Sunday, July 27, 2014

Creature Feature #281: Grasshopper

There are thousands of species of Grasshopper, spread throughout the world. Their preferred diet consists of grasses, leaves and cereal crops, which he chews with his mandibles to start the digestion process. Many Grasshoppers are coloured for camouflage.  Like most arthropods, Grasshoppers begin as a nymph and grow through several instars before attaining their adult form.  This fellow is the Lubber Grasshopper, from the southeastern states of America. He can grow up to 8cm long. His wings are atrophied, rendering him incapable of flight and he is only able to jump short distances, instead preferring to walk. To avoid getting eaten, he is toxic and will emit a nasty secretion to repel anything that tries to chomp him.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Creature Feature #280: Gouldian Finch

The colourful, tropical Gouldian Finch makes his home in the savannah woodlands of Australia's Northern Territory.  He leads a nomadic lifestyle, living within a relative small area and moving only when water or food becomes scarce. Whilst he is not particularly sociable with his own kin, he will joined mixed flocks with long-tailed and masked finches. In the early part of the dry season, whilst there is still plenty of food to be found, the male begins to court the female. He bobs about her, ruffling his feathers to show his dramatic colouration to their full extent, expanding his chest and raising his head feathers. She will lay 4-8 eggs, and he remains with her, helping her to raise their brood.

Creature Feature #279: Goshawk

Thought I was going to miss today, didn't you? Well, you were right, for it is after midnight here in New Zealand, but I do have a very good excuse - I went straight from work to one of my friends' birthday celebrations and thus did not have time to upload G is for Goshawk until just now. So, without further ado:

Goshawk is the name given to twenty-six different species of raptor, all of which are species of small to medium sized hawks. They are characterised by their overall grey plumate and speckled bellies, although different species hold different characteristics. This if a Chanting Goshawk. Amongst raptor species, the female is larger than the male, and in this particular species, her main prey consists of small, relatively slow-moving land mammals. She has sturdy legs, and will pursue her prey on foot if required.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Creature Feature #278: Gorilla

The Gorilla is the largest living primate, with some silverback males weighing in at over 200 kg. The Gorilla lives in social groups, lead by an adult male, his harem of females and their offspring. He is the center of the group, making the decisions, leading his troop, mediating drama and generally being the boss. Other, younger, males help to protect the troop against predators and other dangers. His diet is mostly vegetarian, although he will on occasion snack on insects, with leaves and pith making up the majority. Generally the troop will divide the day between foraging and resting. He is considered to be one of the most intelligent of animals, with a rich emotional family life.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Creature Feature #277: Goose

There are numerous species of Goose, spread across three Genera, but the domestic goose is descended from this species, the Greylag. She is spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, natively occuring across Eurasia with feral (and vagrant) populations in North America. She has been domesticated for 1,000 years. Her main diet is grass, grain and leafy vegetation. Due to the low energy component, she must graze almost constantly. Geese have a more cohesive family unit than ducks, with both parents guarding the chicks from predation. The family remains together throughout the year, joining with a larger flock to make the migration south or east for winter. They are one of the last migrants to depart, hence the inclusion of "lag" in their name.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Creature Feature #276: Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle is an apex predator, capable of lifting prey as large as a hare, marmot or even a baby deer. She forms a monogamous, lifelong partnership with her mate, and together they perform an aerial courtship display in which the male drops a rock, then swoops to catch it. The female shows her aerial prowess in a similar manner - although often with a dirt clod or twig. Together they construct a large nest, called an eyrie, on a rocky ledge. This is created from branches and padded with grass.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Creature Feature #275: Goblin Shark

A strange monster of the deep, the Goblin Shark is rarely seen and little is known about his behaviour. His large, flabby body and short fins suggest that he leads a largely sedantary lifestyle, probably ambusing his piscian prey. When he bites, he expands his jaws using two specialised ligaments. This allowes him to seize his prey in his needle-thing teeth, before his bashyal, bones analogous to a tongue, descends, increasing his oral cavity and sucking the prey down his throat. . His long snout is likely to play a sensory role, and is capable of detecting electric currents in the water.