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Why Galapagos Iguanas Take a Huge Gamble

Wednesday, 14 December 2016



Life, it is said, is something of a gamble.  If that is indeed the case, then the high risk takers are probably the Galapagos iguanas.  Survival is the name of the game – this is not like stargames or any of the online games we can enjoy without the threat of our imminent demise.  This is something altogether different.

When the hatchling iguanas emerge they are small but identical in every other way to adults.  Their eggs are laid away from the sea to avoid them being washed away.  This comes at a price, however.  As soon as the hatchlings try to make a move they attract the attention of a very unwanted predator!

This remarkable footage shot for the Life on Earth II series by the BBC shows the iguanas’ enemy, the racer snake, forever on the lookout for a meal.  When a hatchling is spotted the snakes make a dash from their retreats to try and secure a meal.  What is even more astonishing is that the snakes look like they are working together as they pursue the new-borns.

However, they are not.  The racer snakes, too, are taking something of a gamble.  If an iguana is caught the snakes do not share the meal, as lions would do in the wilds of Africa.  The iguana is eaten whole and that means that only one snake can have the meal.  This means that even if ten snakes pursue a baby iguana only one will be able to partake of the feast!

It’s almost enough to make you feel a little sorry for the snakes – but not quite, I suspect.  Life on the Galapagos islands can be short and harsh but the gamble that these incredible iguanas take usually pays off and, as you can see in the video above, many get to join their parents by the sea-shore.

Fight!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Sometimes it is simply play, at others it is in deadly earnest.  Yet when animals fight there is something that draws us to watch despite the potential fatal outcome.  Perhaps it appears to something visceral and basic in our instincts - or perhaps we just like to watch a good old fashioned tooth and claw fight.

Image Credit Flickr User Tambako the Jaguar
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Mohandas Gandhi  
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. Muhammad Ali 

Sea Lebrities: The Sea Lions of Pier 39

Sunday, 23 October 2016

We often read about people taking over the natural habitat of other species but it is rare to come across a case where the animals come back and reclaim their territory from us.  Yet this is exactly what has happened in San Francisco.  Local Californian Sea Lions have always been present in the city’s bay but had been pushed out to Seal Rocks, a small formation at the north end of the Ocean Beach.  Pier 39’s K-Dock was developed and opened in 1978.  Little did we know that the sea lions also had their eyes on this particular piece of seaside real estate.

They bided their time but their opportunity to move in (or back, if you argue that their presence along the Californian coastline predates human occupation by tens of thousands of years) came just over a decade later in 1989.  It was then that it was decided that the docks needed refurbishment.  In order to facilitate this all the boats had to be removed from Pier 39.  This left large open spaces inside the Bay.  A small number of sea lions saw their opportunity.  They metaphorically weighed anchor from the stony slopes of Seal Rocks and began to arrive at Pier 39.

Are These the Cutest Kittens on the Internet?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

We thought we would take a break here at the Ark in Space. A break from rare species, unusual bugs and dangerous beasties. We thought we would take time out to bring you a real cutefest – something which, as you can see by the title of this post, still raises a question or two. Why bring you this glorious gallery of the cutest kittens on the net? No real reason. Except because we can! Prepare to say aaaw a lot - enjoy!

OK, now we know that this has been done before - however, these are not pictures ripped (and ripped off) from a quick search. As ever, here, all the pictures are licensed through Creative Commons. We would like to thank the photographers for their huge generosity in allowing us to share their photographs with you. You can visit their photostreams on Flickr by clicking each picture!

The Gharial – Good News for the Critically Endangered Indian Crocodile?

Saturday, 24 September 2016

This strange looking creature, with its immensely long and delicate snout is the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). Until very recently it thrived throughout the Indian sub-continent but now it numbers less than a few hundred in the wild. It seems destined for extinction, like so many other species. Will it be just another victim of what may be seen in the future as the sixth mass extinction event in the history of our planet? Is there a future for the gharial on earth, our ark in space?

The answer is only a tentative maybe. Once it flourished and could be found in all of the major rivers of India and Pakistan. The Indus, which has its source in Tibet and flows through Pakistan and Northern India had gharials along almost its entire length. Now, in this vast river not a single one may be found.

The Honduran White Bat

Sunday, 28 August 2016

You may just have done something of a double take. Yet these small creatures huddled together are indeed bats.  They are Honduran White Bats (Ectophylla alba) and they do not easily fall in to a number of bat stereotypes: they do not live in caves and they do not suck blood. Additionally their fur, as you can see, is snow white.

It is found only in a few Central American countries. If you are very, very lucky you might be able to find it in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and, of course, the country from which it gets its name, Honduras.

Yet it is extremely rare and, moreover, it is tiny – the largest examined have never exceeded 5cm in length. Not only that, but its white fur has evolved for a reason: camouflage. (Note: the above was caught by using mist nets in Costa Rica and was later released).

The Amazing Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

It hovers, it hums – but it is not a hummingbird. Take a look at one of, if not the most amazing, certainly the coolest insects on the planet - The Hummingbird Hawk Moth.

The Silver Fox: Vivacious Variant of Vulpes vulpes

Friday, 12 August 2016

If you came to this page looking for a feature on George Clooney, Harrison Ford or Sean Connery then sorry to disappoint you – this is the wrong place!  This particular silver fox has been around a good deal longer than the movies though its story could be easily made in to a film without a doubt.  You could also be under the impression that the silver fox is a species related to the red fox. There, too, you would be mistaken.  They are the same species.

The Bobbit Worm Catches its Prey


If you are of a nervous disposition then you may not want to press play.  Otherwise, steel yourself for the remarkable site of a bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois) catching its prey.  The worm lives on the ocean floor, burying it body which can grow up to three meters in length in the seabed.  It waits and when one of its five antennae is stimulated by an approaching sea creature it attacks.  This is done with such speed that it has been seen to slice its prey in half.

You might wonder what the bobbit worm does when the prey is larger than it is.  Although it quite often kills its quarry on the first strike the bobbit worm injects a fatal toxin in to the prey animal.  This incredible video was shot by Khaled Sultani, filmed with Light & Motion Bluefin pro housing / CX550 with Sola lights.

Island of the Ladies

Wednesday, 10 August 2016



This is a collection of clips captured near Isla Mujeres Island, Mexico. The whale sharks and manta rays in this video gather at Isle Mujeres each year to feed on tuna and snapper spawn.   

Sit back and enjoy the wonderful images captured by natural history filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall whose work you may well have seen on Nature and Secrets of the Ocean Realm.  It is all quite stunning.

Gibbon Versus Dog

This is a video of my B Leon’s dog Dam, fighting with the neighborhood Gibbon in Thailand near the Mayanmar (Burma) border.

The gibbons's name is Chani (gibbon, Thai), and the dogs name is Dam (black, Thai).  Mr Leon did not name the dog, but it is a traditional Thai name for a black dog or cat. He found the majority of pets names in Thailand corresponded to their colors. He did name the gibbon though.

Chani was extremely friendly to B Leon during his stay in Thailand; she would sit on his shoulder and groom his hair, and loved to be swung by her arms or legs. Her strength is phenomenal; yet don't be fooled by how gentle and playful she is with Dam.  She was seen to grab birds on the fly with lightening fast reflexes and snap their necks all in a split second. Chani has always been gentle kind and playful and motherly around pets, friends and children.  Feeding animals especially monkeys in Thailand is believed to bring a blessing in Thai Buddhism.

The Tortoise Beetle - Amazing Metallic Arthropods

Monday, 8 August 2016

They look almost manufactured.   Many tortoise beetles have transparent cuticles, the tough but flexible outer covering which gives the insect family its name protects the delicate creature within.  The living tissue is often metallic in color and can in some species even change color.  The combination is as diverse as it is extraordinary – many look like tiny robots assembled to infiltrate, the ultimate bug. Take a look in at the amazing variations of tortoise beetle our world holds.

Wildebeest Cross the Mara – Amazing Time-lapse Footage


Do you want to see something completely jaw-dropping? You may well have seen the annual wildebeest migration on the TV or, if you are very luck for real. Each year these large beasts take part in what is known as the Great Migration – it is one of the most iconic events in Africa. As the wildebeest migrate they must cross over the mighty Mara River.

Yet have you ever seen it done as a time-lapse? This just made my jaw drop – the wonderful footage captures the sheer scale of the migration in a way that I have not seen before. This amazing film was created by Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas a team of brothers from the UK who specialize in wildlife photography.

Here, through a combination of telephoto video clips and wide-angle time-lapse sequences, they aimed to illustrate the scale and drama of this incredible spectacle. They had never before seen a wildebeest river crossing recorded in this way and as far as they know, this could be the first time that time-lapse has been used to reveal the dynamics of a wildebeest river crossing.

It is, I hope you will agree a simply stunning piece of work.

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper – Last Ditch Attempt to Save the Species

Saturday, 6 August 2016

You are looking at pictures of an incredibly rare bird.  This is the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.  It is thought that less than one hundred and fifty breeding pairs are alive today.  In the next fifteen years this amazingly adapted bird may well slip quietly on to the ever increasing list of species whose extinction has been caused by humans.  

Yet if a group of bird experts succeed the spoon-billed sandpiper may pull back from the brink.

Virgin Mothers – The Aphid and the Food Chain


Aphids may be the bottom of the food chain but if they were to suddenly disappear so, quite likely, would a host of other species.  One of the more unusual aspects of the life of the aphid is that (apart from a handful of species) are all female. This means that reproduction is parthenogenetic and viviparous. That means that growth and development of the embryo happens without fertilization. It also means that the embryo develops inside the body – in fact the females are born with them.

You can see this happening in the above video, an amazing piece of work by John Dunstan.  You will also get to see some of the aphid’s many enemies as well as its sometime caretaker, the ant.  The camera work here is worthy of a BBC documentary – I was particularly struck by the shots of the insects struggling with single drops of water. Who would have thought that something that is wet to us could be downright sticky to our much smaller neighbors?

Dogs in Shades

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Let’s face it – dogs are cool. Yet every so often even our canine friends need a little more protection for their eyes. So, out comes the sun and on go the sunglasses. Your average dog suddenly becomes super cool. Let’s take a look at a bunch of dogs in shades. Why? Because we are just as daft as they and their human companions are, probably!

Potty Training at the Sloth Orphanage


That must be one of the weirdest post titles ever but it does exactly what it says on the bottle as it were.  This is part of a documentary being made by Lucy Cooke about a sloth sanctuary and orphanage in Aviarios del Caribe in Costa Rica.  It does extremely important and serious work but there are lighthearted moments to be had.  One of them is ensuring that baby sloths learn how to poo (as the lady puts it in the film!) properly.

One of the funniest things I have heard for a long time is the sound of the baby sloth crying on this video - even tho that does sound a little cruel of me.  The main subject of the clip brings a smile to the face as the whole process of sloth bowel evacuation is one that seems to end in something close to orgasm for the animal - the blissful look on their faces make them look like teenage stoners after the munchies have been satisfied.

Absolutely Cuckoo Cats


One cat can be a handful, but three altogether?

Here are Lelo, Nega, Cinzy who are just about to show the world exactly how cuckoo cats can actually be.

With a more than appropriate soundtrack to go with it, if you are a cat lover you will love this two minute look in to the lives of three head shaking mischief makers!

It is great to see a bunch of cats just getting on with being cats!

Cheetahs On The Edge

Tuesday, 2 August 2016


The votes were in a long time ago when it came to voting the cheetah one of the most magnificent animals on the planet.

However, you are about to see them in a way which has never been done before. This short film by Gregory Wilson is a combination of the resources of National Geographic and Cincinnati Zoo – using a Phantom camera they caught Cheetahs running at 1200 per second.

Not only that but they did it while driving at speed beside and in front of the cheetahs.  In this way they captured every shade and degree of the big cat’s movement even when it was moving at its top speed of sixty miles per hour.  The vast amount of frames per second then allowed the filmmakers to create one of the most breath-taking pieces of slow motion footage you are ever likely to see of a cheetah.

If you are interested about learning more about cheetah conservation, please visit Cause An Uproar.

The Snail - Pest, Pet or Treat? Some Interesting Facts

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Love them or hate them, there is more to the snail than meets the eye. Here, with some amazing photography, is a look at the humble snail in all its mucus covered glory. Whether regarded as pet, pest or tasty treat, they are everywhere.

Image Credit
Snails that live on land have been around for quite a while, around six hundred million years which puts our species a little to shame. Although there are many more species of snails that live in water, it is the land snail that most people know well. Many shudder at the thought of the sliminess of the creature, others have nightmares about them. However, there are many aspects of snail life that will surprise. Seen up close, too, the shells of these gastropods are often things of exquisite beauty.

Swimming with Leopard Seals

Sunday, 17 July 2016


You don’t do this alone!  Amos Nachoum went diving with some friends in Antarctica and came home with this remarkable footage.  Leopard seals are large – they can grow up to a length of 11.5 feet and weigh in at over 1,000 pounds.  Although they will eat birds and other mammals they have teeth which also serve to sift krill, supplementing their diets.  However, they are fearsome hunters, however playful they might appear. This video is aimed to create better awareness and understanding of the Leopard seal...watch, enjoy, learn and have an adventure.

The Sublime Swallowtail Butterfly

Saturday, 2 July 2016

You may be familiar with the Common Yellow and the Western Tiger, but the Swallowtail family of butterflies is much larger and diverse than you may imagine. Take a look at some of the less familiar species, such as the Pipevine above, along with some stunning photographs, and revisit one or two you have perhaps seen before.

The Old World Swallowtail
Although not restricted to the Old World, Papilio machaon occurs throughout Europe, Asia and North America. However, the alternative name, the Common Yellow, although more accurate, has less of the natural glamor that the insect itself exhibits. The black vein markings give the butterfly a striking appearance. The name of the insect is, of course taken from the swallow like tails which protrude from the hind wings.

The Not So Silent World


This undersea footage is unusual because the makers, Seasick Productions, have decided to add sound effects to it.  The result is startling – we are so used to hearing, well, nothing in particular, when it comes to underwater filming that this gives the realm beneath the waves a new dimension.  So, turn up your speakers, full screen this video and enjoy!

One Step at a Time: The First Elephant Prosthetics


When Mosha, an elephant, was two years old, she lost her leg in a landmine injury along the Thai-Burmese border.

Luckily, an orthopedic surgeon was able to fit her with the first prosthetic leg ever designed for an elephant. As she’s grown, she’s needed to be fitted for new ones. However, she has never forgotten the wonderful doctor who changed her life.

Reel Spinner Online Pokie for Australian Gambling Fans

Friday, 1 July 2016


Microgaming the leader in online gaming technology has recently launched a fun new fishing game just in time for the summer. The new game called Reel Spinner is a 5 reel 15 payline video slot that offers some cool bonus rounds and features surely to keep players entertained. Each month Microgaming releases new games and this fishing themed game happens to be their latest release for the month of July 2016.

Players who play Reel Spinner will have the opportunity to win up to 112,500 coins while playing this feature full game. The graphics, animations, win-frequency and high jackpot prizes make this game highly attractive to anyone looking to play online pokies. Australian fans interested in learning more about this game should read the review featured here at AustralianCasinoSites.com who also offer reviews of most other recent Microgaming pokies / slots games releases.

If you're interested in getting started and playing at Australian online casinos a good option would be to visit the homepage of AUOnlineCasino.com a guide that focuses exclusively on the Australian market and providing players with great choices on where to play. Otherwise we suggest the first site which will allow you to play the new Microgaming Reel Fishing game.

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.

Image Credit
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...

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.

Amung Feedjit