RESEARCH: Three factors why big-eyed frogs have big eyes

In September 2020, the New Scientist magazine reported on research to determine why frogs have evolved big eyes. 

Some frogs have the biggest eyes of all vertebrates (animals with backbones), in relation to their body size, and zoologists did not know why. Now researchers have found that the size of the eyes of these vertebrates seems to depend upon their environment.

Eyesight requires a lot of energy to function – focusing, adjusting peripheral vision, calculating distance, determing what the object is, and so on. There is a lot of things the eye must do quickly to ‘see’ what is in front and around it. Scientists think this is why animals living in dark environments, such as caves, often evolve to have smaller eyes.

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Western European Ringlet Butterfly

The Western European Ringlet Butterfly (Aphantopus hyperantus hyperantus) is an insect in the Nymphalidae family of butterflies.

The Western European Ringet Butterfly has chocolate brown to black wings and a dark-brown hairy body. The upper and lower sides of its wings are solid brown with small, yellow-ringed eyespots. The number of eyespots is variable. The juvenile butterfly has a velvety appearance and is almost black with a white fringe (margin) on each wing. It lightens in colour as it ages.

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RESEARCH: Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal but cheetah cub survival rates are low

Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal but cheetah cub survival rates are low. Why is this?   

Previous studies of cheetah cub survival rates on the Serengeti Plains of Kenya and Tanzania in Africa in 1994, 2000, and 2004, found that it was exceptionally low because of the lion population attacking them. The survival rate was only 4.8% of cubs – that is 5 cubs out of every 100 cubs born survived beyond 14 months of age.

Researchers from the Zoology Department of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom conducted a similar study on cheetah cub survival rates in 2013 and published the results in the Journal of Zoology. They compared the cheetah cub survival rate in the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park on the border of Botswana and South Africa with the Serengeti study.

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CREATURE FEATURE: European Ground Squirrel

The European Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) is a rodent mammal in the Sciuridae family of squirrels. It is also known as the European Souslik.

The European Ground Squirrel has a slender body with a short, bushy tail. Its short fur is yellowish-grey, flecked with black hair. Its underside is pale. It has large, dark eyes and small, rounded ears. It has short feet with sharp claws for digging. It has strong, gnawing teeth. It has a small nose with whiskers. 

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Desmarest’s Hutia

The Desmarest’s Hutia (Capromys pilorides) is a mammal in the Echimyidae family of rodents. It is also known as the Cuban Hutia.

The Desmarest’s Hutia is a short, stocky animal with short legs, and looks like a big hairy rat with a heavy rear end. It has thick, coarse fur ranging from black to brown, often with light-brown to reddish fur on its rump, near its tail, and on the crown of its head. It has small ears, small dark eyes, and a dark nose with dark whiskers. It has five toes with large, black claws.

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Tushetian Sheep

The Tushetian Sheep (Ovis aries musimon) is a ruminant mammal in the Bovidae family. It is an artiodactyla – an even-toed ungulate (hoofed mammal). It is a sub-species of the primitive Domestic Sheep (Ovis aries). It is similar to the Near East Sheep and it is also known as the European Mouflon.

The Tushetian Sheep has a smooth, long, well-developed woolly coat. Its face is not woolly. It has a small, fat, woolly tail. It has long ears. The male is red-brown in summer with a white saddle patch or more white areas. The female is brownish. Both the male and female are darker in winter. The male has helix-shaped horns, but the female does not have horns.

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Iberian Golden Eagle

The Iberian Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos homeyeri) is a large bird of prey in the Accipitridae family of booted eagles because it has feathering over its legs. It is a sub-species of the Golden Eagle, which is one of the most common eagles in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a raptor and an accipiter. 

The Iberian Golden Eagle is dark-brown with red-golden-brown, or light rusty, feathers on the back of its neck (nape). The nape feathers are short, and not crested. Its forehead and crown are dark-brownish.

It has some white markings on its long, strong wings. It has a blue-grey beak with a dark, sharply down-turned tip. Its beak has a beige-coloured cere. It has light-yellowish legs and feet with long black claws, called talons. It has orange-amber eyes.

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Wrinkled Dune Snail

The Wrinkled Dune Snail
(Xeroplexa intersecta previously Candidula intersecta) is an air-breathing pulmonate gastropod mollusc in the Geomitridae family of terrestrial (land) snails. It is an invertebrate, because it does not have a backbone. Its shell is its exo-skeleton (outside skeleton).

The Wrinkled Dune Snail is yellowish-beige with dark-brown and copper bands. The round, globular, coarse (not glossy) shell has a right-handed whorl, which is called a dextral shell. There are five whorls with a slightly raised central spire. Its shell aperture (opening) does not have a lip. The body is bluish-grey with long upper tentacles and short lower tentacles on ts head. Its head extends to form a snout (proboscis). Its eyes are at the tip of the tentacles.

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Grove Unbanded Snail – Yellow Form

The Grove Unbanded Snail – Yellow Form (Cepaea nemoralis) is an air-breathing pulmonate gastropod mollusc in the Helicidae family of terrestrial (land) snails. It is a variant of the Grove Snail, also known as the Brown-Lipped Snail. It is an invertebrate, because it does not have a backbone. Its shell is its exo-skeleton (outside skeleton).

The Grove Unbanded Snail – Yellow Form can be varied in its appearance. The surface of its shell is semi-glossy. The shell has a right-handed whorl, which is called a dextral shell. The colour of the Grove Snail’s shell can be reddish, brownish, yellow, or creamy-white, with or without bands. The Grove Unbanded Snail – Yellow Form has a light, creamy yellow shell. It does not have prominent dark-brown bands or stripes. It has a white lip, not a brown lip. Its head extends to form a snout (proboscis). It has tentacles on its head. Its eyes are at the tip of the tentacles. 

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CREATURE FEATURE: Dama Mhorr Gazelle

The Dama Mhorr Gazelle (Nanger dama mhorr) is a mammal in the Bovidae family of bovines, including gazelles and antelopes. It is also known as the Mhorr Gazelle, the Mohor Gazelle, and the Addra Gazelle. It is a sub-species of the Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama). It is extinct in the wild and was last seen in the wild in 1968, therefore it is a critically endangered species. It exists in breeding programs in zoos and reserves.  

The Dama Mhorr Gazelle is white below with a reddish-brown head and neck. It has a small head with a narrow muzzle (nose). It has large eyes. The male and the female have medium-length curved horns in the shape of an S. It has longer legs and a longer neck than other gazelles. It is an artiodactyl because it has cloven (split) hooves.

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Common Prawn

The Common Prawn (Palaemon serratus) is a marine (saltwater) crustacean in the Palaemonidae family of invertebrate ten-footed shrimp (decapod). It is related to the crab and the lobster.

The Common Prawn is transparent (see-through) to pinkish-brown with reddish striped-liked markings and patterns. It has an exo-skeleton (outside skeleton) called a carapace or shell. Its forward extension of the carapace in front of its eyes, called the rostrum, curves upwards. The rostrum is also bifurcated at the tip, which means that it is split into two parts. It has long, white antennae. It has bulging eyes. It has ten legs.

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Tree-Crevice Skink

The Tree-Crevice Skink (Egernia striolata) is a reptile in the Scincidae family of skink lizards. It is a squamate. It is also called the Tree Skink.

The Tree-Crevice Skink has a thick, flattened body with small eyes. It has 26-36 rows of scales. It is dark-black to grey-brown with a pale stripe of scales down its body from its head to its tail. Its underbelly is pale or cream-coloured. It eyes have vertical, narrow pupils.

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Tadpole of the Phantasmal Poison Frog

The Phantasmal Poison Frog (Epipedobates tricolor) is an endangered amphibian in the Dendrobatidae family of Poison Dart Frogs. 

The Phantasmal Poison Frog begins its life as an egg. The adult female frog is oviparous, laying eggs. The female lays 10-30 eggs, which hatch after about 14 days. The male cares for the eggs. 

The eggs hatch into tadpoles, and the male carries them on his back and takes them to a river or stream. 

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What is the difference between the European Hare and the Patagonian Mara?

What is the difference between the European Hare (Lepus europaeus) and the Patagonian Mara (Dolichotis patagonum)?

The European Hare is a lagomorph, specifically a leporid mammal, related to rabbits. It is also known as the Brown Hare. The Patagonian Mara is a large rodent. It is also known as the Patagonian Hare or the Patagonian Cavy, but it is not a hare and it is not related to hares or rabbits. The Patagonian Mara is a cavid, related to the guinea pig. 

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Clark’s Anemonefish

The Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) is a tropical marine (saltwater) fish in the Pomacentridae family of clownfish and damselfish. It is also known as the Yellowtail Clownfish.

The Clark’s Anemonefish has an oval-shaped, flat, compressed body. It is vivid black with white and yellow stripes. The black areas become wider with age. It has two vertical white bands, one behind the eye and one above the tail. The dorsal (back) fins are orange-yellow. 

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Diablito Frog

The Diablito Frog (Oophaga sylvatica) is a small venomous amphibian in the Dendrobatidae family of poison dart frogs. 

The Diablito Frog varies in colour, from red and yellow to orange. The female has circular, round toe discs or pads that can stick to surfaces, whereas the male has heart-shaped toe discs. The female has an arched back, and the male has a curved back.

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Crowned Lemur

The Crowned Lemur (Eulemur coronatus) is a mammal in the Lemuridae family of lemurs.

The Crowned Lemur has a brown-orange crown on the top of its head. The female has a grey body with an orange crown, and the male has a darker reddish-brown body with a black and orange crown. It has a long non-prehensile tail which it uses to balance itself when jumping from branch to branch. It has opposable thumbs for gripping branches. It has long, slender arms and legs.

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Gudgeon

The Gudgeon (Gobio gobio) is a freshwater fish in the Cyprinidae family. It is a cyprinid. 

The Gudgeon has a long, slender body with a flat, wide head. It is usually greenish-brown with silvery sides. It has a row of 6-12 faint black-grey blotches running lengthwise on the side of its body. Its underbelly is white. Its fins are greyish-white with a brownish tinge. The dorsal (back) fin is pale-brown with small, dark spots. It has a barbel at the corner of each side of its mouth. It has two rows of teeth.

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Vineyard Snail

The Vineyard Snail (Cernuella virgata or Helicella virgata) is a pulmonate air-breathing gastropod mollusc in the Geomitridae family of terrestrial (land) hairy snails. It is also known as the Common White Snail.

The Vineyard Snail usually has a creamy-white shell with fine growth lines. It has a darker line and white line along the outside of its shell. However, its shell can be variable. It has whorls, and the last whorl is slightly rounded. It has a brown mouth with pink inside. It shell is faintly glossy. Its body is grey.

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