Category | Nature’s Facts

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Who is the King of the Earth?

Posted on 04 June 2012 by RE Team

Various animals and species have been capturing the imagination of Humans since the beginning of the civilization due to their majestic powers.  Myhtology and history of Human beings usually referred to various animals as the kings. The limitation on  geographical and biological knowledge caused various civilizations to accept different animals as the King.

We have compiled a list of animals that can be considered as the most powerful in various nature kingdoms. There can’t be an absolute definition to the crown in Natural world, so the list is open for debate!

King of the Animal Kingdom on Land - The Lion has been considered as the King of the animals by most of the civilizations for it’s Majestic look, strength and top predatory nature. But unfortunately once well spread across the globe, the King is currently confined to only African Savannah and India. The Lion can grow beyond 300 kg in weight and 9 feet in length(excluding tail). The mane of the male Lion gives it a royal look making it the King of all the animals. Lion takes the top position in the predator list and no other animal keeps the strength to kill a full grown Lion.

 

Lion - King of the Animals

 

Though Lion is the King of  animals, it lives only in Savannah, there is another distant relative of it who rules the dense Jungles of Earth. Yes, it is the biggest of all big cats, Tiger.  With black stripes on rusty reddish or brown coat and the white fringes around it’s face make the Tiger attractive and very much different from others. A large tiger may weigh more than 350 kg and more than 12 feet in length (excluding tail). Tiger is the most powerful and intelligent hunter in the jungle and is unbeatable.

The King of the sky is the giant Eagles in various part in the world. The Philippine Eagle in South-East Asia, Steller’s Sea Eagle in the coastal region of Asia, The Wedged-tailed Eagle in Australia, Martial Eagle in Africa and Harpy Eagle in America are rulers of the sky in their respective regions. They are expert hunters and the most powerful as no other species can beat them in the sky.  The Steller’s Sea Eagle which the heaviest among them can grow beyond 9 kgs in weight.  These eagles have body lengths of more than 1 meter and can have wingspan of 3 meter (Wedged-tailed and Martial).

The King of the Oceans is Killer Whale or Orca. Though blue whale is the largest animal in the Oceans and White Shark is the largest and sharpest predatory fish, Killer Whale is known to even kill both of them. This mammal is gigantic in size and is equally intelligent and powerful hunter. They are known to hunt seals, sea lions, dolphins and at times large blue and grey whale and also giant white shark. There is no species in the sea water that kill this King.

And at last the King of the whole planet Earth, whether it’s land or water or sky, is Homo Sapien or Human due to their intelligence. No other species can even close human. They are a keepers of the planet and have the responsibility to save all other species.

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Frog Sizes in Extremes

Posted on 04 June 2012 by RE Team

A frog species can be as small as few millimeter, while the largest species grows more than a feet. There is an interesting world of this amphibian.

Few years back in the jungles of Borneo, Dr Indraneil Das and colleague Alexander Haas discovered a new tiny species. It is a frog measuring only 3 mm in length. The full grown adults of the species are of the size 9mm to 12mm. This species named as “Microhyla nepenthicola” was found in Kubah National Park, Malayasia. This is one of the smallest known frog species in the world. But what is the smallest known Frog?

 

Goliath Frog in it's natural habitat @ courtesy Arkive.com

 

There is fierce competition for the smallest Frog award. Till 1996, Brazilian Gold frog (Psyllophryne Didactyla) was unanimously accepted by scientists as the smallest known Frog. This species grows 9.8 mm. But in 1996, a new frog species discovered  in Monte Iberia, Cuba claims equally small size. This species is names as  Eleutherodactylus iberia.

On the contrary, the largest living frog is out of any competition. It is known as Goliath frog (Conraua goliath) and found in central western African country Cameroon. This frog can grow up to 33 cm (more than a foot) without counting the legs. It can weigh around 3.3 kg (7 lb). Though very huge in size, this frog is very calm in nature and has a life span of 15 years. Though the Goliath frog is the largest “living” frog, the largest ever ”known” frog is called “Devil Frog” and lived in Madagascar 65-70 million years ago. From the fossils found it is apparent that it could grow till 40 cm in length and weigh up to 4.5 kg (11 lb). It was powerfully built, and had a very wide mouth and strong jaws.

There are hundreds new species of frogs discovered in recent. The above records may change any time. But, unfortunately the frogs along with all amphibiansa are facing serious extinction threat. It is estimated that more than 100 species have been declared extinct from the planet in last three decades. Thousands of them are on the verse of extinction. This mass extinction of amphibians is due human cause pollution, deforestation and also due to fungal a skin disease.

Scientists and researchers are taking serious steps to save them from this extinction event!

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The tallest in the planet

Posted on 04 June 2012 by RE Team

James Cameron may have imagined giant hometrees in Pandora with height more than 150 meters in his 3D animation movie “Avatar”. But our own planet Earth is also not too behind in this in reality. Do you know the tallest living organism in our planet? We have listed down all the competitors in the race here.

1. Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) - Tallest in North America and the TALLEST in the planet. It is an evergreen, monoecious tree with a life span more than 3000 years. Currently found in coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon in the United States, this species of tree can grow beyond 100 meters. The tallest known living Redwood is 115.3 meters (379 feet) known as Hyperion. It was discovered September 8, 2006, by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor, naturalists who explored California coast redwoods including Redwood National Park.

 

Coast Redwood - courtesy Richard Masoner @flickr

 

2. Australian Mountain-ash (Eucalyptus regnans) - The Australian Mountain-ash, a species of Eucalyptus native to southeastern Australia, in Tasmania and Victoria, is a contender from Oceania. It is defnitely one of the tallest species in the planet and in very close run with Coast-Redwood. It’s always debatable which species is the tallest, but the Mountain-as is the undoubtedly the evergreen tree os the tallest flowering plant with an average heightof  around 80 meters.  The tallest measured living specimen, named Centurion, stands 99.6 metres tall in Tasmania. But there are many controversial claims exceeding more than 120 meters. Due to heavy deforestation, logging in Australia in lste 19th century, it is believed that many of the tallest specimens fell prey to humans. Historically, the tallest individual is claimed to be the Ferguson Tree, at 132.6 metres (435 ft), found in the Watts River region of Victoria in 1871.  The claim considered to be unreliable. The most reliable claim stands at  112.8 metres (370 ft)  in 1880 by a surveyor, George Cornthwaite, at Thorpdale, Victoria.

 

Australian Mountain Ash - courtesy Poytr(Pete the poet) @flickr

 

3.  Yellow Meranti (Shorea faguetiana) - The contender in this category from Asia is a Yellow Meranti. This tree is in Tawau Hills Park of Malaysia. The tree is measured as  88.32 Meters (about 290 feet) in height. This is supposed to be the tallest tropical tree in the planet.

4. Caucasian Fir (Abies nordmanniana) - The tallest native tree of Europe is the Caucasian Fir, which grows in the Caucasus as well in Turkey. Alan Mitchell (1996) gives 68.6 m (225 feet) as its greatest height.
Vladimir Dinets (e-mail 1998) gives a maximum height of 78 m (255.9 feet) near Mzymta River in the Caucasian National Reserve, Russia.

5.  Patagonian Cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides) -  This large evergreen, dioecious tree species is the contender from South America. It is not only the tallest in South America but also one of the logest living species known in the planet. The tallest specimen though not recorded may be more than 70 meters in Argetina. Guardaparques (park rangers) state in Argentina has trees ranging 60-70 meters that can be found on the southern branch of Lake Menendez, but that area is restricted to visitors and there aren’t trails or roads to get there.

6. Antarctica is out of this contest as no tree grows in the continent.

 

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Expert Mimics in Reptile World

Posted on 29 May 2012 by RE Team

Mimicking other people or personality is considered as one of the popular comedy act by us. It may look like an intelligent act for human, but nature has already adopted this intelligence for some other reasons. In this article we are covering the expert mimics in the Reptile world.
Milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) found in both Northern and Southern American continents are harmless snake. This snake has similar banded appearance like coral snake. This is a form of mimicry and happens only those regions where milk snake and coral snake are found together. In other regions, milk snake doesn’t look like the coral snake. As coral snake is poisonous, this mimicry is to scare any enemies. There is a difference in the band pattern of the both snakes, so it can be identified by human. There are sayings like this to identify the actual poisonous snake: ” Red next to black, you can pat him on the back; red next to yellow, he can kill a fellow.”

 

Milk Snake(Left) mimicking Coral Snake(right) - courtesy kingsnake.com

 

Similar to Milk Snake, Scarlet King Snake also mimics Coral Snake . Scarlet King Snake is also non-poisonous. They are born with white bands. The juveniles develop the yellow, apricot, or tangerine colored banding slowly.

The above two are example of snake mimicry where the harmless snakes mimic like a poisonous snake to keep their enemies away. This characteristic is called Batesian Mimicry. It was discovered by scientist H.W. Bate over a hundred years back and named after him only.

Some blind legless lizards that live under the ground trick their enemies by showing their tails. The under side of the tail is usually red or yellow that looks like an open mouth. The enemy attacks the tail mistaking it for head. The tail can withstand much more injury that the head and so the life of the lizard is saved.

Many Lizards have a tail differently coloured from rest of their body. When the enemy attacks them, they break off their tail. The tail jumps about on the ground that confuses the enemy. The Lizard makes a good escape during this confusion.

Another Lizard(Eremias lugubris) in Souther Africa mimics notorious and noxious ‘oogpister’ beetles when young. The adults are cryptically coloured and blend with the red-tan colours of the Kalahari semi-desert.  However,  the juveniles are jet-black and white and very conspicuous and move with stiff, jerky movements with their backs strongly arched and with the paler-coloured tails pressed to the ground. They actually just mimic the Oogpister beetles found in the region and predators avoid the threat of the pungent, acidic fluid sprayed by these beetles when threatened.

A Lizard(anguid) of northeastern Brazil shows striking similarities in color, pattern, size, behavior to the noxious millipede, Rhinocricus albidolimbatus,  when it is juvenile. This is also believed to be a Batesian Mimicry.

 

Video on Lizard Mimicing Beetle

http://www.snotr.com/video/4732

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The World of the Reptiles

Posted on 19 May 2012 by RE Team

One of the most successful life form of the Earth is Reptile. Reptiles were the initial rulers of Earth. Though their throne was overthrown by catastrophic events  few million years ago, yet reptiles are considered very powerful genre of animals till date.

The reptiles first appeared in Earth around 340 million years ago. They evolved from their ancestors amphibians, but they became stronger than the amphibians in two ways, a scaly outer skin that provided better protection and amniotic eggs that is independent of water. This helped them to increase the boundary from water to land. The reptiles flourished and diversified in wide variety types and soon became more dominant from the rest in the planet. They not only limit themselves to water and land, they started exploring the sky too. The reptiles started ruling the planet with power and intelligence. They evolved themselves to gigantic size known today as dinosaurs. They ruled land and sky for more than hundred million years until some exactly unknown catastrophic events. Their dynasty came to an end.

 

The Tuatara - Surviving for 220 million years now

 

Millions of years ago, Earth was dominated by 20 groups of reptiles. But 16 of them lost the game of survival over the course of time. These 16 groups includes some magnificent animals that we can just imagine now.

There are only four groups of reptiles that are surviving today.

The largest surviving reptile group is the Squamata. The squamata includes lizards and snakes. There are around 6000 known living species of squamata.

The second group of today’s reptiles is the Crocodilians. It includes crocodiles, alligators and caimans. There are 23 species of Crocodiles are surviving. They are the largest of all present days reptiles. The Crocodilians first appeared about 84 million years ago and they are the closest living relatives of the birds.

The third groups is the Turtles. They are the oldest of the living reptiles.  The turtles have changed little since they first appeared some 220 million years ago. They have a protective shell that encloses their body and provides protection and camouflage. There are 294 known species of turtles.

The fourth and the last surviving among the reptiles is called Tuataras. It is in fact the smallest group of reptiles. There is only kind of animal that represents this groups, named same as the group Tuatara. They are surviving on remote islands of New Zealand today. They are lizard-like in appearance but the fundamental difference is that their skull is not jointed.  They first appeared around 220 million years ago and considered as living fossil by the researchers!

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The Power of Reproduction

Posted on 13 May 2012 by RE Team

In human society, the King and his army conquer to build a kingdom. But in an another society King and Queen just reproduce to the extreme to build a whole colony and empire to rule! This nothing but our very known ‘Termite’ colony.

When a mature male and female termite form a pair, they land and break off their wings that they used to swarm. The couple first find a shelter together. Their dream homes are normally a small hole or depression that’s near both soil and wood. The couple work together to seal this nest with saliva, soil and their own waste. Then in that sealed chamber, they mate. The female starts laying eggs. Everyday she lays thousands of eggs creating a colony in just few days.

The Termite Queen with enlarged abdomen

The termite couple takes care for the first generation of the new colony on their own until they’ve raised enough workers to take over the job. Workers expand the nest, and the queen’s abdomen enlarges so she can lay more eggs. At this stage she becomes many times bigger than the males. The king grows only slightly larger after initial mating and continues to mate with the queen for life. The colony started with just pair of termite grows to thousands in number. The male and female becomes the King and the Queen of the kingdom and they keep on expanding their population. It takes two to four years for the colony to mature, and then the cycle starts again with a new set of alates swarming to form new colonies.

The King and Queen not only reproduces they also take full control of their kingdom. They produce a chemical substance, pheromones, that helps regulating the life in the kingdom. These pheromones determine how many larvae become workers, soldiers and alates (future king/queen). If the king or queen dies, these pheromones disappear. Then, one of the secondary or tertiary reproductive becomes the new primary reproductive, sometimes after killing off the competition. Queens can live up to 25 years, while most workers live between two and five years.

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Top 5 most dense forests in the planet

Posted on 05 May 2012 by RE Team

It’s very difficult to measure how dense a forest is. A dense forest is a forest thick with trees or having trees growing very closely together.

It has been estimated that about half of the Earth’s mature tropical forests between 7.5 million and 8 million square km of the original 15 million to 16 million square km that until 1947 covered the planet have now been cleared. Some scientists have predicted that unless significant measures are taken on a worldwide basis, by 2030 there will only be ten percent remaining, with another ten percent in a degraded condition.

 

A Rain Forest

 

The good news is that there are still some dense forests covering vast area in the planet. Some of them are listed below:

Amazonia basin

Amazonia basin in South America is home to the world’s largest contiguous tropical rain forest. The Amazon is the world’s second longest and the most voluminous river spreading across nine countries. The Amazon basin encompasses 7,000,000 square kilometers (1.2 billion acres), while the forest itself, home to the greatest variety of plants and animals on Earth. occupies some 5,500,000 square kilometers. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the  rain forest, followed by Peru with 13%, and with minor amounts in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. One fifth of all the world’s plants and birds and almost  one tenth of all mammal species are found here. Unfortunately, deforestation is a serious threat to the Amazon forests. The mean annual deforestation rate from 2000 to 2005 (22,392 km2 per year) was 18% higher than in the previous five years (19,018 km2 per year). At the current rate, in two decades the Amazon Rain forest will be reduced by 40%.

Congo Basin

The Congo river, second longest river in Africa, generates the second largest contiguous rain forest in the planet along with it’s tributaries. his vast forest runs through six African countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo and Zaire) stretching from the Mountains of the Moon in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
to the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. It is a land made famous by the adventures of Stanley and Livingstone and known as a place of brutality and violence for its past. Logging and agricultural clearing are the two major threats to this biologically diverse and rich region and deforestation is happening at an alarming rate. Since the 1980’s, this region the one of the highest loss of forest rates in the world.

Southeast Asia

The Southeast Asian rain forests are the oldest, the most consistent rain forests on the planet. These forests are there since Pleistocene Epoch for more than 70 million years. Southeast Asian forests are one of the Earth’s most biologically diverse forests. These rain forests
stretch from India and Burma in the west to Malaysia and the islands of Java and Borneo in the east. Here again, deforestation of the rain forests in Southern Asia is a serious environmental problem, with over 85% of original rain forests already gone and more being destroyed daily.

Australian temperate forests

Comprising the lowland temperate forests around the Great Dividing Range, the Southeast Australian Temperate Forests comprise a wide variety of vegetation. Unlike the rest of mainland Australia, this region is well-watered with a temperate climate. A diverse mix of vegetation is found throughout this ecoregion, including coastal vegetation,
dense heath, temperate rainforest, riparian communities, wet sclerophyll forests, dry sclerophyll forests, and eucalypt woodlands.The quintessential Australian genus, Eucalyptus dominates in all better-watered regions of Australia, including the Southeast Australia Temperate Forests. There are approximately 700 species of Eucalyptus, and only seven are found outside Australia. Recently this forest has been found to be the home of the world’s most carbon-dense forests, according to researchers from the Australian National University
This ecoregion has been heavily impacted by European settlement, and within the ecoregion the most extensive clearance of native vegetation has occurred to the west of the Dividing Range.

Taiga

The Taiga biome, southerly part of the biome also known as Boreal forest,
stretches across a large portion of Canada, Europe and Asia. It is the largest biome in the world. It has a harsh continental climate with a very large temperature range between seasons. There are two major types of taiga, closed forest, consisting of many closely-spaced trees with mossy ground cover, and lichen woodland, with trees that are farther-spaced
and lichen ground cover; the latter is more common in the northernmost taiga. The taiga is home to a number of large herbivorous mammals and smaller rodents. These animals have adapted to survive a climate harsh for humans. A number of wildlife species threatened or endangered with extinction can be found in the Canadian Boreal forest. Large areas of Siberia’s taiga have been harvested for lumber since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In Canada, less than eight percent of the Boreal forest is protected from development and more than 50% has been allocated to logging companies for cutting.

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The Highest Flying Bird

Posted on 30 March 2012 by RE Team

<h4 class=”shadow-bringer shadow”>Bar-headed Goose</h4>The birds are the most expert migratory animal on earth and they can overcome any obstacles on their way even it is the highest obstacle on earth, the Everest. Yes, it is very true for one migratory bird, Bar-headed Goose. This Asian goose is now considered as the highest flying bird in the world.

 

The Pretty Bar Headed Goose - Photo Wikipedia

 

A recent GPS survey reveals that the bar-headed Goose starts migrating from their breeding home at central Asia (Mongolia) and covers  more than 5000 km in two months to reach the low lands in India. These low lands are grazing grounds for the birds in winter as the grass on the high altitude dry up. The total migration takes around two months, as they take frequent stop.

The most interesting and puzzling thing about their migration is that they cross the highest mountain range on Earth, the Himalayan, in a single flight within eight hours. They choose the toughest and highest route of the Himalayan crossing the Everest to reach their destination. The GPS study records that the geese fly over 6,500 meter (22000 feet) in the Himalayan range. But there are reports of the birds flying over the mount Everest at around 30000 feet.

 

Bar Headed Goose - Anser Indicus @BBC photo

 

Another very contrasting fact about the Bar-headed bird is that unlike other high flying birds that reach high altitude by soaring and gliding up, the Bar-headed goose reaches the extra-ordinary height by smartly flapping their wings. This is the reason why these geese don’t depend on the tail-wind on the Himalayan range, in fact they deny the winds and starts climbing up high altitude when the wind blows out. The bird’s body is specially made to meet this exceptional capability.  More red-blood cells and more capillaries than normal birds deliver their muscles more oxygen than others.

Though their flying and migration nature is confirmed, yet it is still not known clearly why these birds take such a hard route. There are lower passes available in the Himalayan range, that could have given them easy passage.  A hypothesis suggests that the geese choose to fly over rather than around the Himalaya is that the birds have been doing so for millions of years—long before the mountains reached their current heights.

 

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MOST CONCERNED ENDANGERED SPECIES

Photos of Nature