Orangutan

Orangutans are disappearing like wildfire.

  • Orangutans are a genus of large primates, of which there are two extant species, and they are endemic to the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • ‘Orangutans’ are also known as ‘orangutangs’, ‘orang-utans’ and ‘orang-utangs’; while the two species of the animal are commonly known as ‘Bornean’ and ‘Sumatran’.
  • The scientific name of an orangutan is Pongo – Pongo abelii (Sumatran) and Pongo pygmaeus (Bornean), and it is from the family Hominidae, the family of great apes.
  • Orangutans generally grow to be 1 to 1.8 metres (3.3 to 5.9 feet) in height and they weigh 30 to 90 kilograms (66 to 198 pounds).
  • Orangutans are quite hairy and are an orange-red colour with a brown-black face; and their long arms can span up to 2 metres (6.6 feet).
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An Orangutan
Image courtesy of Dupan Pandu/Flickr
  • The diet of orangutans consists primarily of fruit, although insects, eggs, new shoots, bark, and leaves are also eaten.
  • Orangutans seldom set foot on ground, rather they travel in the treetops, mostly alone, and make and sleep in nests there; spending more time in trees than any other great ape.
  • Orangutans have been observed using tools, solving problems, and comprehending symbols for communication purposes with humans.
  • Both orangutan species are critically endangered, due to severe deforestation, illegal trade, hunting, forest fires, and habitat fragmentation.
  • Orangutans produce loud howls that are audible up to a distance of 2 kilometres (1.2 miles); and they can have a lifespan between 30 to 5o years or more.
Bibliography:
Orang-utans, 2016, World Wildlife Fund, http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/great_apes/orangutans/
Orangutan, 2016, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/mammals/orangutan/
Orangutan, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangutan

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Blue Tang

“Just keep swimming”, says the blue tang.

  • Blue tangs are a species of reef fish native to the tropical Indo-Pacific waters of Australia, South-east Asia, Pacific Islands and East Africa.
  • ‘Blue tangs’ are also known as ‘blue surgeonfish’, ‘doctorfish’, ‘regal tangs’, ‘common surgeons’, ‘flagtail surgeonfish’ and ‘hippo tangs’, along with a number of other names.
  • The scientific name of the blue tang is Paracanthurus hepatus and it is from the family Acanthuridae, the family of tangs, surgeonfishes and unicornfishes.
  • Blue tangs are a vivid blue colour, with darker blue and black markings and a brilliant yellow tail.
  • A blue tang has a number of spines, one of which is extendable and very sharp and poisonous, and this spine can be used to attack smaller animals by piercing them with it, and it can cause humans significant pain.
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Blue Tang
Image courtesy of Clara S/Flickr
  • The length of blue tangs ranges from 12 to 38 centimetres (5 to 15 inches) and weigh roughly 600 grams (21 ounces).
  • The heart of blue tang larvae can take as many as five hours after hatching to first produce a heartbeat.
  • Male blue tangs establish dominance by showing their bright colours and fighting aggressively with their spine, and the fish also evade predators and other threats by ‘playing dead’.
  • A blue tang’s diet consists primarily of algae, but also the occasional plankton, and by eating the algae, they help to clean the coral.
  • Particularly due to their depiction as ‘Dory’ in the Finding Nemo film, blue tangs are in high demand as pets, despite them being somewhat difficult to keep.
Bibliography:
Paracanthurus, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracanthurus
Paracanthurus Hepatus, 2012, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/177972/0
Thurston A, Paracanthurus Hepatus, 2011, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Paracanthurus_hepatus/

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Aye-Aye

What does the aye-aye remind you of?

  • Aye-ayes are a species of primate, the largest extant nocturnal one on earth, and they are endemic to rainforests and other forest areas on the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa.
  • The scientific name of the aye-aye is Daubentonia madagascariensis and it is a type of lemur from the family Daubentoniidae, of which it is the only living member.
  • Aye-ayes grow to be 36 to 44 centimetres (14 to 17 inches) in height, with a tail of even greater length, and they weigh from 2 to 2.7 kilograms (4.4 to 6 pounds).
  • The long fingers of aye-ayes are quite fragile and cannot hold much weight, with the third finger being particularly thin and used specifically for feeding purposes.
  • The diet of an aye-aye consists primarily of fruit and grubs, the latter retrieved by tapping trees to find a cavity, then gnawing into the tree with its teeth and collecting prey using its third finger.
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An Aye-Aye
Image courtesy of Frank Vassen/Flickr
  • The colour of the hair of an aye-aye ranges from brown to black, with a partially white to grey head and orange or yellow eyes.
  • Aye-ayes seldom descend to the forest floor, rather resting and foraging among the treetops; and they typically sleep in covered nests during the day, made from leaves and tree branches, though they will generally move to a different nest each day.
  • Aye-ayes are listed as an endangered species, threatened by deforestation as well as locals killing the animal, as they believe the primate can cause misfortune.
  • Sounds produced by aye-ayes include eerie screeches, hisses and the noise ‘hai-hai’; and it is thought that the mammal is named for the latter sound.
  • The aye-aye has been – and still is- compared to a rodent primarily due to its teeth, and it was mistakenly classified as one for a significant time after its discovery.
Bibliography:
Aye-Aye, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/aye-aye-/
Aye-Aye, 2016, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/mammals/aye-aye/
Aye-Aye, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aye-aye
Boucher, E, Daubentonia Madagascariensis, 2007, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Daubentonia_madagascariensis/

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Goliath Beetle

Goliath beetles are at the top of their game.

  • Goliath beetles are five species of large beetles native to Africa’s tropical habitats.
  • The scientific name of the Goliath beetle is Goliathus and it is from the family Scarabaeidae, the family of scarabs.
  • With an adult length generally ranging from 5 to 11 centimetres (2 to 4.3 inches) and a larvae weight reaching 80 to 100 grams (2.8 to 3.5 ounces), the Goliath beetle is one of the largest extant insects.
  • The diet of the larvae of Goliath beetles consists primarily of decaying wood and vegetation, while the diet of the adults consists of fruit and sap from trees.
  • Goliath beetles can be a black, brown, yellow or white colour, and they generally feature black coloured patterns.
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  • During the dry season, Goliath beetle larvae will pupate to become an adult, and they emerge in the wet season as beetles.
  • Male Goliath beetles boast a horn that is shaped as a ‘y’, a feature absent in females who instead have a head that tapers to a thin edge.
  • Goliath beetles tend to be inactive during cooler temperatures and become mobile on both foot and in flight when temperatures become warmer.
  • Some people keep Goliath beetles as pets, and when captive, the beetles will commonly consume cat or dog food, which is effective in providing the large quantity of protein that the beetles require for breeding purposes.
  • To fly, an adult Goliath beetle can extend its wings from the side of its body, rather than lift the wing shield-flaps up as most beetles do.
Bibliography:
Goliath Beetles, 2010, Australian Museum, http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/goliath-beetles
Goliathus, 2006, Natural Words, http://www.naturalworlds.org/goliathus/
Goliathus, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goliathus
Nelson B, 10 of the Largest Insects in the World, 2016, Mother Nature Network, http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-of-the-largest-insects-in-the-world/goliath-beetle

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Kiwi

A kiwi is not your typical bird, that’s for certain!

  • Kiwis are a genus of birds that do not have the ability to fly, and they are endemic to New Zealand’s forests.
  • The scientific name of a kiwi is Apteryx and it is from the family Apterygidae, of which it is the sole member.
  • Kiwis range from 25 to 45 centimetres (9.8 to 17.7 inches) in height, and they weigh from 1.3 to 3.3 kilograms (2.9 to 7.3 pounds).
  • A kiwi lacks a tail, and it has open, narrow feathers that hide its small wings; and the bird is unique in that it has nostrils located at the tip of its beak, giving it a good sense of smell, which it uses to find food like insects, worms, and seeds.
  • Kiwis are primarily active during the night, however when kept in captivity or in wildlife parks where threats by other animals are scarce, they become increasingly active during the day.
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A Kiwi
Image courtesy of denisbin/Flickr
  • Female kiwis typically lay a single egg per season, although some species may lay up to three or four, and the eggs can reach 15 to 20% of the female’s weight and as such, of all living birds they produce one of the largest eggs in proportion to the adult bird.
  • For approximately two or three days before laying an egg in a burrow, a female kiwi must sacrifice eating as there is not enough space inside the bird to hold food.
  • Kiwis were first scientifically described in 1813 by English botanist George Shaw, who had not viewed a live specimen, but rather only the skin of the bird.
  • Kiwis are highly symbolic of New Zealand culture, present in many designs including the New Zealand crest and featured on the New Zealand dollar, while New Zealanders themselves are nicknamed ‘kiwis’.
  • Deforestation and introduced predators have caused four of the five kiwi species to be listed as either endangered or vulnerable, and due to such threats, only one in twenty chicks are expected to reach adulthood, although there is considerable effort, some of which has been successful, to improve this statistic.
Bibliography:
About Kiwi, 2016, Kiwis for Kiwi, https://www.kiwisforkiwi.org/about-kiwi/
Facts and Threats to Kiwi, n.d, New Zealand Department of Conservation, http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/kiwi/facts/
Kiwi, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/kiwi/
Kiwi, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwi

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Tufted Deer

Tufted deer are masters at fleeing with a hair to spare.

  • Tufted deer are a species of small mammal, native to the mountainous forests of southern to central parts of China in Asia, and they are also thought to exist in northern parts of Myanmar.
  • The scientific name of the tufted deer is Elaphodus cephalophus and it is from the family Cervidae, the family of deer.
  • Tufted deer grow to be 50 to 70 centimetres (1.6 to 2.3 feet) in height to the shoulder, and weigh 17 to 50 kilograms (37 to 110 pounds).
  • The rough hair coat of a tufted deer is mainly dark brown to dark grey in colour; with white on the underside, on part of the ears and mouth; and the deer has a tuft of hair on the front of its head, that hides the short antlers that a male has.
  • Male tufted deer have a pair of long, protruding, tusk-like teeth, reaching up to a length of 2.6 centimetres (1 inch), that they use to defend their territory.
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Tufted Deer
Image courtesy of Heather Paul/Flickr
  • Female tufted deer produce one to two young each year, which are expected to reach an age of around 10 to 12 years in the wild; and the deer tend to live alone, or in pairs.
  • Tufted deer tend to be shy, and avoid being seen by camouflaging themselves in their natural surroundings or hiding among the foliage, however they bark when disturbed.
  • The diet of tufted deer consists primarily of grass, twigs, fruit and leaves; while their predators are primarily dholes, leopards and humans.
  • Tufted deer are listed as near threatened, with consideration to relist the deer as vulnerable, due to over-hunting and habitat loss, that is causing significant population decline.
  • To escape from predators, tufted deer point the white underside of their tail upwards, and then move it back down to display the brown side, and as such, create confusion.
Bibliography:
Harris R & Jiang Z, Elaphodus cephalophus, 2015, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/7112/0
Lundrigan B & Oas R, Elaphodus cephalophus, 2003, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Elaphodus_cephalophus/
Tufted Deer, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tufted_deer

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