It’s a great word, isn’t it, murmuration? Whoever invented it to describe a huge gathering of starlings needs a special medal for eccentrically but lovingly mauling the English language. No one really knows why starlings do this. Some say it is for protection, others to indicate a roost is nearby. Or maybe it’s just because they can. This staggering murmuration was captured in Brighton (UK) by the film making partnership of Sim Warren and Mia Xerri, The Contrast Collective.
The sight of a dragonfly on the wing is one of the more remarkable that nature has to offer. Here, with the help of some astounding macrophotography, we take a look at the life cycle of the dragonfly as well as its remarkable and unusual physiology.
The gorgeous colors of a dragonfly – these majestic insects of the air, have been a source of inspiration – and fear – to people for thousands of years. The order to which they belong is called Odonata. Many people regularly go ‘oding’ just as others go birding or butterfly collecting. Their life is cycle as unusual as their looks are striking.
If you never quite seem to get your aim right when throwing things in to your laundry basket then this might be the solution. Get yourself a cat like this one. Simply place cat in laundry basket and then begin to throw your clothes.
Laundry Basket Cat will ensure their safe arrival at their final pre-wash destination by leaping out and retrieving your errant (and flying) socks, shirts and sundries. Cat-tastic!
Can you bring a species back from extinction? Despite fictional accounts in books and movies like Jurassic Park the answer remains a very definite no – not in any complete way for sure. Yet species on the edge of destruction can be saved even if they are dodging extinction in the most unlikely of places.
This is the story of the rediscovery of the Lord Howe Stick Insect (Dryococelus australis) which had also been known as the tree lobster due to its size and color at maturity. It was thought to have been made extinct by 1920 – game over. Yet Lord Howe Island has an islet – a sea stack – called Ball’s Pyramid. It had been suggested that the insect may have survived there, although most thought that highly improbable.
However an Australian team of etymologists journeyed to the islet in 1981 and the rest as they say is history. Instead of telling you the whole story here, however, watch this beautifully made animation by Jilli Rose which tells the whole story. It is without words for the first few minutes but after that the oral history of the Lord Howe Stick Insect and how it was saved from almost inevitable stochastic extinction.
Don’t be put off by its length either – this is entrancing viewing.
It was almost bound to be small and seemingly insignificant but the oldest species of earth is a shrimp, ironic given the connotations of its name in the English language. Rather than being the runt, the squirt and the general nobody its name implies, this little guy (the Horseshoe shrimp to friends but Triops cancriformis rather more formally) has staying power. It is almost the same now as it was two hundred million years ago.
So, this little chap wasn’t just around when dinosaurs roamed the earth, it was around when they were evolving. Now researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland have discovered two hitherto undiscovered colonies of the rare shrimp. And they did so in quite an unusual manner.
The hoopoe is a beautiful, exotic looking bird which is found across three continents. It is distinctive to say the very least – a pair of striking black and white wings, a long and elegant beak and a pink-brown body topped with a magnificent crest. This lovely clip from The Life of Trees by Polish wildlife filmmaker Artur Homan catches this magnificent creature in slow motion flight – and it will take your breath away.
Although we bring you footage of strange creatures from the deepest oceans, here is proof that you don’t have to go very far to experience the truly bizarre. Filmed by Daniel Stoupin, you will see a variety of strange and bewildering creatures in the local pond. Experience a new universe of water fleas, bryozoans, water mites, mayfly nymphs, ostracods, and, of course, hydras. They jump, crawl, and float in a completely alien environment filled with mesmerizing algae and bushes of ciliates on stalks.
The number of caribou in British Columbia is shrinking and as this happens both the ecology and local human culture changes.
This fascinating short film shows us some of the issues they face as well as the attempts by wildlife biologists to help sustain this species, truly one of Canada’s iconographic animals. It was commissioned by the 14th North American Caribou Workshop hosted in Fort St John, British Columbia in September 2012.
If you have children you will no doubt have experienced the heart stopping moment when you realize the little one has wandered off and you cannot see them anywhere. You might imagine, then, how the average King Penguin parent might feel when they return to feed their chick. Yet it is all part of the King Penguin’s master plan for the survival of the next generation.
Cats like to hide. That is because they employ something called crypsis to keep themselves safe and sound. A cryptic animal, like a cat, uses its anatomy and behavior to hide from anything which might predate them. It is different from camouflage as this can also be employed by predators and is used by many animals, including big cats, to more effectively attack prey. A house cat uses its natural flexibility to hide in places a predator might not consider. A box is just that. Inside it, a cat feels invisible, and that is exactly how he likes to feel.
Get up close and personal with the damselfly, thanks to director Hasan Samur. Here he reveals that far from being identical, each damselfly has its own unique colorings and patterns – and they are striking to say the very least. Many carry the scars of battle – some blind, some missing legs. We also get to see some remarkable footage of damselflies mating which to our eyes may seem very strange behavior indeed.
Andre Bauma works with orphaned gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since the outbreak of civil war in 1996 the gorillas have been caught not in the mist but the crossfire. The human cost is also staggering with 150 park rangers murdered trying to protect them. However, this vital job is carried on by a brave few as only about 800 gorillas survive in the wild. Created by Orlando Von Einsiedel of the New York Times, this moving video follows Andre and his group of orphans as they struggle through daily life in the Congo.
If you don’t have nets to use then you can always make your own. This is what humpback whales do when they sense an opportunity to enjoy a feast and this behavior is only seen in Southeast Alaska where this rare and remarkable footage was taken by AkXpro Productions. Other whales do use bubble feeding but this method is unique to the Alaskan whales. Anywhere from four to twenty whales will join in with the hunt. One will release a ring of bubbles from its blowhole beneath the herring. This curtain of bubbles acts as a wall which keeps the fish inside it. Then another whale will produce vocalizations (which we can’t hear in this video, of course!) which makes the herring squeeze together in tight balls.
Then the whales lunge in unison. Breaking the surface simultaneously with their mouths wide open, then roll over and down. This captures as many fish as possible as well as forcing the water they take in out through their baleen plates. With the water forced out they can then gulp down their prey. Altogether, pretty amazing!
Dogs like nothing better than when something a little out of the ordinary happens. So, when the world has turned white one morning and the water has gone hard and slippery, you can’t blame a dog for getting a little excited, can you?
It is a depressing fact that in just over half a century the number of hedgehogs in the UK has plummeted from 50 million to just one million. So, instead of their being parity between the hedgehog and human populations, now there is less than one hedgehog for every fifty people. This animation, directed by Kris Hofmann, highlights the plight of the hedgehog in the UK. Find out how you can do more at the Wildlife Aid Foundation.
Have you ever wondered how to tell a dragonfly apart from a damselfly? That question and many others are answered in this delightful short documentary by Melissa Lesh. We won't tell you here - watch the video. In fact if you are doing a school paper on odonates in general then you cannot go far wrong if you watch this film – and them watch it again making notes next time!
This is a rather lovely piece by Michael Maes – and the first in series which he calls Poetry eMotion. It combines the profound emotion that poetry can engender with the motion of dolphins and mantas in Kona, Hawaii. The contrast of the curious dolphins, soaring through the sea in the daytime to the roving, feeding mantas at night together with So We'll Go No More a Roving by Lord Byron is, quite simply, sublime.
Around 800,000 years ago a species developed on the African Savannah, a canid but quite unlike any other. It was small – with a head and body length of only around 55 cm, tawny furred and with black ears. It is the ears which really make this mostly nocturnal animal stand out. On average they are a staggering 14 centimeters in length. Proportionally they may not be as large as Dumbo’s but this is no fictional appendage. These ears are for real.
This is extremely rare footage and was captured this year by the Undersea Hunter Crew. The video might upset you if you are fond of turtles but you have to admire the little guy – he does everything in his power to get away, ducking and diving and trying to outmaneuver the shark.
Whether or not he gets away, you will have to watch this amazing video to the end.