Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Remarkable Giraffe Weevil of Madagascar


Three guesses how the giraffe weevil gets its name. Unsurprisingly, this extraordinary looking Madagascan creature gets the name from its stupendously long neck.  It is three times longer in the male than the female of the species (Trachelophorus giraffa). As such it is sexually dimorphic – the male’s neck is used for aggressive combat.

When it comes to mating, it is certainly the male of the species which is more deadly.  The giraffe weevil has evolved its extended neck to fight for the right to a nearby female (which will patiently await the outcome of the fight and even occasionally act as a kind of referee before procreating with the winner). They show no aggression towards other species, neither hunting nor eating other animals. It is rare for males to kill each other in this struggle.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Questions Kids Always Ask About Animals


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.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The Extraordinary Pink Katydid


Flamingos aside, you do not get to see the color pink in the animal kingdom a great deal.  A notable exception is the pink katydid.  Yet this is by no means a separate species – this coloring affects around one in 500.  You may have already guessed that the condition is something similar to albinism.

Known as erythrism, the condition causes a curious reddish pigmentation. It can affect the body of an insect as well as its skin, and it is so rare that it was not noticed by western scientists until 1887. The reason for this oversight was perhaps due to the inclination of the insect to remain perfectly still during daylight hours.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Sea Slug Symphony


The nudibranch is a soft bodied marine gastropod mollusk – but many people simply refer to them, perhaps somewhat unfairly, as sea slugs.  You can see why they gained this nick name (even though it is often taxonomically inaccurate too!) but compared to the land bound version they are an explosion of color and grace.  Here are just a few of the 3,000 species.

This beautiful creature is found in the Western Pacific. A rich pinkinsh purple color, they have a white border on their mantle. They would be startling enough without, but their rhinophore clubs are an orange-yellow color that is a startling juxtaposition with the rest of their bodies. This exquisite creature is formally known as Hypselodoris apolegma.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Assassin Bug – Malaysia’s Macabre Miniscule Murderer


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.

Amung Feedjit