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Please Help Keep Ark in Space Online!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

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!

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7 Questions Kids Always Ask About Animals

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Kids and animals – they go together so well!  However, kids are curious about all sorts of concepts and animals are no exception! Children will never stop bothering us with their thought-provoking and annoying questions. Here are eight of them about animals, and how to answer them - starting with two of the more frequently asked and then some of the lesser (but still amusing) answers. Oh and don't worry about the little girl above - she does not have cruel and irresponsible parents. It's a statue.

The Pink Robin: The Gloriously Pink-breasted Bird

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The robin, both European and American is famous for its red breast.  The subject of nursery rhymes and Christmas cards the male of the species is resplendent in red. Australia, too, has a robin.  One might, of course, expect this particular country to produce something a little different: it has form, after all.  So, step forward the pink robin, Australia’s passerine of pulchritudinous pinkness.


Just in case you think this is some kind of practical joke, here's a rare and short video of the pink robin.

Which Birds Can You See by the River?

Friday, 10 June 2016


OK, this is meant for kids but like many clever and entertaining things created specifically with younglings in mind this is just as much of a treat for us olduns too. Animator Will Rose has created this charming animation to educate us about five species of birds which congregate around British rivers. In the space of just under two minutes you will learn to recognise swallows, blackbirds, swifts, kingfishers and goldfinches. Lovely!

The Giant Ichneumon Wasp – Stump Stabber Extraordinaire

Friday, 3 June 2016

What is the fastest, tallest, heaviest, lightest? We love to compare members of the animal kingdom in these terms.  One word you may hear too is longest but when it appears in a question it is normally asked in terms of total length.  In that case, the Giant Ichnuemon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus), found in the USA, is nothing much to write home about being just two inches long.  However, if the question was “which insect has the longest ovipositor known to science?” then the female of this species would be the answer. And holy egg laying organs, it’s some length.

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So, yes.  That long thing extending from the wasp, twice the length of its body, is not a stinger or a rear antenna (which might be unusual and interesting).  It’s the wasp’s ovipositor, and is used to lay its eggs: but that’s not all.  It’s also a drill.

Ivory Burn


Look at the picture to the left – it looks like a huddle of huts or some kind of haystacks: whichever way, the structures are certainly man-made.  Yet when you realize that these structures are made from the tusks of elephants slain for their ivory the true horror of what you are seeing finally sinks in.  That’s no bad thing as it’s difficult to get a grip on the sheer scale of the ivory poaching problem in countries like Kenya.  These are the last remains of over 7,000 elephants. This April the Kenyan authorities burned these tusks, worth up to US$100 million to send a message – that the only value of ivory is the tusks on a live elephant.  Ivory Burn was created by filmmaker Austin Peck.

Crabspawn 2016


If birds had festivals then one of the highlights of their calendar would be Crabspawn.  As it is, it may not be organised but it is certainly chaotic.  This remarkable film was taken by Murray N Hadley at Fortescue Bay, New Jersey. 

When the horseshoe crabs spawn they fill the sea with their eggs.  Why the numbers is not a mystery for long as shorebirds go in to a feeding frenzy and gobble up as many as their bellies will take while the opportunity is there.

So by laying so many, the crabs assure that at least some of the eggs will go on to hatch. Yet for birds such as the red knot this is a feast and they will often double their weight during this stopover on their way to their arctic breeding grounds.  You can almost imagine them mulling over the excitement later on in the year. “Did you go to Crabspawn 2016?”  “Yeah, man. It was awesome.”  But we don't anthropomorphize on this site...

Stinging Caterpillars of the United States

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Caterpillars – the shapes and sizes that they come in and for many the urge to touch, pick up and hold is almost irresistible. Yet although most butterfly and moth larvae are quite harmless, preferring to curl up in a ball when threatened, some will make it quite plain that they do not like to be touched. They will sting: here is a selection of the stinging caterpillars of the United States.

The saddleback moth caterpillar, Sibine stimuli, pictured above has a 'face' that scares off many a potential predator. Yet it will also send you a definite message that it is unhappy with your sticky fingers on it. In a purely defensive tactic it will give you a sting that will dissuade you from picking up another. You can see the ‘horns’ that the caterpillar has on each end of its body – these are barbed spines which are also known as urticating setae.

The Indian Giant Squirrel – Secret Supersize Squirrel on Steroids

Sunday, 29 May 2016

If you are not a particular fan of squirrels then perhaps you had better leave the page right now.  Whoever gave the Indian Giant Squirrel its name was not joking.  It makes the European and North American squirrel look like dormice in comparison.  This is no ordinary squirrel – secretive and shy, it is indeed a giant among its kind.

Before you start to lock your windows and gaze worriedly at the canopy as you pass beneath, be assured that you may only come across one of these if you live in Peninsular India or you happen to be visiting a zoo.

They live in the evergreen and mixed deciduous forests there as far north as Madhya Pradesh in isolated ranges.

The Sea Turtle Hospital


The population of American sea turtles is dwindling. So, it is more important than ever that injured and sick turtles get the treatment that they deserve so they can be rehabilitated and set free, back in to the wild.  This short documentary showcases the work of the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys.  The work that the medical staff there does is exemplary – such a shame that most of the problems they encounter are down to humans.

Wild Galápagos


The Galápagos Islands are home to some of the most unusual creatures on earth, explored here in this 3-minute ambient destination video from Galaxiid.  Your job?  Just sit back and take it all in! Discover a treasure trove of endemic species, natural wonders and unique wildlife. Darwin's studies of the plants and animals there played a pivotal role in the development of his theory of natural selection.

Deep Dance


A world without light, a world dominated by darkness and threatening silence: the deep sea. Driven by their instincts, we pursue two contradictory characters and witness a struggle for life and death. We become victims of the illusion of light. Deep Dance is an animated short set in the deep sea. It's a story about survival created by Marco Erbrich. This film was part of the diploma at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg.

Jellyfish Lake – Daily Migration of Millions

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Every day millions of golden jellyfish migrate – no big surprise there.  However, you might not expect them to migrate horizontally across a lake.  Still, a visit to Jellyfish Lake on Eil Malk, an island in Palau, in the Pacific Ocean, will confirm just that.  Yet just how on earth did these jellyfish get to the lake in the first place?

Thank You!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Thank you for your donation to help keep the Ark in Space up and running.

We look forward to bringing you lots more features and videos about the natural world in all its glory.

 Thank you again – and enjoy the site!

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The Hyrax – The Elephant’s Cousin

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Hyrax may look like a guinea pig to the casual observer but looks can be very deceptive.  It has even been called the rock rabbit but its family tree is much stranger than you might expect. Its nearest living relatives are the elephant and, bizarrely, the sea cow.

The Assassin Bug – Malaysia’s Macabre Miniscule Murderer

Monday, 28 March 2016

It is less than a centimeter in length and that is something for which, quite possibly, we can be truly grateful! This assassin bug, found in Malaysia, has a trick up its sleeve once it has finished its dinner. It attaches the empty carcases of its victims on its back – a ploy thought to be an attempt to avoid becoming a victim itself.


Wanted: Grizzly Bears?


Curious about grizzly bears? A 7 minute film about the elusive North Cascades grizzly bear narrated by ecologist and film maker Chris Morgan, and including appearances by many Washington State residents who share their opinions of bears, and help bust some myths. The film includes beautiful footage of the North Cascades, and bears in Alaska where Morgan has hosted several films for PBS Nature, the BBC, and others.

The Secret Life of Mountain Lions


The Secret Life of Mountain Lions provides a rare glimpse into the family and social bonds of mountain lions. It affirms their rightful place in nature and the importance of protecting them for generations to come. Narrated by Chris Morgan (PBS, BBC, National Geographic), this video contains extraordinary footage captured with motion-triggered cameras from Panthera's Teton Cougar Project.

Through the Thick: Preserving the Rhino in South Africa - a Documentary


Director of Photography Nino Leitner and his crew recently spent time in the Shamwari Game Reserve, in the Eastern province of South Africa.  This documentary is about about their efforts to tackle illegal rhino poaching.  As well as containing some of the most spellbinding nature film-making that is currently possible, the documentary draws attention to the current onslaught on the rhino in South Africa.

Unexpectedly Funny Things to do with Hamsters When You're Bored

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Hamsters – they’re adorable and surprisingly good company too. Here we take a look at some unexpectedly funny things you can do with hamsters when you’re bored – and throw in some cool facts about hamsters at the same time!

1. Amuse Him With Your Office Anecdotes
Hamsters love to hear what went on at the office. In fact they like nothing better than a long and intense monologue. Start with the time you got to work and give him a blow by blow account of the day’s activities. You can even tell him those secrets that you can’t tell anyone else, like who is having an affair with the boss. Hamsters love gossip!


Amung Feedjit