Feline and Fabulous
Any time is a good time to groom. Even in the trees and dense brush where these wild cats like to spend their days, an ocelot has to look her best. Also known as "dwarf leopards," ocelots live in southern Texas, as well as in every country south of our border, except for Chile. As you might guess, their beautiful coats make them targets for hunters and the pet trade. And like so many other species, they suffer from habitat loss. Despite all that, the population is currently doing well.
A Toothsome Smile
Arabian camels have one hump and are native to Africa, Saudi Arabia, and southwestern Asia, though they are no longer found in the wild.
Camels are known for their ability to go three weeks without water, mostly because a camel's body temperature changes throughout the day, rising when it's hot and making it unnecessary for the animal to sweat or pant. In addition, its impressive hump contains fat that provides sustenance during periods of fasting, and shrinks when well used. To grow the hump back to its normal size, a camel must eat normally for three or four months.
Camels have been around for 40 million years. It may be hard to imagine them in North America, but they once roamed our land, before its population went extinct 15,000 years ago.
Photo: Mlenny Photography/Getty
Info Source: Animal Planet
Magical Moon Moth
The male Madagascan moon moth, also known as the comet moth, is about 15 centimeters long with a wingspan of about 20 centimeters, making it one of the world's largest silk moths. After leaving its cocoon, this incredible creature does not eat and lives just four to five days.
Like other species on the island, the moon moth has suffered from habitat loss, but efforts to grow the population in captivity have been successful.
Although it looks like this hippo is on some kind of hardcore stakeout, it’s not. Hippos spend most of their days up to their nostrils in water, and can spend up to 25 minutes fully submerged. Like this hippo photographed in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, most hippopotami now live in protected areas.
As amusing as their behavior can be, hippos can also be dangerous. Each year they kill about 2,900 more people than sharks do. Their violence is one reason they are hunted, which is unfortunate because it’s said they can be easily deterred by low fences and ditches. But their meat is popular as well. While the pygmy hippopotamus is Endangered, the IUCN ranks the status of others from Threatened to Least Concern.
Never Enough Nectar
A Madagascar gold dust day gecko—try saying that five times in a row—licks nectar from a noni fruit in Kailua, Hawaii. Abundant in the wild, the species is currently listed as “Least Threatened” by IUCN. Little-known gecko fact: They are the only lizards that produce more than a hiss. Their vocalizations range from squeaks and clicks to barks and croaks.
Photo: Chanda Sherin/National Geographic Photograph Contest
Teeny Tiny Monkey
Pygmy marmosets are the smallest monkeys in the world, weighing about 4.2 ounces. This one was recently photographed in the Colombian
rainforest, but the species can also be found in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil. The University of Wisconsin's primate website reminds us, "Though they exhibit squirrel-like patterns of locomotion, including quadrupedally running up and down tree trunks, vertically clinging to tree trunks as they feed on sap, and branch and vine-running on both the top and underside surfaces of horizontal substrates, they are not more closely related to squirrels than other primates (Kinzey 1997)." Though loss of habitat is a concern, the pygmy marmoset as a species is doing just fine.
Your Moment of Seal Zen
ice melt and other threats, being a seal looks pretty good here. Gray seals like this one can grow up to 880 pounds, and females live as long as 35 years, 10 years longer than their male counterparts. From the sound of it, the males that mate on the ice are monogamous, whereas those that mate on land have up to 10 partners in a season. Though once overhunted for their furs and food, seal populations are growing overall. Photo: Zmeel Photography/Getty
Info Source: NOAA
Bath Time for Cubs
This mother and cub cheetah were photographed in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. The easiest way to distinguish a cheetah from a leopard are by the black lines that run from the inner corner of its eyes down along its cheeks. Cheetahs can run at speeds up to 70 mph, making them the fastest land mammal. They can also accelerate from a standstill to 40 mph in just three strides. Unfortunately, these endangered animals can no longer be found in more than 20 countries through Africa and Asia, where they once made their homes. Threats to the species include limited prey, habitat loss, and livestock-related conflict, but organizations like the Cheetah Conservation Fund are working with farmers to build tolerance for cheetahs and to create solutions that protect the population.
New Giant Panda Twins Aren’t Giant Yet
These giant panda twin males seen in an incubator were born Tuesday at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the Sichuan province of China. After six hours of labor, the two five-ounce cubs were born to a 15-year-old panda named "Cheng Gong," which means "success." Giant pandas are the rarest of all bears, with only 1,600 left in the wild.
Photo: China Daily/Reuters
Information: WWF and Best News
Bald Eagles, found only on the North American continent, can fly up to 30 mph and dive for their prey at speeds of up to 100 mph. An eagle's eye is only slightly smaller than a human's, but its sharpness is at least four times that of a person with perfect vision. So, not quite Superman, but way better than your bespectacled Uncle. On June 28, 2007, the birds were removed from federal Endangered Species list, as their numbers had recovered significantly from the 1950s and 1960s when the species suffered heavy losses because of the pesticide DDT. Today the birds are still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Anyone who is convicted of violating these laws could be fined $5,000 and jailed for up to 18 months for each count.
Photo: 2013 National Geographic Photograph Contest/John Chaney
The Mighty Fossa
No, the fossa is no kitty. It's a relative of the mongoose and lives exclusively in Madagascar, where it is the largest native carnivore and an apex predator. But like cats, the fossa has retractable claws and a long tail, which it uses to help balance itself as it moves nimbly through tree tops. The fossa is also known to feed on all kinds of creatures, from
lemurs to wild mice. Though powerful, fossas are endangered due to habitat loss. Photo: Chad Teer/Wikimedia
If Spock Had a Monkey
If Spock had a monkey (and
we're glad he didn't), we're thinking it would have been a wolf monkey like this one. Look at those bright yellow, pointed ears! And like Spock, these primates like to hang out above ground, though only 15 meters up in the trees. They're known to live in groups with other kinds of monkeys, in most cases black mangabeys. To communicate wolf monkeys have seven types of vocalizations: Two are contact calls, two travel calls, and three alarm calls, one of which is a short sneeze. These distinctively marked primates live mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, and while they face threats from habitat destruction and hunters, their status has not been assessed by the IUCN. Photo: Alan Shapiro/Getty
Information Source: University of Michigan
Teach a Monkey to Fish...
It's not exactly an interspecies friendship, but this monkey and these carp at a wildlife park in Hefei, in Eastern China, seem to be getting along rather well in the water. Of course, that's only because this monkey doesn't seem hip to the whole fishing game yet. But some rare primates are, including certain macaques, baboons, chimpanzees and orangutans. In
a study of long-tailed macaques, scientists observed instances of fishing that gave them hope that macaques and other species were equipped to outsmart extinction. Photo: China Stringer Network/Reuters
World’s Slowest Facial
Snails crawl on the face of a woman during a demonstration of a new beauty treatment in central Tokyo, on July 17, 2013. The salon, Clinical-Salon Ci:z.Labo, which began the odd facial earlier this week, offers the $110, five-minute session with snails as an optional add-on for customers who apply for a Celeb Escargot Course, an hour-long treatment of massages and facials based on products made from snail slime. According to the salon's beautician—who is most likely not a scientist capable of proving such claims—the snail slime is believed to make one's skin supple as well as remove dry and scaly patches.
Photo: Issei Kato/Reuters
Beluga whales show off for the camera in the nippy waters of the Arctic Ocean. These so-called white whales are extremely social, communicating with other members of their pods through a cacophony of clicks, whistles, and clangs. The species’ love for sound is so pure, in fact, that two Canadian artists were inspired to put on a concert this week near the mouth of the Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba—exclusively for them. Yup, an underwater symphony. Only for belugas. The reason? “To bring art to the non-human world.” Wait, it gets more interesting—during the concert, a contortionist performed on stilts from the safety of a boat.
One Serious Fur Ball
No, this is not someone's overfed domestic cat. Have some respect! It's a wild Pallas's cat, also known as a manul. Though rather wide, this cat grows to a maximum of just nine pounds. Its extremely thick and oh-so-fluffy coat provides insulation against the frosty temperatures of its native homes in high elevations across Asia. As a result of being hunted for its exceptional coat and because of
trouble with its main food source, pika, the IUCN lists the manul as Near Threatened.
Is it dancing? Is it a cheer? Is it raising the roof? Hard to know, but this sea otter lives in Alaska, along with 90 percent of its kind. You may be surprised to learn that this cuddly critter is actually part of the weasel family and is one of the smallest of all marine mammals. Sea otter numbers rebounded after the 18th and 19th centuries, when they were harvested for their especially thick fur. However, since the 1980s, the number of otters in southwestern Alaska has diminished by about 50 percent, earning that population segment the rank of Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In 2010, the recovery effort identified the most important threats to otters as increased killer whale predation and oil spills.
Meet 6 Monster Fish That (Believe It or Not) Live in Our Rivers
When a young man from landlocked Arizona meets a giant catfish in the Mekong River, it’s a love affair that will last a lifetime. Now, to get the word out about exceptionally large fish that are struggling to survive,
Zeb Hogan will host his show this Friday at 10 p.m. on National Geographic TV. Here, Zeb introduces us to some of his best and biggest friends. Monster Fish
Next photo gallery: Meet 6 Monster Fish That (Believe It or Not) Live in Our Rivers