The Succulent Karoo is a region of south Africa which hosts 1/3 of the world’s succulent plant species — the richest diversity of succulent flora on the planet! The climate here is mild compared to other desert areas, with sparse but reliable rainfall, especially in the winter. The heat of summer is also moderated by fog created by the Benguela Current flowing northward along the coast.

succulent karoo desert biome area south africa arid cactus cacti species biodiversity hotspot

The Encyclopedia of Earth
Environmental Literacy Council
World Wildlife Fund
Plantz Africa

The Pyrenean Desman, Galemys pyrenaicus, is one of only two species of desmans in the world. This small aquatic insectivore lives in Spain and northern Portugal, near the Pyrenees mountains. They use their long, sensitive, flexible snout to search for underwater prey — tiny invertebrates such as insects, snails, and small shrimp. Desmans are related to moles and share several characteristics with them, including poor eyesight. Desmans, however, have more powerful hindquarters for propelling them through water.

snout funny mole desman pyrenean Galemys pyrenaicus

ARKive: fun video! plus pics and info
The Mole Tunnel

Rope from Yucca

This whole family is learning a valuable survival skill, and you can, too!

family outdoor craft hobby art make yucca rope cordage natural fibers plants nature
Continue reading

This full-length (51min) nature documentary by National Geographic is in high definition and free on YouTube!
Be entertained and learn a LOT about these amazing reptiles. 😀

The common chickweed (Stellaria media) is common indeed!
I used to find this growing everywhere in Michigan, but haven’t seen it here in Texas.

arkive plants weeds chickweed edible growing green white flowers star stellaria media common

More on this lowly edible plant:
Weed Gallery
Arkive (wow! they have plants, too!)
Kingdom Plantae

With oily fur to shed the water with a shake, the water shrew (Sorex palustris) can live a life that few other insect eaters can maintain. These little guys can dive underwater and hunt for insect larvae and small fish, then swim back to the surface and nibble on worms, snails, and even mushrooms. Water shrews are so light and bouyant that they must paddle hard just to stay submerged. They live mostly in mountain streams and nest in logs or underground burrows.

 
water shrew sorex palustris american insectivore mammals arkive

ARKive
ADW
BioKIDS

The Crucifix Toad, also called the Holy Cross Frog, Notaden bennettii, lives in the dry outback of eastern Australia. When it gets too dry, this little guy burrows deep underground and goes into a semi-hibernating state, like many of his neighbors. However, it is the substance secreted by this little amphibian that makes it special. When disturbed by insects or other threats, the Crucifix Toad secretes a sticky substance known to be one of the strongest natural adhesives in the world. It will even stick metal to metal! Even more valuable, it is being used inside human bodies for medical purposes, far exceeding the usefulness of limited protein-based and synthetic bonding agents currently being used. Check out the links below for more interesting tidbits!

Notaden bennettii crucifix toad holy cross frog australia desert glue adhesive medical wonder natural products

Australian Geographic
iNaturalist
Glue Protects from Insect Bites…
Frogs of Australia

The St. Lucia or iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the southeastern corner of Africa features a wide variety of wildlife habitats including forest, inland lake, swamp, sand dunes, and coastal waters where whales make their annual migrations.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

When my children were young, our family knew mallows as “cheeses” because their seeds come in a fun little package similar to a cheese wheel. The seeds are edible, so we used to hunt them down and have fun opening up the little wheels and crunching on the nutty little seeds. They are tiny, so this was more for fun than for nutrition. Common Mallow, Malva sylvestris, has one of the broadest geographical ranges of all mallows, and is also heavily researched for its medicinal properties. Many cultivars of mallow are also available for your gardening pleasure.

Malva sylvestris common mallow north american world wildflowers medicinal pink purple

Encyclopedia of Life
iNaturalist
Nature Gate
SEINet — Arizona Chapter
Permaculture – UK

The fishing cat, Prionailurus viverrinus, lives in the wetlands of India and southeast Asia, where its natural habitat is being replaced with homes and farmland. This endangered species of wild cat is about twice the size of most domestic house cats, about 10 to 12 inches at the shoulder and very stocky. Just like its name implies, this feline is an avid swimmer and hunts fish and other aquatic animals in rivers, streams, and swampy areas.

fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus asia southeast wetlands big cats feline felids wild

ARKive
Encyclopedia of Life
Wild Cats Magazine
International Society for Endangered Cats
A-Z Animals

Common Cotton Grass, Eriophorum angustifolium, is found in the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. The fluffy white seedheads cannot be used to make clothing like cotton, but it has been used in wound dressings (padding) and as pillow stuffing. This species of cotton grass has translucent pink roots that have been used as an astringent and to treat digestive troubles.

cotton grass Eriophorum angustifolium species plant alpine mountains bog northern

Encyclopedia of Life: pics!
Wikipedia (very informative article)
Nature’s Notebook
Other types of cotton grass

The Dhole or Asiatic Wild Dog, Cuon alpinus, is an endangered canine with only about 2500 to 3000 individuals left in the wild. This unique species does not fit neatly into either the wolf-like nor fox-like canids, and therefore has its own genus. Dholes have two extra teets… and two less teeth than other wild dogs! They hunt in packs like wolves, but communicate with a whistle rather than a howl. Dholes are now mostly found in India and parts of China, but also can be found on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java.

dhole Cuon alpinus asiatic indian wild dog red canids asia indonesia china

ARKive   ADW
A to Z Animals
Dhole Fact File

This strange-looking bird never outgrows his huge eye — this is not just an appealing baby face, but a full-grown Water Dikkop or Water Thick-knee of southern Africa!

water thick knee dikkop burhinus vermiculatus birds aves south africa wader

More Pics! (click the “Detail” tab for more info)
Vocalization (bird sound)
Beauty of Birds
Biodiversity Explorer

If you like to watch meerkats, you’ve got to check out this website devoted to their cousins, the banded mongoose!

banded mongoose research project website support

The Banded Mongoose Research Project website

If they COULD read, dragonflies would do it almost 4 times as fast as we can! Their reaction time is so fast, they can fly out to catch something they see before we would even register any sight. Watch the short video below to learn more about the dragonfly’s super sense.

Dragonflies Speed Read?!

As with many species of fungi, this one has no official common name. It is Lactarius uvidus, what I am calling the Purple-Staining Milkcap. This species thrives in North American and European forests around birch, aspen, spruce, and willow trees. The cap is either flat or indented, and it gives off a milky secretion that turns purple or lilac wherever it sticks on the fruiting body. Click the links below to find out more about this interesting fungus.

Lactarius uvidus lilac staining milkcap milky mushroom north america europe aspens birch willow forest fungi

Wikipedia   |   EOL
Mushroom Expert
First Nature
Rogers Mushrooms
Mushroom Observer

The American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis, is one of North America’s last birds to get started building a family. In July, when other bird families include fledglings aplenty, the thistles are just starting to bloom. This signals the conspicuous bright yellow male goldfinch and his olive colored mate to start building a nest, constructed mostly of thistle down. When the eggs finally hatch, the thistles have gone to seed — the perfect time to start feeding chicks! Parent goldfinches serve their nestlings a milky cereal-like substance made of thistle seed — the bird world’s closest thing to mammal milk!

Spinus tristis male american goldfinch on thistles birds north america backyard yellow black white

eNatureBlog
Audubon
All About Birds
BirdNote
ARKive

The streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) of Madagascar is quite the unique critter!
Not only does he look crazy, but he also clatters his spines together to communicate with his foraging mates, AND clicks his tongue as a form of echolocation!

 
tenrec madagascar africa streaked hemicentetes punk rock shrew

Click the pic or links above or below to learn more about this amazing species!
Arkive
Encyclopedia of Life
Animal Diversity Web

The thorns of acacias can grow so large that people use them to make dolls!
How crazy is that?! Awesomely creative! 😀

acacia thorns doll toys natural products seeds fun stuff diy

Acacia Trees
Acacia Trees and Shrubs

Is this the “richest part of the ocean anywhere on the planet”?
According to this video, the Philippines takes this prize!
Check out the biodiversity of this World Hot Spot!

Philippine Biodiversity!