Friday, 22 August 2014

Heterochromia – The Eyes Have It


There are a number of reasons why animals can have one eye of one color and the second of another, but the term for the most likely cause is heterochromia.  It is more often than not to do with melanin. This is a pigment that is found almost everywhere in nature (spiders being a notable exception) and it dictates such things are skin and eye color.


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Canine Pool Party



So, just how many dogs can you fit in to a swimming pool?  Quite a few if this video is anything to go by.  Of course, you might just ask who let the dogs out (who, who?) but surely a cool dog is better than a hot dog?  Before this humor gets any cheesier, perhaps you should be left to enjoy this video in peace. OK, so at the end of the day it’s just a lot of dogs in a swimming pool, but if this doesn’t lift your heart just a little then what will?

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Okunoshima: Island of Bunnies and Poison



There are a number of theories why there are so many rabbits on the Japanese island of Okunoshima but the fact remains that the place is pretty much overrun with them.  Here, Krzysztof Gonciarz and Kasia Mecinski, take a look at the island and the dichotomy of having these Cunicular bundles of fun right next to an old poison gas production plant. If you like rabbits this place must be on your bucket list.

Amazing Spy-Cam: Unique Technical Solutions in Wildlife Film-making



As camera technology has developed over the last few years it has meant that those filmmakers who would ordinarily have been labelled amateur in the past can now create amazing footage. 

The playing field between the amateur and the professional has been leveled out, so to speak.  Now, award winning wildlife filmmaker like John Downer must be ever more resourceful to produce something better than your average ten year old with a camera (yes,  that was probably a slight exaggeration).

Spy-cams have been used in wildlife film-making for a number of years but the secret in creating astounding footage like the above is in truly understanding how the animals behave.  From that outset point, involving research and  great deal of dedication, new ways to capture amazing moments have been devised which, through the sheer inventiveness of their technical solutions, enable filmmakers to tell their subject’s story in new and enthralling ways.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Manul – the Cat that Time Forgot


Have you ever wanted to take a trip through time to see what animals looked like millions of years ago? When it comes to cats there is little or no need.  This beautiful specimen is a Manul, otherwise known as Pallas’s Cat.  About twelve million years ago it was one of the first two modern cats to evolve and it hasn’t changed since. The other species, Martelli’s Cat, is extinct so what you are looking at here is a unique window in to the past of modern cats.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Mystery of the Orangutan Flange


Much is known about orangutan physiology and behavior. Yet there is one thing that is still unsolved – the exact reason why some male orangutans develop a flange while others do not. These large cheek pads certainly have their advantages as we shall see - it’s most certainly about dominance and mating with as many females as possible – so why do they only develop in some males and not others?

First things first – the flange is not a physical signal that a male has reached sexual maturity as was once thought – they already have quite a while back. Even though orangutans are among the slowest mammals to reach reproductive age, between 7 and 10 years of age for the male, they are capable of producing offspring at this age. However, it is rare for the male to mate before the age of 15. Females mature at about 5 years of age but like many great apes undergo a period of infertility in their adolescent years which preclude offspring for between 2 and 4 years and will not produce offspring until they too are well in to their teens.

This is Probably the Most Amazing Footage of Honey Bees You will Ever See



Have you ever seen a host of honey bees using their wings to cool down their hive? This and many other wonderful moments were caught by Mike Sutton when he recently had the opportunity to film hives at Hillside Apiaries in New Hampshire.  He has managed to capture some wonderful close-ups of honey bees in their natural environment, marrying his film with a brilliant soundtrack and some honey bee facts. Plus he was only stung three times during the whole filming process.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Watch What Happens When a Gorilla and the Man who Raised and Released him Meet Again after Five Years



Damian Aspinall has a goal – to raise gorillas and to release them back in to the wild. A self-made business man, he started the Aspinall Foundation with that intention and so far has released over fifty gorillas in to secure areas in Africa.

So, it is only human to want to find out how your former wards are doing.  Venturing deep in to the Gabon jungle, Aspinall went in search of Kwibi, who he had hand-reared and nurtured up to the point where he was released in to the wild five years previously.

They say that elephants do not forget but one thing we now know for sure – the same can be said about gorillas.  When he eventually found Kwibi, Aspinall was in for a surprise.  Not only did Kwibi recognize him, once the re-introductions were over it was obvious that his old friend really didn’t want to part company with him ever again! 

Although the debate continues about the pros and cons of what is effectively zoo-based conservation, Aspinall has proven that gorillas at least can be successfully reintroduced in to the wild despite massive contact with and care from people. 

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.

Amung Feedjit