Thursday, September 30, 2010

American Marten

Scientific name: Martes americana
The American marten (Martes americana), or marten, often incorrectly called the pine marten because of their close resemblance to their European relative, is a member of the mustelid family. The name mustelid came from the fact that members of this family have developed anal scent glands which produce a strong repellent smell that are often used to mark territories. Other members of this family that can be found in New York include fisher, ermine, weasel, mink, and the river otter.

Marten are a small, slender bodied mammal with a long bushy tail that measure about one-third of their overall length. They have a pointed snout and large round ears in comparison to their head. Generally, the females are smaller than the males. They also have claws that are semi- retractable, just like a cat. The adult female will measure only 18-22 inches in length and weigh 1.5-1.8 pounds while the adult male will be around 20-25 inches in length and 1.6-2.8 pounds. Their fur is made up of long soft hairs. Fur coloring varies greatly between individuals from a pale buff- yellowish color to a reddish brown, with paler head and underparts and darker legs and a light colored throat patch . Marten are often confused with fisher, another member of the weasel family. The fisher can be found through out New York's marten range, is similar appearance and tracks, but the fisher is much large in size than the marten.

Marten are solitary mammals, avoiding their own kind except during mating season. Most active during the dusk and dawn hours, they are an arboreal species, spend the majority of their lives in and around mature spruce - fir coniferous forest, or a mixed hardwood, especially beech tree - coniferous forest. This type of environment provides ideal sites for them to den and also great habitat for their primary prey species the red squirrel. Here in New York, the vast majority of marten will be found in the High Peaks region of the Central Adirondacks and surrounding areas. Although they are very shy, marten are extremely curious creatures as well. The sighting reports that we receive from the public are usually encounters with marten staring in a window at them or siting on their seasonal cabin's porch.

The American Marten are omnivores. They do prey heavily on small mammals, especially red squirrels, but they are known to eat just about anything- birds, fish, frogs, insects, and carrion. Their diet also includes seasonal fruit, seed, and nuts crops like berries, and especially beech nuts.

Breeding Biology:
Marten have polygynous mating habits, usually breeding with more than one partner. The male establishes his territory and defends it against all other male incursion. Marten breeding season occurs mid summer but the young are not born until late March to early April. This is because marten are part of a group of mammals that have the ability to delay the implantation of fertilized eggs. Even though the female's eggs are fertilized almost right away, the eggs will not become attach to the uterus wall and begin to develop until sometime in February. This is known as delayed implantation. Gestation is actually 42 days. The young or kits as they are correctly called, are born in late March to early April. Both blind and naked at birth, the kits grow rapidly and by about 3 months old they are fully grown. Shortly after that, their mother will leave them to fend for themselves and she will get ready to breed all over again. Marten normally reach sexual maturity around two years of age when they will undergo their first breeding season.

Tracks and Sign:
The marten's foot has very large foot pads in relation to their body weight. This gives them a big advantage of being able to walk on deep snow that is very common in the Central Adirondacks. They grow longer hair between their foot pads in the winter which aids in keeping their feet warm. This hair often distorts the marten's track size. When snow tracking, you may find where a marten will travel "subnevean" or below the surface of the snow, in order to hunt small prey that have taken winter refuge in downed trees It is often difficult to tell the difference between a marten track and their close relative the fisher, especially in poor snow conditions.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Late 96 there was considerable coverage of a sighting in Tasmania by a park official.

In Feb 97 an article in Herald/Sun covered at length the one sighting per month for the past 5 months down near Loch Sport on the ninety-mile beach. The latest was by an RACV mechanic and he saw the animal feeding on a dead wallaby at the side of the road for about 2 minutes from 40 feet away. He said it was striped and a dirty brown grey and about the size of a greyhound.

Just prior to the 4 December 1998 sightings of a large cat in the Grampians there was dramatic footage shown on national TV (10) of an animal claimed to be a thylacine. Experts said they could not rule out the possibility. The footage was shot near Foster north of Wilson's Promontory in Victoria. This is in the same broad area where earlier claimed sightings of thylacines were seen in 1996/97. Another sighting by a National Parks employee in a remote part of Tasmania during about 1997 was also given considerable attention. Thylacines were last found in the wild in the 1930's in Tasmania.

Another interesting account of a thylacine sighting is from Irian Jaya at a remote mountainside where local tribes people report sighting a thylacine. The Melbourne Age carried an article to this effect on 15 April 1997

In early 2000 on Melbourne TV video film shot by an amateur shows what appeared to be a thylacine down in the Gippsland area.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Acipenser fulvescens

Family: Unionidae (Freshwater Mussels)
Synonyms: The elktoe has also been called the Ridged
Wedge-Mussel (Clarke 1981).
Total Range: The elktoe is widespread in North America although patchy in distribution. It occurs in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence drainages south to the Tennessee drainage. It is most abundant in the center of its range (NatureServe).

While in Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvaniaand New York the elktoe is considered apparentlysecure (S4), in other areas of its range it is less secure.The elktoe is considered possibly extirpated (SH) inAlabama and critically imperiled (S1) in Quebec, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma and Vermont. InMinnesota, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, the elktoe is considered imperiled (S2) and in Ontario, Iowa and Indiana it is vulnerable (S3). In
several states, the elktoe is unranked (S?) (North Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Ohio and Washington..

State Distribution: The elktoe has been found in several areas of Lower Michigan. Historically, it was present in the Grand River in Kent and Ionia Counties (Van der Shalie 1945). Recent surveys indicate that it still occurs in the Grand River, but in reduced numbers (Goforth et al. 2000). Live specimens have also been found in the St. Joseph River in Berrien and Calhoun Counties, St. Joseph (Maumee) River in Hillsdale County, and the Raisin River in Lenawee County (Badra and Goforth 2002, Goforth et al. 2001, Badra and Goforth 2001). During a survey of the Muskegon River watershed in the summer of 2002, live elktoe were found in Osceola County and spent shells were found in Clare and Missaukee Counties. Other recent surveys have found live elktoe in the Pine River in Montcalm County, the Maple River in Gratiot and Clinton Counties, the Looking Glass River in Clinton County and the Red Cedar River in Ingham County. Spent shells have been found recently in the Tittabawassee River in Saginaw County, the Thornapple River in Eaton County, the St. Joseph River in St. Joseph County, and the Black River in Sanilac County, but no live specimens have been recovered in these areas (Badra and Goforth 2002).

Recognition: The elktoe is a relatively small, thinshelled mussel, that may reach up to four inches in length. The shell of the elktoe is elongate, with arounded anterior end and an angled, square posteriorend. It has a prominent posterior ridge, and the posterior slope is ribbed. The umbo is large and centrally located above the hinge line. Beak sculpture is heavy and consists of three to four double-looped ridges. Lateral teeth are generally absent, and one, occasionally two, thin, elongate pseudocardinal teeth are present. The exterior color of the elktoe shell is yellowish green, with prominent broad dark green rays and dots. Thenacre is white and may have some salmon coloring nearthe beak. The foot of the elktoe is bright orange.

In Michigan, the elktoe may be confused most often with the strange floater (Strophitus undulatus). The strange floater lacks the rays and flecks of the elktoe, as well as the heavy beak sculpture. The elktoe may also be confused with the snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra),slippershell mussel (Alasmidonta viridis) and deertoe (Truncilla truncata). These species lack the ribs found on the posterior dorsal area of the elktoe.

Habitat: The elktoe is found in small to large sized streams and small to medium rivers. It is a riffle species, preferring swifter currents over packed sand and gravel substrates. The elktoe is typically only found in clean, clear water (Cummings and Mayer 1992, Watters 1995, NatureServe).

American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

Status: Federal Endangered

Description: This species is a large (1-1.4 inches, 25-36 mm) carrion beetle with a large orange-red pronotal disk (upper back below head). Other characteristics include orange antennae clubs, red frons and two pairs of red spots on black wing covers (elytra).

Habitat and Habits: The best potential habitat for this species is thought to be woodlands, grasslands and pastureland where sufficient humus and topsoil allow the beetles to bury carrion (dead animals). The American burying beetle is active at night, when the male and female seek large (50-200 g) carrion. The largest pair will move the carrion forward and excavate the soil out from underneath to a depth of about 4 inches. The carrion is cleaned of fur or feathers, shaped into a ball, cleaned of fly larvae and other organisms and covered with a secretion that slows decomposition. Eggs are laid in a tunnel adjacent to the preserved carcass.

When the eggs hatch, the larvae crawl to the carrion ball where one or both parents regurgitate food to the growing larvae. Adults continue to "groom" the carcass as larvae complete development in about two weeks and pupate in the soil. Adults may be present from July through August. This degree of parental care by both parents is rare among insects.

Distribution: This species was historically widely distributed throughout eastern North America in 32 states, the District of Columbia and 3 Canadian provinces. It occurred from Nova Scotia and Quebec in Canada, south to Florida and west to Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. Presently, only two wild populations are known to exist, one on a New England island and a second at a locaffon in eastern Oklahoma. A specimen recently collected in Nebraska has resulted in continued, extensive surveys to locate additional wild populations. The American burying beetle was collected in Brookings and Union Counties in the 1940s. There have been no recent collections nor sightings in the state.

Conservation Measures: Listed in 1989 as federally endangered, the reasons for this beetle's rarity remain unclear. Captive populations of American burying beetles at Boston University were used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce the species to a second New England island in 1990. Although successful reproduction occurred, overwintering survival and overall reintroduction success were unknown at the time of this publication.

A recovery plan will help in directing efforts to determine causes of the American burying beetle's decline and with subsequent efforts to reestablish the species in suitable locations throughout its former range. A present conservation measure is the secrecy of known population sites to protect against attracting collectors to the areas.

The Burgess Shale

The Burgess Shale is found in an area of the Canadian Rocky Mountains known as the Burgess Pass, and is located in British Columbia's Yoho National Park. Part of the ancient landmass called Laurentia, centered in Hudson Bay, the Burgess Shale represents one of the most diverse and well-preserved fossil localities in the world.

These fossils have been gathered from shales of the Stephen Formation in two quarries opened between Mount Wapta and Mount Field. The upper quarry is known as Walcott's quarry and contains the most famous fossil-collecting site, the Phyllopod Bed.

The lower quarry is known as Raymond's quarry, named after Professor Piercy Raymond of Harvard, a visitor of the site who opened the quarry in 1924. It is now appreciated that the Burgess Shale is a site of exceptional fossil preservation, and records a diversity of animals found nowhere else. In 1981, to protect the site from overgathering, UNESCO designated the Burgess Shale as a world heritage site.

The Burgess Shale contains the best record we have of Cambrian animal fossils. The locality reveals the presence of creatures originating from the Cambrian explosion, an evolutionary burst of animal origins dating 545 to 525 million years ago. During this period, life was restricted to the world's oceans. The land was barren, uninhabited, and subject to erosion; these geologic conditions led to mudslides, where sediment periodically rolled into the seas and buried marine organisms. At the Burgess locality, sediment was deposited in a deep-water basin adjacent to an enormous algal reef with a vertical escarpment several hundred meters high.

Bluebreast Darter

The blue breast darter is a small, colorful fish that usually grows to about three inches in length. It can be distinguished from other darters by its blunt, rounded snout, and its gill covers which are not connected across the breast.

The blue breast darter is olive-green in color and there is a broad light band adjacent to the dark edge of the second dorsal (back), anal (bottom rear), and caudal (tail) fins. Breeding males are extremely colorful, with orange-tinted dorsal fins, numerous small crimson spots on the sides and a bright blue breast - hence its name.

The blue breast darter prefers fast-flowing sections of large streams where the substrate consists of sandy gravel and large stones. The darter uses the stones for protection, and is usually found behind, beside, or under them. The blue breast darter is rare in New York, found only in the upper reaches of the Allegheny River and a tributary.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


STATUS: Threatened. That means we are concerned about the species but that they are not in danger of extinction right now.
DESCRIPTION: The giant garter snake is one of the largest garter snakes. They are at least 162 centimeters long. (About 64 inches.) Females tend to be longer and heavier than males. They weigh 500 to 700 grams. (About 1 to 1.5 pounds) .
The back of a giant garter snake varies from brownish to olive. There is a checkered pattern of black spots. A yellow stripe runs down the center of the back. Along the sides are light colored stripes. The underside is cream to olive or brown. Sometimes it is orangish. And common garter snakes are only 46-140 cm long. Otherwise, the two species look very similar. Garter snakes are not dangerous. In California, only rattlesnakes have venom that is dangerous to humans.
FOOD: Small fishes, tadpoles and frogs.
HABITAT: Agricultural wetlands and other waterways in the Central Valley. (Irrigation and drainage canals, sloughs, ponds, small lakes, streams.)Most of the natural habitat has been lost. So lots of snakes live in rice fields. Rice fields provide hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat for the species.
HABITAT NEEDS: Enough water to provide food and cover during the active season. (Early-spring through mid-fall) Wetland plants such as cattails and bulrushes. (These are for cover and foraging.) Grassy banks and openings in vegetation for sunning.
Winter refuges: Small mammal burrows and other crevices above flood elevations. Giant garter snakes are dormant during the winter so they need places like this to hang out.
SEASONAL LIFE CYCLE: Giant garter snakes are most active from early spring through mid-fall. Between April 1 and May 1, they emerge and start hunting for food. Around October 1, they start looking for winter retreats. By November 1, they are in winter retreats and mostly stay there until spring. Some may bask or move short distances on warmer days.
MATING: Males reach sexual maturity in three years, females in five. The breeding season extends through March and April. Females give birth to live young from late July through early September. Brood size varies. It ranges from 10 to 46 young. (See photo of young snake, left) Young immediately scatter into dense cover. They typically more than double in size in the first year.
PREDATORS: These include raccoons, skunks, opossums ("possums"), foxes, hawks, northern harriers, egrets, bitterns and great blue herons.
RANGE: Mainly the Sacramento Valley of California. Some isolated populations in the San Joaquin Valley.
THREATS: Habitat loss and fragmentation. Flood control activities. Changes in agricultural and land management practices. Predation from introduced species, parasites, water pollution.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Naked-Head Toothfish and Rakery Beaconlamp–despite Antarctica's stark white scenery, its inhabitants do possess colorful names.

These are among Antarctica's 200 species of fish, and were first caught during an 1840 James Clark Ross expedition.

One hundred and twenty of these species are descendents of Notothenioids, which contain glycoproteins in their blood that work as "anti-freeze" proteins.

These proteins appeared in fish because of a genetic mutation that occurred 5-14 million years ago; since the waters were warmer back then, the proteins were not needed.

However, when continental plates shifted, what is now Antarctica broke off from South America, and produced such a strong current that warmer waters could not get through.

Therefore, the Antarctic seas became increasingly colder over time. The fish without the genetic mutation died out; today, each remaining Notothenioid carries the glycoproteins.

The proteins attach themselves to small ice crystals in the fish's body, enabling the fish to live in waters with temperatures as low as 28 degrees F.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Pinesap

Monotropsis odorata
Family: Monotropaceae

Sandstone ridgetops, chiefly pine woods but also mesophytic woods.

Species Description:
Saprophytic perennial.

Flowering Period: Early February to late April.

Diagnostic Characteristics:
This is a saprophytic plant in the Indian-pipe family that does not have chlorophyll and is therefore colorless or white. It differs from typical Indian pipes in have united petals and nodding fruit.

Timber removal would be detrimental. Exotic pest plants are a threat to this species and should be removed. Avoid creating access to the site through trail or road construction.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vampire Squid

The vampire squid, (Vampyroteuthis infernali) which depicts something that swam out of a late-night science fiction. But in spite of its bizarre name, this squid is a small creature, which grows up to 6 inches length. It is one of the oldest species. It is an exclusive member which shares similarities with both squid and octopuses.

They have large fins at the top of its body that resemble ears. They serve as primary means of thrust as it flies through the water with the help of flapping their fins. They have very gelatinous form, resembling a jellyfish. It will swim faster with a speed of reaching over two body lengths in a second. The largest eyes are relative to its body size of any animal. Though it is comparatively small, they appear red or blue in color.

They have eight arms which are connected with a webbing of skin, which gives an appearance of an octopus than a squid. When threatened, it can draw its arms up by itself and form a suspicious web which covers the whole body. Each of the eight arms is lined with a single row of suction cups and rows of soft, fleshy spines known as cirri. The color of the squid ranges from jet black to pale red. Their body is covered with light-producing organs called photophores.

The vampire squid is a carnivorous animal. Its diet consists of prawns, copepods, cnidarians, and other small invertebrates. The beaks of it is found in the stomachs of seals, whales, and fishes, The interesting fact is that they can roam around without eating for a longer period of time.

Their eggs will be of small and opaque, with a size of about eight millimeters. They reproduce slowly by laying small number of eggs.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Black and White Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata variegata)

The black and white ruffed lemur is one of the largest lemurs now. They grow up to four feet but their weight is only eight or ten pounds. Male as well as the female look the alike, covered with black and white patches and a fringe of lengthy white fur can be found around their neck and ears.

They normally live in small groups which is consists of two to five lemurs in each group. Common home will be shared by them. They use to give loud calls to let other lemurs know that they in the specific place. They all be together to protect them from the predators If a lemur Found its predator, it gives a loud call to alert their members.

They use to groom each other with their teeth. This makes them clean and helps to have strong friendships in their group.

They mostly found in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar. Their diet consists of fruit and other plants.
The mother will have two to three babies at once. Other lemurs have only one baby at a time. They normally hide their babies in a safe place. When it attains three weeks old, it starts to follow its mother.

Monday, September 13, 2010


It belongs to the ancient kin of salamanders comprising just six varieties, commonly referred to as the olm, mud puppies and water dogs .it is a blind amphibian common to the yawning water of caves. The family diverged from their nearby relations 190 million years ago in the early Jurassic period in the era of the dinosaurs. This predates the 1st vestige bird by 40 million years. A tiny subpopulation of “black olms” may be a part varieties requiring extra safety.


The olm is a lengthened and slim mythical being with tiny, slim limbs with 3 toes near the front limbs and 2 toes on the hind limbs. The chest is cylindrical and homogeneously broad. The tail is moderately little, tangentially compressed, and bordered by a slim fin. It have defectively urban eyes, which are enclosed with skin in one of the type (P. anguinus anguinus), and have three pink outer gills on each side of the head. It is soft and blind, although their skin-covered eyes are still light perceptive. It has developed a prevailing sensory system of smell, taste, and hearing. Since the pelt is transparent, it is possible to see the olm’s interior organs, making it easy to identify the sex of adults.


It is present in clean water assets found in dark subversive caves of the Dinaric Alps along the Adriatic Sea, from north-eastern Italy to Bosnia and Herzegovina and possibly Serbia and Montenegro. It may be found in cave opening (especially during high rainfall and flood) and discarded excavate mechanism. Many of the caves within the olm’s range are linked to rivers that run over the earth for the first 50 to 100km and then vanish into the earth.


It is scheduled in Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of endangered Species because its area of residence is less than 2,000 km sq.


It is a Europe’s only cave modified vertebrate. They are totally marine variety that can stay alive lacking foodstuff for up to 10 years and live to an age of 58 or more.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Andean Condor

It is the largest flying land bird in the Western hemisphere, with a wingspan of between nine and ten feet. Andean Condor hovered dangerously close to extinction. The species is still endangered by hunting, poisoning, and loss of habitat.

It has a body length of 43 - 51 inches and an 11-foot wingspan. The female weighs seventeen and half to 24 pounds while the larger male weighs 24 - 33 pounds.

Considered as large black vulture with ruff white feathers nearby the base of the neck and, especially in the male, large white patches can be seen on the wings. Their head and neck are nearly featherless, and in dull red color, which may change their color in response to the bird's emotional state. In male, there is a wattle on the neck and a large, dark red comb or caruncle on the crown of the head.

They use to have mainly carrion from large and medium-sized mammals where they cover great distances while soaring in search of food.

Condors usually mature very slowly; they use to live for up to 50 years

Reproduce very rarely, making wild populations very vulnerable. The loss of a few individuals of breeding age could destroy the long-term reproductive potential of a population of Andean Condors. They normally use to lay a single egg that will be incubated for about 59 days. Young birds learn to fly within 6 months of age. Young birds become physically matured at the age of 6 or more.