Monday, September 1, 2008


Iguana is a genus of lizard native to tropical areas of Central and South America and the Caribbean first described by Austrian naturalist Josephus Nicolaus Laurenti in his book Specimen Medicum, Exhibens Synopsin Reptilium Emendatam cum Experimentis circa Venena in 1768. The genus iguana includes two species: the Green Iguana (a popular pet) and the Lesser Antillean Iguana.

Green Iguana

The two species of lizard within the genus Iguana possess a dewlap, a row of spines running down their back to their tail, and a third eye on their head. This eye is known as the Parietal eye, which looks just like a pale scale on the top of their head. Behind their neck are small scales which resemble spikes, known as tuberculate scales. They also have a large round scale on their cheek known as a subtympanic shield.(more on Green Iguana

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. The number of penguin species is debated. Depending on which authority is followed, penguin biodiversity varies between 17 and 20 living species.

The largest living species is the Emperor Penguin, adults average about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) tall and weigh 35 kg (75 lb) or more. The smallest penguin species is the Little Blue Penguin (also known as the Fairy Penguin), which stands around 40 cm tall (16 in) and weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb).
Penguins are superbly adapted to an aquatic life. Their wings have become flippers, useless for flight in the air. In the water, however, penguins are astonishingly agile. Within the smooth plumage a layer of air is preserved, ensuring buoyancy. The air layer also helps insulate the birds in cold waters. On land, penguins use their tails and wings to maintain balance for their upright stance.

All penguins are countershaded - that is, they have a white underside and a dark (mostly black) upperside. This is for camouflage. A predator looking up from below (such as an orca or a leopard seal) has difficulty distinguishing between a white penguin belly and the reflective water surface. The dark plumage on their backs camouflages them from above.

Diving penguins reach 6 to 12 km/h (3.7 to 7.5 mph), though there are reports of velocities of 27 km/h (17 mph) (which are more realistic in the case of startled flight). The small penguins do not usually dive deep; they catch their prey near the surface in dives that normally last only one or two minutes. Larger penguins can dive deep in case of need. Dives of the large Emperor Penguin have been recorded which reach a depth of 565 m (1870 ft) and last up to 22 minutes.

Penguins form monogamous pairs for a breeding season, though the rate the same pair recouples varies drastically. Most penguins lay two eggs in a clutch, though the two largest species, the Emperor and the King Penguins, only lay one. The parents cooperate in caring for the clutch and the young. During the cold season on the other hand the mates separate for several months to protect the egg. Usually, the male stays with the egg and keeps it warm while the female goes to sea to find food for the baby. When the female comes back, they switch roles. Penguin eggs are smaller than any other bird species when compared proportionally to the weight of the parent birds; at 52 grams, the Little Penguin egg is 4.7 % of its mothers' weight, and the 450 gram Emperor Penguin egg is 2.3 %....(more on

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia),sometimes known as the ounce, is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia from Afghanistan to Lake Baikal and eastern Tibet. The taxonomic position of this species has been subject to change. In the past, many taxonomists included the Snow Leopard in the genus Panthera, with several of the other largest felids, but later it was placed in its own genus, Uncia. However, a recent molecular study places the species firmly within the genus Panthera, although the exact position remains unclear. Along with the Clouded Leopard, it represents an intermediate between so-called big cats and smaller species, as it cannot roar, despite possessing an incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone, which was thought to be essential in allowing the big cats to roar. However, new studies show that the ability to roar is due to other morphological features, especially of the larynx, which are absent in the Snow Leopard. Well known for its beautiful fur, the Snow Leopard has a whitish-tan coat with ringed spots of dark, ashy-brown and rosettes of black. Its tail is heavy with fur and the bottom of its paws are covered with fur for protection against snow and cold.
A pair of Snow Leopards

The life span of a Snow Leopard is normally 15–18 years, but in captivity they can live up to 20 years.

Weighing usually 35 to 55 kilograms, the Snow Leopard is slightly smaller on average than a leopard. Exceptional large males can weigh up to 75 kg, very small females weigh only 25 kg.
The head and body length is 100 to 130 cm, the shoulder height is about 60 cm. The tail measures 80 to 100 cm and is proportionately longer than in any other cat species of comparable size. It helps to maintain its balance on the rugged terrain and unstable surfaces of its habitat and is used to cover its nose and mouth in very cold conditions. The head of the Snow Leopard is relatively small, however the male's head is usually much squarer and wider than that of the female. The big furry feet act as snowshoes, like those of the lynxes. The Snow Leopard has gray-and-white thick fur with numerous rosettes on the flanks and spots on the head and neck.(more on