Weekly Update - 07.14.21
We’re entering the final weeks of summer now, so I thought I share some of the fun facts we’ve been learning about animals from around the world. Some of these wacky creatures may be familiar to you, but hopefully you learn something new as you’re reading this week’s column.
To start, we have the Lyrebird. Native to Australia, this bird is not poisonous or aggressive as those of us not from that country are inclined to suspect of any animal hailing from there. Lyrebirds are the largest songbird in the world and can mimic just about any sound they hear, including camera shutters, chainsaws, other birds and wildlife, and more. Another bird we learned about is the Jabiru; this one is native to Central and South America and is a type of stork. It is the tallest flying bird in its native area. The male of the species can grow to be as tall as 5 feet and averages a wingspan between 7.5 and just over 9 feet. The Jabiru’s name comes from the Tupi-Guarani language and means “swollen neck” which is a reference to the featherless, stretchable red pouch they have at their lower neck.
We’ve also learned about several sea creatures over the past few weeks, such as the Sea Pen, the Axolotl, and the Leafy Sea Dragon. Sea Pens are found in tropical and temperate waters, and despite appearances are in fact animals and not plants. These guys are a type of octocoral, closely related to sea whips, blue corals, and soft corals. They came by their name due to the fact that some of the species resemble a feather quill pen. Leafy Sea Dragons also come by their name due to their resemblance to seaweed; this is an excellent camouflage that helps protect them from predators and assists their own hunt for food which consists mainly of plankton and small crustaceans. Also known as “Leafies”, you can find these creatures along the southern and western coasts of Australia. The Axolotl is an amphibian native to freshwater lakes and ponds around Mexico City and are otherwise only found in captivity. These happy looking little guys are a type of salamander and are also called “walking fish” or “water dogs” and can regenerate limbs and organs if they are damaged or lost.
The last couple animals I have space to share are an interesting bunch. The Venezuelan Poodle Moth is interesting not only because it is quite possibly the fluffiest moth we’ve ever seen, but also because they lack verification; this guy has only been photographed by Dr. Arthur Anker back in 2009 and so there is debate as to whether or not this moth is real or a hoax, hopefully someone will have an update on this one in the future. Finally, we have the Echidna. Depending on when you grew up, you may be familiar with the famous Echidna, Knuckles, who is a sometimes-enemy of Sonic the Hedgehog from the Sega video game. These spiny mammals are native to Australia and New Guinea, and are one of only two mammals that lays eggs (the other being the platypus.) And with that we are out of space to share information on the sometime cute, sometimes funny-looking animals we’ve learned about this summer!