Page 10 - Animal Facts

A disorder lead to the panther's dark skin—they aren't a different species at all!


The majestic panther stalks its prey deep in the jungle, using its unusually black fur and skin to blend in with the dark surroundings.

It turns out, though, that the animal's dark color isn't from evolving over generations, it's just a disorder called melanism that causes the skin to be black, much like an Albino animal's skin would be completely white.

The black panther isn't a separate species of animal at all.

In fact, on different continents they are the same species but called different things, such as the jaguar in the Americas and leopards in Asia and Africa.

The melanism actually gives the black panther a distinct advantage for hunting at night which keeps the breed selectively strong in its habitat. They are better predators, defenders, and their survivability is much greater than their lighter skinned siblings.

The disorder is typically heritable as the dominant gene and can be passed on for generations. It can also be found in other animals such as squirrels, other felines and canids, and snakes.

One of the most notable examples is the peppered moth which is used as a teaching aid for natural selection in the United Kingdom. Sometimes a disorder gives you the edge you need to survive!

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Maui dolphins are so endangered, you could probably fit all of them in one big aquarium!


The Maui's dolphin is the world's rarest and smallest of the dolphin community. There are an estimated 55 left that are at least one year old as of 2012—a measly number that could easily deplete to zero if they aren't careful.

Thee dolphin's name comes from the Maori word for New Zealand's North Island (not the Hawaiian island), where is the only place to find them.

They generally stick close to the shoreline in groups, hanging around in 20 meter deep water.

Their numbers have dwindled thanks to set-netting and trawling, killing off an average of almost five per year—a large percentage for a species with very few numbers left. A New Zealand wildlife fund attempted to promote a fishing ban over what is believed to be the dolphin's entire range, which many in the New Zealand government were opposed to.

Instead, as of June 2014, about a quarter of the dolphin's sanctuary, 3000 square kilometers, were opened up to oil drilling. Kind of the opposite of saving the fragile animal's existence.

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This feisty shrimp, an ice loving jellyfish and a fierce looking, strange gecko are just some of the animals on the 2014 Top Ten New Species list


Some weird and wonderful creatures were listed on the 2014 Top Ten New Species list that was published on May 22, 2014 by the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry's International Institute for Species Exploration!

A geology team testing an undersea robot accidentally discovered the first species of anemone known to grow in ice! Edwardsiella andrillae grows upside down from burrows in the Antarctic Ross Ice Shelf with its two dozen tentacles dangling in the icy water below.

Another new discovery is these feisty little shrimp that seems to live to pick fights with each other!

This specimen is 2-3 millimeters long and was found in a cave on Santa Catalina Island off California. It was named Liropus minusculus and despite their love of fighting, they apparently are also very caring mothers.

Saltuarius eximius is a fierce looking gecko that was found living in an isolated rain forest on Australia's Cape Melville. It has a strange flat and broad tail that looks very much like a leaf of lichen.

Even though new species are discovered all the time, scientists estimate Earth will reach mass extinction (defined as the loss of 75 percent or more of plant and animal species) within 300 years if things continue the way they are.

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Some awesome lists!

Giants, despite their size, are actually completely terrified of tiny little bees


They say an elephant never forgets—and apparently the one thing they always remember is how much bee stings hurt!

Elephants have a specific sound they make to alert fellow trunk-equipped buddies that there are angry, nasty, hungry bees about. Then they proceed to run away!

It is the first time elephants have shown any sort of alarm call. This was discovered by a team of scientists from Oxford University, Save the Elephant group and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Their research was conducted by playing the sound of swarming bees and studying the elephant's reaction. They not only ran away, but made a strange "rumbling" call as well while shaking their heads.

They recorded the call and played it back for the elephants to confirm it meant they should all flee even without a buzzing bee sound. Their findings were spot on. Turns out elephants can communicate with each other in the face of danger to organize and mobilize as a group.

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The largest wasp in the world hunts tarantulas and boasts the second most painful sting on Earth!


The tarantula hawk is the largest wasp in the world, reaching two inches in length. Their stinger alone is a third of an inch.

If that wasn't enough, the Schmidt Pain Index, which rates how painful a sting is, has the sting coming in at the second most painful sting in the world! Only the bullet ant ranks higher.

Before you get too freaked out, it rarely stings without provocation. It mostly uses its stinger to paralyze tarantulas. The spiders are used as food for their larvae until maturation.

Once it paralyzes a tarantula, it transports it to a special nest and lays a single egg which, once hatched, burrows into the tarantula and eats it, avoiding vital organs to keep it alive as long as possible. This lasts a few weeks before the larva matures.

Another interesting thing about these creatures: they can become intoxicated if they eat too much fermented fruit. When this happens, the wasps have difficulty flying.

There are hundreds of species that live all over the world, from India to Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas.They've been observed from as far north as Goldendale, Washington in the United States, and south as far as Argentina in South America. They are also the state insect of New Mexico.

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