Archive for July, 2009

What is remora?

Remora

Remora are small fish that live in all tropical seas.  Sometimes called shark suckers, these remarkable fish are known as the “hitchhikers” of the sea, for they attach themselves to larger fish for transportation about the ocean.

The remora has an odd sucking disc on the top of its head that looks like the sole of a rubber shoe, with which the remora attaches itself to whales, sea turtles, sharks and large fish.

When the bigger fish feeds, the remora eats the bits of food that falls from its host’s mouth.  Sometimes several remoras will hitch a ride on the same fish.

If the remora has hitchhiked into the area of a school of small fish, it detaches  itself and swims after its own food.

After it has eaten its fill, the remora looks for another large fish to hitch a ride to its next meal.

In some parts of the tropics fishermen use the remoras in fishing.  The fisherman fastens a line to the remora’s fall and allows it to swim about.  When a large fish swims near, the remora promptly attaches itself to the larger fish.  Then both can be pulled in. – Dick Rogers

 

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What is a cuckoo?

Nearly everyone is familiar with the cuckoo clock which a small, wooden bird announces the hours “cuckoo, cuckoo.”

The clock bird is imitating the loud call of the European cuckoo, and ashy-gray bird about size of the small pigeon.

Cuckoo

“Cuckoo” is the name of several closely related birds that are found nearly all parts of the world.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the cuckoo is that it builds no nest of its own but lays its eggs in the nests of other birds.

When the baby cuckoo hatches, the foster parents feed it as carefully as if it were their own.

Actually, not all cuckoos are guilty of this behavior.  Some cuckoos build untidy nests in quiet woodlands and care for their young.

Cuckoos are helpful to man.  They eat many insect pests such as hairy caterpillars.  Such insects are shunned by other birds because of the caterpillar irritating bristles.– Dick Rogers

What was the woolly mammoth?

The woolly mammoth was a kind of hairy elephant that lived long, long ago.

This huge, lumbering beast stood about 10 feet tall and had long, spiral tusks that often grew to be 13 feet long.

Woolly Mammoth

The woolly mammoth was covered with long, shaggy hair that almost reached the ground.  Its coat kept it warm in the cold climate where it lived.

There are none of these great east living today.  They died out many thousands of years ago.  Yet we know a good deal about them, since their bones have been found.

In places like Siberia, the whole bodies of mammoths have been found perfectly preserved in ice.

Another kind of old-fashioned elephant was the mastodon.  Mastodon were about the same size as the woolly mammoth but had straight tusks and less hair.  All mastodons have died out, too.

Today, you can see skeletons of woolly mammoths and mastodons in many museum. –  Dick Rogers

 

What is a shrew?

You might call a mouse small, but a tiny creature knows and a shrew may be much smaller.  In fact, shrews are among the tiniest mammals on earth.

Shrew are furry animals that look much like a mice, except for their long, pointed noses, which they use to explore cracks and crevices for food.

Shrew

Some kinds of shrews are only two to three inches long and weight about as much as a penny, while the largest ones may be the size of small rats.

Shrews make their homes in grassy fields, woodlands, gardens and marshes.  They are often mistaken for mice because of their small size.

But for all its small size, a shrew is a big eater and spends almost all its life in a never-ending hunt for food.

It must eat nearly twice its own weight in insects and worms each day to keep up its supply of energy.

Shrews are useful in gardens and farms.  They get rid of pests that destroy drops.– Dick Rogers

 

What is a duck-billed platypus?

It would be hard to find a stronger creature in the world than the duck-billed platypus that lives in Australia and Tasmania.  It is also the strangest creature.

What makes this “impossible” creature so odd is that it has a bill like a duck, where most other mammals have noses and lips.  It has the soft thick fur of a mole, and a paddle-shaped tall like a beaver.

Duck Billed-Platypus

It has webbed feet, too, and it lays eggs and hatches them like a chicken.  But after the eggs have hatched, the mother platypus nurses her babies with milk as do other mammals.

A fully grown duckbill may be nearly two feet long counting its tail, and weight 6 pounds.  This shy creature spend most of the day hiding in a grass-lined den, deep in some mud bank.

Like beavers, platypuses live in streams and ponds.  they do not build dams, but dig deep tunnels far into the bank, from under water.  The long upward-sloping tunnel leads to the “living room.”

The shy platypus is seldom seen.  it hides deep in its burrow by day.  It comes out at night to hunt for worms, snails, and other small water creatures which it digs up which it finds by stirring the muddy stream bottom of the pond with its rubbery bill. – Dick Rogers

What is a tumblebug?

Tumblebug

Did you ever see a bug that could tumble?  The tumblebug can!

“Tumblebug” is the name of a beetle that has the peculiar habit of rolling balls of dung (manure) along the ground.  It gets its name from the fact that it often tumbles as it rolls these large balls.

Tumblebug, also called “dung beetle”, can be found living in many parts of the world.

They are members of the famous scarab beetle family, sacred symbols to the ancient Egyptians.

The tumblebug carves out a mass of fresh dung and rolls it into a perfect ball.

Then, standing on it head with its hind feet on the ball, the tumblebug rolls the ball to a place of safety.

When it finds a suitable spot, it digs a hole and rolls the ball into the note.

It may eat the ball, or it may lay an egg in it and bury it.

The dung serves as food for the baby tumblebug that hatches from the egg.– Dick Rogers