Saturday, April 21, 2012
Strangest And Rarest Animals In World - Part 2
Loris tardigradus malabaricus is a subspecies of the slender loris which is only found in India. The greatest concentrations of these slender lorises are found in the southeastern Ghats of India. It is not clear how many slender lorises survive in the wild. Because of their small size and nocturnal habits, it has been difficult to do an accurate count. Until recently not much attention has been paid to the plight of the slender loris, but new interest has been shown in their species and studies are under way. The Indian government has laws protecting the slender loris, but its effect is difficult to gauge.
Although the okapi bears striped markings reminiscent of the zebra, it is most closely related to the giraffe. Unknown to Europeans until 1901, today there are approximately 10,000 – 20,000 in the wild and only 40 different worldwide institutions display them. The tongue of the okapi is long enough for the animal to wash its eyelids and clean its ears (inside and out). Okapis have several methods of communicating their territory, including scent glands on each foot that leave behind a tar-like substance which signals their passage, as well as urine marking. Males are protective of their territory, but allow females to pass through their domain to forage.
The fossa is a mammal endemic to Madagascar. A member of family Eupleridae, it is closely related to the mongoose. It is the largest mammalian carnivore on the island of Madagascar. The rarity of this animal likely contributed to the belief that the fossa is entirely nocturnal, but recent scientific study has found that it is active both during the day and night,this mammal also has a pattern of activity known as cathemerality, depending on season and prey availability.
A small wild cat of Central Asia. Pallas’s Cat inhabits the Asian steppes up to heights of 4000 m (13,000 ft). They are thought to be crepuscular hunters and feed on small rodents, pikas and birds. Like other species of exotic felines, Pallas’s Cat has been hunted for its fur. Before it became a legally protected species, tens of thousands of skins were harvested yearly from countries in the habitat range, including China, Mongolia, Afghanistan and Russia.Today, the cat is regarded as beneficial to its environment as the cat feeds on agricultural pests. However, poisoning of pest rodents and pikas may also affect the cat’s survival.
The Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) is a small nocturnal fox found along the northern rim of the Sahara Desert of North Africa and across the Arabian peninsular. Its most distinctive feature would be its unusually large ears. The name “Fennec” comes from the Arabic for fox, and the species name zerda has a Greek origin referring to its habitat. The smallest species of canid in the world, its coat, ears and kidney functions have adapted to a high-temperature, low-water, desert environment. In addition, its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground.
The naked mole rat is well adapted for the limited availability of oxygen within the tunnels that are its habitat: its lungs are very small and its blood has a very strong affinity for oxygen, increasing the efficiency of oxygen uptake. Naked mole rats appear to have a high resistance to cancer; cancer has never been observed in them. The mechanism that stunts cancer is a gene called p16, known as an “over-crowding” gene, which prevents the creation of new cells once a group of cells reaches a certain size. Most mammals, including naked mole rats, have a gene called p27 which does a similar task, but prevents cellular reproduction at a much later point than p16 does. The combination of p16 and p27 in naked mole rats creates a double-layered barrier that prevents the formation of cancer cells.
The coconut crab, Birgus latro, is the largest land-living arthropod in the world, and is probably at the upper limit of how big terrestrial animals with exoskeletons can become in today’s atmosphere. This hermit crab, with its intimidating size and strength, has a special position in the culture of many human societies which share its range. The coconut crab is admired for its strength, and it is said that villagers use this animal to guard their coconut plantations. The coconut crab, especially if it is not yet fully grown, is also sold as a pet, for example, in Tokyo. The cage must be strong enough that the animal cannot use its powerful claws to escape. Should a coconut crab pinch a person, it will not only cause pain, but is unlikely to release its grip.
Endemic to the temperate forests of the Himalayas, the Red Panda ranges from Nepal in the west to China in the east. It is also found in northern India, Bhutan and northern Myanmar. Accurate population figures in the wild are difficult to find, with estimates ranging from 11,000 to 20,000 worldwide. Although it is protected by law in all countries where it lives, its numbers in the wild continue to decline mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.
The bizarre appearance of this egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate fraud. Until the early 20th century it was hunted for its fur, but it is now protected throughout its range. Although captive breeding programmes have had only limited success and the Platypus is vulnerable to the effects of pollution, it is not under any immediate threat.