CREATURE FEATURE: Small Common Blue Butterfly

The Small Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) is an insect in the Lycaenidae family of blue butterflies.

The Small Common Blue male has iridescent blue wings above with a thin, black-brown border and white fringe. The female is brown above with blue flecks, like dust, and orange spots. Both the male and the female have a row of red or orange spots along the edge of the hindwing (back wing). 

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World Wetlands Day: wetland animals

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February annually. With 35% of the world’s wetlands having disappeared in the last 50 years, and nearly 90% degraded since the 1700s, the theme for the 2023 World Wetlands Day is Wetland Restoration – ‘revive and restore degraded wetlands.’ Wetlands are important  ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, and freshwater availability.

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Supersynchrony in Banded Mongoose females

Banded Mongoose females have a unique system of supersynchrony when they have their babies – they all give birth on the same night.

The Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a small carnivorous mammal found in central and eastern Africa – and one of 25 African species of mongoose. It is related to the Meerkat.

Most mongooses are solitary, but the Banded Mongoose lives in a colony of about 20 individuals, and up to 55 individuals. The colony lives underground in burrows, called dens.

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Rôti the Zebra Shark joins the Paris Aquarium

A new Zebra Shark has joined the large pool in the Paris Aquarium in the capital of France. The Zebra Shark has been named Rôti, which is French for Roast. It joins other Zebra Sharks but Rôti is easily recognized because it is the smallest of the Zebra Sharks.

Rôti comes from the Skegness Aquarium in England, as part of an exchange for the preservation of species. Skegness is a seaside town in Lincolnshire on the east coast of England. The Skegness Aquarium opened in 2015.

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Pygmy hippo born at Metro Richmond Zoo in December 2022

The Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia, America, is celebrating the birth of a baby Pygmy Hippo. 

Born on 6 December 2022, the Pygmy Hippopotamus does not yet have a name. Its parents are Iris and Corwin. Iris was pregnant for 7 months before giving birth to her daughter. 

She weighed 7 kilograms (16 pounds) and is growing rapidly. After a week, she was already 11 kilograms (24 pounds). When she is an adult, she will weigh up to 272 kilograms (600 pounds).

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See-through Glass Frog hides its blood

People can see the beating heart of the see-through Glass Frog. But, its blood is less visible. Scientists have recently discovered why. The Glass Frog hides its blood in its liver when it sleeps.

The Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium yaku) and the Fleischmann’s Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni) live in the tropical, dense Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador. 

The size of a marshmallow, the amphibians are called Glass Frogs because their skin is translucent and transparent (see-through). Jesse Delia at the American Museum of Natural History in New York said to the New Scientist LIFE magazine in 2022, “If it wasn’t for that green skin on their back, you would probably be able to read a newspaper through them.”

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RESEARCH: Reindeer can help humans treat depression

In 2019, the New Scientist LIFE magazine wrote about the superpowers of reindeers. Do they really have superpowers?

The Reindeer, or Caribou, is a large mammal in the Cervidae family of deers. Nearly 5 million Reindeers live in the freezing climate of the Arctic, from Alaska to Siberia and Greenland, where there are more periods of night-time darkness than day-time light. 

Genetic scientists know that Reindeers can change the colour of their eyes from gold in summer to blue in winter. They are also working on the Ruminant Genome Project to study Reindeer genes – their DNA – to compare their genes to human genes and other animals, especially other ruminants. Ruminants are animals that chew their cud, such as deer, cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, gazelles, and antelopes.

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RESEARCH: Mice can tell the difference between an image and the real thing

This is the first study that shows behavioural evidence that laboratory mice have perceptual abilities, just like mammalian humans and non-human primates (apes, chimpanzees, gibbons, gorillas, lemurs, monkeys, etc.). 

Robert W Stackman and FAU neuroscience researchers from the Department of Psychology, Charles E Schmidt College of Science, Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute, Center for Complex Systems and Brain Science, and Institue for Human Health and Disease Intervention found that ‘a functional mouse hippocampus is required for this form of non-spatial visual recognition memory and picture-object equivalence.’

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