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320/365 – Mammoth

A mammoth is any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, proboscideans commonly equipped with long, curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair.

They lived from the Pliocene epoch from around 5 million years ago, into the Holocene at about 4,500 years ago. And were members of the family Elephantidae, which contains, along with mammoths, the two genera of modern elephants and their ancestors.

Description

Like their modern relatives, mammoths were quite large. The largest known species reached heights in the region of 4 m (13 ft) at the shoulder and weights up to 8 tonnes (9 short tons), while exceptionally large males may have exceeded 12 tonnes (13 short tons).

However, most species of mammoth were only about as large as a modern Asian elephant. Both sexes bore tusks. A first, small set appeared at about the age of six months and these were replaced at about 18 months by the permanent set.

Growth of the permanent set was at a rate of about 1 to 6 inches (2.5 to 15 cm) per year.   Based on studies of their close relatives, the modern elephants, mammoths probably had a gestation period of 22 months, resulting in a single calf being born.

Their social structure was probably the same as that of African and Asian elephants, with females living in herds headed by a matriarch, whilst bulls lived solitary lives or formed loose groups after sexual maturity.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammoth

Categories: Animal, General Knowledge

291/365 – Frog facts

Frogs belong to a group of animals called amphibians. (am-fib-ee-anz). Amphibian means two-lives. Frogs begin their lives in the water as eggs and then tadpoles and when they are fully developed they live on land.

Scientists believe that there are more than 4,000 different kinds of amphibians on Earth. Toads, newts, salamanders and caecilians (blind worms) are also members of the amphibian group.

Frogs are cold-blooded which means that their bodies are the same temperature as the air or water around them.

When they are cold they will lay in the sun to warm up and when they get too warm they will go into the water to cool their bodies off.

Scientists have found frogs fossils that date back to the Jurassic period over 140 million years ago.

Frogs are found all over the world, and in every climate, except Antarctica.

They can be found near any, and every, body of fresh water but prefer ponds, lakes, and marshes, because the water doesn’t move very fast. Frogs cannot live in the sea or any salt water.

Categories: Animal, General Knowledge

281/365 – Ants Fact

1. Ants are capable of carrying objects 50 times their own body weight with their mandibles.

2. Soldier ants use their heads to plug the entrances to their nests and keep intruders from gaining access.

3. Certain ant species defend plants in exchange for food and shelter.

4. The total biomass of all the ants on Earth is roughly equal to the total biomass of all the people on Earth.

5. Ants sometimes herd or tend to insects of other species, like aphids or leafhoppers.

6. Ants will enslave other ants, keeping them captive and making them do work for the colony.

7. Ants lived alongside the dinosaurs.

8. Ants started farming long before humans.

9. Some ants form “supercolonies,” massive communities of ants that can stretch for thousands of miles.

10. Ants follow scent trails laid by scout ants to gather food.

Source: http://insects.about.com/od/antsbeeswasps/a/10-cool-facts-about-ants.htm

260/365 – Prawn

Prawns are decapod crustaceans of the suborder Dendrobranchiata. There are 540 extant species, in seven families, and a fossil record extending back to the Devonian.

They differ from other, similar crustaceans, such as Caridea (shrimp) and Stenopodidea (boxer shrimp) by the branching form of the gills and by the fact that they do not brood their eggs, but release them directly into the water.

They may reach a length of over 330 millimetres (13 in) and a mass of 450 grams (1.0 lb), and are widely fished and farmed for human consumption.

Shrimp and prawns  

While in biological terms shrimps and prawns belong to different suborders of Decapoda, they are very similar in appearance.

In commercial farming and fisheries, the terms “shrimp” and “prawn” are often used interchangeably.

However, recent aquaculture literature increasingly uses the term “prawn” only for the freshwater forms of palaemonids and “shrimp” for the marine penaeids.

In the United Kingdom, the word “prawn” is more common on menus than “shrimp”, while the opposite is the case in North America.

The term “prawn” is also loosely used to describe any large shrimp, especially those that come 15 (or fewer) to the pound (such as “king prawns”, yet sometimes known as “jumbo shrimp”).

Australia and some other Commonwealth nations follow this British usage to an even greater extent, using the word “prawn” almost exclusively.

When Australian comedian Paul Hogan used the phrase, “I’ll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you” in an American television advertisement, it was intended to make what he was saying easier for his American audience to understand, and was thus a deliberate distortion of what an Australian would typically say.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prawn

Categories: Animal, General Knowledge

248/365 – Fish

Fish have been on the earth for more than 450 million years.

Fish were well established long before dinosaurs roamed the earth.

There are over 25,000 identified species of fish on the earth.

It is estimated that there may still be over 15,000 fish species that have not yet been identified.

There are more species of fish than all the species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals combined.

40% of all fish species inhabit fresh water, yet less than .01% of the earth’s water is fresh water.

The spotted climbing perch is able to absorb oxygen from the air and will crawl overland using its strong pectoral fins.

Some fish like sharks don’t posses an air bladder to help keep them afloat and must either swim continually or rest on the bottom.

Some fish make sounds by grating their teeth and others like some catfish make sounds from their air filled swim bladder.

Some species of fish can fly (glide) others can skip along the surface and others can even climb rock.

Fish have a specialized sense organ called the lateral line which works much like radar and helps them navigate in dark or murky water.

The largest fish is the great whale shark which can reach fifty feet in length.

The smallest fish is the Philippine goby that is less than 1/3 of an inch when fully grown.

Some species of fish have skeletons made only of cartilage.

Fish have excellent senses of sight, touch, taste and many possess a good sense of smell and ‘hearing’.

Fish feel pain and suffer stress just like mammals and birds.

Source: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=16+2160&aid=586

Categories: Animal, General Knowledge

227/365 – Zebra

April 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Swahili Name: Punda Milia

Scientific Name: Burchell’s zebra (Equus burchellii); Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi)

Size: 45 to 55 inches at the shoulder (Burchell’s); 50 to 60 inches (Grevy’s)

Weight: Burchell’s: 485 to 550 pounds (Burchell’s); 770 to 990 pounds (Grevy’s)

Lifespan: 40 years in captivity

Habitat: Woodlands to open plains

Diet: Herbivores Gestation: 12 months (Burchell’s); 13 months (Grevy’s)

Predators: Lions, hyenas, hunting dogs, leopards, cheetahs

Zebras, horses and wild asses are all equids, long-lived animals that move quickly for their large size and have teeth built for grinding and cropping grass. Zebras have horselike bodies, but their manes are made of short, erect hair, their tails are tufted at the tip and their coats are striped.

Three species of zebra still occur in Africa, two of which are found in East Africa. The most numerous and widespread species in the east is Burchell’s, also known as the common or plains zebra. The other is Grevy’s zebra, named for Jules Grevy, a president of France in the 1880s who received one from Abyssinia as a gift, and now found mostly in northern Kenya. (The third species, Equus zebra, is the mountain zebra, found in southern and southwestern Africa.)

Physical Characteristics

The long-legged Grevy’s zebra, the biggest of the wild equids, is taller and heavier than the Burchell’s, with a massive head and large ears.

Zebras have shiny coats that dissipate over 70 percent of incoming heat, and some scientists believe the stripes help the animals withstand intense solar radiation. The black and white stripes are a form of camouflage called disruptive coloration that breaks up the outline of the body. Although the pattern is visible during daytime, at dawn or in the evening when their predators are most active, zebras look indistinct and may confuse predators by distorting true distance.

The stripes on Grevy’s zebras are more numerous and narrow than those of the plains zebra and do not extend to the belly. In all zebra species, the stripes on the forequarters form a triangular pattern; Grevy’s have a similar pattern on the hindquarters, while others have a slanted or horizontal pattern.

Habitat

Burchell’s zebras inhabit savannas, from treeless grasslands to open woodlands; they sometimes occur in tens of thousands in migratory herds on the Serengeti plains. Grevy’s zebras are now mainly restricted to parts of northern Kenya. Although they are adapted to semi-arid conditions and require less water than other zebra species, these zebras compete with domestic livestock for water and have suffered heavy poaching for their meat and skins.

Behavior

Family groups are stable members maintaining strong bonds over many years. Mutual grooming, where zebras stand together and nibble the hair on each other’s neck and back, helps develop and preserve these bonds. Family members look out for one another if one becomes separated from the rest, the others search for it. The group adjusts its traveling pace to accommodate the old and the weak.

The females within a family observe a strict hierarchical system. A dominant mare always leads the group, while others follow her in single file, each with their foals directly behind them. The lowest- ranking mare is the last in line. Although the stallion is the dominant member of the family, he operates outside the system and has no special place in the line.

Diet

Zebras are avid grazers. Both Burchell’s and Grevy’s zebras are in constant search of green pastures. In the dry season, they can live on coarse, dry grass only if they are within a short distance (usually no farther than 20 miles away) of water holes.

Caring for the Young

When a foal is born the mother keeps all other zebras (even the members of her family) away from it for 2 or 3 days, until it learns to recognize her by sight, voice and smell.

While all foals have a close association with their mothers, the male foals are also close to their fathers. They leave their group on their own accord between the ages of 1 and 4 years to join an all-male bachelor group until they are strong enough to head a family.

Predators

Zebras are important prey for lions and hyenas, and to a lesser extent for hunting dogs, leopards and cheetahs. When a family group is attacked, the members form a semicircle, face the predator and watch it, ready to bite or strike should the attack continue. If one of the family is injured the rest will often encircle it to protect it from further attack.

Source: http://www.outtoafrica.nl/animals/engzebra.html

Categories: Animal, General Knowledge

221/365 – Cows

A cow is a mature female and a bull an adult male of a bovine family. A heifer is a female cow that hasn’t had a calf yet. Cattle is the name for the whole “cow” family.

There are about 920 different breeds of cows in the world. They were domesticated about 5,000 years ago. Cows came to America with the Pilgrims.

Modern domestic cattle are believed to belong to either the species Bos taurus (like Holstein, Brown Swiss, Jersey and Guemsey), or the species Bos indicus which are humped cattle like the Brahman. Some cattle are a cross between those two species.

The smallest type of cow is a breed called Dexter, which was bred a small size for household living. Cows can live 25 years. You can guess the age of a cow that has horns by counting the number of rings on the horns.

Cows have almost total 360 degree panoramic vision and are able to see colors, except red. They can detect odors up to 5 miles away. Cows can hear lower and higher frequencies better than humans.

Per day, a cows spends 6 hours eating and 8 hours chewing cud. A cow doesn’t bite the grass, but she curls her tongue around it. A cow has no upper front teeth.

The average cow drinks about 30 gallons of water and eats about 95 pounds of feed per day.

A cow stands up and sits down about 14 times a day.

The mean gestation period of a cow is between 279 and 290 days. The bond between a cow and her calf is very strong and continues after the calf is fully grown. In non-commercial herds, some cows will nurse their calves for up to 3 years.

A cow weighs about 1400 pounds. A 1000 pound cow produces an average of 10 tons of manure a year.

Cows are very social animals. They form large herds and will bond to some herd members while avoiding others. They “moo” and use different body positions and facial expressions to communicate with each other.

A Holstein’s spots are like a fingerprint. No two cows have exactly the same pattern of spots.

A cow has one stomach containing four digestive compartments: the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. The rumen is the largest compartment and acts as a fermentation chamber. The abomasum is last of the four and is comparable in both structure and function to the human stomach.

Cows have cloven hooves. In galloping through boggy places or in deep mud, cattle can run faster than a horse. Their toes spread, and therefore their wide feet do not sink so deep as do those of the solid-hoofed horse.

Source: http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_facts/Cows.htm

Categories: Animal, General Knowledge