Today's Fact

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Aardvark

Photo Credit: MontageMan
The aardvark is the only living species in order Tubulidentata. This mammal is characterized by its long snout, arched back and coarse fur, and its diet consists primarily of ants and termites, which it procures by tearing open insects nests with its long claws. Aardvarks live in the savannas, woodlands and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, their range extending from southern Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope, on the southernmost tip of the continent. The closest living relatives of the aardvark are even-toed hoofed mammals and (somewhat surprisingly) whales!

Aardvarks are nocturnal. They spend the hot African afternoon holed up in cool underground burrows dug with their powerful feet and claws that resemble small spades. After sunset, aardvarks put those claws to good use in acquiring their favorite food—termites.

Did you know?
Aardvarks are sometimes called “antbears.”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bees


Bee is the common name for a winged, flower-feeding insect with branched body hairs. Bees are dependent on pollen as a protein source and on flower nectar or oils as an energy source.

Although bees may be solitary, may live in various types of communities. Bees most commonly live in colonies with three different types of bees in each colony - the queen bee, the infertile worker bee (female), and the drone (male). Only the queen bee can reproduce. The drone's only job is to mate with the queen and die soon after having fulfilled their task. The queen's only job is to lay eggs for the span of her life. The worker bees perform many jobs necessary for the survival of the hive. They clean the hive, collect pollen and nectar to feed the colony, and they take care of the offspring. Honey bee queens can live up to five years, though most average a lifespan of two to three years. By contrast, the average life span of a female worker bee is usually only six weeks.

Bees have five eyes - two large compound eyes and three simple eyes and can see all colors except the color red. That and their sense of smell help them find the flowers they need to collect pollen. Pollen is an important food source for bees. Most bees have specialized feathery body hairs that help in the collection of pollen. Adult worker bees collect pollen as it is sustenance for both adult and larval bees - it contains protein and other nutrients necessary to their survival. While foraging for nectar and pollen, bees inadvertently transfer pollen from the male to the female components of flowers. The pollen they inevitably lose as they fly from flower to flower is important to plants because some pollen lands on the reproductive structures of other flowers of the same species, resulting in cross-pollination.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Manta Ray


The manta ray is a large species of flattened fish, closely related to other cartilaginous fish such as sharks. The manta ray is the largest species of ray in the world with some manta ray individuals reaching up to 9 meters wide.

The manta ray is most commonly found in the warmer, tropical of waters of the world's oceans, typically around coral reefs and along the continental shelves where food is in abundance. However, due to their enormous size, manta rays are also commonly spotted hunting out in the open ocean.

The manta ray is a solitary animal and is also a graceful swimmer. Like other large species of fish, manta rays swim by moving their pectoral fins up and down which propels their enormous body through the surrounding water. The short tail of the manta ray also allows the manta ray to be more acrobatic with it's movement, and they have even be seen leaping out of the water.

Unlike many sharks, manta rays do not actually have teeth and instead sieve the food particles out of the water using rows of tiny plates in their mouths, which they funnel in their mouths as they swim.

Did you know?
Manta rays eat tiny marine organisms including microscopic plankton, small fish and crustaceans.

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