Birds vary in size; some of them like sparrows are tiny while others like the ostrich are huge. Birds can be classified into many groups, but here we shall classify them based on their size and talk about some of the largest existing birds in the world. Here is the lowdown:
1. Andean Condors (Vultur Gryphus) These are the heaviest birds and are found mostly in the Andes Mountains in South America. Andean condors are black in colour with white patches on their wings and white ruff around their necks. These birds are extremely heavy, but nonetheless soar to great heights.
2. North African Ostrich The North African Ostrich is known to be the largest bird and it is around 9 ft tall and weighs 345 lb. It is also the fastest bird on land – it can run up to 45 mph when necessary.
3. Species of Cassowaries These are flightless birds that can weigh as much as 125 pounds and are characterized by spectacular, helmet-like bony casques with blue and red skin around their neck and head. Cassowaries are highly vulnerable to over-hunting and habitat loss. They are generally found in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.
4. Emu It is one of the largest bird’s native to Australia. These soft-feathered, brown, flightless birds reach up to 2 meters (6.6 ft) in height. They can travel great distances at a fast, economical trot and if necessary, can sprint at 50 km/h (31 mph) for some distance at a time.
5. Albatross The wandering albatross is the bird with the biggest wingspan, reaching up to 5.3 meters. It weighs between 6 and 16 kg. The length of its body is about 107–135 cm, with females being slightly smaller than males, and they weigh typically from 6.25–11.3 kg. The adult albatross has a white body with black and white wings. Due to its wingspan, it can remain air bound for several hours at a time.
Unfortunately, many of these species are slowly getting extinct due to loss of habitat. Hence, they are labeled as endangered species and governments of various countries are trying to protect the remaining members of their species.
Animals form an integral part of our society. They have a special bond with mankind and also balance out the eco system. Hence, it is our duty and responsibility to protect these animals. However, due to urbanisation, industrialisation, poaching etc., a number of distinct animal species are on the verge of extinction. Here are 5 animals that our children might not be able to see:
1. Mountain Gorilla The Mountain Gorilla from Africa is a large, strong animal. They are closely related to the human species but are now fast disappearing due to deforestation, poaching and various fatal diseases.
2. Giant Panda China's Giant Panda resembles a big soft, cuddly teddy bear. But these beautiful creatures are slowly becoming extinct due to their low sex drive which does not facilitate procreation. Various methods to enhance mating amongst this species are a major requirement.
3. Blue Whale The Blue Whale found in the Antarctica is one of the most magnificent and largest creatures on earth. The Blue Whale faces extinction due to food shortage. Its source of food is slowly being depleted by UV rays coming through the ozone layer which has been created due to pollution from mankind.
4. Blue Poison Dart Frog The Blue Poison Dart frog as the name suggests is a unique brilliant blue colour frog. The Blue Frog which is found in the South American rainforests is fast becoming extinct as it is being poached for various uses like medicinal properties in painkillers etc.
5. Polar Bears Polar Bears from the Arctic region are large carnivorous animals which are also facing extinction. Their natural habitat is soon being eroded for urbanisation and industrialisation and they are also under threat due to global warming.
Some measure to protect these endangered Species • Reduce Pollution by imposing strict industrial laws • Curb Deforestation which destroys the habitat of these wildlife species • Join Wildlife Protection Organisations to create awareness
These may seem like meagre measures, but they will go a long way in helping to protect these endangered species. Stay aware and pray for them!
Animals survive in all sorts of extreme conditions and have specific adaptations based on their habitat. Animals in deserts can withstand long durations without food or water, animals in mountainous regions can withstand extreme temperatures etc. These features help them avoid extinction and flourish in their chosen habitats. Here are some animals with their own unique adaptations.
The Humming Bird
Hummingbirds are small birds, so called for the characteristic hum they make with their wings. They are known for their ability to hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings, 15 to 80 times per second (depending on the species). The hummingbird also has the ability to fly deliberately backwards or vertically. This helps it maintain position while drinking from flower blossoms.
Modifications to the giraffe's structure have evolved, particularly to the circulatory system, because of its height. A giraffe's heart, which can weigh up to 10 kg (24 lb) and about 2 feet long, has to generate around double the normal blood pressure for an average large mammal in order to maintain blood flow to the brain against gravity. In the upper neck, a complex pressure-regulation system prevents excess blood flow to the brain when the giraffe lowers its head to drink. Conversely, the blood vessels in the lower legs are under great pressure (because of the weight of fluid pressing down on them). In other animals such pressure would force the blood out through the capillary walls; giraffes, however, have a very tight sheath of thick skin over their lower limbs which maintains high extravascular pressure in exactly the same way as a pilot's g-suit.
Camels are well known for their humps. They do not, however, store water in them as is commonly believed, though they do serve this purpose through roundabout means. Their humps are a reservoir of fatty tissue, while water is stored in their blood. However, when this tissue is metabolised, it is not only a source of energy, but yields through reaction with oxygen from the air 1111 g of water per 1000 g of fat converted. This allows them to survive without water for about two weeks, and without food for up to a month.
Ever wonder how primates communicate? Well different kinds of primates have their own approach to getting their messages across. Prosimians (most primitive of the primates, includes lemurs, lorises and bushbabies) communicate extensively through scent marking. Scent marks can convey information on the individual's sex, identity, reproductive state and possibly mood. In contrast, monkeys rely more on visual means of communication such as postures and facial expressions. Sitting in close contact is actually a form of ongoing communication. Huddling with a companion confirms and reinforces positive social relationships.
Facial expressions can communicate a wide variety of emotional states and intentions. The open-mouth stare is a low-level threat. When the intensity of the threat increases, the primate leans forward with its head lowered and exposes its teeth more. Pursing of the lips is seen in many contexts. It is often used to reduce tension, such as when two primates greet each other, or when an individual has been the recipient of an open-mouth stare.
How is it that some animals are able to see in the dark? The most interesting feature of nocturnal animals is the size of their eyes. Large eyes, with a wider pupil, larger lens and increased retinal surface collect more light. Some animals of the night have acquired a spherical lens and widened cornea to compensate for reduced eye movement. This combined with a wide cornea increases the animal’s field of view allowing the head and eyes to remain motionless. Some animals have eyes that glow in the dark. This is due to the tapetum lucidum an adaptation for night vision. The tapetum is a thick reflective membrane, directly beneath the retina. It collects and re-emits light back to the retina a second time, giving the rods a second chance to absorb the image information, thus maximizing the little light available to them. Although nocturnal animals see mostly crude or imperfect shapes, outlines and no colours, by maximizing their sensitivity to low light levels with the above adaptations, it is enough for them to hunt, feed and survive in the dark of night.
Did you know that Panda Bears eat over 15 different kinds of bamboo? Because of an inefficient intestinal system the Panda must feed for 12 to 16 hours a day, they can consume 22 to 40 pounds of bamboo each day. When they eat fresh bamboo shoots they eat about 84 pounds every day. A sedentary bear that usually stays in a selected feeding area eating large amounts of bamboo, giant pandas generally move in a slow, determined manner. When startled, they will move at a slow trot to escape danger. Giant pandas, with their short claws, are capable of climbing trees very easily. The head of a Panda is very large and has developed special molars for chewing plants. It has powerful muscles which extend from the top of its head to the jaws giving it the ability to crush very tough stalks. There esophagus has a though lining to protect the Panda from bamboo splinters. The stomach is protected too, with a thick muscular lining.
Ever wondered why certain animals have certain colors? Tigers for instance usually hunt alone at night among the trees, silently stalking prey such as antelope, deer and pigs, and then pouncing from a few yards away. The dark stripes of their yellow fur break up their outline and so their victims cannot see them lurking in the shadows of the forest. Similarly, Polar bears are white so that they can blend in with the snow and ice of the Arctic landscape in which they live. This is obviously a huge advantage for the polar bear when it’s hunting.