Sunday, January 15, 2017

Endangered Animal Highlight: Musk Ox

Quiz: Which of these is from Star Wars, and which is an endangered species?

The answer is that the one that looks from a movie (right) is a Bantha from Star Wars, whereas the one that looks like a real animal (left) is the Musk Ox.  The Musk Ox is an endangered species.

They are accustomed to extremely cold temperatures. Warmer summers in their natural habitat - which include Canada, Greenland, and parts of Alaska - could take a toll on its population. Though they closely resemble a buffalo, their actually ore closely related to sheep and goats. Their closest relative is actually the Takin, which is a goat-antelope that lives in the Himalayas. 

Sadly, the Musk Ox has become an endangered species, with its world-wide population estimated at 125,000 as of 1995. That population has likely decreased, with estimates being around 80,000 now. A major threat is hunting, which has been controlled in some regions.  Musk Ox hides, horns, and bones have been used to make things.

Here are some interesting facts:
  • The muskox and the caribou are the only two arctic hoofed mammals that survived the end of the Pleistocene Era (10,000 years ago).
  • Their hooves are so strong that they can break through the solid ice in the Arctic to get to the water below.
  • They are herbivores. But because plants are normally only available for a short time in their Arctic region, they have to paw through the snow to find plants.
  • They are herd animals, and groups of 2-3 dozen of them will often be led by a single female. When the herd is threatened, they form a tight circle in group defense.
  • Calves are born directly into the snow during April after an 8 month gestation period. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy 2017: Year of the ....

Rooster! 2017 is the year of the ROOSTER! Are you thinking that's not interesting? Wrong. There are some amazing facts about roosters that make them very interesting.

  • A rooster is simply an adult male chicken. (Adult females are hens.)
  • Roosters can fly - but because they're so heavy, they can only go about 200 feet.
  • Roosters have bad senses of smell and taste, but are great at hearing.
  • There is evidence of roosters having been on farms for about 5000 years!
  • You can find roosters on every continent except Antarctica.
  • For chickens in general, a study in 2003 concluded that there were over 24 billion chickens in the world - which outnumbered the amount of humans by 3 to 1.
  • The ancient Greeks believed that even lions were afraid of roosters, as evidenced by several of Aesops Fables such as "The Lion and the Elephant."
  • It's long been believed that roosters have 5 virtues: literary, military prowess, courageous, benevolent, and trustworthy. Actually.... I think that believes is for people born during the year of the rooster, and not to roosters themselves...
Why did the Rooster cross the road? ....

... To prove he wasn't a chicken!