'/> Amazing Animals: June 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mollusks: One of the Largest Phyla in The Animal Kingdom

Fascinating facts about mollusks, you probably don't know...

Mollusks make up one of the largest and most important phyla in the animal kingdom with more than 100,000 species, including the familiar invertebrates like snails, clams and octopuses. Although most live in the sea, mollusks are also found in fresh water and on land. Most species live in shells, which protect their heads and soft bodies.

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The shell is produced by a membrane covering the body called the mantle. Octopuses and squid don’t have shells and can walk on their tentacles or swim quickly by a kind of jet propulsion. Most species, however, move about by using a sort of muscular foot. Mollusks have been used as food and material tools since primitive days. Later they were used as money, ornaments and religious symbols. They also carry disease, damage ships and clog water pipes. Some are poisonous.


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Chitons (Amphineura) are small, sluggish, primitive animals with flat oval bodies. They feed on seaweeds. Some have shells that are made up of eight overlapping plates that cover the flat upper side of the body. Chitons are often called coat-of-mail shells because their overlapping plates resemble suits of armor worn by medieval knights.

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Tusk Shells

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Tusks shells (Scaphopoda) have tabular shells that are curved and open at both ends. The animal inside is very simple. Though it has a mouth, jaws, tentacles and a digestive system, it has no true head, gills or eyes. The sexes are separate, and young shells go through a planktonic larval stage. The adults protect themselves by digging into the sand.

As the tusk shell moves slowly through the sand it catches small particles of food on the ends of its sticky tentacles and maneuvers them back to its mouth.

Univalve Mollusks

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The largest category of mollusks is the univalves (Gastropoda). These include marine animals like cowries, cones, limpets, sea slugs and whelks as well as fresh water species like ponds snails. The word snail is commonly applied to those with a coiled spiral shell. Most have spirals shell, but some have shells of a different shape or no shell at all. The shell grows from the edge of its open end, and the number of spirals indicates its age. Univalves have tentacles, eyes and a mouth containing the radula, a rasping organ set with many horny teeth. Most feed on vegetable matter, though some, like cone shells, whelks and certain snails, eat other animals.

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Most univalves use their wide, flat foot to creep along the ground, but some float in water, and a few have a fin-shaped foot for swimming. An individual may have both male and female reproductive organs. The young usually pass through a planktonic larval stage. Though freshwater snails do not have larvas on their own, they quite often play host to the larvas of some parasitic worms that transmit serious diseases to humans. The shells of certain univalves such as the cowrie have been prized in some societies as ornaments, money or religious symbols.

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Using its single foot to good advantage, a common European pond snail (Limnea stagnalis) crawls along a sandy bottom. Pond snails like this are often used as scavengers to keep aquariums clean.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Colorful Jumping Spiders

A short description of some colorful jumping spider.

Salticidae: The Jumping Spiders

The jumping spiders include over 500 known genera and more than 5,000 species. Their sizes vary from 3-15 mm (1/8-5/8″) long. In fact, jumping spiders are lovely, with short legs and hairy bodies. They have eyes that are arranged in 3 rows; a large pair makes the first row that focus forward and a second, smaller pair outboard of those, also facing forward and slightly upward. Jumping spiders do not use their webs to catch its meal, but only for protecting eggs and at times an aid while moving about. Gifted with an excellent eyesight, jumping spiders are excellent hunters.

Bold Jumper (Phidippus audax)

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The most common genus of jumping spiders is Phidippus. A large, hairy and colorful species that can grow to an average of 10 mm. long though some species reach up to 15 mm in length. A common species in this genus is the Bold Jumper (Phidippus audax) a large black spider with white marking that are usually seen in gardens and around flowers.

Phidippus mystaceus

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This jumping spider species are mostly found in North America. A distinguishable feature of Phidippus mystaceus is that females who can reach a body length of about one centimeter have ‘moustache’.

Peppered Jumper (Pelegrina galathea)

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This small spider about 4 mm. in body length are often found on flowers. The males can be identified by the black and white complex pattern running in their bodies while females are gray in color and bear complicated markings.

Habronattus coecatus

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This very common jumping spider species are best identified by its stocky body and a longer third pair of legs that are often held close to the body. They can reach 4 mm. in length. The males sport a brighter color with clear black and white markings while females have three light colored marks and some blackish bands.

Phidippus putnami

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This species is found mostly in North America.

Evarcha albaria

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This species of jumping spiders who look muscular mostly come in brownish colors. They are mostly found in Asia, Africa and in some European countries. There are two species, namely: E. amabilis and E. hoyi that are only native in the U.S.A.

Phidippus otiosus

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This species also called Canopy Jumping Spider is found mostly in Maryland, Tennessee, Texas and in Florida. They are tree-living jumping spiders that have a brownish carapace with white hairs along the side. It can grow up to 18 mm. in length.

Salticus scenicus

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These tiny jumping spiders are usually found in human settlements living in walls, window sills, plants and even in fences. They can grow up to 7 mm. in length and their best identifiable mark are its two large front eyes and its blackish hairs that form stripes. Found mostly in Britain and in some parts of Europe, Zebra jumping spiders like to feed on mosquitoes and other smaller spiders.

Myrmarachne plataleoides

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This jumping spider species that are found in China, Sri Lanka, India and in other Southeast Asian countries do mimic the weaver ant. They usually grow up to 12 mm. and primarily live in trees alongside weaver ants colonies.

Lyssomanes viridis

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The Magnolia Green Jumper, as commonly called, is a cute spider usually sporting big forward-looking eyes and an animated green coloring with orange cap. With long legs, this jumping spider is an excellent hunter and can grow up to 8 mm. in length. Found in Florida, North Carolina and part of Texas, Magnolia Green Jumper inhibit in woodlands and bushes.

Phidippus regius

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This species is commonly called the Regal Jumping spider, is the biggest North American jumping spider. Found in Florida and the southeastern United States, males can grow up to 18 mm. while females can reach 12 mm. in length. It dwells in open spaces that include: woodlands, fields and trees.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The World’s Shaggiest-looking But Somehow Adorable Animals

A list of fuzziest-looking but cute-looking animals animals.

These animals have the roughest hair or wool. Their hair or wool may be fuzzy or scrubby but most of them are among the most economically important creatures in the world.

Angora Cat

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One shaggy-looking animal that originated in Ankara, Turkey is the Turkish Angora. This long haired domestic breed of cat is one of the oldest and naturally occurring cat breed. Angora is the former name of Ankara, the name. They are among the most sought cat breeds for their silky and medium-long length coat.


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The Alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is a popular camelid from South America. This domesticated species resembles a small Llama and can be found in the Andes from Peru to Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. These shaggy animals are bred specifically for their fiber

The animal’s fiber is used in making knitted and woven items like blankets, coats, gloves, hats, scarves, sweaters, socks and a wide variety of textiles. Alpaca fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors.


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The unique-looking Yak (Bos grunniens) is a shaggy animal which is important to the Tibetan people. These long-haired bovine can be found in the Himalayas and neighboring regions like Tibetan Plateau, Russia and Mongolia. These animals that have long shaggy hair to insulate them from the cold are used as beasts of burden.

Angora Rabbit

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One of the oddest-looking and hairiest animals is the Angora Rabbit. This variety of domestic rabbit is bred for its soft, silky and long wool. The Angora, which is one of the oldest types of domestic rabbit that originated in Ankara, Turkey, is shorn every 3-4 months throughout the year.


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One of the most unusual animals in the world is the Sloth (Bradypus). It’s not just peculiar in appearance, but also absolutely unusual in behavior and movements. This shaggy-looking animal is one of the slowest moving animals in the world due to its very low metabolism. Sloths can be found in the rainforest of Central and South America. There are 6 known species of Sloth.


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The Muskox (Ovibos moschatus) is a shaggy mammal that can be found in the Arctic region. Primarily, it can be found in the North American Arctic and was introduced in Siberia and Norway. These creatures are noted for their thick coat and for the strong odor emitted by males, hence the name. During mating season, males used this musky odor to attract females. Muskoxen, which can be domesticated and can provide excellent milk and meat, are economically important also for their wool called “qivut”. The wool is highly prized for its length, softness and insulation value.

Angora Goat

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One of the most unique-looking breed of domestic goats is the shaggy and curly Angora Goat. Like the Angora Cat and Angora Rabbit, Angora Goat originated in Ankara, Turkey and nearby area. It is one of the oldest known breed of domestic goat and is famous for the lustrous fiber it produce known as “Mohair”.

Poll Merino

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The Poll Merino is an economically important breed of sheep prized for its wool. Merinos have the finest and softest wool of any sheep. Australia is one of the countries in the world with the largest population of Merinos. Poll Merino is a breed without horn that was developed in Australia.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Critically Endangered Animal Species of Asia & Australia

Here are the most endangered species of animals in the continents of Australia and Asia.


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The Caracal (Caracal caracal) is a medium-sized desert cat related to the lynx. It was once found over large areas of the Middle East and India, but has become increasingly scarce. This cat is one of the heaviest of all small cats and one of the quickest too.

Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia or Panthera uncia)) of Kazakhstan has been hunted almost to extinction for its fur and only survives high in the mountains.

Persian Onager

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Persian Onager (Equus hemionus)of Iran is also known as Wild Asian Ass. Farming has driven the Persian Onager into desert where survival is difficult. It can also be found in Syria, Pakistan, India, Israel and Tibet. Hunting and habitat loss are the major reason for their near extinction.

Giant Panda

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The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) of China lives in the southwestern bamboo forests. Its future is threatened by the loss of this habitat and poaching. As of 2007, there are only 239 Pandas in captivity in China and 27 in other countries. In the wild, it is estimated that there are 1,590 remaining individuals.


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The orangutans are the two exclusively Asian species of extant great apes namely: the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) and the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). The Orangutans of Asia are endangered because people are destroying the forest where they live. They are the largest living arboreal and are the most intelligent primates. They are native to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Indian Python

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The Indian Python (Python molurus) of India, a large non-venomous python species, is threatened by hunters. Its beautifully patterned skin is used to make belts, wallets, handbags and shoes. It is also commonly known as Black-tailed Python and Indian Rock Python.


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The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) of Bangladesh, which is also known as Indian Gavial, is a relative of the crocodile. It is hunted for its skin, and its eggs are taken for food. It can also be found in India, where it is one of the 3 crocodilians in the country.

Loggerhead Turtle

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The Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) of Turkey breeds on beaches. Numbers are declining because of increasing tourism. This oceanic turtle is also known as the Loggerhead Sea Turtle or simply Loggerhead.

Indus River Dolphin

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The Indus River Dolphin or Indus Blind Dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) of Pakistan is endangered because dams on the Indus River have divided its breeding and fishing grounds. This river or freshwater dolphin is a subspecies of the South Asian River Dolphin. It can also be found in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

Manchurian Crane

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Manchurian Crane (Grus japonensis) is endangered due to hunting, which led to its near extinction. Now it is protected. This large bird, which is the second rarest crane in the world, is also called the Japanese Crane and Red-Crowned Crane.


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The Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus)of Australia, which is also known as the Banded Ant Eater, lives in eucalyptus woodland in Southwest, Australia. It is threatened by the spread of human settlement. This marsupial’s diet consists almost exclusively of termites. It is now protected by c.

Yellow-eyed Penguin

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The Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), which is also known as Hoiho and is endemic to New Zealand, nest in the coastal forest of South Island. It is threatened by the loss of its habitat to farming. This penguin species, which is regarded as one of the rarest in the world, has an estimated population of 4,000.

Estuarine Crocodile

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The Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)in the Indian Ocean is threatened because of hunting, estuary development and the drainage of coastal swamps. It is also commonly known as Saltwater Crocodile and can be found in Northern Australia, India and Southeast Asia.