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                     Axolotl - Ambystoma Mexicanum

The Axolotl, also known as the Mexican Walking Fish, is actually an amphibian. It
lives its entire life as a larva. Axolotls are famous for their regeneration ability – if
they loose a leg or even part of their spine or brain they can grow it back!
Axolotls live in caves and over many generations have lost most of the pigment
in their skin. The axolotl is currently on the International Union for Conservation
of Nature's (IUCN) annual Red List of threatened species.

                           Yeti Crab - Kiwa hirsuta
The Yeti Crab is a crustacean found in the south pacific. Even though it looks like
it’s ready for a cold winter, it lives near ocean thermal vents where it preys on
algae and small animals. Upon its discovery in 2005 a new taxonomic family had
to be invented for it as it was so unique! It has colonies of bacteria living on its
fury arms, nobody knows why, theories include that it deliberately cultivates
these bacteria to eat or as tiny sensors that help the crab find food or a mate.
Other suggestions include the crustacean could use the bacteria to combat toxic
fluids that rise from the volcanic vents.

          Giant Chinese Salamander - Andrias davidianus

The Giant Chinese Salamander is the worlds largest Salamander, reaching a
length of up to 6 feet! It has a large head, wrinkly skin and small eyes. Due to
their poor eye sight they rely on sensing vibrations with specialised nodes
running the length of their body, to catch frogs, fish and insects. They are found
in rocky lakes and streams in mountains. Unfortunately due to pollution,
collection for the medicine trade and habitat destruction the giant Chinese
salamander is now critically endangered.

                    Giant Coconut Crab - Birgus latro
This massive spider like crab is the world’s largest terrestrial arthropod and can
be found on Indo Pacific islands. They are nocturnal omnivores, hiding all day
and then coming out at night to feed on fruits, small animals and nuts. They often
feed on coconuts which they can crack open with their powerful pincers. These
crabs cannot swim (except in the larval stage) and will drown in water. They are
great climbers and can scale palm trees, to avoid predators or shelter from the
heat. They are also known to carry fallen coconuts up a tree and drop them from
a height to crack them open! In many areas the numbers of giant coconut crabs
are declining due to habitat loss and human predation.
                        Hag Fish - Myxine glutinosa

The hag fish has earned itself the reputation of being the most disgusting marine
creature! They have the gross ability to excrete slime, which when comes into
contact with water becomes a sticky goo – this allows the hag fish to escape from
predators. It also has the ability to tie itself into a knot – as the knot slides from
head to tail it enables the hag fish to escape from its predators’ grip and wipe the
slime of itself. Hag fish have the nice habit of entering their victim’s bodies and
eating them from the inside out! Another cool fact about hag fish - they have four
hearts and two brains!

                   Blob Fish - Psychrolutes marcidus
The blob fish is found off the coast of Australia at depths where the pressure is
10 to 20 times more than at sea level. At these pressures a gas filled bladder
would be of little in helping to control buoyancy. The blob fish’ body is made up of
a jelly like substance that is slightly less dense than water, allowing the blob fish
to float just above the sea floor, expending little energy.

                 The Dumbo Octopus - Grimpoteuthis
This octopus lives in oceans at depths of over 4500 meters below sea level. The
Dumbo octopus got its name from its ear like fins resembling the Disney
character. To get around they can wave their fins, pulse their arms, or shoot
water through their funnel for jet propulsion. They hover above the ocean bed
looking for food including snails and worms. They can flush the transparent layer
of their skin at will and can grow up to 20cm.

             Sucker-Footed Bat - Myzopoda schliemanni
This bat is found on the island of Madagascar. It has a nifty way of ensuring it
doesn’t fall to the ground; it uses suction cups found on its hands and ankles to
stick to flat surfaces such as leafs! Many of Madagascar’s forests have been cut
down to make way for agriculture, this bat seems to have adapted to this
destruction and is able to scale the traveler’s palm – a tree which flourishes in the
areas of destructed habitat.
                Goliath Tiger Fish - Hydrocynus goliath
This giant piranha like fish lives in the rivers of the Congo. The jaw of a goliath
tiger fish is shaped in a way that if it clamps it down its teeth interlock and they
become almost inseparable. The coolest thing about this fish is that it has
amazing hearing; found in its ear is a small bone connected to its swim bladder,
which amplifies sound.

                         Water Bear – Tardigrades
This microscopic bug, no larger than the head of a pin, is the world’s hardiest
muticelled life form. The water bear is found almost anywhere from mountain
tops to the bottom of the sea, from the equator to the poles. They are so
indestructible that they can survive over 100 years without water, survive
temperatures ranging from -273°C to + 151°C and can take 1000 times more
radiation than an human. The major contributor to this bugs resilience is that it
can literally kill and revive its self on command; meaning that it can stop all
metabolic processes in its body and then restart them when conditions become
more suitable.
Tardigrades have been taken into low Earth orbit on the FOTON-M3 mission and
were exposed to the vacuum of space. Upon returning to Earth, many of them
survived and laid eggs that hatched normally, making these the only animals
shown to be able to survive the vacuum of space – cool!

                       The Olm - Proteus anguinus
This south European, cave dwelling, amphibian is an odd looking cross between
a snake and an axolotl and spends its entire life under water. Since it lives in
deep, dark, caves its eyes are underdeveloped, leaving it to rely on its senses of
small and hearing to find prey. Living in the recesses of the earth food is often
scarce. Olms feed on crabs, insects and snails and can survive for 10 years
without eating. They can reach ages ofup to 70 years - a remarkable feat!

    The Jesus Christ Lizard (Basilisk) - Basiliscus basiliscus
This South American lizard, part of the iguana family, is found in the rainforests
of Central America and is known as the Jesus Christ Lizard due to its ability to
run on its hind legs across water! It can accomplish this thanks to its webbed
feet, allowing it to step on the water’s surface for a brief second.
               Naked Mole Rat - Heterocephalus glaber
Naked role mats are unusual mammals as they live in colonies and have a
“queen”, something normally found in the insect world. They are found in East
Africa and have a series of unusual traits allowing them to survive in the harsh
conditions of their underground burrows. They feed mainly on tubers, roots and
corms (bulb-like underground stems) that protrude into the burrow tunnel. A
colony rarely destroys any one food source, but will “harvest” their food, leaving
part of the plant alive and able to regenerate. They do not drink, but get all
moisture needed from their food. Mating occurs between the larger, dominant
female “queen” and only a few chosen males. Using both behavioural
(aggression) and chemical control (pheromones), the queen prevents other adult
females from reproducing. These rodents are born to dig, and do so primarily
with their prominent incisor teeth, which are found outside of their mouth. They
have tiny eyes and are virtually blind, they communicate in the dark through
touch, smell and especially vocalizations. (they make at least 17 different
Most of the colony are workers, involved in finding food, caring for the young,
protecting the colony, and keeping the burrow clean. Colonies have established
protocols which are usually followed. For example, when two naked mole-rats
want to pass each other in a tunnel, the smaller one usually crouches down so
that the larger one can crawl over top. To change directions, they will use a
tunnel junction to execute a three point turn. To move sand within the tunnel, a
chain of naked mole-rats forms to move the dirt along. One animal will dig with its
teeth and sweep the dirt back with the broom-like hairs on its feet. Then the next
animal and the next will continue to sweep the dirt along until it can be pushed
out of the tunnel.

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