Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tiny Tarsiers

Ever see the movie 'Gremlins'?  Here's a clip.

Things are not all cuteness and light as the movie develops.  Tarsiers are some of the smallest primates in the world and are only found on islands in Southeast Asia. Maybe tarsiers were the inspiration for Gizmo and his buddies, until they show their evil side anyway.  Or maybe not.  In this photo, can you see a little sly glint in its eye??

Philippine tarsier

Tarsiers are prosimians, considered to be more primitive than monkeys and apes.  Other prosimians include lorises and lemurs.  Tarsiers have such big eyes because they are nocturnal and those eyes allow them to see better in the dark.  The word tarsier comes from 'tarsus' or ankle bone because the tarsier has an elongated one enabling it to be a pretty darn good leaper considering its size.

Once thought to be extinct, the pygmy tarsier weighs less than two ounces and is only found in Sulawesi. Tarsiers are the only primates that are totally carnivorous.  The majority of their diet is insects, but despite their size they have also been known to prey on birds, snakes, lizards and bats.

The spectral tariser is less specialized than its Philippine cousin as it lacks adhesive toes!  It too is found in Sulawesi as well as the island of Selayar.

Tarsiers have elongated fingers that have nails, but two hind toes have special claws for grooming. They also have very acute auditory senses, capable of hearing high frequencies of up to 91 kHz.  Perhaps in order to hear each other's high pitched voices.

Here is another video about tarsiers.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cats and Boxes

What is it with cats and boxes anyway??  Take my cat Dolly for example.  She loves to scratch on cardboard boxes, among other things.  And of all the choices there are of places to sleep, guess what she chooses?  There are several kitties 'cubes' and beds in the living room.  And she does use them sometimes.

And there is the couch and chest with a cozy quilt on top.

There's a bed on the kitchen table.

And in the bedroom?  There's the bed, of course.

And two new kitty beds I added when I redecorated...

although Sprite and Violet have sort of claimed those.

But where is Dolly's favorite place to sleep?  On top of a box in the living room. 

She uses it so much I added a cushion for comfort.  Here's a video of other kitties (and a few dogs) who love boxes (and other places to squeeze into).  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Plentiful Peacocks

Most people are familiar with the peacock even if you've only seen photos and not had a chance to meet one up close and personal.  Who could ever see one and not be mesmerized by that gorgeous tail.  As with some birds, the male is the most noticeable.

The female is much more demure. 

The species is actually called the peafowl - peacock specifically refers to the male, and peahen, the female - and is a member of the pheasant family.  There are two Asian species and one from Africa.  The iridescent 'eye' in the male's upper tail feathers are what makes for the spectacular displays of the male and even though the female lacks the upper tail extravaganza, she will also sometimes display to ward off other females or signal danger to her chicks.

But there are a whole slew of other things that are named after the peacock or reminded the people that named them of that flamboyant bird.  Some you can see how they got their name (most also have 'eyes') - others not so much!

There's the Peacock Mantis Shrimp

There are several types of fish named after peacocks.  There are two difference species of Peacock flounder - the Bothus mancus found in the shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific...

and the Bothus lunatus seen near coral reefs in the Atlantic and Caribbean waters.

The ocellate river stingray, native to several areas in South America, is a freshwater ray that is also known as the peacock-eye stingray for obvious reasons.

Bornite is an important copper mineral found worldwide, and is also known as peacock copper because of its iridescent tarnish.

There are several butterflies known as peacock butterflies, including several species from the Americas, but it's the European Peacock, also found in Asia, that puts the emphasis on 'eye'.

Then there is the peacock coquette. a species of hummingbird found in South America.  For a short video clip and photos, click here.

There are also several flowers that are referred to as the peacock flower, but the one with the most distinctive 'eye' is the Moreaea villosa native to South Africa.

Perhaps one of the most unusual critters is the peacock worm, a marine worm that lives in a tube of mud or sand stuck together with mucus, and sporting tentacles that resembles peacock feathers.  Well, kind of.

One of the most puzzling things I found is the peacock goat.  No iridescence, no 'eyes', not much resembling a peacock - it's black and white.

A couple of sources say something about a spelling error by a journalist that called it a peacock goat instead of a striped goat.  One heck of a spelling error!!  Guess the error was never corrected because it is STILL known as the peacock goat.

There are a lot of other things (especially more fish) named 'peacock' whatever.  Maybe that will end up being a second post, although the reason I haven't included some of them here is because, like the goat, they fall into the 'not so much' category.  But for now there are already lots of 'peacocks' to go around!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

First of the Season

I pruned my butterfly bushes a little late this spring and they've only been blooming about a week now.  The word must have finally gotten out because I had the first butterfly sighting of the season - a beautiful Eastern Tiger swallowtail!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Upside-Down Jellies

On my trip to Mystic, CT my friends and I also visited the Mystic Aquarium.  The Aquarium's largest residents are their beluga whales.

They also have tanks containing sharks and rays, a myriad of different kinds of fish, moray eels and touching tanks where you can pet small sharks and rays.  I pet one ray and they have amazingly soft bodies, almost like wet fur.

There is an area that mimics a New England marsh with huge water lilies, turtles and tons of bullfrogs. 

There are exhibits with sea lions, seals and penguins.

There was one tank with one of the most interesting species I had never seen before - upside-down jellyfish in the genus Cassiopea.  They are true jellyfish found in warmer coastal waters worldwide. 

They are bottom feeders, unlike most of their jellyfish cousins.  They extend their frilly tentacles up into the water column where they capture plankton and absorb light that is used by photosynthetic algae that are housed in its body.  Even though the upside-down jelly has a mild sting to humans, the sea urchin crab sometimes puts one on its back and carries it around using it as a shield and camouflage against potential predators.

Source:  Starfish

All in all a very interesting place to visit!

However, aquariums like this one and places like Sea World are not without controversy, especially those with large marine mammals like the belugas, orcas, and dolphins and whether it is ethical to hold these intelligent creatures captive.  You can read more about that here and here.  Here you can find out more information about the movie Blackfish.