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Sept 2015 the latest animal chatter…
‘Wouldn’t it be great to be able to just pick up a pencil and draw a brilliant picture of any animal you please? Well a great website called www.easy-drawings-and-sketches.com can help you do just that.
‘Follow the simple stages and you end up with a really lifelike drawing to be proud of, with subjects including frog, rabbit, monkey, shark, penguin, fish and lots of others. Just click on the fish picture to go to the site – and happy drawing!’
Q: Why did the chicken cross the playground?
A: To get to the other slide.
‘To find out if a stray piece of hair you find in your garden or on a nature ramble has come from a badger, just rub it between your thumb and forefinger.
‘Badger hairs are trangular in section, so as you rub them you can feel the sharp ridges of the hair as it turns. Foxes, rabbits, dogs and cats all have round hairs, so when you roll them between your thumb and finger they feel smooth. Simples!’
‘Have you ever heard the expression ‘your eyes are bigger than your stomach’? Well for the tarsier, a very small primate found in the rainforests in South-East Asia, that’s actually true. The tarsier has massive eyes: each of its eyeballs is as big as its brain and bigger than its stomach. Tarsiers are nocturnal so they need such massive eyes to help them see in the dark.
‘Tarsiers are tiny (only 150g) – the size of an adult fist – but they can jump up to 40 times their own body length. This is because they have an extra long ankle bone, called the ‘tarsal’ bone – which is how they got their name.
‘Click the pictures to see some tarsier close-ups from my fieldwork in Indonesia.’
Tom from Winchester Primary says:
‘I took this picture of a fox in our back garden. He has been coming into our garden for ages and I have tried to take his picture before but he has always heard me and run away into the next door garden. This time I was very quiet and he just stayed under the tree!’
‘Brilliant picture, Tom. You have been patient – as you often have to be if you want to study wildlife – and your patience has been rewarded with a great picture, and a great memory. You did really well, not everybody can outfox a fox!’
‘The 15th July is the anniversary of the birth of Gavin Maxwell, who produced one of the most popular of all animal books (and films) ‘Ring of Bright Water’. This tells the story of Mijbil, an otter which Gavin brought back with him from Iraq to share his life in Western Scotland. It turned out that Mijbil was of a previously unknown sub-species, so the otter was officially named Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli – meaning ‘Maxwell’s Otter’ – in his honour.
‘In fact there are lots of species which are officially named after famous people. Each year over 20,000 new species are discovered and named, and generally the person doing the discovering gets to name the creature anyway they please.
‘So, in recent years there has been:
‘Once a new species has been named, that’s the name it will always have. So, what kind of a creature would you like to be named after you?’
‘Here’s a puzzle to test people with: do they know the difference between ‘couscous’ and a ‘cuscus’. No? really? Well then you’ll be able to tell them that couscous is the delicious Mediterranean salad grain, whilst a cuscus is a marsupial animal!
‘The cuscus is an arboreal marsupial native to Australia and parts of Southeast Asia. (‘Arborial’ means it lives in the trees, and ‘marsupial’ means it carries its baby in a pouch, like a kangaroo). It’s related to the possum, and like the possum it has a prehensile tail which it can use like a third leg. Cuscuses hang from their tails to reach the tastiest, freshest shoots and leaves.
‘The largest cuscus of all is the bear cuscus which is found in Indonesia. It’s affectionately known as the ‘marsupial sloth’ as it moves slowly through the trees and appears to sleep all day. In actual cuscuses can move pretty fast when they want to!
‘They always remind me of one of the muppets with their expressive faces and big eyebrows. They’re super cute but also at risk of extinction as in many parts of their range they’re hunted for food and make an easy catch.’
…..more animal chatter coming very soon!
Would you like to join our regular contributors and be a guest contributor to this page? If so, just send us your own animal fact, fiction, joke, poem, picture or news story – however big or small – to email@example.com and watch this space!