Category archives for Animals
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a new stop-motion animated movie based on Roald Dahl’s classic book for kids of the same title. The movie’s full of fun and animal “facts,” but are all these facts for real?
According to Fantastic Mr. Fox, beagles love blueberries. Is that true? Nope, according to Lisa Peterson of the American Kennel Club. “Most dogs don’t like fruit at all.” So what do beagles like to eat when they’re not eating dog food provided by their owners? “Poop for sure, the fresher the better–usually someone else’s, but quite often their own. And I have one [beagle] that digs up grub worms and eats them. They also like any paper products, and if they don’t eat them, they will tear them up,” adds Janelle Holmes, a Texas-based beagle breeder.
Which other Fantistic Mr. Fox facts don’t hold water? Find out (and watch the movie trailer) on NGM Blog Central.
Is that sound a violin? Nope! You are hearing the vibrating feathers of the male club-winged manakin. This tiny songbird lives in the cloud forests of the Andes in South America. It vibrates one type of wing feather against another at twice the speed of a hummingbird’s wings to “sing” to potential mates. The sound this vibration makes sounds like a violin.
Learn more about the club-winged manakin on National Geographic News.
Photograph courtesy Cotswold Wildlife Park
Did you get some good treats this Halloween? The lemurs and meerkats at the Cotswold Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom did, too! These pictures show some of the park’s critters enjoying carved pumpkins as a tasty snack instead of decorations.
Photograph courtesy Cotswold Wildlife Park
Visit the Cotswold Wildlife Park website.
Get the facts on meerkats in the Creature Feature.
Get the facts on ring-tailed lemurs in the Creature Feature.
Nephila komaci is the world’s largest web-spinning spider. Or at least the female is! Her legspan can be as big as five inches (12 centimeters) wide. The males, however, is less than a quarter of the female’s size. Males have legspans that are only one inch wide (2.5 centimeters). There are bigger spiders on the planet (think tarantulas like the goliath birdeater), but they don’t spin webs.
Nephila komaci is a member of the golden orb-weaver family. All of these spiders are known to spin very big webs. They can be up to three feet (one meter) wide! The spider’s habitat is limited–it lives in small areas in Madagascar and South Africa. Although the spider was first identified at a museum in 2000, scientists didn’t know if it still existed in the wild until a field survey in 2007.
Read more about Nephila komaci on National Geographic News.
Put together puzzles featuring spiders on National Geographic Kids.
Get the facts on tarantulas in the Creature Feature.
Chimpanzees are more like humans than researchers previously thought. In a new study performed in Japan, chimps helped other chimps get juice by passing them objects such as straws (to drink the juice) or sticks (to reach straws they couldn’t reach). Researchers noticed that related chimps were more likely to help each other.
The chimps were trained to use sticks or straws to get juice, but they were not trained to pass things to each other.
Find out more about the research on National Geographic News.
Get the facts on chimpanzees in this Creature Feature.
Watch a video of a chimp solving a computer puzzle on News Bites.
Photograph by Beverly Joubert
Africa’s lion population is quickly getting smaller and smaller, and action must be taken immediately to save these majestic animals.To raise awareness, the National Geographic Society launched the Big Cats Initiative this month. This project will support programs and education that will help the big cats of the world, with a special focus on lions.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert are one of the big forces behind the project. They are National Geographic Explorers-in Residence who have spent over 25 years studying and working to conserve Africa’s animals, especially the big cats. They want people to understand that when it comes to saving the big cats like lions and leopards, the time to act is now. “”We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” Dereck says.
Learn more about the Big Cats Initiative on National Geographic.
Get the facts on lions on National Geographic Kids.
Play Crittercam: African Adventure on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Robert L. Curry
Did you know that there are more than 40,000 species of spiders, but only one species is known to be vegetarian? The jumping spider is named Bagheera kiplingi after the character of Bagheera the panther in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
Bagheera kiplingi lives in Mexico and Costa Rica and eats the buds that grow on acacia plants. Ferocious acacia ants live in the acacia’s hollow thorns and defend the plants from intruders such as Bagheera kiplingi. The spider must leap from thorn to thorn to collect its food while avoiding the ants, according to Christopher Meehan the biologist who led the study. “It is utterly surreal to see a spider use such effective hunting strategies to hunt a plant,” he added.
Read more about this plant-loving spider on National Geographic News.
Put together puzzles featuring spiders on National Geographic Kids.
Watch a video of a jumping spider on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Newspix/Rex USA
Violent storms can be disastrous for baby flying foxes in Australia. Strong winds can knock the babies from the protection of their mothers’ wings, and many have not learned how to fly. Luckily for the bats, there are volunteers to swoop in and rescue them.
One particularly fierce storm sent hundreds of baby bats helplessly to the ground. Over three days, volunteers transported the babies to the Australian Bat Clinic & Wildlife Trauma Centre. Doctors at the clinic treated the bats for injuries and broken bones and monitored them until they learned to fly.
Read the full story by Scott Elder in the October 2009 issue of National Geographic Kids, on newsstands now.
See a video of flying foxes on National Geographic Kids.
Read a story about Dunia, a rescued baby gorilla, on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Mehgan Murphy/National Zoo
Happy the hippo was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and lived there for 28 years. In recent years, he has been the zoo’s only hippo and shared a habitat with the elephants. On Monday, September 28, Happy moved out in preparation for the Asian elephant exhibit expansion. His new home is at the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin. Zoo visitors in Washington, D.C. will miss him, but at least Happy will finally have some company–two female hippos named Puddles and Patti.
Learn more about Happy’s big move on the National Zoo’s website.
Get the facts on hippos on National Geographic Kids.
What a weird-looking fish! It’s six feet (2 meters) long, has tiny teeth, a long tail, and it doesn’t have scales. Guy Marcovaldi captured video footage of the fish while working on the TAMAR project, which is involved in sea turtle conservation. The fish was found off of the shore of Brazil’s Bahia coast. It was dead and floating near the water’s surface.
At first the fish was reported as being a newly discovered species, but David Johnson, an ichthyologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, says that the fish probably belongs to a group of fish known as Jellynoses. Jellynoses are mysterious fish that live at the bottom of the ocean. Catch a glimpse of this large, gelatinous fish in this video!
Read more about this discovery on National Geographic News.
Check out pictures of more strange ocean dwellers on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Melissa Brandts, Your Shot
Believe it or not, this picture is for real! While visiting Banff National Park in Canada, two park visitors put their camera on a rock and set the camera’s timer. The noise of the camera focusing caught the attention of a curious ground squirrel, who popped up in front of the camera in time for the click of the shutter. What a great (and unique) vacation memory!
Get the story of this amazing picture in the photographer’s words on National Geographic.
See pictures of national parks in the United States in the Photo Gallery.
Mani the monkey was never trained to herd goats, but somehow she manages anyway. Mani has lived at the Palagapandi estate for three years, and she has been a huge help! Every morning, she takes the goats that live at the plantation out to graze. At the end of the day, she brings all of the goats back home safely.
The Palagapandi estate manager says Mani is great at bringing the goats home. “She is as good as a shepherd. The only thing is that she does not speak, but otherwise carries out all responsibilities,” he adds.
Read more about Mani the goat-herding monkey on National Geographic News.
Look at pictures of dogs with jobs in the Photo Gallery.
Photograph from Kyodo via AP
Japan may be invaded by giant jellyfish again this year. Nomura’s jellyfish can be bigger than humans (up to 440 pounds, or 200 kilograms), and they’re big trouble for people fishing on the coasts. Nomura’s jellyfish breed in the waters off of the coast of China. From there they move to the coasts of Japan. The jellies clog nets and ruin potential catches with their toxic stings. This damage can cost the coastal fishers billions of yen.
Researchers at Hiroshima University have been monitoring sites where Nomura’s jellyfish breed, and they’ve found large numbers of the jellies, meaning that a new invasion may not be far away.
Read more about the jellyfish invasion on National Geographic News.
Learn more about Nomura’s jellyfish on National Geographic Kids.
Get the scoop on jellyfish in this Creature Feature.
They can fly on a new airline just for pets that launched this month called Pet Airways. The planes’ interior cabins are appointed with pet carriers instead of seats, and the pets are checked on regularly by flight attendants. Airports offering service on Pet Airways even have pre-flight lounges for dogs and cats to wait in.
Read more about Pet Airways on USA Today’s Today in the Skies blog.
As you may already know, cats can really get your attention when they want to. A new study has shown that kitty may even make a special sound to do so! Cats have the ability to combine their usual purr with a whining noise that is similar to the noise an upset human baby makes. This subtle noise may make the cat’s owner more likely to feed it rather than ignoring it.
Study leader Karen McComb from the University of Sussex in the U.K. notes that not all cats make this purr-whine noise. Cats are more likely to purr-whine if they’re the only cat in the household–possibly because the sound is more likely to be overlooked when there are multiple cats vying for attention. A louder meow could be more effective in multi-cat houses.
Get the story on the cat’s purr on National Geographic News.
See cat pictures in the Photo Gallery.
One of the big attractions at Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo is Tai Shan, a giant panda. He was born at the zoo in 2005, and has been delighting visitors ever since. Tai Shan turns four today, and his fans have been leaving birthday messages on the National Zoo’s website.
To celebrate his birthday, the zoo’s staff made Tai Shan a birthday “cake,” but it’s really more like a Popsicle. The ingredients are water, bamboo, and beets. Yummy!
Send Tai Shan a birthday wish on the National Zoo’s website.
Learn more about Tai Shan and the zoo’s other giant pandas on the National Zoo’s website.
Get facts about giant pandas on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph courtesy Mehgan
Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Scientists are concerned that fireflies may be disappearing. With the help of volunteers around the country, they hope to collect information about where and when fireflies are appearing this year. Ask your parents if you can help count fireflies. Visit Ready, Set, Glow! to learn how to observe fireflies in your backyard. You can also learn some firefly jokes and do some activities.
Check out bug photos on National Geographic Kids.
To celebrate the launch of the National Children’s Museum’s Ready, Set, Glow! project, families join Museum of Science Boston educator Don Salvatore, holding a firefly fishing pole, for a firefly night walk.
Photograph courtesy the National Children’s Museum
An ocelot at the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science
enjoys the breeze created by a box fan placed in the habitat.
Temperatures have been nearly 100 degrees F in Tallahassee, Florida for
several days and animal curators brought in fans to keep the animals
Photograph by Phil Coale/AP
Read an ocelot profile on NationalGeographic.com.
Photograph by Jessica Deichmann, courtesy Conservation International
Tadpole-toting frogs (seen above), lungless salamanders, and spiny katydids are some of the new species found on a recent conservation expedition to the mountainous Nangaritza region of Ecuador. Scientists hope that the discoveries will result in protection of their habitat by the Ecuadorian government, according to Conservation International.
See pictures of the new discoveries on National Geographic News.
See rainforest pictures on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society
Conservationists have been trapping snow leopards in Afghanistan–but don’t worry, they’re using cameras, not cages! To set the camera traps in remote snow leopard territory, the conservationists and park rangers had to travel for a week on horses (or yaks). After setting the traps, they left and waited.
Four out of five camera traps ended up capturing images of the elusive big cats. This is great news for the snow leopards. Due to poaching and humans hunting their prey, there aren’t many snow leopards left in Afghanistan. In fact, conservationists have estimated there are only about 100 of the cats living in the country This estimate is largely an educated guess, but conservationists say that the photos mean that there is a chance for the population to recover.
Learn more about the snow leopard photos on National Geographic News.
Watch a video about clouded leopards on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Miriam Wessels/University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany
Marina Davila Ross of the U.K.’s University of Portsmouth led a team that tickled the necks, feet, palms, and armpits of chimp, orangutan, bonobo, gorilla, and human babies. All of the babies responded to the tickling with laughter. The study says that the ability to laugh like this comes from an ancestor that humans and great apes have in common.
Watch a video and hear chimp, gorilla, and orangutan laughter on National Geographic News.
Get the facts on orangutans in the Creature Feature.
Get the facts on chimpanzees in the Creature Feature.
Photograph by Polka Dot Images via Photolibrary
Gross but true: Maggots help wounds to heal faster. Some hospitals use maggots to help difficult wounds like ulcers and burns to heal. The maggots eat dead tissue around the wound that can prevent healing and cause infection. Doctors know it works, but how? A new study suggests that maggots secrete a special fluid that helps them to eat the dead tissue.
What does this mean? In the future, doctors may be able to harness the bacteria-busting power of maggots without having to put the creepy-crawlies on people. David Pritchard, a researcher working on the project at the University of Nottingham School of Pharmacy in the U.K., says that putting the liquid in a gel or ointment is the most likely way the liquid will be used. Such a treatment would probably be just as effective as using the maggots.
Read more about the study on National Geographic News.
Read about plants that eat flies on National Geographic Kids.
This story isn’t about thieves smuggling whales, but whales who are thieves! New footage catches sperm whales in the act of snatching fish from fishing lines. Scientists got the incredible shots from underwater cameras attached to fishing equipment. These smart whales were able to shake the fish from the line without injuring themselves. Watch a video of the fish heist below.
Learn more about the thieving whales on National Geographic News.
See pictures of different kinds of whales on National Geographic Kids.
How much do you know about blue whales? Quiz Your Noodle and find out.