A look at the Dace Fish

Have you ever heard of the kind of fish called a dace? The dace is a fish that has a large range, with some species living in Europe and some in North America. Scientifically, they belong to the Cyprinidae or minnow family. Additionally, there are an estimated 20,000 species in all, worldwide. Habitat Dace are incredibly adaptive, with some variations depending on species. They can be found in cold or warm water, muddy and murky water to clear and fresh water, fast-flowing rivers and streams to bodies of water that don’t flow at all. This means that they can be found in rivers and streams as well as in lakes and ponds. In fact, this is a fish that will even live in brackish water or the ocean. Specific species have water preferences, however, and not each species can tolerate all the various habitats mentioned. According to the American Fisheries Society, about 58% of the 20,000 species live in saltwater, 41% occur in fresh water and 1% can live in both. Appearance These fish are often silvery in appearance, however some species may be darker, blotched and may have yellowish undersides. Some species even have reddish or pinkish coloration. The body is usually slender and streamlined, both from side to side and top to bottom. The caudal fin is large, though usually not deeply forked. Species such as longnose dace (Rhinichthys cataractae) have large and prominent anal, pectoral and ventral fins. The dorsal fin doesn’t run the length of the Continue Reading →

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How the Park Service Deals With Problem Black Bears

Have you ever wondered what the United States Park Service does when they have a black bear that is causing problems? It does happen, from time to time. The USPS has a double responsibility, which at times can be contradictory. The service was created to preserve the national park and all plants and animals inside the park boundary. Simultaneously, they must see to the safety of the people visiting the park, whenever possible. Sometimes these two roles are at odds and priorities must be made. This is the case when there is a troublesome black bear. The trouble level When there is a problem bear, the park service first assesses how troublesome the bear is. There are people who will tremble in terror if a bear merely walks by. They might complain about the bear, but it is doing nothing wrong and isn’t a problem bear at all. The complaint is duly noted and recorded, but it is unlikely that anything will be done to the bear. Some black bears can also snatch food, such as from picnic tables or open vehicles, and they can be quite destructive when they do this. A bear can easily rip an ice chest apart, seeking whatever is inside. Vehicle doors aren’t proof against such powerful animals, either. They can and have ripped doors of the hinges as if they were held on with paper. When this happens, it would be considered a medium level threat. The bear wasn’t causing harm and wasn’t purposely Continue Reading →

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A Look at the Characteristics of the Red Fox

There are a number of different kinds of fox and they can differ quite a bit in appearance, hunting characteristics and habitat. One representative kind of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), since it is so wide-spread. To say that a red fox is an interesting creature would be a huge understatement. Those who have had the great fortune to live around these creatures have Probably learned that they possess talents that are hard to match by other carnivorous animals, particularly others in the canine or dog family. Those who haven’t been around foxes often make mistakes in identification and the physical characteristics of the animal are a key giveaway. The head of red foxes Foxes are members of the dog family. Still, they have a lot of adaptations that make them almost seem cat-like. For instance, a red fox has upright ears, ideal for hearing and like those of a cat. These foxes can hear the faintest rustling caused by a mouse or vole in much the same way that house cats can, and they are just as quick to pounce on the prey, which they also do in a similar way to a cat. The muzzle of a red fox is long and slender, giving the fox an excellent sense of smell, while allowing the eyes to face forward. Again, this is similar to a cat in that the red fox can smell its prey even before it sees it and it can detect slight movements, such as Continue Reading →

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The Often-Elusive Ring Tailed Cat

This is another case where the common name of an animal is quite inaccurate. Ring tailed cats aren’t felines. This can be seen from the scientific name: Bassariscus astutus. However, they are common in many states in the United States, particularly in the west, and they are interesting little creatures. Ring Tailed Cat Range Ring tails have been sighted in Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas and even in Mexico. They have also been seen in Ohio. Part of the reason they are widespread could be that these animals seem to be just about as comfortable in conifer and scrub forests as they are in canyons, desert locations, rocky areas, and even along rivers, lake shores, streams and in marshy areas. They also live from lowlands to nearly the tree line in mountainous areas like the Cascade Mountains. Ring tailed cats in general These creatures have also been called cacomistles, to which they are closely related, although they aren’t cacomistles. True cacomistles belong to the same genus, Bassariscus, though. The genus name means ‘cunning little fox’, even though it also isn’t a member of the vulpine or fox family. They are actually members of the raccoon, or Procyonidae, family. Since the mid 1980s, this species has also been the state mammal of the state of Arizona. Appearance and description of ring tailed cats In appearance, these are slender animals and somewhat shaped like a cat. Their coloration is similar to that of a Continue Reading →

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The Strange Creature Called the Giant Anteater

There are curious animals in this world and there are some that are just plain strange. The giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) is one that is both curious and strange. Giant anteater range This animal, sometimes called the ant bear, is actually related to the sloths rather than to bears and it is one of only four species of anteaters alive today. It is a critter that is native to Mexico, Central and South America. Giant anteater description Giant anteaters are strange-looking beasts, with stout bodies, powerfully clawed feet and very long snouts. It is easily the largest anteater. The males have been weighed in excess of 90 pouns and the females aren’t much smaller. They are also lengthy and some specimens have measured longer than seven feet. The head of a giant anteater can be a foot long, most of that being taken up by the mouth apparatus, though it has a small mouth opening. The tail is about the length of the head and the neck is thick and muscular. These aren’t particularly long-lived creatures, either, and seldom live longer than 15 years. One curiosity is that giant anteaters have a body temperature that is between 5-10 degrees F cooler than most mammals. The average body temperature is 91 F (~33 C). Interestingly, while the genus name, Myrmecophaga, is accurate, the specific name, tridactyla, is not. Myrmecophaga means ‘anteater’, which the creature is. The word tridactyla means ‘three digits’ or three toes. Giant anteaters actually have five toes on all Continue Reading →

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About the Magestic American Cougar (Puma concolor)

Each of the four wild cats of North America are beautiful; bobcats, lynxes, jaguars and cougars. However, although the jaguar is close to the same size, it is hard to say that any of the other wild cats is more majestic. It makes little difference if a person calls this big cat a mountain lion, cougar, puma, catamount or any of a number of other names it has been known by, there is little doubt that it is a beautiful and powerful apex predator. Like a lot of other predators, the mountain lion sometimes gets an undeserved bad name. It isn’t the wicked, evil, bloodthirsty killer that some people believe it to be. In fact, in the wild it is rare to even see a mountain lion, much less for anyone to be attacked by one. Attacks do occur, but it is tremendously unusual. Even in the rare event that it does occur, there is almost always something wrong with the great cat, such as illness, infirmity or an animal that is near starvation. As a matter of fact, man is the only predator this beautiful cat has. Cougar diet The majority of the mountain lion’s diet consists of rodents, and for this people should be quite thankful since the population of mice, rats, squirrels, voles, lemmings, hares and rabbits that are the mainstay of the mountain lion’s diet can and periodically do explode enormously. The matter would be far worse without a creature like the cougar to take substantial Continue Reading →

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Strange is a Word that Describes the Platypus

The platypus (Ornithorhychus anatinus) is such a strange creature that the first reports of it were thought to be fabricated. In fact, the first specimen was still thought to be a hoax for some years after it was in the possession of zoologists. We can imagine the reason it was thought to be ‘created’ by someone wanting to perpetrate a hoax. The platypus has the bill of a duck or goose, webbed and clawed feet like an otter, venom like a snake (though the venom glands are in spurs on the ankles rather than in fangs), a tail that looks like it belongs on a beaver and though it is a mammal, it lays eggs rather than giving live birth. The animal has been known to science for about 220 years now, but it is still a bewildering creature. To begin with, even with all the strange characteristics of this animal, the name ‘platypus’ is a Latinized word meaning ‘flat footed’. The animal isn’t especially large; from 16-20 inches in length and one to five pounds, with the male being larger than the female. Unlike many animals of Australia, the platypus isn’t a marsupial. Rather, it is a monotreme, which is a very ancient class of mammals, with some similarities to birds. Today, the only known monotremes are the platypus and the echidna or spiny anteater. This is a mostly aquatic animal and the webbed feet help with swimming. The thick fur traps air, making the animal buoyant while also insulating Continue Reading →

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An Unusual Wild Animal of Asia

There are animals that Asians have probably never seen because they are native to North and South America. There are almost as many animals that Americans haven’t seen, and often haven’t heard of, because they are native to Asia or Europe. One such Asian native is a curious animal called the Binturong (Arctictis binturong). This animal is native to India, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries in southeast Asia. In fact, the common name, Binturong, is Malaysian. It has other names in other languages, such as tenturun in Indonesia. A common name in English is Bearcat, though it is neither a bear nor a cat. Actually, these animals are members of the civet family or Viverridae. Though it is sometimes called the bearcat, the genus name actually means ‘bear-weasel’ and the binturong is the only species in the genus. Binturong description These animals are heavily built, somewhat less than three feet long, not counting the two foot tail. The legs are also strong, though not very long. The weight is usually about 50 pounds, though they can grow to almost 75 pounds on occasion. The females usually weigh more than the males. This is the largest of the civet family, with African civets being a close second. They have a short, pointed snout and are covered with dense, dark-brown to black hair. The face is usually speckled, the whiskers are long and the ears are short and rounded, rather like those of a raccoon. The Continue Reading →

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