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A Hummingbird's Shining Armor
This beautiful close-up footage of a perched male Anna's hummingbird showing off its iridescent head and "gorget" was filmed by Vimeo user Don DesJardin in California.

When a perched male Hummingbird raises its head toward the sun at just the right angle, its throat glitters like a crimson spotlight. When it turns its head slightly, the bird’s throat no longer gleams. It appears colorless, dark.

A hummingbird’s brilliant throat feathers are called its “gorget” (pronounced gor-jit). The term comes from days of old, when a knight-in-armor wore a metallic collar or gorget to protect his throat. The hummingbird’s intense glint is the result of iridescence, rather than colored pigments. The bird’s throat feathers contain minutely thin, film-like layers of “platelets,” set like tiles in a mosaic against a darker background. Light waves reflect and refract off the mosaic, creating color in the manner of sun glinting off oily film on water.

Watch the video:
https://vimeo.com/3331560

Info source:
http://www.audubon.org/news/a-hummingbirds-shining-armor

#biodiversity #coolcritters #hummingbird #gorget #science
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Atlantic Puffin
From 2017 Audubon Photography Awards, one of 21 photos.
Great bird photography: Winners and runners-up from the 8th annual competition.

Atlantic puffins have penguin-like coloring but they sport a colorful beak that has led some to dub them the “sea parrot.” The beak fades to a drab gray during the winter and blooms with color again in the spring—suggesting that it may be attractive to potential mates.

Read & learn:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/a/atlantic-puffin/

Photo: Atlantic Puffin.
Credit: Ann Pacheco / Audubon Photography Awards
https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/07/2017-audubon-photography-awards/533214/

#biodiversity #coolcritters #birds #atlanticpuffin
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From the Sept. 15, 1952 Animals feature - “THIS IS A MERMAID? WELL, THAT’S WHAT SCIENCE SAYS.”

According to LIFE: “Some ancient mariners, historians say, went away on a long voyage and came back reporting that they had seen creatures which were women to the waist and fishtail below. The mariners called them mermaids, but modern science claims they were specimen’s of the manatee, or sea-cow, a legless aquatic mammal of which one species, Trichechus manatus latirostris, is found mostly in river mouths along the east coast of Florida.

… It resembles a mermaid only in the fact that it has a fish tail and that the female has a vaguely ladylike bust. Just possibly this was enough to delude a few very ancient and very lonely mariners. The manatee pictured here is named George (also called Winston due to his "fancied resemblance to Britain’s premier), snuggling up to a friendly Biologist, Roswell Bushnell in South Daytona, Fla.

Credit: Robert W. Kelley—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

#biodiversity #marinecreatures #seacow #mermaids
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Mount d'Ambre leaf chameleon (Brookesia tuberculata)
The Mount d'Ambre leaf chameleon is a diminutive chameleon from far northern Madagascar. This species inhabits rainforest and during the day it is active in the leaf litter or on small branches a few centimeters above the ground. At night it can be found roosting on branches approximately 5 - 15 cm above the ground. It is considered ’Vulnerable’ by the IUCN red list.

Sources:
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/summary/176299/0
http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Brookesia&species=tuberculata

Photo credit:
https://www.ovguide.com/mount-d-039;ambre-leaf-chameleon-9202a8c04000641f8000000008ea8503

#biodiversity #brookesiatuberculata #coolcritters #chameleon
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Sea hares
Sea hares are hermaphrodites who really like to share the love. During mating, each sea hare serves as both a male and a female to different partners simultaneously, creating a long chain that can yield millions of eggs.

The slow-moving animals are known for defending themselves by squirting an off-putting mixture of purple ink and a white substance called opaline.

Usually when sea creatures secrete an ink cloud, it acts as a distraction that allows for a quick exit from an impending predator. Inherently, sea slugs could never make that fast an exit - so the ink was always a mystery. But scientists have shown the substance coats predators' antennae, deactivating their chemical senses.

Researchers suggested that with their sense of smell blocked predators lose their appetite and spend a long time cleaning themselves of the sticky coating, allowing the sea hares to escape.

Sources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/21929070
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/weirdest-sea-hare
Photo credit: Genevieve Anderson

#biodiversity #seaslug #coolcritters #seahares
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Pyjama squid (Sepioloidea lineolata)
As it matures, this chromatophore-clad pyjama squid (Sepioloidea lineolata) hatchling will learn to use the color-changing cells that adorn its body to alter its appearance.

The patterns on pyjama squid (Sepioloidea lineolata) are made up of chromatophores—pigmented cells that can expose or hide their color as they expand and retract, respectively.

According to graduate student Brittany Grouge of George Mason University, S.lineolata hatchlings develop color-changing abilities as they grow.

Story via The Scientist
http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/50160/title/Image-of-the-Day--Brand-New-Pyjamas/

Image: A just-hatched pyjama squid (Sepioloidea lineolata), not yet a day old
Credit: BRITTANY GROUGE

#biodiversity #PyjamaSquid #coolcritters #embryology #marinecritters #cephalopod #camouflage
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What's an okapi?
Who’s this? Meet Mosi, a floppy-eared okapi calf born at the San Diego Zoo. What’s an okapi? The okapi, the only living relative of the giraffe, is a large animal that lives in the Ituri Forest—a dense rain forest in central Africa, located in the northeast region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). Its zebra-like white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs give the okapi added camouflage in the partial sunlight that filters through its rain forest habitat.

The species is very cautious, and okapis use their highly developed hearing to alert them before humans can get close. In fact, while natives of the Ituri Forest knew of okapis, scientists did not know of the animal until 1900. Today, the Okapi is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, due to hunting and continued habitat loss.

Learn more about Mosi here:
http://zoonooz.sandiegozoo.org/2017/08/17/san-diego-zoo-animal-care-staff-welcomes-mosi-first-endangered-okapi-born-at-the-zoo-in-four-years/

#coolcritters #biodiversity #okapi #Mosi
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8/23/17
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These arachnids make dinner out of their potential predators in a startling role reversal
At less than a tenth of an ounce, the regal jumping spider can prey on frogs and lizards two to three times its own weight, according to a new study in the Journal of Arachnology.

It's the first time scientists have published observations of jumping spiders—the biggest family of spiders—eating vertebrates.

Source & further reading:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/08/jumping-spiders-lizards-frogs-predators/

Journal article:
http://americanarachnology.org/JoA_free/JoA_v45_n2/arac-45-2-238.pdf

Photograph by Martin Fisher

#biodiversity #spiders #coolcritters #science
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Valentini's sharpnose puffer(Canthigaster valentini)

Valentin’s sharpnose puffer is a demersal marine fish belonging to the family Tetraodontidae.The Saddled puffer is a small sized fish which grows up to 11 cm. It is widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian Ocean, Red Sea included, and until the oceanic islands of the Pacific Ocean.

It inhabits rocky and coral reefs, lagoons and external reef until 55 m. Canthigaster valentini has a diurnal activity. Canthigaster valentini is omnivorous, it feeds on filamentous green and red algae, tunicates, and on smaller amounts of corals, bryozoans, polychaetes, echinoderms, mollusks, and brown and coralline red algae. Valentinni’s sharpnose puffer is highly poisonous to eat.

Info:
http://www.freshmarine.com/saddle-valentini-puffer.html
http://www.pageconcept.org/nonpercif/ballons/canthigaster.htm

Photo credit Jenny (JennyHuang)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/diverslog/142674543

#biodiversity #coolcritters #marinelife #fish

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Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)
The spotted lanternfly is a planthopper native to China, India, and Vietnam. Although it has two pairs of wings, it jumps more than it flies. Its host plants are grapes, pines, stone fruits, and Malus spp. In its native habitat it is kept in check by natural predators or pathogens. It was accidentally introduced in Korea in 2006 and is since considered a pest. In September 2014, it was first spotted in the U.S.

Reference:
http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=15861
Photo credit: Sam Droege
https://www.flickr.com/photos/usgsbiml/

#biodiversity #coolbugs #lanternfly
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