Eagles 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 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 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.
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.
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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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 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.