Good Saturday morning, friends! I hope you all have something fun and relaxing planned for the weekend! Daughter Chris has a band performance at Miami University tonight, but Miss Goose and I will be dining next door with Maha & Ali who are fixing me a special birthday dinner. Then on Sunday, we will be going to the local nursery to pick out a couple of potted flowers to brighten our back patio. Nothing too exciting, but still, a nice break from the ordinary.
I debated about what to do for our Saturday surprise today … we haven’t gone exploring for a long time, but I just didn’t feel motivated for travel. I also haven’t done a ‘unique animals’ post for a while, and that rather sounded fun, so I have gone in search of some fun and different critters for us to enjoy today.
This cutie is known by many names: thorny dragon, thorny devil, thorny lizard, and mountain devil. He’s smaller than he looks in the picture … only a maximum of about 8 inches in length, and that includes the tail. Native to Australia, this is the only species in the genus Moloch. The thorny dragon can live up to 20 years, and they subsist solely on … ants. They have several means of warding off would-be predators … first, of course, any predator would find those scales a bit ominous. They can also puff themselves up to look significantly larger than they are. And third, they have what is known as a ‘false head’, or a knob-like appendage on the backs of their necks. When threatened, they can tuck their real head between their forelegs, and the false head is left in its place.
Found in the rainforests of Borneo, this guy, the proboscis monkey, reminds me of my Uncle Lou! According to National Geographic, they actually use their big noses to attract mates. “Scientists think these outsize organs create an echo chamber that amplifies the monkey’s call, impressing females and intimidating rival males.” Their noses can grow to as long as 7 inches … that’s quite a schnoz!
Sadly, due to loss of vegetation (you know, that climate change hoax?), there are only about 1,000 proboscis monkeys left in the world, and they are strictly protected by the government of Borneo, though some poaching still occurs.
And speaking of critters with large noses, this is the recently-discovered (2008) Pinocchio frog. Found in Papua, New Guinea, little is known about them, but they have the ability to enlarge and inflate their nose. It inflates when the male frog is calling out, and it goes down when the frog is calm and quiet. Kind of cute, isn’t he?
Meet the axolotl, also known as the Mexican Walking Fish. He is actually a small salamander and is a critically endangered species. Whereas most such amphibians grow into adulthood by developing lungs and leaving the water behind for a home on land, these guys live their entire lives underwater. They are currently only known to live in one place, Lake Xochimilco south of Mexico City.The thing that makes them most unique is their ability to heal themselves. They can re-generate their limbs, eyes, and even parts of their brain!
The main thing that sets this markhor apart from other wild goats is the spiraling horns on its head. They live in mountain ranges from Afghanistan to northern India, but it’s the national animal of Pakistan. In Persian, the name markhor means ‘snake-eater’. Their horns can grow up to 5 feet long! That’s as long as Miss Goose is tall! Considering that these goats are only 2-4 feet tall, it seems as if their horns would make them top-heavy. They use their horns for digging in the ground, fighting other males for the attention of females, and stripping bark off of trees. Rather like trees, there are rings on the horns that can tell the age of the markhor.
Last but not least, how about this tiny, adorable Honduran white bat? Also known as the ghost bat, he is tiny, only about 1.5 inches long, and is found only in the jungles of Central America. Still another name for him is the “Caribbean white tent-making bat” … that’s a mouthful! It came by that name because it constructs ‘tents’ out of plant leaves by strategically cutting the leaf ribs with its teeth; it roosts in these tents during the day.
Okay, folks … time for you to set out on your weekend adventures! I hope you enjoyed the unique critters. Perhaps next Saturday we’ll fire up the Filomobile and take off on a short jaunt to parts unknown! Have a great weekend!