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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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?!
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!
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!