NatGeo :: Pictures: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand

 

Pictures: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand.

As if fish aren’t weird enough, they’ve discovered some new weird ones!

The Flabby Whalefish:

Pictures: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand

Two-Tone Slickhead:

Pictures: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand

Richardson’s Skate:

Pictures: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand

Some other sort of Slickhead (maybe):

Pictures: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand

A species of Cusk-eel:

Pictures: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand

White rattail:

Pictures: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand

 

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Kakapos

en: Pura, a 1-year-old Kakapo (Strigops habrop...

Image via Wikipedia

Most of you are probably thinking, “What in the world is a kakapo?”.

– Scientific Classification –

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Strigopidae
  • Tribe: Strigopini
  • Genus: Strigops
  • Species: S. habroptila

Kakapos are a flightless, nocturnal species of parrot, endemic to New Zealand, that can weigh up to 8 lbs. They are critically endangered, due in part to the influx of humans and predators in a region that previously had none, leaving the birds no time to adapt defenses. (Kakapo decline). They also have the odd habit of staying completely still, hoping to blend in to the environment when they sense a disturbance. (Kakapo Behavior). In their recovery efforts, the Kakapo Recovery Programme has found rats to be an issue in chick survival rates (Turning the Tide).

This visibly sexually dimorphic bird has a polygynous (1 male, multiple females) lek as a

Postures of male kakapo during booming. 1. normal stance; 2. alert static pose between booming sequences; 3. commencement of booming – inflation of thorax while giving preliminary booms; 4. maximum thoracic inflation during loud booming (from Figure 4, Merton et al. 1984.)

breeding system which ultimately results in no male parental care. Kakapos are the only parrot to display lek-ing. They are not annual breeders (dependent upon the availability of rimu fruit and others) making recovery efforts even more difficult. Males use two sounds to attract females during breeding (which usually starts in December), the “boom” and “ching“. The “boom” is a low sound that can travel large distances, whereas the “ching” is high-pitched so the female can pinpoint the male’s location. The “ching” occurs after about 20-30 “booms”. (Kakapo Breeding). Females incubate up to 4 eggs for about 30 days and chicks fledge at around 10 weeks, though they may be fed by the mother up to 6 months. Males start breeding around 4 years of age and females around 6 years old. It isn’t known how long the birds can live but some have reached over 90. (Kakapo Life Cycle)

Their herbivorous diet most likely plays a part in their low basal metabolic rate. When key food items are abundant, kakapos will feed on them almost exclusively. Due to their extremely low population, kakapo diets are supplemented with a pellet food to help boost egg production and reproductive health. (Kakapo Feeding).

If you’d like to help save this rare parrot whose numbers are currently at 131, you can click here!

Here’s a funny video featuring a kakapo who seems to be infatuated with a zoologist:

Sources:

Kiwis: Little Footballs with Beaks

The endemic flightless kiwi is a national icon

Image via Wikipedia

(For my friend Steve who wondered when I’d posting about birds.)

So in a previous post, I’m sure I mentioned how much I love Australia. I definitely forgot to add New Zealand. I was lucky enough to travel to both places a few years ago and I have an even greater love of how gorgeous they are. But that’s beside the point. From a biological point of view, the separation of those land masses attributed to their unique flora and fauna. One of my favorite examples of that fascinating fauna is the kiwi.

– Scientific Classification –

There are 5 species of kiwi: Great Spotted, Little Spotted, Okarito Brown, Southern Brown and North Island Brown.

They are the smallest ratite (flightless bird), about the size of a chicken, and do actually have a very small, pretty useless, set of wings. This national symbol of New Zealand is endangered (all species) and threatened by deforestation and invasive mammalian predators. Before the Maori tribe settled in NZ, the kiwi had to predators. Kiwis are more closely related to emus and cassowaries (another cool bird) than the extinct moa as once hypothesized. They are a shy, generally nocturnal bird that can inhabit a variety of habitats. Using their great sense of smell, kiwis use the nostrils at the tip of their beaks to locate underground worms and insects to eat.

Kiwis form lifelong, monogamous pair bonds which can last up to two decades. Unlike many other birds, females have a functioning pair of ovaries (as opposed to just a singular ovary).

One of my favorite things about the kiwi is the ENORMOUS eggs they lay. Labor is intense for birds anyway, but the poor little kiwi seems to have it the worst with the largest egg size to body size ratio (up to 1/4 the weight of the female). If you’re brave enough, have a look:

Side story: In NZ, they had a night-like enclosure with two adorable kiwis inside. While one stood stationary, the other was tearing around the enclosure like crazy. When the rampaging bird got too close to the calmer one, it got pecked at, thrown off track and sent tumbling. It was probably the most adorable bird tumble ever.

Speaking of adorable, here’s a cute video that I found a while back:

Sources: