Thursday, 30 June 2011

Longest bony fish.

Image source
From oceans all over the world at great depth.

The longest bony fish in the world is the Giant Oarfish (Regalecus glesne), also known as the King of Herrings. The longest ever recorded was 17 m (56 ft) long, longer even than the confirmed record for the whale shark but not as much as some unconfirmed reports of that same fish.

They are known mostly from dead or dying individuals who make their way to the surface for some reason or end up on beaches, sometimes after storms. Because of this and the way they look, it's thought that Oarfish are the root of many sea monster sightings.

They also eat plankton, which looks like a lot of work to me!

More on the Oarfish.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Slowest flying bird.

Image: Wikipedia
Image: renwest via Flickr
From eastern North America.

The slowest recorded flight of any bird in the world was that of an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor). It was recorded flying at just 5 mph (8 km/h).

Much slower than that and it would probably fall right out of the sky. I don't know if it's being lazy or incredibly daring!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Biggest flower in Britain.

Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia

From Europe.

Britain's biggest native flower are those of the White Waterlily (Nymphaea alba), which can reach about 20 cm (8 in) across. The entire plant can take up well over a metre (3.3 feet) of a lake's surface.

They're like fallen stars rising up to greet the sun. Beautiful!

More on the White Waterlily.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Proportionally biggest testicles.

Image by Richard Richards, University of Derby
Oh dear. The Tuberous Bushcricket (Platycleis affinis) has the biggest testicles in proportion to body weight of any animal. They take up 13.8% of its overall mass. That's like a man having some 22 pounds (10 kilos) of pure testicle. Overall that is, not each.

The output is actually quite low, though. It appears that the cricket uses its stature to mate with a larger number of females rather than devote lots of energy to just one.

This does not serve as a role model for human males to follow.

More on the bushcricket with massive testicles.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Smallest frog.

There are two contenders for the smallest frog and, consequently, the world's smallest tetrapod.

Image source
From 2 small areas of Cuba.

One is the Monte Iberia Eleuth (Eleutherodactylus iberia). It's the smallest frog in the northern hemisphere, reaching just 9.6 - 9.8 mm (3/8 inches) long.

And the other?

Image source
From Brazil.

The other is the Brazilian Gold Frog (Brachycephalus didactylus), also reaching about 9.8 mm (3/8 inches) and the smallest frog in the southern hemisphere.

You know that bit in all the dinosaur movies where a guy gets picked up and taken off by a huge pterodactyl? It looks like these little frogs could experience that with wasps, dragonflies and all sorts of other insects! Weird.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Only canid that hibernates.

Wild tanuki at Fukuyama, HiroshimaImage via Wikipedia

From east Asia, introduced into Europe.

The Raccoon Dog is the only canid who hibernates for the winter. Canids include other dogs, wolves, jackals and coyotes, while the actual raccoon is a much more distant relation.

They eat almost anything at all, from carrion to frogs, rodents, fish, birds, insects, fruits, vegetables grains and bulbs. Wow! When it comes to fattening up for winter, they really got options!

More on the Raccoon Dog.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Deepest living fish.

Image source
From tropical and subtropical oceans, worldwide.

A Cusk Eel known as Abyssobrotula galatheae is the deepest living fish ever caught. In 1970, one was trawled up from a deep sea trench near Puerto Rico at a depth of 8,370 m (27,453 ft).

It is described as having a short head, swollen snout, a soft body with loose, transparent skin, small teeth arranged in irregular rows and tiny, deep-set eyes.

Sounds like the deep sea is not only the best place for it, it's the ONLY place for it!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Biggest freshwater fish.

Image source
From Southeast Asia.

The Mekong Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) is the biggest freshwater fish in the world. One was caught in 2005 that was 2.7 metres (8.9 feet) long and weighed 293 kg (646 lb). It's regarded as the biggest freshwater fish ever caught, while other individuals can reach 3.2 m (10.5 ft) in length.

The Mekong Giant Catfish is critically endangered, which means that thoughts of a gigantic frying pan are highly inappropriate. Still though...

More on that massive catch.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Smallest bird of paradise.

King Bird of paradise - maleImage via Wikipedia

From New Guinea.

The King Bird-of-Paradise is the smallest of them all at just 16 cm in length. It turns out that a tiny size is absolutely no bar whatever to heart-rending magnificence. The richness of those colours almost hurt!

More on the King Bird-of-Paradise and some videos.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Only jumping cockroach.

Image source
From South Africa.

Discovered in 2009, the Leaproach (Saltoblattella montistabularis) is the world's only jumping cockroach. It's only 1 cm long and has big hindmost legs for their acrobatics.

It's pretty strange looking, but it's nice to see a tiny cockroach out in the wild rather than a really big one in the kitchen.

More on the Leaproach.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Deepest living land animal.

Image source
Known only from South Africa. So far, at least.

Two roundworms have been discovered eking out a living in 48°C (118°F) water 1.3 km (0.8 miles) beneath the Earth's surface. One is the previously known Plectus aquatilis, the other is new to science and has been named Halicephalobus mephisto. Previously, only single celled bacteria and fungi had been discovered at these depths.

Even though Halicephalobus mephisto is named after Mephistopheles, the demon who Faust did that unfortunate deal with, it's not thought that any of the scientists wagered their soul with any of the nematodes to gain this knowledge. They put filters over mine bore-holes instead.

More on the deep living worms.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Animal with the most vertebrae.

From tropical to temperate deep sea waters, worldwide.

The Slender Snipe Eel really is extremely thin. Even if it reaches 1.5 metres (5 feet) long it will still only weigh a "few ounces." They also have a backbone made up of 750 vertebrae, more than any other animal and almost twice as many as the most well endowed snakes!

Sometimes it looks like the Slender Snipe Eel is as surprised at his situation as everyone else.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Biggest bony fish.

An enormous ocean sunfish (mola mola), caught ...Image via Wikipedia
The deep-diving ocean sunfish is the largest b...Image via Wikipedia

From temperate to tropical ocean waters worldwide.

The biggest, bulkiest bony fish in the world is the Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola. An unusually massive one can reach 3.3 m (10.8 ft) in length and 4.2 m (14 ft) tall across the fins, with a weight of up to 2,300 kg (5,100 lb).

Despite their size they still look like they're supposed to be about twice as long. It's probably a good thing they aren't, though; Molas eat almost nothing but jellyfish. Not the most nutritious of diets!

More on the Ocean Sunfish.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Only vegetarian spider.

Image by R.L. Curry

From Central America and Mexico.

A spider called Bagheera kiplingi is the only one so far known to be primarily vegetarian. It's a kind of jumping spider, but it now uses its amazing eyesight and agility to avoid ants as it snips off the tips of acacia plants before retreating to feed.

The thing about those ants is that they actually live in the acacia and protect it, in return the tree provides them with those protein rich tips to eat. For the spider, eating the tree is just about as difficult as eating the ants would be!

More on the Vegetarian Spider, including a video.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Cat with the proportionally biggest canines.

Image: Wikimedia

From southeast Asia and China.

At most, Clouded Leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) reach about 1 metre (3.3 feet) long excluding a tail of around equal length, yet their canine teeth are some 5 cm (2 inches) long. This is about equal to those of tigers, cats who can reach 3 times the length of a Clouded Leopard!

I can't help but feel a tad inadequate compared to that, but at least I save on toothpaste. Also I got knives and forks and stuff, so there!

More on the Clouded Leopard.

Here's a video of a tired Clouded Leopard yawning and another showing a couple other individuals who are not the least bit tired. In fact, they're utterly mad and shouldn't be eating so much sugar.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Biggest cat.

Female Panthera tigris altaica, Leipzig Zoo / ...Image via Wikipedia
Siberian Tiger from the Detroit Zoo.Image via Wikipedia

From far eastern Siberia.

The biggest of all the cats is the Tiger. Now, there's only one species of Tiger, but there are several subspecies and the biggest of them all is the Siberian Tiger. Males are larger than females and he can reach about 2.3 metres (7.5 feet) in length, and that's not including a tail that can reach over a metre (3.3 feet) long in itself. Their weight averages about 227 kilograms (500 lb), but the heaviest weighed 384 kg. Yikes!

It's true that their fur coat is thicker than that of other tigers to cope with the cold but make no mistake, this is one great, big, scary beast!

More on the Siberian Tiger.
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