense of the peace of the place.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Extreme Crest Feathers: 10 Reasons Why Crest is Best

Many species of birds possess crest feathers and this feature dates back to the age of the dinosaur: the fossil record indicates that a number of species had feathers on their heads.  You might think that they are for display purposes – and you would not be wrong although their function is sometimes more complex than that.  However, some birds take this avian attribute to the extreme. The results are striking and beautiful.  We present the Ark in Space’s Top Ten Crest Feathered Birds.

10 - The White-Crested Helmetshrike
Over to Africa where we find the White-crested helmetshrike – the name says it all really.  What makes this bird even more striking is the vivid yellow periophthalmic ring (the protective circle of bare skin) around its eye.  It is a very sociable bird and moves around in small social groups.  You can always tell when you are close to a party of WCHs – they chat to each other very noisily.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Life of the Long Ears

They are not exotic. They are hardly rare. Yet there is no more joyous a sight than watching a group of hares bound around a field for no other reason, apparently, than they can and so, by heaven, they will.  Watch this wonderful video by Ben and take in this jubilant exhibition. 

Yet, like the hare, don’t get too comfortable.  Danger lurks around every corner.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Ant-Mimicking Treehopper

Take a look at the picture of an ant, above. Yet, this is not a photograph of an ant: it isn’t even a photograph of an ant attacking an insect.  It is in fact the ant-mimicking treehopper (Cyphonia clavata) which keeps itself safe from predators by pretending to be an ant.  What looks like an ant here is actually extension growths on its body - which most other insect species are incapable of creating.

The plan is that any predator looking down will only see what looks like an ant.  The rest of the treehopper’s body will blend in with the foliage. What seems, at first, strange is that the body of the ant is positioned backwards on that of the treehopper. Take a look at the abdomen of the ant and you will see the tiny green eyes of the treehopper.  Why is this?  It is because when it is in defensive mode an ant will move backwards.  In this way, the ant-mimicking treehopper (which can be found in in Middle and South America) has, in fact, got this right too.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Komodo: Rolling in the Deep

Mention the name Komodo and most people would associate it with the home of the largest lizard on the planet.  Yet this fascinating and mysterious island has a reef, here captured by Dustin Adamson.  It is a place teeming with life and here the footage is shot wide so you can get a truly panoramic impression of this undersea universe.  Go grab your beverage of choice, sit back, relax and let the beauty roll over you. 

Bullfrogs in Slow Motion

During a torrential downpour at Robert Frost Farm in the American state of New Hampshire, Michael N Sutton ventured into the forest which hides a frog pond and decided to film Bullfrogs in slowmo using his Photron Fastcam BC2 HD camera.  Maybe not your average choice in a rainstorm but the result is mesmerizing.  The footage captures the gymnastic prowess of the frogs perfectly.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Nictitating Membrane: The Third Eyelid

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.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

How is Frostie the Snow Goat Doing?

A month ago we shared the story of Frostie the Snow Goat with you.  Among a number of general nasties that the kid was suffering from, he also had a condition called joint navel ill. This is an incredibly nasty infection which enters the body via the umbilical cord soon after birth.

Frostie quickly took the internet by storm and captured the hearts of many. So, now, after a month it is time to ask how Frostie is doing.  Has Frostie recovered? As you can see from the video above there is still some way to go but the sight of him gamboling around (a little totter here, a little totter there) is a joy to behold.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Eye to Eye with a Manta Ray

The manta ray has fascinated people for centuries. Yet we usually encounter them as they glide magnificently through the oceans.  A luck few will get to see them break the surface and leap in to the air.  For many people, however, the only time they will encounter a manta ray is in an aquarium.  It is then that the inquisitive rays will show their faces, as it were.  The result is quite extraordinary.

However, the physiology of the manta ray (rays in general in fact) has led to some confusion – often people think that they are being ‘eye-balled’ by a ray.  The youngster in the picture above quite possibly believes that the ray in the pool is exchanging glances with him.  Yet if you look at the first picture again you will see that the eyes are above these openings. These things that look like eyes are in fact something else altogether.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Frogs that Carry Their Tadpoles on Their Backs

You are probably well aware of the life cycle of most frogs. They lay their eggs in water and when the tadpoles hatch they are on their own with no parental intervention. The lucky few will develop through this larval stage in to frogs. Yet there are a few South American species, such as the Mimic poison frog (above) which do things a little differently. They carry their tadpoles about on their backs.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Vampire Deer

Do you see something a little strange about the deer in the picture? If your eyes were immediately drawn to those rather vampiric fangs protruding from its mouth, then your next thought might have been that this must be some sort of freak of nature, an accident of birth.  That isn’t how deers come, is it?  For the Water Deer, otherwise and popularly known as the Vampire Deer the answer is in the affirmative.

Let’s give the animal its proper name.  This is the Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis) and it is one of two subspecies (the other being the Korean variety) which have prominent tusks, downward-pointing canine teeth which make it look as if it’s had a run in with a Nosferatu type who has suddenly acquired the ability to ‘turn’ mammals other than humans.  This feature makes the subspecies unique – they are the only two members of the genus Hydropotes.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Making Friends with Tiger Sharks

I honestly didn’t think this was possible but here is the proof in front of my eyes – and this may well change the way that you look at sharks forever.

Diver Eli Martinez can be seen here diving with tiger sharks and interacting with them in what only can be described as a very friendly manner.

He strokes and caresses the sharks, almost as if they were dogs they he is encountering at the local park in this video shot by Armando Gasse in the Bahamas. It is an amazing sight and something which probably confounds a lot of expectations about sharks in general.  After all, thanks to a certain movie, many people believe that if you hold your hand out to a shark it will bite it off.

Yet before you book your plane tickets and rent out the diving equipment, I should add one or two words.  Martinez (who is also the editor of Shark Diver Magazine) has not simply jumped in to the ocean and struck up a friendship with some passing tiger sharks.  He has known these individuals for years.

Here are the facts in his own words: "Despite this looking easy and relaxed, it is only because I have been working with these same sharks for years, so I know them well. The tiger shark is a shark named Hook, and the lemon is a shark I named Taxi. The relationship is based on trust and respect, and I never forget that these are wild sharks, so I never get too comfortable. I always remember where I am, and what I am doing. So please watch this video as I hope it shows these amazing animals as they really are...beautiful, and intelligent, and amazing animals.”

It must be quite a thing to be able to say that you are first name terms with sharks.  Below is another video of Mr Martinez on another one of his visits to Tiger Beach where he again gets to interact with a number of his friends.  Among them are sharks he has named Taxi, Scratch, Cindy and Hook. They truly are ambassadors for their species.

The Red and White Giant Flying Squirrel Takes to the Air

You might have thought that there was only one species of giant squirrel.  In fact, there are 44 in the tribe and the largest is the Red and White Giant Flying Squirrel (Petaurista alborufus).

It is found in the forests of China and Taiwan and, boy, can it fly.  Strictly speaking it glides, but as you can see from the video above it is extraordinarily good at that.  It launches itself in to space and then seems to float effortlessly through the trees to its destination.  As you can imagine they are very difficult to film!

The flight is – admittedly – awesome but what many find equally striking about the Red and White Giant Flying Squirrel are its piercing blue eyes.

This incredible species inhabits the dense montane forests and limestone cliffs of China.  It is distributed widely in the country and is not in any danger of extinction.  In Taiwan they inhabit the island’s hardwood and conifer forests, nesting high in tree hollows.

They have small litters of only one or two infants and feed on a variety of nuts, fruit and vegetation.  They will also eat insects and larvae and have been spotted occasionally raiding bird nests for eggs when times are a little frugal.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Amazing Pygmy Seahorse: Now You See Me…

The seahorse has been known to us for thousands of years: the ancient Romans created beautiful mosaics celebrating their shape and grace. Yet a number of species escaped our attention until the 1970s – and then it took till the twenty first century to name six of the seven previously hidden kinds. Why did they elude us for so long? Firstly their size – they are tiny. Yet it is their amazing camouflage which really allowed them to remain concealed for so long.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Frostie the Snow Goat

Frostie has been taking the internet by storm, to say the least. 

He was recently taken in by Edgar’s Mission a farm sanctuary in Willowmavin, Kilmore, in the state of Victoria, Australia.

When young Frostie was taken in he had the worst case of lice that the folks at the farm have ever seen.  He was severely dehydrated too.  Yet these two conditions could be dealt with quite easily.

Frostie also had something far more serious. 

He also had a condition called joint navel ill an incredibly nasty infection which enters the body via the umbilical cord soon after birth.

The bacteria had spread through Frostie and had made its home in the joints of his hind limbs.  This meant that the little guy could not work – and his body was full of horrible toxins.

In order to flush them out he was pumped with antibiotics but a way had to be found to help the blood circulate.

As you can see, necessity is the mother of invention and this remarkable wheeled contraption now helps the wheelie kid get about.

He was soon ready for a big adventure!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Peacocks in Flight: It’s Quite the Sight

You may have been lucky enough to have encountered a peacock or two in your time.  If you are like me then these beautiful, iridescent birds stop will stop you in your tracks.  Yet few people have seen one take to the air – and many assume that the three species are flightless.  Although the sheer mass of feathers precludes any avian marathon, they can and do take flight, normally to get to their chosen spot for the evening.  It may be a roof or a tree, but somewhere safe from most predators.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Sausage Thief

An important part of every dog’s training is learning how to wait.  Here three dogs are being taught to wait until they are told they can have their treat – a cold sausage.

The dogs patiently wait until permission is given – but what happens next will have you laughing out loud.  Little Elmo, a Staffy and Chihuahua mix isn’t happy with his allotment.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Humpback Whale Performs Amazing Act of Appreciation After Being Freed From Nets

Michael Fishback and his family visit the Sea of Cortez, photographing whales to track them and observe their behaviors.

However, on one of their trips they had the opportunity to help save a trapped humpback whale.   They took this incredible footage which shows you exactly what happened.

The young whale at first appeared to be dead.  The group floated next to it for a few minutes and saw no signs of life until it exhaled.  Michael eased in to the water to assess the situation and found that the whale was terribly tangled in fishing net.

Both pectoral fins were pinned to its body and it looked as if the whale would probably die unless something was done soon – and there was no time to waste.  When you watch this amazing film you will see what happens next – and this time it is a happy ending.  Once the whale is free though, it does something amazing – it shows its appreciation of the family and their endeavors to save him by giving them a show they will never forget.

The Raspberry Rabbit

This isn’t a long video but we felt that we had to share. One little rabbit has a taste for raspberries so when he is presented with one he tucks right in. However, the juices flow and he ends up looking as if he is wearing lipstick – some kind of drag act bunny perhaps? This may only last about thirty seconds but we thought it might make it up to those of you who say that this site spends too long focusing on the grisly and the gruesome!

Amung Feedjit