Common Periwinkle

The Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea) is a small marine (saltwater) gastropod mollusc in the Littorinidae family of whelks and sea snails. 

The Common Periwinkle has a thick, dark, grey-brown shell, that is sometimes banded. The inside of the shell is chocolate brown. It has 6-7 whorls. It has gills that enable it to breathe underwater. It has a lid on its shell, called an operculum. 

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Fossa

The Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) is a carnivorous mammal in the Eupleridae family of euplerids and mongooses.

The Fossa looks like a cross between a large mongoose and a small cougar. It has cat-like features, but with a longer, slimmer body than a cat. Its fur is short, straight, and reddish brown, or light and dark-brown. It has large, rounded ears, brown eyes, and a short, rounded nose with whiskers.

It has semi-retractable claws – it can extend its claws but they cannot retract fully into their big paws. It has flexible ankles that enable it to climb up and down trees head-first. It can also jump from tree to tree. It has a long tail. It has scent glands.

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Pulsing Coral

The Pulsing Coral (Xenia sp.) is a soft marine (saltwater) coral in the Xeniidae family. It is also known as Pulse Coral. It is not a plant.

The Pulsing Coral resembles a mat-like mushroom with many-fingered arms. It uses its polyp arms to move water around it. This is called pulsatile motion. It is an octocoral because it has eight tentacles and eight mesenteries on their polyps. It can be white, yellow, blue, green, and brown.

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RESEARCH: Snakes know how much venom they have and they won’t attack if they don’t have enough

Not all snakes are venomous, but scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu wanted to know more about venomous snakes.

The researchers studied venomous Sharp-Snouted Pit Vipers (Deinagkistrodon acutus). The New Scientist magazine (22 June 2021) reported the research results.

The aggressive Sharp-Snouted Pit Viper may be able to sense how much venom it has and it won’t attack if it doesn’t have enough venom (poison). 

Previous research indicates that venomous animals, including spiders, scorpions, and snakes, use their venom frugally and carefully because they do not produce a lot of venom. However, previous research did not study the possibility of whether venomous snakes save their venom for specifc situations, such as self-defence.

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Short-Nosed Unicornfish

The Short-Nosed Unicornfish (Naso brevirostris) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Acanthuridae family of surgeonfish and tangs.

The Short-Nosed Unicornfish has a bluish-grey or brown oval-shaped body with a small mouth. It has one short, prominent horn, called a rostral protruberance, at the front of its head. It has many small dark spots on its head. Its tail is whitish with dark blotches. It has six dorsal (back) spines. 

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Why was the Okapi called the African Unicorn?

Why was the Okapi called the African Unicorn? 

The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is an African ungulate (hoofed) mammal in the Giraffidae family, related to the giraffe. It has chocolate to reddish-brown fur. Its legs have white horizontal stripes with white ankles. Its face, throat, and chest are greyish white. It has a long neck and large flexible ears.

The male has two short ossicones (bony structures) on its forehead, covered in hair. They are not horns. 

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Urchin Climber

The Urchin Climber (Mespilia globulus) is a small marine (saltwater) in the Temnopleuridae family. It is also known as the Ball Urchin.

The Urchin Climber is spherical (ball-shaped) with broad bright blue stripes from top to bottom. In between the blue stripes are bands of short, thin spines called quills that are positioned close together. The quills are black or brown with white tips. 

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CREATURE FEATURE: Bluespotted Ribbontail Ray

The Bluespotted Ribbontail Ray (Taeniura lymma) is a marine (saltwater) stingray in the Dasyatidae family of stingrays. It is also known as the Bluespotted Fantail Ray, the Bluespotted Stingray, or the Lagoon Ray.

The Bluespotted Ribbontail Ray has an oval-shaped disc with electric blue spots on a greyish-yellow coloured skin. The spots vary in size. It has a pair of blue stripes on its tail. It has large, bright-yellow, protruding eyes, a rounded snout (nose), and a short, thick tail. It is mainly smooth, except for a few small thorns in the middle of its back. Its belly is white.

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Fallacy: A toucan can’t fly because its beak is too heavy

Is it true that a toucan can’t fly because its beak is too heavy? No, this is a fallacy – it is not true.

The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) is a large bird in the Ramphastidae family. It has a very large, yellow-orange beak with a black band at the base and a large spot at the tip. 

However, the beak is not heavy.

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Florida Horse Conch

The Florida Horse Conch (Triplofusus papillosus) is a large tropical marine (saltwater) gastropod mollusc in the Fasciolariidae family of sea spindle snails and tulip snails. It is not a true conch shell from the Strombidae family of sea snails.

The Florida Horse Conch is greyish-white or brownish with a light-brown or dark-brown periostracum, which is the thin coating on its shell. It has a long siphonal canal and up to 10 whorls around its shell. It can retract the soft part of its body entirely into its shell and close the operculum (lid). The soft part of its body is bright orange. 

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Northern Bald Ibis and Chick

The Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) is a non-wading bird in the Threskiornithidae family of wading birds. Most ibises are wetland wading birds, living near water sources, but the Northern Bald Ibis is not a wetland wading bird.

It lives and breeds in colonies and flocks of up to 100 individuals. It makes a stick nest high on a cliff ledge to avoid predators. 

The female lays 2-3 eggs. The chicks hatch after about 25 days and gain their feathers within 40-50 days. 

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CREATURE FEATURE: Green Basilisk Lizard

The Green Basilisk Lizard (Basiliscus plumifrons) is a reptile in the Corytophanidae family of iguana lizards. It is also known as the Plumed Basilisk and the Double Crested Basilisk.

The Green Basilisk Lizard is brilliant green with bright yellow eyes, and small blue spots on the ridge of its back. The male has three crests: one crest on its head, one crest on its back, and one crest on its tail. The female only has the head crest. 

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Pederson’s Shrimp

The Pederson’s Shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni or Periclemenes pedersoni) is a marine (saltwater) crustacean in the Palaemonidae family of shrimp. It is also known as the Pederson’s Cleaner Shrimp. It is related to the crab and the lobster.

The Pederson’s Shrimp is a small, transparent (see-through) shrimp with blue or violet markings on its body. It has long, white antennae. 

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Mediterranean Feather Star

The Mediterranean Feather Star (Antedon mediterranea) is a marine (saltwater) crinoid in the Antedonidae family of unstalked feather starfish. 

The Mediterranean Feather Star can be a range of colours, such as white, yellow, orange, red, deep purple, and brown. It has a calyx – a small cup-shaped structure that is surrounded by five pairs of feathery arms. These 10 arms have 40 grasping cirri which are curl-like tufts, feathers, or fringes. The arms are like tentacles. The arms are prehensile, which means that they can grasp objects, food, and hard surfaces. In danger, the arms can roll up. The arms are fragile, but they can regenerate (re-grow) if they break off. 

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