Moose

Moose superior.jpgThe moose (North America) or elk (Eurasia), Alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic (“twig-like”) configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Moose used to have a much wider range but hunting and other human activities greatly reduced it over the years.

Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Currently, most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. The most common moose predators are wolves, bears, and humans. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move surprisingly quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for a female. Moose are amazing creatures.

American Bison

American bison k5680-1.jpgThe American bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds. They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle, and have made a recent resurgence largely restricted to a few national parks and reserves. Their historical range roughly comprised a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada’s far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo León, and east to the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States (nearly to the Atlantic tidewater in some areas) from New York to Georgia and per some sources down to Florida. Bison were seen in North Carolina near Buffalo Ford on the Catawba River as late as 1750.

Two subspecies or ecotypes have been described: the plains bison (Bison bison bison), smaller in size and with a more rounded hump, and the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae)—the larger of the two and having a taller, square hump. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the plains bison consists of a northern (Bison bison montanae) and a southern subspecies, bringing the total to three. However, this is generally not supported. The wood bison is one of the largest wild species of bovid in the world, surpassed by only the Asian gaur and wild water buffalo. It is the largest extant land animal in the Americas.

Bald Eagle

Bad EagleEagles are large, powerfully built birds of prey, with a heavy head and beak. Even the smallest eagles, like the booted eagle (which is comparable in size to a common buzzard or red-tailed hawk), have relatively longer and more evenly broad wings, and more direct, faster flight – despite the reduced size of aerodynamic feathers. Most eagles are larger than any other raptors apart from some vultures. The smallest species of eagle is the South Nicobar serpent eagle, at 450 g (1 lb) and 40 cm (16 in). The largest species are discussed below. Like all birds of prey, eagles have very large hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong muscular legs, and powerful talons. The beak is typically heavier than that of most other birds of prey. Eagles’ eyes are extremely powerful, having up to 3.6 times human acuity for the martial eagle, which enables them to spot potential prey from a very long distance. This keen eyesight is primarily attributed to their extremely large pupils which ensure minimal diffraction (scattering) of the incoming light. The female of all known species of eagle is larger than the male.

Dolphins

Dolphin Dolphins are cetacean mammals closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from 1.2 m and 40 kg, up to 9.5 m and 10 tonnes. Dolphins are very cool!

Elephants

Elephant Elephants are the largest living terrestrial animals. African elephants stand 3–4 m (10–13 ft) and weigh 4,000–7,000 kg (8,800–15,400 lb) while Asian elephants stand 2–3.5 m (7–11 ft) and weigh 3,000–5,000 kg (6,600–11,000 lb). In both cases, males are larger than females. Among African elephants, the forest form is smaller than the savannah form. The skeleton of the elephant is made up of 326–351 bones. The vertebrae are connected by tight joints, which limit the backbone’s flexibility. African elephants have 21 pairs of ribs, while Asian elephants have 19 or 20 pairs. Elephants are phenomenal.

Chimpanzees

Chimp The male common chimp stands up to 1.7 m (5.6 ft) high and weighs as much as 70 kg (150 lb); the female is somewhat smaller. The common chimp’s long arms, when extended, span one and a half times the body’s height. A chimpanzee’s arms are longer than its legs. The bonobo is slightly shorter and thinner than the common chimpanzee but has longer limbs. In trees, both species climb with their long, powerful arms; on the ground, chimpanzees usually knuckle-walk, or walk on all fours, clenching their fists and supporting themselves on the knuckles thereof. Chimpanzee feet are better suited for walking than are those of the orangutan because the chimp has broader soles and shorter toes. Chimps love to play.

Zebra

Zebras are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white stripes. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and asses, zebras have never been truly domesticated.
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The Green Gecko

Geckos’ toes seem to be “double jointed”, but this is a misnomer. Their toes actually bend in the opposite direction from human fingers and toes. This allows them to overcome the van der Waals force by peeling their toes off surfaces from the tips inward. In essence, this peeling action alters the angle of incidence between millions of individual setae and the surface, reducing the Van der Waals force. Geckos’ toes operate well below their full attractive capabilities most of the time, because the margin for error is great depending upon the surface roughness, and therefore the number of setae in contact with that surface. Geckos make great pets.

Rabbits

Rabbits are small mammals found in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit and cottontail rabbits. Rabbit habitats include meadows, woods, forests, grasslands, deserts and wetlands.