Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) - by Dave Huth

Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor)

…a medium-sized species of hobby (subgenus Hypotriorchis) which breeds from northeastern Africa to the southern Persian Gulf and winters in east Africa and Madagascar. Like other falcons sooty falcons specialize in chasing down and eating small birds, but will take large insects like dragonflies as well. 


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Image: Frank Vassen


Golden ArowanaScleropages formosus

Unsolved Paleo Mysteries Month #07 – Vexing Vetulicolians

Vetulicolians were a group of small marine animals best described as “problematic”, known from the Early Cambrian (~518-507 mya) of China, Greenland, Canada, and Australia. They had bulbous but streamlined bodies with a mouth opening at the front, no eyes, a thick exoskeleton-like cuticle, and a segmented swimming tail. Most also had five pairs of openings which may have been gill slits.

The image above depicts Vetulicola rectangulata, a 7cm long (2.75″) vetulicolian with a fairly “typical” body plan for the group, and the more unusual 14cm long (5.5″) Skeemella clavula.

Their evolutionary affinities have been uncertain for a long time, and at different points they’ve been classified as arthropods, chordates, kinorhynchs, basal deuterostomes, or even given their own unique phylum. A genus named in 2014, Nesonektris, has been interpreted as having a possible notochord – making vetulicolians chordates, and potentially placing them close to the tunicates – but their exact relationships are still unresolved.

(Skeemella also complicates matters, having some features considered more arthropod-like than other vetulicolians. But since it’s only known from a single specimen, more fossil material is needed to figure out what’s going on with it.)


Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus) by Allan Hopkins
Via Flickr:
The classic photogenic ‘safari bird’. Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, East Africa.

Short-snouted Seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus)

…a species of seashore (Sygnathidae) which is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea and parts of the North Atlantic, particularly around Italy and the Canary Islands. Recently Colonies of H. hippocampus have been uncovered in the River Thames around London and Southend-on-Sea. Snort-snouted seahorses are typically encountered in shallow muddy waters, estuaries or seagrass beds. 


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Image: © Hans Hillewaert


Infraphylum Agnatha

Agnathans are a group of jawless fishes that include Myxini (hagfish) and Petromyzontidae (lampreys). Pictured above are Petromyzontidae, also known as lampreys.  The name “lamprey” is derived from Latin meaning “stone licker.” The most well known lamprey species are a parasitic and feed by boring into the flesh of other fish to suck their blood. However there are a some species of lamprey that non-parasitic.

Parrot of the Week 6

If you want to be tagged in future updates or if you want to request a species, send me an ask!


Scientific Name: Strigops habroptilus

Classification: Kingdom: Animalia > Phylum: Chordata > Class: Aves > Order: Psittaciformes >  Family: Strigopidae > Genus: Strigops > Species: habroptilus

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered; there are 153 as of 2016

Other Common Names: Night parrot, owl parrot, tarapo, tarepo

Average Length (wild): 23 – 25 in, 58 – 64 cm

Average Weight (wild): 2 – 9 lb, 0.95 – 4 kg

Originally posted by jesuisbavarde

Average Lifespan: 58 years, but have potential to live into their 90s. Their exact lifespan is unknown. Researchers in the recovery program will know when the kakapo hatched in the recovery effort die of old age, which could be decades from now.

(Above: Historic range; Below: Current range)

Native Range: Used to live from the far north of the North Island to the south of the South Island. Now they are only found on offshore islands that are protected areas without introduced predators. It is not believed that there are any left on the main land of New Zealand, when the recovery program began they were all captured from the Fiordland National Park and brought to protected zones. They currently live on Codfish Island (Whenua Hau), Little Barrier Island (Hauturu ao Toi), and Anchor Island.

Naturalized Range: N/A

Natural Habitat: Formally from sea level to near tops of mountains. They are ground dwellers who live in forest substrate and scrubland.

Flock Size: They are solitary, gathering only to breed

Originally posted by svartvitkatt

Call: Loud screeching “skraark

Breeding: They do not breed every year, as they will only breed when there is enough rimu fruit.

Breeding season starts around December and lasts until April

They engage in “lek” breeding, which is when the males compete for female attention. They are the only parrot species and New Zealand bird species to do this.

The male inflates like a balloon, and then emits a low boom which can be heard from up to 5 km away. This lets any females in the area know that he is ready to mate

After 20 -30 booms, the male emits a high-pitched ‘ching’, which pinpoints his position, allowing females to find him

This booming and chinging can last for 8 hours nonstop every night for 2-3 months during breeding season

(Above: Booming Sketch)

Nesting: The female lays 1-4 eggs. They are similar in size to chicken eggs and will hatch after 30 days. The female raises them by herself, and has to leave the nest at night to search for food. After 10 weeks, the fledglings leave the nest, but may still be fed by their mother for up to 6 months.

Wild Diet: The berries of the Rimu plant (see picture) are their favorite food. They also eat parts of other native plants, including the fruits, seeds, bark, bulbs, leaves, stems, mosses, ferns, fungi, and roots. Species include pink pine, stinkwood, Hall’s totara, and mountain flax. When food species that are important to their diet become abundant, they feed exclusively on it.

    Currently, they are also fed pellets, freeze-dried and frozen fruit, walnuts, and pine conelets by the recovery effort.

Sexually Dimorphic: Yes, the males are larger

Description (wild): The upper side of their body is green with random black, brown, and yellow barring and mottling. Their underparts are a yellow-green and have irregular yellow and brown barring. The face is yellow-brown and the beak is grey and smaller in females. The primary wing feathers are tipped with yellow in males and green and brown in females. The tail is green and brown with yellow and black barring and flecks.

Color Mutations: N/A

Noise Level: Loud

Talking Ability: N/A

Personality: They are nocturnal and solitary and roost on the ground or in trees during the day. When disturbed, they freeze, trying to blend in with their background.

Originally posted by biomorphosis

Behavioral Concerns: They are not equipped to deal with human intrusion and introduced predators, which caused their numbers to decline rapidly. By 1970, there were only 18 males left in Fiordland. In 1977, a small population of both males and females were found.

Health Concerns: Recently there has been an increase in cases of “crusty butt”, which is a viral infection that causes the cloaca to become inflamed, and presents like severe dermatitis. 

It is still unknown what is causing the virus and if it is infectious. There has been one death due to this infection, and treatment, a topical cream, seems to only help some individuals. 

As of now, it is only found on Codfish Island, and has been since 2002. 

It is being taken very seriously and is being closely monitored, with research being done to learn more about it.

Aviculture: N/A

History in Captivity: Some young chicks are raised in captivity as part of a Conservation attempt to save the species. Conservation and recovery of this species has been going one since 1977, when a population of both females and males were found on Stewart Island.

Fun Facts: They are the largest parrot species in the world (by weight) and possibly the oldest living bird!

Originally posted by welcometoyouredoom

Sirocco, a male kakapo born March 23, 1997, was raised in captivity due to a illness that required he be hand raised and quarantined from other kakapo. He now thinks he’s human and is a conservation ambassador for the kakapo. 

He proved that kakapo can swim, after deciding to join one of the rangers’ family who were swimming in the ocean. He jumped off the jetty and paddled around for a bit before going back to shore, completely nonchalant. 

He is also the kakapo who made his species famous after “shagging” Mark Cawardine on the BBC series “Last Chance to See”. 

You can follow him on twitter @Spokesbird

Originally posted by jerkandcry

Tags: @thescorpionqueen

Mexican Burrowing Toad (Rhinophrynus dorsalis)

…the sole member of the family Rhinophrynidae, the Mexican burrowing toad is a species of frog that occurs from south Texas through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. As evidenced by its common name R. dorsalis is fossorial in nature (adapted for digging), spending most of its time underground. After long periods of rain it will emerge from the soil and attempt to lay eggs in a suitable water source. Mexican burrowing toads are primarily insectivorous, feeding mainly on ants, termites, and other insects. 


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Image: Pstevendactylus

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii

Mola Mola, more commonly known as the ocean sunfish, is the heaviest known bony fish in the world with an average adult weight of 2,200 pounds. Their diet consists mainly of jellyfish. The females produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate and can produce up to 300,000,000 at one time. 

Pearl Kite (Gampsonyx swainsonii)

…a very small species of elanid kite (Elaninae) which breeds from Panama, Colombia and Venezuela south to Bolivia and northern Argentina, with an isolated population occurring in Nicaragua as well. Its currently expanding its range and was proved to breed in Trinidad 1970, and is now becoming more common along the Pacific slope. Like other small kites, pearl likes feed mainly on lizards, birds, and insects which are usually caught on the ground. 


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Image: Dave Curtis

🕊️ Young mourning dove squab 🕊️

Saw it with the parent so I took the picture from a distance.  The parent flew away so I left immediately.  They need to come back and take care of the chick.  With random people dumping cats in our neighborhood, it’s not safe for this little one.  I also just learned that mourning doves are closely related to the extinct passenger pigeon.

Update (May 9, 2017):  Okay, now I’m questioning myself.  I bought a bird identification book today (well, three) and now I’m not sure if this little gal/guy is a mourning dove or a Eurasian collared dove squab.


Other than the plated scales, tough leathery skin, frilled head, horned skull anatomy and sinuous tail, mythological and folkloric dragons have very little in common anatomically with actual reptiles. They have MORE in common with the Felidae genus (cat family) and the Aves Phylum Chordata (bird classification).

Like a cat’s eye, a dragon’s eye has a comparatively large iris with a vertical pupil. This arrangement allows the pupil to open extremely wide and receive
more light than that of a human eye.

A dragon’s legs are also decidedly nonreptilian, despite the scaly coverings. A dragon’s legs are positioned more or less directly under its body, in the manner of mammals. (Most reptiles’ legs tend to splay out to the sides, offering
much less support and mobility than a mammal).

Lasly, a dragon’s four feet very closely resemble those of a great bird. Each foot has three or four clawed toes facing forward (the number varies, even among dragons of the same kind), plus an additional toe, also with a claw, set farther back on the foot and facing slightly inward toward the dragon’s body, like a human’s thumb.

A dragon’s resemblance to a reptile is literally only skin deep  So the next time someone you know refers to mythical dragons as giant lizards, you’ll have the know-what to save a life.