Category: Zoology

Penguin Fun Facts for Penguin Awareness Day

Penguins are flightless seabirds that get around by swimming and diving, waddling around on land, and, sometimes, slipping and sliding on their bellies. Scientists have identified more than a dozen penguin species, and each one has an outer layer of waterproof feathers, webbed feet, and flippers for swimming. Penguins frequently preen (groom) and spread an oil-like substance on their feathers, which helps keep their bodies dry and insulated against water and wind.

‘Tis the Season: Wonderfully Wintery Creatures

‘Tis the season for freshly fallen snow, warm blankets, and holiday cheer (and scraping ice from car windshields). For humans in the northern hemisphere, it’s the time of year for sledding and ice skating, cookie baking and ugly sweater parties, and cuddling up by the fireplace to watch classic movies. Unlike humans, many animal species—particularly in Arctic regions—are simply built for wintery conditions. Some of them even seem to embody the season itself (ahem, reindeer). Grab a cup of hot cocoa, and let’s take a look at just a few of these wonderfully wintery creatures.

A ‘Fantastic Beast’ & Where We Found It

In the newly released film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a new beloved character, a bowtruckle named Pickett, captures the hearts of the audience. In the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling, who wrote the Fantastic Beasts screenplay, Bowtruckles are small, twig-like creatures that guard wand-wood trees. Bowtruckles’ most notable physical characteristic is their natural camouflage, which helps them blend in with their forested natural habitats.

Seeing Stripes

Along with pandas, penguins, orcas, and skunks, zebras are well-known for their striking black-and-white coloration. But why do they have stripes in the first place? The short answer from the scientific community is: We don’t really know. But by asking questions and seeking answers through research, the scientific community is getting closer to the truth and learning more about zebras in the process.

Celebrating Election Day Animals

Back in the 1800s, a cartoonist named Thomas Nast helped popularize the use of a donkey and an elephant to symbolize the two major political parties in America—Democrats and Republicans. Tomorrow is Election Day, and, to celebrate, we’re completely ignoring presidential candidates, political platforms, and scandals. Instead, we’re highlighting the animals that front the Democratic and Republican parties. Enjoy this break from the mayhem!

Expecto Patronum! Patronus Spotlight: Hedgehog

In the book Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter, a young wizard attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, conjures a powerful defensive charm called a Patronus to save the life of his godfather. In Rowling’s fictional world, a Patronus charm takes the form of an animal that in some way or another reflects the witch or wizard who cast it.

Fish Pee, Whale Poo, and Ocean Health

Back in October 2014, Asha de Vos, a Sri Lankan marine biologist, took the stage at TEDGlobal to deliver a 6-minute speech called “Why you should care about whale poo.” She spoke passionately about the devastating effects 200 years of whaling had on global whale populations. She argued that these animals’ importance extends far beyond their charismatic beauty. Rather, as “ecosystem engineers,” she said whales play an important role in maintaining the health of Earth’s oceans.