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Peacocks in Flight: It’s Quite the Sight

Sunday, 25 June 2017

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.

Wings of Life - Monarch Butterflies


Watch thousands of monarch butterflies as they migrate to Mexico. From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzee, comes Wings Of Life -- a stunning adventure full of intrigue, drama and mesmerizing beauty. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this intimate and unprecedented look at butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers is a celebration of life, as a third of the world's food supply depends on these incredible -- and increasingly threatened -- creatures. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg, Wings of Life utilizes riveting high-speed, closer-than-close filmmaking techniques to showcase in spectacular detail these unsung heroes of our planet.

When Caimans Collide


About 10 million individual yacare caimans exist within the Brazilian pantanal, representing what is quite possibly the largest single crocodilian population on Earth.  Every year as the summer progresses aggregate in small bays that get smaller day after day. It is a very difficult period and there are many fights over territory. When the water runs out, the caimans reduce they metabolism and remain buried under the mud, waiting for the upcoming rains. Those who survive, begin the mating season, where males perform a real water dance, vibrating their bodies to attract females, and enjoy the abundance of fish brought by the waters returning to flood the Pantanal.  The Director of Photography of this exquisite look at a little known species of caiman was Cristian Dimitrius.

An Alphabet of Animals

Sunday, 18 June 2017

We thought we would have a little fun and create a list of what we think are the best and most unusual collective nouns for animals. Of course, in the tradition of Ark in Space we are including the best images we could find to illustrate them. You can go check them out on the internet we did not make these up! So, here they are - an A-Z of collective nouns, a veritable alphabet of animals.

A byke of ants
We are not sure what it means, however.  Yet it was still more interesting than the word we would normally use - swarm

A cauldron of bats


Our Planet: Supercut of BBC Natural History Programming


The BBC make some of the best natural history documentaries in the world and this supercut by Art of the Film does something extraordinary – it takes the highlights of twelve series of BBC programming and boils them down to 20 minutes of stupendous, jaw-dropping footage. As well as leaving one in awe of the splendour of our planet it serves as a reminder that our Ark in Space is a fragile thing and needs to be protected at all costs.  Go and grab a drink - you're going to be in front of this screen for the next 20.

Animal Anomalies: The Dewlap

The most intriguing physical attribute of an anole (ubiquitous, tree-dwelling lizards of the New World tropics) is its dewlap.  Used to communicate to potential mates (and to identify members of its own species).  Award winning production company Day’s Edge have created this marvellous short documentary about the dewlap, focusing on the work of Dr Manuel Leal, a biologist at the University of Missouri.  He poses a question - if two species of anoles have the same dewlap (at least to our eyes) then how do they tell each other apart? The answer is an eye-opener to say the least.

The Ant-Mimicking Treehopper

Sunday, 11 June 2017

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.

A Leap of Faith: 10 Ducklings Jump!

Saturday, 10 June 2017


High rise living has its advantages when you are a duckling but once you’re hatched you have to join the world on the ground at some point and that’s sooner rather than later.  In this video by Tara Tanaka, 10 one-day old Black-bellied Whistling Ducks take the leap of faith to join their parents below.  They all manage it – although the slow motion dives we see here might make you wonder: grace, it seems, come later in life to these ducklings!

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.


Amung Feedjit