Solenodons are venomous, nocturnal, burrowing, insectivorous mammals belonging to the family Solenodontidae. Only one genus, Solenodon, is known, although a few other genera were erected at one time and are now regarded as junior synonyms. The Solenodontidae family is interesting to phylogenetics researchers due to its retention of primitive mammal characteristics; their species resemble very closely those that lived near the end of the age of the dinosaurs.
The African Civet is a common viverrid native to tropical Africa. Unlike many other members of the family, which resemble cats, the African Civet resembles a short dog-like animal. Like all civets it has perianal glands that produce a fluid known as civetone (used in the perfume industry), which it spreads on markers in its territory to claim its range.
São Tomé Shrew
The São Tomé Shrew (Crocidura thomensis) is a white-toothed shrew found only on São Tomé Island, São Tomé and Príncipe. It is listed as a critically endangered species due to habitat loss and a restricted range.
The long-beaked echidnas make up one of the two genera (genus Zaglossus) of echidnas, spiny monotremes that lives in New Guinea. There are three living species and two extinct species in this genus. Echidnas are one of the two types of mammals that lay eggs.
Sea pigs are also known as scotoplanes, a genus of deep-sea holothurians (sea cucumbers). This sea creature is like a cross between a pig and a slug. I still think it’s cute, despite the fact that it looks like it has human fingers growing out of its mouth.
A pangolin, also scaly anteater or tenggiling, is a mammal of the order Pholidota. Pangolins have large keratin scales covering their skin and are the only mammals with this adaptation. They are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The name “pangolin” derives from the Malay word pengguling (“something that rolls up”). Pangolins are nocturnal animals, and use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects. The long-tailed pangolin is also active by day. Pangolins spend most of the daytime sleeping, curled up into a ball.
The Vampire Squid is a small, deep-sea cephalopod found throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. With their long velar filaments deployed, Vampire Squid have been observed drifting along in the deep, black ocean currents. If the filaments contact an entity, or if vibrations impinge upon them, the animals investigate with rapid acrobatic movements. They are capable of swimming at speeds equivalent to two body lengths per second, with an acceleration time of five seconds. However, their weak muscles limit stamina considerably.
The Aardvark is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. The aardvark is nocturnal and is a solitary creature that feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites; the only fruit eaten by aardvarks is the aardvark cucumber. Aardvarks can live to be over 24 years old in captivity.
Chinese giant salamander
The Chinese giant salamander is the largest salamander in the world, reaching a length of 180 cm (6 ft), although it rarely – if ever – reaches that size today. Endemic to rocky mountain streams and lakes in China, it is considered critically endangered due to habitat loss, pollution, and over-collecting, as it is considered a delicacy and used in traditional Chinese medicine. Records from Taiwan may be the results of introductions. It has been listed as one of the top-10 “focal species” in 2008 by the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) project.
The Sumatran Rhino is a mostly solitary animal except for courtship and child-rearing. It is the most vocal rhino species and also communicates through marking soil with its feet, twisting saplings into patterns, and leaving excrement. The rhino spends a large part of its day in wallows. When mud holes are unavailable, the rhino will deepen puddles with its feet and horns. The wallowing behavior helps the rhino maintain its body temperature and protect its skin from ectoparasites and other insects.
The greater galagos or thick-tailed bushbabies are the common name for three species of strepsirrhine primates. They are classified in the genus Otolemur in the family Galagidae.
Amazon River Dolphin aka Boto
The Amazon River Dolphin, alternately Bufeo, Bufeo Colorado, Boto, Boto Cor de Rosa, Boutu, Nay, Tonina, or Pink River Dolphin, is a freshwater river dolphin endemic to the Orinoco, Amazon and Araguaia/Tocantins River systems of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. Because they are unfused, the neck vertebrae of the Amazon River Dolphin are able to turn 180 degrees. The pink dolphin has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of the Nature due to pollution, over fishing, excessive boat trafficking and habitat loss. The brain of the river dolphin is 40% larger than a human brain.
Mola mola aka Ocean Sunfish
The ocean sunfish, Mola mola, or common mola, is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. It has an average adult weight of 1,000 kg. Sunfish live on a diet that consists mainly of jellyfish, but because this diet is nutritionally poor, they consume large amounts in order to develop and maintain their great bulk. Females of the species can produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate. Sunfish fry resemble miniature pufferfish, with large pectoral fins, a tail fin and body spines uncharacteristic of adult sunfish.
The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial now found in the wild only in the Australian island state of Tasmania. Because they were seen as a threat to livestock in Tasmania, devils were hunted until 1941, when they became officially protected. Since the late 1990s, devil facial tumour disease has reduced the devil population significantly and now threatens the survival of the species, which in May 2009 was declared to be endangered.
Loris tardigradus malabaricus is a subspecies of the slender loris which is only found in India. The greatest concentrations of these slender lorises are found in the southeastern Ghats of India. It is not clear how many slender lorises survive in the wild. Because of their small size and nocturnal habits, it has been difficult to do an accurate count. Until recently not much attention has been paid to the plight of the slender loris, but new interest has been shown in their species and studies are under way. The Indian government has laws protecting the slender loris, but its effect is difficult to gauge.
Sometimes called the Indian gavial or gavial, is one of two surviving members of the family Gavialidae, a long-established group of crocodile-like reptiles with long, narrow jaws. It is a critically endangered species. The gharial is one of the longest of all living crocodilians. The gharial is not a man-eater and is sensitive towards humans. Despite its immense size, its thin and fragile jaws make it physically incapable and impossible to consume a large animal, especially a human being.
Although the okapi bears striped markings reminiscent of the zebra, it is most closely related to the giraffe. Unknown to Europeans until 1901, today there are approximately 10,000 – 20,000 in the wild and only 40 different worldwide institutions display them. The tongue of the okapi is long enough for the animal to wash its eyelids and clean its ears (inside and out). Okapis have several methods of communicating their territory, including scent glands on each foot that leave behind a tar-like substance which signals their passage, as well as urine marking. Males are protective of their territory, but allow females to pass through their domain to forage.
The fossa is a mammal endemic to Madagascar. A member of family Eupleridae, it is closely related to the mongoose. It is the largest mammalian carnivore on the island of Madagascar. The rarity of this animal likely contributed to the belief that the fossa is entirely nocturnal, but recent scientific study has found that it is active both during the day and night,this mammal also has a pattern of activity known as cathemerality, depending on season and prey availability.
A small wild cat of Central Asia. Pallas’s Cat inhabits the Asian steppes up to heights of 4000 m (13,000 ft). They are thought to be crepuscular hunters and feed on small rodents, pikas and birds. Like other species of exotic felines, Pallas’s Cat has been hunted for its fur. Before it became a legally protected species, tens of thousands of skins were harvested yearly from countries in the habitat range, including China, Mongolia, Afghanistan and Russia.Today, the cat is regarded as beneficial to its environment as the cat feeds on agricultural pests. However, poisoning of pest rodents and pikas may also affect the cat’s survival.
Fennec fox kit
The Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) is a small nocturnal fox found along the northern rim of the Sahara Desert of North Africa and across the Arabian peninsular. Its most distinctive feature would be its unusually large ears. The name “Fennec” comes from the Arabic for fox, and the species name zerda has a Greek origin referring to its habitat. The smallest species of canid in the world, its coat, ears and kidney functions have adapted to a high-temperature, low-water, desert environment. In addition, its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground.
Naked mole rat
The naked mole rat is well adapted for the limited availability of oxygen within the tunnels that are its habitat: its lungs are very small and its blood has a very strong affinity for oxygen, increasing the efficiency of oxygen uptake. Naked mole rats appear to have a high resistance to cancer; cancer has never been observed in them. The mechanism that stunts cancer is a gene called p16, known as an “over-crowding” gene, which prevents the creation of new cells once a group of cells reaches a certain size. Most mammals, including naked mole rats, have a gene called p27 which does a similar task, but prevents cellular reproduction at a much later point than p16 does. The combination of p16 and p27 in naked mole rats creates a double-layered barrier that prevents the formation of cancer cells.
The coconut crab, Birgus latro, is the largest land-living arthropod in the world, and is probably at the upper limit of how big terrestrial animals with exoskeletons can become in today’s atmosphere. This hermit crab, with its intimidating size and strength, has a special position in the culture of many human societies which share its range. The coconut crab is admired for its strength, and it is said that villagers use this animal to guard their coconut plantations. The coconut crab, especially if it is not yet fully grown, is also sold as a pet, for example, in Tokyo. The cage must be strong enough that the animal cannot use its powerful claws to escape. Should a coconut crab pinch a person, it will not only cause pain, but is unlikely to release its grip.
Endemic to the temperate forests of the Himalayas, the Red Panda ranges from Nepal in the west to China in the east. It is also found in northern India, Bhutan and northern Myanmar. Accurate population figures in the wild are difficult to find, with estimates ranging from 11,000 to 20,000 worldwide. Although it is protected by law in all countries where it lives, its numbers in the wild continue to decline mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.
Although they are quite slow in trees, three-toed sloths are agile swimmers. The offspring cling to their mother’s bellies for around 9 months or so. They cannot walk on all four, therefore, they must use their front arms and claws to drag themselves across the tropical rain forest floor. Scientists do not know exactly when these mammals mate, but it is estimated to be somewhere around March or February.
The bizarre appearance of this egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate fraud. Until the early 20th century it was hunted for its fur, but it is now protected throughout its range. Although captive breeding programmes have had only limited success and the Platypus is vulnerable to the effects of pollution, it is not under any immediate threat.
It is a solitary animal, found in many habitats, including grasslands, deciduous forests and rainforests. It feeds mainly on ants and termites, sometimes up to 30,000 insects in a single day. The jaguar and the cougar are known predators of giant anteaters. Anteaters use their immense front claws to defend themselves from predators, but their typical response to threat is to run away. Their size makes them invulnerable to all but the largest of predators, jaguars and cougars primarily. They are often killed by humans, either intentionally through hunting or unintentionally through collisions with cars.
Although the group was once more widespread, all the species living today are found in the islands of Southeast Asia. Tarsiers are small animals with enormous eyes; each eyeball is approximately 16 mm in diameter and is as large as their entire brain. Tarsiers are the only entirely carnivorous primate on Earth: they are primarily insectivorous, and catch insects by jumping at them. They are also known to prey on small vertebrates, such as birds, snakes, lizards, and bats. As they jump from tree to tree, tarsiers can catch even birds in motion.
The ocelot is a wild cat distributed over South and Central America and Mexico, but has been reported as far north as Arkansas and in Trinidad, in the Caribbean. The ocelot’s appearance is similar to that of the domestic cat. Its fur resembles that of a Clouded Leopard or Jaguar and was once regarded as particularly valuable. As a result, hundreds of thousands of ocelots have been killed for their fur. The feline was classified a “vulnerable” endangered species from 1972 until 1996, but is now rated “least concern” by the 2008 IUCN Red List.
They are completely amphibious fish, fish that can use their pectoral fins to “walk” on land. Being amphibious, they are uniquely adapted to intertidal habitats, unlike most fish in such habitats which survive the retreat of the tide by hiding under wet seaweed or in tidal pools. Mudskippers are quite active when out of water, feeding and interacting with one another, for example to defend their territories. They are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions, including the Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic coast of Africa.
The sole member of an ancient family, 50 to 100 million years old, it hunkered deep underground while the dramatic environmental and physical changes sweeping the earth wiped out whole groups of animals and saw new ones evolve. This dinosaur among frogs was only discovered in 2003.
Giant sea-dwelling isopod
In zoology, deep-sea gigantism, also known as abyssal gigantism, is the tendency for species of crustaceans, invertebrates and other deep-sea-dwelling animals to display a larger size than their shallow-water counterparts. It is not known whether this effect comes about as a result of adaptation for scarcer food resources (therefore delaying sexual maturity and resulting in greater size), greater pressure, or for other reasons. The Blue Planet series posited that larger specimens do well in the abyssal environment due to the advantages in body temperature regulation and a diminished need for constant activity, both inherent in organisms with a lower surface area to mass ratio (see the square-cube law).
The Sun Bear stands approximately 1.2 m (4 ft) in length, making it the smallest member in the bear (Ursidae) family. Unlike other bears, the Sun Bear’s fur is short and sleek. This adaptation is probably due to the lowland climates it inhabits. Dark black or brown-black fur covers its body, except on the chest, where there is a pale orange-yellow marking in the shape of a horseshoe. Similar colored fur can be found around the muzzle and the eyes. These distinctive markings give the Sun Bear its name.
The Tibetan Sand Fox is a species of true fox endemic to the high Tibetan Plateau in Nepal, China, and India, up to altitudes of about 5300 m. Mated pairs remain together and may also hunt together. In contrast to other fox species, the Tibetan Fox is not highly territorial, so it may be found near other foxes.
Growing up to 2 meters (6 feet 7 inches) in diameter and weighing up to 300 kilograms (ca. 660 pounds), Nomura’s Jellyfish reside primarily in the waters between China and Japan, primarily centralized in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea. In 2009, a 10-ton fishing trawler, the Diasan Shinsho-maru, capsized off Chiba on Tokyo Bay as its three-man crew tried to haul in a net containing dozens of Nomura’s Jellyfish; the three were rescued by another trawler.
Tiger with a rare “golden” color mutation
A golden tabby tiger is one with an extremely rare color variation caused by a recessive gene and is currently only found in captive tigers. Like the white tiger, it is a color form and not a separate species. In the case of the golden tiger, this is the wide band gene; while the white tiger is due to the color inhibitor (chinchilla) gene. There are currently believed to be fewer than 30 of these rare tigers in the world, but many more carriers of the gene.
The Aye-aye is a lemur, a strepsirrhine primate native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth with a long, thin middle finger to fill the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. The Aye-aye is the only extant member of the genus Daubentonia and family Daubentoniidae (although it is currently classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN); a second species, Daubentonia robusta, appears to have become extinct at some point within the last 1000 years.
The geoduck is a species of very large saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Hiatellidae. The shell of this clam is large, about 15 centimetres (5.9 in) to over 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in length, but the extremely long siphons make the clam itself very much longer than this: the “neck” or siphons alone can be 1 metre (3.3 ft) in length.
Thylacine aka Tasmanian tiger
The thylacine was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. The thylacine had become extremely rare or extinct on the Australian mainland before European settlement of the continent, but it survived on the island state of Tasmania along with several other endemic species, including the Tasmanian devil. Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is generally blamed for its extinction, but other contributory factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat. Despite its official classification as extinct, sightings are still reported, though none proven.
A lamprey (sometimes also called lamprey eel) is a parasitic marine/aquatic animal with a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. Lampreys have long been used as food for humans. They were highly appreciated by ancient Romans. During the Middle Ages, they were widely eaten by the upper classes throughout Europe, especially during fasting periods, since their taste is much meatier than that of most true fish. King Henry I of England is said to have died from eating “a surfeit of lampreys”. On 4 March 1953, the Queen of the United Kingdom’s coronation pie was made by the Royal Air Force using lampreys.
Star-nosed moles are easily identified by the eleven pairs of pink fleshy appendages ringing their snout which are used as a touch organ with more than 25,000 minute sensory receptors, known as Eimer’s organs, with which this hamster-sized mole feels its way around