Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrine)
The Banded Sea Krait, or Colubrine Sea Krait, is a species of marine snake that is found through the waters of the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Ocean. They live in coral reefs and mangroves, as well as open ocean areas. They need to consume fresh water regularly, which requires them to leave the sea and travel on land to find it. They also return to land to mate.
While they are venomous, these snakes are known to be relatively calm animals and will rarely bite humans. Bites are generally recorded on fishermen who have tried to remove the snakes from nets. They hunt prey fish species in hunting parties and help one another flush out prey and catch it. They are not considered endangered or threatened, but the loss of their reef habitats could have impacts on their numbers in the future.
Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus)
Malayan Tapirs are the largest species of tapir in the world and normally weigh between 250 and 320kgs. Their characteristic black and white coloring is for camouflage in their dense forest habitats, as is the striped coloration seen in young tapirs. They are a solitary, herbivorous species and will carve out paths through the undergrowth, allowing them to move throughout their territory and forage for food.
Mayalan Tapirs are classed as Endangered by the IUCN, and the rapid drop in their population in the last 35 years is extremely worrying. More than 50% of their population has been lost in the last three generations, largely due to habitat loss to human use. Much of the land has been converted for use as palm oil plantation or other agricultural use, with most of the palm oil exported for use in food and cosmetics in Europe, China, and the United States.
By-the-wind Sailor (Velella velella)
The By-the-wind Sailors are a species of Cnidarian, which is the phylum that includes all jellyfish, corals, sea anemones and hydroids. The main unifying characteristics of cnidarian are their cnidocytes, which are small cells with a harpoon-like structure inside that shoots out when stimulated and helps the Cnidarians to catch their prey.
By-the-wind Sailors are a small species that float on the surface of the sea. They are found across warm and temperate waters, and are sometimes seen in huge numbers together. What looks like an individual Sailor to us, is in fact a collection of polyps, making up a colony that stays together. They use their “sail” for locomotion, as they have no other way to move around. They prey on plankton, catching it with tentacles that hang down under them.
Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
The Red Squirrel, or Eurasian Red Squirrel, is a small species that is found all across Europe and parts of Asia. They generally live in coniferous or temperate forests within their range and feed heavily on the seeds of conifer cones. They strip them in a characteristic manner that helps with assessment of whether there are red squirrels in an area of forest. They cache their food in holes in trees or bury it for leaner times, although their spatial memory is not the best and many of their caches are never found again.
In some areas of their habitat, such as in Ireland and the UK, their numbers have dropped very significantly in recent years due to the introduction of the grey squirrel from North America. Among other threats, the grey squirrels can carry a disease called squirrel pox virus, which is harmless to them, but will kill a red squirrel in a matter of weeks.
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
The Polar Bear is the largest bear species, and in fact largest terrestrial predator on earth, reaching sizes of up to 1,500lbs and 9ft 10in in length. They spend a lot of time in the water either travelling or hunting seals and are extremely strong swimmers. They will also hunt seals by stalking their breathing holes in the ice, waiting for one to surface. Females will dig maternity dens to give birth in, and will stay with their cubs for up to two years in order to teach them the skills they need to survive.
Polar Bears are classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, as their habitat is rapidly disappearing due to climate change. As sea ice melts and retreats towards the poles, the bears are losing their valuable hunting habitat, and will have to spend more time on land living off their fat stores. In addition to the obvious issue of starvation, this can also have a knock-on effect on reproductive success.
Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)
Axolotls are an extremely interesting amphibian species native to lakes around Mexico City. They display four different color types, two wild type and two mutations. They are classed as Critically Endangered, but a search in 2013 turned up no surviving individuals in the wild, suggesting that they may in fact be extinct in the wild. They are kept as pets, but the captive populations in some cases have become neotentic, meaning that they reach sexual maturity before metamorphosing into their adult form. In other words, they stay in their juvenile form forever. In the case of axolotls, the juvenile form is aquatic while the adult form is terrestrial.
Axolotls can also be used as a model organism to study limb regeneration as they can fully regenerate lost limbs. In some cases, they have also been known to regenerate other body parts, even some parts of the brain.
Arctic Hare (Lepus arcticus)
The Arctic Hare is a hardy species native to the tundra of northern Canada and Greenland. They have thick fur and very large back feet that stop them from sinking into deep snow. These adaptations, along with others, allow them to remain in the northern tundra year round with no hibernation. In winter when food is scarce, they will burrow through the snow to get at mosses and woody plants to sustain them. In more plentiful times of year they will also eat roots, leaves, berries and bark.
Their coat is not only functional for its warmth, but also for camouflage. In the winter the hares are white, with only black tips on their ears, in order to blend in with the snow. However, in summer their coats will be a grey color to better camouflage with the rocky terrain.
Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus)
The Andean Cock-of-the-rock is a passerine bird native to the Andean forests in South America. In the cloud forests these birds consume a diet of mostly fruit and insects, while they will occasionally go for larger prey such as frogs or lizards. The species is not threatened at all, with a wide range and stable population trends. It is well known for being the national bird of Peru.
There is marked sexual dimorphism, with the males displaying bright red coloring and a large crest on their head. Males collect in leks and will display for females by jumping up and down and calling, sometimes directly confronting another male. Males are not involved with nesting or brooding at all after mating. Females will construct cup-shaped nests completely on their own out of mud and plants on rocks or at cave entrances.
Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi)
The Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo is an endangered species that is endemic to the island of New Guinea and Irian Jaya, Indonesia. They are marsupials and are related to terrestrial kangaroos, but their arboreal lifestyle means that they look quite different. Their long tails maintain good balance and their strong limbs and large claws are perfect for climbing trees. They are very agile in the trees, and can leap down to the ground from a height of 30feet without injury. Once on the ground, however, they are slow and clumsy.
These tree kangaroos are classed as endangered by the IUCN due to extensive habitat destruction. The loss of habitat is due to a combination of deforestation for timber, and increased cultivation of crops such as coffee and rice. In addition, they are hunted for food and trade by local people, further contributing to population declines.
Common Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)
The Common Collared Lizard, or Eastern Collared Lizard, can be found across the western United States as well as Texas, Missouri and Kansa. They inhabit arid areas with sparse vegetation, and lay their eggs in burrows. Males show bright, distinctive coloring, with blue-green bodies and brownish heads, while females show more demure brown coloration. Both sexes have black bands around the neck and shoulders, giving them their name.
These lizards are also impressive sprinters. They can run on their hind legs, much like frilled lizards and some other species, and can reach speeds of up to 16mph. This helps them to catch fast-moving prey, as well as evade predators.