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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2004 :  22:52:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
So, as I promised, it is now time for me to introduce to you: the deep-sea Angler fish. I think it could well be rated one of the strangest creatures in our animal kingdom.
There are actually four kinds of angler fish, namely the batfish, the goosefish, the frogfish and last but nog least the deep-sea angler fish. The common characteristic of all these fish is one of the spines of their dorsal fin, which acts as a fishing rod. In total there are around 200 species of angler fish. Since there are a lot of different deep-sea anglers, I will limit myself to describing their common characteristics.

The deep-sea angler fish has been found at depths between 300 and 4000 meters. At these levels, water pressure gets pretty heavy. To deal with this, most deep sea anglers have soft, thin bones and jelly like flesh. Besides this, only small amounts of blue light are available in the deep, often produced by luminescent fish. Because angler fish have a black, grey or sometimes reddish black coloring, the blue light is not reflected by the skin of the fish, which makes it practically invisible. Deep-sea anglers are mostly around 45 cm (around 18 inches) (although deep sea anglers up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) in length have been found) and shaped like a tennis ball with fins.

What is obviously interesting about this fish, and what gives it its name, is the way it gets its prey. The 'fishing rod' of the deep sea angler is different from other angler fish because it has a bioluminescent organ it the end of the line. Only the female posesses this organ. It is not yet certain how this light is produced, but one theory is that luminescent bacteria in the lightbulb are responsible for producing it. The deep see angler has a very large mouth and a stretching stomach, which allows it to swallow prey larger then itself. Besides the 'fishing rod', some species of deep-sea anglers also have a luminous structure with treelike branches hanging from its chin.

Mating in these depths can be a big problem, since you can't exactly see what you are doing. The deep sea angler has a nice adaptation for this. Males are very small compared to the female. They have no 'fishing rod' and large eyes. They bite into the female to attach themselves to them. After this, the bloodstreams of the two fishes become connected, making the male completely dependend on the female for nourishment. After connecting itself to the female, the male begins to degenerate, losing his eyes and intestinal organs and reducing him to a bag of sperm. Every species of deep sea angler has a different kind of 'fishing rod'. One of the reasons for this might be that this allows the male to find a female of the same species, in stead of biting the wrong partner.

After mating, the eggs of the deep sea angler are released in the water, whereafter they float to the surface. The young fish, or fry, are about 0.5 centimeters (0.20 inches). They have a balloon like body, the result of a gelatinous epidermal layer which surrounds the body of the fry. This layer probably surves as protection. Females start to develope the lure in their larval state. As they begin to mature, the female developes her rod, and the male developes his pincher-like teeth with which he attaches himself to the female.

Sources and pictures:
http://ramseydoran.com/anglerfish/deep_sea.htm
http://www.geocities.com/thesciencefiles/angler/fish.html

For a picture of the fry:
http://www.imagequest3d.com/pages/current/pictureoftheweek/deepseaangler/anglerfish.htm

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2004 :  03:37:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Great!

I had Deep Sea Anglers roughed out but set it aside to do Dunkleostes. Ya snooze, ya lose, right?

Back in the late '80s, I saw a carved, wooden model of one. It was pretty accurate and looked for all the world like a cross between a minature roll of barbed wire and the bad apple that spoiled the rest of the barrel.

My piece got bogged down when it sort of got away from me and drifted off into other deepsea fish that, like the Angler, could ingest prey larger than themselves. This rather horrid trait serves these creatures well in that they don't have to feed as often as a more reasonable animal might. And it increases their range of prey species.

I enjoyed your piece on them.

Hey Trish; what about the half-stripped, all but extinct, equine from, is it the Russian steppes? I think it's called the 'Quagga' (could be wrong -- I'm not all that up on equines ). I'm sure that you know the one I mean. Anyhow, some years ago, I read that there was a breeding program going for them, but have heard nothing since.

Edited to add: something on shallow water Anglers might be a good one, although I don't think I'll do it. It could be heavily illustrated, as there are a wealth of photos of them on the web, and some species are popular, if expensive aquarium fish. It has always been a wonderment to me that someone would pay lerge dollars for some, stupid fish that they have no intention of eating.

There are so many 'odd-balls'! And so fascinating!


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 04/05/2004 03:54:15
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26015 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2004 :  10:05:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Hey, filthy, why don't you offer a ruling on Trish's desire to do supermassive black holes. Or was your suggestion that she do the Quagga an implied "no?"

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26015 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2004 :  13:30:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
I will get to the Moloch as promised, but I just had to do this first...

A rap song by a band called The Pheromones sums up what most people know:
They've got big orange eyes that can barely focus
Some people call 'em seventeen-year locusts
But that's the wrong data
Their name is cicada
And they're here now, but they won't be here later

They've got four wings but they ain't supposed to fly
They just come out the ground, have sex, and die...
Yes, in the Washington, D.C. area it's that time again. In 1987, we had swarms of these big bugs flying around for a couple months, and in May of this year, it'll be 17 years since then.

There are only seven species which are correctly known as "periodical cicadas." Four of these have a 13-year life cycle, and the other three have 17-year cycles. All of the seven species fall within the Magicicada genus. The 13-year cicadas are M. tredecim, M. neotredecim, M. tredecassini and M. tredecula. The 17-year cicadas are M. septendecim, M. cassini and M. septendecula.

Some biologists claim that, since the 13-year and 17-year cicadas M. tredecassini and M. cassini (for examples) are very similar in everything except for life-cycle length and their geographical distributions, they don't deserve "status" as distinct species. Many, however, treat them as such (and write about them in that way), and will continue to do so (apparently) until further study of the broods, species, and any hybridization that's going on compels them to merge two - or more - species into fewer.

Now, there are also many species of cicada with life cycles between two and eight years, but the difference between them and the periodical cicadas is that they aren't synchronized, and the so-called "annual" cicadas can be found in just about every year. In other words, about half of the two-year cicadas come out this year, and the other half of the two-year cicadas come out next year, then the first half again, and so on, making it look like they appear every year.

With the periodical cicadas, on the other hand, there are distinct broods with territories which sometimes overlap, and nearly all of the individuals within each brood emerge in the same year, synchronously. These emergences can be gigantic, with over a million individual cicadas per acre of land, but usually the count is in the tens or hundreds of thousands. That's still a whole lot of bugs, and since they're relatively large, and definitely obnoxious, it seems like they're covering the whole Earth.

The 15 known cicada broods are designated with Roman numerals - I through X, XIII and XIV are 17-year broods, while XIX, XXII and XXIII are 13-years broods. And yes, indeed this appears to be a strange numbering system. But, it was in 1893 that the standard was set - all broods of 17-year cicadas would be numbered from I to XVII, and the 13-year broods would get XVIII to XXX. The broods that emerged in 1893 were numbered I and XVIII, respectively, and brood numbering continued upwards by year after that (17-year cicadas that emerged in 1894 were called "Brood II," those in 1895 were "Brood III," etc.). However, some broods have actually become extinct, and others have never been found. It was also possible that there might have been more than 30 broods, but today we know of just the 15.

And because there are fewer than seventeen 17-year broods (and fewer than thirteen 13-year broods), there are years with no periodical cicada emergences. The last time this happened was in 1994, and no broods will be emerging in 2005, 2006, 2009 or 2010. So if you want to see (and hear!) these things, come east this spring (late April, into May), or else wait at least three years.

And you've got to come to the eastern half of the United States of America to see the periodical cicadas. They live nowhere else

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2004 :  02:52:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

Hey, filthy, why don't you offer a ruling on Trish's desire to do supermassive black holes. Or was your suggestion that she do the Quagga an implied "no?"



Actually, it blew right by me. I don't see why not; go for it, Trish!


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2004 :  03:05:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Excellent cicada piece! I love cicadas! And I keep three Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix ssp.), that love them more than I. They are one of the world's very few, front-fanged, venomous snakes that regularly prey uopn arthropods.

I look forward to their songs and the snakes to getting some tasty snacks.

Following is one I've been tweaking along for a couple of days.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2004 :  03:33:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message

Imagine trying to convince a skeptic who'd never heard of the Electric Eel that such a thing actually exists. Lots o' luck!

As I have the attention span of a wharf rat on crank, leading to a deplorable habit of wandering off on tangents, rather than do the Electric Eel per se, I've decided to do something on Gymnotiformes in general. Of course, Electrophorus electricus is not an eel at all, but the most famous and spectacular of the South American Gymnotiformes, the Knifefishes.

First, let us loosely define an ‘electric' fish:

Some fish can only sense electricity but cannot produce electricity. These fishes are also categorized as electric fishes. They are sharks, rays, skates, catfish, and paddle fish. These fish can sense very weak electricity generated by prey animals. So, sharks can find a small fish buried in sand by weak electricity given off by the prey. This type electrolocation is called 'passive electrolocation'.
Electric fishes are divided into the three main categories.
· Strongly electric fish
· electric eel
· electric catfish
· electric rays
· Weakly electric fish
· knife fishes
· elephant nose
· Fishes that can only sense electricity
· sharks
· rays
· skate
· catfish
· paddle fish
· Platypus (though not a fish, they are electroreceptive.)


http://www.cogreslab.co.uk/electric%20fishes%20and%20brain%20rhythms.htm

I am not going to deal with Morymids, Electric Catfish, nor Torpedo Rays here, nor even the Platypus, nor other, odd creatures of myth, legend and lore; only Gymnotiformes.

These are found mainly in that hotbed of strange creatures, the Amazon Basin. As none are particularly strong swimmers, they prefer quieter waters and backwaters. They are favorites with aquarists, and even E. electricus is occasionally available at pet dealers.

So, let's briefly do Ol' Sparky now and get him out of the way. He is, after all, a special animal amongst the truly unique and thus deserves at least a little, special attention. And most of his description applies to the other Gymnotiformes.

Like all Gymnotiformes, the Electric Eel gets much of it's oxygen from the air -- as much as 80%. It comes to the surface, takes a gulp of air, drops back down and after a few seconds, releases the bubble, it's oxygen absorbed by capillaries in the roof of the mouth. This allows it to thrive in stagnant, oxygen deficient water that will support little else.

It gets quite large, over six feet in length, and the bigger it gets, the more zap it can produce -- as much as 600 + volts at high amperage, enough to drop a horse in it's tracks. It is a living storage battery and after giving the unfortunate, and/or foolish a jolt or three, it must recharge for a while. Like the battery, it can still put out electricity, but without rest, it gets progressively weaker.

quote:
The electric eel is a carnivore that preys on other animals by electrocuting them. The electric shock either kills its prey or renders it unconscious. The eel proceeds to feed on its prey after that. Electric eels have the capability to fatally electrocute a horse. The vital organs in the electric eel are located immediately behind the head. The remaining 7/8 of its body is the tail which is the electricity generating organ. This organ is composed of 5000-6000 elements, arranged like a dry battery. The head acts as the positive pole of the battery while the tail acts as the negative pole. When the eel is at rest there is no generation of electricity, but when it starts to move it emits electrical impulses at the rate of about 25pulses/sec. During intense feeding discharges of up to 50pulses/sec have been recorded. These discharges aid in locating food and navigation, as well as the killing of prey. Small animals within range are killed outright, while large mammals may become unconsci

"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 04/07/2004 03:49:28
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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2004 :  08:03:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
I liked both the pieces on the cicadas and the electric eels. I remember cicadas from when I was in Greece. They do make quite a noise. Since I'm in the neighborhood now for a few months, maybe I'll go to Washington in May to have a look
If there aren't any New Zealanders around to write about there national pride, I'd love to do something about the Kiwi, but not untill this weekend (so if you're already working on this wonderfull bird, post it quickly )

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2004 :  08:46:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
This will be a mercifully brief one. I'm sure some of us will be grateful for the consideration because they know that I am bloody-minded enough to go through the following one by one and in nauseous detail. But, I refrain.

Internal parasites are some of the weirdest creatures on earth. Their life cycles are fascinating. Do you remember the frogs in MN that were sprouting extra legs a few years ago (and still are)? An internal parasite‘s responsible, I've forgotten the species.

This creature's life cycle goes from egg to bird by way of a snail and a tadpole that it causes to develop extra limbs as an adult, making the frog a crippled duck if not a sitting one, for wading birds. The bird eats the frog, the parasite matures in the bird‘s gut, then lays eggs that are defecated into the water, to start the whole process again. Sounds pretty unlikely, does it not?

So, here are a few of the life cycles of internal parasites often affecting ourselves, some familiar to us all, and some not so familiar:

First, our old friend, the Tapeworm, one of a couple of species that infect humans. Everybody knows what these are, yes?

http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/lifecycles/taenia_lifecycle.html

Steak tartar anyone? Or perhaps a nice, rare T-bone?

And then, we have the Human, Intestinal Fluke:

http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/lifecycles/metagonimus_lifecycle.html

Never cared much for sushi, anyway.

Human Lung Fluke.

http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/lifecycles/paragonimus_lifecycle.html

(cough)

Guinea worm.

http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/lifecycles/dracunculus_lifecycle.html

Strongyloids:

http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/lifecycles/strongyloides_lifecycle.html

Elephantiasis

http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/lifecycles/filaria_lifecycle.html

And so forth, isn't this fun?

It is notable that most if not all internal parasites of mammals go through another or several, intermediate hosts. Of course, many parasites never infect us as their life cycles don't involve us nor even other mammals. Of those that do, we may not be the only, final host. The afore-mentioned Tapeworm, for example, might infect any carnivore feeding from a carcass infected with the juvenile. An exception is vultures. Their stomach acids are so strong that little can survive in them.

For more reasons to think of ourselves as a thriving community, and detailed descriptions and photos of these li‘l darlin‘s, go here:

http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/a-z.html

Excerpt:

quote:
Dracunculus medinensis causes the disease known as dracunculiasis, and the parasite is often referred to as the guinea worm or fiery serpent. This parasite and the disease that it causes have been mentioned in the ancient writings of Greek, Roman, and Arabian scholars. Some authorities believe that the "fiery serpents" that plagued the Israelites were, in fact, Dracunculus, while others state that the "serpents" depicted in caducei (various medical symbols) are guinea worms. Although these interpretations remain open to conjecture, it is clear that this parasite and its association with humans have a rich history.


And all this time, we thought that we were at the top of the food chain!



"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Trish
SFN Addict

USA
2102 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2004 :  10:29:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Trish a Private Message
Cool filthy, I'll probably have something together by the end of next week, so much recent info, so little time.

...no one has ever found a 4.5 billion year old stone artifact (at the right geological stratum) with the words "Made by God."
No Sense of Obligation by Matt Young

"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith. I consider the capacity for it terrifying and vile!"
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

They (Women Marines) don't have a nickname, and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine Post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.
LtGen Thomas Holcomb, USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1943
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26015 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2004 :  11:22:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
You reminded me of one of my favorites, filthy: Leucochloridium paradoxum, which is a parasite of amber snails.

And a really gross one, as it basically forces its way into the snails' "eye stalks," and makes them pulsate and turn wonky colors, so that the snails' heads (and thus the parasites) will be eaten by birds. Once devoured, the parasites reach adulthood, breed, and lay eggs, which the birds poop out. The eggs are then eaten by other snails, and the process starts all over.

I first saw these things in a documentary, and the pulsations and bizarre colors can really make one woogy.

More photos, with more juicy color (you can even see what the snails' uninfected "eye stalks" look like), but the text is in German. That site also has an cheesy animation, but it doesn't do the parasite justice.

There was another snail parasite I read about a year or more ago, which would actually change the snails' behaviour in order to get eaten. I wish I could remember more, but I think it has something to do with making the snails climb up to the tips of plants, instead of remaining down in the leaf litter where the snails are usually found. Now that is some impressive parasiting.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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NubiWan
Skeptic Friend

USA
424 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2004 :  12:38:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send NubiWan a Private Message
Hey, this stuff is right down Slater's alley. Where is the ol' man these days?

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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2004 :  18:01:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Interesting isn't it, that gastropods are the prefered, intermedate host for so many internal parasites. On the surface, it looks like a needlessly complicated reproduction system. But, it must work 'cause there are certainly a lot of and various of them, as Dave's example well demonstrates.

quote:
Hey, this stuff is right down Slater's alley. Where is the ol' man these days?


I'll be damned if I know. I guess it was about a year ago that he disappeared. He is missed and I hope nothing unfortunate has happened to him.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2004 :  17:19:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
After a day in the Boston common park watching the squirrels doing their thing, it is now again to cold to sit outside the whole time. So, for having nothing else on my mind at this point, let's start to write something about the kiwi. I must say (as is often the case), the more you know about them, the more fascinating they become. Hope you will enjoy.

The difference between kiwi's and kiwifruits
Now, first, let's get a common misconception out of the way. When referring to the kiwi, I don't refer to the kiwifruit, which looks like this: http://searchenginez.com/kiwifruit/
The difference between the kiwi and the kiwifruit is easily seen when comparing the former picture with these pictures: http://www.chemistry.co.nz/kiwibird.htm
I might be referring to a certain type of humans though, which also inhabit New Zealand (no picture at this time). Although these people are also very interesting, I will restrict myself to the bird in this case.

The kiwi is a very interesting bird, since it is so different from other birds I know off. It is of the order of Apterygiformes-Ratitae, an order of birds which also included the now extinct moa. Six kiwi species have been identified, namely the Little Spotted Kiwi, the Greater Spotted Kiwi, The North Island Brown Kiwi, the Okarito Brown Kiwi, the Southern Tokoeka and the Haast Tokoeka. The Kiwi is approximately the same size as a chicken. The females are around 20% heavier than the males. They have a loose, course and hair-like plumage, very different from normal birds feathers. Their bills are long, curved downward with their nostrils at the end. Kiwis don't have a tail and their two inch wings are practically useless. They are semi-nocturnal, and have very small eyes. However, other than people in general think, their vision is sufficient and they are sometimes seen searching for food during the day. Their meal consists of worms, spiders, forest invertabrates and fallen fruit, although they also have been seen eating fish or eels. The birds are extremely aggressive and will scare away intruders of their territory by calling and attacking them with their sharp claws.
Kiwis are masters of camouflage and stealth. Because of this not many New Zealanders have ever seen a kiwi, even though it is their national symbol. The plumage of the birds blends in perfectly with their surrounding. Besides this, they often use different shelters each day. When day leave their burrow, they will often mask the opening of it with twigs. Nesting burrows are build so far in advance, that the moss and ferns are able to reestablish themselves before they start using them.

Honorary Mammals
The kiwis would probably have the hairs of any skeptic or evolutionists hair stand on end would someone tell about them out of the blue, since they have so many mammalian characteristics. The plumage I already mentioned, as well as the nostrils (which in normal birds are situated at the base of the nostril in stead of at the end). The kiwi has a very well developed sense of smell, thanks to a very well developed olfactory bulb, which resembles the olfactory bulbs of mammals in size and structure. In the night, they can be heard sniffing around for food. Kiwis also have long whiskers.
Besides their sense of smell, kiwis also have a very good sense of hearing. They have large and easily seen ear openings, and can often been seen listening to noises which are soft and distant.
Since kiwis don't have to fly, the muscles of the kiwi's wings are undeveloped, which causes their body to be cone-shaped. Besides this, their bones don't have to be superlight so kiwis don't have air sacs in their bones. In stead, their bones contain bone marrow, which make their legs strong and muscular (and an excellent defensive mechanism). Their feet have four toes, and are fleshy and dinosaur-like in their appearance. The fleshy feet of the bird enable them to walk stealthily across the terrain. Also, these birds are fast. They can run as fast as humans do when alarmed, and are known to be able to cover their territory (possibly as big as sixty football fields) in one night.
Like most mammals, the eyesockets are seperated from each other by large nasal cavities, whereas in most other birds these are seperated by a plate. Their blood temperature ranges between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius, in stead of 39 to 42 degrees Celsius, which is common in most birds. They also have two ovaries, unlike other birds, and build burrows just as badgers do.
Their flight-behavior is wolf-like. When in danger, the birds will run away untill they are at a distance. Here they will stick their nostrils in the air, sniffing whether the danger is already gone.
These characteristics caused Stephen Jay Gould to call the birds honorary mammals.

Mating
Kiwis live in pairs and mate for life, which can be more than 30 years. Every third night they come together to share a burrow, exchanging calls during the days in between. However, divorses are also known to occur, especially in areas with lots of kiwis.
The females lay eggs which are approximately 20% of the females weight. This is one of the largest bird to egg ratios of birds in the world. Depending on the species, the male will take care of the egg, the male and female will take care of the egg or the birds will take care of the eggs as a group. The eggs will hatch for up to 80 days. After hatching, the chick is accompanied by its father for about a fortnight, after which it is on its own. During the first week it gets its nourishing from its large yolk sac. Because if this, the parents do not need to feed the chick. After the yolk sac almost gone, it will cautiously leave the burrow to forage for food by itself. Young chicks are slow and vulnerable. 95% of the chicks get eaten by predators or are attacked by adult kiwis and don't survive the assault.

Survival
Unfortunately, due to the importation of predators and human conquering of the land, all kiwis are endangered species. Luckily, this has been recognized by the authorities of New Zealand and the bird has been classed threatened by the Department of Conservation. Because of Island sanctuaries and the Kiwi recovery program, the future of the bird is at least less threatening as it could have been.

Used sites and additional information:
http://www.nzbirds.com/Kiwi.html
http://www.kiwirecovery.org.nz/Kiwi/AboutTheBird/
http://productsfromnz.com/pics/pdf_1194.pdf


Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2004 :  18:46:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
I was hoping someone would do the Kiwi! It's a natural mind-boggler.

I didn't know there were so many species of them or about their social behavior.

My own, favorite Ratite is the Cassorary. A place I worked at had one and it was a bitch-kitty to deal with. We considered it the most dangerous animal in the place, and this included numerous hot snakes and several, large crocodilians. Naturally, we all loved the miserable bastard, don't ask me why.

Thanks for an excellent and informative read!


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Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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