Hundreds of new animal species found in Asia’s remote Mekong region 

Hundreds of new animal species have been found in Asia’s remote Mekong region, say scientists, due to the inaccessibility of humans and other animals in the mountainous area. Not only new animal species, but also new plant species have been found, reported the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in May 2023. 

The greater Mekong region is a forested mountain area around the Mekong River that separates the countries Laos and Thailand, and also covers areas in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. It has no roads, making it remote and inaccessible to humans. 

Scientists from universities, research institutes, and conservation organizations have, to date, found 290 new plants, 19 new fish, 24 amphibians (such as frogs), 46 reptiles (such as snakes), and one mammal (a bat). 

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How do snakes move?

How do snakes move?

Snakes do not have legs, so they slither and slide. But what does this mean?

Snake locomotion (movement) can be serpentine, concertina, rectilinear, or sidewinding.

Serpentine movement is also called lateral undulation, and it is the most common way for snakes to move. The movement looks like an ‘S’ shape. Terrestrial snakes, that live on the ground, use this type of movement. Aquatic snakes, that live in water, also use this type of movement. 

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Animal Ears: do big animals have big ears?

Do big animals have big ears and small animals have small ears? No, animal ears are many sizes and shapes.

Most ears have an outer ear (a pinna, a canal, and an eardrum), a middle ear, and an inner ear.

The pinna is the fleshy part that is visible. It is made of cartilage, not bone, so it is soft. It usually also has an ear lobe. The pinna directs sound through the canal to the eardrum.

The pinna has a muscle that moves the ear. For example, elephants and dogs can move their ears. Animals move their ears in the direction of a sound so that they can hear better.

Not all animals can move their ears because they have weak and non-functioning ear muscles. Animals that cannot move their ears include gorillas and monkeys. Humans cannot move their ears (without touching them).

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Gippsland Water Dragon

The Gippsland Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii howittii) is an arboreal eastern Australian reptile in the Agamidae family of agamid lizards.

The Gippsland Water Dragon is a brown-green-grey lizard with a row of spikes at the base of its head (called a nuchal crest), and can change colour to camouflage itself in its environment. It has black bands across its back, tail, and legs. Its throat has yellow, orange, or blue blotches. It has brown eyes. It has long legs and claws, which are good for climbing trees, and a long, muscular tail, which is good for swimming.

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American Alligator

The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is a large reptile, and also a crocodilian,  in the Alligatoridae family and Crocodilia order. Crocodiles, alligators, gharial, and caimans are all crocodilians.

The American Alligator is dark grey, black or olive-brown, with a broad U-shaped snout (nose) and sharp, triangular teeth. Its teeth are not visible when its mouth is closed. Its underbelly is creamy-yellow. It has a long tail and short legs with claws.

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Savannah Monitor Lizard

The Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus) is a medium-sized African lizard, living in East Africa, southern Africa, and some areas of West Africa. It is a reptile.

The Savannah Monitor Lizard has a blackish or dark grey body, with five or six rows of yellow blotches, but there can be other colour variations. It has a broad, bulbous snout and a rounded tail. It has short legs.

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Nile Monitor Lizard

The Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus) is a medium-sized African lizard. It is found in most of Africa, except West Africa. It is a reptile – the second largest reptile in the Nile River (second to the Nile Crocodile).

The Nile Monitor has mainly grey-brown muscular body with rough scales, green-yellow bars on its tail and green-yellow irregular spots on its back. It has a yellowish throat and underbelly. It has short, strong legs, with sharp claws. It uses its claws for digging, climbing, and for defense. Its long tail is powerful, which it can whip in defense.

It has powerful jaws with sharp, pointed teeth that become blunt with age, and a snake-like, forked tongue. It has large nostrils on its snout, and it has an excellent sense of smell. It is a good climber and swimmer.

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Rhinoceros Chameleon

The Rhinoceros Chameleon (Furcifer rhinoceratus) is a chameleon lizard with a horn-like nose. It is a reptile from Madagascar.

The male Rhinoceros Chameleon has a long horn-like nose above its mouth, with the horns pointing forward. The female has a smaller nose. It is generally grey or light brown and the nose can often be bluish. They have a white line on each side of their body.

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What’s the difference between African Skinks: Eastern Striped Skink and Five-Lined Skink?

What’s the difference between the African Eastern Striped Skink and the African Five-Lined Skink?

The African Eastern Striped Skink (Trachylepis striata striata) and the African Five-Lined Skink are lizards found in East Africa and southern Africa. They are similar in size and colour.

The African Eastern Striped Skink has two yellowish stripes that run lengthwise on either side of the spine, whereas the Five-Lined Skink has five lines.

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Alligator Teeth, Crocodile Teeth

Alligator teeth and crocodile teeth are different.

An alligator has a large, fourth tooth in the lower jaw that fits into a socket in the upper jaw.

A crocodile does not have a fourth tooth in the lower jaw.

An alligator’s teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed.

A crocodile’s teeth are visible when the mouth is closed.

Both alligators and crocodiles have between 74 and 80 teeth. As they wear down, they are replaced. They can have 3,000 teeth in a lifetime. Continue reading “Alligator Teeth, Crocodile Teeth”