no ordinary world — animal

Dress to impress: bird courtship rituals

[caption id="attachment_190" align="alignleft" width="300"] Mandarin duck[/caption] Birds exhibit some of the most elaborate and bizarre courtship rituals of any animals on earth.  Here are a few of the more beautiful and zany examples: The marvellous spatuletail hummingbird exhibits one of the most extreme courtship rituals (see video below).  The male bird has two elongated tail feathers that end in a large violet-blue disc, or spatule.  The male bird hovers in the air, waving his spatules in front of the female and making a snapping sound with his beak.  To the hummingbird, which is the size of a ping-pong ball, this...


From Marlin to Marilyn: Clownfish Change Their Genders! Bizarre Courtship and Mating Rituals in the Animal Kingdom

[caption id="attachment_73" align="alignleft" width="300"] Clownfish in anemone home[/caption] It turns out Finding Nemo had it wrong.  When a barracuda ate mom in the first scene of the movie, Marlin would not become a single dad, because being a single dad clownfish is impossible.  Realistically, Marlin would have become Marilyn- a single mom! Clownfish are protandrous sequential hermaphrodites.  In other more pronounceable words, clownfish start their lives as males and then change into females.  Why is this necessary? Clownfish live in sea anemones and have adapted so they are unharmed by the anemone’s stings.  Because of its unique mutualistic relationship with...


Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! What is a keystone species and how can conservationists use them?

[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignleft" width="240"] Lion (Panthera leo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_57" align="alignleft" width="240"] Tiger (Panthera tigris)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_58" align="alignleft" width="240"] Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)[/caption] What do these three animals have in common?  No, it’s not that they’re all featured in a popular film.  It’s not even that they’re all at the top of the food chain, although that’s closer.  Lions, tigers, and bears are all keystone species. In architecture, the keystone at the top of an arch holds the arch together.  Without the keystone, the whole arch and building surrounding it will collapse.  Similarly, “keystone species” are animals that have a disproportionately...


Sea Otters: Adorable, Endangered, and A Keystone Species

  This cuddly creature is a sea otter, or Enhydra lutris, a well-known marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean.  This furry, playful fellow is more than just adorable, however.  Otters are a keystone species. In architecture, the keystone at the top of an arch holds the arch together.  Without the keystone, the whole arch and building surrounding it will collapse.  Similarly, some species of animals are called "keystone species," meaning that a whole ecosystem, or interplay between living organisms and their surroundings, depends on that particular species to keep it running smoothly....