Which came first: the kiwi or the kiwifruit? Was the bird named for the fruit or the fruit named for the bird? As it turns out, it was the latter. In the 1950s, commercial growers of the “Chinese gooseberry” noticed that their fruit bore a resemblance to an odd little New Zealand bird and a […]
Animals all face the same challenges: finding enough to eat and surviving long enough to pass on their genes. While there are endless ways Nature has addressed these challenges, it sometimes arrives at the same solution in species that are only distantly-related. This phenomenon, called convergent evolution, can be seen in the similar body shape […]
The black snub-nosed monkey (also known as the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey) is a medium-sized primate species named for its black fur and a distinctive upturned nose, which results from a lack of nasal bones. Adult females weigh in at roughly 20 pounds (9 kilograms) and adult males at 30 pounds (14 kilograms). The monkey lives […]
The leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) is a large tree-dwelling reptile found in Eastern Madagascar. It gets the name uroplatus – which means “flat tail” – from its broad leaf-shaped tail that can be snapped off and regrown if attacked by a predator.
The kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) is a large flightless parrot native to New Zealand. It adapted to life on the ground because New Zealand has few natural terrestrial predators. They are accomplished climbers, using their wings for balance, and their beak and strong claws to pull and grip their way up and down trees.
The aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is the largest nocturnal primate. It is native to the island of Madagascar and known for its weird morphological features.
The glass-winged butterfly (Greta oto) has wings that are transparent. The tissue between their veins looks like glass, as it lacks the colored scales found in other butterflies. These clear wings make it extremely difficult for predatory birds to track it in flight.
The blue dragon (Glaucus atlanticus) is a type of mollusk known as a nudibranch. Despite its impressive appearance, it rarely grows larger than three centimeters long.
The thorny devil (Moloch horridus) looks like something straight out of an old Japanese monster film. Thankfully, the lizard only averages eight inches (20 centimeters) long and spends most of its time terrorizing ants, not denizens of Tokyo.