Shingle urchin (Colobocentrotus atratus)

The shingle urchin is a species of sea urchin in the family Echinometridae. It is found on wave-swept intertidal shores in the Indo-West Pacific, particularly on the shores of Hawaii. This urchin is a deep maroon colour and shaped like a domed limpet. It can grow as big as a soft ball but is usually much smaller. The upper surface is a mosaic of tiny polygonal plates formed from modified spines to form a smooth mosaic. This is fringed by a ring of large, flattened modified spines. On the underside there is another ring of smaller flattened spines and a large number of tube feet. This urchin is usually found on substrates fully exposed to waves and their associated abrasive effect, often in groups. It feeds on periwinkles, other urchins and coralline algae.

photo credits: wiki, Ken-ichi, tumblr


The deceptive and tricky Ant-mimicking Crab-spider

There is no doubt that certain species of spiders are quite deceptive and tricky. This is the case of Aphantochilus rogersi (top photo), a neotropical carb-spider in the Thomisidae Family, that convincingly mimics its prey, the turtle ant Cephalotes atratus (middle and bottom photos) or also Zacryptocerus pusillus.

These spiders do not just mimic the appearance of the ant, but also oviposit in close proximity to nests of the model ant. As if that were not enough, Aphantochilus rogersi also has an specialized hunting behavior, this spider uses the bitten and paralyzed ant as a shield, presumably protecting it from attacks by living ants.

So, just in case, the next time you see an ant …. You better count how many legs it has. 

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Pablo Sebastián Padrón | Locality: Pastaza, Ecuador] - [Middle: ©Ricardo Solar | Locality; unknown]  -  [Bottom: ©Ana Jaramillo | Locality: Riomanso Natural Reserve, Colombia]

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black swans; a large waterbird, a species of swan, which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. The species was hunted to extinction in New Zealand, but later reintroduced. Within Australia they are nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions. Black Swans are large birds with mostly black plumage and red bills. They are monogamous breeders that share incubation duties and cygnet rearing between the sexes.

October 20, 2016 - American Black Vulture, Black Vulture, or Zopilote negro (Coragyps atratus)

Requested by: @ghourlock

One of the most abundant vulture species in the Western Hemisphere, these birds are found from the eastern and southeastern United States, south through most of Mexico, Central America, and South America. Eating mostly carrion, they often locate food by following Turkey Vultures, which have a superior sense of smell. Groups may drive Turkey Vultures away from a carcass, even though they appear to be smaller birds. Black Vultures also sometimes hunt skunks, opossums, night-herons, turtle hatchlings, and young livestock and eat refuse from dumpsters and landfills. They nest in caves, tree hollows, abandoned buildings, brush piles, thickets, and stumps, usually returning to the same nest site year after year. Monogamous, they tend to stay with their mates for many years and have strong familial bonds. In the evenings they join communal roosts, often attacking unrelated birds at the roosts and at food sources.


Helmet Urchin (Colobocentrotus atratus)

Also called shingle urchin, the helmet urchin is a species of sea urchin in the family Echinometridae. They can be found on rocks nears shores of the Indo-West Pacific particularly in Hawaii. They look very different from other sea urchins as their spines have been modified to be flattened and smooth in order to better withstand the waves that crash against the rocks they live on in order to feed on periwinkles and algae. They are usually a maroon color and grow as big as a softball.

Black Vulture ~ Rabengeier ~ Coragyps atratus

These friendly scavengers are everywhere in Florida. The “health police” (their important task is to eliminate dead animals, mostly roadkill) are social and intelligent (and therefore opportunistic and curious) folks and I will never understand how people can associate anything “evil”, “ugly” or “disgusting” with these beautiful, beneficial birds or even run them over on purpose. The portrait above shows a healthy wild bird, but I also saw a sad rescued creature in a sanctuary, not able to soar in the sky and hang out with the vulture gang anymore because he/she had been deliberately run over by a car and the wings were too broken to be able to fly again. :-( 

Edit because I received some questionable comments regarding my “hippy bullshit”: YES, they are friendly and gentle. This is a statement based on observations. Of course you are not supposed to approach them, corner them, put a camera in their faces, shout at them, touch them or feed them chicken nuggets. They are wild birds and the way you approach them as a human, not knowing their rules, needs, behavior and fears and lacking sensitivity (which is absolutely normal, you are human, they are wildlfe) will lead to an “aggressive problematic bird” in most cases, guaranteed. But that is a result of your misperception. There is no need to make monsters out of them that “murder other animals”, PLEASE. I’ve encountered wild vultures several times. I have been surrounded by a huge flock of Black Vultures, and as I was not scared, as I did not approach them but let them approach me, as I did not consider them a “threat”, as I just blended in and suppressed my human boldness and ego, this is exactly the way I could perceive them. And YES, they are predators, they are able to hunt, they have been doing so for millions of years. They are NOT “great a**holes” and they are NOT a “problem”, they just do what they do where they belong, in what is left of their habitat. They are not even an invasive species (which also always is a problem created by humans), they are intelligent and have expanded their range following human development (but God forbid, being intelligent and expanding their range and hunting and killing is reserved to humanity only, of course …). Maybe the farmers are “a**holes” when they can’t tell the bright red head of a Turkey Vulture from the black head of a Black Vulture. Maybe they don’t confuse them by accident … Maybe educating the farmers would be an excellent approach instead of spreading fear. Every time an animal is considered a “problem” or a “threat”, there are humans behind that situation who created the problem and the animal soon becomes threathenED. The relationship between Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures can be described as mutual dependence (there are articles about that). If you take out the “bad” Black Vultures, maybe the “good” Turkey Vultures will die out as well … Both species are of Least Concern at the moment and killing them for whatever reason is absolutely illegal in the US - and running defenseless animals over by car on purpose (and that people do this can be confirmed by 3 out of 3 sanctuaries I have visited in Florida alone) is just the lowest of low.

Indian Shores, Florida, USA

2014 © Jesse Alveo




 研究チームは、アメリカ大陸に生息するクロコンドル(学名:Coragyps atratus)26羽とヒメコンドル(学名:Cathartes aura)24羽の計50羽の体に存在する細菌群のDNA特性を調査。その結果、コンドルの顔の皮膚から採取したサンプルは、528種類もの多種多様な細菌が存在することを示した一方、腸内には76種しか生存していないことが分かった。

 デンマーク・コペンハーゲン大学(University of Copenhagen)のマイケル・ロゲンバック(Michael Roggenbuck)氏は「コンドルが摂取する有毒細菌への対処について、体内で強力な(進化による)適応が起きたことを、われわれの研究結果は示している」と語る。



Garter Snakes of the San Francisco Bay Area

1. Diablo Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus)

2. Santa Cruz Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus atratus)

3. Coast Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans terrestris)

4. Valley Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi)

5. California Red-sided Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis)

6. San Francisco Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia)

Coragyps atratus, reporting for duty!

An estimated 10 million people call Lima, Peru, their home. And a city of 10 million creates a lot of waste, which is problematic given that the city has just four landfills. Illegal dumps are a common find around the city, and are dangerous breeding grounds for pestilence and disease. The run-off is also a big problem, contaminating land and waterways (including the city’s primary source of water, the Rimac river). It has been a problem for years, until the U.S. Agency for International Development and Peru’s Ministry of Environment decided to bring in the big guns.

…make that the big wings.

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