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The Gelada: Unique Primate from the Roof of Africa

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

High up in the Ethiopian mountains lives the Gelada.  It lives nowhere else and although its closest living relative is the baboon, with its hairless face and short muzzle the gelada looks more like a chimpanzee.  Isolated in these remote Ethiopian Highlands (often called The Roof of Africa) this primate has developed a way of existence (one might call it a culture) all of its own.

To begin with the gelada is a graminivore which means that it only eats grass.  Fortunately, the highlands in which they live are cooler and a lot less arid than many parts of Ethiopia and they rarely experience any kind of food shortage.  They will also become granivorous when the grass is in seed.  In fact, they actively prefer the seed to the grass – it is probably a welcome change.

Why Dinosaurs Are Still Fascinating Today

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Dinosaurs may be among the only creatures, extinct or not, that are just about everywhere you see. Movies, cartoons, TV shows, toy stores, storybooks, science, and songs, just to name a few. 

Kids, teens, adults, and even older people are fascinated by Dinosaurs. What is it about these creatures that fascinate people so much that several industries have massively profited from people's interest? 

Let's find out what makes these creatures so fascinating. 

Origin of "Dinosaur" 

The word dinosaur was invented by Sir Richard Owen back in 1852. Dinosaur is a combination of two Greek words, deinos and sauros. Deinos stands for terrible, and sauros means lizard. So, these creatures were once taught to be "terrible lizards," which is something not many people knew about them. 

The first dinosaur bones were discovered in 1677 by Robert Plot. However, he simply guessed that the bones belonged to a massive human being. It wasn't until many years later that William Buckland correctly identified the remains. 

How are Dinosaur Remains Scattered across the Planet? 

Dinosaurs existed in a period so early that continents and islands were all one land called Pangea. Because there was one land, not separated by oceans, seas, and bodies of water, the Dinosaurs were scattered all across the globe. 

Once this massive land named Pangea separated, the Dinosaurs were divided all over the world. 

But, Why Are They More Famous Than Any Other Extinct Creature? 

So far, over 700 different species of Dinosaurs have been discovered. And paleontologists strongly believe that there are many more species waiting to be found and studied. After all, these creatures lived and prospered for around 165 million years. 

However, they were long gone before Homo sapiens, the modern humans, first made their mark on the planet. No matter how much experts may want to try, the original Dinosaurs can never come back. It is impossible. 

It is the fact that no one has actually seen a dinosaur, and there are no ancient drawings of these creatures is fascinating. Dinosaurs are everywhere and, at the same time, nowhere. 

People are making movies about where these creatures are brought to life, and they are depicted as scary and violent, but some are shown as sweet and sensitive. On another side, there is a cartoon about people living in the early days and keeping Dinosaurs as their pets while happily living alongside them. 

There are even dinosaur costumes and outfits that people wear. Not only the people who buy them from Only Dinosaurs for Halloween, but a famous American TV series called "Barney" ran for 14 seasons. It had kids along with their families singing about how Dinosaurs can be their friends. 

These creatures were the most successful land animals to have ever lived and may even be the most diverse. But they no longer exist to object to anyone's interpretation of them. 

They can be whatever the people make them. Whether it's a scary dinosaur on the big screens or a chicken nugget in the shape of a dinosaur, it is the fact that their existence is not physical and can be controlled by the people is why they are still fascinating today.

Spider Mom

Sunday, 21 March 2021

This is one of the most remarkable pieces of film I have seen for a long time. Sure, we are all used to macro photography these days, showing all aspects of insect and arachnid life close up. Yet while that sort of photography needs time and bags of patience this must have been a labor of love indeed.

Funnily enough labor is quite an appropriate word here. This remarkable piece of film shows a spider laying its eggs. Scientifically speaking I should have said a spider ovispositing its egg sac but now you have that you know what it means in everyday speak!

The detail here is stunning – quite remarkable – you can see the eggs inside the spider before their sack is oviposited.  Not only that it shows the care that the spider gives its young before they are born and even takes us to the birth itself.

This outstanding footage was taken by Alvaro Mendoza Productions, otherwise known as Amprods, a Spanish production company specializing in nature documentaries and, more specifically, in filming animal behavior.

The Incredible Glasswing Butterfly

Saturday, 13 March 2021

A butterfly with transparent wings? Surely not. Yet there is a species that exhibits this trait. Take a close look at the incredible Glasswing, an enchanting species that confounds science.

Maleo - The Bird That Can Fly The Moment it Hatches

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Beneath the red hot sand of an Indonesian island something stirs.  A large egg is hatching and soon the newborn creature will dig its way out to the surface and take its first gulps of fresh air.  Yet no parent watches over it. This sounds as if it should be a young turtle, thrusting its flippers sideways as it makes its desperate lurch towards the ocean.  It is not, however. This is a bird.  More remarkable still is that when it emerges the chick will already be able to fly.

The Maleo is a surprising bird.  Although it only numbers around ten thousand in the wild – and close to zero in captivity – it is remarkable amongst our feathered friends for the unique way it cares for its young.  Instead of incubating their eggs, the Maleos lay theirs in the baking sand of Sulawesi island – the only place in the world in which they can be found in the wild.  It sounds like an April Fool trick, but be assured, this bird is very much alive and kicking.  Whether it will be around in another fifty years, however, is altogether a different question.

The Bald Eagle Next Door

Sunday, 7 February 2021

It may be the national bird, but many Americans go through their entire lives without seeing one.  Not so the residents of Unalaska (in, unsurprisingly enough, Alaska).  It is one of the biggest fishing ports in the world and when the fishing boats return, bald eagles are waiting for them – in their droves.  Great Big Story takes a look at this fascinating bird which is about as opportunistic a feeder as you can get (that means it’s not desperately fussy!).

What Are Those Things on Giraffes’ Heads?

Are they antlers? Perhaps they are horns?  They are definitely not antenna – the Serengeti is not (as far as we know) wired for giraffid telecommunications.  They are called ossicones – and giraffes are born with them.

Image Credit

The Red Elephants of Kenya

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Ask anyone what color an elephant should be and you may get a raised eyebrow (or two) but the answer will normally be grey or greyish – perhaps even black or brown. The more observant might say there is pinkness around some parts of the body such as the ears and trunk. Red would almost certainly not be the answer even though some would swear they had witnessed pink elephants on parade. Yet in the Kenyan National Park of Tsavo East you will find red elephants aplenty.

Cat on the Menu

Sometimes you should take things a little more literally!  This charming picture was taken outside of the Dolphin Restaurant in Sultanahmet, Istanbul.  We would not dream of giving places which would serve up cat for lunch or dinner a molecule of the oxygen of publicity! Yet, for at least one day there really was cat on the menu at the Dolphin Restaurant!

The Duck Squad

Do you have a pest problem? Then perhaps you should consider calling in the Duck Squad!  This team of over 1000 ducks have a serious job – to keep down the number of snails and other pests on the South African winery they call home.  Created by Great Big Story, this is a charming portrait of how animals can be used rather than pesticides to keep the grapes growing.  The sight of over 1000 ducks ambling through the countryside in formation is quite something!

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

Thursday, 21 January 2021

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.

Meet the Black Squirrel

Sunday, 17 January 2021

You have probably seen the grey. You may even have encountered or at least heard of the red. However, have you ever seen a black squirrel? Take a look at this small but dark beasty of the forest.

This is the black squirrel. Out of the squirrel population of the United States and Canada perhaps only one in ten thousand is black. However, this is not a separate species in itself. It is in fact a sub-group of the grey squirrel and, little by little their numbers are growing. In fact in some areas they outnumber the greys. However, this black coloring is not a recent trend among the squirrel community – research indicates that in the days before the European settlement of the America the black squirrel was probably much more numerous than the grey. 
Image Credit Flickr User James Martin Phelps 

Instead of being a separate species, the black squirrel is in fact what is known as a melanistic subgroup. Midwestern North America is their stomping ground although there are groups to be found in the UK (more of which later). Melanism is caused by an increased level of black pigmentation, a compound which determines color called melanin. This subgroup of the Eastern Grey has stacks of melanin and these melanistic traits are the opposite of albinism which occurs when flora or fauna have a lack of the compound.

Great Egret Rising

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

With its all white plumage that can often reach a meter in height, the Great Egret is a sight to behold as it soars up in to the sky.  Considered safe, only a century ago the species was highly threatened. Read on to discover how and why the species was able to make a dramatic come back.

The Spiders That Decorate Their Own Webs

Spider webs – possibly the most beautiful and intricate animal structures of the natural world. However, some spiders are not content with a simple web. They go one step further.

Some spiders decorate their own webs with even more elaborate and complex patterns than are necessary.  Could they be the best exterior designers on the planet?  Certainly from the look of these examples, they would be in the competition but the verdict is still out as to why they produce these extra web configurations.  Some scientists argue that it is nothing more than ’spidey’ aesthetics.  Take a look at some of these arachnid designs and come to your own conclusions.

Amung Feedjit