So you've certainly noticed by now that I haven't posted anything in nearly a year. That's probably because I've completely forgotten about these blogs.
I should have posted a note like this
earlier, but I kept putting it off. I'm no longer updating the blogs. I
won't be even in the foreseeable future.
I will however
leave the blogs as they are. The links all still work and the
navigation bar on the right side still links between the blogs. It'll be
open for however long Blogger keeps it up, and available for you all to
I may come back to it. I may not. I did enjoy
doing it for a while, but then it started to feel like a second job and
drained the fun out of it.
Enjoy yourselves and thanks for reading.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Insects in the subfamily Phymatinae are commonly called ambush bugs after their habit of lying in wait for prey relying on their superb camouflage. Armed with raptorial forelegs, ambush bugs routinely capture prey ten or more times their own size. They form a subgroup within the assassin bugs.
Phymatinae are 5–12 millimetres (0.20–0.47 in) long. In Phymata, the scutellum is triangular and shorter than the pronotum. In Macrocephalus the scutellum is narrow and rounded and extends to the tip of the abdomen.
Phymatinae normally have a large fore femur and clubbed antennae. The forewing membranes sometime lack distinct cells.
The antennae have four segments. There are two ocelli. The beak has three segments. The tarsi also have three segments. The rear half of the abdomen expands beyond the edges of the wings.
Phymatinae was often given family-level status and this classification is still used in some textbooks. Based on cladistic analyses, however, ambush bugs (Phymatinae) are part of the family Reduviidae (assassin bugs).
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The red panda (Ailurus fulgens, or shining-cat), is a small arboreal mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is the only species of the genus Ailurus. Slightly larger than a domestic cat, it has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs. It feeds mainly on bamboo, but is omnivorous and may also eat eggs, birds, insects, and small mammals. It is a solitary animal, mainly active from dusk to dawn, and is largely sedentary during the day.
The red panda has been classified as Vulnerable by IUCN because its population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals. Although red pandas are protected by national laws in their range countries, their numbers in the wild continue to decline mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.
The red panda has been previously classified in the families Procyonidae (raccoons) and Ursidae (bears), but recent research has placed it in its own family Ailuridae, in superfamily Musteloidea along with Mustelidae and Procyonidae. Two subspecies are recognized.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a South American carnivorous mammal. It is the longest member of the Mustelidae, or weasel family, a globally successful group of predators. Unusually for a mustelid, the giant otter is a social species, with family groups typically supporting three to eight members. The groups are centered on a dominant breeding pair and are extremely cohesive and cooperative. Although generally peaceful, the species is territorial and aggression has been observed between groups. The giant otter is diurnal, being active exclusively during daylight hours. It is the noisiest otter species and distinct vocalizations have been documented that indicate alarm, aggressiveness, and reassurance. The giant otter ranges across north-central South America. The giant otter lives mostly in and along the Amazon River and in the Pantanal.
The giant otter is an apex predator and its population status reflects the overall health of riverine ecosystems. It feeds mainly on fish, including cichlids, characins (such as piranha), and catfish. One full year study of giant otter scats in Amazonian Brazil found fish present in all fecal samples. Fish from the order Perciformes, particularly cichlids, were seen in 97% of scats, and Characiformes, such as characins, in 86%. Fish remains were of medium-sized species that seem to prefer relatively shallow water, to the advantage of the probably visually oriented giant otter. Prey species found were also sedentary, generally swimming only short distances, which may aid the giant otter in predation. The giant otter seems to be opportunistic, taking whatever species are most locally abundant. If fish are unavailable it will also take crabs, snakes, and even small caimans and anacondas.
The species can hunt singly, in pairs, and in groups, relying on its sharp eyesight to locate prey. In some cases, supposed cooperative hunting may be incidental, a result of group members fishing individually in close proximity; truly coordinated hunting may only occur where the prey cannot be taken by a single giant otter, such as with anacondas and the Black Caiman. The giant otter seems to prefer prey fish that are generally immobile on river bottoms in clear water. Prey chase is rapid and tumultuous, with lunges and twists through the shallows and few missed targets. The otter can attack from both above and below, swiveling at the last instant to clamp the prey in its jaws. Giant otters catch their own food and consume it immediately; they grasp the fish firmly between the forepaws and begin eating noisily at the head. Carter and Rosas have found that captive adult animals consume around 10% of their body weight daily—about 3 kilograms (7 lb), in keeping with findings in the wild.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
A fog bow is a similar phenomenon to a rainbow, however, as its name suggests, it appears as a bow in fog rather than rain. Because of the very small size of water droplets that cause fog—smaller than 0.05 millimetres (0.0020 in)—the fog bow has only very weak colors, with a red outer edge and bluish inner.
In many cases when the droplets are very small, fog bows appear white, and are therefore sometimes called white rainbows. This lack of color is a distinguishing feature from a glory, which has multiple pale colored rings caused by diffraction. When the droplets forming it are almost all of the same size the fog bow can have multiple inner rings, or supernumeraries, that are more strongly colored than the main bow. According to NASA:
The fogbow's lack of colors is caused by the smaller water drops ... so small that the wavelength of light becomes important. Diffraction smears out colors that would be created by larger rainbow water drops ...
A fog bow seen in clouds, typically from an aircraft looking downwards, is called a cloud bow. Mariners sometimes call fog bows sea-dogs.