Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Canine Spotlight: Maned Wolf

Legs! Really beautiful, long legs! That's the theme of this little beauty of a canine. When we think dogs, foxes, and wolves, we don't think long legs, but the maned wolf is a very pretty exception. Let's get to know them.

The maned wolf is 39 inches from head to tail and stands at 35 inches tall. It's tail is usually abut 18 inches long. Another thing that is quite large about this animal is its ears. They have big and long ears that are usually as large as 7 inches. I personally love big ears on animals. Many people mistake the maned wolf for a fox with long legs because of their coat. They do have similar markings to the common red fox. You may find it interesting that the maned wolf is neither a fox nor a wolf. It is barely even canine; however, it still upholds the canine classification.

Maned wolves are mainly found in southeastern Brazil. They live mainly in tall grasslands and hunt for small- to medium-sized prey there. Their long legs are perfect for this sort of environment. They are not just there to look pretty. Additionally, you may find it interesting that the maned wolf is the tallest of all wild dogs.

This canine does not only eat prey. It is omnivorous which means it also consumes plant life; however, when it does go after prey, it will do so alone and with as much violence as necessary. Generally, they will go straight for the neck and shake the prey viciously until it is quite exhausted or otherwise dead. Since maned wolves do not form into packs, they have no need to share.

Maned wolves of both sexes communicate by urinating. They look for mates from November to April and usually give birth to 2 to 6 black-furred pups after 65 days. It takes them a full year to get their long legs and red coat, and during this time, they entirely rely on their parents for food.

Although maned wolves were once thought to be like foxes and steal chickens from farmers, the truth is that they really don't want to have anything to do with us. They run away from sighted humans. The reason for this is likely because their species has been hunted for superstitious reasons for a very long time. It was mainly for their eyes which were believed to be good luck charms.

Easily the one thing that sets these dogs apart are their beautiful, long legs. They are like the elves of the canine world. In fiction, I see them as being very dainty and graceful creatures who consider themselves above their lower canine cousins. I do this a lot. I usually assign graceful aspects to an ego. I did something similar to the jerboas a while back. I don't think that the maned wolves are all that bad, however. They are more shy than openly aggressive. Think of them as the fairies of the grasslands.

The maned wolf is a marvel to look at. Their extra long legs give them a surreal appearance. It is almost as if they are from another world entirely. I enjoy seeing creatures like this most of all.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Yerf.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mollusk Spotlight: Sea Swallow

From fish to mollusk! That seems like a fair transition. The sea swallow is one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen. It has a lot of nice names for it too such as blue angel, blue dragon, blue sea slug, and blue ocean slug. It  more commonly is referred to by its scientific name of glaucus atlanticus, which, in its own right, is very pretty sounding. Let's have a look at this little sea creature.

A sea swallow measures about 1.3 inches in length. It is mostly a vibrant blue with black and gray stripes across it's back. It's body is flat and tapering with six appendages which branch out into rayed, finger-like tendrils called cerata. For the purpose of feeding, the sea swallow has a tongue-like organ called a tadula which bears serrated teeth. They can be found in the Indian and Pacific Ocean.

The sea swallow swims by filling a gas pouch in its stomach allowing it to float on the surface of the water. It does this on its back and just sort of kicks around all lazy-like. Humans can do something similar to this, and I find it rather amusing to see the sea swallow swim by this method.

This creature generally feeds on small water animals like snails, but what makes it particularly famous is its ability to take on the dreaded Portuguese Man o' War jelly fish. This is fairly impressive considering the Portuguese Man o' War is known for killing anything it touches due to its extremely potent venom. Despite its size, the sea swallow will completely devour the massive jelly fish and store the creature's venom within its cerata--unbelievably for its own use!

Yes, the sea swallow can redirect the venom gained from the Portuguese Man o' War when it attacks other creatures. Its sting is just as bad too. No, you do not want to be stung by this creature. It will not only be extremely painful, but you will likely cease up.

There is absolutely no fiction out there of the sea swallow--at least none that is obvious. I think the clearest thing about this creature is its beauty. It is a gorgeous and somewhat mystifying creature. The way its colors and patterns are arranged on its body it really art. I can almost see a spaceship designed after its form. As far as personality, I see it as being a lazy swimmer with a personal vanity for its ability to kill. It really is quite capable at destroying things. He must know how pretty he is as well, and that certainly won't help him being any more modest. What do you think? Sea creatures are sometimes difficult to anthropomorphize.

Anyways, I want you to gaze a bit at these pictures I have. These guys are built to please the eye. I rarely see blue presented so vibrantly in an animal. Just goes to show you that some animals out there are also works of art.

Thanks for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Swish!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chordata Spotlight: Blobfish

Wow. I never thought I'd want to do a spotlight for a fish. Honestly, there aren't really many fish that interest me. One of the reasons is that I find them difficult to anthropomorphize in my mind as characters. Animals and fiction go hand in hand with me, and that is usually what drives me to pick an animal for these blogs. It has to be something that amuses me in ways that I can see them as characters. I think the blobfish fits such criteria. I must warn you, however, that there is almost no research material for this creature, so this shall be brief.

The blobfish is a deep-sea fish found off the coasts of mainland Australia and Tasmania. They are also in the waters around New Zealand. They are very deep--as low as 3,900 feet underwater. They also swim very close to the floor which makes them difficult to catch with anything other than drag nets. The pressure at those depths are extreme--at most 120 times as great than at sea level. Needless to say, they don't meat any swimmers down there.

The blobfish is about 11 inches long or shorter. Their make-up is a bit odd. They are a gelatinous mass that has a density that is slightly less than water. This allows it to safely float just above the sea floor without having to use much energy. This is good because the blobfish is not a very powerful fish. It feeds mainly on deep water crustaceans that happen to walk in front of it. Pretty much anything that is eaten by a blobfish officially has bad luck because this fish makes very little effort to catch anything.

Now for the fun part. Images of the blobfish in its natural depth are rare; however, you may notice how normal they look. They just look like any ol' fish. The whole reason I wanted to write this spotlight was what happens when people catch this creature. Once taken out of its depth, the blobfish takes on the appearance of a cartoonish human face. It looks a lot like a grumpy and bald old man.

The anthropomorphic visage of the blobfish are not only comical, but they are also intensely ugly--ugly in a good way, mind you. They are actually fun to look at. In 2013, the blobfish was officially voted as the "World's Ugliest Animal." It was later made the mascot for--and I am not joking about this--the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. Yes, it's a real organization that utilizes stand-up comedy to save ugly animals that tend to lose out on the popularity vote. Indeed, the blobfish is feared to be in trouble due to so much deep-ocean trawling; however, nobody is 100% sure of this.

There is no fiction for the blobfish other than an occasional cameo whenever ugly animals come up in a topic. Knowing what I do of them, I see them as perpetually morose and bad-tempered people. No matter what happens, they are going to have a pessimistic viewpoint about it. When caught by fishermen, I can easily look at that face and imagine them saying, "Well, that figures!" It is as dark as it is amusing. I really like them.

Blobfish are living caricatures of grumpy, old men. I dare you to look at one and not find it amusing! They reek of pessimism, and there are not too many other animals that can pull that off with so much flare. For this reason, the blobfish makes it into the animal hall of fame.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Oh, hum!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bovine Spotlight: Yak

Bovines... cows... you know them. Most of them, I am afraid to say, are rather uninteresting. As it turns out, cows don't have the most interesting of lives. They are either milked or turned into hamburger. They also don't look all that great unless they are turned into cartoons to make them cute. But don't worry. It's not a total loss. We still have yaks!

Yaks are nearly the largest bovine in the world coming in at 7.2 feet tall with a body length of 11 feet. They are quite heavy. The adult males can weigh up to 2,205 pounds. The females are generally lighter by a third. They also have hair. They have lots and lots of hair. No, this isn't fur. This is long-bushy hair, and it is probably what makes the yak so interesting.

Yaks are located in a number of places in the world, but not in America. They can be found mainly in the Himalayas. Yaks are also found in Mongolia and Russia. They prefer more treeless areas. They are mostly commonly seen in alpine tundra where there is plenty of grass available. Yes, they love grass. It's such a bovine thing to like grass.

Yaks are herd animals which means they like to stay in groups. As one might wonder, yaks are big enough to defend themselves if they need to. They have large horns on their head which work wonderfully when backed up with some ramming speed. Wild yaks generally dislike dealing with humans, however. If you were to approach a herd, the yaks would likely put a lot of distance between you and them rather than try to fight you off.

These bovines are slow breeders. They only mate once a year and 8 months later, they produce one calf. The calf can walk in about ten minutes after birth. It has to be weaned for an entire year before it can become independent. That really is a lot of work. This animal is not really as prolific as other animals I have spotlighted. Sadly, it has taken its toll. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has given the Yak a rating of VU--meaning that they are vulnerable to becoming endangered. It is not as bad as it could be. They would need to drop past 4 other levels before actually suffering extinction.

Yaks can be domesticated. People for thousands of years have used yaks for their milk, meat, and as beasts of burden. Likely the weirdest thing I learned was that their dropping--when dried--can be used as a source of fuel. This fuel is heavily used to this day in Tibet.

I am happy to say that there is a Yak in fiction. In the 2016 Disney film "Zootopia," there was a minor Yak character named Yax. He was the owner of a nudist colony and seemed to be surrounded in flies at all times. Hilariously, he was voiced by Tommy Chong which fit the character like a glove. The flies were likely a reference to the fact that manly people believe Yaks smell really awful. It's all that hair. As an interesting, little tidbit, the Yak does not only fail to stink, their fur actually repels bad scents. Additionally, even their droppings have no determinable smell to it--which is great considering it is used as fuel. Still, Yax being stinky works well, despite it being incorrect.

I know that Yaks are shy--which denotes timidity--but I cannot help but see them as big and tough fellows who are hard to talk to. I can imagine seeing them in a tavern sitting at a table all by themselves. If I attempt to speak to them, I just get ignored. Antisocial behemoths. It rather drifts away from their true selves, but I am kind of going by their looks more than the study. That's probably how I'd do it.

Yaks are hairy wonders of the animal kingdom. They are one of the few bovines that are interesting--yes, there are others. Animals that look interesting tend to get more respect from me than the ugly ones. I mean look at cows. I look at them, and I just think about going to Burger King. But not yaks. Yaks are cool. I like yaks.

Thank you for reading this blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Moo.

Yax from "Zootopia"

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Feliformia Spotlight: Aardwolf

So is the aardwolf an aardvark or a wolf? The answer: neither! The aardwolf is apart of the suborder Felliformia which covers cats, civets, and hyenas. Yes, I've been hanging around this area for a while now. Please, allow me to introduce you to this very interesting animal.

By size, the aardwolf can be as large as 31 inches long with a bushy tail of 11 inches. They have yellowish fur with black striped which run vertical across its back. They have big, wide ears and a dark snout--the color of which goes up into their eyes. At first glance, they look like a hyena, and there is a very good reason for that. The aardwolf is, in fact, a hyena. They are located in East and Southern Africa.

Hyenas are carnivores, but the aardwolf is specifically an insectivore. It mainly feasts on termites. This is very likely why we find "aard" at the beginning of their name. As far as then being wolves, hyenas do generally resemble canines, even though it is entirely untrue. The aardwolf does not destroy the termite mounds. They only eat what they need and let the termites flourish for the next meal.

Aardwolves live in burrows and can own up to ten of them within their territory. Many of these burrows are stolen from actual aardvarks, springhares, and porcupines. They have a strong family unit which is of particular interest to me. I noticed that it looked a lot like a tight nit and caring family. There is a mother and father. The offspring are watched carefully by the father while the mother goes out hunting. When the children are ready to hunt themselves, the parents will go out with them and supervise. By the time the parents are ready to have more children, the offspring generally have become independent.

Socially, aardwolves are shy. They are not very aggressive and try and stay away from people. When being pursued by predators, the aardwolf will run away and double back on their tracks to confuse the predator. If they are cornered, they will raise up the fur on their mane to make themselves look bigger. They also have the option of spraying the predator with a foul smelling fluid from a gland near their anus. So, they are not entirely without defense, but they have no interest in killing the predator as much as they just want to break free of them.

I don't know of any Aardwolf in fiction. It would be wrong to fit them into the fictional mold we usually make for hyenas. The spotted hyenas were a polished military force, whereas the aardwolf is more like characters from "The Waltons." It's all about family living together out in the wilds. As people, they would love one another and remain as close to each other as possible. They would be wary about strange visitors into their community; however, if any trouble would arrive, they would do what they could to repel the forces. It has all the makings of a good "life on the prairie" story.

Have a look at these guys. They are very cute, and their personality really helps as well. They are sweet-natured creatures who just want to be left alone with their termites. Enjoy the pictures!

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tkwadeauthor@gmail.com. Yap!