'/> Amazing Animals: October 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Durable Reptiles: Five Living Fossils

These reptiles were believed to be extinct for millions of years, but they have managed to survive! Today, they are still living with us.

“Living fossils” are plants or animals that were once known to have been extinct for millions of years. But, then survived the test of time and are now found to be alive. Read on to know five species of these durable reptiles.

The Alligator Snapping Turtle

photo link

North America’s largest freshwater turtles, the Alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is characterized by its scaly long, thick carapace, huge, heavy head and meduin eyes mark with yellow patterns and fleshy filamentous. The interior part of its mouth is camouflaged, and the tip of the tongue has “worm-shaped” appendage used to ensnare fish. The carapace color ranges from black, brown, solid gray or olive-green. Adult males, which are larger than females average 40.4 to 80.8 cm in shell length and weigh around 80 kg.

Alligator snapping turtles are opportunistic carnivores and diligent scavengers. They typically feed on fish, amphibians, invertebrates, dead fish carcasses and at times go for other turtles as well as snakes. Alligator snappers reach maturity at about 12 years of age and mate regularly thereafter. Females lay around 10–50 eggs. These turtles can live up to 50 – 80 years in the wild.


photo link

Crocodilia (or Crocodylia) are large reptiles that appeared on Earth around 84 million years ago. This order of reptile includes crocodile, alligator, and some caiman families Typically, they have semi-sprawled posture and have human-like set of teeth (teeth are set in bony sockets). However, unlike humans, crocodilians replace or grow new teeth throughout their entire life. Crocodilians range in sizes from the Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman (smallest species) and to the Saltwater Crocodile (largest species).

Like other tetrapods, crocodilians have their eyes, ears, and nostrils set on the same plane. Their skin is covered with scales.Though possessing a relatively small brain, crocodilians do have an excellent night vision. One remarkable behavior these reptiles manifest is gaping or their trait of leaving their mouth open while lying.

The Pig-nosed Turtle

photo link

The pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta), also known as the fly river turtle, is a freshwater turtle endemic to Australia’s Northern Territory and southern New Guinea. These aquatic turtles, which have domed bony shells are found in rivers, streams and lagoons. The carapace with leathery texture vary in colors from green or gray. The nose resembles that of a pig, and have flipper-like feet similar to marine turtles.

These territorial aquatic turtles can reach 70 cm in shell-length, and can weigh over 20 kg. A known omnivorous, pig-nosed turtles feed on fruits and leaves of plants, and small animals like fish, aquatic insects, mollusks and crustaceans; There are also reports that they eat carcasses including kangaroos and cattle. Females reach maturity at around 18 years of age and lay their eggs on sandy river banks.

The Common Snapping Turtle

photo link

The Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a large species of freshwater turtle widespread in North America, inhabiting stream shallow lakes or shallow ponds. Known for their aggressive behavior when on land, common snappers have rugged, muscular bodies, powerful beak-like jaws and ridged shells. Adults can grow to about 50 cm shell length and can weigh around 4.5–16 kg.

An aquatic ambush hunter, common snapper at times lie motionless beneath muddy bottoms with only its waiting for its meal. Its feed on plants and animals including fish, many invertebrates, smaller turtles, frogs, and other small mammals. Common snapping turtles can live up to 30 years in the wild and up to 47 years in captivity.

The Tuatara

photo link

The tuatara is a greenish brown reptile native to New Zealand whose relatives are said to have lived around 200 million years ago. There are two living species of tuatara namely: Sphenodon punctatus and Sphenodon guntheri. Tuataras can grow to about 80 cm from head to tail-tip and about 1.3 kg in weight. They feed primarily on birds; eggs, lizards and frogs.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

10 Awesome Animals Whose Names Start with The Letter N

From a beautiful southern African antelope, down to a small pouchless Australian marsupial and to an endangered Hawaiian goose, these animals that begins with N are surprisingly awesome!

The Nuthatch

photo link

The nuthatch is a small, compact passerine bird that belongs to the bird family Sittidae, comprising 25 species where 15 species are widespread in Asia and few species inhabiting the woodlands of the Northern Hemisphere. Resembling that of a small woodpecker, nuthatch sports blue-gray upperparts and whitish belly. It average 100mm – 195 mm in length and weighs around 10 g – 47 g, has large a head with a black eye stripe, a powerful, black pointed bill, short tail and legs. An omnivore, nuthatch feeds primarily on insects, hazel nuts and seeds.

The Nyala

photo link

The Nyala (Tragelaphus angasii) is a medium sized Southern African antelope, which inhabits dry savanna woodland close to a water source. Adult males average 1.4 – 1.6 m tall and weigh between 55-125 kg; females around 90 cm tall and weigh a half as much as the male. Males have dark brown colored head and body with thin white stripes, whitish mane and white mark on the face, neck and eyes. They have loosely spiraled horns which can reach up to 80 cm long. Females are red-brown in color, carry white “V” between their eyes, but lacking in horns. Nyala drinks water daily and primarily feed upon fresh grasses, leaves, twigs, flowers and fruits.

The Numbat

photo link

The Numbat (Myremecobius fasciatus), also called the Banded anteater, is a pouchless marsupial found in open woodlands and forests in western Australia. This small animal grows to about 35-45 cm including its bushy tail. It has a reddish brown fur mark with white and black stripes along its back, tapered head, round-tipped ears, and long, powerful tongue. A solitary diurnal creature, it is active during the day searching for food and sleeps at night in hollow logs. Using its long, sticky tongue, numbats feed almost exclusively on termites. Adults need up to 20,000 termites each day.

The Nandu

photo link

A nandu, commonly known as Rhea, is a flightless bird (ratite) native to South America. There are two known extant species: the Lesser or Darwin’s Rhea and the Greater or American Rhea. This ostrich-like bird carries a gray-brown plumage, long necks and long legs with three toes on each. Adult males can reach 1.50 m and weighs about 40 kg. These omnivorous birds gather in flock to search for fruits, seeds, leaves, roots, and small animals like grasshoppers, beetles, and lizards.

The Noolbenger

photo link

A Honey Possum (Tarsipes rostratus) or Noolbenger, is a small Australian marsupial (a mammal with a pouch) inhabiting low woodlands, and shrub-filled lands with abundant nectar-giving flowers. This unique mammal averages about 6-9 centimeters long and weighs between 7-11 grams. It has a long, prominent, whiskered snout; long bristled tongue and toes with sharp claws used in gripping leaves and barks. A nocturnal creature, it spends most of the day sleeping hidden in hollow branches or by low-growing plants. Honey Possum travels in group in search of nectar and pollen from flowers. They start to mate at about the age of a half-year and breed during summer. Life span is about two years.

The Nightjar

photo link

Nightjars are about 60 to 70 species of medium-sized night-flying birds, comprising the family Caprimulgidae. They are widespread around the world, inhabiting open woodlands, forests and conifer plantations. Nightjars average 25 – 28 cm long, with reddish-brown, brown or gray plumage that resembles tree barks. These nocturnal birds have long pointed wings, tails, very short bills and small legs. An expert night hunter, nightjars feed primarily on moth and beetles. They make their nest on the ground and lay one or two eggs.

The Nēnē

photo link

The Nēnē (Branta sandvicensis) or the Hawaiian goose, is a medium, -sized goose native to the Hawaiian Islands found in grasslands, vegetation, lava plains and coastal dunes. Males, which are bigger than females stand between 53-66 cm and weigh around 1.70-3.05 kg. Adult males sport gray-brown body plumage, buff cheeks, black head and crown, and dark brown iris. The bill, legs and webbed are black. A non-migratory bird, Nene feeds on leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds of grasses and small plants. The most endangered goose in the world, its current population is around 1000 individuals in the wild and a few hundred captive in several zoos.

The Nilgai

photo link

The biggest Asian antelope, nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), is found in most Indian plains, eastern Pakistan and parts of Southern Nepal. Inhabiting woodlands and grasslands, this diurnal animal feeds on grasses, buds, leaves and fruits. Adult males also called blue bulls grow to about 180-200 cm long, about 120-150 cm at shoulder length and weighs between 120-240 kg. Males have a bluish-gray coat, long, narrow heads with white spot on the cheeks, two conical horns, erectile mane and white throat bib.

The Nutria

photo link

The nutria (Myocastor coypus)or coypu, is a large, herbivorous, web-footed, semi-aquatic rodent originally endemic to South America found living in burrows along riverbanks, wetlands and lakeshore. Resembling a large rat with a brown coat, nutria grows to about 40–60 cm (16–24 in) long, weighs 5-9 kg and with a 30–45 cm (12–18 in) tail. Its diet includes roots, aquatic plants and small animals like mussels and snails.

The Neon Tetra

photo link

One of the most popular and beautiful aquarium fish, The neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) is a freshwater fish of the family Characidae, widespread on the waters of South America, particularly Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. It sports a bright transparent coloring with blue back and a silver-white belly. A distinctive mark of the fish' is its shimmering blue horizontal stripe running from both sides of the body down to the adipose fin base; a glimmering red stripe that starts at the fish body and stretches to the end of caudal fin. Neon tetras grow to about 3 cm in length. Males are slender while females are rounder. In an aquarium, it feeds on fish flakes and dried foods.

Check out the entire Animal Alphabet list here:
Amazing Animal Alphabet Series 1
Amazing Animal Alphabet Series 2

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Top 10 Horse Breeds

For countless centuries, man and horses have developed a relationship built on love and necessity. Wild horses are tamed and used as a workhorse in tending agricultural farms, drive carriages and lately as perfect spaces for horse disciplines events. Read on to know more about these gentle creatures and find out what are today’s top 10 horse breeds.

10. Lippitt Morgan

photo link

A truly American breed of horse, Lippitt Morgan traced its root to “Figure”, a stallion born in 1789 and owned by Justin Morgan. This breed of horse is known for its agility, strength, stamina, and intelligence. An all- around family horse, Lippitt Morgan stands to about 1.42 m tall and weighs around 430 kg.

9. Haflinger

photo link

A breed of horse developed in Austria during the late 19th century, Haflinger is known for its chestnut color and characteristic energetic and elegant gaits. A short horse in stature, about 177 to 152 m tall, Haflinger has refined head, large eyes, light colored mane and white to golden-haired tail. A gentle and intelligent breed of horse, the Haflinger excels in such disciplines like Driving, riding, trail and pleasure.

8. Hackney

photo link

The Hackney Horse is a popular carriage driving breed of horse developed in Norfolk, England since 1883. Known for its remarkable trotting ability, the Hackney stands around 14.2 to 16.2 hands in height, where a “hand” is equivalent to 4 inches. The head is well-shaped, eyes are expressive, ears are neatly shaped, arched neck, the chest is well-defined, the shoulders are powerful, long forearms and legs, and the tail is naturally set high. The horse colors range from black, brown, chestnut, or bay and typically Hackney’s legs bear white markings. Aside from carriage driving, Hackney are now regular performers in horse sport disciplines, competing in events like Dressage, Hunter/Jumper, and Competitive Trail Riding/Driving.

7. Hanoverian

photo link

A familiar feature in Olympic Equestrian competitions, a Hanoverian is a strong, robust and elegant breed of horse that traced its root in northern Germany. Considered the best and popular amongst European warm bloods, Hanoverian was first used as carriage horses, but was interred with thoroughbred producing more agile, athletic, and good temperament offspring, suitable for competitions. The horse colors range from bay, chestnut, gray, brown, or black. It stands to about 15.3 to 16.2 hands, with a plain head, expressive eyes, long robust neck, strong back, and powerful body. Known for its elegant gaits, long strides and powerful jumps, this athletic horse shines in the Olympic equestrian disciplines including dressage, jumping and combined riding.

6. Highland Pony

photo link

The Highland pony is one of the oldest breed of horse in Great Britain, native to Scotland, traditionally used as a workhorse, but are now used for driving and general riding. Standing between 13 to 14.2 hands, highland pony has a well-shaped head, compact body, broad chest, well-developed thighs and powerful quarters. Typically dun or brownish gray in color, although some sport chestnut, cream, bay or gray color.

5. Dutch Warmblood

photo link

The Dutch Warmblood is a modern horse breed developed in the Netherlands in the early 1960s, primarily used for horse disciplines like dressage and show jumping events. Known for their gentleness, intelligence, athleticism, and reliability, Dutch Warmblood come in all solid colors. Standing to about 16.2 to 18 hands at the withers, this light horse has a well-shaped head, arched neck, deep chest, strong shoulders, long legs and forearm, and powerful hindquarters.

4. Cleveland Bay

photo link

The Cleveland Bay is the oldest horse breed in England that traced its origin in Northern Yorkshire, Great Britain in the early 18th century. A powerful coach horse, the Cleveland Bay is known for its intelligence, mild manners and durability. About 16 to 16.2 hands in height, it has a large head, long smooth neck, large eyes and ears, muscular shoulders and strong legs. Normally, it sports a bay color with black mane and tail.

3. Connemara Pony

photo link

The Connemara pony, a pony breed that is said to be brought by the ancient Celts to Ireland, is today’s ultimate sport pony excelling in jumping, driving and endurance events. Famous for its versatility and durability, Connemara pony demonstrates gentle, willing and trusting temperament. Adult males average 13 to 15 hands. Distinguishable features of the pony include: well-shaped “pony” head, kind eyes, well-sloped shoulders, muscular back, well-defined joints and deep and rounded hindquarters. Colors range from bay, gray, brown and dun. Occasionally, some individuals come in chestnut, black or palomino colors.

2. Camargue

photo link

An ancient rugged horse breed of unknown origin, Camargue horses are found in southern France primarily used by the Camargue “cowboys” to tend herds and for bullfighting. Traditionally, they sport gray color, meaning adults have white hair coats over their black skins. Generally, standing between 13 to 14 hands (132 to 142 cm), a Camargue horse has short stature, short neck, compact body, broad chest, powerful limbs and a complete mane and tail. Owing to its intelligence, agility and calm temperament, this horse is perfect for long distance riding, and for equestrian events like dressage and driving.

1. Canadian Horse

photo link

A hardy and robust breed of horse, The Canadian horse originated in Canada during the late 1600’s. Known for its gentleness, intelligence and spirited manners, this horse has evolved from being a family horse to what it is today – an athletic horse that excels in equestrian events , including jumping, dressage, Eventing and driving. Standing from 14 to 16 hands in height, Canadian horses typically are black in color, although others come in chestnut, brown, or bay in color. Other characteristics of Canadian horse are: finely-chiseled head, bright and lively eyes, arched neck, solidly built body, thick, and long manes and hardy feet and legs.