Crested barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii)

The crested barbet is a sub-Saharan bird in the Lybiidae family. With its thick bill and very colourful plumage the crested barbet is unmistakable. The crested barbet feeds on insects, other birds’ eggs and fruits and sometimes mice. They are found singly or in pairs. They like to bounce around on the ground looking for food, they usually call from a branch out in the open. They do not fly easily and then only for short distances. Crested barbets roost in holes in trees.

photo credits: wiki


Look at these adorable little floofballs of doom!

I love the way they move, it makes me think of clockwork animals or very old stop-motion animation.

This open coral reef diorama in ¡Cuba! represents a string of jewel-like keys to the south of the main island of Cuba called the Gardens of the Queen (Jardines de la Reina). Here, silvery fish zip past banks of coral studded with colorful starfish, sea fans, and sponges. To protect this vital diversity, Cuba has created the largest marine reserve in the Caribbean. Coral reefs are some of the richest ecosystems on Earth, and on many Caribbean coastlines, they are in danger of disappearing. But in this protected area in Cuba, the reef is wonderfully alive. The diorama includes models of a hawksbill turtle, tiger shark, and spotted eagle ray. ©AMNH/M. Shanley
Trump’s border-wall pledge threatens delicate desert ecosystems
Ecologists fear plan to seal off the United States from Mexico would put wildlife at risk.

“The southwestern US and northwestern Mexico share their weather, rivers and wildlife,” says Sergio Avila-Villegas, a conservation scientist from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson. “The infrastructure on the border cuts through all that and divides a shared landscape in two.”

Animals that have gone extinct elsewhere can sometimes survive on islands due to the isolation they offer. That’s the case with Cuban solenodons, insect-eating shrew relatives which are part of a mammalian line that has existed since the time of the dinosaurs. Known in Cuba as almiquí, solenodons secrete venomous saliva through a groove in their front teeth. The presence of this groove is an ancient trait, more often found in reptiles.

Today, only two solenodon species survive—one in Cuba and another on the nearby island of Hispaniola. That makes protecting their few remaining habitats for these mysterious mammals all the more important, says Gerardo Begué-Quiala, deputy director of Alexander Humboldt National Park, one of the solenodon’s few known stomping grounds.

Read more about solenodons on the blog. 


The Asian Unicorn, Saola

Although very shy at first, it has become quite docile and does not show any fear of us. It came very close to the spot where we were staring at him, being more curious than afraid. We had the opportunity to touch it and even feed it but we preferred not to do so, as we had agreed before this adventure not to interfere in any way with the life and equilibrium that surrounds us.”

-Clement Van Burden diaries.

We all know the Saola, The Asian Unicorn was claimed to be discovered in 1993. It was a big discovery. It surprised many biologist how an animal such as big as the Saola ( like a regular deer) could be hidden from humans for such a long time. My Great Grand Father have the illustration above, done in 1821, which resembles the Saola discovered a few decades ago.

Follow my project here.

World Wildlife Fund, in collaboration with the London Zoological Society, published a study entitled, “Living Planet Report 2014,” that addresses the issue of global species loss. Overall, the report deduced that in the past 40 years, the world has lost a stunning 52 percent of wildlife. That means that if you were born in 1970, the world has lost over half of the species that existed at your birth.

The first step in making change is spreading knowledge, so share this infographic and let’s spread the word that the world’s species need our help now!


A Passion for the Little Things

An interest in a major group of invertebrates means that you can easily develop a fulfilling, life-long-learning-filled, passion. You might even discover new species. In many parts of the world invertebrate faunas are so poorly known that thousands (tens-hundreds of thousands) of species remain to be discovered. Certainly most have never been photographed except for a relatively small number of common or conspicuous species.

I’m sometimes reminded of this when a colleague says something like ‘where’d you find such-and-such? Its only ever been collected twice and your image is the first one of the genus alive’. You’d be hard pushed to do the same for a mammal or a bird. To do it frequently you’d have to be dealing with little things!

Little things rock.

Lined chiton (Tonicella lineata)

The lined chiton is a species of chiton from the North Pacific. It has been recorded from intertidal and subtidal waters to a depth of 30 to 90 m. T. lineata often occurs on rocks that are encrusted by coralline algae; presumably this is what their coloration is intended to camouflage against. If knocked from its substrate, T. lineata will contract into a ball in order to protect its vulnerable ventral side, similar to many isopods. Coralline algae are also the major food item of T. lineata.

photo credits: Kirt L. Onthank

Why is biodiversity important to national marine sanctuaries?

“Biodiversity” refers to the variety of different types of species in a given ecosystem. Many national marine sanctuaries support enormous biodiversity. By protecting these ecosystems, we can ensure they thrive for future generations.

This elephant seal knows and will shout it out loud: biodiversity is an important and essential part of the National Marine Sanctuary System!

Transcript beneath the cut.

Keep reading


Stoat (Mustela erminea)

The stoat is a mammal of the genus Mustela of the family Mustelidae native to Eurasia and North America. The name ermine is often, but not always, used for the animal in its pure white winter coat, or the fur thereof. In the late 19th century, stoats were introduced into New Zealand to control rabbits, where the stoats have had a devastating effect on native bird populations. As with the least weasel, mouse-like rodents predominate in the stoat’s diet. However, unlike the least weasel, which almost exclusively feeds on small voles, the stoat regularly preys on larger rodent and lagomorph species. The stoat is an opportunistic predator, which moves rapidly and checks every available burrow or crevice for food.The stoat is a usually silent animal, but can produce a range of sounds similar to those of the least weasel. Kits produce a fine chirping noise. On average, males measure 187–325 mm in body length, while females measure 170–270 mm.

photo credits: wiki, wiki, wiki

The Amazon is the most powerful river in the world, and its rapid transformation has the potential to change the global climate. Pouring into the Atlantic Ocean, the great river flows through the world’s largest tropical rainforest, among the most biodiversity-rich places on the planet. Try hands-on activities and experience dynamic performances in this family-friendly science festival.

Join us on April 9. 

Lowland paca (Cuniculus paca)

The lowland paca is a large rodent found in tropical and sub-tropical America, from East-Central Mexico to Northern Argentina. It is about 60-80 cm in length. The lowland paca is mostly nocturnal and solitary and does not vocalize very much. It lives in forested habitats near water, preferably smaller rivers, and dig simple burrows about 2 m below the surface, usually with more than one exit. The lowland paca is a good swimmer and usually heads for the water to escape danger. It also is an incredible climber and it searches for fruit in the trees. Its diet includes leaves, stems, roots, seeds, and fruit, especially avocados, mangos and zapotes. It sometimes stores food.

photo credits: Ann Wuyts

Slow lorises may look like big-eyed Ewoks, but their cute countenance has made these primates a target of the illegal wildlife trade. Join Mary Blair, primatologist and Director of Biodiversity Informatics Research at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, as she discusses how research on these endangered animals can contribute to a better understanding of wildlife trafficking, including the risk of zoonotic disease spread.

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