native habitat

I HAVE BEEN WAITING TO BRING THESE CHARACTERS TO YOUR ATTENTION FOR A YEAR.  A YEAR DO YOU HEAR ME.

I’ve had to keep these adorable little things from bleeding into the Wilted Spinach storyline since it started and now they are finally released from captivity into their native funcfictional habitat.  RUN FREE, LITTLE THINGS.

Also: I’m glad you like them.  I do too.

–Yoo

A zoologist who observed gorillas in their native habitat was amazed by the uniformity of their life and their vast idleness. Hours and hours without doing anything. Was boredom unknown to them? This is indeed a question raised by a human, a busy ape. Far from fleeing monotony, animals crave it, and what they most dread is to see it end. For it ends, only to be replaced by fear, the cause of all activity. Inaction is divine; yet it is against inaction that man has rebelled. Man alone, in nature, is incapable of enduring monotony, man alone wants something to happen at all costs—something, anything…. Thereby he shows himself unworthy of his ancestor: the need for novelty is the characteristic of an alienated gorilla.
— 

Emil Cioran

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The rare and elusive Pallas cat (Manul) These animals are a rare sight in captivity because they tend to do poorly outside of their native alpine habitat because of their weak immune systems (few diseases can thrive at their altitude) but the local zoo has kept them with great success in part due to our horrific winters which closely mimic their natural habitat. The zoo prides itself in only keeping animals on display that naturally hail from similar climates, allowing them to roam outside year round. It has helped make their species survival plan very successful.

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Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko)

The tokay gecko is a nocturnal arboreal gecko in the genus Gekko, the true geckos. It is native to Asia and some Pacific Islands. This species occurs in northeast India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, throughout Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Indonesia, and to western New Guinea in Melanesia. Its native habitat is rainforest, where it lives on trees and cliffs, and it also frequently adapts to rural human habitations, roaming walls and ceilings at night in search of insect prey. The Tokay is a large gecko, reaching up to 35 cm in length.The Tokay feeds on insects and small vertebrates. It has strong jaws with which it bites through the exoskeletons of rainforest insects. It is a strong climber with foot pads that can support the entire weight of the body on a vertical surface for a long period of time. Their mating call, a loud croak, is variously described as sounding like token, gekk-gekk or poo-kay where both the common and the scientific name, as well as the family name Gekkonidae and the generic term gecko come from. 

photo credits: Nick Hobgood, Hinrich Kaiser, Bernard DUPONT, tontantravel

I get it. Zoos have a history and an outdated image that we have to get away from. Institutions like the AZA are making sure that zoos are held to a standard of preservation, not exploitation. Zoos have become islands of preservation for species whose native habitats are no longer supporting them. We would love to see the gorillas live peacefully in the wild of their native habitat untouched by human war, greed, disease and pollution. But this is not the reality we live in. The aforementioned factors have decimated the populations and are the reason they are endangered. And it’s not just gorillas, we are in the 6th great extinction wave, the previous ones were caused by large natural disasters (meteors) or by major changes to the environment (production of oxygen when photosynthesis began to take off). The 6th is caused by humans. Plain and simple. Extinction rates are 1000 times baseline and it is no coincidence. So get the conversation and Conservation started!

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Lumox Butterfly

Constantly changing their wing patterns, Lumox Butterflies are stunningly gorgeous creatures, believed by some to be related to the Peruvian Shadow-Winged Butterfly. Changing their wings between pale “day” patterns and beautiful dark “night” patterns, these creatures use their constantly changing patterns to confuse creatures which might consider them prey. While they are eaten by some creatures in their native habitat of South America (most distinctly insectivorous Elisi birds) they changeability provides enough protection that they have managed to maintain a decent population. This changeability, however, has also opened them up to human exploitation, as the wings are excellent -albeit more expensive - substitutes for Lacewing Flies in Polyjuice and a few other potions.

Thankfully Lumoxes reproduce at a high rate, rather like Opal Moths which similarly are highly exploited but have a high replacement rate and indeed. In recent years there has been an increase in their harvesting, as the wings are useful in both certain magical Invisible Inks as well as in the making of magical fireworks. In addition some wixes like to keep Lumoxes as curios, due to their ever-changing wings, and it is not uncommon for American Purebloods to keep a tank of them in a main room as a talking point.


(Image One, Image TwoImage 3, 4, 5)

(I hate that I have to include this but PLEASE DO NOT DELETE THE IMAGE SOURCE OR MY CAPTION.) 

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Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia is in the family Asparagaceae. Commonly known as pleomele, it is native to Madagascar and other islands in the Indian Ocean. Pleomele is a woody shrub that can grow over 10 feet tall and is commonly found growing in jungle understories in its native habitat. Outside of its native range, pleomele is found around the world as a very common house plant. Frequently sold as D. marginata, this species has red-edged leaves and a tolerance for indoor cultivation making it an ideal and attractive plant for use inside the home. Pleomele also frequently ranks highly in NASA clean air studies, meaning this species has the ability to filter toxins from the surrounding air.

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I’ll talk more about this project for a while as it unfolds, but basically at my job at the Field Museum, we have an herbarium with approximately 3 million plant specimens collected from around the world, over a long period of time.

This is leafy prairie clover (Dalea foliosa), a federally endangered plant that lives in four different states, usually in gravelly dolomite prairies. This particular specimen was found on Langham Island (home of the Kankakee mallow) and hasn’t been seen there in over a century. It was probably collected to death by this botanist, in fact. We have three of the five plants he found there in 1872-73.

Myself and some of the other Friends of Langham Island noticed our collection here still has seeds attached, so utilizing THE POWER OF SCIENCE we are going to try and germinate some of these seeds for eventual reintroduction to Langham. Essentially we are de-extincting a genetic line that was prematurely snuffed out due to over-enthusiastic botanizing. We plan on getting the proper permits and using all available information to make this reintroduction a success, including the reestablishment of its known associate species, most of which are also extirpated. If modern human disturbance and destruction result in extinction of a line or whole species, don’t we have a responsibility to try and reverse some of that if we can?

I love the idea that we have so many plants we know have come from populations that are no longer there and we can use this information (or even the seeds of the original plants) to help direct our restoration efforts. Even if these 130 year old seeds don’t germinate, we are still going to do all we can to bring back D. foliosa to Langham. So it can be the most healthy and biodiverse version of itself we can picture.

It’s so much fun to imagine what is possible by looking at what once was commonplace and is now gone. We CAN get hope from loss!

Serah Translates Lightning #2: Flirting

After years of observing my sister in her native habitat, I had almost concluded that she was incapable of flirting. Indeed, she seemed to rely primarily on her innate awesomeness to attract attention, a strategy that never seemed to fail, even when she wanted it to. Nevertheless, I have been fortunate enough to see her flirting in recent years. Given the role that my sister has played in Cocoon’s history, I believe it is important to translate her attempts to flirt so that future generations can understand what a dork she can be.

What Lightning Says

“Do you want to go hunting, Fang?”

What Lightning Means

“Please go out and kill some stuff with me so we can have an excuse to be all alone in the wilderness. If we don’t actually get around to hunting anything, that’s okay too…”

What Lightning Says

"Do you want to spar, Fang?”

What Lightning Means

"Do you want to get naked, Fang?”

What Lightning Says

"Fang, could you stop trying to hug me?”

What Lightning Means

“Fang, never let me go.”

What Lightning Says

“You did well in that battle, Fang.”

What Lightning Means

“Please go out with me, Fang.”

What Lightning Says

“Stop smirking at me, Fang.”

What Lightning Means

“Take me! Take me now!”

There are about 28 turaco species in the Family Musophagidae, all native to equatorial Africa. Seeing one of these handsome birds in its native forest or woodland habitat takes patience, persistence, and a pretty good set of binoculars. Turacos spend almost all their time in the tree canopy, where their blue, green, or gray hues (depending on the species) keep them camouflaged as they forage for fruit, leaves, and flower buds. The blue and gray colors are the result of light refracting from structures within the feathers. In other birds, green and red are also the result of refraction or melanin—only in the turacos are red and green feathers due to actual pigments. (photo: Paul E.M.)

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Nepenthes x ‘Miranda’ is in the family Nepenthaceae. This species is a hybrid between two southeast Asian species N. maxima and N. northiana. Nepenthes species are considered either highland or lowland depending on their native habitat. However, this hybrid is considered both highland and lowland based on its two parent species. The long, red speckled pitchers make this hybrid much sought after in the carnivorous plant trade.

On a tangent you know what gets me? When people want to save the environment and ALL the animals including invasive species in their non-native habitats.

I mean I get it, and if I had a way to scrub every single Zebra mussel out of the Great Lakes and haul every single Asian Carp out of the Mississippi safely and humanely and transport them somewhee they should actually be, I’d do it. But the alternative is NOT to let them continue causing damage to the non native ecosystems they find themselves in.

Anyways, I’m kind of all over the place today..

Giant Butterbur

Petasites japonicus, also known as fuki, bog rhubarb, or Japanese sweet coltsfoot, is an herbaceous perennial dioecious plant in the family Asteraceae. Its native habitat is not only in Japan, but many places in Europe.

The bulb-like shoots symbolise early spring and are often fried as tempura. Mature plant is textural and has broad leaves resembling rhubarb.

Fossilization is an extremely rare event.

To appreciate this point, consider that there are 10 specimens of the first bird to appear in the fossil record, Archaeopteryx.

All were found in the same site in Germany where limestone is quarried for printmaking (the bird species name is lithographica). If you accept an estimate that crow-sized birds native to wetland habitats in northern Europe would have a population of around 10,000 and a life span of 10 years, and if you accept the current estimate that the species existed for about two million years, then you can calculate that about two billion Archaeopteryx lived.

But as far as researchers currently know, only 1 out of every 200,000,000 individuals fossilized. For this species, the odds of becoming a fossil were almost 40 times worse than your odds are of winning the grand prize in a provincial lottery.

—  Biological Science, Second Canadian Edition (Textbook); Freeman, Harrington, Sharp
A zoologist who observed gorillas in their native habitat was amazed by the uniformity of their life and their vast idleness. Hours and hours without doing anything. Was boredom unknown to them? This is indeed a question raised by a human, a busy ape. Far from fleeing monotony, animals crave it, and what they most dread is to see it end. For it ends, only to be replaced by fear, the cause of all activity. Inaction is divine; yet it is against inaction that man has rebelled. Man alone, in nature, is incapable of enduring monotony, man alone wants something to happen at all costs—something, anything…. Thereby he shows himself unworthy of his ancestor: the need for novelty is the characteristic of an alienated gorilla.
—  Emil Cioran
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Plant of the Day

Friday 15 April 2016

From underground tubers Arum creticum  produces spear-shaped leaves emerging in early winter, while in spring, scented flowers appear above them. The flower has a yellow, goblet-shaped spathe folding backwards at the tip to reveal the long, thin spadix. This plant can thrive for many years in a sheltered, sunny situation in fertile soil, but it does not survive in poorly drained soil though it will tolerate summer drought as in their native habitat of Crete.

Jill Raggett